I was a freshmen when the Elder Scrolls first entered into my life. It was 2001, and I was at target looking for a new game. That’s when I came across The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. It was love at first sight, truly. I played the game for hours, I seriously could not put the thing down. I didn’t stand a chance, the game sunk its teeth into me and since then every new Elders Scroll‘s title is quite literally what I game for. Why? I have to say it’s mainly based on how open the world is, how limitless its opportunities seem. I owned Morrowind for a year before I even started on the main quest…I admit, I went a bit overboard. However, the games are just impossibly huge! The Nords were always my race, so the news of Skyrim was an absolute dream come true! Now, just over 10 years after my first introduction, I hold in my hand a copy of Bethesda’s new game, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’ve only played the game for two hours, but already I can tell this is Game of the Year material, but with a few flaws.
I’m going to skip the intro, mainly because I want to avoid as many spoilers as I can. However, it is common knowledge at this point that like many of the Elder Scroll’s titles, you are a prisoner in the beginning. In fact, you are on a carriage heading toward your execution. Character creation in this game has improved significantly since its predecessor, Oblivion. No longer are the faces bulbous and ugly, in fact Bethesda improved upon their Fallout 3 skins and brought a more well rounded build to their characters. Also a vast improvement are the non-human races. No longer do all Argonian’s (Lizard-folk) or Khajiit (Cat-folk) look the same, but with varying colors of fur. Each one actually caries a unique build, with several varying types of cat, or lizard influences. My character however, is a Nord, Kieren Dragon-Heart, I made him large in stature and slightly large in width. He has long red hair, with a long goatee that ties into a knot.
You no longer choose a class for your character, as the developers wanted a more open and free leveling system. Now your character progresses
as you play him. To be honest, this isn’t that different from previous games, in fact the only real difference is they removed the Major/Minor skill system. Now, any skill you increases goes toward your leveling up. I won’t deny that a part of me will miss some aspects of the old leveling system. In Skyrim, when you level you are asked to increase either: Magika, Stamina or Health by 10 points. You are also given a skill point which you can place into any skill tree and unlock an added benefit. This new engine is brilliant, and adds some real depth and uniqueness to the skills. However, you do lose the ability to increase personal stats such as Strength, Intelligence, Willpower, Agility, Speed, Endurance and personality. It makes the character progression simpler, but you lose some of that old-school Dungeons and Dragons feel. Regardless, overall they really did create a great system for this game.
After the events of the intro you find yourself just outside of the town of Helgen, you have some of the most basic arms and armaments and are essentially dumped into the wild with a direction you could head in. Kieren is never one to take orders, so of course he heads in the opposite direction. The scenery is beautiful. All around you the ground is layered in snow. Pine trees are spread about, coated with bits of the icy frost; and like a true Nord my character stands defiant to the cold in nothing more then a loincloth and some boots. Skyrim is gorgeous, the entire game is rich with amazing lighting, and well developed scenery. However, if you look close enough the graphics of this game can be some what of a disappointment. Textures begin to blur the closer you examine them, and although this is hardly an issue, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed about it. It’s not an ugly game, far from it, it’s just not perfect. After a few moments of just basking in the beauty of Skyrim, I head off in a random direction hoping for adventure. Not far from my starting point I notice another Nord in the distance, he’s wearing pretty basic leather armor and has a dog with him. Immediately I want a dog. After approaching him, and not being attacked as I was expected, I find out he’s a hunter. The new dialogue system is definitely an improvement. You no longer go into a menu of dialogue as you talk to characters, better yet, characters no longer stop what they’re doing to talk to you. If they were sharpening their blade, they continue to do so as you chat. The visible menu is also removed, which allows you a better view of the NPC you’re interacting with. The hunter offers to sell me some spare meat from him, and a few pelts of fur, but my character is broke enough as it is. So I part with the hunter, and head north.
Not far from the hunter I come across my first battle(post the intro). I heard the creature, before seeing it, a howl that alerted me to its presence. Then, I saw it charging out from the brush. The wolf jumped me, catching me off guard. However, it wasn’t much of a match for my iron Great-sword. My swung down on the wolf, removing more then half its health. My second attack proved to be quite fatal. I was shocked why my character grabbed the wolf by the throat and thrust his sword in to the belly of the wolf. It let out a howl, then keeled over dead. I almost jumped out of my seat after the execution. Fatalities are new to the game, and add a real sense of barbarism to the rough landscapes of Skyrim. They are somewhat similar to the V.A.T.S kills in Fallout, as several times the battle will enter a slow-mo third-person view as you execute your opponent.
In the end, Skyrim is an excellent game. It’s not everything I was hoping for, but it is everything I expected. If your computer can run the game, I highly suggest purchasing Skyrim for the PC. Why? Because of the wonderful modding community that comes with every Bethesda game since Morrowind. Already, a mere few of weeks after the games launch modding teams have been hard at work upgrading the graphical potential of the game. Still, even if your computer can’t run this game you should get it for your respective console. The Elder Scrolls game are some of the best Open-World RPG’s to date, and are not something you want to miss out on! So go slay some Dragons, or maybe join an Assaassins Guild. The world of Skyrim is yours to do with as you will, and there is so much to do.