The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a tremendously massive game, not only in mass appeal but just in terms of the amount of content Bethesda packed into this game. Personally, I put well over 150 hours into Skyrim and I know I missed out on so many other quests, encounters, and bosses. This is actually an interesting problem that's starting to become more prevalent as video games continue to get larger and denser. People will never have the time to sit down and search every nook and cranny... well, maybe if they're still a teen with little responsibility and all the free time in the world, I guess. In an open-world game like Skyrim, you'd assume there would be tons of easter eggs and references to other games, movies, and tv shows, and that's definitely the case here. It's packed full of them. It's quite astounding, actually, the number of references that appear throughout the game's landscape in various ways.
A side effect of creating a living world like Skyrim is that you'll have players encounter weird events, which will often slowly form into popular myths about the game (that may or may not be true). Whenever I'm tasked with writing anything pertaining to Skyrim I know I'm going to leave off a lot of great things from the list. With that being said, let's take a look at 15 of the craziest easter eggs and myths you have to see inside the world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
15 Peacekeeper (High Hrothgar)
So, early in the game, the player is tasked with traversing a mountainside in hopes of reaching High Hrothgar and talking to an ancient fellowship of men known as the Greybeards. On your way up this hillside, you're treated to numerous battles with wild animals and an abnormally large amount of etched tablets. The player can choose to activate these tablets, maybe even all of them, but their meaning and the reward for activating each and every one is never really apparent. It turns out that if the player goes to the extent of activating every single one they're treated to a nice reward. You'll receive an ability where no animal will attack you for 24 full hours. It's real-time too, not just in-game, so if you're marathoning Skyrim make sure to make the most of it.
14 I've Lost My Head (Headless Horseman)
The land of Skyrim can become a very peculiar place once nightfall approaches. If a player is traveling along the roads at night, they have a chance of encountering a headless ghost riding a horse. The rider also happens to have an axe on his back. This is undoubtedly a reference to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The best part is that if the player follows him for long enough the rider will lead them to a place called Hamvir's Rest. This place is occupied by some dangerous skeletons protecting some significant treasure. It's one thing to add a reference to a scary legend, but to have him actually reward the player for curiosity is a great design choice and an admirable way to include a reference.
13 Making Bubbles (Physics)
People tend to forget the physics and attention to detail in a lot of these AAA games. The worlds are detailed and deep that it's very easy to lose track of the small minute details. In Skyrim, you have the ability to create bubbles. Now, I know on the surface that statement sounds dumb. However, the fact that you can walk up to a shallow area of water and cast a flame spell to create bubbles is incredible. Bethesda often catches flak for their games having bugs or not being on the cutting edge of graphics. These are worthy criticisms, but it must not be forgotten the amount of detail and scope they put into these games. I don't know about you but I'll take this kind of richness and scope over 4K graphics any day of the week.
12 Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho! (Seven Dwarves)
Bethesda has been creating large games packed with tons of easter eggs for years. They've learned new and interesting ways to inject these things into their games, and some of them are incredibly subtle. One of these subtler methods is environmental references. Instead of simply throwing in a character model or a line of dialogue, they'll inject references in the design of buildings, rooms, and objects. When players come across Blackreach, for example, they'll stumble by a building called the War Quarters. In these quarters, players will find a room with seven beds all circling a lantern in the middle. Strangely enough, this room connects to a long hallway which ends in a large room with a big bed. Seems like Snow White and her friends were fond of Blackreach.
11 Who You Gonna Call? (Ghostbusters 2)
Ghostbusters is a movie that's been referenced more times than anyone can count. It's a classic that people show tons of nostalgia for, and somehow still resonates with kids more than 30 years later. It's chock-full of iconic moments, characters, and one-liners. Now, Ghostbusters 2 is still loved by some but doesn't carry the same prestige or iconic parts that its predecessor did. That's why it's strange that Bethesda decided to throw in a reference to the second movie specifically. Players come across a soul in the Soul Cairn that says "Death is but a door, time is but a window. I'll be back." These were the last words of the antagonist of Ghostbusters 2, Vigo the Carpathian, right before his utter demise.
10 They're Everywhere (Thieves Guild)
We've talked about how deep Skyrim is. From its physics to its lore, there are a ton of things working together to make this immersive experience feel even more fantastical. One of the interesting parts about Tamriel is the guilds. There are plenty of different guilds that specialize in different aspects of society and combat. The Thieves Guild is an example of one that's not entirely what it seems to be on the surface. You assume that it's probably a gang of misunderstood Robin Hood-type people, but man is their purpose even more surprising than that. Did you know that they've marked almost every building in Skyrim? It's true. If you simply make your way to Whiterun and inspect each house, you'll come to find that each one has a marking on it and these markings are part of the Guild's strategic system.
9 Eatin' Dots (Pac-Man)
A great reason to include easter eggs in your game is to pay homage to those early classics that paved the way for your own vision and creativity to blossom into success. If there was a leaderboard for the game with the most references in other games, Pac-Man would probably be near the top of it. It's not only an arcade classic, but it helped build arcades into what they were at their peak and, in turn, inspired companies to build a solution to playing games at home. It all comes full circle. If you're in Markarth, make your way to Endon's house. Once you enter, simply look at the shelf in the back of the room, and you'll be treated to a makeshift game of Pac-Man. It's amazing what someone can do with a wheel of cheese, some garlic, and a bit of nostalgia.
