Great moments in PC gaming: The battle for Whiterun in Skyrim

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Year: 2011

As someone who likes to think about ancient history as others might their favorite sports, I definitely have "teams" I like to root for and others I love to boo. My favorite happen to be the vikings (the ones from Scandinavia, not Minnesota), and my least favorite are the Romans. When I discovered Skyrim's Civil War questline was basically vikings vs. Romans, I got pretty pumped.

This questline took on even greater significance when I realized the people of Skyrim were being religiously oppressed because of some treaty signed with Nazi elves in a faraway golden tower. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's authoritarians telling others which mythological sky people they’re allowed to build statues of. Needless to say, I was pretty much all in on the Stormcloak cause. Maybe not Ulfric himself. He's kind of racist and probably belongs at the bottom of a well. We'll sort that out after the war is won and he has to explain why he should be High King instead of me, the Freaking Dragonborn. But religious freedom? Skyrim's independence from a dying and ineffectual empire? Telling the Thalmor where they are at liberty to stick it? Let's do this.

It started with smaller skirmishes, claiming forts and ambushing bands of imperial soldiers in stony mountain passes. But it came to a glorious crescendo with the Battle for Whiterun, which might be the longest my body has run on pure adrenaline playing any videogame. With my blue-clad brethren by my side, we charged the outer defenses and cut down the boot-lickers without hesitation. When wooden barricades stood in our way, I hacked them down single-handedly with my battle axe like the badass viking demigod I was always meant to be. I might have inadvertently screamed out a battle cry or two in real life, surely to the confusion of many an unaware dog-walker.

And at last, we fought our way into that traitor Jarl Balgruuf's throne room and taught him one of the great lessons of history: It doesn't really matter what your arguments against me are. I am now in your house with a lot of angry, armed men. And that makes you, as far as the records going forward will show, entirely wrong.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Balgruuf didn't get it so bad, after all. Being locked up in the dungeons of Solitude while I went off to chase Alduin and get distracted by every single cave along the way isn't the worst fate any of my enemies faced—some of them got shouted off of a mountain and fell a good mile or so to their death. But he did earn his place in history by putting up a defense of Whiterun that I will never forget tearing through with the wrath of an authority-hating berserker. Even when I was gleefully cutting down Thalmor dignitaries hours later, nothing compared to the pure rush of liberating that city.

Now it's all over, I need to have some words with Ulfric about who’s in charge around here. I'll give you a hint: the first of these words is "Fus."