So I Just Played: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Posted by Tarfuin (64 posts) -

There are a lot of reasons people play video games. It’s a fun, stimulating, often relaxing activity that requires thought and interaction. Fantastic stories unfold in which you carry a level of involvement. It’s a wonderful medium, but beyond that there lies a simpler draw. We want to feel legendary.

There’s nothing wrong with that urge, it’s great. It’s the reason we get jazzed about seeing a movie after watching a trailer. It’s the reason sports highlight montages are so exciting. They seamlessly pack a ton of exciting moments into a single package, and Skyrim is the absolute master of this. Everything in the game is built around the central goal of making you and your character feel like you’re part of a truly epic adventure.

Just watch this trailer and try not to be psyched:

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Whew, even just watching that trailer gets me jazzed to fire up Skyrim again when I get home. It gives me the vibe of feeling like you’re in one of the Lord of the Rings movies, except more badass. That’s just the trailer though, surely when you get into the game fighting a dragon won’t be that exciting. Yes, it is. The first few times feel just as exciting, mostly because they do something very smart, they ramp up the music. Every time you encounter a dragon the music swells up into full dragon-fight mode, and man it gets me going.

So there’s dragons, everyone knows that about Skyrim, and it is in itself plenty of reason to check out this game. The reason the dragon fights remain exciting, though, is because they happen sparingly, suddenly, and without warning. In the time in between dragon attacks is filled with literally hundreds of hours of gameplay. From questing to crafting to exploring, or modding (oh modding. I’ll get into that later) there is always more meaningful gameplay to do.

Guards keep asking me to brew them an ale, but at this pace it looks like I’ll be making them a Caesar.

I included exploring in the list of things to do, which a lot of people would roll their eyes at, but it really is a gameplay element in itself. This is one of the first games that has a fast travel system that at times I’ve decided to stop using entirely because it was so much more fun to just walk to my destination. The world is immense and totally open. If you can see it, you can probably walk to it. There’s no “track”, there are no invisible walls. The entire world is free to roam, and it is breathtakingly beautiful, and active. A simple walk from one town to another might result in a fight with a bear (which at some points can be just as deadly as a dragon) or a fight between a bear and a troll, or a fight between a dragon and the entire population of a village. The world is alive around you, and it is stunning!

For a town that snows 300 days a year and is full of unapologetic racists, Windhelm sure is pretty!

The game isn’t without its flaws. It’s definitely very buggy. Many of the bugs are by now pretty famous. For example, if you walk up to a shopkeeper and put a bucket on his head, he is effectively blind. You are then free to rob him…..blind, all while he contently sits there beneath his new headwear. Most of these bugs aren’t game-breaking (although some come pretty close) and to some degree they are excusable considering the free reign of this huge world Skyrim gives you access to. All this without me having even mentioned the mods.

Full disclosure, I have put just over 300 hours into Skyrim according to my Steam counter. If I’m being completely honest, it wouldn’t be far fetched for me to estimate that I’ve put another 100 hours or so into screwing around with mods for the game. You can mod ANYTHING. If you can see it, it can and has been modded. There are tons of small things like giving all the vendors in the game a bit more money on hand (the stock version of the game gives the vendors so little it’s almost impossible to sell high value items to any of them) and can range all the way up to massive overhauls of the entire weather system of the game, collections of hundreds of sets of weapons and armor, and a total re-writing of the lighting physics for the game.

Even though it’s two years old, my fully modded Skyrim taxes my PC easily more than any game I own.

There’s just so much to do here. The game has become a completionist’s nightmare and a procrastinator’s black hole. In my aforementioned 300 hours in the game, I’ve hardly put a dent in all the things there are to do in this game, and I’m not talking about grabbing all the trophies or collectibles or anything like that. I’m talking about entire major storylines that I haven’t yet touched because the game gives you the freedom to just take off in any direction and do things in almost any order you want.

I keep creating characters with the idea that they’ll be the one with whom I do everything Skyrim has to offer, but there’s too much. I end up leaving the game for a few weeks, coming back, and deciding I can create a better character. It’s been so much fun though, so who cares.

What? Oh that’s just me fighting a dragon in front of a stone statue, while wearing armor made of dragon bones, holding a sword made of magic energy, while I’m on fire. No biggie.

Watch the skies, traveler.

#1 Posted by NicksCorner (452 posts) -

I did try to do it all on one char and that was a mistake. Both in that it made a mess of any roleplaying, but also that I got totally burned out.

I played for 165 hours upon launch, but I have never felt the need to pick up any of the DLC.

