The Elder Scrolls series has always been a premium experience for fantasy-fiction adventure. Each game brings players into vast worlds of elves, orcs, swords, sorcery and monsters of all shapes and sizes. Alongside the Fallout series, The Elder Scrolls games have always been Bethesda’s most in-depth creations and each new adventure is even richer than the last. So how do you go about creating a game after Oblivion just had you square off against a dark god? Turns out the answer is dragons, and lots of them. It was on this day in 2011 that we learned to use our words to slay the most iconic of fantasy-fiction beasts in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Conception of Skyrim began immediately after the completion of Oblivion and start of development on Fallout 3 in 2006. Official development began in 2008 after Fallout 3 was released. Early in the cycle, the team of over 100 working on the game had decided that it would be set in Skyrim and dragons would be at the heart of the story. A more specific concern of the team was making the realm of Skyrim vast and rich with societal and topographic diversity. To this end, though Skyrim wasn’t any larger than Cyrodiil in Oblivion, the team built huge mountains and diverse terrain, giving Skyrim a verticality and difficulty in exploring that surpassed previous entries.

Bethesda Softworks

A major point of Skyrim’s creation was a new engine built specifically for the game. Bethesda had used the Gamebryo engine to create The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Oblivion, and Fallout 3. When they felt that Gamebryo had reached its limit for their open-world games, they turned to the Creation Engine. The Creation Engine allowed Bethesda to expand upon numerous graphical effects that would have been impossible with Gamebryo. Draw distance allowed players to look at a small object up close and then look past it to a vast and climbable mountain. Trees and other flora were given actual depth in the world. Being the snow covered land that Skyrim was, weather effects were designed as actual in game occurrences rather than background textures in the world. All in all, the Creation Engine allowed Bethesda to inject life, volume and weight into their game that it would have otherwise been without.

The Elder Scrolls games often put the player at the center of a journey as a sort of destined hero and Skyrim doesn’t deviate. Slated for execution for being caught up in a civil war between Nords and the Tamriel Empire, your execution is interrupted when a massive dragon attacks and destroys the town you’ve been taken to. In the confusion, you find your way to an escape and get out into the vast countryside of Skyrim, but along the way, you feel resonation with the appearance of dragons, whose appearance is meant to signify the coming end of the world. It’s up to you to unravel the mystery behind the appearance of the dragons and stop the fabled Alduin, the World Eater and greatest of dragons from destroying all of Tamriel.

Bethesda Softworks

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim made use of a vast enhancement to skills and character development. Previous games pushed a player to choose a class and designated specialty skills based upon the class chosen. Skyrim allowed players to develop their own proficiencies simply by engaging in the skills which best suited them. Shoot arrows and you’ll gain skill in archery. Build a type of armor and take damage in it and you’ll receive skill in that armor class. Pick plants and make potions and you’ll become a skilled herbalist. The game had 18 skills to build, which contributed to level-ups, in which players could then unlock perks in skills they were proficient with. This allows players to make a character all their own based on the things they want to be and the practice it takes to get good at it.

Skyrim was an immense success, lauded by many as one of the greatest games of all time. Skyrim on its own spawned numerous DLC and spin offs, as well as a massive modding community that built practically anything a player could think of to enhance the game. Years later, an enhanced, high-definition version of the game was released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, right alongside the fact that players were still playing the original game leading up to that release. Over 20 million sold copies don’t lie. Skyrim allowed us to conquer dragons and discover their secrets and it’s one of the best games ever to do so.