Zenith's Christmas Recommendations: Skyrim

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The Elder Scrolls series is a gaming revolution. With every installment in this storied franchise a new era in gaming is born. For those of you who haven’t been initiated, let me you initiate you into the world of Tamriel.

The Elder Scrolls series is the epitome of the Western Role-Playing Game. You are transported to the medieval land of Tamriel, filled with hundreds of monsters, warriors, and adventurers. Your task, as the chosen hero, is to save the land from a great evil that has befallen it. You will find yourself joining guilds, slaying demonic creatures, and completing quests to ensure that peace returns to the land.

With each entry in this long-running series, the gaming landscape has changed. In 2007, RPG fans were treated to the fourth installment in the franchise, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This one release set the world of gaming ablaze, claiming two game of the year awards and widespread critical acclaim. This game, like those before it, was revolutionary for its superb graphics, excellent leveling system, and enormous open world. Even with all the praise I just gave, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim blows its predecessor out of the water.

First of all, the graphical scope of this game is simply amazing. Each character looks and feels real. My biggest gripe with Oblivion was that character models looked somewhat robotic but each character here is gloriously animated. What’s even more amazing about the graphical prowess is that the game world is simply gigantic. This is an open world game to beat all open world games. There are times in other games where you want to go someplace but you run into invisible walls. Never in Skyrim! Here you can go anywhere you want with no restrictions and little to no load times. In addition, in all my time playing the game, I never experienced any freezes or crashes. Never!

Now, the meat and potatoes of Skyrim is the combat system. As you travel around the world completing quests, you will have to face tons of different monsters, demons, and dragons. Instead of the traditional level system, Skyrim has two unique systems in place. First is the primary skill tree. As you fight various creatures, you will automatically level up certain skills such as magic, lockpicking, and armor. What makes this system unique though is that you only level up the skills you want to level. If you want to specialize in magic, just cast a bunch of spells and you will become a mage in no time. Want to be a warrior? No problem. You can even create specialty classes such as battle mages. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Secondly, we have the special skill tree. Each time you gain a level, you get 1 skill point to add to your special skill tree. These skills can include powerful magic upgrades or bonuses for skills you already have. With these two systems in place, leveling your character always feels fun and engaging.

Skyrim also adds a new feature to combat that changes how you approach each encounter: dual wielding. Instead of just casting that same fire spell over and over, why not add a lightning spell into the mix. Instead of using one spark spell, why not combine them into a mass of lightning and destruction. In this game, you can dual wield spells, swords, and any other weapon at your disposal (as long as its one-handed) and it completely changes how you fight each enemy. My personal layout was lightning in one hand and healing in the other, so I could fight for hours and never have to use any potions.

This game is at the top of my game of the year list, so if you’re a fan of RPG’s and you haven’t gotten this game yet be sure to add this to the top of your Christmas list. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Holidays everyone and happy gaming!

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