The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
|Developer(s)||Bethesda Game Studios|
|Distributor(s)||Bethesda Softworks (retail)
|Series||The Elder Scrolls|
|Engine||Creation Engine with Havok physics|
June 4, 2013
|Media/distribution||DVD, Blu-ray Disc, download|
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ("Skyrim" pronounced as two words) is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Skyrim's main story revolves around the player character's efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn. The open world gameplay of The Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely. Skyrim was a critical and commercial success, shipping over 7 million copies to retailers within the first week of release.
The nonlinear gameplay traditional in The Elder Scrolls series is incorporated in Skyrim. The game may be played from a first-person perspective, viewing the game world through the eyes of their character, or from a third-person perspective, with the player character visible on the screen, and the camera able to be freely rotated. The player can explore the open world of Skyrim on foot or on horse, and fast-travel to cities, towns, and dungeons after they have been discovered. Quests are given to the player by non-player characters (NPCs) in the world, and through the Radiant Story system, the quests can be dynamically altered to accommodate for player actions which may influence the quests, characters, and objectives. The Radiant Story then further directs the player's interaction with the world by setting unexplored dungeons as quest locations. When not completing quests, the player can interact with NPCs through conversation, and they may request favors or offer the player training in skills. In addition to scripted quests certain ones will be dynamically generated, providing a limitless number to the player. Some NPCs can become companions to the player to aid in combat. The player may choose to join factions, which are organized groups of NPCs such as the Dark Brotherhood, a band of assassins. Each of the factions has a headquarters, and they have their own quest paths which the player can progress through. The economy of cities and towns can be stimulated by completing jobs such as farming and mining, or spending large amounts of gold in the stores. Alternatively, the economy may be harmed by forging business ledgers and robbing the safes of stores. Additionally, the player's actions or statements often have an impact on their interactions with NPCs – such as taking sides in the Civil War or fighting dragons. When exploring the game world, the player may encounter wildlife. Many creatures in the wilderness are immediately hostile towards the player. The inclusion of Dragons in Skyrim affords a major influence on both story and gameplay.
Character development is a primary element of Skyrim. At the beginning of the game, the player selects one of several human, elven, or anthropomorphic cat and lizard races, each of which has different natural abilities, and customizes their character's appearance. A perpetual objective for the player is to improve their character's skills, which are numerical representations of their ability in certain areas. There are eighteen skills divided evenly between the three schools of combat, magic and stealth. Training skills until the necessary required experience is met results in the player's character leveling-up. Previous The Elder Scrolls games made use of a class system to determine which skills would contribute to the character's leveling, but its removal in Skyrim allows for a preferred play-style to be developed naturally. When their character levels, the player may choose to select a skill-specific ability called a perk, or store perks for later use. Upon levelling fifty times, the player character can continue to level and earn perks, but the rate of levelling is slowed significantly.Skills can be reset over and over again, effectively meaning there is no level cap.
During the game's development, a team was set aside to work on Dragons and their interactions with the world. In the world, a variety of different Dragons are encountered either alone or in small groups. They are randomly-generated, meaning their numbers are infinite, and they can attack cities and towns at any time. Not every Dragon is hostile, and the player can interact with non-hostile Dragons. Early in the main quest, it is discovered that the player character is Dragonborn, which allows the player to absorb the souls of dragons, in order to use powerful spells called Dragon Shouts or "Thu'um". Each Shout contains three words, and the strength of the Shout will vary depending on how many words have been spoken. Twenty different Thu'um can be discovered by visiting "Word Walls" in dungeons, and they are unlocked for use by absorbing the souls of slain Dragons. A regeneration period limits the player's use of Shouts in gameplay.
