The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an expansive, open-world fantasy RPG. You play as Dragonborn, a character with the unique ability to speak to and command dragons. You can also wield various types of magical abilities, including the ability to teleport across short distances, conjure a powerful lightning storm and raise the dead.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the fifth installment in this series of action role-playing video games. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks, and it was released on November 11, 2011. The game is basically set in the fictional province of Skyrim, where the player character has to contend with the return of Alduin, a dragon who is prophesized to destroy the world.

This game has a lot to offer fans of the series, as well as newcomers. The combat system is fast and fun. With hand-to-hand combat, you have greater control over your actions than you would in a typical hack-and-slash title; each swing of your weapon will be different depending on how you time it. The customization options are numerous; you can choose your race (which gives you certain physical traits), your class (such as Mage or Warrior), and even minor details, such as whether or not your character is left handed.

The graphics are nothing short of beautiful. Each area is unique and offers its own challenges; for example, there’s a frozen tundra in which you must use magic to solve puzzles and avoid freezing to death. This game contains hundreds of hours of gameplay and an impressive amount of replay value – you can finish each quest once per character class.

This game takes place in Skyrim, a province of Tamriel and the homeland of the Nords, who are a race of people that have blonde hair and blue eyes. The Nords have been at war with a group of people called the Aldmeri Dominion, which is led by elves from a nation called Summerset Isle. This war has lasted for 1,000 years. The story begins with you (the Dragonborn) having your soul stolen by an evil dragon named Alduin.


You’re saved when a hero named Hadvar helps you to kill a dragon named Serana and retrieve your soul back. You meet up with Hadvar and his commanding officer (a lady named Ralof), who both help you escape Helgen Keep. After they leave the keep they are attacked by two bandits (Farkas and Sven). Sven is killed by Farkas while trying to run away, but Hadvar manages to kill Farkas in self-defense.

A period called the “Interregnum” follows in which Tamriel is ruled by the human Empire of Cyrodiil while the humans are slowly being pushed out by elves and orcs. After the Interregnum ends, dragons begin to appear again. Dragons were thought to have been wiped out at the end of the Oblivion Crisis and re-appearance is heralded as a sign of change in the world.

The player character can be male or female, depending on choice (the default name is “Dovahkiin” which refers to dragonborn, or those with dragon blood). The game begins as you are riding through an opening scene that explains that you have been hit by a dragon’s fireball and are on your way to being executed for it when they realize that you are dragonborn. After a combat tutorial, you are sent off to investigate why dragons have begun returning to Tamriel. Throughout the rest of the game, your main tasks involve unraveling why dragons have returned, what has happened to other dragons in the past 200 years.

A large part of the appeal of Skyrim is found in its story and characters. As with every Elder Scrolls game, your character can be entirely customized, including appearance, gender, race and class (out of a few different options). The story revolves around dragons returning to Tamriel and attempting to conquer its cities—and you’re tasked relatively early on with stopping them by traveling all across Skyrim and beyond. The game is filled with colorful characters—some who will join you on your journey, others who will try to stop you at every turn.

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One thing that makes the Elder Scrolls series so beloved is its sense of freedom. There’s no other game franchise on the market today that gives players as much room to roam as these games do. Yet, even with that open world, you might feel a bit constricted at times—like the developers were holding your hand a little too tightly. The new skill system in Skyrim does away with some of those constraints, and for many players, it will make the experience feel less confined and more liberating than ever before.

In previous Elder Scrolls games, you had skills like Acrobatics and Athletics that allowed you to climb higher or jump farther by increasing your maximum abilities in those areas. In Skyrim, however, there’s no more moon-hopping between hilltops with a maxed out Acrobatics skill. That’s gone, so is Athletics. The Elder Scrolls V pares down the amount of skills and cuts out attributes like Endurance (your ability to carry things) and Intelligence altogether.

There’s no time wasted on the character creation screen agonizing over which skills to assign as major—just choose your race and go through a short tutorial, after which you’re free to start exploring the vast open world of Skyrim for yourself.

If you’re sick of the green hills and golden wheat fields of Cyrodiil, you’ll be happy to know that Skyrim is all snowy mountains, pine forests, and tundra. The world has more of a Nordic feel than previous elder scrolls games which makes sense given the title.

