Over the years The Elder Scrolls have released some really impressive continuances to their games; Oblivion, Morrowind, Tribunal, but an amazing peak from the developers at Bethesda gave us The Elder Scrolls V in 2011, titled Skyrim. Just like the games before it, Skyrim is an action-based RPG set in an alternate world, in what appears to be an equivalent to our Viking period. The entirety of Skyrim is divided into two sides of an ongoing war between the Stormcloaks, a rebel faction who believe the Empire are too weak to rule, and seek to turn Skyrim into an independent country, and The Empire, the ruling army over Skyrim and all of Tamriel; although this is one of many paths our courageous players can take.
As far as gameplay goes, every character is unique (literally). Without adding mods to your game, you will awake as a captive prisoner aboard a carriage. Moments after waking up you arrive in a small village well informed that your life is about to end... Well, it's due to end shorty after creating your character. As your life is about to end the entire courtyard is overrun by a dragon and your first quest begins; Escape from Helgen. From the moment that this quest is complete you are once again a free Man, Woman, Argonian, Orc, whatever race and gender you select, to explore the massive open world of Skyrim.
Do you want to follow your destiny as Dragonborn and defeat the dragons that plague the country and become a great warrior? Maybe you'd prefer a quiet life chopping wood and forging armor for the local merchants? Even still, you may want to turn to a life of theft or murder? This game can be played however you want for as long as you like. And we haven't even gotten to the mods that are available to modify your gameplay.
Interact with the world with unique conversations with NPCs whose dialogue options could change based on whatever events have happened in the world of Skyrim and feel immersed as you walk through the harsh lands.
Where do I start here? There is so much to think about in this category, especially when you consider the add-ons in the Content Creator section in the main menu. Let's start without add-ons then look at what else we can add later in the review.
To start off with, you're able to create your character moments after the game begins, there are TEN different races to choose from in the original character creator screen, each one of these races has a different effect on your starting skills, your ability to level skills up, and your gameplay as a whole. I'll explain that part now. If you want to find more gold when raiding bandit camps or exploring the world then an Imperial is your best bet, but if you want to cause more damage when you're unarmed then a Khajiit is the type for you (Afterall, a cat scratch is pretty painful), or maybe you want a quiet life, forging jewelry or weapons? Then a Nord would be your best bet, as they start off with a higher blacksmithing skill than the other races. With millions of possible character looks you may spend a little too long creating a character, or maybe that's just me.
Let's talk about the path you choose and the choices you make. As soon as you escape Helgen in the vanilla game you have plenty of options to choose from. You have the option of choosing a path during your first quest, although this decision is not one to be set in stone and can be changed later. The person who saves you (based on who you choose) suggests that you join their side of the army, be it the Imperials or the Stormcloaks. Then the bigger question begins... “What do I do now?”
You could follow the quest path that begins upon your escape, which will help the player achieve their destiny of becoming Dragonborn, mastering your Thu’um and saving Skyrim in an epic series of battles that no normal man or woman would ever be able to survive, or you could remove that from your quest log and wander Skyrim like an NPC who can't find his way home after a lengthy night at the tavern.
Whereas your brother might want to fight in the war, fighting the opposition as soon as he sees them, and your cousin might find glory in stealing from the rich and becoming a mercenary for hire, you may prefer a quiet life in the city, selling flowers and herbs that you've gathered in the day time. Or maybe that's just a ruse? Do you want to master magic and electrocute, burn, or freeze your enemies all at once? Are you really a vampire stalking your prey at the local market, waiting for the perfect time to strike? Or a werewolf in liege with the warriors of Whiterun, “The Companions”?
Yes. Is that a little vague? Let me try that again. Bethesda released three official DLC's for Skyrim; One titled Dragonborn, which allows you to travel to an entirely new island called Solstheim, meet new NPC's, interact with them in terms of new quests, new weapons, new enemies, and new funny moments to capture and show your friends later on. Although Solstheim is coated in ash and majority of the island is not inhabited due to the nearby Volcano's most recent explosion, that doesn't mean there isn't much to interact with. Abandoned houses filled with loot, a small village filled with Nords to the North and a major temple only a short walk from that village. But that is just one of the two DLC's that Bethesda released.
