Skyrim was one of the first video games I fell in love with. Some of you may know that I didn’t start gaming until I was an adult, and I credit Dragon Age: Origins with my initial love for the medium. But I also remember watching a video online of Skyrim — knowing next to nothing about The Elder Scrolls series — and, after seeing someone brawling in Windhelm, thinking I’d almost die if I didn’t get my hands on that game. It looked incredible.
What makes Skyrim so special for me is the ability to fashion a completely unique character and in-game life.
Up to that point, my experience with games was in stories with pre-planned endings. In Skyrim, I could keep playing for dozens of hours, whether I completed the main questline or not. There were so many quests to run after; I could choose what I wanted my character’s life to be like.
And it wasn’t just that — I could buy a house, fill it with loot from my adventures, and get married.
I remember some of the memorable items I stored at the many homes I acquired in the game. During dangerous missions I waded through to become the archmage of Winterhold, I picked up glowing swords that I hung in my bedroom in my Solitude mansion. In Dwemer ruins outside of Markarth, my new dog Vigilance — Viggo for short — died at the hands of an angry Falmer; I hung the sword in my Riften home to honor my puppy’s sacrifice. My Legion armor hung in my majestic Markarth home; I was always a soldier at heart. Mage robes I kept in the dark hallways of my house in Windhelm, along with anything fur; they suited the cold environment there.
And everywhere I went, I collected books. They filled the shelves of all my home, and I organized them by genre as best I could.
Skyrim offers a perfect storm of obsession with its character creation, exploration, skill tree leveling, seemingly endless quests, and focus on collecting things. In other games, I might put points into a few special abilities for my character class, and swap out items for ones with higher stats as I go. But in Skyrim, I appraise an expansive skill tree with many branches, mixing and matching skills from different classes to create my own. And I don’t throw out items when I’m done with them — if they mean something to me, like the ones I mentioned before, I keep them on display in my homes. Just going on quests to find more books keeps me interested, as I always have more shelves to fill.
I’ve started up new games of Skyrim — with new characters, I mean — about three times now. Each time, I have a different character build, marry someone new, and focus on a new questline. My first character was a Legion soldier, the archmage of Winterhold, and eventually a fierce two-handed warrior who wed Marcurio; since he was from Riften, that always felt like our true home. My second character was a stealthy Khajiit archer and member of the Thieves Guild who married the Argonian Scouts-Many-Marshes; since she was a Stormcloak soldier and Scouts was from Windhelm, it felt natural that they make Windhelm their main home. In my third game… well, you can read about its beginnings here. =)
The thing is, I always drop Skyrim before reaching any sense of conclusion with it. Other games distract me. And while I could go back to the same character to continue her exploits, I’m a character creation addict and always start from scratch again. New adventures await.
That’s why I’m excited about Skyrim Special Edition coming out on new gen consoles in about a month. I’ll be purchasing it right away and loading up a new game with a new character. I haven’t decided who she’ll be yet, but I’d like to play her more as myself than my other characters have been.
I’ve also always wanted to master Illusion magic, so maybe I’ll start there…