A heads-up display appears when any of the player's three main attributes are being depleted. Health is depleted primarily by damage through combat and although it is regenerated naturally over time, it can also be restored by spells, potions, or resting; the loss of all health results in death. Magicka is depleted by the use of spells and by being struck by lightning-based attacks, while stamina determines the player's effectiveness in combat and is depleted by sprinting, power attacking, and being struck by frost-based attacks; both magicka and stamina can be regenerated in similar ways to health. The player's inventory can be accessed from the menu and items can be viewed in 3D, which can be essential in solving puzzles found in dungeons. The player's effectiveness in combat relies on the use of weapons and armor, which may be bought or created at forges, and magic, which may also be bought or unlocked. Weapons and magic are assigned to each hand, allowing for dual-wielding, and can be swapped out through a quick-access menu of favorite items. Shields can be used either to fend off enemy attacks and reduce the damage intake, or offensively through bashing attacks. Blunt, bladed and hacking weapons can be used in close combat and each have specific advantages and roles; as an example, the player can perform power attacks with each weapon. Magic can be used in the form of spells; each of the eighty-five spells has a different function, such as the regeneration of health or the depletion of enemy health. The bow and arrow may be utilized in long-range combat, but the bow can be used as a defensive melee weapon in close combat. Another change from previous games in the series is the elimination of weapon and armor durability; in which a player would periodically have to repair or pay to have items repaired or risk rendering them broken and unusable.
The player can enter sneak mode and pickpocket, or deliver sneak attacks to unsuspecting enemies. If the player drops unwanted loot, such as a shield or item of clothing, some NPCs will attempt to pick the item up, some even asking the player's permission to take the item.
Skyrim is not a direct sequel to Oblivion, but a new chapter in The Elder Scrolls series, set 200 years after the events of Oblivion. The death of Martin Septim, and the end of the Oblivion crisis heralded the beginning of the Fourth Era. A Colovian warlord from Cyrodiil named Titus Mede conquers the Imperial City, beginning the Mede dynasty in absence of the previous Septim bloodline. In the Empire's weak state, the provinces of Elsweyr, Black Marsh, Valenwood, and the Summerset Isles secede from the Empire. The provinces of the Summerset Isles and Valenwood, home to the Altmer and Bosmer, respectively, create the Aldmeri Dominion, an Elven empire, and rename the founding provinces to Alinor. Thirty years prior to the events of Skyrim, the Thalmor, who govern the Dominion, proceed to invade both Hammerfell and Cyrodiil, beginning "the Great War", due to a rejection of an ultimatum presented by a Dominion ambassador to the current Emperor, Titus Mede II. The Empire manages to survive the Thalmor assault by agreeing to sign the White-Gold Concordat, a treaty which prohibits the worship of Talos throughout the Empire. Following the end of the Great War, the Blades, a secret order of warriors devoted to the protection of the Emperor of Tamriel, are hunted down and killed by the Thalmor, or else seclude themselves from the rest of the world. The Emperor is protected instead by an elite Imperial security force known as the Penitus Oculatus. Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm, establishes the Stormcloak faction and rebels against the Empire in order to liberate Skyrim after the ban of Talos worship. This culminates in Ulfric killing Skyrim's High King, Torygg, in a duel. The Empire responds to the death of the High King by deploying the Imperial Legion to quell the rebel threat.
As with previous The Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim begins with the player character as an unknown prisoner. The player was caught in an Imperial ambush while attempting to cross the border into Skyrim, on a wagon with several Stormcloak soldiers, Ulfric Stormcloak himself, and a horse thief. They are all headed to Helgen to be executed. As the player character is about to be beheaded, a Dragon arrives, interrupting the execution and destroying the town. The player eventually learns that Skyrim's civil war is the last in a sequence of prophetic events foretold by the Elder Scrolls, which also predicted the return of Alduin, the Dragon-god of destruction. Alduin is prophesied to destroy the races of Men and Mer, and consume the world. The player character is the latest "Dovahkiin", a Dragonborn, an individual with the body of a mortal and the soul of a Dragon. Dovahkiin are anointed by the gods to help fend off the threat Alduin and other dragons pose to Skyrim and Tamriel. Among the individuals aiding the player are Delphine (voiced by Joan Allen) and Esbern (voiced by Max von Sydow), two of the last remaining Blades, and Master Arngeir (voiced by Christopher Plummer), a member of the Greybeards.
