Hello everyone! Long time no see! I am back to introduce you to our latest site event: Worlds Abound. This week you’ll be able to read about some of our favorite worlds, maybe even ones you haven’t heard about! With some luck, and an open mind you may find a new place to call home, imagine that. At the end of the week on Friday, May 27th, our poll will go up for you all to vote for your favorite entry, with it closing on Sunday at midnight. You only get one vote, so take your time this week and enjoy each entry; let it simmer a bit before making a decision. Now, without further ado, let’s jump into things. We’ll see you on the other side!
After that awful joke, I’m here to talk to you about Skyrim and the world it presents to you from not only a story perspective, but from a player’s perspective.
The country of Skyrim is one that I can honestly say never fails to amaze me. From the beginning, you are thrust into a world plagued by political turmoil. Hell, one of the first people you meet on your way to the execution block is the rightful heir to the throne and leader of Windhelm, Ulfric Stormcloak, who has been captured in a failed attempt to kill the Emperor of Skyrim. A civil war is brewing and you are along for the ride. However, things aren’t exactly as they seem. For the uninitiated, this game is not about the ins and outs of politics, and that point is made clear when a dragon by the name of Alduin interrupts your execution. Dragons in this world have not been seen for just over 4000 years. After your escape from the dragon attack, you are thrust into the world to explore. Truly, this is where Skyrim shines. Open world games have tried to mimic the vastness that the Elder Scrolls games have and most of the time they pale in comparison. To save you -my dear reader- some time, I won’t go into every single aspect of the world (otherwise we’d be here for days).
The first thing I want to talk about are the varied factions that populate Skyrim.
There are the Companions: a mercenary group that hides a dark secret of lycanthropy.
The Thieves Guild: a duty bound group of thieves that has been down on their luck due to the leader stealing an artifact from an ancient ruin.
The Dark Brotherhood: a highly trained group of assassins that worship a being known as the Night Mother, and utilize their deadly services through a ritual called “The Black Sacrament”.
The Blades: An ancient clan of warriors whose soul purpose was the slaying of dragons.
The College of Winterhold: a guild and school for the magically adept.
The Imperial Legion and The Stormcloaks: the titular factions of the civil war. The Imperials have banned worship of the God Talos (who was once a man named Tiber Septim) and wish to rule Skyrim, while the Stormcloaks wish to have freedom of religion. However, they’ve forced the Dunmar (dark elves) out of their home city, and view non-human races beneath them.
And last but not least the Dawnguard and the Vampires of the Volkihar Clan: an ancient clan of vampire slayers versus an ancient race of pure blooded vampires.
There are many more factions in Skyrim, and this helps add to what I would classify as the world’s strongest point: it feels lived in; that it has history. How many games have we played that are super fun, but the world feels empty? That the stakes aren’t there, and the game revolves solely around the player character and where they decide to go? This isn’t the case for Skyrim. There are mechanisms working under the surface of the game that the character isn’t privy to. All of these varied factions with vastly different stories to tell help add to the history of Skyrim, but the factions don’t end with ordinary people. The Daedra Lords, the gods of Tamriel, watch over it with great interest. These gods play a part in the world, should you seek them out, but if they find you, they’ll twist the world of the game in a new direction. Be wary of the 17 Daedra Lords. However, in return for their help, they may just grant you power beyond mortal comprehension.
Another selling point for me in the world of Skyrim is that there are always things to do and discover. I’ve put in maybe 600 hours into this game over the 10 years it’s been around. There are STILL things that I discover. A new dungeon in the mountains, a new town in the far outskirts of the map, even whole quest lines that you never would have known about unless you were aimlessly wandering the map. This world is VAST, and I often find myself coming back to it to just try to discover something new. I think this is the best place to put this, but dear lord the soundtrack. If you ever want to feel like you’ve been whisked away and placed into a fantasy world or dragons and magic, put on the Skyrim soundtrack. It is beautiful, and fits the setting better than any other videogame soundtrack I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. It helps make the world feel real and amplifies the experience immensely.
Now let’s talk about the RPG nature of this game. The ability to make a new character and have it play completely differently from your last character is one that greatly benefits it. You want to be an assassin that specializes in stealth and attacks their enemies from afar with a bow? Sure you can. You want to play as a battle raging orc that rushes down their enemies with a warhammer? Absolutely. A master of magic? Sure, which of the 6 schools of magic do you wanna use? How about an illusion mage that makes others fight for them and turns their enemy’s allies against them? Hell yeah you can. But how does this relate to the world of Skyrim? Well, this part relies solely on you, the player. The world of Skyrim is there for you to weave your own story. What motivates your character? Are they good, evil, somewhere in the grey area? Do they seek out help from the factions or do they go on their own as a lone wolf? Skyrim allows you to forge your own path and play the way you want to play. The world gives you the building blocks for so many cool things, you just have to use your imagination to insert yourself into the shoes of your character, rather than just looking at them through a screen.
The last thing I want to talk about is the main questline of the game, as I think it is the pinnacle of what makes Skyrim the amazing world that it is. The main quest revolves around the resurgence of dragons in Skyrim after 4000 or so years. Having been one of the only survivors from Helgen (the place of Alduin’s first attack), you inform the Jarl of the city of Whiterun. As you research just how the dragons returned, you have to defend the city from an attack by a dragon. Upon its defeat, you learn that you are what is called a Dovakin, a dragon born, gifted with the power of the voice, also known as a Thu’um. A group of scholars gifted with the Thu’um call down from the highest mountain in Skyrim for you, and upon traveling to meet them, teach you the ways of the dragon shout. Immediately, you are thrust into battle for the fate of Skyrim. I won’t go past this point as I do think the main quest of Skyrim has some twists and turns that are best experienced rather than explained, but I will talk about why this main quest sells Skyrim as a world. As a plot hook, I think that being a descendant of the Dovakin adds some intrigue to the game and offers you a real stake in the battle for Skyrim. Taking the power of the dragons and using it to defeat them is a really cool concept, and gets expanded upon further into the game as you learn new ways to use this power, completely altering the playstyle and strategy you take into battle. The main story also focuses on the civil war in Skyrim between the Legion and the Stormcloaks, and helps to define Skyrim as a country at war. The beauty of this main quest is that you really don’t have to participate in it if you don’t want to. The world of Skyrim is so vast that you can do so many other things if this doesn’t interest you. I mean, after 600 hours in the game, I’ve maybe completed the main quest two or three times. That’s why Skyrim was the first thing that popped into my head when this topic came up. Why wouldn’t I talk about it?
To wrap things up: if you haven’t played Skyrim, or gotten to experience just how amazing the world is, you have to. There’s a reason that after 10 years and 6 versions that have been released, that it’s still considered to be one of the best RPGs of all time. So what’s your excuse? What are you waiting for?