Is It Time To Let Skyrim Die?
We’ve waged against the incessant hordes of the undead, fast-travelled from the mystical woodlands of Falkreath to the wintry peaks of Winterhold, and fought off more dragons than you can wave a stick at. Now, here we are. The tenth anniversary of Skyrim, Bethesda’s pride and joy, and what a decade it’s been. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of the fifth instalment to the Elder Scrolls franchise, there can be no denying that Skyrim has certainly had a huge impact on the video game industry.
Then again, Skyrim has certainly had its fair share of criticism over the years with regards to its various glitches, bugs, and, occasionally, boring quests. So much so, that there are some players who just haven’t been able to get into Skyrim, no matter how many hours they put into the game. Yet, that hasn’t stopped it from being considered by many, including my Tamriel-obsessed self, to be one of the greatest video games of all time.
However, there has been an array of fantasy open-world RPGs over the past ten years, many of which have garnered universal acclaim from both players and critics, much more than Skyrim did when it was initially released. Not to mention, with all the excitement about the upcoming Elder Scrolls 6, perhaps it's time to ponder the question - is it time to drop all the cheese wheels and potions of minor healing and just let Skyrim die?
Where It All Began...
Originally, Bethesda mainly worked on action and sports games rather than role-playing titles. However, that all changed with the development of Arena, the first instalment to The Elder Scrolls franchise. Things only went up and up from there for Bethesda, with the development of its other huge apocalyptic open-world franchise, Fallout, as well as three more Elder Scrolls games: Daggerfall, Morrowind, and Oblivion. Like Skyrim, Oblivion went on to be received with critical acclaim and gained a passionate fanbase which, arguably, rivals that of its successor. From looking at the Oblivion Reddit page, it's clear the love for the game is still going strong.
Bethesda began to fully work on Skyrim following the release of Fallout 3 in 2008 under the direction of their head honcho, Todd Howard. Howard, then went on to announce the game at the Spike Video Game Awards alongside an epic announcement trailer with a release date which is now etched forever into our memory: "11.11.11". Bethesda certainly didn't shy away from getting fans excited with the release of an official trailer narrated by the voice of Blade veteran Esbern and The Three-Eyed Raven himself, Max Von Sydow. Talking of Game of Thrones, it's hard to watch Skyrim's live-action trailer without immediately getting Season 8's Battle of Kings Landing vibes.
Skyrim finally made it onto the shelves on the promised release date of 11 November 2011. The response was universal critical acclaim. Players were spell-bound by the mystical landscape of Skyrim and the variety of quests outside of the game's main storyline. However, a number of players did have some technical problems, including glitches and crashes.
The Skyrim Fanbase
It wasn't long until Skyrim began to develop a passionate fanbase of its own. There are countless forums and sub-Reddits all solely dedicated to the world of Skyrim. Fans have flooded these sites with love for the game, whether it's about their favourite NPCs (I'm looking at you, J'zargo), some of the hilarious glitches and bugs they've come across, or some of the gorgeous fan-art they have created. It's safe to say, Skyrim has been memed within an inch of its life, and I've honestly lost count of how many me and Skyrim-obsessed friends have sent to one another over the years.
It would be a crime not to mention the iconic dialogue uttered by Skyrim's NPCs, which any Dragonborn could instantly recognise. Lines such as Lydia's sassy "I am sworn to carry your burdens", Nazeem's snotty "do you get to the Cloud District very often?", and the immortal words of the Courier: "Look like that's it. Got to go." Although, that doesn't mean we don't hate the Couriers any less. Skyrim fans have been flocking to get their hands of Tamriel-themed merchandise, including an Elder Scrolls cookbook and curtains. I'm literally writing this clutching my new colour-changing mug, which reveals the game's opening scene. So, as I make my morning cup of tea, Ralof of Riverwood looks back at me with "hey you, you're finally awake".
However, there are plenty of players out there who just don't understand the hype around Skyrim, no matter how many chances they give it or how many hours they dedicate to the game.
