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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Three downloadable content add-ons were released—Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn—which were repackaged into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition, which released on June 4, 2013.

Skyrim's main story revolves around the player character's efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim. Over the course of the game, the player completes quests and develops their character by improving their skills. Unlike previous Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim does not require the player to select a character class at the beginning of the game, negating a problem the development team felt previous entries had by forcing the player into a rigid play-style too early in the game. Skyrim continues the open world tradition of its predecessors by allowing the player to travel anywhere in the game world at any time and to ignore or postpone the main storyline indefinitely.

The game was developed using the in-house Creation Engine, built specifically for the game. Skyrim is not a direct sequel to previous Elder Scrolls games, but during development it was considered a spiritual successor to Oblivion and 2008's Fallout 3. The team opted for a more unique and diverse game world than Oblivion's Cyrodiil, which lead producer Todd Howard considered less interesting by comparison. Skyrim premiered to critical acclaim, with reviewers particularly responding well to the refined character development system over previous Elder Scrolls entries. Critics cited the game's lack of polish and weak melee combat as negative factors. The game shipped over seven million copies to retailers within the first week of its release, and sold over 20 million copies across all three platforms.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Plot

Skyrim is set 200 years after the events of Oblivion, though it is not a direct sequel. The game takes place in the land of Skyrim, amid a civil war between two warring political factions; the Stormcloaks, led by Skyrim's native Nord race, and the Imperial Legion.

The story begins with the imprisoned player being led to an Imperial execution in the town of Helgen, alongside several Stormcloak soldiers and their leader, Ulfric Stormcloak. A Dragon unexpectedly interrupts the procession, attacking and destroying the town. The player escapes and journeys to the nearby town of Riverwood, whose residents are now fearful that the Dragon could strike their town as well at any moment. The player is asked to make their way to the city of Whiterun, to request aid from the city's Jarl—the game's equivalent of a lord—against the Dragon threat. The Jarl, Balgruuf the Greater, accepts under the condition that the player first retrieve a Dragonstone, a magical artefact that shows the location of ancient Dragon burial sites.

The player returns to Whiterun with the Dragonstone, only to learn that another Dragon has appeared near the city. After slaying the Dragon with assistance from the city's guards, the player absorbs the Dragon's soul which grants them the ability to perform a magical ability called a "Thu'um", or Dragon Shout. The city's guards are astonished, and inform the player that they must be a Dragonborn, a mortal with the soul of a Dragon. After returning to the Jarl with news of the Dragon's defeat, the player is summoned to meet with the Greybeards, an order of monks who live in seclusion in their temple of High Hrothgar on the slopes of Skyrim's tallest mountain, the Throat of the World.

The Greybeards further train the player in the "Way of the Voice", teaching the player more powerful Thu'um's and instructing the player on their destiny and role of the Dragonborn. The player learns that Skyrim's civil war is the last in a sequence of prophetic events foretold by the Elder Scrolls, which also predicted the return of Alduin, the Dragon-god of destruction. Alduin is prophesied to destroy the races of Men and Mer, and consume the world. The player character is the latest "Dovahkiin", a Dragonborn, an individual with the body of a mortal and the soul of a Dragon. Dovahkiin are anointed by the gods to help fend off the threat Alduin and other Dragons pose to Skyrim and Tamriel.

The Greybeards task the player with retrieving the legendary Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. However, the player discovers the Horn has been stolen by another, who wishes to meet with the Dragonborn. The thief reveals herself as Delphine, Riverwood's innkeeper and one of the last surviving members of the Blades—an Order of bodyguards sworn to protect the Imperial Emperor. Delphine and the player witness Alduin reviving a Dragon from a burial mound and defeat the Dragon. Afterwards, Delphine helps the player infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy near the city of Solitude, the headquarters of the Aldmeri Dominion in Skyrim, to follow up on her suspicions about the Thalmor's possible involvement with the Dragon threat. While there, Delphine and the player discover the Thalmor are searching for a man named Esbern, an archivist of the Blades Order. Delphine then instructs the player to locate Esbern, known to be hiding in the sewers and ratways of the city of Riften.

The player character accompanies the Blades in search of Alduin's Wall, a prophetic engravement located in an ancient Blades fortress known as Sky Haven Temple. While the Blades set up in the temple, the player character learns that the ancient Nords used a special Thu'um against Alduin called "Dragonrend", representing mankind's comprehensive hatred for the Dragons, to cripple his ability to fly so they could engage him. To gain more information, the player meets the ancient Dragon Paarthanux, the leader of the Greybeards who was once one of Alduin's most feared generals. Paarthurnax reveals that Alduin was not truly defeated in the past, but was sent forward to an unspecified point in time by the use of an Elder Scroll, in the hopes that he would get lost. The player manages to locate the Elder Scroll within the ancient Dwemer ruin of Blackreach and uses it to peer through a window in time, learning the powerful Dragonrend Shout to combat Alduin.

