Now that I’ve put almost a full two days (43 hours, to be exact) into Skyrim, I figure it’s past time I put some of my musings thus far on paper…well, in text at least. Overall, I think this game is amazing, but it does have a few annoying quirks.
Let’s start with the pros.
- Skyrim is gorgeous. Everything in Skyrim–the environment, creatures, and even the food–is a feast for the eyes.
There are four seasons happening all at once in this game. You want springtime or summer? Check out Whiterun or Solitude. Crazy snowstorms of winter? Go to Winterhold or Windhelm. For autumn leaves, go to Riften. Every city’s architecture is a little different, but my favorite so far is Markarth. It’s built into the side of a mountain and sits on top of a Dwemer ruin. How cool is that? Anyway…I could talk about how pretty Skyrim is for days, but let’s move on to…
- Dragons. Need I say more? You can fight dragons. And when you win, you absorb their powers.
I was giddy with glee after my first dragon victory. However, I had people to help me, which made it easier. Out in the wilderness when all the help you can hope for is a conjured atronach, you have to get creative. I’ve discovered that other creatures will help you fight off dragons, which is pretty cool.
- Next, battle is really fun in Skyrim. There are so many styles to choose from! I’ve been going with one-handed swords in the right hand and spells in the left (generally a “conjure atronach” spell at first, then switching between destruction and restoration magic as needed). Recently I’ve been playing with a bound sword, and I was pleased to find that using it helps you level your one-handed weapons skill as well as conjuration. There’s something very satisfying about watching my flame atronach shoot fireballs at foes while I slice them with a fire-enchanted blade, shoot sparks at them, and use a Shout to turn them to solid ice. You can also meet companion characters during your travels, and if you bring them along, they’re a huge help when it comes to staying alive.
- The skill system is pretty straightforward. The more you use a skill, the higher your level in that skill becomes and the more perks become available to you. Pretty simple, right? You can also choose to have a constellation alignment that will make one of the three different categories of skills level at an increased pace, which is really nice. I started out under the Mage to make my magic skills level quickly, but lately I’ve switched to the Warrior sign because my weapons and armor skills weren’t leveling enough.
- You can do pretty much anything you want in Skyrim. In all the time I’ve put into the game so far, I’ve only done a couple of main plot quests. So far, I’ve joined the Mage’s College, the Bard’s College, and the Companions (like the Fighter’s Guild), and I recently discovered the Thieves’ Guild. You can buy houses in five different cities, and there are a lot of little things (magical and mundane) that you can do around towns.
Inside jokes/easter eggs are also fun. I’ve read about a lot of easter eggs that I’m looking forward to finding, such as a Notched pickaxe (a nod to Minecraft) and this reference to the absurd amount of calipers in Oblivion (I’ve actually seen this one in game.):
- There are plenty of random quests to help you get some gold and good loot. Bored with all the important quests you have? Go talk to the steward or an inn keeper and say you’re looking for work. They’ll send you off to take out a bandit with a bounty on his head or to collect stuff for them. Not the most interesting work, but it pays the bills and gives you another excuse to run around Skyrim and explore without the main quest tying you to a path.
- Quick travel is really nice. Some purists may argue otherwise, but I love it. Plus, for some reason it seems dragons like to spawn when I quick travel. Correlation doesn’t prove causation, but it happens to me a lot.
I think I’ve covered most of my thoughts on why Skyrim is awesome so far, but now let’s talk about a few issues I have noticed.
- The menus are really glitchy on the PC. In dialog and in the general menus, I often find myself somehow not getting the option I intended to select if I mouse over it. The text will highlight, but unless I scroll through the text with the arrow keys or scroll wheel, the menu doesn’t always register that I’ve moved from the previous selection. This gets really annoying when I’m trying to go through my inventory, ask questions, sell items, etc.
- The Tab key doesn’t always close the dialog menu like it should. Fortunately. there’s also an exit button to click, but I didn’t figure out it could be clicked until this glitch happened.
- The voice acting, while much better and more varied than it was in Oblivion, is a little…off. Sometimes, the characters slip in and out of accents. For example, I did a quest where a Dunmer came along to help me clear out a temple. Most of the time in actual dialog where I got to select responses, he had a sort of Scottish-like accent. Outside of this type of dialog — when I would bump into him and he would just say something — he had a completely different accent, which made him sound like a different person. It was unsettling, and he occasionally dropped his Scottish accent in regular dialog as well.
- Where are the daedra? I’m going to confess now and say I haven’t played much of Morrowind since Oblivion was my first Elder Scrolls game, but at least in Oblivion I’d see the occasional imp, clannfear, etc. outside of the Oblivion gates. Other than atronachs summoned by mages and dremora I encountered in the Azura’s star quest, I haven’t seen any daedra that I can think of. Where are the scamps? I’m hoping for an expansion that takes us to another plane of Oblivion, like the Shivering Isles did, so we can see some more interesting creatures in greater abundance. (Before you can say anything, yes, I know, dragons are definitely interesting. As cool as they are, it’d still be fun to run into more fantastic beings. Maybe I just haven’t gotten far enough into the game yet…)
- So many of the random quests are fetch quests! I said I liked the fact that the random quests exist, not that they happen to make you go fetch 20 grapes or 10 fire salts. I have so many fetch quests that I’m just ignoring right now that my quest journal is full of garbage. At least they’re all under the miscellaneous tab so I don’t have to see them until I want to finish one.
- I always get torn between perks. I really want to get good at smithing and enchanting, but I know if I don’t take those one-handed, light armor, and destruction perks, I’m going to be a weakling and keep getting chucked sky high by giants. I almost wish there were a separate perk system for non-combat skills.
- The in-game map isn’t the most useful thing in the world when you want to go to a city you’ve never visited. Sure, it’s pretty, and I love it for that. However, I like to see clearly drawn road maps, too. I’d like to see an option for turning off the clouds and viewing a road map. A digital version of the hard copy map included with Skyrim is exactly what I would want to use in game.
I can’t really talk about story because, honestly, I haven’t played much of the main story plot. But that’s my take on Skyrim at this point in my progress. I’m really enjoying it; I think those hours of Team Fortress 2 really helped my FPS control confidence, so I’m not nearly as scared of rushing into a room and fighting people as I was when I first played Oblivion.
I still get easily freaked out when I’m wandering through a pretty forest full of autumn colors only to be ambushed and mauled by a troll, but hey, that’s why I quicksave often.