Archive for May, 2014

The Elder Scrolls Online is now out, and after a break away from Tamriel, it made me interested in returning to Skyrim once again to remember what all the Elder Scrolls fuss was all about.

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was the game for me back on 11 November 2011… That date of 11.11.11. was one of the most exciting ones in my gaming life (later to be joined by learning that Mass Effect 3 was to be released around the time of my birthday a year later). I preordered it well in advance (paying full price despite no preorder extras, and even added the enormous guide book, all whilst jumping up and down with glee), waited on tenterhooks, and then – to my joy – actually received it a day early through the post. I then proceeded to downloaded all the DLCs as they came out — Dawnguard, Hearthfire, Dragonborn — and spent a very long time single-mindedly playing the game to death with a dedication that my employers could only dream of getting from me!

Two characters and an astounding grand total of well over 500 hours of gameplay later (I shit you not, I checked — 350+ hours for first and 150+ for second… and that doesn’t include the times I’ve had to reload after accidentally killing my horse/dog/follower. I knew I had no life!), I’m still playing it and enjoying it. I have recently picked it up once again, after a few months of respite — having playing the pants off a whole load of other games to take a break from it (specifically replying the entire Mass Effect Trilogy once again). After all this time, and playing a whole load of other games, I am still exceptionally impressed with TESV: Skyrim. I have the Xbox 360 version and it’s easily the most impressive game I have for my console. It is beautiful, vast, impressive, never-ending, sprawling — and there is never less than at least 20 quests waiting in my list (not including the miscellanies ones!). One thing the land of Skyrim is not, is boring — there is always something to do, and the one possible negativity is that there is too much to do!

 

 

Back In The Saddle… Literally!

Once I started to get the hang of the rather complicated controller mapping and menus again, I was quite away again enjoying the Nordic sandbox Bethesta created. I was fighting in the Dawnguard with my vampire follower, riding my horse, and trying to build one of my new houses as part of the Hearthfire DLC, whilst planning on getting myself a new little family to play with and greet me when I came home from those long days of wandering Skyrim and slaying dragons with my horse, dog, and chosen follower.

Everything else was exactly how I remembered it. The detail, colour, use of light indoors and outdoors, the change in weather… it is all still beautiful and outstanding — even now, having played it so much, it still does not cease to amaze me, and I still love just sitting and watching it. The music is also something that still holds me captive: Each bard’s song is simple and medieval, relevant for the premise of the game. Each music piece played in-game is beautiful enough that I can sit and listen to it as it plays, and I still love the grand theme tune, Dovahkiin.

The NPCs are also just as odd as I recalled, and they are still as irritating and random as I remembered them to be (having beaten the ass off an Elder Dragon that had come to invade Falkreath, the guards had the gall to walk past with a snide remark of, “Guard might get nervous, a woman approaches with her weapon drawn…” — I mean come on… seriously? I just killed a damned dragon that was about to eat your head, it would be questionable if I didn’t have it drawn!), and the dragons are just as inconvenient when they come swooping in without warning, particularly when after you’ve eaten their soul no one bothers to clean up the bones left behind… However, all this is also part of its charm. When everything looks this gorgeous, detailed and vivid, it really doesn’t matter about the idiosyncrasies of the simple NPCs that lived their simple lives in their simple towns. The game is still so fantastically impressive and all and any such things can easily be entirely forgiven, simply seen just as part of the world created. It’s just the ways of the Nordic life of Skyrim. I guess all the way up here in the northern cold region of Tamriel, they’re just not that smart…

 

 

Life as Dovahkiin

Skyrim Travel Poster

The life of a Dragonborn is as easy or hard as you want it to be. You can do as little or as much as you want, and you can be anything you want to be. It’s pretty awesome to have such a free reign on your in-game life and I thoroughly enjoy making what I want of it. What you can most definitely count on, though, is that there is always plenty to do and enough ways to go about doing it. It reminds me so completely of the days I used to get all my dolls and play make-believe with them all over my bedroom, garden, lounge, or wherever else I wanted to go, where only my imagination was the limit. In Skyrim, I get to do it on a big TV with gorgeous graphics and an entire country to do it in, which is very cool and very fun.

Playing this game just never gets old. One of the biggest reasons for this is that it just never stays the same. Even just having to reload an area can bring a completely different scenario with it. These random events were something I had somehow forgotten all about, and I was taken by surprise a few times by it at the start. Somehow, it had completely slipped my mind that most encounters and the like were not scripted or set in stone, but instead ran by some kind of algorithms in the system. Reloading a save would make certain people or creatures vanish, and others seemingly attack from nowhere — something I had to get used to all over again, which once again upped my esteem for this game. You cannot have the same game twice with Skyrim — or even the same re-load. The exception is the the few scripted encounters where you’ll find certain people, creatures, or items in certain places when following certain quests. But even then, when following the same quests, you do not get the same experience twice.

This is what makes Skyrim so repayable, even nearly two years after first buying it. The wonder it creates is still there, even though I’ve played it to death. The sandbox element of it means it can just never gets repetitive. My Skyrim guide looks more like a well-worn textbook for a Master’s Degree than a simple game guide, with its notes stuffed inside, post-its scattered over pages and bookmarking important areas (this is because I have no patience for looking things up via the index!). I still know and remember where everywhere and everything is, know how to navigate the towns, cities, and Reaches, I love my horse, love my dog, look after my family and housecarls, … So I’ve already probably played it far too much! Of course, this is testament to the great game that Bethesta has made. It never gets old, and the familiarity makes it feel more and more like home, that I live there, that I get to make up whatever stories I want. It’s Minecraft, but without the blocks. There is a skeleton story of a kind in the “main mission”, but it’s thin and you really can even make of that what you will. That is my favourite thing about it — it’s my own game and no one at Bethesta has even tried to tell me how to play. I’m not restricted by anything, and that is what makes this game has to be my ultimate favourite (so far, at least.. There’s a whole new generation to go now!).

 

 

The Game of a Generation

If you have never played Skyrim… Well, I have sympathy for you to have missed this gem! It’s an inspired game that is a never-ending sandbox with never-ending quests, random creatures and meetings, and has stats on everything, including Bunnies Slaughtered (…just who is that evil?!… poor bunnies…) — and where you can have played over 350 hours of it and still be nowhere near completing it.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has to be the most amazing game created for the last generation. It’s vision was inspired, the quality is incredible, and it is a world that is truly immense. It is quite literally the never-ending story that just keeps on going. Just like I will keep going. Because it is simply just too awesome a game to stop playing!

 

One Just Does Not Stop Playing Skyrim