First thing I would like to say is to Bethesda, the creators of this game, "Can I please, please, please have my life back?" No really...can I have it back? Not since Asheron's Call have I been without so much sleep. I even forget to eat. My friends think I have forgotten them. Was going to go see a movie Friday and canceled(gave a lame excuse) just so I could play Skyrim! We did go to the movie(Saturday), but when I got home I couldn't wait to start playing again. I was planning on enjoying a nice evening at home, cuddled in front of the home theater screen and watch the Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor(love the old black and whites)...but nooooooo...Tamriel and the lands of Skyrim were beckoning me. "Come play Kristi...come play...there is adventure here. You know you want to...you can't resist. Come Kristi...come play."
I have played my share of CRPG's, but nothing even touches the mind-blowing, epicness that is Skyrim. Is it perfect, far from it, but what Bethesda has done is nothing short of extraordinary. It truly is a masterpiece compared to other CRPG’s I have ever played. With that said, I will not only be commenting on the awesome parts of this game, but the bad as well...uh-hum...the UI.
So where to start? I like the opening of the game and how it plays out like a movie. I do not like that it opens like a movie and forces you to start in a given spot. LOL! Yeah I know, weird huh, but for me, I think it should have been optional to start out as we see fit. That to me would have been better than forcing us to “have” to start out in one given spot. Skyrim is a huge open world, with so much to do(exploring, crafting, hunting and more!), other than just the main story line, that it just seems sorta short sighted on the part of Bethesda not to just allow us to create a character and plop them down into the world as we see fit. This game screams openness and sandbox game play. It should have the option to start out as such. Just my opinion - take it for what it is worth. Not that the opening was bad or anything, it’s just that once you’ve played through the cinematic once Bethesda should have put in the option to skip it if you like.
Graphics in this game are truly beautiful, stunning, and awe inspiring. From the snow capped peaks, to the green forest, everything about the world of Skyrim is just jaw dropping, eye candy. The only thing I have a gripe with is that the water in this game still has no shoreline foam or water lapping at the shore. Water seems to just abruptly merge with land or whatever. Think this needs some work. Speaking of water..one thing they got right is the rivers have current and waterfalls are works of art in themselves - just beautiful to look at. Cool thing about currents in water - it really does work. Next time you kill a bandit, toss them in a river and watch the current of the river carry them away. Very cool..in a morbid sorta way.
Speaking of graphics, OK maybe I have a couple of gripes, the only other gripe I have is that I do not think they used enough poly’s for rocks - there are still some rocks that have the typical graphic straight edges. Wish they could have found a way to minimize this. Don’t get me wrong, from a distance the mountains and rocks are like looking at the French Alps or Swiss Alps...just gorgeous, but close up - needs a little work.
Animations for the most part are really well done, especially the critical hits your character might make in melee combat that go all cinematic Matrix - very epic. The rag-doll deaths add a lot of depth and immersion and that is key to what makes a game like Skyrim so awesome is immersion. It is really good at immersing the player into the world. I do think the dragons are epic, but their flight and jerkiness of motion needs a little more polish. I saw some weird animations they did while flying that broke the immersion, but all in all - I was staggered the first time I saw and fought a dragon(and at night no less). Never in any game did I ever feel as though I was participating in something so very epic - fighting a dragon! Not just any dragon...but a Skyrim dragon that actually looked and behaved like the dragons we read about from tales of old. I love the way the dragons look and their dynamic behavior is unsurpassed. Just brilliantly done. This only makes Skyrim unique, even moreso, for no other game I have ever played had a MOB behave as the dragons do in Skyrim. These things have some incredibly scripted AI’s. Dragon’s sleep in this game! How cool is that?! Do not think climbing down a hole or into a tower will save you from a dragon either. Their necks are long and I once had a dragon stick his head into the opening of a rock structure I was in and let loose with a blast of his dragon breath. Needless to say my character, with nowhere to run, was BBQ’d but good.
I’ll make my list later to cover some things that should have been animated and are not...this game in my opinion falls short in what it could have been. It’s still awesome - so don’t get upset, it just could have been better. Before I go any further, let me make one thing perfectly clear, as anyone that knows or reads my blog, I will always be open and say whether or not something could be better - because if the developers put it in game and only half-arsed it(and this is my opinion mind you) they could have put in the extra time to do it better or right. OK we’re clear on this right? Good.