Armed with the knowledge of how the ancient Nords defeated Alduin, the player battles Alduin on the summit of the Throat of the World. Overpowered by the player, Alduin flees to Sovngarde, the Nordic afterlife. The player learns that Dragonsreach, the palace of the Jarl of Whiterun, was originally built to trap and hold a Dragon. Balgruuf refuses to allow the player to utilize Dragonsreach and possibly endanger the city if the civil war between the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion still rages. With the help of the Greybeards, the player calls a council between General Tullius—the Imperial Legion's commander—and Ulfric Stormcloak, successfully calling for a temporary armistice while the Dragon threat exists. If the war has already ended the Jarl will eventually agree with persuasion.

The player summons and traps a Dragon named Odahviing in Dragonsreach, learning from him that Alduin has fled to Sovngarde through a portal located high in the mountains, at an ancient fort called Skuldafn. Odahviing, impressed with the player's Thu'um and ability to capture him, agrees to fly the player to Skuldafn, claiming Alduin has shown himself as weak and undeserving of leadership over the Dragons. Upon arrival at Skuldafn, the player travels to Sovngarde and meets with Ysgramor, the legendary Nord who, along with his Five Hundred Companions, drove the Elves out of Skyrim. Ysgramor informs the player that Alduin has placed a "soul snare" in Sovngarde, allowing him to gain strength by devouring the souls of deceased Nords arriving there. The player meets up with the three heroes of Nordic legend who defeated Alduin originally, and, with their help, destroys the soul snare, defeating Alduin.

If the player did not kill Paarthurnax in an earlier side quest, an alternate conclusion is given. The player returns to the summit of the Throat of the World in which Paarthurnax and the other Dragons wait. Paarthurnax explains that even if Alduin is defeated, they are in no condition to celebrate for he was once their ally and is still one of their kin. Having asserted his authority over many Dragons, Paarthurnax convinces those loyal to him to leave Tamriel.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Gameplay

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing game, playable from either a first- or third-person perspective. The player may freely roam over the land of Skyrim, which is an open world environment consisting of wilderness expanses, dungeons, cities and towns. The player may navigate the game world faster by riding horses, or by utilizing a fast-travel system that allows them to warp to previously-discovered locations. The game's main quest can be completed or ignored at the player's preference after the first stage of the quest is finished. Non-player characters populate the world and can be interacted with in a number of ways; the player may engage them in conversation, or kill them. Crimes like murder and theft accrue the player bounty points in each of the world's nine districts. Should the player be stopped by a guard, they may wipe their bounty with gold or jail time, or may resist arrest which will trigger an aggressive pursuit. NPCs may allocate the player additional side-quests, and some side-quests have parameters adjusted based on nearby dungeons the player has yet to explore. Some NPCs that are befriended or hired by the player may act as companions who will accompany the player and provide aid in combat. The player may choose to join factions, which are organized groups of NPCs such as the Dark Brotherhood, a band of assassins. Each of the factions has an associated quest path to progress through. The cities and towns in the game world each have an economy, which the player can stimulate by completing jobs such as farming.

The player character engages in combat with monsters while exploring a dungeon. The player may dual-wield weapons and magic at once in order to be more effective against monsters.

A perpetual objective for the player is to develop their character. At the beginning of the game, the player creates their character by selecting one of several races, including humans, elves and anthropomorphic creatures, and then customizes their character's appearance. Over the course of the game, the player improves their character's skills, which are numerical representations of their ability in certain areas. There are eighteen skills divided evenly between the three schools of combat, magic and stealth. When the player has trained skills enough to meet the required experience, their character levels up. Each time their character levels, the player may choose to select a skill-specific ability called a perk, or store perk points for later use. Unlike earlier entries in The Elder Scrolls series which used a character class system to determine which skills would contribute to the character's leveling, Skyrim allows the player to discover preferred skills as they play the game and rewards the player with more experience when a frequently-used skill is leveled. A head-up display (HUD) appears when any of the player's three main attributes are being depleted. Attributes regenerate over time, although this process can be accelerated by taking potions or regenerative spells. Health is depleted primarily when the player takes damage, and the loss of all health results in death. Magicka is depleted by the use of spells and by being struck by lightning-based attacks. Stamina determines the player's effectiveness in combat and is depleted by sprinting, power attacking, and being struck by frost-based attacks. The player's inventory can be accessed from the menu and items can be viewed in 3D, which may prove essential in solving puzzles found in dungeons.

The player's effectiveness in combat relies on the use of weapons and armor, which may be bought or created at forges, and magic, which may be bought or unlocked by finding spell tomes. Weapons and magic are assigned to each hand, allowing for dual-wielding, and can be swapped out through a quick-access menu of favorite items. Shields can be used to fend off enemy attacks and reduce incurred damage, or offensively through bashing attacks. Blunt, bladed and hacking weapons can be used in close combat and each have specific advantages and roles; for example, the player can perform power attacks with each weapon. Magic can be used in the form of spells, which have many different function, such as the regeneration of health or the depletion of enemy health. A bow and arrow may be utilized in long-range combat, but the bow can be used as a defensive melee weapon in close combat. The player can enter sneak mode and pickpocket, or deliver sneak attacks to unsuspecting enemies.

