You’re roaming about the center of Riften minding your own dirty business, trying to pickpocket a diamond from an innocent law abiding citizen, you hear a roar from the heavens, a blast of fire gushes down at you and the people around you. Yes, you have just been attacked by a dragon and the entire city is in jeopardy. This is Skyrim.
Skyrim is an epic. A Mahabharata. An ancient tale of the ages. From hand picking the little elements of your domestic life, to negotiating a truce between Rebels and the Empire. From petty thievery for a quick buck to assassinating the Emperor himself. From feeding yourself homecooked meals by your wife, to hiding your real identity, a warewolf, hunting out in the open at night. And this is all for a more greater cause, The Elder Scroll itself.
Skyrim is an ultra-mega-world, laid out with beautiful cities all over with unique landscapes, unique culture, with NPCs, out to trick you into their schemes, ask for your help, or make you join a cult. Its a beautiful icy world, the home of the Nords, where the weather can be a tad too punishing at times, but you, my Dragonborn friend, are born with abilities to alter the nature. Gone are the days where you had those so called ‘skills’ and ‘perks’ to get your groove on, well, not gone exactly,they’re still there, but now you can Shout, or, speak the languages of the ancient supposedly extinct dragons. A group of snow bears you encounter while you’re trying to climb that mountain high, you’re definitely no match for them. Well, one roar of a Shout and all those bears who could taste your blood even without touching you are now your pets. While you sneak up and kill them in their most domesticated state, a guilty pleasure nevertheless. Ah, the sheer fulfillment of betraying a bunch of friendly snow-bears.
Shouts, are words of the dragon-spoken language. Each Shout has three words. These words are found all over Skyrim’s high peaks and deep dungeons. This is new addition to the Elder Scrolls series, not seen before in this series, and is really a pinnacle character that makes up the game. Your ability to effectively use Shouts during a battle can be the defining reason for your defeat or success. To activate a shout, you must have a Dragon Soul, which you attain by slaying a dragon. Slaying dragons is an entirely exclusive entity in Skyrim. Its a pleasure. A challenging one at that. Dragons are deadly foes, dear dovahkin. One must use all resources available to slay a dragon. Once you slay one, the satisfaction is bliss.
Slaying dragon becomes pretty much a drag 140+ hours in a game. But thats understandable . 140 HOURS OF GAMEPLAY ARE YOU F*@KING KIDDIN ME! And this not the the best part yet, I’m 140 hours down in Skyrim, and yet, there are dungeons left unexplored, quests left untouched, monsters patiently waiting to be slayed, factions begging for my membership, etc etc. Skyrim is LONG game. By long, I mean light years long in the actual time sense. I started playing this game early March. And I’m yet to be done with it. It has been a beautiful experience, one that grows on you and one that you cherish, until, at one point, it wears off and you end up playing just to pay homage to the game. Just to finish it. I look back and I don’t even know how I came this far, I just came. If you’re playing Skyrim, you need to forget the ‘real world’. Your real world is now a snowy continent of Tamriel, the so called famous/infamous Skyrim.
Speaking about the gameplay, its an incremental improvement from Oblivion. You dont gain experience by completing quests. Use the bow and arrow, thats the only way to increase your archery skill. Like spamming healing spells on yourself? Yes, that’s the way to go if you want to increase your Restoration skill. Its a good and practical skill system, which ensures your character is built according to the way you play your game. Then there are perks. Every Level Up grants you access to an incremental perk, like, a Sneak perk which allows 10x damage with a one-handed weapon. The way you build your perks decides how lethal you are in combat, how efficient you are in alchemy and forging weapons, how street smart you are in getting the best prices for selling your goods, etc. This system invites players to try the game with different skill and perk builds.
Enemies are anywhere from junk to deadly lethal. Enemies are smart enough to use whatever they have at their disposal, from deadly poisons and to unassuming spells. They can surprise you, catch you off-guard, kill you with a single blow, freeze you, drain your magicka. Combat animation are still weak, just like any other Elder Scrolls game. Enemies don’t react when you slash a sword at them of cast a fire spell. Oh how gratifying the Skyrim experience would have been if only the battle animations had 100x time more code written (!). Battle is a major part of Skyrim and Bethesda should do something about it. Not to say that its bad, its damn good, but it needs to be special, for a game of this stature.
