Skyrim? Yeah, you might be tired of hearing about that game by now as it really is just about everywhere and everybody and their pets seem to be playing it. Even I was surprised to find everybody on my friendslist to be playing Skyrim instead of some of the other big releases. It was therefore kind of a bother to get my copy late, especially while getting asked many a time what I thought about it. In the spirit of those questions; I’ll give my thoughts on my first 20 hours of the game.
First of all I decided many months ago that I was not going to read up on the game at all as to make sure it’d all be new for when I did get my hands on it. So I went in knowing nothing and was quite impressed with the opening sequence, it looked good, set up the main story and then rapidly just dumped you in the world where you could then do whatever the hell you pleased. So what I did was just start exploring around. Before reaching Riverwood (the first town you’re likely to come across) I first found a castle southwest of Helgen(the starting place).
In this castle, which was a neat dungeoncrawl, I immediately met a bunch of vampires. This was no problem most of the time but I had to really take it slow in one room where whenever I would shoot an arrow at anyone, 6 enemies would aggro and come at me. After a while of taking a couple of shots and hiding, I managed to get them down though. This to me is a core experience on a Elder Scrolls game; you run somewhere, go in it and then meet obstacles that you aren’t supposed to face yet, but you deal with it best you can. I found myself some initial gear and money and proceeded further into the dungeon when I met my first boss; a Master Vampire.
I believe I was level 3 at the time and I could honestly only barely touch the guy, even while using sneak attacks. I tried many times refusing to drop the difficulty from Expert, but in the end I had to give in and drop it to the lowest difficulty just so I could kill him. Moving on from there I followed the quests more as upon going to Riverwood you get a whole bunch of quests leading you all over the place anyway.
As is common in the Elder Scrolls games, there are several guilds and in the 20 hours I’ve currently spent in the game I’ve completed one guild’s quests and only just started a second and have not even come into contact with any of the others. To add to that; I’ve only visited 2 out of the many big cities in Skyrim, which each are bound to have their own series of questchains which so far have all been very good and worth doing. Even normal fetchquests are worth doing as there’s always been something fun to set them apart. Be it the landscape surrounding the area or good dialog, or merely the setting. As such I’m reminded of some bandits who had a mage working for them who complained about their drinking habits, followed by you overhearing drunken bandit talk. It’s something rather small, but it really does add flavor to the area.
The thing that surprised me most is that the actual dungeons have became quite lengthy and some have some unique twists to them; such as traps that will push you off ledges, trapdoors and what feels like a lot more verticality to them. I may be misremembering the dungeons of oblivion slightly, but they were mostly very square and horizontal. The level design really has improved over the years, with hidden goodies in corners, requiring you to make a diagonal jump or turn around and hug the wall to get on a small ledge to reach a chest.
So you get the gist; this game is great all around, but it does have some issues and I’m not talking about “open world jank”. First of all, it seems to crash to desktop after an hour or two, you can actually feel it coming as it starts to bog down. But since you save a lot in skyrim, it isn’t a huge deal, neither are any minor bugs (not run into anything major shockingly). The inventory management is a little frustrating sometimes as everything is sorted alphabetically. This would be an issue if you’re looking for a certain level of potion, in a massive list. It would be more useful to be able to divide them into “health potions”, “magicka potions”, “poisons”, “buffs” etc in this example.
Another thing I found to be rather weird is that a quest had me intimidate a guy, I tried to scare him, but my non-melee character didn’t make much of an impression and thus I had to “brawl”. What does this seemingly entail? Punching, as you automatically raise both of your fists. However you’re free to just grab your melee weapon and conjure a monster to help you out. So what is the point of brawling I wonder?
The final point is that I just haven’t found the mouse controls to be where I want them. This is especially so when you’ve got an arrow drawn, your mouse sensitivity is halved on the horizontal axis, yet unchanged vertically and I’m not sure why it does this.