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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
Watch the skies, traveler.