Snow capped mountains, lined with slush filled streams of crystal clear aqua seem brushed by the pines, and caverns. Northern glacial monoliths which tower over the sea below, become a breathtaking ocular prize to approach from a gazing distance. Juxtaposed culture of Nordic surrealism, and Celtic demeanor are met in every hold, village, and campsite. Yet, there’s something your anticipation can’t seem to shake. A fear? Nervousness? Perhaps, the 30′ long aviary lizard behind you, breathing icy winds from within its roaring mouth. Be sure to harvest its bones if you live to tell the tale; it’ll look good on you when you craft it into armor. Welcome to the northernmost region of Tamriel; Skyrim. Home to the Nords, dragons, giants, and the prestigious College of Winterhold. You’ve chosen a fine time to visit, or settle! Excitement is abundantly available due to the rebellion against the Imperial crown, and the return of the ancient dragons. You what?! Absorbed an essence from one, after slaying the beast? Gods be praised, you’re Dragonborn!!

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Okay, i’ll admit to getting a little overzealous with the verbal portrait, but you have to admit; the first time you played an Elder Scrolls title, you were captivated to no end. My first was TES III; Morrowind. Since those days, iv’e been a believer in “the perfect” development team. Bethesda has truly monopolized the open world RPG, and have yet to disappoint. Introducing one GOT (game of the year) after another. TES IV: Oblivion was astounding, just the same. Still, without any doubt, or reservation, the most immersive title in TES series is V. Beautifully rendered in every way, and more so if you purchase the “special” remastered version for Xbox One, Windows, or PS4. Which includes all DLC. There are actually multiple re-releases; one for the Nintendo Switch, Playstation VR, Windows VR, and even a voice command version for Alexa! Quite diverse in its form factor options, and for good reason; there were 7 million copies shipped in the first week of the original release. By the end of 2016, Bethesda’s masterpiece had sold over 30 million physical units, and still counting to this very day!

What really makes this title stand out from the others though? From any open world “medieval” RPG, for that matter? The answer is simple; Todd Howard is a demi-god, genius, and only ascends in directory skill. All jokes aside, the Creation Engine, (built specifically for Skyrim) and the development teams determination are what gifted the world with a real game changer. (Pun intended) The Creation Engine is unique, in that it allows for unsurpassed realism within the 3D renderings. For instance, every object that exists in the game can cast a shadow. Not incredibly impressive, until you account for the shadows cast by swaying trees, of which each branch has its own mass, and density, creating a movement so real, you’d think you were seeing it for real. Or how about the entire weather dynamic? Snowfall progressively covers the landscape, and dissipates, per the given weather conditions. Winds affect the flow of water, and can blow over small objects. One interesting, and fun glitch I liked playing with was throwing fireballs at the carcasses of slain dragons. I won’t give away the details, but it’s worthy of a chuckle.

The premise picks up approximately two centuries after the Oblivion crisis; smack dab in another foretold time of historic event, and adventure. The game opens with you sitting aboard a carriage with some prisoners, and a man you later discover is an important character. Fast forward however long it takes you to build your hero, and you watch a man get fearlessly beheaded as punishment for his activity in the rebellion against the Empire, immediately followed by a man trying to flee taking a swift arrow to the back. When it’s your turn to meet the block, you’re buckled by a hit to the back of the legs, as you look up at the black mask, and battle axe about to send you to game over. As luck would have it, a dragon appears, and starts roasting everyone, seemingly for enjoyment; giving you ample time, and ruckus to slip away. You’ll be faced with a decision that (as far as I know) only has a minor affect in later gameplay; which is to follow one of the rebels, who’s a fellow prisoner, or an imperial guard. Either choice leads you to the nearest hold, where you are to alert the local hierarchy of the dragon attack. They task you with joining the nearby soldiers who are already under attack by the dragon. A mere half mile outside of the hold walls, you engage, and (hopefully) slay the beast. Thereafter, it’s soul is thrust into you, and the creature turns into ash, and bone. A baritone, sky shattering voice breaks the momentary silence, naming you “Dragonborn.” It’s a title you come to learn isn’t easily given, or kept. You’ll come to learn the language of the dragons, by mastering your Thu’um, and shouting ancient words of incredible power. To what purpose? You’ll have to find the source of that voice to know for certain!

I could just keep hashing out content all day for your eyes to absorb, but the only way to appreciate the majesty of the Nordic homeland, is to delve into it yourself. Aside from quests, and dragons, you’ll raid tombs, and caves; kill vampires, and werewolves (Or maybe become either?..) Build your own home from harvested materials, self chosen floor plans, and near-endless decor customization, all on your own decided plot of land. No matter the journey you take, your future rests with the night sky, and the stars you follow are entirely dependent upon you.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 30s Gameplay TV Ad from Matt Killmon on Vimeo.

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