Following the Dragon attack on Helgen, the player character may choose to escape either with Hadvar, an Imperial soldier, or Ralof, a Stormcloak rebel. After the escape, the player travels to the town of Riverwood. The player is asked to journey to the city of Whiterun, and request aid from the Jarl against the Dragon threat. The Jarl agrees to send soldiers to Riverwood, but asks that the player retrieve a Dragonstone. The player discovers a Word Wall in the process, learning their first "Thu'um", one of the dragon shouts, in the process.
Upon returning to Whiterun, the player is asked to assist in defending the city from an attacking Dragon. After defeating the Dragon, the player character absorbs the Dragon's soul. This gives the player great power. Astonished, the Whiterun soldiers tell the player that they may be a "Dragonborn", naturally able to speak the Dragon language. After returning to the Jarl with news of the Dragon's defeat, the player is summoned to meet with the Greybeards, an order of monks who live in seclusion in their temple of High Hrothgar on the slopes of Skyrim's highest mountain, the Throat of the World. The Greybeards further train the player in the "Way of the Voice", teaching the player more powerful Thu'ums and instructing the player on their destiny and role of the Dragonborn. As a further test, the Greybeards task the player with retrieving the legendary Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. However, the player discovers the Horn has been stolen by another, who wishes to meet with the Dragonborn. The thief reveals herself as Delphine, Riverwood's innkeeper and one of the last surviving members of the Blades. Delphine and the player witness Alduin reviving a Dragon from a burial mound and defeat the Dragon. Afterwards, Delphine helps the player infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy near Solitude, the headquarters of the Aldmeri Dominion in Skyrim, to follow up on her suspicions about the Thalmor's possible involvement with the Dragon threat. While there, Delphine and the player discover the Thalmor are searching for a man named Esbern, an archivist of the Blades Order. Delphine then instructs the player to locate Esbern, known to be hiding in the sewers and ratways of Riften.
The player character accompanies the Blades in search of "Alduin's Wall", located in an ancient Blades fortress known as Sky Haven Temple. While the Blades set up in the temple, the player character learns that the ancient Nords used a special Thu'um against Alduin called "Dragonrend", representing mankind's comprehensive hatred for the Dragons, to cripple his ability to fly so they could engage him. To gain more information, the player meets the leader of the Greybeards, an ancient Dragon, and once one of Alduin's most feared generals, named Paarthurnax. Paarthurnax reveals that Alduin was not truly defeated in the past, but was sent forward to an unspecified point in time by the use of an Elder Scroll, in the hopes that he would get lost. The player manages to locate the Elder Scroll within the Dwemer ruin of Blackreach and uses it to travel back in time, learning the powerful Dragonrend Shout to combat Alduin.
Armed with the knowledge of how the ancient Nords defeated Alduin, the player battles Alduin on the summit of the Throat of the World. Overpowered by the player, Alduin flees to Sovngarde, the Nordic afterlife. The player learns that Dragonsreach, the palace of the Jarl of Whiterun, was originally built to trap and hold a dragon. The Jarl refuses to allow the player to utilize Dragonsreach and possibly endanger the city if the civil war between the Stormcloaks and the Imperial Legion still rages. With the help of the Greybeards, the player calls a council between General Tullius and Ulfric Stormcloak, successfully calling for a temporary armistice while the Dragon threat exists. If the war has already ended the Jarl will eventually agree with persuasion.
