Not sure if I wanted to actually buy the newest Elder Scrolls game from Bethesda, since they tend to be (a) buggy and (b) disappointing. I learned my lesson from Oblivion. Or at least I thought I did. Fallout 3 wasn’t that disappointing, and I actually loved it. Although it was more stable than Fallout: New Vegas.
I rented Skyrim from a RedBox for 24 hours. I thought, “Okay, this will break my need to play Skyrim, and show me how buggy and disappointing the game will be.” I had roughly 12 hours to test it out, and I did. However, instead of disappointing me, it did the opposite.
So I went through the intro part, which was pretty good. Pick my race and name. Next thing you know, I’m walking down a mountain with this guy who escaped with me. What’s really interesting is that I keep seeing little markers to places nearby that I haven’t visited yet. I really want to deviate and go hit these places up so they’re on my map, but I decide to escourt this guy to the next village to warn them about the dragon. We hit up the three “companion” stones, which are really just shrines that give you blessings until you use another stone. All the stones in the game you’ll find like this are based off the Elder Scroll constellations that used to determine what kind of one-time bonus you got. Except in Skyrim, you can change that bonus by taking a blessing from a new stone whenever.
Which brings me to my first real love of the game. No classes. You do whatever you want, and it usually levels up a skill. After awhile, your skills reflect what kind of style you’re using. For example, if all I want to do is sneak around shooting things with bows and not wearing heavy armor, I will probably level up Archery, Sneak and Light Armor. If I make a lot of potions and enchant a lot of items, I’ll level up Alchemy and Enchanting. The first three stones I come across help me level up my character according to one of three old heroes – the thief, the warrior and the mage. Picking one means I’ll level up the skills most commonly used by those old classes. However, I can come back later and choose a different one (which shuts down the old one and activates the new one). Anytime I used a standing stone, I get a new benefit. Yay.
Anyway, I enter the village and take the very first mission, which is kind of a social one. I work out a love triange. Woop. So then I go into buy some stuff because I’m supposed to move on to Whiterun and warn the Jarl (pronounced yarl). The dude in the shop sends me on a quest to return with his stolen claw thing. Which ends up being something more than just a claw heirloom thing. I tackle the Barl up on the mountain and hey! I got this mysterious thing called a Word of Power. That’s cool, but I can’t use it yet. So I return the claw thing to the guy in the store and move on to Whiterun.
This is where things get interesting, because now the Jarl wants me to go find this dragon stone in the Barl. Hey, already found it, here you go. Great, but now the dragon is attacking Whiterun tower, so off we go to fight it. After a long battle, I manage to take it down with some frost magic and my sword. The dragon’s soul is absorbed by me, and one of the guards is like, “OMG a dragonborn,” and the captain of the Whiterun guard ( a dark elf ) is like, “What? That’s just a bedtime story.” So the guard encourages me to shout, which I do, and it literally stuns everyone. Okay, back to the Jarl pronto. Fast travel activate.
As I’m entering Whiterun, I hear a loud cry that I don’t quite understand. I’m informed that the other Dragonborn priests on top of this giant mountain just shouted back to me in unison, which means I gotta head up that giant mountain and meet with them. Great, where’s the path up this mountain? Well you have to travel to this town at the base and go up the Seven Thousand Stairs. Uh, okay. Meanwhile a woman comes up to me, since I just became the Thane of Whiterun, and introduces herself as my Housecarl (pronounced hooscarl). Man, this game is sticking to a Scottish/Viking/Danish convention. Basically, she fights with me if I want, and carries my excess stuff (which is awesome because I can barely carry anything right now). I get arrested once for loitering. No, you heard me correctly – loitering. I was in this shop, reading books (not buying them) and I ignored the shopkeeper’s warning to leave because he was closing. After getting into a shouting match, I left the store and ran right into the Whiterun guard. Gotta pay a 5 gold fine. Alright, sure, whatever. Here’s your gold. Can’t the Thane get any love?
I’m level 6, so it’s looking good for a long stroll to the Seven Thousand Steps. Except that it’s a long, long, long trek on foot. Should have bought a horse (1000 gold holy cripes). Had I know, I would have. Because horses are a MUST.
I got lost twice, but I found out you could mine ore from various deposits found in caves and in veins sticking out of the rock. So I got some iron to turn into ingots. The trip is basically this – along a river, past a few ruins, up a short mountain, through a small pass, past another watchtower, around a lake and we’re in that town. I hit up every little symbol on my compass, unlocking three dozen locations for later visits. I went into two caves and did some crazy stuff. Not enough room to carry all my loot.
I get to the town before the Seven Thousand Steps. I get four more miscellaneous quests (one being get rid of a ghost in a nearby tomb and take some supplies to the Dragonborn on the mountain). I kill the guy pretending to be a ghost and grab his journal. Get a sapphire claw for my trouble (ah-ha!). I can now unlock the new Word under the tomb. I try once to climb the steps, but die due to a powerful Frost Troll. Blast, reload and head back to Whiterun.
I did a few more quests, like restore a temple’s tree and killing some vampires to become a member of the Companions (and learn their secret). I just spent my remaining time clearing out a few caves and mapping the vast plains west of Whiterun. I went up to Fort Sunder and was attacked by yet another dragon. Poof, two souls, two shouts! This is kinda cool.
I ended my time by mining a ton of gold ore and then treking back to make gold ingots to make gold jewelry to sell. Earned 5000 gold, so I used that to buy a house in Whiterun. Even had it fixed up a bit. Then I had to quit and take the game back.
– A million things to do, so you never really get bored.
– No bugs that I can tell, no glitches that sent me plunging to my death.
– The shouts are awesome, the spells are cool and smithing is a must!
– Weapons and armor do not degrade. Finally! You can update normal weapons and armor by fortifying them.
– The game is beautiful, and the sound/music is pretty good.
– The story seems to be pretty complicated.
– A million things to do. My miscellaneous quest list was twenty one tasks big when I quit. I’m not sure what to do in what order or if it matters.
– The map is so big that you need a horse to explore it. I only got maybe an eight of the map revealed (most of the south). I haven’t really explored the west, the north, or the far north yet. There’s at least five major cities I haven’t seen.
– OMG inventory. Too much loot, not enough strength!
– The map will not zoom in enough, so you can see trails and things. This is how I got lost twice. It’s kind of “follow the obscure stone trail/dirt road until you find it” type deal. Which may be a bonus to some people (but not me).
This game is huge. I know I have to wait to buy it or I’m going to never play any of my other games (Saints Row the Third comes out TODAY). I only hear praise from the PC guy, as well. Only one crash at the beginning, and after updating a driver, no crashes after 6 hours of play. That can only be a good thing.