I had intended, at first, to begin this article with something along the lines of the following:
The year is 2091, Skyrim Remastered Ultra High Definition Definitive Edition Part 5, has been released. People flock to download the game into their memory cores, as children ask their parents where they were when the game first entered the world. Many have no idea, it had always been that way – the annual Skyrim release, overseen by Tod Howard, the cyborg ruler of Bethesda Game Studios.
And that would have sounded absolutely ridiculous, right? A game that came out in 2011, still relevant at the turn of the century. There couldn’t possibly be anything like that in the real world.
And then I realised, as with most things, that the truth was equally as absurd.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was originally released on November 11th, 2011, presumably so they could milk the whole 11.11.11 thing for all it was worth. It was met with critical acclaim, and for good reason. It had a stripped-back RPG core, a simple interface, and a world design so unique for its time, especially in comparison to other, more generic, western RPGs.
The game won numerous awards and was apparently perfectly designed to reach the largest market possible, cementing itself into the collective consciousness of a generation of gamers.
In June 2013, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – Legendary edition was released, featuring the main game and all the DLC in one convenient package. The perfect ending to a game that had won over 200 game of the year awards.
And all was silent. For a time.
Then came The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special edition in October 2016 – the beginning of what I have taken to calling, the Five Years of Skyrim.
Later, that very same month, came the reveal trailer for the Nintendo Switch – and guess which game it showcased. The Special Edition Switch port was officially announced by Bethesda in January 2017, and came to the console in November of the same year. Skyrim fever was in the air, and it didn’t appear to be slowing down.
Jumping on the VR trend that had appeared, (and then very quickly disappeared faster than 3D films) Bethesda announced Skyrim VR for the Playstation. 2017 became the biggest year of Skyrim releases, as the VR version was released to the public in the same month that the Switch port hit the shelves. And if you thought 2018 would be safe from a Skyrim release, well boy have you got another thing coming. The VR edition was rolled out to all platforms that could support it in April of that year, and then The Elder Scrolls: Blades became available, in early access, shortly after.
Now I hear what you’re saying: “The Elder Scrolls blades isn’t Skyrim, it’s a completely different game”. Well, tell that to developers who, essentially, just copied over every asset from Skyrim, including races, armor, weapons, and potions. It’s a reskinned Skyrim without the reskin.
But it wasn’t as if Bethesda were unaware of how ridiculous releasing the same game every other year had become. The Skyrim Very Special Edition, revealed at their E3 showcase in 2018, enlisted the aid of renowned comedian Keegan-Michael Key and parodied a world where Skyrim could be played on everything, from an Alexa device to an etch a sketch.
Very funny we all thought, at least they get it – now how about that Elder Scrolls VI, ‘ey Bethesda?
But you can actually @#!*ing play it. If you’ve got one, ask Alexa right now – just say “Alexa play Skyrim”. It’s basically a whole game and somehow Bethesda didn’t understand the irony. It’s like someone told Bethesda “hey, maybe slow down on the Skyrim re-releases?” and they replied, “oh god you’re right, we have been going a bit mad haven’t we? How about another release?”
And then came 2020, the pandemic hit, and we were given a moment’s reprieve. Maybe, just maybe, that would be it. Skyrim would be left as it was, no need for another remaster, and Bethesda could focus on a new game – Starfield perhaps? Or dare I say, The Elder Scrolls VI?
What fools we were.
Skyrim’s 10 year anniversary caught us all off guard. Without warning, Tod showed us the next edition that we would all go out and buy, like the good little consumers we are. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – Anniversary Edition is due to be released on November 11th, 2021, exactly ten years after it first came out, all those years ago. It includes over 74 ‘creations’ (what Bethesda likes to call their paid mods), and is apparently optimised for all the latest hardware.
But at its core, it is yet another remaster, this time including content that Bethesda didn’t even create or consider canon.
At times, I wonder how long this will go on.
But here’s the thing. Skyrim is an amazing game. I would gladly play it forever. I was 14 when the game was first released, and I’ll be 24 when its 10-year anniversary edition comes out. I have had numerous friendships and relationships begin and end in that time, and yet Skyrim is somehow a universal constant. Wherever I am, whoever I am with, it will always be there.
Games aren’t remembered because of how well they perform, or how well the particle effects look. They are remembered because of how they make us feel.
Maybe I’m under the effects of some kind of Stockholm syndrome, or maybe Skyrim is the greatest game ever made. All I know is that this game is as much a part of me, as anything else could be.
We are going to be playing Skyrim forever. Or, at least, I will be.