The player summons and traps a Dragon named Odahviing in Dragonsreach, learning from him that Alduin has fled to Sovngarde through a portal located high in the mountains, at an ancient fort called Skuldafn. Odahviing, impressed with the player's Thu'um and ability to capture him, agrees to fly the player to Skuldafn, claiming Alduin has shown himself as weak and undeserving of leadership over the Dragons. Upon arrival at Skuldafn, the player travels to Sovngarde and meets with Ysgramor, the legendary Nord who, along with his Five Hundred Companions, drove the Elves out of Skyrim. Ysgramor informs the player that Alduin has placed a "soul snare" in Sovngarde, allowing him to gain strength by devouring the souls of deceased Nords arriving there. The player meets up with the three heroes of Nordic legend who defeated Alduin originally, and, with their help, destroys the soul snare, defeating Alduin.
If the player did not kill Paarthurnax in an earlier side quest, an alternate conclusion is given. The player returns to the summit of the Throat of the World in which Paarthurnax and the other Dragons wait. Paarthurnax explains that even if Alduin is defeated, they are in no condition to celebrate for he was once their ally and is still one of their kin. The Dragons leave and the player is left to continue the adventure.
Skyrim was conceptualized shortly after the release of Oblivion in 2006. Work on Skyrim did not begin until Fallout 3's release in 2008; developers considered the game to be a spiritual successor to both Fallout 3 and previous The Elder Scrolls games. The game was developed by a team of roughly 100 people composed of new talent as well as of the series's veterans. The production was supervised by Todd Howard, who was the director of many titles released by Bethesda Softworks.
Skyrim is powered by Bethesda's own Creation Engine, a new engine created prior to Skyrim's release. Bethesda has officially stated that the engine will be used at least in one more project apart from Skyrim. After Fallout 3's release, the team devised numerous design objectives to meet for Skyrim, and as Howard described, the team "got all those done and kept going". Had the team not been able to meet their design goals with current hardware, they would have waited for the next generation and released Skyrim then, but, as Howard felt, the current technology did not hold the team back at all. The Creation Engine allowed for numerous improvements in graphical fidelity over Bethesda's previous efforts. For example, the draw distance renders farther than in previous The Elder Scrolls games; Howard furnished an example where the player could stare at a small object such as a fork in detail, and then look up at a mountain and run to the top of it. Dynamic lighting affords shadows to be created by any structure or item in the game world, and while Bethesda utilized SpeedTree to produce flora in previous games, the Creation Engine utilized by Skyrim allowed for greater detail than what had been allowed by SpeedTree. For example, with Bethesda's own technology, the team was able to give weight to the branches of trees which affected how the tree blew in wind; in addition, the technology afforded wind to affect the flow of water in channels such as rivers and streams. Because of the large presence of snow in Skyrim's game world, the technological upgrades were applied to weather effects and allowed for dynamic snow fall upon the terrain, instead of snow that was rendered as a textural effect in previous games.
The team made use of Havok's Behavior toolset for character animation, which allowed for a greater fluidity between the character's movements of walking, running and sprinting, and also increased the efficiency of the third-person camera option which had been criticized in Oblivion. The toolset allowed interactions between the player and NPCs to take place in real-time; in Oblivion, when the player went to interact with an NPC, time would freeze and the camera would zoom in on the NPC's face. In Skyrim, NPCs can move around and make body gestures while conversing with the player. Children are present in the game, and their presence is handled similarly as in Fallout 3 in that they cannot be harmed by the player in any way since depictions of violence involving children in video games is a controversial and largely-debated issue. Skyrim makes use of the Radiant AI artificial intelligence system that was created for Oblivion, and it has been updated to allow NPCs to "do what they want under extra parameters". The updated system allows for greater interaction between NPCs and their environments; NPCs can perform tasks such as farming, milling and mining in the game world, and will react with each other.
