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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls... read more

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Genres Role-Playing
Themes Fantasy
Engines
Status: Released
Release: 11-Nov-2011

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is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Three downloadable content (DLC) add-ons were released—Dawnguard, Hearthfire, andDragonborn—which were repackaged into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Legendary Edition, which was released on June 4, 2013.

Skyrim‍ 's main story revolves around the player character and their effort to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. The game is set approximately two hundred years after the events of Oblivion and takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim. Over the course of the game, the player completes quests and develops the character by improving skills. Skyrim continues the open world tradition of its predecessors by allowing the player to travel anywhere in the game world at any time, and to ignore or postpone the main storyline indefinitely.Image title

The game was developed using the Creation Engine, built specifically for the game. The team opted for a more unique and diverse game world than Oblivion's Cyrodiil, which game director and executive producer Todd Howard considered less interesting by comparison. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released to critical acclaim, with reviewers particularly mentioning the refined character development and the great setting. The game shipped over seven million copies to retailers within the first week of its release, and sold over 20 million copies across all three platforms.

Gameplay

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing game, playable from either a first or third-person perspective. The player may freely roam over the land of Skyrim, which is an open world environment consisting of wilderness expanses, dungeons, cities, towns, fortresses and villages. Players may navigate the game world more quickly by riding horses, or by utilizing a fast-travel system which allows them to warp to previously discovered locations (Undiscovered locations cannot be fast-travelled to.) The game's main quest can be completed or ignored at the player's preference after the first stage of the quest is finished. However, some quests rely on the main storyline being at least partially completed. Non-player characters (NPCs) populate the world and can be interacted with in a number of ways; the player may engage them in conversation, marry an eligible NPC, or kill them. As in previous The Elder Scrolls games, killing certain NPCs can make some quests or items unobtainable. Some NPCs cannot be killed. If witnessed, crimes like murder and theft accrue the player bounty points in each of the world's nine holds. Should the player be stopped by a guard, they may wipe their bounty with gold or jail time, or may resist arrest which will trigger an aggressive pursuit. NPCs may allocate the player additional side-quests, and some side-quests have parameters adjusted based on nearby dungeons which the player has yet to explore. Some NPCs who are befriended or hired by the player may act as companions who will accompany the player and provide aid in combat. The player may choose to join factions, which are organized groups of NPCs -- such as the Dark Brotherhood, a band of assassins -- or the player may choose to destroy them. Each of the factions has an associated quest path to progress through. Each city and town in the game world each has an economy which the player can stimulate by completing jobs such as farming.

The player character engages in combat with monsters while exploring a dungeon. The player may dual-wield weapons and magic at once in order to be more effective against enemies.

Players have the option to develop their character. At the beginning of the game, players create their character by selecting one of several races, including humans, orcs, elves and anthropomorphic cat or lizard-like creatures, and then customizing their character's appearance. Over the course of the game, players improve their character's skills, which are numerical representations of their ability in certain areas. There are eighteen skills divided evenly among the three schools of combat, magic, and stealth. When players have trained skills enough to meet the required experience, their character levels up. Each time their character levels, the players may choose to select a skill-specific ability called a perk, or to store perk points for later use. Earlier entries in The Elder Scrolls series used a character class system to determine which skills would contribute to the character's leveling, but Skyrim allows players to discover preferred skills as they play the game and rewards them with more experience when a frequently used skill is leveled. A head-up display (HUD) appears when any of the player's three main attributes are being depleted. Attributes regenerate over time, although this process can be accelerated by using potions or regenerative spells. Health is depleted primarily when the player takes damage, and the loss of all health results in death. Magicka is depleted by the use of spells, certain poisons and by being struck by lightning-based attacks. Stamina determines the player's effectiveness in combat and is depleted by sprinting, power attacking, and being struck by frost-based attacks. The player's inventory can be accessed from the menu and items can be viewed in 3D, which may prove essential in solving puzzles found in dungeons.

The player's effectiveness in combat relies on the use of weapons and armor, which may be bought, found and created at forges, and magic, which may be bought or unlocked by finding spell tomes. Weapons and magic are assigned to each hand, allowing for dual-wielding, and can be swapped out through a quick-access menu of favorite items. Shields can be used to fend off enemy attacks and reduce incurred damage, or offensively through bashing attacks. Blunt, bladed and hacking weapons can be used in close combat and each have specific advantages and roles; for example, the player can perform power attacks with each weapon. Magic can be used in the form of spells, which have several functions, such as the regeneration of health or the depletion of enemy health. A bow and arrow may be utilized in long-range combat, but the bow can be used as a defensive melee weapon in close combat, by "bashing". The player can enter sneak mode and pickpocket, or deliver sneak attacks to unsuspecting enemies.Image title

