The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

A vast, varied, unique and complex role-playing game

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Bethesda Softworks The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Bethesda Softworks The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Bethesda Softworks The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Bethesda Softworks The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Expert Rating

    5.00 / 5

Pros

  • Intensely detailed and nuanced environments
  • Excellent character development system

Cons

  • Some gameplay elements (like the economy) are just a facade
  • Mediocre combat system

Bottom Line

Skyrim represents the culmination of a long balancing act, of all Bethesda's learned and mastered about epic nonlinear play. It's a triumph of freeform design, less a roleplaying game like so many popular D&D-haunted others than a glimpse of what it might be like to inhabit another world, its rules and interface folding seamlessly into the gameplay instead of snapping you out of the moment with Byzantine menus and soul-numbing math. If someone asks you where games are headed, you can point to this.

Would you buy this?

Even the game's extensive nether regions feel like the hand-sculpted, cheerless, cobwebbed, alien axe-murdering death-traps they're meant to, filled with icon-matching puzzles, body-skewering spikes, swinging half-moon blades, flammable pools of glistening liquid, and so forth. Speaking of, and to borrow a Gollum-ism, the area designers have been all kinds of tricksy: At one point while dungeon-delving, a steel grate collapsed under my feet, dropping me into a pool of water. Fumbling for a way out, I located a handle and pulled...which slammed shut the grate above me. I almost drowned before finding...well, I won't spoil it for you, but it's the thing that's been missing from prior Elder Scrolls games — the sense that every twist is unique, every turn handcrafted.

"He was formidable in battle yet behaved with honour..."

Some of the game's boldest choices involve omissions. It's indicative of how much the Elder Scrolls games have matured that they've finally abandoned classic Dungeons & Dragons attributes like "Strength" and "Intelligence" in favour of more pragmatic skills, say your flair with a given weapon, magical idiom, or criminal tool. As in Morrowind and Oblivion, progression depends on use, so if you want to be a better pickpocket, then pickpocket, or a better enchanter, enchant. Raise enough of those skills and you'll level up, whereby Bethesda folds in Fallout 3's brilliant perk system and lets you select from unique skill-specific abilities. Many offer over a dozen to choose from, several with their own rank-based subsets. And we're talking more than rote integer boosting: Pick "Silent Roll" under "Sneak," for instance, and sprinting while sneaking will execute a silent forward roll, or pick "Bullseye" under "Archery" and you'll gain a chance to paralyse your target for several seconds. It altogether amounts to one of the most intricate, cleverly-integrated, and satisfying character development systems yet implemented in a game.

Bringing those skills to bear on the world's inhabitants — and I'm thinking of the ones involving weapons and spells here — feels more physically present than it did in Oblivion, though in close combat, it still amounts to hammering your gamepad (or mouse's) left and right triggers. Combat's never been Bethesda's strong point, and while Skyrim one-ups Oblivion's battle mechanics with better connective physics and cool Fallout-3-like flourishes or "finishing moves," there's still room for improvement. This is shoot-the-moon wishing, but I'd love to see an Elder Scrolls game with Dark Souls' tactical versatility, or the Thief series' attention to light and shadow instead of Skyrim's simple distance and line-of-sight metrics. There's also an occasional sense of physical disconnection from the world that can mar your experience of it, such as characters that "glide" over the ground when walking, or your ability to stand, literally, inside the skeletal remains of slain foes (especially weird when they're big as houses). The "Creation" engine's collision detection could do with some touching up, though the only outright bug I encountered involved a horse floating hundreds of feet in the air (unless it was a magic horse, of course).

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?