by: Nicholas "BAPenguin" Puleo
The world of Tamriel is a large and beautiful place, only a small section of which gets revealed every 5 years in an Elder Scrolls title. The latest game in the series is called Skyrim and the land you visit in it has the same name. It’s a cold place, inspired by the likes of Northern Europe with a dash of Middle Earth. While the formula for the games haven’t changed much since Morrowind, the vision that Bethesda has set out with each game has become closer and closer to reality. Skryim is by far the closest thing to a living, breathing world that feels like an MMO without having to deal with those pesky gold farmers.
Skyrim is a single player only game. That said, the NPCs you will meet really feel like they fit in the world. Simply walking around town you’ll overheard conversations, see people doing jobs, and follow a routine of their daily life. It’s something that was promised in Oblivion, but it’s pulled off here in a much more believable fashion. Right - so what does all this have to do with an RPG you actually play?
Elder Scrolls games have always been about freedom and it’s never more evident than it is in Skyrim. Go anywhere, do anything you want - and whatever you do - you’ll level up for it. If you feel like collecting herbs to make potions in Alchemy, you can do that. Want to practice your fireball spell on Wooley Mammoths? You can do that. Feel like finding random dungeons and clearing them while dual wielding two axes? You can do that. Each and every action increases its related skill and brings you closer to leveling up. Even the act of buying and selling goods increasing your speech skill allowing you to haggle for better prices, convince characters in conversations, or intimidate someone into doing something for you.
There is a main quest in Skyrim and it involves you being a Dragonborn - a man or woman who possesses the speech of a Dragon thanks to its blood running through your veins. With this power you can shout to produce different effects - think of it as a form of spell casting. Whether its a super fast sprint or simply a damage dealing scream, shouts are essential to helping you bring down dragons in battle. Did I forget to mention that? You’ll be fighting huge dragons scattered throughout the world that simply fly around and terrorize citizen for no other reason other than they are a dragon. It’s your job to figure out why the dragons are back and how to stop them.
Of course if dragons aren’t your thing you can simply join one of the many factions in the game like the mages guild, thieves guild, the blades, or even the assassins. Each has their own quest line that has its own benefits and rewards offering even more content. There is no end to a game like Skyrim, in fact, there literally is infinite quests in the game thanks to a random system in place. Even after completing the game you can continue to explore the world and complete quests.
The Elder Scrolls games always seem to ship with bugs in the box and Skyrim is no exception. Odd things happen in the game world, characters get caught in stuff, the game might hang, or you might not be able to trigger an event to finish a quest. These usually get patched up over time but as of now, there are some hiccups along the way. The game looks great though on the consoles and pretty snazzy on the PC to boot.
The bottom line with Skyrim is this: if you like RPGs that give you complete and total freedom or are a fan of the Elder Scrolls series in anyway, Skyrim is SO DAMN GOOD.