When exploring the game world, the player may encounter wildlife. Many creatures in the wilderness are immediately hostile towards the player. However, game animals such as elk and deer will simply run away.[3] Skyrim is the first entry in The Elder Scrolls to include Dragons in the game's wilderness. Like other creatures, Dragons are generated randomly in the world and will engage in combat with NPCs, creatures and the player. Some Dragons may attack cities and towns when in their proximity. The player character can absorb the souls of Dragons in order to use powerful spells called "Dragon Shouts", or "Thu'um". Each Shout contains three words in the language spoken by Dragons, and the strength of the Shout will vary depending on how many words have been spoken. The words to Shouts can be learned by visiting "Word Walls" in dungeons or around the continent. The words to each shout are unlocked for use by spending the absorbed souls of slain Dragons. A regeneration period limits the player's use of Shouts in gameplay.

Plot

Skyrim is set 200 years after the events of Oblivion, though it is not a direct sequel. The game takes place in Skyrim, a province of the Empire on the continent of Tamriel, amid a civil war between two factions. The Stormcloaks, led by Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak, are made up of Skyrim's native Nord race. Their goal is an independent Skyrim free from Imperial interference. The Imperial Legion, the military of the Empire, opposes the Stormcloaks and seek to reunite and pacify the province. General Tullius leads the Imperial forces in Skyrim.

The story begins with the imprisoned player being led to an Imperial execution in the town of Helgen, alongside a thief, several Stormcloak soldiers and their leader, Ulfric Stormcloak. A dragon unexpectedly interrupts the procession, attacking and destroying the town before the player can be executed. The player escapes and journeys to the nearby town of Riverwood, whose residents are now fearful that the dragon could strike their town as well at any moment. Riverwood also serves as a tutorial village in that the player can forge items, trade goods, practice alchemy, and receive miscellaneous quests. The player is asked to make their way to the city of Whiterun, to request aid from the city's Jarl against the dragon threat. Jarl Balgruuf the Greater accepts. He also directs the player to his court wizard, who asks the player to retrieve the Dragonstone, an ancient artifact that shows the location of ancient dragon burial sites. No dragons will be generated until the player returns to Whiterun, with the exception of Helgen, during the beginning of the storyline.

The player returns to Whiterun with the Dragonstone, only to learn that another dragon has appeared near the city. After slaying the dragon with assistance from the city's guards, the player unexpectedly absorbs the dragon's soul which grants them the ability to perform a magical ability called a "Thu'um", or Shout. The city's guards are astonished, and inform the player that they must be a Dragonborn, a mortal born with the soul and power of a dragon. After returning to the Jarl with news of the dragon's defeat, the player is summoned to meet with the Greybeards, an order of monks who live in seclusion in their temple of High Hrothgar on the slopes of Skyrim's tallest mountain, the Throat of the World.Image title

The Greybeards further train the player in the "Way of the Voice", teaching the player more powerful Thu'ums and instructing the player on their destiny and role as the Dragonborn. The player learns that Skyrim's civil war is the last in a sequence of prophetic events foretold by the Elder Scrolls, which also predicted the return of Alduin, the first dragon and the Nordic god of destruction. Alduin is prophesied to destroy the races of Men and Mer, and consume the world. The player character is the latest and likely last "Dovahkiin", or Dragonborn. Dovahkiin are anointed by the gods to help fend off the threat Alduin and other dragons pose to Tamriel.

The Greybeards task the player with retrieving the legendary Horn of Jurgen Windcaller in the marshes of Hjaalmarch as a final test. However, the player discovers the Horn has been stolen, and the culprit wishes to meet with the Dragonborn. The thief reveals herself as Delphine, Riverwood's innkeeper. Delphine admits that she set up the player in retrieving the Dragonstone. Delphine wants the Dragonborn to prove their power before explaining her actions, and they head to the village of Kynesgrove, where a dragon burial mound is supposedly located. Once there, the player and Delphine witness Alduin reviving a dragon from the burial mound and defeat the dragon. Delphine later reveals that she is one of the last surviving members of the Blades—an order of bodyguards sworn to protect Dragonborn Imperial Emperors, and before that, they were sworn to kill dragons. She explains that the Blades have been out of purpose for centuries with no Dragonborn Emperor, and now with the player character being the next Dragonborn, the organization has finally regained its purpose. Afterwards, Malborn, who Delphine tells the player to meet at Solitude to help you, helps the player infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy near the city of Solitude, the headquarters of the Aldmeri Dominion in Skyrim, to follow up on her suspicions about the Thalmor's possible involvement with the dragon threat. While there, the player discover the Thalmor are searching for a man named Esbern, an archivist of the Blades Order, then the Thalmor tell the player to surrender or they will kill Malborn, but Malborn attacks the soldiers and the player has the opportunity to save Malborn though it is not necessary. After escaping the Thalmor Embassy, Delphine then instructs the player to locate Esbern, known to be hiding in the sewers and Ratway of the city of Riften.

