It has been 5 months since the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim , and over those 5 months I have put in 300 hours across 3 characters. Am I done? Not even close. I haven't touched the story. I haven't done any guilds. There is so much content I might never get around to the main quest. Well, that's not likely as that is what I am most excited about doing next. So what have I been doing? Exploring. I play on Master difficulty which made things challenging at first but now that I am at level 77 most of the combat is trivial.Previously my favourite game of all time was The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion , and I spent 300 hours on that game over 5 years. Now with Skyrim I've covered the same amount of time in just 5 months and Skyrim has replaced Oblivion. I'm not exactly proud, but I had a lot of free time on my hands. I became unemployed and went in to hospital in October, and Skyrim helped me perk up and enjoy my free time. As I said in a previous blog, unemployment sucks kids.
Before I share my final thoughts about the game, here are the previous blogs I've written involving Skyrim.
Skyrim has a very balanced approach to gameplay in that it doesn't limit you, unlike something such as Kingdoms of Amalur. Sure, you can respec in that but in Skyrim you can be the best at everything all at once. That is what my character is. At level 77 everything except archery and two handed are maxed out. It is so liberating having such choice.
My previous characters were pure mages but this time I went from an archer to a pure mage, to a mage/sword fighter combo. Chopping and burning are a satisfying combo. My weapon of choice is the daedric sword Dawnbreaker and a mod spell called 'massive sparks'. Even on Master difficulty I kill almost everything in one or two hits with the sword. I am using modded armour, a retextured version of the Nightingale Armour.
Everything in Skyrim is styled very specifically to fit the lore and climate. In Oblivion each town looked very different in terms of architecture but in Skyrim things are very similar in the smaller holds but there is the stone fortress of Winterhold, the regal elegance of Solitude and the ancient dwarven city of Markarth. All very nordic and look appropriately freezing cold. The same can be said for the ruins, which look ancient and filthy. I really do miss something on the scale and design of the Imperial City, or the port town of Anvil... especially when I consider how great they would look in the newer engine.
The atmosphere from the new and improved lighting and weather effects is incredible. Oblivion gave me a great sense of immersion, like I was living in a fantasy world like I never had before. Skyrim goes much further and really drew me in. Sure, I have a ton of graphical mods enabled that alter pretty much everything from weather patterns to textures and lighting. I don't think that is a comment on me not liking the game as it is, but there is always room for improvement. Bethesda put out a fine product, they couldn't refine it forever or tune it to my preferences. At least with mods I'm free to pick and choose.
If I had to pick my favourite thing about Skyrim it would definitely be the atmosphere and immersion. A lot of that has to do with graphics as well as game systems that let you and all the NPCs live a 24 hour life. The world itself feels very alive pretty much all the time. Quests and interesting locations all around you, a ton of voice acting and enemies. Patrick already said this on the bombcast, but one of the more interesting experiences is walking in to a dungeon and finding a guy who is drugged up and insane, believing he is a ghost after spending years just pretending so he could find an artefact. At the end of the dungeon you find the exit backs on to the room he was living in. A tragic irony.
I've had giants, skeevers and horses try and take down a dragon. Even my dog had a go. I wish there was some gradation of aggression. The AI is either passive, fully aggressive or scared (fleeing). My dog should not just jump in to 'combat' mode and relentlessly attack anything. As hilarious as it is, I might prefer my dog to run away and return home. I think it'd be cool to come home and find my cold, injured dog.
Skyrim is known for being glitchy, and that has led to very sketchy moments like backwards flying dragons, flying drauger, NPCs with wood stuck to their head, bodies flying through the air like a rocket and so much more. The annoying variations are quests glitching, events not triggering, items falling through the world. Thankfully, on the PC you can fix any problem if you know how. The console allows you to spawn an item or person, fly through scenery, force quest checkpoints to trigger, bring dead NPCs back to life (I was told by a daedric prince to go and talk to somebody, and the quest marker lead me to a dead person... so I had to resurrect him).
It would really suck to play this on a console without mods or access to the developer console. It offers so much flexibility.
The problem with the dragons in Skyrim is a lack of variety. There are several kind of dragon, scaled to your level. Once you reach level 50 you face the hardest dragons of the 'Ancient' variety. The diverse dragons mod adds quite a few dragon variants that not only look different, but have different abilities. Some can knock you over, others summon daedra, and there are also twins that fly together. Not just the look, but the combat in the battles lack variation and this mod fixes that.
ImagesHere are some of the other screenshots I've taken in Skyrim.
ConclusionSkyrim is easily one of my favourite games of all time. Yeah yeah, you're probably sick of hearing about how great it is and the dirty hipster inside of you wants to hate it because it's cool. It is totally fine to not like the game, however, but that doesn't make it bad. Me liking it doesn't make it good, but Bethesda clearly went above and beyond with this game. The most cynical of publishers wouldn't necessarily let a developer put so much work in to a game that sells for just as much as a 4 hour Call of Duty game. There is so much content it is amazing, and why I can forgive a lot of the faults. They just don't matter to me. I can overcome them.
Now that I have reached the 300 hour mark I feel no need to keep talking about the game. I will soldier on in silence. See you when the first expansion comes out!
Please leave comments and such. Always fun to read.