Immersive Fandoms Reign Supreme
Why Skyrim is the best fantasy world ever
When I thought about what the best fantasy world could be, my brain ran through several options as fantasy is my absolute favorite thing. So many books and movies came up as potential subjects until I sat down at my writing desk. I then realized that I had focused too hard on those two things while forgetting one important entertainment genre that contains plenty of fantasy: video games.
Gaming in a fantasy world is better than reading about one or watching one because you get to immerse yourself in the actual world. Why be a spectator when you can get involved?
Skyrim is the best fantasy world in existence, and that's a fact.
How do I know this? Well, let's start with the character creation.
You get to design exactly who you want to be. The ability to choose your race provides opportunities to select skill sets that interest you the most. You could choose to be an Argonian, who is a lizard-like creature with the ability to breathe underwater (which comes in handy for several quests!) If you don’t want to look like a lizard or a cat (Khajiit) there are several other human-like races to choose from. While some are better skilled in magic, others come with stealth and natural combat capabilities, with other races boasting a natural talent for archery. All races come with varied combinations of skills and weaknesses, and you get to decide which one you want. We don’t get to choose such traits when we’re born, so this fandom allows you to expand on skills you wish you could have (or perhaps you are an archer in real life and would love to be a magical archer!)
You can live as many fantasy story lines as you want. Throughout the game, your character is presented with various scenarios in different quests, and the choice you make could change the path the game will give you to follow. In a quest called Dawnguard, you’re recruited as a vampire hunter who ends up unintentionally rescuing a long buried vampire named Serana. When you escort her to the castle where her vampire family lives, you’re given the choice to become a vampire or be banished from the grounds forever. You can be the hunter or the hunted, and it’s entirely up to you! In another quest line, called The Companions, you join a team of fighters who eventually reveal themselves to be werewolves. In fantasy worlds, most folks have a preference between being a vampire or being a werewolf, so the Companions quest line allows you another magical option. This ranks Skyrim as a superior fantasy world as you get to explore and enjoy magic while making your character everything you want it to be (including a supernatural creature.) We can’t customize ourselves like this in real life, so why not be anything you want in Skyrim?
There are moral dilemmas in quests that test your strength in making the best decisions, which is a quality to apply to real life. The fantasy land of Skyrim is enduring a civil war, with the Imperials fighting the Stormcloaks. At some point, NPCs (non-player characters) invite you to join their causes and you must choose a side to fight for in the war. The Imperials have signed a treaty with High Elves who enforce a ban on the religious worship of Talos, who was a mortal man that many feel is worthy of worship for his achievements. The Stormcloaks, led by Ulfric Stormcloak, believe that Talos should be allowed to be worshiped and strongly reject the treaty signed by the Imperials. Unfortunately, Ulfric’s desire to bring justice to Talos worshipers comes with the negative note of racism: he hates the High Elves and Imperials for allowing Talos worship to be banned, and he displays sincere racism against Dark Elves that reside in the city of Windhelm (where Dark Elves are crowded into the darkest, dingiest section of the city and openly discriminated against.) Ulfric is frequently heard referring to "those damn elves."
Although Ulfric’s cause is noble and intends to allow citizens of Skyrim to freely worship and remove all ties and binds to High Elves, there is a moral dilemma that players face. To me, it’s quite obvious that the Imperials are the better selection based on the racism aspect, but I also struggle with the idea of banning an innocent worship ritual across the land of Skyrim. You’re choosing a side in a fantasy war and you must choose wisely.
The exploration of various locations is endless and full of magical secrets. There has never been a single time I’ve managed to discover every location on the Skyrim map in every play through I've done. By pure accident I ended up discovering an entire altar for Dragon Priest masks in a place called Labyrinthian (which is just as complicated to navigate as it sounds.) Throughout the game play, you obtain eight masks from Dragon Priests after you defeat them. These masks (unbeknownst to me for several game plays) can be placed on the altar to reveal a final mask; there is also a wooden mask near the altar that, when worn, takes you back in time to when the altar was thriving and at its best. Taking the mask off returns you to present time.
Besides this, there are caves, camps, mines, bodies of water, shrines, and tombs to explore, find treasure, and battle Draugr (essentially Skyrim’s form of the undead.) You never run out of things to do in Skyrim, which makes this fantasy world way better than others.
The College of Winterhold gives you the opportunity to learn and expand your character’s magical abilities. If you’ve chosen magic as a skill to hone, you can visit the college and not only collect several quests to accomplish, the magical teachers and grumpy Orc librarian have multiple resources to enhance your magic. Besides that, the college itself is beautiful, and the stories within the college are unique, detailed, and exciting.
So far, this fantasy land provides opportunities on multiple levels, leaving little to no magical or supernatural element out as an option. It has more than other fantasy worlds without a doubt.
