Most people today believe that gaming is all about hardcore action. Throw in a cut-scene here, a thrilling chase there, or just give the player a gun and watch him shoot away, and you have yourself a solid winner. Yet for someone like me, it’s about being whisked away into a world of intrigue and a powerful sense of grandiose that only strange lands promise. For those looking for a similar experience, I present The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
As any fan of the series would know, this is a tale set in the world of Tamriel. You start off by being captured by Imperial soldiers who have taken over Skyrim and who mistake you to be a member of Stormcloak — a rebel group founded by the King’s assassin, Ulfric Stormcloak. Sentenced to death, you make a narrow escape when a dragon attacks just as you are about to be beheaded. Thence opens up the land of Skyrim, and your quest to save the world from the dragons begins. It’s an epic tale that has many highs and lows, and despite being layered with plenty of lore, the story slowly pulls you in and keeps you captivated till the end.
The game works on many of the mechanics found in its predecessors, with slight changes to the design. For starters, the new engine makes the game more fluid and realistic. Also, first- and third-person combat is much easier this time around. You start off with a relatively clean slate, and while the race and class you choose at the beginning essentially determine your progress, you’ll find yourself engaging in various class activities in order to level up. Practice makes perfect here (for instance, picking pockets will give you specific skills); ultimately, you can fine-tune your character to be whatever you want it to be.
The system is backed by a skill tree where you can invest points gained at every level, adding perks to your characters abilities. Be sure to spend those points if you want to improve your performance. There’s a lot to do in the land of Skyrim. You’ll be assigned a variety of quests that will fill up your log and provide you with countless hours of work. This leads you to many places off the core path as well, exposing you to the enormity of the Skyrim world. On a single self-appointed quest, I managed to find a troll’s nesting ground, an abandoned prison filled with ghosts, and a seemingly harmless woman living in the woods who turned out to be a malicious witch! The quests themselves reward you with unique items, plenty of gold, and abilities called Dragon shouts that can have amazing uses during battle.
Combat and control
Speaking of battle, combat is refined to a much greater degree as compared to previous entries. You can dual-wield with certain weapons, though this takes away your ability to block attacks. You’ll be fending off most monstrosities equipped with a sword in one hand and a magic spell in the other. Combat here has more to do with numbers than actual strategy, which means that you must make sure that you’ve got enough experience points under your belt if you want to stay alive. There’s no time-out, as certain enemies will pursue you relentlessly, impossible for you to avoid confrontations Beware of the thugs that the witch the woods sends after you – they’ll eerily follow your every move. Although the game makes you feel empowered, the — major issue is with the controls The game was designed with control pads in mind, which will put off PC players; and if you use a controller, be ready to switch to the “Favorites” menu to frequently swap out your gear.
Sights and sounds
If there’s one thing that this game truly excels at, it’s the atmosphere. Going hand-in-hand with the great script, the visuals sell the vast breadth of Skyrim, and the audio conveys a strong sense of “epicenes”. The landscape offers every kind of terrain, ranging from bustling towns and haunting dungeons to dark caves. Some areas will be draped in greens, while others will have snow carpeted as far as the eye can see. Thanks to the new Creation Engine, everything is rendered beautifully. It is, however, not entirely free of glitches and bugs. The background music makes you feel right at home, even in the dense world around you, and gives powerful overtures during combat and leveling up. Voice-work is handled nicely, but the overlapping of voices often becomes frustrating.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a highly ambitious game that puts freedom and influence above all else. It manages to shine with its powerful storyline, expansive world and a generous helping of things to do. Ultimately, it makes you feel like a true hero. If you’re the type who loves heroics and adventure in a rich setting, this one should definitely be on your list.