Gaming

You need to play the decade's most important RPG for free on Xbox Game Pass

It's never too late to experience the classics.

Xbox Game Pass just got even better. Microsoft’s subscription game service has some heavy hitters on it, from first-party releases like Gears Tactics to indie hidden gems like Wargroove, but it just got its most crucial addition yet. Of course, we’re talking about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

If you’re an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate or console subscriber, you can download the game for free on Xbox One and Series X/S today. It’s also included in Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, so Ultimate subscribers can even play it on Android devices for no extra charge.

Bethesda

At this point, recommending Skyrim is something of a meme. The 2011 RPG is notoriously available on just about every platform across multiple generations. Every time a new gaming system or service comes out, it’s only a matter of time before Bethesda rolls out a Skyrim edition for it. Yet somehow, there are still lone souls out there who have somehow dodged it for a full decade. It’s honestly impressive at this point.

That said, the addition of Skyrim on Game Pass leaves gamers who have yet to jump in one less excuse. Bethesda’s RPG is an industry running joke for a reason; it really is that important. Set in the vast world of Skyrim, the game’s massive world set the groundwork for an entire decade of games. Every open-world game that’s come out since has a bit of Skyrim’s DNA in it somewhere. Games were doing open worlds before it (even other Elder Scrolls games were), but Skyrim brought that style into the mainstream and turned it into a trend.

That’s not to mention the role-playing aspect of it, which is still at the top of its class for RPGs. The game features in-depth character creation tools and allows players to get nitty-gritty with the intricacies of building a character. It’s not the kind of game where players can max out all their stats and call it a day; the choices matter. That means playthroughs can radically change from one to the next.

Game Pass users get the special edition of the game, which is something of a definitive edition of the game. Released in 2016, the double-dip features remastered visuals and effects. In addition to buffed visuals, it includes all of the game’s DLC. That means players get the Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn expansions at no added cost.

Most importantly, the special edition includes mod support for consoles. While Skyrim is an experience in its own right, playing Skyrim with mods is a game in and of itself. Players can turn dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine, add lute-toting bard bears, or replace the sound of skeleton footsteps with blaring trumpet noise. That’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the crazy ways fans have found to tear the game apart over the past decade.

Skyrim is a cultural touchstone for a reason. Even after all these years, it’s still one of the most compelling open-world experiences out there and games are still borrowing lessons from it to this day. The fact that it spawned such a vibrant, weird modding community is a testament to how much freedom it gives players to flex their creative muscles.

Considering that we still know next to nothing about The Elder Scrolls VI, it’s as good a time as any to see what all the fuss is about before the hype train leaves the station.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available now on Game Pass for Xbox consoles and Android devices.

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