At 81 hours into Skyrim (according to Raptr, which is probably pretty close to correct,) I’m one-third of the way through the main questline at level 39, have hit 100 only in Smithing, have resolved the civil war in favor of the Imperials, finished the College of Winterhold storyline, have completed most of the main arc of the Thieve’s Guild line (which is probably a fifth of the whole thing measure in playtime,) finished two Daedric quests, and have done the first couple of Companions quests. I’m a mildy stuck on the latter – I need to complete a Radiant quest to progress further in the storyline, but I let it get away from me and now I’m not sure which quest it is in my journal, thanks to the non-greatness of the interface.
In short, I am nowhere close to my interest level evaporating or running out of things to do, and I haven’t even started an alt yet. (When I do, that guy will be a straight thief.)
The mod scene is still very young. I’m keeping an eye on things but we won’t start really cooking until the toolset releases (hopefully) this month. Right now I am taking a very minimalist approcah, running only SkyUI and Categorized Favorites Menu, which between them improve the default UI a great deal. Moving forward, there’s some really promising-sounding stuff being worked on, and when the toolset is released we’ll see a ton more.
One interesting side effect of playing so much Skyrim is that it’s made me want to play more Oblivion, a game I never put as much time into as it warranted. And Morrowind, for that matter, but I don’t own that and it didn’t show up as a daily deal during the Steam sale; $10 is more that I would like to pay for a game as old as it is, although I will surely spring for it at some point – it’s not as though I don’t have a number of things keeping me busy already. (Also, classes start today, so my time will be much more constrained than it has been for the last few weeks.)
This exercise is most interesting becuase Skyrim and Oblivion are so structurally similar, and playing them side-by-side makes this especially obvious. You’d expect it to be the case, of course, but even such novel elements of the newer game as the randomly-spawning dragons find their roots in its predecessor. Are they really so different than the almost-random Oblivion gates?
The two games have pretty much the same structure, the worlds are designed very similarly, and both character advancement and quest organization work the same way, more or less. The biggest difference between the two lies in the execution; Skyrim improves on Oblivion in every way I can think of, save one – you can’t design custom spells in it. But this will surely be modded in at some point, officially or unofficially, and in every other respect the fifth iteration improved upon the fourth, particularly over Oblivion‘s semi-broken advancement system. and bland, samey landscapes. Sure, stats went away and a couple of skills did as well, but I can’t see that as a particularly troublesome loss. The strength of the series has never been in the depth and complexity of the core gameplay, after all, but in interacting with the world, and I don’t think anything was oversimplifed in comparison with the earlier game.
Because the leveling in Skyrim is much less problematic than in its predecessor, it’s more forgiving when it comes to playing the kind of ultra-broad character that I’m always tempted to play in an Elder Scrolls game. For Oblivion, then, I started a fresh new character, with a lot of mods installed but not any that change the level scaling (I realize this goes against the conventional wisdom,) and will be doing strictly mage stuff with him, with maybe a splash of thief stuff as well… and completely ignoring the main questline for now. Which I am also doing with Skyrim, more or less.