Exploring Skyrim

I don’t have enough of a feel for Skyrim yet to offer up anything like a review, but I may, because I foresee this game eating a lot of my gaming time. It is both immense and immersive, and a quantum leap in many ways over its predecessors. It’s everything an MMO is supposed to be except Multiplayer, and addresses all of the issues (or nearly so) that hobbled Oblivion.

Until such time as I am willing to write something more like a review, and to give the spoilers time to leak out and disseminate, I’m going to try to avoid spilling anything at all all about the plot or world, because this is a game good enough that you should play it and find out for yourself. But even so, I have quite a bit to say.

Starting with the fact that it looks simply amazing. It’s probably the best-looking thing I’ve ever played. That it looks as good as it does may actually be a benefit of having been developed for the same generation of consoles as Oblivion. The PC recommended specs are substantially higher, of course, but at the low to middle end anyone with a halfway decent gaming PC ought to be able to run it… and it’s good enough that if I didn’t I’d be willing to at least try to play it with a PS3 controller.

Even so, it’s not what I would call a seamless port from the consoles; the interface is quite usable but opaque in places and clearly designed with the limits of console controllers in mind. Nor is the third-person perspective all I would like, although unlike Oblivion it is playable in that mode. There are any number of criticisms I could offer (and I probably will) but my feeling at the moment is that the positives far outweigh any quibbles.

My character is Eyvind, a Nord warrior but called the Blacktongue for his skill at sorcery and his willingness to not inquire too deeply into the ethics of any particular magics he uses. He is siding with the Stormcloaks not out of any Nord patriotism but because he hates Imperials. So far he’s escaped Helgen, slain two dragons, explored two big dungeons and a couple of smaller ones, become a Thane of Whiterun and ventured as far north was Winterhold. He’s skilled in weapons (primarily one-handed,) skullduggery and Destruction magic, has dabbled in smithing and alchemy, ambushed an Imperial patrol escorting a Stormcloak prisoner.

I’ve put in 10 hours (according to Raptr) and not yet reached level 10. The level scaling in Skyrim works like it was supposed to in Oblivion, opening up a variety of quests regardless of your level but not gimping you if you weren’t handling the progression correctly. I have about five different avenues ahead of me, only one of which is really the game’s main story, and a bunch of side quests that, if they’re trivial errands, at least they’re quick. And many that aren’t.

Skyrim is the first game I’ve ever waited in a line at midnight for and the first game I’ve paid retail price for at release since Warhammer Online. It’s the first game in quite a while that had me saying “whoa” aloud more than once, and it’s early yet. There have already been not one but two patches; one appears to have resolved a serious but not game-busting graphics glitch that I had in my first play session. This game is only going to get better with time and attention from modders, so I won’t blame those who decide to wait to buy it, but right now I’m having a tremendous, tremendous time on the ground floor.

6 responses to “Exploring Skyrim

  1. Nils link goes to a 404 error.

    I’m reading a lot about Skyrim. I’ve seen planty of screenshots and I watched two of the trailers. The appeal is just escaping me so far but at this rate I’m going to end up buying it just to find out if I’m right in thinking it’s not for me. That’s what happened with Morrowind, which I guessed I wouldn’t like and didn’t. I skipped Oblivion.

    Maybe I’ll ask for it for Christmas. At least that way if it turns out I’m right and it’s not my cup of tea it won’t have cost me anything.

  2. Trying to fight off the urge, as I just purchased Witcher 2 a week ago. But everything I am hearing makes it sound like the exact game that I want to play. Exploration of a world that naturally leads to story, vs quest hub hopping. I am sure the melee combat will be similar to Oblivion, which wasn’t that great. But as you said, patches and mods will smooth out any jank this game may have now.

  3. All I can say is that Skyrim is the first single-player game I’ve ever enjoyed remotely as much as a multiplayer game…. and possibly more than most of the multiplayer games I’ve played.