The best Elder Scrolls games are something special. These Bethesda games take you to beautiful, sprawling fantasy worlds and let you live our a life of adventure and magic. Built to let you play the way you want to play, the best Elder Scrolls games are among some of the best RPG games of all-time – step into Tamriel and see where the action and storytelling guides you.
We’ve tried to focus this list around the Best Elder Scrolls games you should play right now. While there is fun to be had from The Elder Scrolls: Arena or The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall, they have aged pretty significantly – no surprise, given that they were developed in the mid-nineties. So if you don’t have nostalgia guiding you, you might want to give one of our selection for the best Elder Scrolls games a try, at least while you wait for Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield.
5. The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Release date: 2020
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android
If you can’t get to a console or a PC, then you can always get your Elder Scrolls fix on your phone. Blades was released in 2020 and is free-to-play, and set in a period where the Blades have been scattered and forced into exile. This miniature slice of Elder Scrolls lore has you fight bandits, skeevers, and necromancers as you explore dungeons and forests, and lets you rebuild your hometown. It might be a surprise to see a mobile spin-off make it onto the best Elder Scrolls games list, but the story and visuals are strong, and The Elder Scrolls: Blades was nominated as a Mobile Game of the Year at our very own Golden Joystick Awards.
4. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
Release date: 2002
Platform(s): PC, Xbox, Xbox 360
Morrowind might be showing its age these days, but the 2002 release should still be on your list of best Elder Scrolls games to check out if you love the series. Taking you deep into Vvardenfell, the Dunmer region of Morrowind, the game sees you join the Blades and take on Dagoth Ur, leader of one of the Great Houses of Morrowind. Along the way, you might take a vow of silence, help escort a “deep thinker” guar called Rollie, help a woman who has fallen for a bandit and help a depressed orc warrior. A truly innovative and influential RPG, Morrowind may look a little dated now but there’s a lot of magic to be found in its world. If you want to give this classic a try, it’s available on PC and on modern Xbox consoles via backwards compatibility.
3. The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
Release date: 2006
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
The titular Oblivion is a dimensional bad place, and in the 2006 game it’s your job to try and close the gates to it that have been popping up ever since old Emperor Uriel Septim VII has kicked the bucket, and the evil Daedra are using them to cause all sorts of shenanigans. The game borrowed some impressive voices – Patrick Stewart, Lynda Carter, Sean Bean, and Terence Stamp – for the main story, but it’s most memorable for its quests like the one where you’re trapped in a painting, the one where you accidentally buy a haunted house, the H.P. Lovecraft homage, and a Hitman style series of murders in a mansion. You can check out Oblivion on Xbox One and Xbox Series X via backwards compatibility and Game Pass.
2. The Elder Scrolls Online
Release date: 2014
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
The Elder Scrolls Online didn’t have the best start when it launched in 2014, but since then the MMO has grown and evolved until it has well and truly earned a spot on the best Elder Scrolls games list. If you haven’t checked in for a while, it’s absolutely worth jumping back in. The game is still set in Tamriel but functions as a kind of prequel to the single-player adventures, so you’ll recognize some of the locations and the lore as you race around completing quests and leveling up your character. As with any MMO there are plenty of ways to play with friends, but I can attest to the fact that you can use the game as a kind of unlimited Elder Scrolls buffet, snaffling up quests and expansions completely alone, without ever feeling like you’re missing out.
1. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Release date: 2011
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch
There’s a reason Skyrim is on every single platform – even Amazon Alexa – and that’s because it’s the best Elder Scrolls game to date. Originally released in 2011, the game made dragons the new hotness years before Game of Thrones came on the scene. In it, you play as a Dragonborn, the TLDR of which is you can use special dragon shout powers and it’s up to you to stop the big bad dragon Alduin. You can shape your character with different combat skills, spells, and abilities like lockpicking of smithing, and the game gives you plenty of narrative choices to make you feel in control, rather than just the story’s meat puppet. The real magic of the game was in how rich the world felt and the mad quests that seemed to hide around every corner. We’re talking werewolves, vampires, really bad hangovers, conspiracies, ghosts, and a House of Horrors. You can also get the game in a VR flavor on PC and PS4.
And if you already love Skyrim, and think you’ve found everything there is to find, you should check out the best Skyrim mods to make your game prettier or far more interesting and weird.