If success of a videogame is to be judged by how many years it remained popular and relevant, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an easy contender. It is now one of the RPG sandbox classics.
However, you can probably list off dozens of iconic titles that you have played and re-played in the past. Still, it’s not often that we replay old favorites for a novel experience. We often look to sequels when we want to see new stories, characters, challenges, and event developments within settings we have grown to love. Occasionally, these sequels turn out to be pretty impressive, such as the additions to DOOM, Half-Life, and Mount & Blade series we saw this year.
Likewise, after thoroughly enjoying Skyrim we now can look to Elder Scrolls VI with a lot of anticipation (as well as apprehension).
So, with that in mind, how can Skyrim continue to offer enough replayability and novelty to remain actively popular today?
Do these reasons make Skyrim worth playing in 2020?
If you have played Skyrim, chances are high that you tried out a mod, two, or way more than that (console players got that ability with Skyrim‘s official Special Edition in 2016).
Mods became a big part of why players return to Skyrim to invest entire months of their time into it (or why some have never actually stopped playing).
Think about mods as custom game updates. Want a more compact interface? Want a more accessible home instance? Want beautiful new armor and weapon pieces? Want 4K textures, water reflections, new plantlife models, realistic weather effects?
Not only do portals such as Nexus Mods got you covered (and for free!), you can actually pick out of different creations by a variety of passionate players to arrive at the best possible improvement to your game experience.
With a proper client you can install and try out thousands of these, and I mean thousands. You can find videos of players installing that many or even more to entirely revamp the look and functionality of their version of Skyrim. There are even channels out there dedicated solely to demonstrating these mods in small batches and sharing direct links for easy installation. (Just beware of your hardware limits!) Oh, have you heard about the multiplayer mod yet?
There are more than 57,000+ mods available on Nexus Mods, most of them compatible with the latest releases. Skyrim truly can become a new game every time you install a new batch of mods.
Scope and Scale of Exploration
Mods aside, even as a base game Skyrim offers between 500 to 1500 hours of gameplay.
The original map is simply gigantic and the accompanying DLCs add new areas to explore (an entire island of Solstheim in the Dragonborn DLC, for example), new functionality to try out (lycantropy and vampirism trees in Dawnguard DLC, for example), and new opportunities for the roleplaying experience (custom player housing and marriage in the Hearthfire DLC).
There is so much detail to Skyrim and its add-ons that you can pretty much play the game with a Wiki pulled up on your phone or tablet to reference quest outcomes, city and faction alliance benefits, peculiar objects, newly uncovered lore, and furthest explorable corners of the massive world. Chances are, there is always an area or a quest you haven’t explored yet.
Character Experience Replayability
Speaking of focusing on things you enjoy – Skyrim has no class system. Simply put, if you use something you will learn how to use it better.
Pick up a bow and shoot it until you become an expert. Wield a massive two-handed sword in your light armor and master that too – why not? Perfect your spell tree or ditch magic and bows and do hack-and-slash and shout at all of your enemies regardless. Maybe learn to sneak and pickpocket or just blast them all to pieces before they even notice you.
Really, you can keep experimenting on the same character or replay the game again and again and still there will be new things you can add on to your character even before you install mods.
You can work towards powerful equipment for your powerful character. You can make that character respond to NPCs and their quests in a certain way. Even the books and artifacts they collect in their home instance over time could reflect who you think they are.
Imagine just how immersive that could become! You can install mods that introduce basic needs and nature survival to get truly inside your character’s mind. Every character you invest effort into could become a very memorable experience of a kind you simply can’t get from other games in your library.
Is it worth playing Skyrim in 2020? For us, the answer is yes. You can expect the game itself to entertain you for many hours with its Norse-themed medieval fantasy RPG content while the active modding community will accommodate your taste and unique playstyle (or show you new experiences you didn’t even know you wanted to try).
With Skyrim and its creative community you can truly focus on an aspect of the game you enjoy the most and spend hours exploring and mastering it in any way you like.