The player character accompanies the Blades in search of Alduin's Wall, a prophetic engravement located in an ancient Blades fortress known as Sky Haven Temple. While the Blades set up in the temple, the player character learns that the ancient Nords used a special Thu'um against Alduin called "Dragonrend", representing mankind's comprehensive hatred for the dragons, to cripple his ability to fly so they could engage him. To gain more information, the player meets the ancient dragon Paarthurnax, the leader of the Greybeards who was once one of Alduin's most feared generals. Paarthurnax reveals that Alduin was not truly defeated in the past, but was cast into the currents of time by the use of an Elder Scroll in the hope was that he would never reemerge. The player manages to locate the Elder Scroll within the ancient Dwemer ruin of Blackreach and uses it to peer through a window in time, when Alduin was first defeated, learning the powerful Dragonrend Shout to combat Alduin.

Armed with the knowledge of how the ancient Nords defeated Alduin, the player battles Alduin on the summit of the Throat of the World. Overpowered by the player, Alduin flees to Sovngarde, the Nordic afterlife. The player learns that Dragonsreach, the palace of the Jarl of Whiterun, was originally built to trap and hold a dragon. The Jarl refuses to allow the player to utilize Dragonsreach and possibly endanger the city if the civil war between the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion still rages. With the help of the Greybeards, the player calls a council between General Tullius—the Imperial Legion's commander—and Ulfric Stormcloak, successfully calling for a temporary armistice while the dragon threat exists. If the civil war questline has been completed beforehand, thus ending the war, the Jarl eventually agrees with persuasion.Image title

The player summons and traps a dragon named Odahviing in Dragonsreach, learning from him that Alduin has fled to Sovngarde through a portal located high in the Velothi Mountains, at an ancient fort called Skuldafn. Odahviing, impressed with the player's Thu'um and ability to capture him, agrees to fly the player to Skuldafn, claiming Alduin has shown himself as weak and undeserving of leadership over the dragon race. Upon arrival at Skuldafn, the player fights their way up to the portal to Sovngarde. Upon entering Sovngarde, the player travels to the Hall of Valor and meets with Ysgramor, the legendary Nord who, along with his Five Hundred Companions, drove the Elves out of Skyrim. Ysgramor informs the player that Alduin has placed a "soul snare" in Sovngarde, allowing him to gain strength by devouring the souls of deceased Nords arriving there. The player meets up with the three heroes of Nordic legend who defeated Alduin originally, and, with their help, destroys the soul snare and defeats Alduin once more.

If the player did not kill Paarthurnax in an earlier side quest, an alternate conclusion is given. The player returns to the summit of the Throat of the World in which Paarthurnax and several other dragons wait. Paarthurnax explains that even though Alduin is defeated, they are in no condition to celebrate for he was once their ally and is still one of their kin. Having asserted his authority over many dragons, Paarthurnax declares that the remainder of the dragons will "submit to his Thu'um," suggesting he wants to take Alduin's place as the leader of the dragons in order to teach them the Way of the Voice.

Voice cast

  • Daniel Riordan as Alduin

  • Christopher Plummer as Arngeir

  • Joan Allen as Delphine

  • Max von Sydow as Esbern

  • Paul Eiding as Felldir the Old

  • Paul Ganus as Hakon One-Eye

  • Michael Hogan as General Tullius

  • Lynda Carter as Gormlaith Golden-Hilt

  • Claudia Christian as Legate Rikke

  • Charles Dennis as Odahviing

  • Charles Martinet as Paarthurnax

  • Vladimir Kulich as Ulfric Stormcloak

  • Michael Gough as Heimskr

  • Erik Dellums as Nazir

  • Corri English as Ysolda

Development

Having completed work on Oblivion in 2006, Bethesda Game Studios began work on Fallout 3. It was during this time that the team began planning their next The Elder Scrolls game. From the outset, they had decided to set the new entry in the land of Skyrim, incorporating Dragons into the main theme of the game. Full development begun following the release of Fallout 3 in 2008; the developers considered Skyrim a spiritual successor to both Fallout 3 and previous The Elder Scrolls games. The game was developed by a team of roughly 100 people composed of new talent as well as of the series' veterans. The production was supervised by Todd Howard, who was the director of many titles released by Bethesda Softworks.

