At long last, we can stop calling Skyrim ‘nearly a decade old.’ As of November 11, 2021, The Elder Scrolls 5 is officially in the double digits.
Throughout the past 10 years, Skyrim has been the sandbox setting for some of our favorite gaming stories, and northern Tamriel still occasionally calls us back to grapple with dragons and vampires and excessive numbers of cheese wheels once again. The anniversary has gotten us reminiscing about those adventures—roleplaying as Hunter S. Tomcatson, proposing marriage with a bit of mammoth corpse, and launching all manner of creatures into the atmosphere with weird physics glitches. These are our funniest and fondest memories from a decade spent in Skyrim.
Jody Macgregor, AU/Weekend Editor: After finishing Skyrim, I started over with a new character, a khajiit named Hunter S. Tomcatson. I banned myself from using fast travel and just walked from one end of the country to the other, noticing how much the scenery changes, from the autumnal Rift with its purple mountain flowers and orange leaves to The Reach where it’s all fog, gray stone, and misery.
Somewhere on the northern coastline I stumbled across a cluster of fires and wandered over to investigate. At the centre of one was a lumpy black object I slowly realized was a corpse. Nearby there was a grimoire containing the spell Fire Cloak. Somebody had a magical misfire, I guess. I’d already played for dozens of hours, but I’d never seen this little vignette before. For some reason that’s the thing that sticks with me, although the one sidequest where you wake up with a hangover and have to piece together your activities from the night before is obviously the best.
Tim Clark, Brand Director: If you’ll indulge it, I have two favourite memories. The first happened approaching the endgame. I decided, unsurprisingly, that I didn’t want to leave Skyrim just yet, so embarked on creating the single most powerful weapon possible. That involved bringing my Smithing and Enchanting up to 100, using enough Leather Strips and Iron Daggers to open my own ren faire Costco. Many days of hammering later, I maxxed out a Daedric War Axe capable of one-shotting any enemy in the game, including the final boss. At which point I completely lost interest in playing, which I suppose is a lesson in weapon balance for us all.
My happiest time was around Christmas 2011, when I was playing with my five-year-old niece as co-pilot. She was instantly transfixed by the dragons, and wanted to hold the PS3 controller. In a bid to actually still make some progress, we negotiated a settlement that saw her decide where we went in the world and whether or not we’d fight whomever we encountered. Still the most wholesome co-op experience I’ve had. Oh, and my least favourite memory of Skyrim is the protracted battle I had with Bethesda to get the lag bug fixed in the PS3 version which saw performance drop the longer you played. I wanted to play so much I regularly soldiered on through single digit frame rates. That’s true love.
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: I have quite a few, but if I were to narrow it to my top three, one would be spending weeks walking around Skyrim (I mean literally walking, because I was roleplaying an NPC in this 10-part series I wrote called The Elder Strolls). I’d finally proposed marriage to Ysolda by handing her a chunk of dead mammoth. True love. I trudged to Riften, the ceremony began, as soon as she said “I do” she walked out of the church. Before the ceremony was even over. By the time I made it outside, she was gone and I never saw her again. Not super romantic. It’s recorded here for posterity and embarrassment.
The other two have to do with my other character’s wife, Mjoll the Lioness. I was trying to build a house in the Hearthfire expansion, and got frustrated that I couldn’t find a woodcutter’s axe anywhere. Finally I saw an NPC named Sigurd using one, so I froze him in ice, hoping to take it from him. Mjoll, seeing me attack Sigurd, went apeshit and killed him, which lead to utter chaos, battles with city guards, dragon summoning, and lots of murder. It doesn’t sound funny, I guess, but it turned out I didn’t even need the axe. So it’s a little funny.
And speaking of Mjoll, I grew curious about her inner life so I took her all the way across the map, dismissed her, then stealthily followed her for days to see where she went. The stealth part didn’t go so well, as at one point I accidentally paralyzed myself, fell down frozen in the snow, and she walked right by me. Whoops. I know this seems like a blatant opportunity to repromote my old diaries, but these are genuinely fond memories of mine and I love that Skyrim is such a flexible, open-ended sandbox that it makes silly and unpredictable adventures like this possible.
Rich Stanton, News Editor: The one I’ll never forget is a dragon landing near a town to attack me, and in doing so destroying a fence. This property damage resulted in every inhabitant of the town rotating on the spot to face me before charging forwards, pitchforks at the ready. I Benny Hilled it up a mountain being chased by Smaug and his 50 little helpers thinking “this is what I love about Bethesda games.”
Nat Clayton, Features Producer: I don’t have that many Skyrim memories, but I once sneezed (read: Fus Ro Dah’d) at a polar bear so hard its ragdoll entered some kind of ragdoll feedback loop and span infinitely into orbit. Never change, Bethesda physics.
Jacob Ridley, Senior Hardware Editor: I was in university when Skyrim came out, and my only real memory of that hazy time was having a ‘we bought Skyrim’ party. Genuinely remember that more than anything that happened in the game. Still haven’t completed it.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I originally played Skyrim on my PS3, which came with some interesting consequences the longer you played it. At around the 100 hour mark, my load times started to get long—like, really long. If I loaded my save out into the main open world, it was usually a 90 second wait minimum with another 30 or so seconds after loading before the game recovered from its 20 fps startup. Eventually, I started to use these mind-numbing gaps to do something productive. I could easily go to the bathroom, grab a snack, or read an article before Skyrim was actually ready to be played. But most of the time, I’d just play a different game on my iPod Touch.
Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor: In 2011, PC Gamer didn’t have quite the online presence it does today—we had a WordPress blog—but publishing this video of a giant launching a poor khajiit into low orbit (embedded above), which I believe was captured in FRAPs by current Global EIC Evan Lahti, was genuinely an exciting moment. That first few weeks of discovery was so much fun, and I’m not sure it’s an experience that’s been matched since, even by the subsequent Bethesda Fallouts or many other open world games that have released since.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: For many a year I was known to play through approximately the first ten hours of Skyrim and then get distracted. I’ve been to Bleak Falls Barrow a lot. I only properly committed to a full playthrough several years ago when I was livestreaming on Twitch quite often.
According to the clips that my friends saved, I spent a lot of Skyrim being suddenly frightened by things and shouting obscenities about it. I was apparently frightened by a spinning, fan-like Dwemer trap. I was frightened by a soul gem that spit ice at me one time. I was frightened when a dragon first swooped out of the sky and gobbled up my Khajiit archer head first. Like Nat, I also once Fus-d a bear an impressive distance. I was frightened by that too, apparently. Also I was shocked when I accidentally shot an ally in the back of the head at point blank distance during a dragon fight and swore about that too.
On the less coarse side, I once read all five The Real Barenziah in-game books out loud to my friends. Even inside the fantasy game I won’t stop reading fantasy novels. Oh, but I’ve just remembered the Barenziah books may have been a bit saucy too.