Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A few thoughts on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Beat the main quest in Skyrim after sinking 80 hours into the game. There’s still so much more to do and I’m glad I bought the game and got my money’s worth out of it. The hints of the world are fascinating, especially a book I found that gives an account of a man’s journey through Oblivion, the realm of the Daedra. (I found it during the Black Star quest.) That actually held my interest. Even though I haven’t played any of the previous games, that one book put the whole world into perspective and suddenly I understood just what I was dealing with.



I admit I like the sci-fi theme of the Fallout games more, but I still liked the ability to use magic instead of guns all the time. Sci-fi themes just resonate with me more, probably because they're extensions of logical ideas instead of just romanticizing the middle ages (something I absolutely can't get into).

The stories and characters behind the quests in Fallout 3 and New Vegas made more sense and drew me in more than the ones in Skyrim. Fallout 3 especially. I was more invested in the characters, got to know them better, and felt compelled to help them. That’s what motivated me to do those quests in the first place. The main quest in Novac in Fallout: New Vegas, for example, blew me away and made me cry a little because it surprised me.

I tend to think quantity is not helping these games. More quests and more locations is cheapening them, making them into fetch this, kill that. It started in New Vegas with so many locations and quests I began doing the quests because they were quests and I had to do them, instead of getting to know the characters and their stories and having a desire to help them.

It wasn’t too big a deal in NV, but in Skyrim it’s a huge issue. There’s so much to do and so many people to talk to there's no room for personal connection with the characters, or to care about who they are and why they want you to do something for them. That hurt the game. Fetch this, kill that, it’s a quest so it must be done...

It’s still a wonderful world to explore and I enjoyed every minute of it except for the bug that kept the “A Caged Rat” quest from appearing. Had to use a console command to skip it so I could move on with the main story. That was jarring, but once it was over I got back into it.

I enjoyed the game, but there's absolutely no depth to any of the characters or quests. You don't get to know anybody, so the quests are meaningless. You get so many quests you'll likely be afraid to talk to anybody for fear they'll give you something else to do!

The people have nothing interesting to say, no personality, barely any history, they just give you fetch-this-kill-that quests, so they are also meaningless. I didn't care about anyone in Skyrim except Arniel, who is researching the Dwarf civilization. I shared his fascination with the dwarves so I actually wanted to help him, but that's it! That's the only character I got attached to!

The main story is also disappointing. The final battle is just another dragon battle. That's it? By now the player has already done 30 of these battles, and this dragon battle is even easier because you have companions. The dragon goes after them first, leaving me to cast spells from afar. Some final battle... Dovahkiin doesn't even have to make the stand alone to save the world. Why couldn't those other people defeat the dragon before? Dragon Rend wasn't that useful.

I did enjoy the game, but I'd much rather have just a few quests and more character attachment than a ton of quests, characters and locations with no attachment to anyone. Fallout 3 succeeded in this respect. It drew me into the world, made me care about the people in it, made me want to do these quests and help them. Skyrim failed to do this, opting for quantity over quality. Maybe it's because I'm mostly a sci-fi guy, but I don't think I'm alone in this opinion.

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