Bethesda’s Mastery of Open Worlds Shines in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
There are plenty of games out there that promises players an open world gameplay, but very few actually are as “open” as they seem to be. From Japanese RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles to western AAA titles like Dragon Age: Inquisition, players are given a sense of ‘free rein’ across various fictional lands, and yet so few come even as close to the actual open world that Skyrim provides. So why is having a true open world so important? Because it allows you becomes anyone you want to be, and in Skyrim, that freedom is yours.
Ever fancy yourself as a gallant knight in shining armor? Or how about as a mysterious forest huntsman who tracks down dangerous creatures? Or maybe you would prefer to live quietly and do fishing as a primary source of income? In Skyrim, these options are all available to you, and so much more. There are plenty of things that is said about great and powerful character builds, or getting the highest DPS, or about maxing stats, but all these things pale in comparison to the bigger picture: that you can be (almost) anyone you want in the land of this Elder Scrolls game, and that is the true mark of an open world game.
What About Being the Dragonborn?
One of the key aspects of Skyrim that makes it so fun is the fact that the main story itself does not matter much. Indeed, you can clock in over a hundred hours of gameplay on it without even learning a single Dragon Shout. But we are getting ahead of ourselves; for those of you who know nothing of Skyrim, here is the lowdown:
Skyrim is the latest Elder Scrolls game in the main series (not counting ES Online), and much like Morrowind and Oblivion, this game follows an open-world format. Players are given the option to choose any race and any gender for their player character. The world is fantastically well detailed, day turns to night, weather randomizes, NPCs walk about and do their own thing, and you have the freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime. There are a ton of various quests and events for the players to participate in that are not part of the game’s main storyline allowing for plenty of fun gameplay. The main storyline itself follows a classic-styled story about how the player character becomes destined for great things as the Dragonborn. This story campaign delves deeply into the mythos of the Elder Scrolls universe and brings the player into some pretty interesting events.
What is Freedom?
There are plenty of ways to define freedom, but one thing is for certain, Skyrim provides players with a healthy dose of it. After the initial part of the game where you are introduced to the world of Skyrim in one of the most fun and action-packed fantasy scenes ever done, players have the choice to pretty much do anything they want. Yes, just because an NPC or an ancient piece of in-game text is telling you to do something, it is up to you to decide whether you want to or not. You can choose to enter big cities, stay in small villages, or travel about aimlessly. You can buy food and items from stores or steal when no one is looking. You can pick up a bow and arrow, and yet still have the ability to cast magic or wield a sword. Players get to define their characters by their actions. There are no job classes –you may choose to allocate skill points in any manner that you prefer.
Even how your character looks is player defined. The game’s character generation system allows you to edit the facial and body structure of your character –skin tone, hair color, and even the physical structure of the face can be altered at the start of the game (obviously, you get to choose your name as well). The best part is that even the quests follow the same open structure. You can stealthily steal an artifact, murder your way to it, or in some cases, charm the owner into giving it to you. The game does not restrict players by means of limiting actions –but you do have to deal with consequences. If you get caught stealing, guards will try to capture you and lock you up. Kill an NPC and you potentially lose access to quests associated with that character (though for the sake of players, NPCs related to the main story and important side quests cannot die). This is why Skyrim can be truly considered an open world game, because your options are pretty much unlimited, and players deal with a more important factor: their responsibility for what they do.
Expanding Horizons with Mods
While Skyrim has been released for both consoles and the PC, it is the PC users who get a pretty big advantage thanks to the existence of mods. Mods are basically modifications for the game’s assets and occasionally, modify the programming in order to streamline mechanics. There are a wide range of textures and mesh packs that updates Skyrim’s visuals to match up to 4K HD resolutions. There are mods that replace whole assets as well, such as character models, trees and plants, and even the clouds –in order to make them all more realistic or just better looking. If you have an option between the three platforms, we recommend playing on the PC –not to say that Skyrim’s visuals are not good to begin with (it is a very great looking game on its’ own), but it is a relatively old title. We recommend you check out the best skyrim mods at Nexus.com No Arrows to the Knee
Between the amazing amount of freedom you can have, the thrill of fighting massive dragons, and the fact that you can add so much content to the game (in the form of DLCs and mods) that will expand its’ already long gameplay value, Skyrim is a definite must-play for anyone. We love the whole save-anywhere approach as well –it allows you to be able to stop the game at almost any point (you cannot save while in the middle of a fight though) and come back to it right where you left off. So whether you love the whole fantasy-medieval thing, or want to see what a great open-world game is, or just want to enjoy being in a world where you can be almost anyone, Skyrim should definitely be on top of your gaming list.