Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 11:29PM | IrishPride
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not only the most recent iteration of the Elder Scrolls franchise, it's also one of the best open world RPG's out there today. While you will find the occasional glitches Elder Scrolls is known for, they will definitely not detract you from one of the best games out this year.
Many of you out there already know about the Elder Scrolls series. I'm sure there are a lot of gamers, like me, that sunk hundreds of hours into Oblivion. Well, kiss your real life goodbye with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Skyrim is a beautiful, breathing world. Travelling across the frozen tundras on my mighty stallion killing bandits along my travels never gets old. Sometimes I just stop to take in the scenery. While some of the textures are starting to show its age close up; Skyrim is supposed to be enjoyed by the vast expansion it truly is. I can almost guarantee that during your travels in Skyrim, you will stop on top of a cliff overlooking a beautiful waterfall.
Bethesda again did a fine job in creating the world of Skyrim. Everywhere you go, from one of the nine major holds, to a deep, dark dungeon, the world truly feels alive. Random people will run up to you asking you for a moment of your time while they ask you to get something for them. A beggar may beg for a few spare coins from you. If you killed someone important earlier in the game, you may overhear a couple of townsfolk talking about it. The world does not feel like it has been copied and pasted. Everywhere you go will feel new and fresh; even if you've been to the same city countless times.
There are a lot of open world games out there that allow you to explore, but the majority of the world is not worth exploring. In Skyrim however, you actually want to look around because the living breathing world that is out there, you'll never know what you will discover. You'll want to cross the blankets of ice on a treacherous path just to see what's waiting for you on the other side. It could be an unexplored cavern, or a bandit settlement waiting to be pillaged, or it could just be a sheer cliff where you fall off and meet your untimely demise. Either way, it's rewarding to discover what the world of Skyrim has to offer.
While the world of Skyrim is a beautiful winter wonderland, there are still outdoor areas that are green and lush with life. I personally love the Nordic climate of Skyrim. I absolutely love travelling across the country in the middle of a blizzard. Nothing compares to the feeling of the vast size of Skyrim when you get caught in a blizzard. It's quite entertaining to be galloping through a snow storm and stumble onto a bandit that you couldn't see because of the lack of visibility. Of course I killed the bandit and took his clothes. That's what he gets for being a speed bump.
Another great concept of Skyrim is the random dragon encounters that happen, well, randomly. When I first started playing Skyrim I was excited and looking forward to my first dragon encounter. After sinking sixteen hours into the game, I found it kind of strange that I had yet encountered a dragon. Well, I discovered that you have to do a couple of the main story quests in order to "activate" the random dragon encounters. But after I did this, the random dragon fights were here. I still remember my first encounter. I just finished looting a bandit and all have a sudden the dramatic score kicked up and saw a huge shadow all around me. I looked up and saw the dragon! I was so excited and ready for the ensuing battle. I was near a town when the dragon attacked and it was cool to see the town guards and townsfolk take up arms and help kill the dragon. Another aspect of showing how alive the world is, the people of this town did not want their homes to be destroyed. We ended up killing the dragon and was so ready for my other random encounter. It is much more satisfying killing a dragon in Skyrim then it was closing an oblivion gate in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
The world of Skyrim is beautiful, but the sheer size of it makes it possible for the numerous bugs to rear their ugly heads. I have The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for PC. My computer is a beast and has no problem running the current games out there on the highest settings. I, however, found a few occurrences where everything would drag. After fast travelling to an area, the game sometimes slowed up to a crawl and the only way to fix this was to alt+tab out of the game and back into the game. A minor occurrence, but annoying nonetheless. Another glitch I came across was when I was trespassing and stealing loot from some person's house, the homeowners caught me from the floor above. I was literally looking at the ceiling with their voices yelling at me. Just reloaded my last saved file, tried it again and everything worked correctly. A rather entertaining bug was when some of the characters had neon green bodies, you could see them from a mile away! You will find a few minor bugs and glitches throughout your travels, but they are nothing that will deter you from the overall experience and there is going to be a patch very soon that will fix a lot of the bugs.
I could go on and on about the world of Skyrim. It is a beautiful world that truly feels alive. There are hundreds of locations to explore and exploring is half the fun in Skyrim. Every new location, every new corner you turn, you have absolutely no idea what you will discover. The world is very, very large and I have never felt that I have to travel from place to place. Quite the contrary, I felt like I get to travel from place to place.
While the world is a fascinating place to explore, the game wouldn't be much fun if there wasn't anything to do. Luckily, you will have absolutely no problem finding things to do in the world of Skyrim.
If you have played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you know about the four guilds you can join: The Thieves Guild, The Fighters Guild, The Mages Guild and my personal favorite, The Dark Brotherhood. Well, all four guilds have returned in Skyrim (with slightly different names) and they provide a multitude of quests that you can partake in if you don't feel like going down the main quest line.
