For me, I think Skyrim is probably one of the few games I would say I think works as a fantasy novel. Morrowind gets a lot of praise for its deconstruction of the Chosen One Mythos and yeah, it's a highly intelligent plot blah blah blah, but it's one which I felt worn down by the relentless cynicism thereof. I was genuinely touched by Skyrim's storyline, characters, and writing. It's a world which really feels interconnected and affected by the events of the backstory. Because of the open-world nature, you can't really see how things will be affected by your actions in the future but it's a world which isn't just one big series of interconnected set pieces. Every one of the towns is affected by the Civil War amd previous war with the Thalmor. I think what worked for me most about the game was the role of religion and trauma of losing a conflict in the game. Talos is something which is deeply meaningful not only for the main characters but side characters as well. You come across a lot of people who have deep belief in the God of the Empire (even though he was an asshole in real life) with adventures reflecting that both big and small. Elisef's story where she asks you to put her husband's horn on the Shrine of Talos, even though she's an Imperial touched me. I also loved Colonel Rikke and how she keeps her faith even as she struggles with her loyalty to the Empire. I was going through a really bad time in my life and questioning a lot of things when I first played Skyrim. Relatives were suffering badly and I was confronted with a nasty side of my local religious bedrocks--I had to deal with hypocrisy and use of my faith to hurt people rather than uplift them. Skyrim helped me work through those mental issues and reconcile myself. I also really enjoyed the massive amount of focus Skyrim had on the commoners rather than the nobility of the world. You had the rich, the poor, and varying degrees of aristocrats acting out their various ideas of what it means to be a proper member of society. The Companions are a bunch of mercenaries doing bland mercenary work but take pride in their ancient pedigree even as they also are very deliberately keeping out of a Civil War lest they be on the losing side or split apart by it. I like the discussion of anti-intellectualism in the toxic masculinity culture of the Nords with the College of Mages being a bunch of unappreciated nerds despite the fact they are potentially the only thing which would restore Winterhold. Much of the fetch quests and locations have histories associated with them and a sense of general antiquity ranging from the fact that Skyrim is where the Nords "heroically" defeated the Elves (only for it to actually be a genocide--sort of like how America used to treat the Native Americans) to how Ulfric is trying to portray himself as a legendary hero when a REAL legendary hero is going to come to pass. The town design was also great as you learned so much about the individual "character" of holds by its architecture. Solitude was the "Disneyland" version of Nord culture where they put on plays and acted like they were Nords but had whiteashed all of the darker elements from themselves. Windhelm, by contrast, was the harsher fundamentalist ideals of Nord culture with the darker elements intact. Whiterun had a comfortable middle while Riften had obliterated all Nord elements of culture from them whatsoever to the point it was an Imperial stronghold despite its leader acting as a Nord loyalist. Morrowind did a great job of deconstructing the Chosen OneTM myth while Skyrim is all about reconstructing it. You're basically a living legend but it's up to you to get them to put aside their petty feuds and senseless wars to embrace this is more important than that. In some cases, you just CAN'T and have to be content things will play out as they must. There's no option to end the Skryim Civil War without murdering hundreds of innocent soldiers and I did that with a heavy heart. I still recall listening to the smiths in Windhelm talk about their broken dreams and trying to figure out what they were going to do with their lives after. That was some damned good writing there. Another being where if you assassinate a woman, her mother commits suicide. The hundreds of relationships between characters in how their families, friendships, and rivalries interact is a monument to game development. Rikke's past with Ulfric and Gamlen. The interaction between the various siblings of the Black-Briar family. Little stories like Jalia Law-Giver trying to have son brainwashed because he's Pro-Imperial since he had to be insane. The genuine camaraderie of the Thieves Guild and how the Dark Brotherhood is a family which has started putting its own bonds before the Satanic cult elements of the Dark Mother. I stopped dozens of times just to listen to the causal conversations of the public and watch the scenes play out like listening to the angry mob of Morthal lose its nerve before entering the vampire's lair. The horrible discovery that the little girl ghost you're playing hide and go seek with is hiding in HER OWN GRAVE. There's even the purely gameplay based elements of how genuinely terrifying I found the exploration of the Falmer's dark underground tombs to be. The Draugr might have just been zombies to me but I got all my claustrophobia buttons pushed by seeking their layers out. There's hundreds of characters I remember from the game both important and unimportant. We get to hear about their feuds (Battleborn! Gray-Mane!), the fact Adrianne wants to be the greatest Smith in Skyrim (which she could be) while her husband is content to be behind the counter, and little things like locking up the priest of Talos when the Imperial army helps retake the place. Skyrim and Fallout 3 are among the few games which felt they truly truly TRANSPORTED me to another world and I sometimes wish I could live there. In simple terms, I BELIEVED and that is an experience all video games should have. Skyrim is a game I call more than a video game. It is art.