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Skyrim: A Beginner’s Guide

The
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
is one of those games that don’t come
around very often.  A huge, expansive
world, the freedom to build whatever type of character you want, and lots and
lots of dragons.  It’ll also undoubtedly be
stuffed full of history, legends and the lore of Tamriel, which is great for
those of us who’ve played the previous games in the Elder Scrolls series and know our Mehrunes Dagon from our Dagon
Fel, but perhaps a little intimidating for any newcomers.


Fear not!  Player
Affinity is here to help with a swift run-through of all the previous titles in
the Elder Scrolls series.  While none of the Elder Scrolls games after Arena
are direct sequels to the game before them, there are some common threads
which run through each game.  It’ll be
spoiler-free, since we don’t know what exactly is going to happen in Skyrim yet, but it should give you a
good idea of what has come before and prepare you for your travels through
Skyrim when the game hits the shelves!

The
Elder Scrolls I: Arena


Arena
is
notable for introducing many of the elements that are now staples of the Elder Scrolls games: it was a
first-person RPG set in a huge (though randomly-generated) world, which allowed
the player to use melee or magic abilities in combat.  The game featured a spell creation system
which allowed players to create new spells from existing spell effects and
introduced Emperor Uriel Septim VII and the Imperial City, both of which would
appear in later Elder Scrolls
games. 
 


In the main quest line of Arena, the Emperor was imprisoned in another dimension (revealed to
be a realm of Oblivion in the Elder
Scrolls IV: Oblivion
) and being impersonated by an Imperial Battlemage named
Jagar Tharn.  The player was tasked with
finding eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos and battling Tharn to restore the
Emperor to the throne.  It’s a theme
which recurs through most of the subsequent Elder Scrolls games. Your character often acts on behalf of the
Emperor, who is usually in some trouble and requirs the player’s help.

The
Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall


Daggerfall
carried over the successful elements from Arena
such as the spell creation system and added its own enhancements, including
an equipment enchantment system and the ability to buy houses (both features
which are repeated in future games).  It
also featured a fully 3D world, although most of the terrain was still randomly
generated.


The story of Daggerfall
revolved around the Numidium, an iron golem which could be controlled by an
artifact called the Mantella and which was found in Illic Bay.  The player was sent by Emperor Uriel Septim
VII to investigate the murder of King Lysandus and in the process, discover the
location of the Mantella from Lysandus’ mother. 
Again, the player was tasked with assisting the Emperor. As in Arena, the Emperor was key to the story
of the game.  In addition, Daggerfall added the concept of
multiple possible endings to the game based on the player’s decisions.

The
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind


Morrowind
is
notorious as the game which really established the Elder Scrolls series as the king of the Western RPG genre.  It combined the gameplay mechanics and
free-form style of the previous Elder
Scrolls
games with a uniquely rich and colorful world. Set on the island
of Vvardenfell within the Dunmer (Dark Elf) province of Morrowind, the game
took players away from the more civilized environs of Arena and Daggerfall and
into a strange and wonderful world.


While Morrowind
placed less emphasis on the main storyline than its predecessors and encouraged
the player to explore on their own. The main quest line centered around the
deity Dagoth Ur, imprisoned within a mountain in Morrowind, who sought to break
the province free of the control of Emperor Uriel Septim VII, by creating a second
Numidium (like the one in Daggerfall,
named Akulakhan).  As an agent of the
Emperor, the player is sent to Morrowind and must become a prophesied hero of
legend known as ‘The Nerevarine’ in the process of stopping Dagoth Ur’s plot. 

The
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion


The most recent entry in the series, Oblivion followed on from the events of Morrowind while not being a direct sequel.  Stylistically, it maintained the gameplay
elements of Morrowind while bringing
back the fast-travel system that had been in place for Arena and Daggerfall.  It also brought players back to the civilized
lands of Cyrodiil, in the centre of the Empire and a world away from Morrowind’s almost alien environment.
 


The main storyline of Oblivion was pretty full of references to previous games: your
character traversed Oblivion planes and encountered some of the daedric deities
who were mentioned in earlier installments in the series, on the way to helping
the son of Emperor Uriel Septim VII prevent an evil cult from unleashing a
daedric lord upon Cyrodiil.  In addition,
the quest line for the Thieves Guild tasked you with actually stealing one of
the Elder Scrolls which are the namesake of the series.

The
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


What little we know about the plot of Skyrim shows that the series is
stepping away from its involvement with the Empire featured in every other game
in the series.  Set 200 years after the
events of Oblivion, it tasks your
character, one of the last surviving Dovahkiin (dragon hunters anointed by the
gods), with defeating a Nordic (the Nords are the Viking-like race inhabiting
the province of Skyrim) god of destruction named Alduin.


The most important thing to remember about Skyrim is the philosophy which has
taken center stage in every Elder
Scrolls
game since Arena: “be
who you want, do what you want”.  The
game will allow you to create a unique and individual character and explore as
much of the world as you like with that character. The stories and legends of
Skyrim are yours to discover, and exploration is its own reward.  If Bethesda have learnt anything from the
well-placed and often incredibly poignant dioramas that could be found in many
parts of Fallout 3’s world, there
are likely to be lots of things to discover in the expansive landscapes
of Skyrim.

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