I recently had the pure pleasure of playing an epic fantasy game called, “Skyrim.” In the world of Skyrim, you’re the chosen one who has to save the world from an infestation of dragons, while defending yourself from assassins, manipulative wizards, and blood thirsty bandits.
It’s huge. It’s expansive. There are like 7 cities, 50 villages, and 300 towers, ruins and abandoned mines. If you were crazy enough, you could hoof it on foot from one end of the map to the other, and it would take at least a full 8 hours.
Every store owner has a name, unique face, voice, and their little boy, Timmy, was kidnapped by the empire/ rebels/ goblins. I’m blown away at how easy it is to recognize people when they step outside of their store. It’s very immersive and realistic in that sense.
Weapons and fighting styles
There are 3 fighting styles, each wonderful and amazing. There are tons of different weapons and many of them have badass names and histories. Even the weapons have histories.
There are like 20 different skills. You can purchase “perks” in each. I love that the perks aren’t only “20% more damage with a bow.” There is a decent amount of variety such as “draw the bow 30% faster.” The perks are so cool that I want them all. I’m impressed by how well they’ve hooked me.
The music is sweet. I usually ignore it, but when I do listen, it gives me the exact feeling that matches with the setting. It creeps me out in the dungeons. It makes me marvel at the natural beauty. It pumps me up in a fight.
Women are equals
They didn’t have to include this detail. It probably is inaccurate to history. But the game designers decided to make women are equals in every profession. There are women mayors, court wizards, warriors, assassins, villains, gods. It’s no big deal in this universe. Sure there’s a woman carrying 90 pounds of armor swinging a 20 pound two-handed sword; why not? They have dragons. Making it accurate would make it boring. If it were accurate, everyone would be a farmer.
The story didn’t capture me. The problem, is that there’s no urgency. When a character says, “Hurry, we have to catch the bad guy before he leaves town!” you can go to the store and buy some arrows, then pick some flowers, then kill a dragon, then etc. then come back 24 in-game hours later, and still catch the guy.
The voice animation is a little buggy. Sometimes there will be a conversation between myself and two characters. The two characters will look at me the whole time, even when they’re talking to each other. Sometimes there are 5 people in a room, and I can’t tell who’s talking because I can’t see their lips move.
I blame Xbox. I’ve never had luck with aiming on the Xbox controllers. It’s surprisingly hard to pick flowers when you have to look right at them. I wish I just had to walk over them and they would automatically be picked. Dragonflies are my true arch-nemesis based on how hard they are to catch.
I’d say the greatest feature Skyrim has, is the ability to explore. I loved running around from place to place because I was always discovering a new ruin with precious loot. Since the game designers made such a big map, they allow the character to “fast travel” aka teleport to any location the character has been to before. This is actually to the detriment of Skyrim. The map would feel even bigger if fast travel was something that had to be unlocked. Pokemon did a great job of this. For the first out of eight gyms, you have to walk. By the second gym you get running shoes. The third, you get a bicycle. Then you’re given a fetch quest to go all the way back home. It would be a big deal if you didn’t have that bicycle. It makes you appreciate how big the map is, and how valuable that bike it. As the map gets bigger, the modes of travel improve, and there are more reasons to back track. In Skyrim, you get fast travel right off the bat, and walking isn’t even that bad, so there’s no gratitude for fast travel. You didn’t earn it, and you can abuse it to no end. Kids these days and their fast travel!
Revealing the map
It would feel even more like exploring if you couldn’t see the full map at the beginning. Instead we see how big the world is immediately and we know exactly how far to walk and which way to go around the mountain. It should be annoying to travel at first. That’s what would make fast travel all the sweeter once you gained that ability.
I have to nit-pick a few issues with this game
There’s an option that pops up that allows you to sit in chairs. Why? There’s literally no point. It’s just a distracting option.
If you collect ingredients, you can cook food, which restores your health. This is kinda dumb because cooking isn’t a skill, it’s just something you can do. Meanwhile, you can collect dragonflies and flowers for potion making, which is a skill. The food you make will never be as restorative as potions, and potions can do other things besides heal, so it’s almost immediately obsolete as soon as the game starts.
In other games, the computer controlled characters can’t die. In this game, anybody can die. It’s cool because it’s realistic. It’s sucky because a dragon can come out of nowhere and start killing computer characters that you need to talk to in order to finish a quest. All of the sudden you can’t complete the quest. There should be a way to resurrect them, or get a replacement character.