The Elder Scrolls is a game series by Bethesda Softworks. Along with other popular games such as Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored, The Elder Scrolls has remained a fan-favorite among the gaming community. This game series has a variety of installments, with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, also referred to as Skyrim, being regarded as one of the best. Since its release in November 2011, Skyrim has remained one of the most iconic open-world sandbox games.
There are also more installments. These range from all-time classics such as The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind to The Elder Scrolls: Blades, one of the best cross platform games available today. Yet, both casual newbies and hardcore gamers know Skyrim more, and most of them probably have hundreds or even thousands of hours’ worth of playtime. With such a reputation and devoted fandom, it raises a question: what makes Skyrim an iconic game?
Satisfying Character Customization
Skyrim is a role-playing game that lets its players play as the Dragonborn and customize their character and playstyle based on their preferences. There are three main skill trees: warrior, mage, and thief. Each of these skill trees offers perks and skills that can be improved and leveled up by doing certain actions or using specific weapons or spells.
For example, you can upgrade the one-hand skill under the warrior skill tree by using swords, war axes, maces, and daggers. There is also the sneak skill, which is part of the thief skill tree. You can improve it by avoiding detection from enemies.
Aside from choosing skills that players want based on their playstyle, they can also pick their preferred race during character customization at the start of the game. Each race offers unique perks that are compatible with your playstyle.
For instance, the Khajiit is ideal for players who want to be sneaky and improve their skills under the thief tree. This race also has special abilities such as Night Eye, which allows the player to see in the dark better for 60 seconds. It also has claws that improve the damage of unarmed attacks.
But these details do not mean that you solely have to stick with one skill tree. You can turn your character into the ultimate master of all, ready for any obstacles and challenges the game will throw.
For example, you can pick the Breton race, which is often associated with the mage skill tree, to take advantage of its 25% magic resistance. You can then turn it into a battle mage by improving skills under the warrior and mage tree or a thief mage by upgrading the thief and mage skill trees. Your creativity and imagination are your only limit when customizing characters in Skyrim.
Most, if not all, single-player games tend to be heavily linear in terms of questlines to be more compelling in storytelling. You might have heard words such as main quests – which advance the game’s story and conflict, and sidequests – optional quests that offer extra points and rewards.
Skyrim does not necessarily follow this format. Instead, the other questlines in Skyrim are equally story-driven and crucial to its lore.
The main quest follows the classic “hero saves the world” format. As the Dragonborn, you must defeat the main antagonist, Alduin, to stop him from destroying the world. You will then meet allies, form alliances with friendly NPCs, and defeat Alduin to save the world. This style can come off as generic to some players, so the other questlines come in.
A favorite questline among the fandom is the Dark Brotherhood questline. You will start with an assassination, only for you to receive a letter marked with a black hand mark along with the statement “We know.” And once an NPC kidnaps you, it will start this questline that involves being a part of an assassins guild in the game. Another NPC will give you contracts to assassinate targets, and as you continue to do so, the questline’s plot will reveal unexpected twists and turns.
As an open-world game, Skyrim has a selection of vast and magnificent landscapes. There are several regions in the game. These regions range from the icy fields of Winterhold to the lush forests of Falkreath. There are also regions perfect for riding horses, such as the plains of Whiterun. Furthermore, the underground city of Blackreach shows a luminescent appeal due to its glowing stones and mushrooms.
The DLCs also have more landscapes for the player to see. For instance, the Dawnguard DLC has additional regions, such as the ominous Soul Cairn and the mysterious Forgotten Vale. Meanwhile, the Dragonborn DLC has the island of Solstheim, which has more landscapes. They include the ashy Hirstaan Forest and the snowy Felsaad Coast, Isinfier Plains, and Moesring Mountains.
Although they may be breathtaking, these regions are also home to hostile NPCs and aggressive wild animals. Depending on the area, they range from NPCs such as bandits and a rebel group called Forsworn to animals such as bears, wolves, and sabretooth. Caves and underground cities are notorious homes for draugr, Animunculi or dwarven robots, venomous spiders and Chaurus, and Falmer – snow elves that became feral after eras of torture and experiments.
Memorable Moments, Quotes, and NPCs
As an iconic game, Skyrim has a lot of notable moments from the beginning of the game until you finish the DLCs. Whether it is their first encounter with a frost troll or freeing a vampire princess from her crypt, players will agree that the game has numerous memorable events.
Aside from these memorable moments, Skyrim has become a source of memes since its release. Quotes such as “Khajiit has wares if you have coin” and “I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee” immortalized the game in meme culture.
Furthermore, some NPCs themselves are unforgettable for both casual and hardcore fans. Whether it is Nazeem asking if you visit the cloud district very often or M’aiq the Liar telling you random statements, it will be a while before you forget these NPCs.
In a Nutshell
Based on these characteristics, it is no wonder that Skyrim is still as iconic as it was back in its 2011 release. Aside from the traits mentioned above, the game offers more features that players enjoy and explore. They may include character designs, dragon shouts, the iconic theme, or creative mods. Nevertheless, one thing is sure: when talking about open-world offline sandbox games, Skyrim is a game you should play.