The Nordic tradition is part and parcel of The Lord of the Rings’ schtick, drawing upon the indigenous beliefs of Northern Europeans living in a pre-Christian era. This includes the more rugged elves and dwarves (spelled with a “v” to be precise) that we know so well in western fiction. If it weren’t for J.R.R. Tolkien’s adaptation of Nordic traditions, elves would still be elfs making cookies in hollowed out trees, and dwarves would still be dwarfs with stupid nicknames, singing “Hi ho, hi ho.”

Backtracking a bit, Oblivion copied The Lord of the Rings films’ visual aesthetic so much that the game should’ve been called The Elder Scrolls IV: Peter Jackson Drew This For Us. From the armor to the architecture to the Oblivion gates that were a spot-on replication of the Eye of Sauron, you can imagine Oblivion’s art team secretly hating themselves for being handcuffed to Tolkien instead of creating a new world.

Skyrim moves its visual aesthetic away from Oblivion, but can’t escape the Tolkien tradition. Not by a long shot. That whole Nordic tradition The Lord of the Rings is based on is exactly where Skyrim commits its next act of plagiarism--or “homage” if you’re feeling generous. Does Tolkien own trademarks on Norse mythology? No. But, visually, Skyrim still doesn’t reach escape velocity of Tolkien’s high-gravity shadow.