Game play in Skyrim is to say the least, dynamic, open, and a serious breath of proverbial fresh air. Though the previous Elder Scrolls games had this same feel, they still did not capture(in my opinion) the seemingly, seamless way in which you can easily get lost, turned around, and way off course on your way to your goal. So many times in this game have I been on my way to do something specific only to find myself deep in the ground crawling through a dungeon, my mind having completely forgotten that I was to go to Riften to meet with some guy, because I was so enthralled in what I as doing that I was totally immersed in the moment. Skyrim is like that...and no other game I have ever played, ever, ever, has me literally going - “Oooo..shiney”...with every other step. In my 50+ hours of playing so far never once have I finished a quest I picked up from an NPC before I find myself sidetracked, treking up a mountain pass, or traveling through a wooded forest, off doing something other than what I sat out to do. Sometimes I just get caught up collecting herbs for alchemy, or hunting deer, or just following a path because it looked like a cool place to explore. Sure even past Elder Scroll games did this, but Skyrim does it better - Bethesda really hit this game out of the park when it comes to the sheer playability of their world. It is big, it is full of wonder and adventure the likes of which rival in the biggest of games - even MMORPG’s! In fact if there is one thing MMORPG’s could learn from Skyrim, your world does not have to be littered from wall to wall with MOB’s just standing around to be slaughter. Make them dynamic, make them roam, make them an active part of the world - it makes the gaming experience deeper, more enjoyable and far more challenging.
Take for instance some of the more hostile creatures one might encounter in this game, a sabre cat. You’ll never find a dozen sabre cats roaming in an area the size of a football field waiting for some player to come along to whack them with a stick. No, these cats have territories they roam in. They hunt. They sleep. They will attack you from the bushes. Had one do just that. Scared the bejeezes out of me. Scared my roomie as well. Hehehe...she was like, are you OK, because I screamed so loudly. It was at night in game and my character was walking along this mountain road when suddenly from the bushes my character was ambushed by this sabre cat. It is game play like that that makes Skyrim so very awesome.
Speaking of dungeon crawling...thank you Bethesda for bring back this part of gaming - in a big way! You continue to excel at making dungeon crawling fun and have us begging for more! Thank you for the traps, thank you for the puzzles, thank you for doing what others fail to do. Now give us more!
NPC’s in this game have lives. They eat, they sleep, they work. They talk amongst themselves. They also help bring Skyrim to life. Oblivion was like this and it really helped make the game world seem more immersive.
Immersion...immersion, immersion...when you can immerse a player into a virtual world the way Skyrim does, that is an awesome thing. It has been said that Skyrim’s game play and world would not port well into an MMORPG setting...oh, and don’t tell me this kind of game play will not work in an MMORPG - this is exactly what the MMORPG genre needs, open worlds, dynamic worlds, dynamic MOB’s, none of this stagnate BS the plagues these games these days.
When people say Skyrim is the best MMORPG that is not an MMORPG, there is a reason for that - because the MMORPG designers have lost their way. They forgot what RPG stands for and the forgot that MMORPG’s are built on worlds - not sterile, stagnate, chat rooms with quest hubs. Sure it would take a little tweaking here and there, but a world like Skyrim would be possible in an MMORPG. Skyrim as is would not work at all as an MMORPG, but a co-op version would be awesome. As for an MMORPG...it really just needs some things changed here and there in order for a game like this to work as an MMORPG. Games like this use to exist, one was called Asheron’s Call the other was Dark Age of Camelot. Though Dark Age of Camelot is still guilty of having the stagnate MOB’s waiting to be whacked on - it was a far cry better and immersive world than those games that came after it.
Enough of that. I have repeatedly said this time and time again. Give us an open world, let us customize our character and develop our characters as we see fit, and let us play the way we want, and people will play the bejeezes out of your game - Skyrim is proving my point loud and clear - nuff said.
One thing that is clear though, this game was made for the console gaming systems, and the PC port seems to have been an after thought. You can tell this right away from the way the game handles PC movement and the UI. The UI for the PC is atrocious. Is it workable? yes. Can a PC game get use to it? Yes, but that is no excuse for the lack of PC UI and control system we PC gamers have to deal with. The least they could have done was give us totally mappable keys - for everything. They didn’t. Sorry Bethesda, but you really messed up here. I hope you put out a patch that fixes this mess, sooner, rather than later, because as it stands right now the one really bad thing that hurts this game in the end is a crappy UI for PC gamers. Bethesda gets an F in PC UI for this game.