The second one was titled Dawnguard. Now this one, just like the other, doesn't give away any info as to what you'll see or do as part of the expansion but that's why you're here right? To get all the best info into the games you love and want to play.
Dawnguard is not only the name of the DLC but also the name of the fort you'll need to visit to start this questline. A soldier will approach you in a major city as you play through the game and inform you that the commander at Fort Dawnguard is looking for soldiers to help fight the vampire menace that plague Skyrims land; And as we'd expect, this means more choices and yet another war we can get involved in. Do you stay loyal to the Dawnguard and hunt the vampires to extinction or do you join the vampires and become a Vampire Lord, gaining a new look, skill tree and set of abilities and attacks.
Each one of those choices will also come with a downside, as you'd expect. If you become a Vampire Lord then your abilities are weakened in the day time, but on the other hand, you fight to kill vampires and occasionally you will be randomly attacked by small groups of Vampires, whether it be out in the open, or in a village or city. So there is always these little things to consider when you pledge your life to one side of the fight or another.
Lastly, we have my personal favorite, the Hearthfire DLC. An expansion which allows you to purchase land in some regions, now when you arrive to your newly bought land that's pretty much it, you have a large plot of land and a workbench. The rest of the process is where you really need gold and time, so that you can build your home yourself. Although starting with a small house, it will become bigger and have many more features and decorations added to it as you go along, so long as you provide the right materials to build with. Whether you buy them, hunt or some of them or steal them, that part is up to you.
But building a house isn't all you can do in this DLC. Nope. You now have the option to adopt up to 2 children, provided you have the room of course. So, take a carriage to Riften or visit one of the orphans living in the various cities all over Skyrim, running around and doing menial tasks just so that they can buy a hot meal at the local tavern of a night time. After talking to the children, asking them why they are outside all alone, you'll be given the option to adopt them if you have a home with a room for them to sleep in.
Having kids isn't really a full time job in this game though. You can leave them home alone and there's no real issue with it. Your house doesn't get robbed, they don't get injured and the code for children in game means that they cannot die without mods changing the games code. But the child(ren) will occasionally come home with a wild animal they want to keep as a pet, or you'll occasionally find them arguing with one another upon your return, in which case you can scold one or both of them.
In the main menu of the game, there is a Content Creator section which is purchasable content that fits into the game and some things even get commented on by NPC's you cross paths with. Some content that I have purchased includes the Tundra Homestead, which is a small homestead just outside of the walls of Whiterun, it has rooms for enchanting, alchemy, a bedroom for you and your children, and a basement where you can store all your collected unique items, outfits, weaponry and tools. I also have the arcane archer bundle which inputs special arrows into the game; Fire, Frost, Lightning and telekinetic. Each one has a unique design, causes a lot of damage, is held in a unique quiver and in general looks awesome.
But the extra content doesn't stop there. You can add pets, outfits, enemies, spells, and a whole host of other things to improve your gameplay even further than the amazing game it already is.
Mods are different to the Content creator section of the main menu. The biggest difference is that you don't need to pay for mods, which for the most part is amazing and most are made by the community. Enjoy hours upon hours of extra gameplay on top of the original 1000 hours of the base game and customise your game your game as you want. Maybe you want a graphics overhaul? Or add hundreds of new fan created quests? Want to chop down your enemies with a lightsaber? Yes… a lightsaber. With the community created mods you can take Skyrim in any direction you want and the options are almost endless.
Skyrim, although 9 years old now is still a great RPG for people new to the genre and veterans of the RPG community. With the available DLC's, creator content and mods, this game will always change and adapt to each players specific play style and preferences. It was an amazing game when it was released in 2011, and even now it holds a strong place in the world of open world, action-based RPG's. From the character creation to the additional content, this game holds a firm position as one of the greatest RPG's available to purchase. Console developers must still see a great future for this game as it was originally released for the last gen consoles, and is now available at Zatu on the Xbox One, PS4.