The team set the game in the province of Skyrim, designing it by hand. While similar in size to Oblivion's game world Cyrodiil, the mountainous topography of the world inflates the game space and makes it more difficult to traverse than the relatively flat Cyrodiil. In designing Skyrim's world, the team opted for a different approach to what was taken with Oblivion; art director Matt Carofano considered the more surrealistic approach of Skyrim's world design as a departure from Oblivion's generic representation of classic European fantasy lore. Howard expressed the team's desire to re-encapsulate the "wonder of discovery" of Morrowind's game world in Skyrim, as the return to the classic fantasy of Arena and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall in Oblivion meant sacrificing a world with a unique culture. As a way of creating diversity in the world, the team divided the world into nine sectors, known as holds, and attempted to make each hold feel topographically unique from another; in addition, the team wanted to reflect the socioeconomic background of the NPCs by making some of the world's locations elaborate and wealthy and others poorer and lower-tech. Focus was put into making each of the game's ten races feel unique; Howard considered that the player's choosing of a race at the beginning of the game was a more important decision than it had been in previous The Elder Scrolls games because the culture of Skyrim's world contains more racism. However, he iterated that the player's choice of race did not have major game-affecting consequences as it simply added "flavor" in different NPCs dispositions towards the player, and was not meant as a way of locking players out of particular quests. Efforts to making Skyrim's world feel hand-crafted extended to the team abandoning the use of generated landscapes as they had done in Oblivion.
While one team member was charged with designing dungeons in Oblivion, Skyrim's 150 dungeons were designed by a small team of eight people. Bethesda employed over seventy voice actors to record the voices of NPCs in the game; the total number of lines recorded for NPCs is over 60,000. The cast includes Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow, Joan Allen, Lynda Carter, Vladimir Kulich and Michael Hogan. Skyrim features 244 quests and over 300 points of interest.
Since release several patches have been published to address technical issues and improve overall gameplay. Patch 1.2 was released on November 29, 2011, to fix some of the game's issues; however, some players reported new bugs in the game following the patch, including more frequent game crashes. Patch 1.3 was released on December 7, 2011, to improve stability, further address known issues, and fix some of the problems that were introduced in version 1.2. Patch 1.4 was released on February 1, 2012, for the PC. Another list of issues and bugs were addressed in this patch as well as the Skyrim launcher support for Skyrim Workshop (PC). Patch 1.5 was released on March 20, 2012, for the PC. Numerous bugs were fixed, as well as the inclusion of new archery/spellcasting killcams. Patch 1.6 was released on May 24, 2012, for the PC. This includes a new feature – mounted combat. Patch 1.7 was released on July 30, 2012, for the PC, and 1.8 was released on November 1, 2012, for the PC. These two introduced only minor bugfixes. Patch 1.9 was released on March 18, 2013. In addition to providing various bug fixes, this patch also added new features, most namely the new 'Legendary' difficulty and 'Legendary' skills.
A wide variety of modifications are available for Skyrim, using the packaged "Creation Kit". These mods are aggregated on the Steam Workshop and Skyrim Nexus, among other sites. The mods include features such as more vibrant night sky, new lighting systems, new characters and locations, user interface updates, and more.
The first Skyrim modification was The Fall of the Space Core, Vol. 1, created by Bethesda in collaboration with Valve Corporation. It causes the Space Core – a fictional device from Valve's video game Portal 2 – to fall from the sky and land in a burnt-out house near Whiterun. The Space Core (voiced by Nolan North) acts as a non-player character, following the player around the world of Skyrim and dispensing space-related comments.
30-second sample from the theme of Skyrim.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
The team employed Jeremy Soule to compose music for Skyrim after his work on Morrowind and Oblivion. He composed "Dragonborn", the game's main theme. "Dragonborn" was recorded with a choir of over thirty people, singing in the game world's dragon language. Creative director Todd Howard envisioned the theme for Skyrim as the Elder Scrolls theme sung by a choir of barbarians. This became a reality when the idea was passed by Soule, who recorded the 30-man choir and layered three separate recordings to create the effect of 90 voices. The language, Draconic, was created by Bethesda's concept artist Adam Adamowicz, and he developed a 34-character runic alphabet for the game. The lexicon of Draconic was expanded as needed; as lead designer Bruce Nesmith explained, words were introduced to the lexicon "every time [the studio wanted] to say something".
