I spent quite some time with my fellow Nords. I traversed mountains, shouted people off waterfalls, and showed dragons who was BOSS! It all started with a glitch that required me to slaughter the town of Riverwood. That ghost logging town (with a few kids running around -creepy) stands testament to this game. In the first hour, I committed a heinous act that totally wasn’t my fault. One hundred and twenty two hours later, I can still return to my first act of self defense (turnned bloody revenge) and stand in the quiet that fills Riverwood.
Nothing changed there for my entire time in Skyrim. It truly was the birthplace of a monster.
For those who don’t know, or are reading this in the future, or have been living under a rock, Skyrim is the latest entry in the Elder Scrolls saga. It’s officially the sixth game, but the five before it were just kind of “meh.” (Before you bombard me with hate mail, go back and play one. I’m right.) Combining stunning visuals, atmospheric gameplay, and the most glitches ever gathered in one place at one time, Bethesda has managed to craft a wonderfly amazing world.
There is no use to comparing it to other open world games. That would be like comparing Chuck Norris to Richard Simmons. Even if you hate Skyrim based on the fact that it’s popular, ["That's me!" -Bitterly Indifferent] you are required to tip your hat to the massive scope of the land you can walk. As long as you are on the overworld, you will never be molested by load screens. (If you are anywhere but the overworld, that statement cannot hold up, but more on that later.)
It’s hard to truly convey what Skyrim is as a game. I don’t care about achievements/trophies, but I found myself comparing my list to my friends quite often. It let you see how their story was unfolding compared to your own. I never joined the Companions, but it was the first thing my nephew did.
That is the the beauty of Skyrim, it lets you craft your own story. For example, my brother is playing a mage, while I think the only reason mages exist is so they can catch my arrows in their faces. That perfectly segues into my first point:
Of all the games I have ever played, I have never had a satisfying first-person sword duel. It always melts down into mashing the right trigger, hoping beyond hope that you land a hit.
One could easily argue that Skyrim should not have swords or knives, or hammers or axes. I used knives for the first four hours, and then it stuck me: “The stabby/crushy weapons in this game suck. They suck hardcore!” So I cast them aside.
I took up what I assumed would be my secondary weapon, my bow. After a few hours with my bow, I was holding my own. By the end? I’ll get to that later.
I personaly think that first-person view is not built for swordplay. I don’t know what it will take to make this work. Having enemies stand in one place might help, but that would make for horrible gameplay.
Skyrim is doing the best it can with a broken system. I will say that by using the bow, I missed out on all the third-person, slow-motion cutscenes that showed your Dragon Born being WAY AWESOME!
If you ask my brother, Skyrim’s leveling system is not as good as Oblivion’s. (Of course, every single other thing is better than Oblivion, even the opening few moments.) For as long as I have been playing the Elder Scrolls (read: since the first one) astrology has been a big part of the experiance. I really like the leveling system in Skyrim. You add perk point to astrological signs that make your character seven more degrees of awesome! I managed to fill both archery and stealth — making me slightly more harder to see than things that were actually invisible.
A major part of Skyrim is shouting. As a Dragon Born, you can shout the crap out of things. Through out your adventure you will find many different shouts. I finished with eighteen different shouts, but I didn’t use more than three.
Some of them are pointless and designed more for a “THAT WAS SWEET!” moment. I could force people away from me (most used), mark them for death (DIE! DIE!), and see people through walls (I’m hunting you). But that doesn’t mean the few that I chose to use are the right ones. Again, the beauty of Skyrim lies in being able to play it your way. The large selection of shouts makes sure that you can do just that. So shout, Dragon Born, shout.
Time for a bold statement: the main storyline of Skyrim is not that great.
Yeah, it’s okay, but it’s not like the whole thing lives up to the thieves’ guild story (the best story in the game). The thing is, and I promised I would talk about this earlier, it’s not scaled to your level. By the time I got around to it, the final fight was a joke.
I don’t know if I was supposed to do the main story first? I would have, but I got distracted by more interesting things, like mixing potions. I was kind of confused by the entire situation. When I played Fallout 3 there was an ending, with scrolling credits, and closure.
Skyrim ends with more of you being told “thanks for doing that,” and the world goes on about its business. I see the need for this — I know some people got upset at the end of Fallout 3 and wanted to keep going, but couldn’t. It’s a very thin reason, but that is for another time.
The great thing about Skyrim is that I don’t really consider the main storyline to be a singular thing. It was all part of the larger, overall story that was my experience while playing the game. The game where I was an assassin for the Dark Brotherhood that became a master bard, a brave adventurer that could pick your pocket for the good of the thieves’ guild and then delve into the deepest tunnels to fight the twisted creatures that inhabit them. The real story of Skyrim is not tied up in a linear fashion. The story you experience is the one you play out. That is a good thing.
Skyrim is a wonder to look at. From its deep valleys to its soaring peaks, it has a majestic feel to it.
I don’t like going outside, so Skyrim let me run up the side of a mountain without fear of falling horribly to my death. You gain a real sense of space as you carefully leap from rock to rock across a mountainside. You can see a keep nestled in the rock face a few hundred feet in front of you and know that the drop off below you will cause certain death. It’s wonderfully cool to experience this.
Aside from the soaring mountains, Skyrim has little details that are cool. I stumbled across a cave. It was nothing special, aside from the the story that played out via journals spread around its interior. It was a melancholy tale that showed me how much care went into the crafting of this world. It’s something that needs to be seen.
The system is down
The challenge of having a massive world is holding it together. Sometimes, those threads are strained, and you see things that you were not supposed to.
I saw a guy “swimming” above the ground.
I shot a leaping bear and launched it skyward. I never saw it land.
I fought a dragon that had its head stuck in a wall. The fight was easy, but when it died, its skeleton shot out of the wall and rocketed away never to be seen again. I really wanted my glass arrows back.
After a dramatic speech a character could potentially just vanish.
If you want so see something fun, wait until all the people in a keep are asleep. Then go to the throne and wait until 10am to see them pop out of the floor. How fun!
My list goes on, and on, and on, but I am not upset at these glitches. Only once was slightly game breaking, but not so much that I couldn’t find a fix via message boards. The glitches provide a comedic charm.
Rambler can tell you some more stories on the glitch front, I played the Xbox 360 version, he is on the dreaded Playstation 3 version.
I didn’t want to stop playing Skyrim, but I had to stop playing Skyrim. Would I have gone past 122 hours? Yes.
So why didn’t I? On the hardest difficulty setting, the game was no longer a challenge. I was moving through the world like a boss. I had over 4,300 arrows in my backpack and could regenerate my health and stamina faster then I could use them. I could pick any lock or pocket and talk my way out of any situation.
I wasn’t being challenged in any way.
I decided to see the end of the main story after taking out nine guys who were hitting me with axes. I stood perfectly still while they all hit me at the same time, doing nothing to my health bar. What was the point? Was I a God? If so, why was I bothering with these mortals? After that fight I knew my time in Skyrim was over.
Bet you can’t guess
Yes. Yes, I do recommend Skyrim. It is an important entry in the Elder Scrolls saga.
Before I go, I would like to ponder something for a moment: why have the last three Elder Scrolls games started with you in prison or as a prisoner? Why can’t you start as a monk who goes crazy, breaks his vow of silence and just goes on a cross country killing spree? Just a thought, Bethesda.
Maybe I don’t want to play a criminal.. who goes on to kill thousands of people… oh, I see. Anyway, go play Skyrim. It won’t disappoint.
(Skyrim was developed by Bethesda Softworks and is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Steam.)