Some of you might be thinking that I’m making a bold claim in calling The Elder Scrolls series a ‘masterpiece’. But is it really so hard to believe? True, there are other game series out there that are amazing and incredibly fun, but none that I’ve played come close to matching the experience I’ve had with this series. Allow me to explain why.
I’d like to establish something first. When I say ‘masterpiece’, I do not intend it to be synonymous with ‘perfect’. To do so would be a grave misstep in logic because, well, nothing is perfect. Instead, I consider something to be a masterpiece when it is exemplary at many different things. Specifically, it should be exemplary at these different things in tandem. Feel a bit lost? Fear not! I have broken out the four features which I believe Elder Scrolls excels at.
I’m not going to beat a dead horse on this one. You all know too well by now that I crave graphics. But I have not included this section to merely satiate my hunger for visuals. Rather, I wish to remind you all just what The Elder Scrolls has done for gaming with respect to graphics.
I believe ‘breathtaking’ is the word you’re looking for
I’ll admit, I have not played Morrowind, but I have seen my friend play it a while ago while I was in middle school. At that time, I didn’t know exactly what game he was playing. However, I do remember myself completely drooling over the visuals. In a small way, that was part of the reason I picked up Oblivion. Now with Skyrim, and the innumerable mods at our disposal, the line between what’s real and what’s in the game is being blurred.
The very nature of this series, a large open world, relies upon realism and selling that realism to the player. Graphics go a long way in delivering such immersion, and these games have continually pushed the boundaries on what’s visually possible to achieve.
This is perhaps the one of the most under-recognized aspects of games. Sound design – be it voice acting, music, ambient effects, etc – plays a major role in games. Perhaps you don’t notice it as much as visuals, for example, but one thing is certain. You absolutely do notice it when it’s not there.
Jeremy ‘Phillip G’ Soule (Source: The Escapist)
Don’t believe me? Perform this simple experiment. Step outside your house around dusk and close your eyes. Stay still for a few seconds. What do you hear? As I type this on my balcony, I hear birds singing in the trees outside my apartment, the low hum of distant cars, children tossing a ball around, and a dog panting and barking.
You might hear something different, but that’s irrelevant. The point is, you can probably paint a picture in your head of your surroundings simply by assembling the sound you take in. The Elder Scrolls does this so brilliantly, that after a mere five minutes in game, you’re absolutely convinced that you’re in Tamriel. That is the power of sound.
The gameplay in Elder Scrolls games is something I’ve never experienced before. I play many different types of games, but the simple truth is that no other game comes close to matching the level of freedom, immersion, and sheer incredulity of The Elder Scrolls. You all know what I mean – you wouldn’t be listening to our show and reading this article if you didn’t.
That’s why we need to just log in and stay in the forest, killing boars
I won’t go too in-depth here mostly because it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what aspect of gameplay makes this series so great. Maybe it’s the fact that features such as open worlds are trickling their way into other genres. Maybe it’s that so many games now place more importance on choice than ever before.
The fact remains that no other series allows you to go wherever you want, do whatever you want, be whoever you want in such brilliant execution.
I’ve truly saved the best for last. Many of you know that I’m a huge lore buff. I’ve told my friends back home that I know more about the history of Nirn than I do real world history. I love talking about lore so much, that many of you ask me to tell stories on my live streams. I read the lore every free chance I get. Why? My respect for this series goes beyond just the games.
Behold. Truth itself. (Source: Gamerant)
Bethesda has gone to great lengths to make their game world believable. But the series is so much more than the games we love. Bethesda has crafted amazingly detailed history to their precious world making it come alive. When I read about Alessia’s rise through the ranks of slavery, how she formed a rebellion, overthrew her Ayleid oppressors and formed the 1E Alessian Empire, I honestly felt as if those events actually happened.
The lore, more than any other feature I’ve discussed here, is what makes The Elder Scrolls truly real. This world does exist. Lorkhan did create Nirn. Ysgrammor did bring over the first humans from Atmora to settle Tamriel. The Amulet of Kings does contain a piece of Alessia’s soul.
The lore makes the world a living, breathing, believable entity. No other game can match the monumental depth and breadth of The Elder Scrolls lore.
There You Have It
We all love these games so much. Maybe you were there from the beginning with Arena. Perhaps you’re a newcomer and began with Skyrim. Or maybe, like me, you started somewhere in the middle with Oblivion. The fact remains, these games are something special.
These games are not perfect. Nothing really is. A lot of games have beautiful graphics, great sound design, awesome gameplay, and rich lore. But, the fact that The Elder Scrolls has all these features in one package, and that it delivers them so seamlessly, makes this series a true masterpiece.
Shadow hide you.