That's what's great about The Elder Scrolls, once you complete the brief tutorial, you're free to play the game as you see fit. Want to focus heavily on the main story to see what Skyrim is all about? Go for it. Want to simply ignore all the quests and explore and kill random people? No one is stopping you...well, the guards will try.
There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of quests to complete within the world of Skyrim. This is not like World of Warcraft (do people still play that game by the way?) where you will find your quest givers by locating the conveniently place exclamation mark above the targets head. No, you receive quests by exploring the world and talking to people. It always amazes me how I happen to "stumble" upon side quests when I'm simply exploring the lands or talking to the locals. At first glance, all these quests could be very intimidating, but thankfully, your quest log is clean and clear. It's easy to keep track of the quests you want to do and you can even put way points on your compass to point you in the direction you should be heading.
Like I've stated earlier, Skyrim is huge. There are going to be some instances when you are at one end of the world and you're going to have to travel to the other end. Thankfully, there is a fast travel system that allows you to travel to the location you have previously discovered. Also, if you need to go to one of the nine strongholds in Skyrim and you haven't discovered it yet and you don't feel like making the cross county hike yourself, you can always take a "taxi" (horse and wagon) to your desired location for a little bit of coin.
While some of the quests are your traditional Fed Ex quests, or kill a certain target, they really don't feel tedious because of the real world surroundings. You may be tracking down to kill yet another bandit leader, but as you head towards the camp, you may find a unique weapon in a small cavern. Or you may find a poor sap being attacked by wolves. The possibilities are quite endless which makes it exciting to do all these quests.
Needless to say, there are tons of things for you to do in Skyrim. From the main quests, guild quests, side quests, alchemy, smithing, you name it, it's probably in there. Let yourself get engulfed within the world and within the dialog of the quests, they are really quite good, and you may forget what you do in real life. When someone on the street asks you what you do for a living, be careful not to answer "I'm The Listener for the Night Mother for the guild The Dark Brotherhood." You just might get a few odd looks.
Skyrim is beautiful, there is no denying that. However, there are also a lot of big bad uglies that what nothing more than to see you die in horrible, horrible ways. When you're traveling and find a group of people in the wilderness, there's a good chance that they don't want to be your friends. In fact, most people, beasts and trolls you run into will want to kill you. Oh and those pesky dragons. But other than that, Skyrim is a great vacation destination!
Fighting in the past Elder Scrolls game left a lot to be desired. Melee attacks really never felt that they were hitting its target with real oomph and power. Skyrim is not much better, but at least your melee attacks do feel like they are making contact with your foe. Those of you who are a fan of the bow (myself included) will be pleased that the accuracy and weight of the bow feel splendid and you will be defeating your enemies from afar in no time. For all you magic casters out there, Skyrim is the best magic based games of all the previous Elder Scrolls.
The best thing Bethesda did in Skyrim was that they got rid of the class system. When you create your character, you no longer have to worry about what class to be locked in as. You level up your character as you see fit, which is awesome. Want to be the stealthy assassin? Simply focus on the skills that go together with stealth. Want to be a dual-wielding bad ass? Just continue to fight with one-handed weapons and your skills in that department will go up. As you increase your skills through use, you will also gain overall levels which will allow you to spend perk points in the different categories from the stealth tree, combat tree and magic tree. There perk points are a way to customize your character however you want to make him/her. You literally can play as any character. My main character is a stealth assassin that also likes to dabble in destruction magic, must be the pyro inside me.
Another cool aspect of the combat is that you can dual wield anything. What I mean by that is that you can do your normal dual-wielding on one-handed weapons, but you can also dual wield two different spells in each hand or a combination of spell and weapon. When I want to get my magic on, I like equipping a fireball in one hand while having a restoration spell in the other. I can torch fools while healing myself at the same time, pretty nifty.
You will be doing a lot of fighting in Skyrim, but thankfully you're not forced to fight one certain way the entire game. That is, unless you want to, it's really up to you. You'll obviously be better off if you do focus on one path, either combat, stealth or magic, but it's not required.
I still haven't gotten bored or tired of killing my enemies with a well placed arrow to the face. But it is also fun to pull out my two daggers and stabbie stabbie. Or I have fire, nuff said. The combat in Skyrim has not gotten old and at the time of this writing, I've already put over 40 hours into my one character. No matter how you want to go about disposing your foes in Skyrim, it is fun, satisfying and does not get old.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not only the best Elder Scrolls game, but quite possibly one of the best RPG's ever created. It doesn't matter if you have played any of the past Elder Scrolls games as newcomers will feel wonder why they never played an Elder Scrolls game in the past. Veterans of the series will know what to expect in terms of gameplay, but the few tweaks Bethesda has made makes for a better overall experience. If you have a hankering to explore a vast frozen world where there are literally hundreds of things to do, of which you can do at your own pace and a story that will keep you engaged, do yourself a favor and go get The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Just tell your loved ones in advance if you go missing for a few weeks/months/years.
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