Way back in 2011, Skyrim absolutely blew us away.
We called the fifth Elder Scrolls title “not only the best game in an awesome series, but perhaps one of the greatest games ever created”. So yeah, I guess you could say we liked it.
A lot can happen in six years, though. This was before RPG greats like The Witcher 3 and Zelda: Breath of the Wild rolled around - so will a few coats of digital paint and a version you can carry around with you in your pocket be enough to keep Bethesda in our good books?
Yes, as it turns out. It absolutely will.
ENTER THE DRAGONS
In case you didn’t pump a hundred hours into it the first time around, a little history lesson is in order.
Skyrim takes place 200 years after the events of the previous game, Oblivion (which we still think has the cooler name, by the way), and sets you loose into the cold northern territories of Tamriel as an unknown wanderer.
This frosty, fantasy landscape is in the grip of civil war, but just as you begin to think this is a game about siding with either the rebels or the Empire, along come 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’.
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.
All in a day’s work for a jobbing adventurer, really, and you’re free to go about it however you like, with hand-to-hand combat to master, spells to learn and sneaking skills to perfect.
Then you’ve got an overflowing journal of side-quests to chew through, like killing ten bears just because one particularly grumpy innkeeper 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.
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, and the scale is simply epic.
Zelda Breath of the Wild might be bigger, and The Witcher 3 even bigger still, but even six years on from launch, Skyrim still feels like somewhere you could happily get lost in.
Journeys between locations 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 Special Edition adds some even prettier weather, lighting and night skies to really drop your jaw, too.