As with the previous two entries in the series, the soundtrack to Skyrim is sold exclusively via Jeremy Soule's distributor DirectSong; on November 4, 2011, a physical-only release consisting of 4 audio CDs was announced, coinciding with the launch of the game. All copies preordered before December 23 will be personally autographed by Soule. Following an October 17 tweet from Pete Hines, vice president of public relations and marketing at Bethesda, stating "The OST would take 4 CDs", a 4-disc CD set release was spotted by Digital Song customers during an account display error. "Day One" preorders from Amazon.de also include a 5-track promotional Skyrim soundtrack sampler.
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Featured Music Selections)|
|2.||"Under an Ancient Sun"||Jeremy Soule||3:42|
|3.||"The Streets of Whiterun"||Jeremy Soule||4:07|
|4.||"Sky Above, Voice Within"||Jeremy Soule||3:59|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Original Game Soundtrack (Disc 1)|
|3.||"From Past to Present"||Jeremy Soule||5:06|
|4.||"Unbroken Road"||Jeremy Soule||6:26|
|5.||"Ancient Stones"||Jeremy Soule||4:48|
|6.||"The City Gates"||Jeremy Soule||3:48|
|7.||"Silent Footsteps"||Jeremy Soule||2:53|
|9.||"Tooth and Claw"||Jeremy Soule||1:51|
|10.||"Under An Ancient Sun"||Jeremy Soule||3:44|
|11.||"Death Or Sovngarde"||Jeremy Soule||3:02|
|13.||"Distant Horizons"||Jeremy Soule||3:55|
|15.||"The Jerall Mountains"||Jeremy Soule||3:22|
|16.||"Steel on Steel"||Jeremy Soule||1:45|
|18.||"Imperial Throne"||Jeremy Soule||2:23|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Original Game Soundtrack (Disc 2)|
|2.||"Night Without Stars"||Jeremy Soule||0:43|
|3.||"Into Darkness"||Jeremy Soule||2:55|
|4.||"Kyne's Peace"||Jeremy Soule||3:52|
|6.||"Far Horizons"||Jeremy Soule||5:33|
|7.||"A Winter's Tale"||Jeremy Soule||3:22|
|8.||"The Bannered Mare"||Jeremy Soule||2:30|
|9.||"The Streets of Whiterun"||Jeremy Soule||4:07|
|10.||"One They Fear"||Jeremy Soule||3:16|
|11.||"The White River"||Jeremy Soule||3:31|
|12.||"Silence Unbroken"||Jeremy Soule||2:24|
|13.||"Standing Stones"||Jeremy Soule||6:39|
|14.||"Beneath the Ice"||Jeremy Soule||4:16|
|16.||"Journey's End"||Jeremy Soule||4:10|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Original Game Soundtrack (Disc 3)|
|1.||"Before The Storm"||Jeremy Soule||1:09|
|2.||"A Chance Meeting"||Jeremy Soule||3:12|
|3.||"Out of the Cold"||Jeremy Soule||3:04|
|4.||"Around The Fire"||Jeremy Soule||3:12|
|5.||"Shadows And Echoes"||Jeremy Soule||2:21|
|6.||"Caught Off Guard"||Jeremy Soule||1:13|
|8.||"Blood And Steel"||Jeremy Soule||2:12|
|9.||"Towers And Shadows"||Jeremy Soule||2:24|
|10.||"Seven Thousand Steps"||Jeremy Soule||1:08|
|12.||"Watch The Skies"||Jeremy Soule||2:23|
|13.||"The Gathering Storm"||Jeremy Soule||2:55|
|14.||"Sky Above, Voice Within"||Jeremy Soule||3:59|
|15.||"Death in the Darkness"||Jeremy Soule||2:38|
|16.||"Shattered Shields"||Jeremy Soule||2:40|
|18.||"Wind Guide You"||Jeremy Soule||9:05|
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — Original Game Soundtrack (Disc 4)|
|1.||"Skyrim Atmospheres"||Jeremy Soule||42:35|
