Skyrim is the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series and as with any other Elder Scrolls game its starts out with you as a criminal. You enter the game as a passenger on a wagon along with a few other criminals on your way to execution but lucky for you the appearance of a dragon interrupts your execution. After escaping the dragon with either a guard or a fellow prisoner they send you to the small town of Riverwood to take refuge with one of their families. The families then send you to the city of Whiterun to tell the region’s jarl of the dragon’s attack so the town will be protected. After Jarl Balgruuf hears of your dealings with the dragon he introduces you to his court wizard Farengar Secret-Fire. Farengar has been doing research into the sudden reappearance of the dragons and asks you to go to the ancient ruins of Bleak Falls Barrow to retrieve more information for him. Working your way through Bleak Falls Barrow you fight bandits, zombie-like creatures unique to the Skyrim world called draugrs, and work your way through some fun but not too challenging puzzles and traps to find the dragon stone. When you return to Whiterun a dragon starts attacking the outskirts of the town and you, or course, get enlisted to help fight it. After killing the dragon you absorb its soul and gain the ability to Shout revealing that you are the Dragonborn, born with the ability to steal the power of dragons and prophesied to appear and stop the great dragon Alduin from bringing the world to an end. All of this? It is only the beginning.
Dragons are a fun but at times they are annoying enemies. They spawn randomly throughout the world which can be quite inconvenient when you are under-leveled or in a village where the dragon can kill useful NPCs (but don’t worry too much as story related NPCs are immortal). They spend most of their time fighting in the air so a bow or some long range spells are necessary to fight them because they land very infrequently. When they do land they breath fire that deals an impressive amount of damage.
Being a fan of roguish classes in RPGs I mainly kept to duel-wielding daggers and archery from stealth mode which I greatly enjoyed because of all the fun assassinations with the daggers such as beheading, slitting throats, or a good old fashioned stab to the gut. Skyrim also offers swords and shields, maces, axes, and lots of fun magics for those who don’t like the rogue play style, all of which have fun animations and kill sequences that are unique to each weapon type.
The Elder Scrolls games offer a unique leveling system which I have always greatly enjoyed. In most RPGs you gain experience through killing enemies and completing quests then use the skill points gains to increase different skills, but in Skyrim your skills increase as you use them then give you skill points to unlock various enhancements within those skill trees. There are many interesting skill trees such as blacksmithing, lock-picking, pickpocketing, various trees for weapon and armor types, and the many classes of magic. The game also offers a prestige system that allows you to re-up your completed skills giving you the ability to continuously level your character without a level cap.
The Elder Scrolls games also offer various guild quest lines to break up the main story and with this we see a few familiar guilds such as the Assassin’s Guild, Thieve’s Guild, and Mage’s Guild. Guilds have always been an enjoyable factor of the Elder Scrolls series as they offer interesting stories and are incredibly useful for helping your character master various skills early in the game and also give you access to some unique armors and weapons. Having played Oblivion and remembering the incredible story for their Assassin’s Guild I personally found the story for Skyrim’s guild to be a little disappointing, finding the Assassin’s Guild dying without a Listener and a creepy jester in love with the Night Mother’s corpse was a bit of a let down. The Fighter’s Guild we remember was replaced with The Companions allowing for a much more entertaining werewolf based storyline. For me though, the most enjoyable of all these side stories was the Thieve’s Guild’s story that has your character unraveling a conspiracy that reveals the true power behind the guild.
Skyrim has a beautiful open world filled with a variety of climates from open fields filled with lovely mountain flowers (and deadly sabre cats hiding in the grass), breathtaking snow-covered mountaintops (complete with flesh-eating frost trolls), stunning forests (with spriggans hiding around every tree), and ancients ruins that are nothing short of an architectural marvel (filled with terrifying draugrs, falmer, and dwarven contraptions). But when you are not running for your life from these various creatures (and lets not forget about the dragons) and actually get a moment to stop and smell the roses. Skyrim is a beautiful world with incredible creatures, plants, breathtaking nighttime skies, and cute quaint towns perfect for any romantic getaway.