Let’s get this out of the way from the off: Skyrim is a bit of a rubbish name for a game, especially when it’s the sequel to the rather more impressively-monikered Oblivion. Those worried that the lame name might signal a lame game can relax, though: not only is Skyrim the best game in the awesome Elder Scrolls series, it’s perhaps one of the greatest games ever created.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The story so far
Taking place 200 years after the events of Oblivion, Skyrim casts you as an unknown wanderer in a frosty fantasy landscape in the throes of civil war. But just as you begin to think this is a game about choosing to fight for the rebels or the Empire, along come the dragons.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Enter the dragons
That’s right; having been dormant for generations the massive winged beasties are back to blight the people of Skyrim. As luck would have it, though, you are Dragonborn – a warrior capable of absorbing the power of slain dragons and utilizing it in the form of powerful attacks called ‘shouts’.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Questing for the win
So on one hand you’ve got the ongoing civil war to contend with, and on the other you’ve got dragons to slay, and you’ve obviously also got the frequent side-quests, such as killing ten bears just because one particularly grumpy inn keeper has a vendetta against the savage furballs. Still, even these often-odd little errands generally serve a purpose – either taking you to a previously undiscovered and interesting area, or threading in with the main quest. Essentially, almost whatever you do in Skyrim has the feeling of contributing towards your ultimate goal, even if for a long while you’re not entirely sure what that goal is.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Massive scale
Simply wandering across the landscape is a pleasure in itself, though. There’s more variety here than in any of the other Elder Scrolls games, with snowy mountains giving way to flat farmland and meandering rivers. Epic journeys feel epic, too, especially the winding climb up the 7000 steps to the summit of the Throat of the World, Skyrim’s highest peak.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Combat evolved
Naturally you’ll find yourself trawling through dungeons, too, and these are suitably cautious, creepy affairs, as you scan for deadly traps while worryingly wandering where that scuttling sound is coming from. When you find out you’ll be pleased to discover a combat system that’s far more robust and rewarding than before. Magic attacks have palpable power, melee weapons are weighty and savage, and bows are satisfyingly accurate and damaging. And thanks to a new dual-wielding system you can fire off lightning bolts with your left hand while smashing heads with a mace in your right.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Verdict
Sure, there’s the odd glitch, but a game of this magnitude is always going to have a few of those, and Skyrim is actually far more solid than veteran RPGers might expect. Besides, any little bugs are forgotten in the face of the game’s overwhelming qualities. It may well be one of the nerdiest games ever created, but it’s also undeniably one of the best.