I’m just going to come out and say it. You are not the main character of The Elder Scrolls games. Now, after you’ve had a second to reel in your incredulity, do me a favor. Take a good look at the map above. What do you see? Tamriel? Provinces? Landmasses? Cities? Towns? Lakes? Mountains? All of these are correct. Add them all up and what do you get? You get a world – a living, breathing, massive, open world ready for you to explore. So really, the main character of Elder Scrolls games isn’t a who, it’s a what.
The world has been, and always will be, the main character of any Elder Scrolls game. Don’t believe me? Ok, fair enough. But let’s just take a look at the titles of all the numbered TES games, shall we? In order, we have:
- Arena (1994)
- Daggerfall (1996)
- Morrowind (2002)
- Oblivion (2006)
- Skyrim (2011)
Yes, these games do have their respective expansions which in turn have different names, I get that. But to delve into that level of granularity would only prove to be irrelevant, redundant, and frankly, pedantic. So therefore, let us focus on the games listed above.
What do the games above have in common? Their names are derived from locations, and not the name of the player’s character. Confused? Let’s look at Skyrim as an example.
Mr. Phillip G Dovahkiin
We are all familiar with the image above. It’s incredibly iconic. We all know that the character in that image is in fact the Dovahkiin, the player character. You slay dragons, master the Thu’um, and delve into the depths of the world. And yet, for all your glory and splendor, you are a visitor in the grand scheme of things.
Every so often in my travels throughout Tamriel, I come across various ruins, like the one pictured above. I find myself stopping and staring at them. I can’t help but ask myself where the ruins could have come from. Who built them? How old are they? How were they destroyed? No doubt, I am not the only one who is filled with such questions. You get the feeling that the world as been there long before you arrived, and will remain long after you have departed. You can’t help shake the feeling that the world is a living, breathing entity.
Want further proof of the world’s perpetual existence? Just take a stroll through any town from any game, and you’ll see it right before your eyes. There lies Riverwood at dawn. Even before you arrive, you know, you absolutely know that Alvor is waking up and prepping his forge for the day ahead. You know that Lucan and Camilla Valerius are getting ready to open Riverwood Traders, rubbing their eyes as they do so in an attempt to banish the remnants of sleep that so desperately wants to cling on. You know that those people are living out their lives, waiting for you, the Dovahkiin, to walk into their town.
And so, here you sit, basking in the magnificence of the world that Bethesda has created. It doesn’t matter which one of the games you play, the feeling you get from each of them is the same. You close your eyes and realize one irrefutable fact. The world is alive. You can see it every time you enter a town. You can feel it every time the crisp morning breeze grazes across your face. You can hear it every time you wander the forests as your ears are filled with the sounds of animals and birds. You can smell it every time you near a campfire and see a rabbit roast rotating slowly over the flame.
Only then, after you’ve taken in the world – the living, breathing world – do you truly realize that you are not the main character. You are simply a visitor in these lands, your existence a mere blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things.
The world, this glorious world, is and always will be the main character. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Shadow hide you.