Design

The team set the game in the province of Skyrim, designing it by hand. While similar in size to Oblivion's game world of Cyrodiil, the mountainous topography of the world inflates the game space and makes it more difficult to traverse than Cyrodiil, which was relatively flat. In designing Skyrim's world, the team opted for a different approach to what was taken with Oblivion; art director Matt Carofano considered the "epic-realism" of Skyrim's world design as a departure from Oblivion's generic representation of classic European fantasy lore. Howard expressed the team's desire to re-encapsulate the "wonder of discovery" of Morrowind's game world in Skyrim, as the return to the classic fantasy of Arena and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall in Oblivion meant sacrificing a world with a unique culture. As a way of creating diversity in the world, the team divided the world into nine sectors, known as holds, and attempted to make each hold feel topographically unique from another; in addition, the team wanted to reflect the socioeconomic background of the NPCs by making some locations elaborate and wealthy while others are poorer and lower-tech.

WithinSkyrim's universe is the use of "dragon language". The alphabet was constructed to look aesthetically Dragon-like, hence the use of claw-like markings.

The team sought to make each of the game's ten races feel unique; Howard considered that the player's choosing of a race at the beginning of the game is a more important decision than it has been in previous The Elder Scrolls games because the culture of Skyrim's world contains more racism. However, he iterated that the player's choice of race does not have major game-affecting consequences as it simply adds "flavor" in different NPCs' dispositions towards the player, and is not meant as a way of locking players out of particular quests. Efforts to making Skyrim's world feel hand-crafted extended to the team abandoning the use of generated landscapes as they had done in Oblivion. While one team member was charged with designing dungeons in Oblivion, Skyrim's 150 dungeons were designed by a small team of eight people. Skyrim features 244 quests and over 300 points of interest.

Engine

Skyrim is powered by Bethesda's Creation Engine, created specifically for Skyrim. After Fallout 3's release, the team devised numerous design objectives to meet for Skyrim, and as Howard described, the team "got all those done and kept going". Had the team not been able to meet their design goals with current hardware, they would have waited for the next generation and released Skyrim then, but, as Howard felt, the current technology did not hold the team back at all. The Creation Engine allows for numerous improvements in graphical fidelity over Bethesda's previous efforts. For example, the draw distance renders farther than in previous The Elder Scrolls games; Howard provided an example where the player can stare at a small object such as a fork in detail, and then look up at a mountain and run to the top of it. Dynamic lighting allows shadows to be created by any structure or item in the game world, and while Bethesda utilizedSpeedTree to produce flora in previous games, the Creation Engine utilized by Skyrim allowed for greater detail than what had been allowed by SpeedTree. For example, with Bethesda's own technology, the team were able to give weight to the branches of trees which affect how trees blow in the wind; in addition, the technology allows wind to affect the flow of water in channels such as rivers and streams. Because of the large presence of snow in Skyrim's game world, the technological upgrades were applied to weather effects and allow for dynamic snow fall upon the terrain, instead of snow that was rendered as a textural effect in previous games.Image title

The team made use of Havok's Behavior toolset for character animation, which allows for a greater fluidity between the character's movements of walking, running and sprinting, and also increases the efficiency of the third-person camera option which had been criticized in Oblivion. The toolset allows interactions between the player and NPCs to take place in real-time; in Oblivion, when the player went to interact with an NPC, time would freeze and the camera would zoom in on the NPC's face. In Skyrim, NPCs can move around and make body gestures while conversing with the player. Children are present in the game, and their presence is handled similarly as in Fallout 3 in that they cannot be harmed by the player in any way since depictions of violence involving children in video games is a controversial and largely-debated issue. Skyrim makes use of the Radiant AI artificial intelligence system that was created for Oblivion, and it has been updated to allow NPCs to "do what they want under extra parameters". The updated system allows for greater interaction between NPCs and their environments; NPCs can perform tasks such as farming, milling and mining in the game world, and will react with each other.

Audio

A physical-only release consisting of four audio CDs was released alongside the game on November 11, 2011. As with the previous two entries in the series, the soundtrack to Skyrim is sold via Jeremy Soule's distributor DirectSong. All physical copies ordered via DirectSong were personally autographed by Soule. "Day One" pre-orders from Amazon.de also included a five track promotional Skyrim soundtrack sampler. A digital version of the soundtrack was released via iTunes on January 31, 2013.The team employed Jeremy Soule to compose the music for Skyrim, after his work on Morrowind and Oblivion. "Dragonborn", the game's main theme, was recorded with a choir of over thirty people, singing in the fictional Dragon language. Creative director Todd Howard envisioned the theme for Skyrim as The Elder Scrolls theme sung by a choir of barbarians. This became a reality when the idea was passed by Soule, who recorded the 30-man choir and layered three separate recordings to create the effect of 90 voices. The language, Draconic, was created by Bethesda's concept artist Adam Adamowicz, and he developed a 34-character runic alphabet for the game. The lexicon of Draconic was expanded as needed; as lead designer Bruce Nesmith explained, words were introduced to the lexicon "every time [the studio wanted] to say something".

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which isreleased under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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