The Elder Scrolls have taken over my life once again.

–By Brendan

As I write this, it’s been exactly a month since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released, and a month since I began my newest string of adventures in a new part of Tamriel. As I slowly close in on completing all the major and minor quest lines and activities available in the frozen wilderness, I find myself just as captivated as those first few hours with the game. Now, admittedly, the world feels much less mysterious; I’ve seen many of the landmarks, and the areas don’t seem quite as foreign or new. Still, the atmosphere the game creates has sucked me in.

That being said, I find myself branching out into the other lands and eras of Tamriel. Currently, I have a total of four Elder Scrolls games installed on my PC. I’ve been popping into each game depending on what I feel like doing as each offers a very unique experience. If you’re looking for more adventures in the lands of Tamriel, read on!

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

Daggerfall was released in 1996, so in terms of graphics, and sound especially, it’s rather archaic. That shouldn’t stop you from playing though, this game is massive. The developers say the total land mass equates to roughly TWICE as much as the entirety of the UK, filled with 15,000 unique locations like towns, cities, and dungeons, and over 750,000 NPCs. By comparison, Morrowind only had 1,000 NPCs, and is about 0.01% the size of Daggerfall in thems of landmass. The game is basically an entire continent to explore.

As awesome as that is, it’s pretty overwhelming. The NPCs also become repetitive, and since the game world is randomly generated and there’s no fast travel, the towns and such can be monotonous. That, and DOSbox — required to run the game — is a bit of a chore…. But it’s still a great game offering a great main quest, tons of factions and side quests, and an entire country-sized world to explore. Oh, and it’s a free download on Bethesda’s website, along with The Elder Scrolls: Arena, the series’ first game. A free, massive elder scrolls game? Count me in.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

This was my first introduction into The Elder Scrolls universe. For a long time, it was my favorite RPG. I still have never beat the main quest due to how much fun it is to explore this world. It’s much smaller than the previous game, Daggerfall, but it feels much more alive and much more compelling. Exploration actually feels fun and important.

Morrowind’s best feature is by far it’s art design. It’s the most unique of The Elder Scrolls game worlds, offering the island of Vvardenfel, the native home of the Dark Elves (or Dunmer) open for exploration. Giant mushroom trees, dense swamps and jungles, ashy volcanic wastelands… The world has a great mix of environments to keep your journey interesting.

Of all the games, this is the one I’m most excited about jumping back into. It’s been several years since I’ve played Morrowind, and the game world is just as interesting and full of new things to discover as it ever was. I look forward to finally experiencing everything this game has to offer, and thanks to an active modding community, the game has never looked better. Definitely check this one out, it’s available on steam with both Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions, adding hundreds more hours of gameplay.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Oblivion, while  building upon the mechanics in Morrowind, and creating a streamlined and interesting character progression, lacked the visual flare of Morrowind. The graphics might have been ground breaking, but the art direction was bland, animations look a bit odd, and the radiant AI system creates odd behaviors for the NPCs.

Those issues aside, I still sunk a good 100 hours into the main game. There are some really great faction quests, and even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main quest, many other players loved getting to explore the massive country of Cyrodiil, dotted with gates into the hellish Dimension of Oblivion.

The far more alien setting of The Shivering Isles

Recently, my adventures in Skyrim have piqued my interest to return to Oblivion, and I picked up the Shivering Isles expansion. It offers a much more interesting land to explore, and a quest line that deals with insane and maniacal characters that are far more interesting than those found in Oblivion. I’d say if you enjoy the gameplay of Skyrim and you’ve never played another TES game but are looking for a similar experience, Oblivion and The Shivering Isles will be your best bet.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Obviously, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably played or at least heard about the latest game in the series, Skyrim. Skyrim is the fullest realization of everything The Elder Scrolls have tried to do in the past. The world feels cohesive and alive compared to past games. The nordic-inspired art style of the landscapes, architecture, a weapons/armor create an atmosphere that no elder scrolls has had in the past; this truly feels like a living, breathing land to explore. Also dragons.

Skyrim also has the best main story of The Elder Scrolls games. There are moments in the main quest that reach levels of epicness I was not expecting. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but you will not be disappointed. The factions quests, side quests, dungeons, and random events to find are also the most fine tuned and exciting. No randomly generated dungeons, these bad boys are well-designed and fun. The quests are exciting and I can tell you that you will do and see some pretty amazing things…

The combat is also the best in the series. While the melee combat can feel clunky or simplified at times, the magic system has been revamped, and the skill/character progression allows for so much customization and choice, you can easily change the path of your character from a blacksmithing, sword-swinging barbarian, to a fireball spraying, zombie raising mage with little effort.

Final Word

The recent Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas offer similar gameplay in a post-apocalyptic setting

I won’t hide my feelings that Skyrim may be my favorite game of all time, but the fact is each and every one of The Elder Scrolls games offers some of the deepest and most rewarding open-ended role playing experiences out there. The best comparison would be Bethesda’s recent entries into the Fallout series, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. So if you’re on the market for a new world to get sucked into, these games can offer you hundreds of hours and entire nations to explore and forget about the reality for a while.

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4 thoughts on “The Elder Scrolls have taken over my life once again.

  1. the graphics maettr big time. with RPG’s, you’re going to want to be fooled into thinking tamriel is real. 2D 64 bit pixels don’t fool you. Looking forward to the 3rd party graphics mods to be released for Skyrim (:they’re already working wonders for Oblivion

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