One thing missing in Skyrim is the freedom to workaround your magic spells, which was a charming feature in Oblivion. In Skyrim, you have a select set of spells and you can only use them as they are. Using spells become boring when you’re 50 hours into the game. Which is why then you’d try other methods of warfare. Skyrim didn’t give us that option, and its bitter-sweet in way, because it forces you to try other forms of gameplay, be it on negative pretenses (boredom).
Another absolute weak point of Skyrim is the soundtrack. Its good, but not in a way that its spearheading the direction of the game, like it did in Oblivion. You’ll realize it when you’re 40 hours into the game. Its the same midi being thrown at you over and over again until you’re so sick of it you switch the music off. You’re roaming out in the wild, and its the same track playing. You being attacked by a dragon, its the same track play. For a game like Skyrim, the OST should be a really important part of the game. Bethesda should have been better in this department and this was unexpected, honestly. I remember, the Oblivion soundtrack was the best ever. It was the soundtrack that set the mood and spearheaded the gameplay, which is exactly how it should be. It is claimed that Skyrim has 220 minutes of soundtrack material in it, compared to Oblivion’s 59, but it just doesn’t stand out practically.
Skyrim is centered around the main campaign, which involves retrieving the Elder Scrolls and so on. The main quest is good, the story is engrossing and the missions are captivating, but where Skyrim really shines is in its quests other than the main quest. The Thieves Guild have a whole set of missions, filled with amazing quests with really well written plots and sub-plots. The same goes for the Dark Brotherhood quests. One can also join any of the two rebellions. NPCs around Skyrim are unique in their own way. Some NPCs are brilliantly crafted personalities, and you can relate to every one of them, in the most ancient ways ofcourse.
One thing Skyrim forces you to do as you travel across its vast lands is to domesticate yourself. In the mid-stages of the game, you will find yourself constantly heading to the cities where you’re housing your wife to sell off the goods you’ve gathered during your adventures. Carrying goods take inventory space and you have to manage, and this calls for a lot of work. I’ve wasted hours and hours just going back to cities to sell off all I was carrying. It becomes a ‘forced’ task, unfulfilling, clerical and repetitive. There are work arounds, like you can travel with a partner who can carry your excessive armor for you, but if the partner is slain during battle, God bless your soul.
Graphics in Skyrim are beautiful, and especially after you install the Hi-Res update from Bethesda. The landscapes are crisp and dreamy, with the perfect ancient vibe. Lighting is superb, especially indoors. All cities have a unique architecture. The detail of design gone into buildings and interiors is overwhelming minute, its awesome. One almost feels like he/she is in a completely self-sufficient world exclusive of the real life around us. This is what is so special about Skyrim. NPCs are detailed, women look beautiful, facial features are sharp. Magic spells graphics are OK. They look good but if you’re doing the same thing again they become boring, with no character. Skyrim has a large community of mod-makers, and surely you can pump up the graphics by installing mods. Many mods do make a significant different, but are known to be unstable and hamper the original feel and vibe intended by Bethesda.
All over, Skyrim, despite its flaws, is a memorable experience all together. The flaws actually turn out to be somewhat charming. Its like the game is doing it to you on purpose, and not spoon feeding you, which is what many games do these days. Skyrim treats you as an adult. It wants you to work around its flaws. Our ill advise is you play game, get lost into the dragon-world, and see how it affects you lifestyle. It will for sure. And in the end, do not forget to let us know how you felt about the game.
- Beautifully crafted world, mystical, ancient, green and vibrant.
- Battle is awesome. Fighting dragons is awesome.
- OCD compulsions to gather as many valuables as you can and sell them off for Gold you don’t really need.
- The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests are awesome!
- Some NPCs really make the game what it is.
- Not really an evergreen game. If you’re done with it, you’re done with it.
- Soundtrack is more subtle than subtle should be, it doesn’t stand out.
- Difficult to keep yourself stuck with the game after 100+ hours of gameplay.
- More battle animations needed URGENT ASAP.