Skyrim was first announced at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, on December 11, 2010. The center was the host of Spike's annual Video Game Awards; Howard appeared on stage during the awards and presented its announcement trailer, which introduced the game's story and revealed its "11–11–11" release date. It was the cover story for the February 2011 issue of the Game Informer magazine, wherein journalist Matt Miller wrote a fifteen-page article that revealed the first details about the game's story and gameplay. Asked about downloadable content (DLC) packages in a June 2011 interview, Howard expressed that it was the team's intention to release DLC packages after having done so for previous releases; he revealed that it was the team's goal to release a lower number of DLC packages that were larger in content than those released for Fallout 3, as he felt that releasing a larger number of low-content packages was "chaotic". Via a press release, the team announced that the first two planned DLC packages would release on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live a month ahead of PCs and the PlayStation 3 system. At the 2011 QuakeCon conference, the team unveiled Skyrim's special edition package. Bundled with a copy of the game is a map of the game world, a 12-inch figurine of the game's antagonistic dragon Alduin, as well as a 200-page concept art book and a DVD feature about the making of Skyrim.
In October 2011 pictures of many pages of the manual of the game were leaked, later followed by footage from the introduction, revealing some more details. By November 1, 2011, a copy of the Xbox 360 version had been leaked and made available through the internet, allowing people with a hacked Xbox 360 to play Skyrim 10 days before its official release. In the Netherlands, the game has been available for purchase since November 7. On November 10 stores in Australia began selling the game ahead of its release on November 11.
A compilation package called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition is scheduled for release on June 4, 2013. It contains the 1.9 patch, and the three expansions along with the main game.
On May 29, 2012, Bethesda announced Dawnguard, the first downloadable add-on for Skyrim. The Xbox 360 version of Dawnguard launched in English-speaking territories on June 26, 2012, and in France, Italy, Germany and Spain in mid-July 2012. It was released on Windows (via Steam) on August 2, 2012. Due to performance issues, the PlayStation 3 version of Dawnguard had been delayed indefinitely, and Bethesda had expressed concern that future Skyrim DLC may not be able to be added to the system as well. On January 18, 2013, Bethesda announced that all three DLC expansions would be released on the PlayStation 3 during February 2013. The DLC was released for PS3 on February 26, 2013, in North America and on February 27, 2013, in Europe.
Bethesda released a trailer for Dawnguard on June 1, 2012, revealing that the add-on would focus around the return of Lord Harkon, the ruler of an ancient Vampire clan named the Volkihar. Harkon wishes to use the powers of the Elder Scrolls to blot out the sun, allowing Vampires to overwhelm Tamriel.
The second add-on for Skyrim, Hearthfire, was released on September 4, 2012, for Xbox 360 and October 4, 2012, on PC. It was released for the PlayStation 3 on February 19, 2013, in North America and February 20, 2013, in Europe. The add-on allows the player character to purchase a plot of land and build their own home from raw materials such as lumber and clay, with the option of adding greenhouses, bee hives and alchemy/enchanting facilities. Hearthfire also introduces the option to raise a family by adopting children. Hearthfire received mixed to negative reception, due to a number of bugs that kept new gameplay elements from being unlocked, such as not being able to obtain the deed to Lakeview Manor because the seller is in a Dark Brotherhood contract, amongst others. No patches have been announced yet.
