With updates to graphical fidelity, performance, visual effects, access to mods, plus all of the original release’s DLC in one package Bethesda is ensuring that the remastered version of Skyrim will be the definitive open world experience. However, the reason it is poised to rock the world all over again is how excellent the game’s original open world design was.
The open world presented to the player in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim beckons them to search out what’s around the next bend, to go for a midnight stroll to hunt the creatures that emerge under the cover of darkness, tracing a winding river to see what abandoned ruins may be hidden along its edge. Quests naturally pick the player up from odd encounters all over the map and drop them off at far off locations; naturally inviting other adventures to bisect their path and lead them astray. This natural morphing of a quest line into journey is what makes the open world of Skyrim feel so alive and so immersive.
Taking a big step back from the typical hero’s journey Skyrim does an elegant job of lightly pinning an overarching natural progression which puts them in the middle of an epic hero’s tale. However it is just as easy to follow a quest line starting with a simple scroll found in a random chest that will lead the player to fortune and fame completely independent of the main story line.
Skyrim’s ability to grant the player a guiding star within a sky of possibilities is its greatest strength. That, as opposed to feeling linear or forced, the player can truly embrace the reluctant hero’s philosophy of chasing their dreams before adhering to their destiny if at all. It is the world’s freedom of choice that allow for the player to experience a lifetime of gameplay in and out of the main story. Bethesda balanced the story with rich quests and narratives that make side quests feel just as impactful if not more so due to the player’s personal investment in the choices that brought them to a unique storyline.
The hours upon hours of content that Skyrim provides the player can be daunting to wrap one’s head around; but it is the feeling that just walking in any direction can provide the player with an adventure to remember that makes the game such a wonderful experience to explore over and over again. The ability to form a character from a blank slate into a mage, a warrior, a soldier, a bard, a healer, a hunter, a necromancer, a thief, a mercenary, or even traveling salesman illustrates Skyrim’s openness to the interpretation of what a player’s character will be and the role it will serve in the narrative of the world itself.
Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor. You can check out more of his content on Facebook, and Instagram.