Pre-order The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, get a “premium quality” world map as a bonus: that’s the offer Bethesda’s has for Elder Scrolls fans today. As the chances were that half of you reading this were going to buy it anyway, it’s their way of giving you a little nudge, because Bethesda knows that us RPG geeks love this kind of tat. Todd Howard knows this too:
“There’s something about having a physical object in your hands,” the Executive Producer said way back on the development of Morrowind, “that feels like it’s part of this other world, that you are that person in the game, finding your way among the hills.”
That’s a fluffy way of putting it, but we’re not about to criticise the sentiment. The Elder Scrolls III was part of a generation of classic RPG’s that were bridging the gap between PC and console and part of that was keeping its core audience happy. That meant an experience that started from the moment you took the box off the retailer’s shelf. We’ll leave any waxing lyrical about coins, maps, chunky manuals and new box smells triggering nostalgia to the neckbeards with currently moistening pants, suffice to say a quick change of underwear might be in order for us too. But stuffing a box full of tangible goodies is more than just giving customers an incentive to buy retail, it offers the player a way of connecting with the world outside of playing the game – and Elder Scrolls games are all about this kind of escapism.