There is no other game that I have put more hours, across more platforms, or brought more times than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Before Skyrim I had multiple playthroughs and kept coming back to Oblivion, but why has Skyrim gripped me for so many years in ways other RPGs haven't?
Skyrim for me is the game that has stood the test of time, and not only passed, but is still beloved. Out of all the games I uninstall or fall out of love with, Skyrim always has a permanent place no matter where I have lived or what devices I've had access to.
I can still remember when Skyrim first came out, the unknown, the excitement of a new adventure, the new combat, the new graphics, and a massive new world to dive into.
Yet all these years on, I still find comfort in watching content about Skyrim and even jumping into the game myself. You'd think I would be focused on the amazing modding community for keeping the game so fresh, but even now I keep on returning to the base vanilla game.
I have noticed that I don't have all the achievements for Skyrim special edition, so I've set out to remove all the mods and just play through the game with the intention of ticking off the achievements.
It made me realise how much of the main story and main guilds I normally skip when I hop back into the game. A rush overcomes me reminding me when I first started to experience the story, the scale, the impact, and even knowing the outcomes I still eagerly await each step of the journey.
At this point I have completed the game multiple times, at different difficulties, with and without mods, and in different play styles. Why has the game got such a strong grip on me?
For me, I play games to escape reality, to have a break from a busy day to day life. The thrill of being an adventurer. Skyrim is a game where I know the rules, I know how the game world works and what to expect, that makes it comfortable. The systems are interesting but I wouldn't describe them as deep. The characters are flat, but the story is engaging. The quests are predictable, but the journey is vast.
I've heard Skyrim described as a lake. It's very wide but not very deep. I understand that criticism, your actions don't truly have an impact, people don't remember your achievements, and the game is heavily scripted, meaning it's easy for the gaps to show.
Yet, Skyrim is warm soup for me. It fills me up and I keep coming back to it whenever I need to switch off and feel like a hero.
There is something very special about Skyrim, about the story, the gameplayer, even the bugs. It all comes together to make an engaging and memorable experience. I still have memories of other playthroughs, bits of the story I have made different decisions, even characters and their scripted lines.
I wouldn't say I discover something new in each play through, but I do find new things to appreciate and admire. New character reactions, bits of the story I missed before, the contextual clues which litter the landscape.
Why do I think Skyrim stands the test of time? It's the attention to detail, it's the little bits of lore and the funny item placement. It's the untold stories created by the layout.
I don't know if I'll ever revisit Skyrim once Elder Scrolls 6 shows up. I went back to Oblivion and Morrowind once after playing Skyrim and I was happy with the latest version to indulge myself with. I have tried Elder Scrolls online, and found that it was missing the magic that Skyrim and Oblivion gave me.
There are a lot of unknowns about Elder Scrolls 6, but until then I have my warm Skyrim soup to keep me happy on those long nights waiting for the next major instalment.
Alister Sneddon - February 6, 2020, updated February 7, 2020