It’s been 12 years, now, since Bethesda launched its all-timer of an RPG. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a seemingly endless appeal, and as of 2016, the publisher announced that the game had racked up an impressive 30 million sales.
You’d think that would mean that pretty much everyone has played it, and already owns it. But the game continues to impress. Even on brand new hardware. Yesterday, Valve announced that Skyrim was the 11th most-played game on its handheld system in January 2023.
In the same list, there were more modern games and re-releases that ranked higher than Skyrim (including Elden Ring, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Stardew Valley, Hades, Red Dead Redemption 2, Persona 5 Royal, Cyberpunk 2077, and Grand Theft Auto 5), but coming in hot at number 11 isn’t too bad for a game that’s well into its second decade at this point.
Especially when you consider people have already played the game on, say, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Playstation VR, Nintendo Switch, PC, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or any mobile device that’s beefy enough.
And just like that, the first month of 2023 is over – Here’s a quick look at the top 20 games of January on Steam Deck, sorted by playtime.
What have you been playing? pic.twitter.com/bpuLvTWF7g
— Steam Deck (@OnDeck) January 31, 2023
Impressively, despite all its previous availability, the game outranks some of the biggest games of recent years, too – Valheim, God of War, Disney Dreamlight Valley, and Monster Hunter Rise all come under Skyrim. People just can’t get enough of this classic RPG, even all these years later. But why?
Well, for a start, it’s one of the best open world games of all time. The game is packed with mysteries and unsolved curios, and even all these years, the game can fascinate even the most intense of internet sleuths.
And that’s before you get to the fan support the game continues to recieve: there have been mods that allow you to play it more like Elden Ring, and make it look as good as an as-yet-unreleased game.
And then there’s the bones of the whole thing: similarly to many Bethesda games, the main quest is not the star of the show. It’s everything else that you come for, here. It may lack some of the finer RPG elements of its esteemed forbears (like Morrowind and Oblivion), but the depth and breadth of the whole thing just has this endless appeal. The main story more or less happens to someone else, but depending how you play – as a mage, or a bandit, or an assassin, or a vampire, or whatever – it can take on such different properties that it can feel like a whole new game.
The world of Skyrim isn’t intimidatingly huge by modern standards, but it weighs in at around 37 square miles – all packed out with a depth that will blow your mind if you’ve grown up on some of the more anaemic open worlds that have proliferated over the past few generations.
Bethesda has a lot to prove in the coming months. Starfield stands poised to ‘take over’ the mantle that Skyrim currently holds – if it gets everything right. And you’d hope it would. The game has over 250,000 lines of dialogue (which is more than Skyrim and Fallout 4 combined, for what it’s worth), and the team making it is over twice as big as the team that was in charge of Fallout 76.
So it has what it needs to do well. But we’ll see if the reality matches the optimism with which Bethesda is approaching it at some point this year. In the meantime, here’s everything we know about Starfied so far.