There’s no denying that there was hype behind Skyrim, and there’s no denying that I bought into it. While some were excited over Id’s new IP Rage, the newest Assassin’s Creed, and not even to mention that little fight between Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, I honestly could care less about those titles as long as the next Elder Scrolls title sat amongst them. While yes I do love Oblivion, it was still a very flawed game and I was looking forward to the improvements that were picked up from Fallout 3. I FINALLY was able to pick it up about a week after launch thanks to a very good friend (you know who you are) and haven’t pretty much put it down since then. A disclaimer should be noted that this is just “SO FAR” I haven’t completed the story, not to mention I still need to locate some of the guilds and join some of the guilds. Without any further delay, here it is my personal mostly spoiler-free quest so far in the land of Skyrim.
The game begins in usual Elder Scrolls custom in prisoner form, with you being handcuffed and slowly arriving at the city of Helgen, for your execution. Some light bantering with the other prisoners reveals that the one across from me is none other then Ulfric, leader of the Stormcloaks (who will later become one of the two factions you have the option of joining). After this your introduced to the character creation system, and I must say it’s more detailed then ever. After going over many of the race’s re-designs (which look fantastic I might add), I chose to go with a Dark Elf (because I’m original) after that a dragon disrupts the execution and one of the Imperial guards guided me to safety. This area of the game is just a tutorial giving you a feel for the combat while also giving a direct, short narrative. Everything seems to be improved heavily from Oblivion, the magic (which I never really indulged in the past) now has a real sense of power and quite frankly looks bad-ass. The combat system otherwise looks great and feels better, I chose to dual wield (as I normally do in RPGs) and while I can’t block the system works well for my needs. After the tutorial I was lead to a town where both blacksmithing and alchemy is introduced, while both were heavily improved from the previous game some will be disappointed about the fact you can no longer do it on the go and only at certain areas. You are then allowed to do whatever you wish, the story points you in the direction of one of the first major cities Whiterun, or you can venture out on your own.I chose to head off to Whiterun, as I was extremely eager to take a gander at the new cities (which I might say every one looks fantastic, yet distinct in their own way).
Long story short, after working hand in hand with the Jarl the city comes under attack by a dragon. After of which I absorbed his soul to the surprise of the local guards. I then was given access to my first Thu’mm or shout which let out a giant force push. After this I went off to explore the world at my own leisure. After some lengthy quests, I managed to get a house of my own in the port city of Riften as well getting hitched to a Dark Elf mercenary. The marriage system is disappointingly simple, you simply wear an Amulet of Mara and if someone takes interest they’ll just simply says something along the lines of “I would’ve figured you’d be taken”, which you’ll ask if they’re interested then they’ll you the same, you both agree, and then you go to Riften and get hitched. Your wife (or husband) will simply sit about your house saying how much they love you, and possibly open up a store. The game also has streamlined some aspects of the series, but it doesn’t overdo it in the sense of Dragon Age 2. Blacksmithing, enchanting, alchemy, and even learning new spells has been streamlined into simplicity while it still retains it’s depth. The game’s titular Dragons are an interesting force to be sure, while some dragons will not straight up attack you and instead fly overhead into the mountains or soar back into their dens. However I feel that they appear far too often often appearing at the most inopportune time while sometimes they offer an interesting fight, most of the time I feel that they are too simply defeated. Instead of a feeling of fear I feel more annoyed when one shows up.
While indeed the game looks gorgeous in motion and the facial animations are greatly improved from Oblivion and Fallout 3, there are no less tons of bugs and glitches to be abound on your journey into Skyrim. Some of my personal favorite glitches include walking across a plain and seeing a Mammoth levitating upward into the air before slowly descending to the ground, another includes a bear rapidly attacking me before him turning around and running off of the mountain (to his certain doom of course). The AI while much more advanced feels still feels shaky I even did the “bucket trick” where I put a bucket over a shopkeepers head before stealing everything in his store, the shopkeeper didn’t react in the slightest. On that note however, your companions have greatly improved. They no longer run in front of your strikes or not react to enemies in the slightest, they will join the fight and even pick locks or whatever you ask them to do. They’re still not perfect, as one time I was leading several men on a raid, but instead of using the blades they had they decided to fight with their bare fists (leading to their death obviously).
I could spend hours telling of my experience in Skyrim, but it matters little because one of the strengths of Skyrim is the unique system it provides on every playthrough. As I near my close in the main story, I eagerly can’t wait to make a new character and do it all over again. Skyrim is easily in my running for Game of the Year, and delectably IS the Game of the Year. I haven’t been this immersed in a video game since Dragon Age: Origins and even then I don’t think it’s been to the level where I’m beginning to understand the dragon language. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a fan of The Elder Scrolls series in the past, as this is easily the best in the series by far.
EDIT: I have just a few moments ago completed the main story, and I cannot be much more impressed. With Oblivion I did not enjoy much of the story, especially the ending. To me it just ended abruptly, right when you think something might be building up the story ends. Fallout 3 also had a similar problem, while it built up tension the final confrontation with the enemy was ended with a single blast of just a regular Lazer Rifle. Skyrim had a great final confrontation with great tension. All in all I found the story to be a massive improvement from not only Oblivion but also Fallout 3.