Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Dawnguard review

Is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim the most accessible multi-format RPG to date?

What is a hands on review?
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Elder Scrolls V Skyrim review
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Elder Scrolls V Skyrim review
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Elder Scrolls V Skyrim review
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Elder Scrolls V Skyrim review
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Elder Scrolls V Skyrim review


  • Brilliant control system
  • Gargantuan environment
  • Great use of level-ups


  • A few bugs and glitches
  • Dangerously addictive
  • Demands a lot of time

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim is the the massive RPG from Bethesda Game Studios, but is it big enough to steal headlines from Modern Warfare 3?

When we included Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in our round up of the games you need to play before you die feature, we knew we had every reason to shout about it.

Three hours may sound like a fair chunk of time, but when considered in the context of a hands-on preview with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, officially revealed at E3 2011, it’s barely the blink of an eye. Bethesda’s forthcoming fantasy adventure video game is epic in every sense of the word.

The world it presents players is gargantuan, the characters that populate it are legion in number and the amount of time that could conceivably be spent exploring every inch of this game runs into hundreds of hours.

Heck, you can spend nearly an hour and a half creating your character for this game such is the level of customisation on offer; forget which sex, species and body-type you’re after, you get to choose the shape, depth, colour and shading of each eyeball. The word ‘fetishistic’ doesn’t even cover it.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: T3 warriors

For T3’s hands-on, we created a female warrior bearing a striking resemblance to Grace Jones, and we were then ushered forth into the land of Skyrim. For those who don’t know, Skyrim is the northern most region of a fantasy world called Tamriel, which features in all the Elder Scrolls games – most recently in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Visually it looks like the wilder parts of Northern Europe, complete with undulating hills, fast-running rivers, snow-capped mountains and acres of pine forests. It’s hard to overemphasise how beautiful Skyrim looks, and the glorious visuals coupled with the woodland noises and gusts of wind on the soundtrack swallow the player whole. It’s a land that’s easy to buy into and even easier to become enchanted by.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Plot

As far as the plot goes, Bethesda gave precious few details away; we were told that Skyrim is set 200 years after the end of Oblivion and that players begin the game as a prisoner who escapes captivity. Also, in our hands-on time with the game, the three hours we were allotted meant that we barely scratched the surface of Skyrim’s story.

In that time, we uncovered a couple of locations on the map and managed to complete one quest for a trader called Lucen in a small village called Riverwood. Turns out bandits made off Lucen’s most precious antique – a golden claw – and he charged T3 with recovering it for him.

After a brief battle with the bandits in the hills surrounding Riverwood, we found ourselves venturing deep into subterranean caverns, battling first a giant spider and then a pack of walking skeletons called the Draugr.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Combat

The combat in the game is satisfying and easy to get to grips with. The right and left triggers activate an attack with whatever the player’s character is wielding in those hands – be it an edged weapon or a blast of magic – or allow for an attack with a two-handed weapon.

Players can also head into their inventory, tag weapons or spells to ‘favourite’ them, and can then swap weapons and spells quickly and easily by opening a ‘hotkey’ menu with the D-pad.

The controls and menu lay-outs are excellent; strange as it may sound to praise a game for its menus, it’s fitting here as in Skyrim, players need easy access to a ton of variables including their inventory, magic attacks, maps and levelling up screens.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Controls

Bethesda has said that Skyrim is one of its more accessible games, but don’t fool you into thinking that this means its appeal is any broader than previous Elder Scrolls or Fallout titles.

This only means that the controls are more intuitive and the menus are easy to interpret. But Skyrim will require tons of hours and genuine commitment from any players hoping to uncover its secrets. Its gameplay may be a little more streamilined that that of its predecessors, but Skyrim is for the resolutely hardcore gamers – and those attracted to the fantasy genre to begin with.

To wit, last year, mainstream news outlets ran stories about how Call Of Duty: Black Ops was set to cost employers a load of money, due to the fact that many fans planned to take a week off work to play it. In that vein, if you own a business, you might want to keep an eye out for any workers with who have say, a dragon statuette on their desk, or a well-thumbed copy of Lord Of The Rings. Come November 11th, you probably won’t see them for the rest of the month.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim availability: Out November 11th on all formats

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim price: £34.99 on PS3 and Xbox360, £29.99 on PC

Watch the full Elder Scrolls V Skyrim trailer below.


Liked this review? You may also want to check out our Assassin's Creed: Revelations review, FIFA 12 review, or PES 2012 review.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.