Your character is an important and rare type called the Dragonborn, making you a fated individual to save Skyrim from the dragon attacks (and, most importantly, save Skyrim from the ancient dragon Alduin). The Dragonborn is someone born with dragon’s blood in them, allowing them to speak the language of the dragons (referred to as Shouts) and granting them the ability to absorb the soul of a defeated dragon. This ensures the dragon is certainly dead and will not return, as Alduin is able to bring defeated dragons out of their graves if their souls have not been absorbed. Fantasy worlds that allow you to be magical witches or wizards, stealthy archers, or even assassins are common and usually always fun, but how often does a fantasy world let you absorb dragon souls because you have dragon blood as a human (or Argonian or Khajiit!) This concept alone makes the beauty of Skyrim all the more unique.
You can find love, adopt children, and even build several homes after completing specific quest lines. If you’re tired of hunting vampires, defeating dragons, retrieving important relics from Draugr infested tombs, and slaughtering bandit camps for bounties, you’re able to connect with the Temple of Mara and find yourself a partner to love and marry. Sometimes an adventurer just needs a nice, quiet home life with a family. You and your partner can even adopt children, with a few wandering the streets in various cities or you can visit the orphanage in the city of Riften. Mixing normalcy like this with creative quests and battles makes this fantasy game entirely complete. It has a little of everything and you can change up where you go and what you do based on the mood you’re in.
Skyrim has even more to offer than everything mentioned thus far. To add to the endless possibilities of being an entirely new person in the game and further customize who you want to be in this wonderful land of fantasy, here are some notable options to partake in during game play:
- Alchemy: There are herbs, mushrooms, animal parts, and even human hearts that can be collected to create useful potions for your battle skills and healing purposes. The alchemy skill is optional but very helpful if you dive into it. Oddly enough, you can learn the properties of potion ingredients by eating them. (That means you might have to eat a bear claw!)
- Enchanting: In the game, you can use soul gems to enchant regular pieces of armor, jewelry, and weapons. Again, utilizing this is optional, but it adds so much more to the game. It creates the capability of customizing your items in accordance with the goals you have for your character. More customization for your fantasy character gives you even more control over how you play the game. You can literally create your dream fantasy self.
- Smithing: Usually, you can pick up weapons off of slain people or Draugr without having to pay. You can also find armor and jewelry this way. If you’d like to give your character a hobby, though, you can collect ingots, leather, dragon bones, and dragon scales to learn to create your own sets of armor, weapons, and other items.
- Lockpicking: This skill is fairly necessary as many quests require you to break into chests, homes, or jail cells. It’s a frustrating skill to practice until you get better, but isn’t that something we struggle with in life anyway? Why not struggle in a fantasy world, too? (Well, maybe this isn’t a good selling point.)
- Pickpocketing: When you partake in the Thieves Guild quest, pickpocketing is an important skill to hone. Of course, this isn’t something one should do in real life, so the option being available for your character allows you the chance to break some rules without getting in real trouble (unless you’re caught by the victim or a guard, but they can’t punish you in real life.) This only makes me feel that Skyrim is a superior fandom even more because you can complete tasks and even commit crimes that you would never do in your normal life. Who doesn’t love being a little bad every so often?
- Speech: There are many ways to enhance your speech skill, like reading books or finding someone who can train you in the art of speech for a (usually hefty) price. I love that your communication abilities in your character can get you further than others if your skill is leveled up well enough. As it is in real life, effective communication can take you far, and a high speech level can earn you better prices with merchants or persuading NPCs to allow you to break certain rules.
Anyone who has played the game is aware of the powerful song when the game first loads up known as the Dovahkiin song (Dovahkiin is the name for Dragonborns.) It’s loud, boisterous, and perfect for amping you up for battles and quests before loading your last saved game. There are other songs within the game, played by bards in various inns and cities.
It just so happens that American violinist Lindsey Stirling loved the song so much that she covered it in her own style (accompanied by Peter Hollens.) Watch the video and listen to the beautiful violin, as it’s almost like watching the game itself come to life.
This is how much my fantasy fandom means to me...
My writing desk is decorated with Skyrim merchandise! Nearly all of these items were gifted to me by my partner, who supports my love for fantasy.
My partner even created several pieces of artwork from the game for my enjoyment, which I have printed and hanging to the side of my desk.
Skyrim’s impact on me has been increasingly profound as I continue to play over and over, trying new races and skill sets and working on magic and weapon skills. There are so many elements to this world that I couldn’t possibly cover all of them, but the information I’ve listed already is a solid argument for why Skyrim is the greatest creation for fans of fantasy. I began playing this game several years ago and to this day, I am not anywhere near tired of it because there is still so much more I can discover and enjoy. When I play Skyrim, I find myself so lost in my character and the quests, my missions, creating strategies for attacks and planning which quests take precedence over others, and so many other elements that I'm drawn into. It's like I've left my sofa and entered the world itself, hoping my strategy and customized skill set will aid me in defeating the World Eater (Alduin) and becoming the hero Skyrim deserves.
How could anyone say this isn’t the most superior of all fandoms? A fantasy world that keeps my imagination running wild while I work on my writing will have my heart forever.