gaspower's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC) review

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Beautifully executed

It's been 3 years since BethSoft (yes, that's the name I'd like to call their company now from now on) has released Fallout 3 and 5 years since the last Elder Scrolls game. So just like in the past two games they have made in the current generation of consoles, they have managed to create great experiences that are encapsulated in moments both intentional and accidental. The games have always had high points that many consider to be great enough to outweigh the shortcomings, which are more often a result of technical issues borne out of the game engine. In other words these games have always been known to be "broken". This is very much true in Skyrim but now the high points are such that to those who are familiar from past Elder Scrolls games and those who are new to the series would very much find that there is a lot of fun to be had despite these issues or even hilariously punctuated by them. With that said, certain issues more often than not do become an inconvenience to the point of frustration. Though overall, this does not take away from the great adventures that you might encounter on your journey through Skyrim.

Skyrim's leveling system does away with designating attribute points for a more "practical" system, which makes playing a hybrid, jack-of-all-trades class very feasible and is as satisfying as playing a more focused class. The way characters are built are dependent on building up three main attributes: Health, Stamina, and Magicka and lastly you get skill perks. That's it. No constitution, agility, strength, or any other attributes. So how the hell do you make a character that fits your play style? The answer lies in the perk system. Unlike in Fallout wherein you are awarded a point every few levels that you can use to buy an unlocked perk, you are awarded a point every time you level up in Skyrim. Now you use these points in buying perks within skill trees. Each skill tree has their own leveling system and perks need to be unlocked before they can be bought through utilization of said skills in the game. You want to get better at destruction magic? Burn those trolls to a crisp by casting fireballs. You want to be better at archery? Keep sniping those bandits using your bow and arrow. You want to get better at being a smith? Craft more items. It's a system that is deeply rooted in common sense. It is a system that has existed in other RPG's in the past but the way it is done in Skyrim makes it not only simple but also incredibly rewarding. There are perks within skill trees which also gives special properties or even special skills. These skills are more often found higher in the tree and more often than not they literally change the dynamic of how you play the game. The archery skill tree for example, has perks that grants a zoom as well as time dilation perks when aiming down with the bow. Normally, if you dont have any of these perks you would just be pulling on the bow string far enough just to deal more damage or for increased range. Spells also have perks which allows them to be dual casted. Imagine casting a Hadouken fireball. Sounds pretty appealing to me.

Another thing they’ve added that is unique to Skyrim is Shouts. Yes, I said it...shouts. You can literally yell out words in the Dragon language that do certain effects. The first one you will learn in this game is essentially a “force push” that can be used to stagger enemies. Each shout can be levelled up thrice (with some shouts being the few exceptions) and shouts are usually learned by exploring and finding word walls in Skyrim. If you were wondering, it is possible to shout your enemies to death or even to a crawl. Just be aware that shouts all have a cooldown that are as short as 5 seconds or as long as a minute and don’t drain stamina or mana.

Quests are a RPG staple and this is pretty much true in Skyrim. In the first few hours in, you will then be given a few quests. You will encounter the occasional NPC seeking help or maybe a bartender who tells you about a certain ghost in the nearby catacombs. Guess who does the helping and ghost sleuthing on behalf of these NPC’s? That’s right, you. So upon encountering said ghost you just find that it has possession of a contraption which then leads you to another quest. Wash, rinse, repeat. As with other RPGs, there are continuous quest lines and also one-off quests. The pay off may not always be the loot in this case but often times the journey itself. Skyrim does a great job in immersing the player into the world, whether it is showing off its beautiful vistas or engaging the character in challenging yet fun combat. Player may often find themselves comparing to the quests found in the previous Elder Scrolls games. Skyrim may not have the same high points in a few side quests in Oblivion but it has many quests that do go at a very deliberate pace. This makes the quest lines all having the same flow of build up to climax then conclusion, which gave me a sense of satisfaction (and good loot to boot). This isn’t to say that Skyrim does not have any quests with crazy twists. More often than not they are found in the quests you least expected.

...and we are off to a new adventure!

Skyrim may not be the most polished of games but it is a game with an incredible amount of depth. There is so much to do in this world that one may find themselves confused on what to do next only to find themselves doing another thing entirely. Despite its flaws, this is what keeps Skyrim fun and interesting. Bethsoft has finally made the Elder Scrolls game that they have wanted to make and executed with such amazing resilience and I can only look forward to what they do next.

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