Dragonborn is the third add-on for Skyrim. It was released on December 4, 2012, for the Xbox 360; the PC version was released February 5, 2013, and the PlayStation 3 version released later on February 12, 2013, in North America and on February 13, 2013, in Europe. The DLC's first trailer, released on November 5, 2012, revealed that it will allow the player to ride Dragons, and that the plot will revolve around the return of the first Dragonborn/Dovahkiin to the island of Solstheim (previously featured in Bloodmoon, an expansion of Morrowind, the third game in the series). Solstheim is a Dark Elf territory, given to them by Skyrim after the eruption of the Red Mountain forced them to flee Morrowind. Players will have the chance to explore locations from Morrowind, such as Raven Rock, Fort Frostmoth and a village belonging to the Skaal, a wild tribe of Nords.
|This section requires expansion. (February 2013)|
|Official PlayStation Magazine (UK)||7/10|
|PC Gamer (UK)||94%|
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released to widespread critical acclaim. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 95.22% and 96/100, the PC version 94.42% and 94/100, and the PlayStation 3 version 88.00% and 92/100, all respectively.
IGN stated that "It's a mesmerizing game that draws you into a finely crafted fictional space packed with content... [Skyrim is] one of the best role-playing games yet produced." The Guardian said that "Skyrim is one of the most gargantuan undertakings gamers will experience all year. The sheer size of the adventure...is mind-blowing." Wired.com wrote, "The game's greatest accomplishment is that it is a paradise of escapism. There are very few scripted quests that aren't worth experiencing." GameSpot commented that "Skyrim performs the most spectacular of enchantments: the one that causes huge chunks of time to vanish before you know it" and Joystiq wrote, "This is the deepest, loveliest world ever created for a single player to explore." Famitsu gave Skyrim a score of 40/40, making it the first video game developed entirely by non-Japanese companies to receive a perfect rating from them.
Criticism was made about the PC version's user interface, with some critics remarking that it was designed for console controllers as opposed to the traditional keyboard and mouse setup. Official PlayStation Magazine (UK) criticized the technical issues and feeling that the game was in an unfinished state, though gave it an overall good review.
During the first day of release, Steam showed over 230,000 people playing Skyrim concurrently. In the first week of release, Bethesda stated that 7 million copies of the game had been shipped to retailers worldwide, and that total sales through the following Wednesday were expected to generate an estimated US$450 million. By December 16, 2011, this had risen to 10 million copies shipped to retail and around US$620 million. Additionally, Valve stated that it was the fastest selling game to date on their Steam platform. Steam's game statistics page showed the game breaking a five million user record by having 5,012,468 users logged in as recently as January 2, 2012. During this time, Skyrim was the most-played game on Steam by a huge margin, with double the number of players as Team Fortress 2, the second-placed game. As of July 2012, an estimated 10 million copies have been sold. In the United Kingdom, Skyrim was the 9th best selling title of 2012.
At the launch of Skyrim, a multitude of technical issues ranging from small to large in scale were being reported. Some examples include a texture down-scaling issue on the Xbox 360 version when the game was run from the hard drive; crashes, slowdown and frame rate issues on the PlayStation 3 version when save files exceeded 6 MB, commonly occurring due to extended game play times; and various crashes and slowdowns on the Windows version. According to Skyrim's director Todd Howard the misconception of 'restrictive RAM' is incorrect, "It's literally the things you've done in what order and what's running."
Guards in Skyrim often repeat the line: "I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee". The latter part of this phrase quickly took off as an Internet meme in the form of "I used to X, but then I took an arrow to the knee" with numerous image macros and video parodies created. The reference to Skyrim was mentioned in an episode of CBS television drama series NCIS. In the video game Borderlands 2 a non-playable character says "I used to be a vault hunter like you, until I took a bullet to the knee".[importance?] Another "arrow to the knee" reference to Skyrim can be found during an escort quest in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. The quest takes place in Pandaria's Krasarang Wilds zone. While escorting a group of neutral pandaren, one of the Pandaren guards gets injured and utters the phrase.
In Skyrim, the Dragon Shout "Unrelenting Force", spoken as "Fus Ro Dah" which translates as "Force Balance Push", invokes psychokinetic powers; the phrase "Fus Ro Dah" is used by commentators outside the context of gaming.
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