#2 Edited by Humanity (11863 posts) -

I never got it. I played the game to completion and it was a complete snooze. The lackluster combat, the abysmal main questline, cookie cutter fetch quests, wooden NPC's, recycled quest locations. There is so much to do in this world! Like what? Like go into caves that will have nothing in them unless you're specifically on a quest? Like running into bandits on the road? Engaging in somewhat underwhelming dragon brawls? Crafting 500 daggers?

I mean this is all personal opinion that is obviously in a very small minority. I'm not trying to challenge anyone to prove me wrong or anything, if you like it you like it, but Skyrim is one of those games where I just don't get it and feel like a crazy person whenever people bring up how amazing it is. It's ok I guess, since I can always play Dragons Dogma which to me is a far superior experience, but hey opinions and all that.

#3 Posted by jimmyfenix (3941 posts) -

@humanity: Your opinion sucks eggs!! just kidding

I played in total 250 hours of Skyrim.

200 of those hours was on PS3.....Yeah that was interesting. I just hope Bethesda improve the combat that is my major complaint.

#4 Edited by EXTomar (5039 posts) -

I think the combat is highly uneven. Depending on which way you build your character combat can be exciting or boring or down right crippling where ES has generally never gotten the balance correct.

#5 Edited by Humanity (11863 posts) -

@humanity: Your opinion sucks eggs!! just kidding

I played in total 250 hours of Skyrim.

200 of those hours was on PS3.....Yeah that was interesting. I just hope Bethesda improve the combat that is my major complaint.

Eggs?! Oh no!

#6 Posted by Tarfuin (64 posts) -

@humanity: I totally get that standpoint. There are certain parts of the game that seem sub-par, but overall I thought it did a ton of things really well too.

One of the things that bugged me most was the re-using of voice actors. I get that they can't hire a million voices, but there were a couple cases where you'd run into two primary characters in the same questline that had the same voice. That was kind of immersion breaking for sure. The word case I can think of is Enthir and Mercer in the Tieves Guild line.

#7 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (2133 posts) -

There's just something about Bethesda games. It's easy to look at the individual pieces and say "yeah, the combat isn't that good" or "the writing isn't that interesting", but there is just some secret sauce only their games have that make me get so invested in them. I've put nearly 700 hours into Bethesda games this generation.

  • Oblivion: 300 (3 characters)
  • Fallout 3: 150 hours (2 characters)
  • Skyrim: 235 hours (1 character)

Then of course there's also New Vegas, which is kind of a Bethesda game, which I put 95 hours into.

#8 Posted by GERALTITUDE (4550 posts) -

Yes, Skyrim is amazing.

#9 Edited by Tru3_Blu3 (3482 posts) -

I put over 800 hours into Skyrim, having at least 5 different characters. First one was an imperial battlemage, the second a furry cat thief, the third a furry barbarian cat, the fourth a furry argonian assassin, fifth a redguard knight, and sixth currently a conjuration mage.

This game has tons of variety gameplay wise. I just wish I could say the same for the enemy types, weapons, and spells. The previous Elder Scrolls games had a lot of stuff for a good reason: It's a huge game, and having less mechanics makes the long term playthroughs become boring and monotonous. I thought Morrowind's repertoire of spells and equipment was awesome, giving you the chance to make a character in anyway you wanted, depending on its build and skills.

I also, and still, despise the dungeons in Skyrim. Sure, each and everyone one varied in their designs, but they made them extremely long rollercoasters that I just want to see end. Maybe it's because I've seen most of these dungeons about a gazillion times already throughout my 800 hours? Nevertheless, I found them to be filler instead of enjoyable content in a massive game. It's why I actually liked Morrowind and even Oblivion's dungeons a little more, as they were usually short and to the point. Go in, kill everything, get loot, and leave. Now they're boring setpiece things that have to make sense in context with their contained enemy types, destroying enemy variety and making going through them a chore.

I think, for the next TES, they should have less dungeons, as crazy as that sounds. Less is more, in my opinion.

I also found a large majority of the quests to be pretty damned boring, especially the guilds who didn't rank you up based on the quests you did. They all felt artificial and, again, like filler. There was very little imagination put into these questlines, save for the daedric ones which I found to be quite enjoyable. TES4, in my opinion, still carries some of the best quests in recent memory.

Despite all that, I still love this game. It's emergent, relaxing, and simple. It allows you to plan and create your own adventure in this world, IF you regulate yourself. Don't go in every dungeon you see. Don't do every quest. Commit to one guild. Then conclude it by beating the main quest. The TES series still stands at doing a phenomenal job at making you actually role-play, and Bethesda should continue to improve upon this virtue as the series goes on.

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