I've been at this for about thirty hours now, and I'm not sure exactly about my goal. I mean, I know what the next quest is that I should
be going on (as far as the story is concerned), rather it's my personal goal that's in question. See, as I move around the landscape on my way to someplace, I find myself distracted by literally hundreds of various caves, grottoes, castles, outposts, bandits, camps, giants herding woolly mammoths, and dragons. I've been doing this for thirty hours. And here is another keep, which I (of course) have
to clear, for no reason save to get a "clear" mark on my map. Man, is that mountain pretty, bathed in the morning sun with the clouds partially concealing the peaks, yet clearly moving...
Oh, man. Where the heck was I even going?
To be honest, I really didn't anticipate playing this game anytime soon, regardless of the age. See, while I was a HUGE fan of Morrowind
(the third game in the Elder Scroll
series), I was never able to get into Oblivion
(the fourth game in the series). I own Skyrim
(the fifth game in the series) only because I bought the Elder Scrolls Anthology
while heavily discounted, which has Steam keys along with the physical media. For years, the game languished in both my Steam queue and my shelf, until on a lark, I decided to play it. And you know what? I grew bored with it, exactly like I did with Oblivion
. Kind of anti-climatic, huh?
So, as I was wandering around the beginning city (Whiterun) getting ready to quit the game, when I encountered a little girl begging, named Lucia. She told me a heartbreaking story about losing her mother, getting kicked out of her home by her aunt and uncle, and living on the streets of Whiterun. I then discovered through conversation that I could adopt her, thus ending her suffering. But first, you need a home. I mean, this is pretty socially responsible of the local government, as adopting a young child, only to drag her/him around the country adventuring (regardless of said child's apparent invulnerability to attack of any kind), seems pretty irresponsible. Good on them.
A dragon forgets me for a moment to attack a bandit camp.
And thus, I spent about ten hours exploring and making money by plundering the surrounding countryside of resources (flowers, plants, ore) and selling everything from weapons and armor, to hastily made potions, to the skins and meat of animals, until I finally had the cash to buy and furnish a house for Lucia. It felt great, so before I could leave the game, I traveled further out, finding treats and presents I though she might like, which she did. Now decked out in a yellow dress, dolly, and dwarven dagger, I feel Lucia really has a chance in life. But before I could quit, I chanced upon another orphan, and the option to build a large country home (Lakeside Manor). I think you can see where this is going.
About twenty hours in, I finally remembered what drew me so much into Morrowind
back in 2003; the world and the depth of it. And the bugs (more on that later). See, I had this misconception that I loved Morrowind
so due to the many abilities available to my character, many of which where absent in Oblivion
. I still finished Oblivion
, but I was stone cold bored when I did it, and it had all to do with not liking the story. Skyrim
is no different. The tale of a civil war brewing I thought was a little interesting, but giving me a binary choice between a weakened government removing the religious rights of a nation to appease their would-be conquerors, or a rebellion that doesn't have a problem killing anyone and everyone to achieve their goals? No thanks. But give me the Dwemor (think dwarves, but more related to elves), whose race mysteriously disappeared thousands of years prior to the game, yet they left massive ruins with still-operating machinery (and scores of readable books scattered throughout the gaming world)? I'm hooked. This, combined with the other "places of interest" mentioned in the opening paragraph of this article, is more than enough to keep me interested for a great deal of time.
Certain pics just speak for themselves
Now, onto a subject equally as familiar to fans of "open world" games, that of glitches and bugs. To be honest, I don't think I've ever played an Elder Scrolls
game the way the designers meant it to be played. I don't mean actually finishing missions or anything, but the actual way I play it, primarily anything to do with combat. Normally, I tend to gravitate towards missile combat rather than melee, so I grab a bow, learn some support magic, and that is it. But with Elder Scrolls
games in general, the combat is fairly action oriented, so tactical assessment of a combat situation is highly desirable. To be more specific, I usually buy a ton of arrows (and/or magicka replenishment potions), find a crevice or platform I think is out of the reach of opponents, and plug away. In Skyrim
, terrain seems to have more of an effect on enemies than before, so sometimes I find a rocky outcropping, dash up it while shooting an opponent, then when his AI tells him to "go around" to get at me, I inch forward so that he turns to charge, shoot one or twice, then rinse and repeat. This is especially comical with giants (who can kill you with one hit, literally knocking one straight up into the clouds), who will spin in place as you move forward and back. Another great one is exploiting the environment, my favorite being the usage of branches to block destructive fireball spells. Great stuff. Of course, this doesn't always work right, so that I have to scramble around rooms, alternately shooting arrows and magic, frantically swilling potions and eating unreasonable amounts of food to replenish hit points (which is how I think Elder Scrolls
games are normally played). And is it just me, but do the thought of characters stopping in the middle of combat to eat a stack of salmon steaks, apples, and mammoth cheese to stay alive (all within a paused screen), amusing.
In the end, while hundreds of loot-filled places crawling with enemies, alongside a highly exploitable combat system (for those creative enough to figure it out) kept me in the game nearly sixty hours (at this point), after a great deal of reflection I believe it is entirely due to me being a terrible role-player. Not in the sense that I am terrible at the games themselves (which is sometimes true), rather in that every game I play where the role of the character is important (i.e., an RPG) and there is some sort of choice, I always end up playing as myself (meaning me), whether intentional or not. While this can mean different things for different games, in Skyrim
it means I was unable to pass up and ignore the suffering of a child. And that, my friends, is the real reason I've been lost in Skyrim
for this long.
Thanks for reading!