Parents' Guide to

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Violent fantasy RPG makes players think about their actions.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 20 parent reviews

age 11+

A realistic world depicts and deals with realistic problems, and its own fantasy ones, in an understandable and appropriate way

The game is based on a fictional world functioning under a similar set of rules to our own. Expect a lot of moral grey areas - drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, etc are all depicted/referenced, but they are handled carefully and don't serve to glorify or promote anything harmful. Drugs are generally depicted as bad, alcohol is generally depicted as socially good or neutral (many characters are tavern regulars), and sexual content is only occasionally described when dealing with particularly evil figures in the world's fictional religion, or followers of those people (the religion(s) are not clearly based on any modern religion, and, within the game world, the religions can be scientifically proven to have real grounding in reality, as you meet many of the gods in question). Violence is basic, with cookie-cutter bloody effects. You can kill anyone you want (except children), but the game will highly encourage you not to kill civilians, and many quests will fail if you kill people that are essential to the game. Most of the violence is directed at nameless "bandit" enemies or various supernatural beings (undead mostly). Almost all the quests in the game are combat based - you might fight in a local civil power struggle, you might join a group of assassins, you might join an ancient group of warriors that are secretly werewolves? You'll be hitting people with a sword/a bow/magic/werewolf claws most likely either way. Note that race plays a huge role in the story. There aren't any cases of real world issues being copy-pasted into a game. Rather, the distinct humanoid races form the basis of the separation for various countries in the world the game is set, and the close (sometimes) intertwining of nation and race creates a unique dynamic for racial power dynamics in this world. Some elves consider humans to have stolen their godhood from them. Is that racism? Some humans cast away elven refugees, but that same elven race keeps human slaves. It's messy and complicated and open to interpretation - which good fiction should be!! Also note that the story is so deep in part because there are lots of games in this series. Consider looking at some of the others! In short, Skyrim contains some chilling moments and serious themes, but handles them appropriately for children who are ready to face those themes. It's good at toeing the line between realistic representation and glorification of drugs, alcohol, and the like, and it presents a chance for you or the person you're reading this for to get immersed in a living, breathing, lifelike world, that's as real and has as much depth as our own, but within the safe confines of a fantasy game. If you'd like to see more examples of the story exhibiting these qualities, the best place to look is a youtube channel discussing the story. I recommend the channel "Fudgemuppet" - they have introductory videos on many aspects for the story, and perhaps these might help acquaint you with the vibe of the story.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Easy to play/use
3 people found this helpful.
age 8+

Greatest open world teaching tool of all time

One of the greatest sandboxes of all time! The world is beautiful, exciting, and ominous, but never scary – most of the game is G-rated yet feels real, and all radiant never-ending quests are tame. I'm a parent and also have two masters in psychology. Note that older or skilled kids may unlock 13+ content. The warrior skill tree can unlock violent skills after 60 or so hours of play, while the magician and rogue skill trees remain at grade-school levels. There are 6 hidden/mature questlines (of 270+) for evil gods, yet neutral endings offer a choice of good or evil. Choice has real-world impacts that are nuanced rather than black-or-white. This makes it an excellent teaching tool with investigation, negotiation, allegiances, and moral conundrums. Younger children can explore towns, learn magic, build homes, adopt children orphaned by war, and hunt in the different biomes. Older children can encounter moral dilemmas and serve people who need help or experiment with the negative consequences of being bad (prison, hostile towns, bounty hunters, etc). Teens will learn the nuance of societal systems and ethics, cooperation and deception. Diversity and cultural exploration robust. The game is set in a nordic-equivalent country on a diverse continent (others games in the series are in other nations). There are 6 variations on this culture, 13 races (2 extinct, 1 unplayable) with unique cultures, 10 religions (one outlawed), and a myriad of worldviews and factions. Questlines deal directly with status, socioeconomic status, basic survival, trauma, religious schism, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, oppression, immigration, and more.

This title has:

Great messages
2 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (20):
Kids say (62):

There's little arguing the original Skyrim is a masterpiece of the genre, but this remake just slightly underperforms due to its age. You'd expect that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition -- which is basically just the original game with prettier graphics -- would be just as satisfying, but strangely, it's not. Its massive sandbox world is still remarkable in scope and sophistication, and the range of options and choices remains so broad that the game feels almost unlimited in its possibilities. And including all expansion content plus access to PC mods on consoles is a treat. It should be noted that mods range from the benign to the controversial; for example, there are some mods which remove the clothing of all characters in the game, or add in other mature subject matter. This means that users should beware about the content they decide to download.

But time is catching up with Skyrim in other ways. The new effects -- depth-of-field camera tricks, god rays, enhanced snow and water -- are nice but can't quite cover up the aging textures and character models, which weren't particularly advanced even when the game was released in 2011 on older hardware. Plus, the branching dialogue and stiff combat feel a bit old-fashioned compared with competing RPGs that have since been released, like Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It's still a terrific game that's well worth playing for those who missed it the first time around, but it also clearly illustrates how quickly games -- and game genres -- tend to evolve over time.

Game Details

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