How I ended up playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
for a total of 700 hours
“Are you sure? I mean, this is quite the commitment,” he says with a serious tone, and I actually can’t tell if he’s joking or not. I stare at the young male cashier at my local Gamestop, slightly dumbfounded, the soon-to-be life-ruiner of a PlayStation 3 game case in hand.
“Yeah, sure. I’ve totally like, put a lot of thought into this and figured I was ready.” Lies. Can he tell I have no idea what I’m about to get myself into? I pay for my used copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and leave the store with haste, eager to find out what the fuss was about. And yes, that conversation actually happened.
Now, just for the record: I’m known for spending a lot of time playing a lot of games. Hell, if you combine all the Kingdom Hearts games that I have played, of which I’ve loved each and every one, I have easily over a 500 hours on record. But that’s the thing: the popular Square Enix series has 10 games with 2 on the way, and I haven’t even played all 10! Skyrim is just one game. So why this particular game? Magic and theft, werewolves and vampires, alchemy and smithing? Check. Over 400 unique quests, 5 guild storylines, a civil war, and three DLCs, all in one. And dragons?!
To understand its charm you have to know what it’s all about: like any good RPG, the game starts at character creation after a short cutscene. Bored with having a human character all the time? Be an argonian, a lizard-human reptilian person, for example! Taking place 200 years after the events of Oblivion, the last Elder Scrolls installment, the northern Tamriel continent Skyrim is being ripped apart by civil war and the return of dragons. As the story goes on, we find out that the protagonist, no matter which race you chose to play as, by the way, is something people call dragonborn, or dovahkiin. A mortal with the soul of a dragon, a Skyrim legend, who is destined to take down the dark dragon Alduin, who according to the prophecy is to bring the world to an end.
Let’s the honest: it’s a bit cliché, but enjoyable nonetheless. Don’t enjoy dragon-slaying and fulfilling your destiny as dragonborn? Join a group of assassins at Dark Brotherhood. Become a mage at the College of Winterhold, or a feared vampire lord. Join the thieves guild, get married and adopt kids… Ah, the domestic bliss! Bless the concept of open-world games! Did I mention you can do all this at once? After a long day of crafting deadly poisons, visiting and raiding Dwarven ruins, and maybe harvesting some freaking potatoes while you’re at it, you can go home which you built yourself, sit down, and read a book.
Above all, sometimes the best thing to do is to enjoy the stunning visuals of the flowing water and villagers working on their craft, listen to the captivating soundtrack, and to just take it all in. Skyrim truly rewards those who like to take their time while playing a video game. If you were to run through the whole game as fast as possible, you would miss everything the world has to offer. I often find myself so invested in the game and its subplots that I can’t seem to be able to controller down. “What happens when I return this cursed blade to the original owner’s tomb? I can’t possibly stop now.”
The game isn’t perfect. The main quest is kind of boring compared to everything else this game has to offer, like the things I just listed. The game came out in 2011… and hasn’t really been patched since. My poor PlayStation 3 has frozen on me multiple times as my game has attempted to auto-save. If you were there when The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion came out, you would notice the changes that were made, and all of them were for the better. The combat system is no longer awkward and levelling up is made easy. To this day I wonder if the flaws within actually make the experience more humane and realistic. Sure, it takes away from the immersion but I have yet in my lifetime played a game that was perfect. I believe however, that the game is a western role-playing masterpiece. Is the game suitable for everyone? Probably not. But would I recommend it to everyone I know? Absolutely.
I swear I’m not working for Bethesda.