With this series, I didn’t want to completely tear apart Skyrim constructively. So, I think it’s only right that we speak about what I think is the most prominent feature in Skyrim: the world.
I know that I said Skyrim has little replayability—and I stand by that—however, the world design never ceases to amaze me. Ever need to research a fantasy world? Skyrim will answer your questions. From the collosal, cloud-touching mountains to the underground labyrinth that might as well be its own game, Skyrim does a fantastic job at transporting you into the Elder Scrolls universe. From the start of the game, you are whisked away into this world. With uneven stone paths, poorly assembled but functional wooden carriages, and buildings with thatch roofs, you are instantly transported to a world that can only be described as, in my opinion, wunderbar—wonderful.
I am an absolute sucker for anything that’s created in a medieval-style time period, and maybe that’s why I love this game’s world design so much. I love history and exploring it; getting to see a world similar to Vikings and Game of Thrones is something I could only dream of before Skyrim. There are games out that have done this well, like Vikings Battle of Asgard, but Skyrim blows it out of the water. From Riverwood to Whiterun, you can see the change in urban density and how the economy differs; Riverwood has small, plain townhouses and land, especially when compared to Whiterun’s gargantuan, escalating path leading up to Dragonsreach. From its huge gate entrance to the market run by townsfolk to the inn where strangers come to meet and sleep, the design of each hold is perfect.
For example, take Solitude and Windhelm. Solitude is the Imperial capital, a bustling metropolis with an emphasis on much bigger, more expensive town markets compared to Windhelm, the home of the Stormcloaks, which is burdened by the bitter cold, snow, and the low-income of its run-down civilisation. They’re completely different, just like each hold is.
Bethesda has done a brilliant job when it comes to designing worlds, and this is most obvious in the environmental storytelling, which really says it all. The game does a brilliant job of making you explore your surroundings. The game doesn’t force or deny you fast travel, yet I never seem to use it. I always want to make my own way and experience whatever happens on the road. I might come across a Dwemer dungeon I didn’t know existed, or a small farm in the middle of nowhere. It was only recently I discovered that Cicero’s wagon actually breaks down at a farm! I never knew this because I never explored that certain area before. In Skyrim, you can find something new around every corner. Whether it leaves you in awe or scared to explore further, the way the game promotes a sense of satisfaction in finding unknown locations is perfect.
I’ve loved every world that Bethesda has created, but Skyrim does something different for me. It entices and pushes at the same time. The mythical-feeling era makes the player want to explore every nook and cranny, no matter how potentially dangerous. After all, who knows what that location holds?
Whether it’s some generic loot, a special weapon, or even a unique quest-giver, every location has a purpose. It rewards the time I put into the game and makes me feel like I’m not just wasting it. It promotes a sense of eagerness to carry on exploring. Like many, my first adventure up to High Hrothgar was breathtaking, and reaching the peak was incredible. Looking down at how far I’ve come and the challenges I’ve faced along the way was immensely rewarding.
Simply put, Skyrim‘s world design is superb. I don’t want to blabber on because I think it’s time for me to put the Skyrim discussions to bed. Through this mini-series, I’ve finally been able to voice my opinions to an audience and I’m happy to have done that. For a game I love so much, it sure has challenged me. In the meantime, I reckon there’s some locations I haven’t found, so I guess it’s back to Skyrim we go. Maybe you should give it another go, too.
Who knows what you’ll find.