With yesterday’s release of the remastered re-release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I want to touch upon the game itself, its impact and its continuing legacy in the world of gaming.
When it was first released, what Skyrim advertised was essentially the wet dream of any RPG fan out there. It offered total freedom in a huge, open world. You were dropped in the world with nothing but the clothes on your back and a couple of spells, and you are set loose to do whatever you want. You could participate in its epic main story, or not. You could participate in a secondary storyline involving a civil war in Skyrim. You could simply run errands for townsfolk to get money and gear. Or if you really wanted to, you could just pick flowers and take in the sights of the gorgeous environments.
Looking back, though, what is it that made Skyrim so successful? All the things I mentioned above are things that were the main focus of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series from the very beginning, and hardcore fans of the series may argue that it was done better in some of the past games.
Skyrim did do a lot of work in taking the Elder Scrolls formula and presenting it in a much more accessible format. Morrowind had an unwieldly number of stats, which encouraged you to really focus on whatever trade you had picked for your character at the beginning (Thief, Barbarian, Mage, etc.). Skyrim on the other hand, did away with this barrier. If you really wanted to, it wasn’t that difficult to become a master of all the trades. Purists may look at this and scowl, but in reality, this total freedom was what made Skyrim so good. Without these preconceptions of what an RPG “should” be like, they were able to focus on the things that actually mattered. Skyrim felt like a real adventure. It was immersive, it was grandiose and beautiful. It played with your emotions while making you feel like you were totally in control of the game.
There’s a reason why Skyrim ended up adding gasoline to the burgeoning “open world” game craze. It was not just a technical wonder, but an artistic one as well, with its magnificent and bleak art direction, and beautiful soundtrack. If you have never played Skyrim, this game is still a must.