Written by Cole Burton Tuesday, 20 December 2011 06:00
I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t have cared any less about Skyrim just a few short weeks ago. While I am a huge RPG fan and love Bethesda, I expected way too much out of Oblivion. When I bought it, I couldn’t wait to dig right in. At risk of losing a fan or two with this line, I’ve got to say, I hated Oblivion. Since then, I’ve clung to Fallout 3 and New Vegas from Bethesda. After a well-deserved second chance, I have come crawling right back to The Elder Scrolls.
As I already stated, I expected little out of Skyrim. I expected even less after I heard about all of the bugs in the PS3 version. Too be fair, it’s a massive game early in its release, and I expected glitches. Every great title from Bethesda has them, and they heal over time with patches. I suppose I’m one of the lucky gamers in that I have only encountered a game freeze once and a minor glitch here and there. Nothing game shattering...not yet anyway.
I don’t exactly know what it was about Oblivion that turned me off so much, and after playing Skyrim, I may go back and give it another shot. But for now, let’s talk about the task at hand. Skyrim starts strong in the middle of two great powers. There are many different groups to join, but the two main powers fighting for the land of Skyrim are the Imperial Army and the Shadowcloaks. The strange thing about these two sides is that there is no clear choice between good and bad. Both sides have skeletons in the closet, and this will make your decision of who to join that much more difficult. Luckily, this decision doesn’t have to be made right away. A short term alliance with either side will not harm your chances with the other side if you change your mind, as I did.
Of course, you can put off joining a side for a long, long time. As you can with the rest of the main storyline really. When you hear people talk about the 10,000 side quests of Skyrim that is hardly an exaggeration. I told myself I would play in to the main story quite a bit before straying off the path, but that was much harder than I ever could have anticipated. Talk to anyone, go anywhere, do anything, and there’s a good chance an odd job will follow. And, most of the time it pays off. The rewards for these missions vary from a little bit of currency to some great weapons.
Throughout Skyrim you will be fighting enemies, slaying dragons, and adding to your ever growing inventory. As a Dragonborn, you are able to use “shouts” in the dragon language as special powers. With the proper work and training, these powers will just expand and strengthen. Along with the shouts, you have some amazing spells to rely on. Personally, I prefer a greatsword and some resilient armor, but different situations call for different presets. This being said, the developers made it easy and quick for us to change our arsenal. Rather than pausing the game and choosing from a large list, you can press the down button on the directional pad and equip one of your “favorites.” I love this feature for quick changes from sword fights to archery.
Like in previous Bethesda games, there are all sorts of attributes to work at. Say you like to pick the locks of treasure chests or locked doors. This will not only improve your lock picking skill, but your overall level as well. With the right amount of experience gained from battles or attribute work, you can increase your health, magicka, or stamina. And, you can increase any of your attributes. This can even lead to improving them in more ways than strength and speed, as you can end up doing completely new things with them after some work.
Looking back, maybe Oblivion and I couldn’t get along because I played way too much Fallout 3 first. Maybe I preferred the story, the environment, or the weapons. All I know is I love Fallout, and I am beginning to love The Elder Scrolls. I could go on and on, but I don’t know if I have the right to. I may have lost most credibility of my readers right from the title. But, the moral of the story is this: Oblivion haters, if any others exist, give Skyrim a chance. Then maybe, just maybe, go back and give Oblivion a chance.