Skyrim Impressions (vague spoilers)

Because if anything, this game is very impressive.

When you hold it against other games from the past 5 years, there is really nothing revolutionary going on. Bethesda didn’t re-invent the wheel with the graphics here, they just threw a bunch of paint on it. Nice thing is, they’re goddamn artists at what they do, that really makes the difference. Skyrim is the smaller of the past three Elder Scrolls games, but is packed from border to border with detail. While it doesn’t have the vast landmass that Morrowwind did, it’s got sights that you would never have seen from Morrowwind. I particularly enjoy the night, and will likely enjoy it that much more when some darkness mods are available. Under a sky filled with stars, a pair of moons, or the aurora borealis from being on top of the world, the night time definitely has the advantage.

It has a very believable manner of telling you odd little stories as well. Things that really make the world feel at least synthetically alive. First time in a city? Chances are you can listen in on conversations or have events unfold right in front of you. Whole story lines start this way because you hear an argument, someone gets stabbed multiple times in front of you, or people walk right up to you admiring your shiny armor. Maybe you’re a bit more on the anti-social side of things. Well, chances are you managed to wiggle your way through at least some of the starting story, but those people around you are persistent little buggers. More than once I’ve had a courier come running down the path at me to deliver a letter begging me for help on some random errand (that turns out to be large quest chains). If you’re not interested in tracking down stories via conversation, Skyrim with offer them up to you on a platter. Ignoring people beckoning, nay begging you to assist them? Not a problem says Bethesda. While you’re out exploring, we’re going to send random crazy dude who hands you a magical shield amidst a bear attack. No, don’t worry about the bear, once you’re done with that, another flustered man will rush up to you asking if you’ve seen someone slightly resembling a random crazy guy who may have been carrying a magical shield. Problem? No buddy, never seen the dude. You want some bear meat? Even the dungeons aren’t safe from some story interaction, more than once I’ve walked into a dungeon with half the place cleared out, or a fight in progress. Why don’t you people go find your own damn dungeons? Skyrim will make you it’s errand-boy-bitch one way or another. Unless you murder them all. Oh, right, Dark Brotherhood. Murdering murderers of murder for hire.

Daedric Princes! One of my favorite things about the past Elder Scrolls games was tracking down these shrines, activating them, and doing all the crazy god errands to win their favor and epic loot. Well Bethesda is no stranger to worshipping strange gods for favor, it’s like a cult I’m told. Skyrim isn’t quite as typical as the other games. Sometimes your interactions with the Daedra are a little bit out of left field. Like the woman who was eating corpses, apparently she wanted me to join their dinner party, oh, and bring a priest. They’re quite tender. Maybe the haunted house where things start flying around and the voices grow more eerie by the moment, so creepy it drives the ghostbuster that dragged you along to the point of murder. Then you murder him. Then you murder another priest. The Daedra enjoy that sort of thing, murder you know. Oh fine, some of them are a little less bloodthirsty, like the one who’s pup has gone missing. You return the poor creature who has been neglected and are gifted a fine axe. You are then commanded to cut off the pups head. Wait. That’s just more murder. Curses! The Daedra are terrible gods! I like them a lot!

My female Breton favors sneaking around in heavy armor with a bow and a pair of flaming hands, though not simultaneously. She even carried around a shield for a little while until my precious Lydia the Meatshield showed up to take those hits like a big girl. There’s nothing quite like the power a bow gives you. Once you get a nice one enchanted, most of your stealth shots are instant kills. If you’re good enough to make long distance shots, you can take out two or three targets before anyone realizes where you’re coming from. Lydia, my darling, loves to play the game where I’ll take a high perch, and once I start firing, she’ll rush into the poor smucks. I need to take a moment to thank Quicksave, because poor precious Lydia has taken quite a few arrows deep into the back of her head. It’s uncanny how often I hit her in the head. Disturbing really. Maybe she’s suicidal. After all I make her lug around all my dragon bones and scales. Oh, and stand in the dragon breath until she falls down. Did I mention my 6th primary skill is healing? On your feet Liddy! No slouching when there’s a dragon to distract! I’m the Dovahkiin dammit!

There’s a terrible lot of shouting, or perhaps a lot of terrible shouting? Shouting terrible things in a dragons language of death and pain. Lydia, why are you in the way again? Don’t you know when I do my uber-knockback shout you shouldn’t be standing at the edge of a cliff? Some of them she shrugs off. I Accidentally. The kill command shout, that lowers their armor and will to live. Spit that one right on her. She literally shrugged at me and brushed her shoulder. What is that?? Surely these designers knew that things like this would happen and coded in a little extra “oops” factor. Oh she’s a saucy lass. With her cold dead stare and impatient tone. Lydia, when you’re caught looking at her, will make you get off your ass and do something. I recall many a time digging around in dungeons for loot and gold, Lydia would clear her throat at me, I would look up, and her face… oh her face in the darkness. Well, let’s say she started wearing a helm. She was shouting with her eyes is what she was doing.

I tried what I could to pay attention to what the fuck was going on throughout, but in the end wandering off to discover locations took hold of me. It’s nice being able to talk to the carriage near stables at major towns to hitch a ride. Does wonders for getting to new areas quickly, but you lose so much flavor when walking around. I highly recommend running everywhere. Screw your horse. If you’re not working on a specific goal, just point yourself in a direction and let er rip. Did I mention the Daedra that wanted me to cleanse her temple so badly that she flew me a couple thousand feet above the ground and threatened me with gravity if I didn’t help? There’s things out there in Skyrim that need to be experienced. Frequently. I haven’t played Rift since the day before Skyrim released (save for tonight at which we downed Alsbeth cause we’re cool kids).

Oh, and don’t tease the giants. They will win.

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