8 Heartless (Briarheart)
Pickpocketing is one of the funniest and most anxiety-inducing parts of any Bethesda game. It's exhilarating seeing what you can pull off and using multiple save files to reload and get your process just right. We're pretty much all familiar with the ability to place a live grenade in someone's pocket in the Fallout series while you're pickpocketing them, right? Well if not, then I guess you're welcome for that. Either way, did you know there's another interesting way to cause death via pickpocket? The Briarheart is a group of enemies in Skyrim is best known for their reliance and respect of nature. If you pickpocket a Briarheart's heart, they will immediately die, and you'll see a hole through their chest. This method of stealth killing is as awesome as it is disturbing.
7 One To Rule Them All (Lord Of The Rings)
During a mission in Skyrim titled "A Night to Remember" you're tasked with obtaining a wedding ring. Players must obtain this specific ring from a Hagraven named Moira. Hagraven can most easily be described as weird vulture witches. During your encounter with Moira, she refers to the ring as precious during your attempt to take it from her. This is a reference, of course, to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and pokes fun at the nightmarish creature's obsession with the ring. The line of dialogue is great, but it would have been even better if Moira was found hunched over with her hands folded around the ring. Or maybe better yet, we could have been treated to a nice song as we saw her kill a fish by slamming it into a rock.
6 Lured To Death (300)
Earlier we talked about how clever implementation of easter eggs and references can go a long way. We talked about how Bethesda set up a building to feel and look like it was taken straight from Snow White. This wasn't the only time they did this in Skyrim, however. If you simply go northeast of the Lover Stone, you'll come across a skeleton that's directly next to a sabre cat stuck between two rocks... with a sword in its head. At first, this may seem familiar even if you can't immediately figure out why. This is a direct reference to a defining scene in 300 that introduces us to Leonidas' brilliant tactics. He uses the same technique to lead a giant wolf through a narrow passageway and kills it with his spear.
5 It's All Mine (Minecraft)
This is the one easter egg in Skyrim I would assume 99% of the player base knew about, probably in part due to the massive amount of success Minecraft has found over the years. Yes, the Notched Pickaxe is indeed a reference to Minecraft and its creator Markus "Notch" Persson. The pickaxe itself is pretty handy, but it does require doing quite the trek to obtain it. Like I previously stated, any conversation about easter eggs in Skyrim will almost certainly begin with the Notched Pickaxe. Minecraft is such a cultural phenomenon that when it's referenced in something it tends to blow up on the internet really quickly. Minecraft, despite not being a very complex game, has many unique aspects about itself that allow it to be easily recognizable anywhere.
4 Competitive Spirit (Lord Of The Rings)
We've already talked about one Lord of the Rings reference in Skyrim, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's another one. The world of Skyrim and Middle-Earth are similar in a number of ways so, of course, Bethesda is going to draw inspiration and want to pay homage. Whiterun is one of the first major cities players come across and has multiple Lord of the Rings references. The city itself greatly resembles the capital of Rohan, Edoras. They're both built atop a bluff with a palace at the top. Also, during the quest "Battle for Whiterun," after the battle has concluded, an AI near the city wall can be heard saying "I'm pretty sure I killed more than you. I was counting." This is, of course, a reference to Gimli and Legolas during the Battle of Helms Deep.
3 A Lion's Roar (Game Of Thrones)
Lord of the Rings easter eggs can be seen in Skyrim on multiple occasions, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Game of Thrones is also referenced at least once. After completing a mission for Thonar Silver-Blood, he apologizes to the Dragonborn and gives him his family ring. He tells the players that a Silver-Blood always pays their debts. This is almost certainly a reference to the Lannister family's famous house quote in Game of Thrones. Tyrion Lannister often states "A Lannister always pays their debts," sometimes to the point of making others annoyed. Though, to his word, Tyrion has paid off every debt he's ever owed. It will be interesting to see how that family quote unfolds as we near the novel and television series.
2 Take Me To Valhalla (Norse Places)
Spoiler alert: a game taking place in a northern land full of a Viking-like race and tons of snow is inspired by Norse mythology. This entry itself could probably be its own list! The amount of inspiration and direct correlation between Skyrim and areas in Norse mythology is heavy-handed, to say the least. Sovngarde is eerily familiar to Asgard, the home of Odin and Thor. The Hall of Valor is obviously Bethesda's take on Valhalla, essentially the Norse definition of an afterlife. There are tons of creatures, legends, and architecture that seem to be taken straight out of Norse fables. Beyond Skyrim, the upcoming God of War game also seems to be taking place in a land of Norse mythology, and it will be fascinating to see if and how Asgard and Valhalla reveal themselves.
1 Underground Dragon (Hidden Boss)
Hidden bosses are one of the coolest hidden gems in any video game. In Skyrim, there are multiple hidden bosses, and some of them require the ownership of DLC. I thought I would focus on one that was super surprising and also only required the base game. Do you remember exploring the damp and dark underbelly of Blackreach? The giant orb at the center of this hidden kingdom is more than just show! If you stare at it and give an Unrelenting Voice dragon shout, you'll be treated to an underground dragon boss. Vulthuryol isn't exactly the toughest dragon you'll face in Skyrim, but the fact that you're underground sets the mood just right. When we all first played Skyrim, we were just excited at the possibility of fighting a dragon, period. Little did we know we could fight one in the deepest recesses of Tamriel!