There is no doubt that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the best games of the current generation, but how did it get such a title? A big reason is that Skyrim carries a lot of realism that helps players connect better with the Elder Scrolls universe.
Let's start off with the most obvious point: the first person view. There aren't many role-playing games besides Elder Scrolls and the recent Fallout sequels that use this type of vantage point. Although you do have the option to play in third-person mode, seeing through a character's eyes helps to better connect a player to the game material. When you use a third-person or isometric view, you're just controlling the character. But when you see through his or her eyes, you are that character.
Skyrim also portrays combat in a unique and realistic way. In other role-playing games and especially in MMOs, players hot-key spells and abilities to a bar on the bottom and sides of the screen, and each spell or ability causes a character animation immediately followed by damage or healing dealt. By end-game players acquire numerous abilities that fill up all the hot-bars. In Skyrim there are also a plethora of abilities near end-game as well, but executing them is much simpler. Instead of having a hot-bar at the bottom of the screen, you ready a spell or weapon/shield in each hand and manually swing weapons, block, and cast spells. If you think about it, this is how you would fight if you really were in the land of Skyrim.
There a whole bunch of fine touches that add to Skyrim's realism. One of the biggest touches of course is the enormous amount of stuff you can pick up or steal. There's not only treasure, weapons, and armor, but books, food, dinnerware, clothes, jewelry and building materials! The books not only provide good stories, but they often refer to dungeons and bosses that you can actually travel to and fight!
Other refinements include living, breathing NPCs that have schedules to keep and problems to deal with, laws that you can choose to follow or break at your own risk, traps with working levers and triggers, and the use of mountains rather than "invisible walls" to define the boundaries of the huge land of Skyrim.
Although there are certainly aspects to this game that make it not as realistic as it can be, I have yet to see this level of fantasy realism exceed that of Skyrim's, and I really hope that Bethesda stays true to this idea when they launch their own MMO: The Elder Scrolls Online.