By jakob187 23 Comments
***WARNING - THERE MAY BE SPOILERS DOWN YONDER***
No matter where you go on the internet, you are going to find plenty of people that will take something great (in this case, Skyrim) and try to nitpick it to death in order to bring it down a notch or two. Why wouldn't you? After five years of waiting and promises of lessons learned alongside new technology, you come to expect the game to be something akin to perfection. It's a silly expectation to have.
However, there's something that whittles at you as minutes turn to hours while roaming and exploring the world of Skyrim. For every sweeping vista presented to us, we are presented with a bug; for every dragon encounter, there's a glitch somewhere else. It's the curse of the open world game, maybe even mathematic formula - ambition and innovation comes with a price. It's a price we happily pay...isn't it? Maybe not, if you look at the myriad of players out there who are complaining about every little thing here and there that comes up. It's perfectly acceptable to bring these things up, as low-res textures rear their ugly head and giants pummel us...into the sky?
There are greater concerns, though. For instance, how much further does Skyrim honestly push the genre forward? Its play-forever quest system seems pretty well built, and while one can feel like they are incapable of telling the difference within the first ten hours or so of playtime, you eventually see where the system is at play. When you make your way into a town like Solitude and the first thing that happens is a guard telling you to pay a tax to enter (only to persuade him otherwise through speech), it makes the world feel a bit more alive...even if you can see the seams of where it is all stitched together.
Yes, Skyrim pushes things further when it comes to general creating a world of minutia and detail. What about choice? Do we have choices in the game? It would make you think so. To kill or not to kill; to steal or not to steal; we have choices all around us. What about when we want to join The Circle? Can we choose to find a way into The Circle without taking in the blood of the Lycan? Through all the errands you run and speechcraft you improve... With all the dragons and spriggans and bandits you've slain, is there a way to persuade Skjor to let you into The Circle...to trust you...without having to subside and become a creature of the night?
You have no choice. If you wish to continue the questline, please drink from this fountain of blood and move onward. That's when you realize "nope, it's still just a game".
It is something that is understandable when trying to join the Thieves' Guild: if you can't pickpocket someone or steal from someone worth a shit, why should you join that guild? However, a precedent is set with The Companions early on that there are members that aren't werewolves. Sure, they also aren't part of The Circle itself, but progressing through the story, you find your leader talking about how great an addition you've been and how he hopes to groom you to become the next leader. You try to find another way to be in The Circle. Even the old man sitting at the Skyforge says that he will not become a werewolf, but he offers no alternate questline. If there is a questline that doesn't involve ripping your clothes off and becoming a beast, it's not easily presented as an option to you. That's fine, but it also means the player doesn't feel like there is a choice.
Going into the game, my character had a certain set of principles and morals that I personally wanted to follow: always dual wield, never use magic that isn't resto or alter, never become a creature like a vampire or a werewolf due to your own free will, and always act the role of a berserker. It had worked perfectly fine...until now. There is a roadblock, and I unfortunately passed it.
I don't feel like this is "my" character anymore. I now feel like I'm a byproduct of a linear pathway.
Has Skyrim pushed the genre forward? The definitive answer amongst the crowd is "yes, it has". However, there are times where it feels like the game is still so far away.
I hope everyone is enjoying the game as much as I genuinely am, but I hope you get to stand true to your character more than I have.