The Fantasy World of Skyrim
Since its release on the 11th of November, 2011, (Yes, 11.11.11), the world of Skyrim has provided us with a fantasy world that to this day continues to surprise all that have played. Here are my reasons to why I believe The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is the ultimate Fantasy world out there.
The world of fantasy is a world without limits. From ancient lone travellers to intergalactic wars, it is no surprise why so many of us love to immerse ourselves in the fantasy genre. However, constructing a prosperous fantasy world is no easy task. The secret lies in the details, and the more thorough the mechanics of its universe, the better. Hence why the best fantasy worlds hold immensely detailed histories and narratives, carefully thought of character relations, and contain natural laws that challenge ones we’re familiar with within our world. Magic and folklore, mythical creatures not found on Earth, and skylines filled with planets and other celestial beings we can only dream of are only a few examples of what is possible in the world of fantasy – and non-come close to the fantasy world of the Elder Scrolls, Tamriel, and especially the province of Skyrim, home of the Nords.
The Perfect Balance
To begin, let’s speak of the mechanics present in the world of Skyrim. The world is shrouded in magic and mystery, and each race holds its unique talents and perks that help it survive in the harsh environments of Skyrim. As you venture out into the world, you decide how you wish your character to function as the Dragonborn, a mythical character that is understood to have the ability to absorb dragon souls. This comes at a good time as Alduin, a dragon also known as the ‘World Eater’ and the creator of the dragon civilization, begins to resurrect its kind throughout Skyrim. With the power of the Thu’um, or simply The Voice, a power unique to ones that follow the Way of the Voice and naturally mastered by the Dragonborn, you begin your journey to defeat Alduin and bring peace to Skyrim. Moreover, Skyrim is currently facing a civil war between the Empire, the raining government of Skyrim, and the Stormcloaks, also referred to as the brothers and sisters of Skyrim, that wish to overthrow the Empire. Skyrim is far from a peaceful world and is filled with things that want you dead – precisely what you want in a fantasy world.
However, if fighting and murder are not how you wish to build your story, there are other ways one can choose to play the game. The world rewards you for doing various tasks that don’t necessarily require adventure. These include chopping lumber, harvesting crops, collecting animal pelts, smithing armour, and trading with merchants to buy a home in the cities, get married and even start a family with children and pets! You could also become an assassin and earn your living through murder-for-hire contracts and live your life in the shadows. There is something in Skyrim for everyone.
The narrative changes depending on who you are
The beauty of Skyrim is that you get to decide specific traits about yourself that, in turn, alter how the world reacts to you. The Elder Scrolls implement a base level of social politics, including racism, sexism, and a social hierarchy. All the previously mentioned will affect your experience in the world. If, for example, you began your journey as a Nord, the home race of Skyrim, you shouldn’t have any problems when interacting at Nord strongholds and most of the residents in the province. However, what you will experience is a disliking and a natural wariness from other races that may refer to you as a racist. On the other hand, if you decide to become a High Elf, the natural opposite of the Nord, then don’t expect a warm welcome when travelling across Skyrim.
I enjoy experiencing the world as an underdog, and the Khajiit and Argonian, being the cat and lizard race and the opposite of the humanoid Nord race, are the ones that tend to get treated the worst. There are many places in Skyrim where Argonians work the worst of jobs whilst the Khajiit holds a reputation of thievery, so many do not allow them to travel within cities. Both races are addicted to Skooma, a form of moonshine, which does not help their already damaged reputations. The fantasy world of Skyrim, therefore, presents a unique narrative depending on who you are, teaching us that no one on Earth experiences the same story as ourselves.
You decide how the story unfolds
The most enjoyable aspect of the story is that there is no one right way of exploring the world. It is like a book that makes sense on whichever page you decide to start on and enriches your experience at the same time. Yes, there are pointers to where you may want to go, but the world is quite literally your oyster in this case. Yes, the world drastically needs your help, and the lives of thousands depend on you, but sometimes it’s more important to go mining across the land or catch fireflies. The story is ultimately yours, and it only ends when you decide it too. Hence why ever since its release nearly ten years ago, I still find myself restarting by roleplaying as thoroughly thought-out characters on their quests. The possibilities are endless, and even now, after hundreds of restarts, I find secrets I never knew the game held for me to discover.
Stories within the Story
As I mentioned before, there is nothing better than a detailed fantasy world with backstories hidden within it. In Skyrim’s case, they come in the form of books – hundreds of books – scattered across its world. These provide information that may not be necessarily important to your narrative in Skyrim but instead enriches the universe you find yourself in. From the ancient tales of history, such as the Aetherium Wars and the ancient records of the Dwemer race, to the playful quick reads, such as the Lusty Argonian Maid or The Cake and the Diamond. I love these small pieces of writing within the narrative as it allows that little bit extra for those that wish to know.
You don’t like a character? Kill them!
I will share a pet peeve of mine; I hate when a character ruins the story’s plot, and there is nothing I can do about it. That one aspect of a nearly perfect world that ruins it. Most of the time, these characters cannot be removed and even find themselves at the deciding moments of the story, all while continuing to annoy you along the way. This is not a problem in the world of Skyrim. If any character annoys you and they aren’t part of a questline later on in the game, all you have to do is kill them! Yes, it’s that simple. You can steal all their possessions, take over their house, murder them for all to see or assassinate them in the shadows, your choice, or even feast on them during the night as a vampire or eat their flesh as a werewolf! What I’m trying to say is that, sometimes, you’d have more fun removing a character from the narrative than keeping them in, and with the freedom that Skyrim provides, that is encouraged rather than not!
Even as I am writing this, my partner is playing Skyrim for the first time as an Argonian, and they love their new character! I watch in awe as new parts of the world unravel themselves to me, only making me want to play it that much more! Therefore, in my eyes, the Elder Scrolls universe is one of the only fantasy worlds that immerses me entirely into its universe, and I would recommend it to anyone that wishes to escape into a world with endless possibilities. Trust me; you won’t regret it.
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