The Fight For Skyrim
Nope, I'm not talking about the Civil War between Stormcloaks and the Imperials here. I'm talking about the fight to keep Skyrim well and truly alive, even after a decade since its initial release. Just what exactly is it about Skyrim which keeps its players hooked?
Of course, a whole heap of praise has to go towards Bethesda for creating such an iconic game in the first place. However, it's the work the game developer has done since then to keep the game alive which is, also, incredibly praiseworthy. For one thing, Bethesda has made Skyrim easily accessibly being playable on pretty much every available platform from the Xbox 360 to the PS5 to the Nintendo Switch. Or, if you're looking for a truly immersive experience, there's the VR version which was released in 2018. So, it's understandable why there was so much backlash from the rumours that the upcoming Elder Scrolls 6 could be an Xbox exclusive.
A lot of credit has to be given towards the fans themselves, and those that have gone on to create some of the most amazing Skyrim mods. These genius mod-creators have gone on to enhance a player's gameplay experience with better graphics and enhanced details. Thanks to these gifted mod-makers, Dragonborns can meet a lute-playing bear, bring Halloween to Tamriel, or take a leaf out of Geralt of Rivia's book to become a Witcher.
Why Do Some Players Not Like Skyrim?
Just as much as Skyrim's gained a great deal of fans over the past decade, the game has also accumulated its fair share of haters and, reading some of their views, it's understandable.
A lot of criticism has been aimed towards some of the quests of the game, which are seen as anti-climactic and, arguably, boring. Other than the graphics, many Elder Scrolls fans saw the game as a deterioration from the previous instalments to the franchise. Speaking about their experience on Reddit, one player said: "I think my main issue with Skyrim is it is full of things that ruin the roleplay aspects of the game. The game chooses what your character is not you. Most of the time the dialogue options shoehorn you into a role. Many times your given dialogue options that run contrary to the nature of your character."
Oh, and the bugs. So many bugs. For some players, the amount of technical difficulties and glitches Skyrim have caused the game to be unplayable. This was a significant problem for players in the early days of Skyrim's release. Bethesda went on to release a number of patches to resolve the initial problems. However, even now, these players are still coming across a series of bugs and glitches which can ruin their experience. Personally, from my own experience, I have come across a number of glitches or bugs which have been fairly frustrating and sometimes caused me to lose hours of unsaved gameplay, but I'm the one to blame for that really.
Is It Time To Let Skyrim Die?
So, here it is, the big question. Should we stop playing Skyrim? Has the game's Steam reign finally come to an end? Is it time to finally let the Dragonborn fight their last battle before ascending to the psychedelic afterlife of Sovngarde?
My opinion... absolutely not. I would say "Fus Ro Dah!" to any thoughts of Skyrim being taken away any time soon. Of course, I fully understand why Skyrim might not be everyone's cup of tea and there have been plenty of debates about it here at GGRecon. Sure, the amount of glitches and bugs can be frustrating, but they have gone on to become an iconic staple of the game and often bring hilarious results. When you open the game, it's hard not to get goose bumps as soon as you hear the low beating drums of the Song Of The Dragonborn, thanks to composer Jeremy Soule, or just look out across Tamriel's stunning landscape on a clifftop somewhere.
For me, it is the freedom of the game. As soon as you leave the gates of the Helgen, the whole world of Tamriel is at your feet. You can either go down the Dragonborn route and team up with Paarthurnax to take down Alduin or become a criminal mastermind with the Thieves' Guild or The Dark Brotherhood. Or, you could just do both and boost up those sneak skills along with your Thu'um powers. I started really getting into Skyrim during the Coronavirus lockdown. At a time when I couldn't really leave the house, I could spend a few hours a day travelling around an expansive world of magic, battling dragons and killing bandits, all the while sat in bed with a cuppa.
Chances are I'll still be fighting off the Draugr when I'm old and grey on my next-gen PS86 console, with my Ralof mug by my side.