The game is enormous and it’s easy to get overwhelmed at first. Fortunately though, Bethesda streamlined many elements of the Oblivion experience including character creation and leveling. No longer will players waste time pondering which skills to assign as major or minor. In Skyrim, there are only two attributes: Health and Stamina. These replace Endurance and Intelligence from previous Elder Scrolls titles which means that all characters now have a more balanced approach to combat.

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When you create a character in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you don’t have to spend nearly as much time making decisions. It’s not just a matter of streamlining the process of creating a new character, it’s a matter of streamlining the process of playing the game—shaving off all the fat that gets between you and your goal of doing whatever it is you want to do. And what’s the most fun thing to do in Skyrim? That would be exploring, which is made easier when there are fewer restrictions holding you back.

When it comes to role-playing games, I’m a purist: I want to feel like I’m an actual character in the game I’m playing. So I’m a little wary of any game that tries to streamline its RPG elements for the sake of saving time. 

Sure, Skyrim is a lot easier than the previous Elder Scrolls games—but the tradeoff here is not one that you have to make. In Skyrim, Bethesda Softworks has managed to condense some of the clutter that’s been evident in previous titles, while still giving you plenty of freedom in character creation. The result is a streamlined RPG experience that’s just as deep as its predecessors—and arguably more fun because there are fewer elements keeping you from immersing yourself in the world.

For example, you can now create a custom class based on your play style and then level up skills by using them instead of choosing specific ones when creating your character. If you want to be able to carry more items at a time, learn some alchemy so you can create a satchel that boosts your carrying capacity beyond 100. Skills are also uncapped, so if you put enough points into Smithing (which allows weapons and armor to be improved), you can eventually create masterwork armor or weapons.

As with previous Elder Scrolls games, there are skills to improve in Skyrim. They’ve been streamlined and their names have changed, but they fall into the same general categories as before. You’ll have your weapon skills, like One-Handed or Archery, which are self-explanatory. 

You’ll have magic skills, like Destruction or Alteration, which teach you how to cast spells of that type. Stealth improves your sneaking around and Lockpicking allows you to crack open locked doors and treasure chests. The Speech skill helps you get better prices when buying and selling things, and more persuasive threats when threatening people in conversation.

Skyrim breaks down some of the barriers between skillsets—you can train lockpicking by picking locks, for example—but it also streamlines how many skills there are overall. 

Instead of using the previous game’s wide variety of attributes to determine how proficient your character is at each skill (which could lead to strange outcomes like a character whose intelligence is low being a master swordsman), Skyrim uses one attribute across the board: health. Your health determines your capability in all other areas, so a mage may be able to cast powerful spells that a warrior would need several strikes to kill with their sword.

Skyrim is a game that offers an overwhelming amount of content, yet it never overpowers the player with its immensity. There is always something interesting and fun to do if you know where to look, but if you want to just wander around and see what happens, that’s great too. And while there are plenty of game mechanics in place to ensure that a player doesn’t accidentally miss anything, the world itself is so well-crafted and full of life and detail that you’ll often be led by your curiosity to discover something you hadn’t intended to find.

The game also manages to avoid feeling like it was created with a checklist of features or game mechanics, as most innovations feel like they were born out of necessity from within the world itself. 

For example, Skyrim features a day/night cycle, but the time of day isn’t just cosmetic; certain creatures only appear at certain times of day, and other NPCs may only be available for certain tasks during those times. A campfire near your character’s bedroll allows you to fast-travel back to your home (or any other location) at any time, anywhere on the map. The map itself can be zoomed out such that it reveals only major landmarks like cities or mountain ranges.

You’ll encounter towns busting at the seams with side quests, mansions full of treasures, caves waiting to be pillaged, and snowy peaks begging to be scaled. The game’s main quest line is a little sparse, but the developers clearly understand that they’ve crafted a world worth exploring on its own merits. As you’re exploring, you’ll find that nearly everything can be interacted with in some way or another—if it can’t be picked up, it can probably be examined or picked apart piece by piece. This layer of interactivity contributes greatly to the immersive atmosphere and makes you feel more like you’re actually in a world with living inhabitants instead of just playing a video game.

The game’s art direction is fantastic, with its depth of detail in both character design and world design, and the voice acting is excellent. The story is engaging, though it can be very difficult to follow if you’re not paying enough attention. However, the best thing about this game is the freedom it gives you to play however you’d like. I’m constantly performing new activities and trying out new things (as I did when I first played Oblivion), and I never get bored because there’s always something else I haven’t done yet.

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