In the northern part of the world lies the land of Skyrim and her people. Given her harsh climate and vicious creatures that reside within her, you would expect her people to be equally vicious and harsh in their nature. Yet this is not true. The people of Skyrim share many similarities with most peoples of the world. They are Fathers and Mothers whom only wish to see their children achieve a greater life than they had. There are some that merely wish for the freedom they have heard so much about in the stories told by a winter’s fire. Others merely want order and to rest soundly at night knowing that their town is safe due to the watchful eye of the city’s guard. To live in Skyrim is no simple— DRAGON!
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim is Bethesda’s latest edition to their RPG franchise. Look, there’s no point in beating around the bush so I might as well just come out and say it. Plain and simple, Skyrim is fucking awesome. The spiritual successor of Fallout 3 and Oblivion, Bethesda has learned from their mistakes and delivered the best RPG I have ever played. The world is beautiful and huge, the characters are memorable, and the combat has been overhauled and is actually fun unlike Oblivion. Sorry if I offended anyone but Oblivion’s combat sucked. Anyway back to Skyrim.
Welcome to Skyrim
You start off the game on the way to your execution. So you know, things are looking up. Immediately you are introduced to the main plot of the game; Imperials vs Stormcloaks, and dragons. As the only known dragonborn it falls to you to save Skyrim from utter destruction. The main story of Skyrim is one of my favorite parts of the game. Both the Imperials and the Stormcloaks have their pros and cons, and both sides will try to use you to their own ends. I loved the feeling of not hating either side and then having to choose between them.
As for your character you can be pretty much whatever you want to be. Want to be a stealthy lizard-man with a bad ass 2 handed mace? You can do it. Want to be a viking that wears heavy armor, uses a broad sword, shoots lightning from their finger tips, and is also a werewolf? Then we should hang out some time because that’s exactly the character I was.
Companions are a welcomed additions to the Elder Scrolls series that Bethesda incorporated from Fallout 3. They do fall into the same problems as they did in Fallout 3 though, like standing in a doorway and not letting you leave the room. For the ones that I found, I enjoyed them all and liked their stories. Although I did begin to long for Fawkes at one point. I miss you giant yellow mutant friend!
It’s a Whole New World
The term “open world” gets thrown around a lot these days. Skyrim is the textbook definition of open world. That is to say “An open world is a type of video game level design concept where a player can freely roam a virtual world and change any factor at will.” See that mountain over there? You can climb to the very top. Think the guy you’ve sworn to protect is a emo douche? Well then kill him. Sure you might leave the rebellion leaderless but at least you’ll be happy. I kid you not, if you want to work a grain mill or catch some butterflies you can.
Now if crafting is your prerogative you will be happy to know that there is plenty for your to craft. My favorite part of crafting is the upgrade ability where you can upgrade a weapon or armor to “superior” quality(for example). That way if there is a piece of armor you really like you can keep wearing it. Plus with Bethesda’s Creation engine items and the world look amazing. The rivers are majestic and the mountains are rugged and beautiful. On a personal note, whoever is the guy that designs the trees in Skyrim did a really good job. Way to go tree guy, you should be very proud of yourself.
It’s not the big things, but the small ones that really make this game feel like a real world. The conversations people have as you pass by and how people react to you using your shouts(I’ll get to those in a bit) all makes Skyrim feel like a legitimate world in which your character inhabits. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Skyrim has more than 12 total actors. And I’ll be honest, there is just something awesome about having Michael Hogan and Vladimir Kulich trying to kill each other.
My few complaints would be the facial animations because they still feel a bit unnatural. Although they are much better than they have been in previous Bethesda games. The characters also don’t seem to have much body language which can be disappointing. And the horse animations drive me crazy. I know they are suppose to be more like draft horses but they don’t feel natural at all. This is probably just me complaining since I grew up around horses though.
Set them on fire or just stabby stabby?
The character progression in Skyrim is much better than Oblivion and Fallout. Your character will get better depending on how you choose to play them. In my play though I was trying to just play a warrior but found myself frequently using destruction spells and enjoyed that the game would point out that “hey buddy looks like you like lighting things on fire, why don put a perk in it?” Perks are points you get each level to to place into one of your skills like destruction or heavy armor. They modify you skills in ways like spells of that school cost less mana or you get a better bonus to your bartering.
But let us not forget about shouting. That’s right shouting. In Skyrim you being the last dragonborn has given you the innate ability to learn shouts that can do anything from summon a thunderstorm to slowing down time. Only you, dragons, and a couple old guys on a mountain have this ability and it’s what really sets you apart in the world. To learn new shouts you have to find the words of power for that shout(usually at the bottom of some cave) and kill a dragon to gain the knowledge of their soul. Most games will tell you that your character is special but the shouts really do make you feel unique.
You can’t make me leave!
I put a solid 70 hours into the game for this review and I still see no end in sight for things to do in this game. Even with the facial animations and occasional bug, I can honestly say Skyrim is the best RPG–no the best game I have ever played. And with the fluid leveling and combat design I would even recommend people who don’t like RPGs to play this game. It’s that good.
Prepare to not see your loved ones or social life for a while. Skyrim gets 5 giants who–DRAGON!…. Nope never mind my bad, that was just a werewolf fighting a troll. 5/5.