Top Ten of 2011 – 1. Skyrim

Released within one year of its announcement, Skyrim came along relatively quickly, but was met with huge amounts of praise, and sales figures to match. Gamers the world over have had any notion of free time sucked into oblivion by Bethesda’s sprawling epic fantasy world, and that includes us. It’s the game we played more than any other last year, and it was an easy decision to crown it as our number 1 game of 2011.

Matt:
Where do I begin? 87 hours into Skyrim, and I haven’t run out of things to amaze me. Skyrim is an unbelievable achievement in game design, one that is unrivalled in its scope and ambition. I have explored hundreds of dungeons and caves now and have yet to see a single one repeat itself. The entire world has been painstakingly hand crafted to give us the maximum amount of freedom, and its filled with seemingly endless amounts of interesting things to see and do. Watching a dragon way off in the distance never fails to send a chill down my spine, but hearing their ghostly voice echoing all around as it approaches is even more harrowing. I love the way mist rolls off the edge of a mountain overlook. I can be quite content to just sit and admire the view from atop a rolling hillside and take it all in, and since this is an Elder Scrolls game there’s absolutely nothing to stop me from doing that. Of course there is a main story to follow and big scale battles to fight, but the majority of my playtime so far has been spent engaging in the simple act of exploration and discovery. I’ve travelled the length and breadth of Skyrim, making a point to let myself be distracted with whatever catches my eye off the road, and no other game of 2011 was more rewarding.

As soon as the game allowed me to, I deviated from the main story and did my own thing. Saving the world from the dragon threat has become a mere side quest as far as my Nordic dual-sword wielding warrior is concerned. I’m the leader of the Companions, a master blacksmith clad in a full set of dragonplate armour, and the heroic commander of the Stormcloak army. I travel the world with my werewolf huntress by my side, and together we hunt out treasures, follow clues to ancient weapons told in story books that we find and help out those in need, especially if they’re willing to pay. My homes are filled with chests of loot that I have procured over what seems like a lifetime of exploring this magnificent wintry world, and whenever I visit cities, people know who I am and stop to comment on my achievements. It’s one of the most immersive game worlds ever created, and I am only too happy to lose myself in it for hours at a time because I know I’ll experience something new.

Skyrim is totally and utterly my favourite game of 2011.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

Paul:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far awa- oops, wrong franchise… sorry. Well, for what it’s worth, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is the newest child in a series that is certainly set in a very old medieval world; a world involving swords, shields, dragons and magic – and it pleases us to proclaim that Skyrim – a game that doesn’t even have any explosions, guns, or spaceships – is number one in our Top 10 Video Games of 2011. Why did we choose Skyrim? I’ll tell thee I will, sire.

We like swords, we like shields, we like dragons and we pretty much like magic too. As per my recent brief description of the contents of the game, you can see that what we like and what is in it match up fairly nicely. This makes for a winning combination, resulting in a well mixed and potent alchemical potion of pure awesomeness and thorough enjoyment. Skyrim is epic, and no, I don’t mean the trendy, overused version of the word (e.g. “Did you see the size of that dog shit? It was EPIC!”), but the actual definitive, dictionary-worthy version of the word: ep·ic [ep-ik] “heroic; majestic; impressively great”.

The world of Skyrim isn’t necessarily the largest ever, but the amount of content, story, and characters within it make it one of the densest and bloody time-consuming I’ve ever seen. I’m yet to finish the game, and I really doubt I’m even 1/4 through the main storyline yet, and I’ve already disregarded the possibility of 100% completing it. What’s so great about Skyrim, is how many things you come across completely by accident; one day my character was riding horseback from the far West of the map, all the way to the far East – my goal being to see what might occur on the way. On my journey I was attacked by wolves, saw an enormous dragon circling a mountain, watched some bandits be killed by guards, and, most memorably, watched in amazement as an apparition of a headless horseman rode past me in the opposite direction. Dumbfounded, my immediate reaction was not to chase it and see where it was going, but to jump off my horse, draw an arrow in my lightning bow, and take some pot-shots at the ghastly figure. As one might expect with a ghost, my arrows flew straight through him, and after a brief attempt to catch up on my horse, it randomly took off from the road and flew into the sky. I have never seen that ghost again.

Skyrim is a deep, glorious world of endless possibilities, and building your own character from the ground up, without the limitations of a level cap or the need for specific skills, your character and your story can truly be your own, and the epic tales of heroism and occasionally hilarious randomness are what make this latest installment in The Elder Scrolls saga fully deserving of its place as our favourite game of 2011.

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