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One of the most anticipated games of this holiday season was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Call of Duty and Battlefield are terrific games, but it’s delightful to see something a little different become a bestseller. I love first person shooters, but to see a game like Skyrim become a blockbuster success is a beautiful thing. Modern video games tend to hold the player’s hand and assist them a lot more than in the past. It is refreshing to see a game like Skyrim come along and sell millions of copies.
Even with all the critical accolades Skyrim is receiving, I’m sure there are gamers who are still unsure if it is for them. Maybe they are scared that a game of this scope is too much for them. Maybe some of the crazy glitches that are so prevalent in Bethesda games turn them off. If you are one of those people, I am here to ask you to reconsider. I only do this because the game is that special. It is a once in a generation game. Anyone who considers themselves a gamer needs to sit down behind a controller or a mouse and keyboard and play Skyrim. Here’s why.
The Crazy Stories
The crazy things that happen in Skyrim make the game something truly remarkable. What makes them so impressive when compared to other games is that, in many cases, they are difficult to duplicate. Every video game has outstanding things happen. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons we play them. With Skyrim, it feels like all the stuff that’s happening is just for you. You can tell your friends about something silly that happened, and they will have their own stories that differ entirely from yours. Many times these differences will occur on the same quest.
I’m about 30 hours into Skyrim. I recently had a fight with a couple of bears for a quest. My character is extremely magic heavy, and I wear light armor. Bears hit terribly hard, and my magic seemed to have minimal impact on them. After trying every creative strategy in existence to eliminate these bears, I decided it was impossible.
However, I realized there was a town near the cave, so instead of fighting the bears I decided to lure them to the town. It worked – the bear chased me all the way, and when he got there, the townspeople killed him with ease. However, I shot some fire at the bear during the epic battle, and my fire hit some of the townspeople. Thus, my celebration was shortlived, as the whole town attacked and killed me as soon as the bear fell.
That is just one small example of the kinds of things that happen in Skyrim. They feel as if they happened to me and me alone; not just part of some scripted experience.
The Massive Scale
Skyrim is enormous. It would be easy to spend 100 or more hours playing this game. For me, that is an immense value proposition. I can go out and buy 4 or 5 games and perhaps still not have it match the amount of content in Skyrim. Realistically, the only games that can compete with Skyrim for the amount of time you can dedicate to them are multiplayer-heavy games like shooters and MMOs.
What makes this game so special is not just that it’s massive; it’s the fact that almost all of the content in the game is so good. So many RPGs like Skyrim end up seeing the player doing a bunch of fetch quests and other useless tasks just to make the game longer. With this game, every little quest has a story, and every new area feels fresh and new. Making a long game is not necessarily spectacular; what is impressive is making a long game that has such rich content that it feels like a new game every time you play.
Improvements From Previous Elder Scrolls Games
This last reason is more specific to people whom some of the flaws from previous Elder Scrolls games have turned off. In the previous games, there was game breaking glitches. When I say game breaking, I don’t mean turn your console off and restart. I am talking glitches that would cause you to have to start the whole game over. This was obviously devastating. I had over 60 hours in Elder Scrolls IV, and then I hit a glitch where I was stuck in a spot, and there was no way for me to overcome said spot. I had to forget the 60 hours I had already spent and restart.
Thankfully, Skyrim seems to have none of these problems. There are some glitches, but they are all small. The game also keeps your last three auto-saves, so if you are stuck, it is easy to reload back and only lose a few minutes instead of dozens of hours.
Bethesda improved the third person camera as well. In Oblivion the third person camera was completely useless, but in Skyrim the game is fully playable from a third person perspective.
They have also improved the characters during conversations. Previous games were always very uncomfortable when conversing with a non-player character. Now, the characters have a lot more life, and conversations feel much more relaxed. This is important, because you do spend a lot of time conversing in Skyrim.
They took a winning formula and added much of what they learned from their experience with the Fallout games and made close to a perfect role-playing game.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Skyrim is certainly in the top five games I’ve ever played. I’m not writing a review in the traditional sense, but if I were to give Skyrim a rating I would have to give it a 10 out of 10. The bar for role-playing games is raised to an extent that I didn’t think was possible, especially in the current console generation. Please, if you fancy yourself a gamer, play Skyrim.
Let me know in the comments whether or not you agree with me, and if not, why.