Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Skyrim Wrapup

I bit the bullet and finished the main quest line of Skyrim last night. Apart from a rather more epic than usual quest finale there is no obvious indication that I have finished the game. My quest log is still full and there are plenty of adventures still to be had in the world. My level 21 character is also far from complete with plenty of skills and abilities still to unlock. Nevertheless I think I will take a break from the game now. I have 86 hours played since starting the game on Christmas day and I think it is time to move on. For the record here are some random thoughts as I prepare to put it aside:

1. The world of Skyrim is utterly stunning both in towns and in the countryside. If you never do any quests just spend some time getting lost in the wonderful scenery.

2. The main quest line is suitably epic and entertaining. How could anything with Dragons in not be? Of course there are also hundred of side quests raiding from trivial tasks to epic saga's in their own right.  My gut feeling is that the side quests are not as imaginative as those in Oblivion however.

3. In my opinion Bethseda has finally fixed the levelling system that was so broken in both Morrowind and Oblivion. I didn't spend much time thinking about the leveling system in fact. It just seems to work. You get better at stuff by doing it and there are no hidden meta-game mechanics to worry about.

4. I played as a pure Mage which work fine and got me through the game without many problems. I was a bit disappointed in the magic system overall though. Two spells effectively got me all the way through the game: the low level destruction spell Firebolt and the low level Healing spell. Perhaps I could have been more creative in my use of magic but nothing else seemed to match the effectiveness of these bankers particularly given the much higher magicka requirements of stronger spells.

5. The addition of followers to the game is a great idea both in terms of providing additional tactical options and in terms of adding colour to the game. I stuck with Lydia for most of the game. Given that I refused to wear armour on my mage character it was nice to have a meat shield on which to hang the assorted metalware I picked up along the way.  Of course all the usual companion nuisances like crazy pathing and doorway blocking also applied.

6. The interface of the game on PC has come in for some criticism for not making good use of mouse and keyboard. It didn't cause me any real problems but I can see how it would have been nicer to drag inventory around with a mouse for example than clicking "R".

7. The one interface feature that did disappoint me was the quest log.  It does the job of highlighting quest objectives and showing them on the map but it is missing vital options.You cannot ever abandon a quest for example and there is no way to filter the quests. Even more disappointing is the minimalist quest descriptions it provides. In many cases there isn't even enough of an explanation to remind you what the quest is all about. Given the effort put into voice acting they surely could have afforded a few writers to pad out the quest text.

8. Finally the thorny question: Is it better than Morrowind or Oblivion? Overall I would say yes, the areas it has improved (in particular the wonderful open world and the fixed levelling system) outweigh the areas it has fallen back. It doesn't beat those games in every respect though. Magic was better in Oblivion and much better (with more complex abilities) in Morrowind. Oblivion also had many sublime side quests that I haven't seen equaled in Skyrim (Haunted house, Secretive Village, Naked Dinner party,  Painting come to life etc).


Anonymous said...

heheh yea after 89hrs in the game I finally am focusing on the main quest. The Markarth area (dweomer stuff) absolutely blew my mind. From the outside stuff, to suddenly the sound of wheezing steam pipes and gears - awesome contrast and unexpected. My next playthru iwas going to be as a pure caster, but think I will wait until the nodding kit is released and the magic experience is enhanced.

"I didn't spend much time thinking about the leveling system in fact."

Yes agreed - total success on their part!

mbp said...

Magic does work on the game, its just that it doesn't seen to benefit from levelling up the way fighting skills do.

Having played a pure mage myself I am thinking of trying a sneaky rogue character. Not quite sure how a back stabbing rogue is going to kill a dragon though.