Saving a game with multiple characters is a nightmare...really it is. It is bad enough that the UI is borked, but there is absolutely no excuse for how Bethesda just slapped the save game system on this game without any forethought whatsoever. There should be a way to save games by naming them oursleves, plus, we should be able to save games under different characters without them getting all mixed up with other character saves. Absolutely no excuse for this at all. Bethesda gets an F here as well.
There is another aspect of this game that is beginning to get on my nerves and that is the fast pace at which we level and obtain gold. Doesn’t matter what you do, you gain EXP. Gold can be found in the oddest of areas - why does a sabre cat have gold on it? I can see that in a short period of time my character will be a rich, demi-god. There should be away to adjust the speed at which we level and there should have been a way to adjust the amount of coinage is rewarded in game. My character it seems has all ready gathered over 40k in gold! That is insane.
Here is what I wish they had done. You no the difficulty settings for the game. It should make the game more challenging across the board. That means less EXP rewarded, less gold found, prices in shops would be adjusted so that it requires a player to actually have to be challenged to get gold in order to buy the more expensive items. Crafting would also become more challenging.
Going to have to say that after spending some time in this game , and don't take what I am about to say as being a bad thing because the game is awesome as is, but OMG Bethesda missed a "golden" opportunity. We have crafting, enchanting, alchemy and what not...Bethesda could have made this part of the game much deeper and more challenging. How you may ask?
Simple. Not all Blue Mountain Flowers are the same. Blue Mountain Flowers from high pastures is better than the ones from say lower elevations. Also, coaxing the main ingredient from the Blue mountain flower should be a required process. For instance, should you boil the flower in water or maybe some other medium? Once you have figured this out then you can refine it to get the best quality ingredient to make a good potion from it. Same goes for any of the ingredients in the game. How do you ground deer antler for powder and what should I use, a granite mortar and pestle or a marble mortar and pestle?
What about crafting leather? There should be a chance that when you kill a leather bearing animal that depending on how you killed it - the leather might be too damaged to make use of. On top of that, what leather type makes the best light leather? Deer hide, wolf pelt, fox? What makes the best leather straps? In other words Bethesda should have taken crafting further in this game then they did. From my experience they took the easy route and just like most games - there is not thinking involved required...just do this x number of times and you'll get better. That is all good and well, but there should be more to it by adding in these little variables of quality and types...this would go a long way into making crafting, alchemy and enchanting that much better.
As it is now...it's OK - but oh how I wish they had really taken the time to make it better and more challenging. Wheew...is this a log winded or what? I know it is a lot to take in, but a game like Skyrim deserves this kind of attention.
Back on topic, what I am getting at is, this game...once you get to a certain point becomes too easy - even on Master setting difficulty. That should not be the case. Dragons, of all creatures in the game should be a real pain in the arse to kill, but even I am finding that the higher in level I go the easier it is to deal with them. Dragons should never be easy to kill - period - end of story. I’ll back up that argument by saying, when a creature such as a dragon becomes to easy to kill it loses it fright factor. They no longer scare the crap out of you, they more or less become a nuisance. Dragons, bears, trolls, giants, sabre cats, mammoths and other certain MOB’s should never be easy to kill. They should be killable, but when a character is getting to the point where they are able to three and two shot such creatures and they are barely half-way through the game - something is wrong. I do not want to be a demi-god in the game. I want a challenge. In this I can all ready see it being a problem. I really wish Bethesda would make difficulty settings actually mean difficult and not just meaning that things are harder to kill, but make the whole game more challenging, from combat, to crafting, to leveling, our characters should have to eat, sleep and weapons and armor should degrade over time and abuse and need repaired. Oh and wait, the one thing I forgot. They need to have autosave...but not like it is in game. It should be like this.
As the game is now, you can auto-save, have the game save at different times and moments(like when you travel or enter a new location) . In hard mode the game would save, in one file, like any MMORPG does - or like Mount and Blade. No starting over. What happens, happens and that is that. You can add re-spawning to the game. Just add spawn points, spawning stones(like Asheron’s Call) if you like and when you character dies, they re-spawn at the nearest spawn point - sans gear. Yep, that means you are nekkid. Now as a player you have a choice. Either make a B-line back to where you perished to reclaim your stuffs(unless a bandit attacked you and took some things) or you can run back to town and re-gear up to go find your old body and get back what you may have lost. That - that is challenge. That can make death sting. Imagine getting jumped by a group of bandits. They kill you. You re-spawn a few miles away. In the meantime, the bandits have looked through your belongings and taken the items they feel are of value to them. Upon returning to your rotting corpse, you have a choice, do you go after he bandits that took your stuff or right it off and scrounge up some new stuff? That is how this game should be - in my opinion...and that is what a difficulty setting at *Master* should be like.
