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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Three downloadable content (DLC) add-ons were released—Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn—which were repackaged into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition, which released on June 4, 2013.
Skyrim's main story revolves around the player character's efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim. Over the course of the game, the player completes quests and develops their character by improving their skills. Unlike previous Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim does not require the player to select a character class at the beginning of the game, negating a problem the development team felt previous entries had by forcing the player into a rigid play-style too early in the game. Skyrim continues the open world tradition of its predecessors by allowing the player to travel anywhere in the game world at any time and to ignore or postpone the main storyline indefinitely.
The game was developed using the in-house Creation Engine, built specifically for the game. Skyrim is not a direct sequel to previous Elder Scrolls games, but during development it was considered a spiritual successor to Oblivion and 2008's Fallout 3. The team opted for a more unique and diverse game world than Oblivion's Cyrodiil, which game director and executive producer Todd Howard considered less interesting by comparison. Skyrim premiered to critical acclaim, with reviewers particularly responding well to the refined character development system over previous Elder Scrolls entries. Critics cited the game's lack of polish and weak melee combat as negative factors. The game shipped over seven million copies to retailers within the first week of its release, and sold over 20 million copies across all three platforms.