Because we at VideoGamer.com care about our audience, we'd like to offer anyone planning to play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a couple of pieces of advice. First off, if you have any long term commitments like say, a job or friends or a significant other, we suggest you ring them to make your excuses now - you don't want to get sacked or dumped over a video game, and letting your friends think you've died or been kidnapped due to lack of communication is just plain rude. Furthermore, it might be worth making sure that your gas and electricity bills have been paid, and that you have enough provisions to last you until spring. You're going to need time for Skyrim and lots of it.
To say Skyrim is vast is to make a chronic understatement. The sheer scale and size of the game's environment alone is absolutely mind-boggling and it's all augmented by a staggering amount of variety. Every town, every dungeon, every temple and every location has been created with a loving care and a fastidious attention to detail, and all of them boast a personality and an atmosphere of their own.
This level of range allows Skyrim to weave its first intoxicating spell of immersion. Players will soon stop seeing Skyrim as a game and become lost in its gargantuan landscape. They'll visit the cracked black-stone fortress of Windhelm, the blizzard-swept desolation of Winterholm, the sun-kissed settlement of Whiterun, and traverse rolling hills, snow-packed peaks and lush forests in between. Then they'll stare up at the clock and realise they could've finished off a couple of novels in the same time it took to do all that.
It isn't just the immense size of Tamriel as a place that gives it its ability to swallow lives whole. Bethesda has packed every inch of its game with content for the player to consume. Before the player is even allowed to begin exploring they're tasked with creating their character, and the levels of customisation on offer are so huge that the player could while away a couple of hours deciding on the exact look and feel of their avatar in the game. Skyrim also boasts over a hundred locations, a huge legion of characters and a lengthy list of quests to complete. The list of activities available is also pretty sumptuous; players can spend hours crafting weapons, mixing potions, enchanting items or simply reading the ton of books they'll find scattered throughout the game. Underneath it all there's a rather decent plot trundling along, involving a civil war in Skyrim, the return of some dragons believed to be extinct and the end of the world. You know, the usual epic fantasy stuff.
The player's role in this is as the last remaining Doväkiin, or Dragonborn to you. Not only does this set them up as the last hope of mankind, it also allows them to absorb the souls of any slain dragons. These in turn are used to unlock 'shouts', a list of abilities that range from lightning-quick movement, to a concussive blast that sends opponents flying, to the power to encase foes in a block of ice. Shouts have to be acquired and the player does this by seeking out runes etched into the walls of the many dungeons and subterranean caverns dotted around Skyrim. Each shout has three parts, becoming more powerful as more parts are found. It's worth spending the time to bolster up the Dragonborn abilities as they provide a much-needed edge in combat.
The rest of the combat system allows players to dual-wield weapons and magical attacks - provided of course, their weapon of choice doesn't require two hands to swing. Every successful attack earns XP which can be used to level up, and your character will also become more proficient in the types of weapons and magic they use the most in battle. When levelling up, the player is awarded a choice of topping up their health, magic or stamina, and is given a talent point they can use to unlock a perk in the talent tree of their choice.