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General Description

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an RPG developed by Bethesda and released for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in October 2011. It offers players the freedom to roam an enormous fantasy world and build a character from scratch, developing their own strengths and weaknesses. While the game can be played in third-person it is generally played from a first-person perspective. This makes combat kind of simplistic, but a wide range of statistical options helps balance it out.

The most important elements of the game are its truly enormous world and the amount of content that fills it. From the beginning of the game players are given great freedom. There are quests that are central to the story and players can follow them without too much difficulty, but ditching a mission and wandering off towards a distant mountain to see what happens is always an option. Player creativity is easily the game's biggest strength.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
B B-
Ratings at a Glance
Creativity: 9 Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Business: 3 Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
People: 3 Year: 2011
Problem: 6 Genre: Role Playing
Simulation: 0 Strengths: creativity, popularity
Popularity: 10 Platforms: PC
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

The game’s map is hugely important. It show's the entire expansive game world, and any landmarks players discover - from towns to dungeons to stranger sites - are marked down. Because of the layout of rivers, mountains and other structures it becomes important to use the map to orient yourself when traveling. Additionally players can use it to fast-travel to any location they've already discovered.

The game has plenty of numbers for players to manage. Players will only obtain a certain number of the experience points used to move along skill trees, and managing them is important for players that have multiple high-level skills in mind. Buying and selling items also obviously involves mathematics.

Creativity & Imagination

By the Player:

The player's character starts as a blank slate. The beginning of the game has players decide their character's race, which determines which special ability they'll carry throughout the game. The game quickly dumps more decisions on the player and it's not long before characters become unique.

Instead of using a conventional experience system, players level up as their various skills increase. Using bows, crafting items and casting different types of spells all level up individual skills. Every time a skill increases players get closer to reaching the next experience level - when this level is reached players receive one point that can be put into the skill tree of any of their skills, which get larger as the individual skills go up. It's a fairly complex system, but it allows players to put points into skills that they don't necessary use frequently while allowing them access to particularly powerful bonuses in skills that they do use often.

Players also have access to a huge range of weapons and armor. Each individual piece can also be enchanted, which involves another system at least as complicated as the one used to level up. These decisions and the player's preferences in combat will influence each other over the course of the game.

It is also important that players have freedom when progressing through the game. Dozens of central and optional quests are available, and players can strike out into the wilderness any time, usually finding new surprises before long. The world is huge and populated by towns, NPCs, dungeons, roaming dragons and other challenges.

While the game's main storyline offers plenty of content, Skyrim's biggest pull is its wide-open world and the options that it offers players both in character progression and exploration.

By the Developer:

Skyrim is a game like many others, but in many ways it is the definitive example of its genre. Bethesda themselves release these open-world first-person RPGs regularly, but Skyrim is their biggest yet.

It simply contains the most content. It has more quests and more dungeons, and it offers newly refined systems for character customization. It's most significant achievement is the size and look of the land of Skyrim. It introduces several new mechanics to the series - a new system for casting magic spells, new weapon and armor enchantment mechanics, randomly generated dragons that roam the landscape and more. These offer changes to the formula, though ultimately Skyrim is just a large new helping of Elder Scrolls - which, to be fair, is in demand.

Business Skills

Players collect gold from enemies various locations in the game's world, but for the most part players will make money by selling loot. Merchants all have a limited amount of gold, and certain shopkeepers will only purchase certain items (though a certain skill tree can alleviate this). This causes players to put in a little more work when it comes to making money, though ultimately it's still a pretty straightforward buying/selling setup. Money is used to purchase items, equipment and spells, as well as horses, houses and other higher-ticket items.

People Skills

Players do plenty of talking with other characters in Skyrim, and their actions can affect how various quests resolve themselves. Treating characters differently will lead to different results, but really players are usually choosing between different rewards; the game never punishes players for acting maliciously. Outside of quests things are a little different - players that break laws will have police set on them - but the game's population and writing are so stiff overall that it's hard to feel too invested.

Problem Solving

Again it has to be said that players can spend their time in Skyrim doing pretty much whatever they want. At the same time combat is bound to be a central part of the game no matter how players spend their time, and the game's combat mechanics allow players to approach battle in a number of ways. Players can increase skill levels in various types magic, ranged attacks and a handful of different hand-to-hand weapon types, each of which has strengths and weaknesses depending on the enemy at hand.

When undertaking the game's various quests - those central to the storyline or the myriad of optional quests - players will usually have to adventure through one of the game's many dungeons, which are populated with enemies as well as traps and occasionally some basic puzzles. Outside of exploring the overworld this is where players will find most of their challenges. These are ostensibly action segments, but even with Skyrim's wealth of combat options it is essentially a numbers game. Maneuvering and quick-thinking are involved from time to time, but it will mostly be the player's actions in the game's menus that determine their successes and failures.


Skyrim is not a simulation game.


Skyrim has received universal praise. Reviews particularly praise the game's huge world, impressive visuals and the freedom to explore that it offers players. The game's characters, bugginess and sometimes unbalanced mechanics received some criticism, though in general these things weren't enough to stop reviews from calling the game a masterpiece and handing out perfect scores.

Controls & Options

Skyrim offers five difficulty levels that players can toggle between even while they are playing the game. A wide range of options is available for customizing controls and various audio and visual settings.


Skyrim was rated M from the ESRB with descriptors for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes and Use of Alcohol.