This is one of the most ambitious single-player role-playing games ever made. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is startling in its scope, complexity, and beauty. Hundreds of points of interest -- including cities, towns, caves, and ruins -- dot a Nordic landscape filled with towering mountains, beautiful wildlife, and rushing rapids. Blue skies and bright sun give way to pounding rain, deep fogs, and blinding snowstorms. Calm nights, meanwhile, are lit by mesmerizing starscapes and dancing Northern Lights. This game set new bars in presentation and world design when it was originally released and it remains impressive today.
There's no shortage of things to do in Skyrim. Players are free to choose their own way through the tundra, hills, and marshes, completing or ignoring most quests they encounter as they like choose. And choice is important. Many decisions -- like whether to steal or murder -- will impact how other characters view your avatar, especially if you get caught doing something bad. Engaging melee, ranged, and magic combat mechanics, meanwhile, combine with the satisfaction that comes with the constant discovery of new places and items to create an experience that remains fresh day after day, week after week. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim delivers a remarkable fantasy world that many other game makers are still striving to match more than a decade later.