Since then, a lot of pretenders have come out trying to mimic the best Elder Scrolls game. However, they’ve got an uphill battle ahead of them
This article is more than 2 years old
As the world sits on bated breath waiting to see what Bethesda games has in store for the sixth game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, some may be confused as to what the massive appeal of these high-fantasy games even is and why, for many, Skyrim is considered the best Elder Scrolls game to ever hit store shelves. Like any great game franchise, the best Elder Scrolls game is often the newest one. Following in the massive footsteps of the four previous (main) games that came before it, Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind and, of course, Oblivion, Skyrim hit the scene in 2011 and joined similar games like Fallout and Mass Effect in promising its players that they had free reign to do whatever the hell they wanted on the massive open-world map.
In fact, a large part of why Skyrim is considered the best Elder Scrolls game is the fact that, unlike some other games that promised it and didn’t deliver, players were truly able to live in a world of free will and dire consequences. Make too much noise while sneaking somewhere? Prepare to fight every guard in the area, friend. Get bit by a vampire? Guess who won’t be working on their tan any time soon, my guy. Spend all your money at the tavern messing with NPCs? Well, it’s off to the job board for you my questless pal.
For the uninitiated wondering how they kick off their vast, sprawling adventure in the best Elder Scrolls game, the entire thing takes place on the fictional continent of Tamriel. You begin as an adventurer who has gotten in trouble with the ruling faction in the land. Just as your head is about to get well acquainted with the wicker basket below the execution stump, a dragon attacks the village you’re in and forces you to choose between escaping with a group of rebels or seeing if your complete lack of self-preservation instincts will endear you to the executioner enough for him to spare you. Regardless, what ensues is a magical and epic adventure in which you learn that you’re the famous prophesied hero who can save the Tamriel from the clutches of similar dragon attacks.
It’s a bit of a misnomer in gaming that choice is the end-all-be-all of quality gaming. That said, when it comes to selecting the best Elder Scrolls game, it’s truly what makes Skyrim stand out. The reason that the game still has a robust community of players even to this day is likely due to the fact that no two players ever have exactly the same experience. Even a pair of identical twins sitting together in the same room will have a different experience with the game because someone will inevitably zig instead of zag and the butterfly effect of consequences that ensue will lead to an absolutely unique experience. There’s a lot to be said for an individualized experience like that.
As acclaimed game reviewer Zero Punctuation noted in his 2012 review of Skyrim, its improvements to Oblivion make it the best Elder Scrolls game to date, but it was also a welcomed break from the on-the-rails games that it released with. At the time, titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Gears of War were all the rage. While they offered some great gaming experiences, at the end of the day, they were exercises in walking someone from point A to point B while exploding as many heads along the way as humanly possible. So, when a game with nuance and choice hit the market, advanced gamers were excited to test their mettle on something new.
Since then, a lot of pretenders have come out trying to mimic the best Elder Scrolls game. However, they’ve got an uphill battle ahead of them, especially since Bethesda announced in 2018 that they plan to raise the bar once again with Elder Scrolls 6. That said, 2018 was four years ago. Normally four years after the announcement of a game we’re already talking about how it didn’t live up to expectations (looking at you Cyberpunk 2077, and don’t think we don’t see you cowering in the corner over there Mass Effect: Andromeda). Unfortunately, there seem to be some development slow-downs over at Bethesda. ComicBook reported in January that all signs point to Elder Scrolls 6 still being in pre-production, meaning gamers should really look elsewhere to scratch their Elder Scrolls itch for the foreseeable future.
Then again, maybe they shouldn’t. Although the game is more than ten years old, Skyrim was designed to present gamers with a new, unique challenge every time they pick up the controller. Maybe it’s given people enough to tide them over while the team at Bethesda takes the time to properly one-up themselves. Perhaps that’s what makes Skyrim the best Elder Scrolls game.