So I’ve been quite busy over the last 9 days. During this time I’ve played roughly 42 hours of the latest Elder Scrolls game “Skyrim”. Everyone and their cousin probably knows what this game is already so I’m just going to give a quick overview of what I like and what I think it is missing. To save people time this game easily falls under “Great” on my review scale. It’s a must get and I’d highly suggest playing it through whatever service you have (or buy flat out purchasing if renting is not an option).
Also keep in mind I played this for the PC so what I talk about may not be applicable for the console versions. I’ll also try my best not to spoil any story which shouldn’t be too hard as I’ve been spending all my time on sidequests.
There is an amazing amount of content in this game. I’ve spent 42 hours now and haven’t done further than the first 2-3 main story quests. The much mentioned “Throat of the World” has not been climbed by this particular user. I’ve been investigating all the guilds and NPCs quests that bleed from every edge of the game. In terms of character quality and depth I’d say this game does very well. Obviously a more linear experience would see far more deep characters but the individuals you meet in this game will more often than not please you. Either that or I’m very easily satisfied.
One of the most common complaints I see when I make the mistake of looking up Skyrim information online is that the game was “streamlined for consoles”. It’s an unusual complaint that seems to ignore the massive market that consoles bring to the gaming world. In the case of Skyrim the vast majority of these streamlined features are incredibly welcome. Speaking as someone who plays the game with Keyboard and Mouse it is utterly delightful.
Skills can be saved to a list of “Favorites” and from this list you can actually hotkey weapons, shields, and spells to any of your number keys. It is not without its quirks however as currently you cannot have a sword and a shield (or say two spells or two weapons) on the same number key. I suspect this will be fixed in one of the first patches for the game.
Alchemy has transformed into a delightful minigame where you collect plants, insects, fish, and a plethora of other materials from the world and try to unlock what 4 effects they can have. You can unlock the first by eating it and the others come from mixing and matching. It’s a bit like the board game where you asked your opponent what their person looked like and flipped down tiles. The process of elimination is further simplified by greying out previously attempted combinations that result in failures.
Blacksmithing, Mining, Smelting, Tanning, Grinding, and Workbenches all find their way into the game. Also a much welcome removal was the armor and weapon degradation that has been in Elder Scrolls games for as long as I can remember. Enchanting is still in the game and is as delightfully friendly as all other additions and changes. You can easily create a bow or sword of soul stealing and gather up more souls in soul stones than you ever dreamed possible. You unlock further recipes for enchanting by disenchanting old gear (which breaks it). I have a strict addiction to this and break absolutely anything with a new spell on it.
Again enchanting has a minor quirk that has been around time immemorial, you cannot make souls only go into the smallest soulstone they can fit in. I find myself sticking deer inside of grand soul stones from time to time and it is sad. But soul stones will flood your inventory like water from a broken dam and its hardly a game ending complaint.
Combat is heated and visceral, users have complained of the “Swipe swipe move” function but this is how combat has been in every Elder Scrolls game ever. But I can’t recall the last time my guy mounted a monster and began slashing its skull.
The execution animations that happen when you or your opponent are low on life are very fun to watch and they happen just frequently enough to be entertaining without being obnoxious. I’ve decapitated foes, mounted dragons, lifted people off the ground with my blade in their abdomen and many other wonderful end blows.
Conversely I’ve had a dragon nearly swallow me and hurl my lifeless corpse off the side of a mountain, so it is certainly a double edged sword.
The companion system is simple and convenient. You find a companion, hire them, and take them on many a journey. They are half essential falling to their knees and allowing you time to rescue them, I’ve had to reload many times after dragon shouting a companion to death.
Which is related to arguably my biggest gripe of this game, the autosave happens maybe once in a lifetime. I walk everywhere and almost never fast travel (the world is gorgeous which makes it hard to skip out) and find myself sometimes losing a large chunk of time when I forget to F5. The first mod I’ll be grabbing will be an autosave mod when one arrives.
You can truly live out many different fantasies in this game. I currently play an Argonian who hunts in the wild to collect furs which he then uses to make leather armor and from that some coin. Along this little endeavor I complete quests for the people I meet and hunt down the dragons who have scorched the earth. Mountains, trails, and even cities are not safe from their infrequent but enjoyable assaults. The breadth of animations they have (from perching, to strafing, to idling in the air) are all wonderful and rarely stumbled or broken.
There is probably more I could add, but I find myself having a legitimately high level of fun even nearly 2 straight days worth of play later. This is not the perfect game but it certainly gets many things right. I’m not sure where the expansions and DLC’s will go but I am actually excited about them for once. I’ve not even touched the main story and find myself still entrenched in fascinating networks of relationships, betrayals, and adventures.
I’ll probably throw up an album sometime soon of my journeys through Skyrim, but for now lets just end with that dragon above sleeping peacefully in the mountains.