The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim turned 10 today. Two console generations have passed since its 11/11/11 release date, and that makes Skyrim a prime candidate for a Throwback episode. Skyrim was a significant step forward for open-world games, and even legendary franchises, like Nintendo’s Zelda, took a lot from it when crafting its newer entries.
Skyrim Helped During Depressing Times
Skyrim is important to me, maybe not as important as Ocarina of Time, but there is no other game after Ocarina of Time that I have liked as much as I have liked (and loved) the Elder Scrolls’ fifth entry. Games just haven’t wowed me in the same way since Nintendo’s 1998 masterpiece, but Skyrim came close.
Right from the get go (I played it on the Xbox 360 right at launch), Skyrim offered a vast visual upgrade over its predecessor, Oblivion. While the game’s visual improvements weren’t right out visible on the character models the game world itself looked better, lusher, and much more epic than Oblivion’s ever did.
The sense of verticality in Skyrim remains unparalleled, to this day. The game has tall mountain ranges that are fully traversable, lush forests, larger than life cave formations, and ancient underground ruins. Unlike Oblivion, every single cave, ruin, grotto, etc. has a different layout, with unique visuals and design.
Skyrim’s size, variety, and Nordic landscape made it my favorite and most engrossing video game experience since Nintendo revolutionized the gaming industry with Ocarina of Time some 13 years prior to Skyrim’s own release.
Before Skyrim, I had given up on the possibility of ever immersing myself within a gaming world in the same (magical) way that I had in Ocarina of Time, back in 1998. I figured that 3-D being a new thing in the late 1990s, and me, being 13-14 years old at the time Ocarina launched, had been huge factors in my bewilderment with Nintendo’s game.
Skyrim shattered that theory. I was in my mid 20’s, but that didn’t stop me from fully immersing myself in it’s wintry provinces.
My mom had died 5 days before before I laid my hands on Bethesda’s greatest (and most commercially successful) game. My Skyrim pre-order was a Godsend. While depression and sadness took ahold of me, and I spent days (and weeks) confined to my house (only leaving it for grocery shopping), Skyrim kept my mind busy.
My alone time was much less maddening with Skyrim, than it would have been without it. I managed to distract my mind within Skyrim’s massive world for weeks. The game’s larger than life real state, massive amounts of treasure awaiting to be found, and seemly never ending assortment of side missions kept my mind busy. Skyrim was, in some ways, therapeutic.
10 Years Later Skyrim Remains My Go To Game
Even after 500+ hours, and the completion of every major quest line, Skyrim’s world continues to call me back, periodically. I continue to spend hours on end playing Skyrim in between games that I finish. I currently own 4 versions of the game, so I can play Skyrim at any time and anywhere.
So, why Skyrim? Why not The Witcher 3, or Dragon Quest XI? For starters, Skyrim offers and unparalleled level of freedom, and random occurrences within its game world…even without mods. 500 hours later, I still have found random NPC situations that have led me down a rabbit hole and into a substantial quest that ends up yielding special armor set pieces, items, etc.
Skyrim is the gift that keeps on giving, and I can see why it has taken Bethesda so long to even start work on a sequel. After all, how do you top your greatest achievement?
Skyrim Came Along at the Right Time?
Skyrim became the Elder Scrolls most successful entry, and perhaps, the most popular single player RPG of recent times thanks in part to the fact that it hit all of the right notes with the trending entertainment media of the times.
Game of Thrones, and consequently, dragons, nordic wights, and wintry scenery was beginning to catch fire, and Skyrim, for the very first time in video game (that I cant think of) let you hunt (or be hunted) by actual flying fire breathing dragons. Skyrim just felt like the right product, at the right time.
The Witcher 3 is actually closest to Game of Thrones in terms of sex, plot and world, but in The Witcher 3 you were Geralt of Rivia, in Skyrim you were just…you, and there were dragons…many dragons to kill, and even ride (expansions) if you so wished.
The whole Nordic vibe (Vikings, The Last Kingdom, Game of Thrones) lasted throughout the 2010s decade, and thus, Skyrim itself, never really felt out of place within the popular media of the times.
Skyrim Anniversary Edition is out today. This edition brings graphical updates to Xbox Series X/S and PS5 users, plus some of the best Creation Club content made in one package. Bethesda expects for Skyrim to keep selling until The Elder Scrolls VI is finally released, and thus, this anniversary edition was not entirely unexpected even when it was announced a few months ago.
Fans of the series, and most of all, fans of Skyrim, should download this update, as $20 dollars (for the update) is not much considering the amount of content that Skyrim continues to provide.
Until ES6 or Avowed arrive, Skyrim will continue to be the pinnacle of the Role-Playing Genre, at least in my opinion (Co-Editor Mont will likely prefer Oblivion, though).
Either way, Happy Birthday #10 Skyrim! May you keep entertaining us for decades to come!
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