Tuesday, 15 November 2011

24 Hours With Skyrim (Sort of)

The original plan was to talk preview Skyrim after having played it for 24 hours, however I never got round to it so now after over 30 hours here it is. I have mostly shunned the main storyline to do side and guild quests instead. So far I have completed the College of Winterhold's quests and the Dark Brotherhood ones too (mages and assassins). After you have done the main storyline of each guild an infinite number of side quests can be generated, which is nice in theory, but means that you will never be able to finish the game and that your journal is overly cluttered. As it is I'm acquiring quests quicker than I am finishing them even though I'm trying not to pick up any new ones so I can finish the ones I have got. Before I restart the main quest I would like to complete the Companions and the Thieves guilds.
My favourite city is Whiterun though I haven't explored the others in as much detail.

My character is a dual wielding mage focusing in Destruction and Enchantment. Enchantment allows me to enhance items to give me more magicka or to make spells cheaper to cast. Enchantment and Destruction work well together and mean that I can cast a lot of powerful spells very often to kill large groups of enemies quickly. As a High Elf I have an ability called Highborn that makes my magicka recharge extremely quickly for a short period of time, so when I get to a boss I can continually attack them until they die. A perk of dual casting Destruction spells staggers enemies so I can pretty much kill anything without it being able to move when I have Highborn activated. This makes dragon fights easy and boring but they are so well crafted in the game it doesn't matter; their animations and sounds are spot on. Playing through the Dark Brotherhood quests gave me access to what is probably the fastest horse in the game, Shadowmere, who seems to be able to face any threat without baulking or even taking damage. It's a shame you can't craft spells in this game as that was one of my favourite parts of Oblivion.
The day a horse and a dog (mostly) killed a dragon.

Despite low textures and poor shadowing Skyrim is still absolutely beautiful, in my opinion, and really benefits from it's unique Nordic inspiration. It's not so much the individual components that make the game beautiful it's how it all comes together to create a vast, detailed and realistic world; the dense foliage, the shifting weather patterns and the different environments all come together to create an immersive world. I have spent over 30 hours in Skyrim and I still feel like I have barely seen anything it has to offer, I have only explored two of the nine main cities in depth and there is still large areas of the map and dungeons I have yet to see. The world is so filled that if you are walking pretty much anywhere from anywhere you will see something on the compass worth visiting, whether its a cave to explore, a dragon to slay or simply a bandit camp. The well documented and often talked about history of Tamriel really adds to the immersion aided by the copious amounts of fiction and the deep lore, available if you are interested enough to go through it.
I'm consistently amazed by what Bethesda have created.

I have been watching Day[9] play Skyrim to see how differently other people play the game to me, though for most of what I saw he played as a dual spell caster so I didn't get to see much of the melee aspect of the game like I was expecting. It wasn't until I watched Day[9] playing that I found out you could sprint, hold objects and assign items, shouts and spells to hotkeys. At the moment I am grinding up my Enchanting and Smithing abilities, in-between quests, so that I can make and enchant some awesome armour and swords to see what melee in the game is like. I'm enjoying dual wielding magic, and it never gets old seeing rag dolls flying across the screen, but I would like to experience all aspects of the game without having to invest time in a second and third play-through for a melee and then ranged stealth character.
I don't always sit back and watch other people fight dragons but when I do I take screenshots.

Obviously in a game of this size there will be glitches and bugs, I have not come across any major ones yet, but I do find small ones ruin the immersion. I dislike the Destruction perk that causes low health targets attacked with lightning to disintegrate, it doesn't look very nice and I can't prevent it from happening. When dragons die their flesh evaporates leaving only a skeleton but with disintegration only a pile of grey ash is left totally ruining the effect. As there are so many quests it is easy to forget the motivations behind what you are doing which makes the experience feel less personal and can make you wonder why you spent so long exploring a particular dungeon. As a mage I don't like that staffs don't have a main attack as well as their ability, for instance I have a staff that summons an atronach but once it has been summoned the staff is useless and I have to switch it out. It may be small but it doesn't list the number of dragons slain in the statistics and I think that would be really interesting to know.
I don't think that giants are supposed to be able to hit you into the stratosphere.

I owned Morrowind on the Xbox but I think I was too young to realise what I had and to understand how to play properly, so it never reached it's full potential in my hands. With Oblivion it was one of the first games I bought on the 360 and was definitely my most loved game as I played through every guild, every oblivion gate and every quest I could find. I think Skyrim outdoes both of those games and will probably be my go to RPG on PC; I don't think I will ever get bored of it's epic scope, well realised world and the sheer amount of quests available. Lets just hope the DLC is more interesting than Horse Armour and not too expensive either, either way people are going to be plying it for a long time.
Just an aurora and the moon, nothing more.

If you liked this post then please follow me on twitter at @RobinTerran. Also check out my other articles, including reviews of Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3 and Battlefield 3. Unfortunately I will never be able to review Skyrim as there is no 3 in the title. Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment below. 

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