A passionate exploration of Skyrim’s world, how it draws players in and keeps them hooked.
It was 18 months ago that gamers first set foot in Skyrim’s majestic open world. Since then there have been hordes of games I’ve enjoyed, but in the end it’s always Skyrim that finds its way back into my Xbox. This week Bethesda made the announcement that they would be finishing work on Skyrim, in order move onto other projects, meaning Dragonborn is officially the last add-on for Elder Scrolls V. An official spokesperson admitted, “We’ve invested so much of ourselves into Skyrim and will never truly say goodbye to it.” It is this passion that makes Skyrim one of the most engrossing and engaging gaming experience of all time.
Over 160 hours in, my adventures are far from over. Having completed the main quest and all the major guild quests too, you’d think I’d be ready to hang up Dragonbane and call it a day. I’m not. Having heroically battled my way past dragons, dragon priests, vampires, bandits, giants, trolls, Falmer and all the rest, the world of Skyrim is still a place shimmering with mystery. The game’s ‘radiant quest system’ means new adventures continue to drag me off to small corners of the world that my heroic Dragonborn Nord has yet to discover.
The constant updates give even more reason to play. One of the few elements of the game that was criticized on forums and message boards was the combat. So Bethesda added slow-mo arrow kills, slow-mo magic kills, new finishing moves and mounted combat. One of my personal disappointments was the lack of dragonbone weapons. Low and behold, Bethesda added them in. Now all my hours spent going in and out of Dwarven ruins to collect scrap metal and max out my smithing seems all the more worthwhile.
The leveling system itself adds countless more hours. My character is a blade and sneak master, so to keep his level rising I’ve switched to hurling fireballs and slinging arrows. Potion-mixing, enchanting weapons in my Arch-mage’s penthouse – there’s always a new way to keep that level rising which serves as a nice interlude between the cave brawls. The epic story, soundtrack and action pull you in, but the little things lock you down.
Having vanquished the dragon threat, I roam the forests, hunting, looking for new ingredients and searching for treasure. Not to mention the hours spent arranging my various swords and armour sets onto weapon racks and mannequins. It’s a wonderful feeling to stand in your virtual home surrounded by all the treasures you’ve collected: a chest full of dragon priest masks, a wardrobe full of Daedrick artifacts and many more trinkets. Which set of badass battle-wear do I choose for my next quest?
By now most people have played Dawnguard and Dragonborn, the major DLC packs. I just spent a good twenty hours on Dawnguard, which kept things fresh with great new characters, caves and lands to explore. New side quests had me re-exploring Dwarven ruins that I had visited long ago. Back then I had to sneak past the mighty Dwemer Centurions to avoid certain death, but returning as the savior of Skyrim, clad in dragon scales, they fell before me like sickly mud-crabs. It’s this advancement, the feeling of real progress towards power that makes Skyrim an unforgettable game. And the Dragonborn content still awaits.
Let’s not forget the modding capabilities of the PC version. Bethesda have always provided ways for the gamer to get involved and make the changes to the game they wish to see. New armour sets, weapons, better textures and character faces are just some of the mods that people have created. It adds an extra element of creativity and variety to the whole experience, something which most games do not provide. And when all’s said and done, you can always start again. New character, different race and skillset – a whole new world.
All that’s left to do now is keep on roaming while we wait for Bethesda’s next epic adventure. Looking at how far things have come since Oblivion, it’s scary to think how good their next-gen title may be. Bethesda stated the decision to halt DLC packs for Skyrim was due to their next project needing all hands on deck, so we can presume it’s going to be a big one. I’m betting we will see a Fallout game before we see another Elder Scrolls title, but that only means that when their next sword-and-magic-wielding epic arrives, it will be that much better. I’d love to venture through Summerset Isle or Valenwood and get back to the Elven side of things that were the focus of Morrowind. Wherever Bethesda take us, I’m sure it will be another world I won’t be able to leave for a very long time.
A struggling writer/teaching assistant with limited funds and a Swiss army knife hidden somewhere in my flat – that’s the grim reality. But when I fire up Skyrim I am Dovakiin. ‘The man.’
Images: wabfloyd via Flickr