When exploring the game world, the player may encounter wildlife. Many creatures in the wilderness are immediately hostile towards the player. Skyrim is the first entry in The Elder Scrolls to include Dragons in the game's wilderness. Like other creatures, Dragons are generated randomly in the world and will engage in combat with NPCs, creatures and the player. Some Dragons may attack cities and towns when in their proximity. The player character can absorb the souls of Dragons in order to use powerful spells called "Dragon Shouts". Each Shout contains three words, and the strength of the Shout will vary depending on how many words have been spoken. The words to Shouts can be learned by visiting "Word Walls" in dungeons. The words to each shout are unlocked for use by spending the absorbed souls of slain Dragons. A regeneration period limits the player's use of Shouts in gameplay.

Reception
Skyrim received acclaim from reviewers upon its release. The removal of the character class system from previous Elder Scrolls entries was well received. Billy Shibley of Machinima's Inside Gaming and Charles Onyett of IGN praised its removal because it allowed players to experiment with different skills without having to make decisions about a class early in the game. John Bedford of Eurogamer opined that by removing the character class system, the game tailored for players who wanted to build an all-around character while still also providing the opportunity for other players to specialize in a preferred play-style. Steve Butts of The Escapist considered the addition of perks to the character development system "a great method to make your character feel even more unique and personal". Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot praised the way perks allowed for the player's preferred skills to become more powerful over time, stating that the perk system "forms around the way you play, but allows for tweaking so that you retain a sense of control". The user interface (UI) that navigates the player's items and spells was also praised by reviewers for its accessibility; Bedford complimented its "elegant design" which succeeded Oblivion's cumbersome UI.

The art style of the game world drew acclaim from many reviewers, who welcomed the departure from Oblivion's Cyrodiil. Jason Schreier of Wired described the land of Skyrim as a "Viking-inspired treasure trove of flavor and charm", noting its contrast to Cyrodiil which he considered generic by comparison. The Staff at Edge magazine described Cyrodiil as a "patchwork of varying terrains", praising the more consistent design of Skyrim. Shibley praised "the lack of copy-and-paste level design that's plagued Bethesda's previous games, giving a lived-in and handcrafted look to the world". Bedford noted that the improved graphical fidelity over Oblivion allowed the game world to feel more lifelike, praising the "misty mountain setting, complete with swirling fog and high-altitude snowstorms". An editor for PC PowerPlay praised the diversity of the dungeon design. Andrew Reiner of Game Informer cited criticisms Oblivion faced for repetitive dungeons, noting that "the composition of each dungeon is largely unique and individualized" in Skyrim. He also favored the design choice to have a quick route out of a dungeon leading from its last room, eliminating the problem he identified Oblivion as having where the player would clear a dungeon and then have to go all the way back to the beginning to exit it. Many reviewers praised the large amount of things to do in the world away from the main story. Tom Francis of PC Gamer opined that it was difficult to explore the world without becoming distracted by things to do, explaining that "it's hard to walk for a minute in any direction without encountering an intriguing cave, a lonely shack, some strange stones, a wandering traveller, a haunted fort".

Reviewers welcomed the ability to dual-wield weapons and magic. An editor for PC PowerPlay felt that the dual-wielding ability "transforms the tactical scope of each combat encounter". Shibley noted that the dual-wielding option gave the player more freedom to experiment with combat, explaining that "the ability to apply a spell to each hand generates huge potential for getting creative with your spell combinations". However, many reviewers were critical of the melee combat, feeling that it had not been improved upon as much as other areas in the game. Justin McElroy of Joystiq explained that "what should be thrilling fights in Skyrim are often weighed down by the same clunky melee system Oblivion suffered from". Onyett described melee combat as "flat" and "floaty", and that "many times it feels like you're slicing air instead of a mythical creature's flesh". Franics agreed with this sentiment, explaining that "too much of the time, you wave your weapon around and enemies barely react to the hits".

Many reviewers noted glitches while playing Skyrim, some game-breaking. Nick Cowen of The Guardian pointed out that the game's glitches were a trade-off for its ambitious scope, himself experiencing glitches that forced him to reload earlier saves. Edge began their review by criticizing the lack of polish, while still acknowledging many areas in the game which made up for it. In addition, the quality of the main quest divided some reviewers. While Reiner praised the main quest as "superbly penned" and "Bethesda's best effort to date", Butts and Francis criticized the fact that the story was delivered primarily through conversations and quest journals, rather than through the player's own interactions. While the Dragon battles were well-received, some reviewers observed flaws in the AI for Dragons. Onyett pointed out their "predictable attack patterns", which Francis agreed with, explaining that "fighting them never changes much: you can just ignore them until they land, then shoot them from a distance when they do". Reiner felt that due to the repetitiveness of their attack patterns, the Dragons weren't challenging enough for low-level players. Edge pointed out a curve in difficulty for players who favored archery and magic, as Dragons were difficult to attack while airborne.


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