Since I am on the topic of combat and challenge, this game almost...almost gets it right. If Bethesda really wanted one aspect of this game to shine, it would have been combat. Though I am satisfied with how the games combat works I can’t help but feel that they didn’t take it far enough. I really wish the designers had spent time playing a game like Mount and Blade. If they really wanted to have a dynamic combat system in this game, Mount and Blades melee and combat from horse back is extremely hard to beat and would have made Skyrim’s combat perfect. It is not all that different from what the designers have in game all ready, it’s just deeper and adds some different weapon fighting styles that Skyrim doesn’t have - spears and pole-arms anyone? What about throwing axes? Throwing knives? How about archery from horse back? What about using a spear or lance from horse back? Now that would be cool...very cool.
Shields in Skyrim work, but they still do not function like shields should. Skyrim could use, again, Mount and Blades version of how a shield should function.
I have so much more I could discuss about this great game, the good and the bad, but OMG it would fill pages and pages. I do not think anyone really wants to hear me ramble on more and more about the game. So at the end I'll add my wish list for people to see what I would like added to the game. What it is is an awesome RPG, with some flaws, but there is one thing for absolute certainty - this is not your ma and pa's RPG - this is SKYRIM!!!
I give Skyrim a solid 8 out of 10. :)
Kristi's Skyrim Wish List
Adding my wish list to this entry. I can only wish some modders read what I have written and mod Skyrim to play similar to how I described and the things on my wish list...that would make me one happy gamer!
1) Please Bethesda put out a co-op/multiplayer expansion!
2) Add all the lands of the world in expansions Bethesda - I'd pay for those expansions in a heart beat! Don't care if it takes up a 500GB I'd by a new HD just to add them!
3) Give us the ability to feed, groom and tie up our horse to a post. Also be able to lead it while walking by holding the reins in the hand. Immersion purposes, and give our horse a buff to speed - a well groomed, fed horse is a happy horse - so he can travel faster!
4) The ability to make a camp out in the wilderness.
5) I'd like some quest like being a caravan guard.
6) Wish to be able to set up a shop and hire an NPC to run it!
7) Make dragons harder to kill. They need to scale better.
8) We need our characters to get hungry - why bother with cooking if we never really need to eat what we make. A characters stamina and health should be effected when they forget to eat and sleep for that matter.
9) Allow for us to catch and tame pets. How cool would it be to have a beastmaster skills in this game. The ability to have animals as companions. Imagine being able to have a hawk or an owl as a companion for your magic-user. Maybe a wolf as companion to your ranger type character. :)
10) Add tracks to when our characters walk in the snow or mud. They will dissappear over time...but that is one thing I think should have been in the game from launch.
11) Add tracking to the game.
12) Add climbing. Thieves, assassins, and ranger type players should be able to make use of different means to climb cliffs and structures.
13) Add combat from horse back.
14) Add the ability to talk to NPC's from horse back.
15) If my character kills an NPC out in the middle of nowhere and nobody saw me do it...than I am the only one that knows I did it. Stop having the guards in towns know what I did and they were miles away!
16) Give us the ability to upgrade from the house to a keep or maybe a tower and then be able to hire henchmen to guard it.
17) Cloaks with hoods - we need them. ^_^
18) Have weather effect our characters travel speed, health, stamina and combat.
19) Let our characters wear more than one ring.
20) Add better ballistics physics to archery.
21) Add fortune telling to the game. By visiting a fortune teller you'd get a simple buff or debuff depending on the news one might receive. Can do it once a day. ^_^
22) Add mini games. Like in a tavern - darts, daggers at 20 paces. Archery contest. Arena's! Let players compete for a purse in arena style combat - like in Mount and Blade.
23) There needs to be a skill tree regarding traps. With perks like find traps. Disarm traps. Set traps. Be able to set up different more elaborate traps. I see those bear traps and would love to take a couple of them and lay them out then coax an enemy to chase me. :)
24) Need emotes! Especially if this game eventually goes co-op!
25) A better way to control and place items in our home! If you are going to let us have homes the least they could done was make it easier to move and place things in it!
There is my wish list for now. Bethesda can add these things via expansions. I'd gladly pay for expansions that added more depth, immersion to this game - even if those expansion cost as much as the initial game. :)