Game Recs

You need to play the best open-world RPG ever ASAP

This iconic game with dragons just celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

Originally Published: 
Fire breathes explode from a giant dragon on a heroic medieval knight on a horse in a black night, t...

Ubiquity is the ideal in media. The folks promoting every book, song, movie, show, or game want it to be seen by as many people as possible. This is, of course, impossible. You can’t possibly reach every single person on the planet. But one fabled RPG has come as close as just about anything possibly could.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (colloquially known as just Skyrim) celebrated its tenth anniversary on November 11. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. If you are anywhere adjacent to the algorithmic targets that led you to this article you most certainly have at least heard of Skyrim. Many of you have played it. All of you should play it ASAP because there’s never been a better time to stealth archer your way to a potentially career-ending arrow in the knee.

In this open-world action-adventure game, you play as the Dragonborn, a totally customizable hero who winds up on a quest to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a huge talking dragon prophesied to destroy the world. The game’s set within the region of Skyrim, the northernmost and Nordic-inspired province of Tamriel, which is a dynamic and vast area of the world full of towns, caves, bandits, giants, lots of angry bears, some demons, and a whole boatload of problems to solve and quests to do. Despite starting the game out as a prisoner who’s about to literally be on the chopping block, you go on to become a magnificent hero capable of dragon shout magic.

It sounds weird, but it’s cool.

You have a lot of options for playing Skyrim. The game has been released and re-released across every conceivable platform over the last decade. This week, in celebration of the anniversary, the hullabaloo is over the Skyrim Anniversary Edition, a semi-confusing $50 standalone release that is essentially the Skyrim: Special Edition that was released in 2016 with a beefy Anniversary DLC tacked on that includes new quests, Creation Club items, and a host of other small goodies that add up to a “definitive experience” for die-hards. (If you already own Skyrim SE or are a Game Pass subscriber you can upgrade for $20).

For me, the “definitive” Skyrim will forever be watching my friend, a non-gaming pacifist poet, pummel a deer with his bare hands when I let him take a turn during a visit many moons ago. He had enjoyed wandering through the woods and then got a gleam in his eye when he saw the deer. “Can I kill it?” he asked me, looking positively maniacal. He really worked through some things thanks to Skyrim’s capacity for cervine slaughter.

Those two extremes, die-hard player or absolute n00b, are what make Skyrim such a joy to play to this day. Odds are you haven’t played in a while, or know someone who’s never played. The anniversary gives you the perfect excuse to hop in again. You’ll appreciate fresh eyes (the deer might not) that let you experience the many things that make Skyrim an all-time classic. The world is massive and alive, the adventures are sprawling, and there are frickin’ dragons. And if you’re ever feeling uninspired there are dozens of amazing streamers dedicated to throwing their lives into Skyrim in ways we plebs only dream about.

Plus, if there’s anything you DON’T like about Skyrim there is almost certainly a mod for that. A great one for returning players is this Alternate Start mod from Arthmoor which skips the lengthy intro sequence (he’s also got a great bug fix patch, too). So even if you have played Skyrim, or played it multiple times, there is still a lot you haven’t played. And because the game is such a perfect canvas for RPG shenanigans you can play based purely on mood. Want to be a brawler? Go for it. Mage? Fine. Melee Chef? Um, OK sure.

On the off chance you’ve never heard of Skyrim until now, well, congratulations. You have a talent for dodging zeitgeists but, more importantly, you have a few hundred hours of RPG bliss awaiting you. And you better hurry, only five more years until we get Skyrim Definitive Ultimate Anniversary Collector Edition Redux (unconfirmed).

Skyrim Anniversary Edition is available now for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC (Sorry Switch!).

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