The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a massive open world role-playing game released in 2011, receiving critical acclaim across the board and winning the Game of the Year awards from ten different ceremonies. It took over three years to create by a team of 100 designers working for one of the top game studios in employment today. Its plotline and gameplay have roots in fantasy and medieval settings, and allows the player to use a range of weapons and magic and become a part of factions ranging from werewolves to assassins. Everything about Skyrim shows that it would quickly become one of my favorite games, however through two different attempts to play I have become so frustrated with the game that I have given up on ever completing and enjoying this experience.
To begin, I have to say that I have only played one other Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion, and have given up on that one just as easily as I have Skyrim. I have played Fallout and Fallout 3, another gaming series created by Bethesda, and adore both of these games. In addition, I do not own Skyrim; in fact, I am playing it on a Playstation 3 that is also not my own, and the first game Iíve ever played on the PS3. The fact that I do not own the game, am not playing it on a PC, my system of choice, and that I am playing it on a system that I overall do not enjoy may have something to do with my bitterness towards the game. But I swear, I really did try and give it a chance, but Skyrim screwed me over not once, but two times.
The first time I attempted to play Skyrim I entered in blissful ignorance, excited to play a sandbox style game that had be enormously hyped months before its release. And hey, the Fallout games are great, and I had a momentarily lapse of memory as to my past experienced with Elder Scrolls games. So I happily went through the slightly dull introductory sequence with high hopes, only to hit one of my frustrations before I even finished designing my character. First of all, I am playing this game on a 48Ē projector television and I cannot read any of the menu type unless I am sitting inches from the screen. I understand trying to leave the majority of the screen for the games action, but I cannot read the important information necessary to build and customize my character, let alone all of the menu information necessary for later quest completions and customization. Also, as I have mentioned before, I am less than familiar with the Playstation systems, so the controller button placement took a little time getting used to. Too much time, Iím afraid, to allow for me accidentally calling my character the default name ďPrisonerĒ, with no alert box in sight making sure that was the name I had wanted.
The second half of my first experience with Skyrim led me to the small village of Riverwood, where I was told I would receive the first quest of many on my way to Skyrim legend. As it just so happens, the first encounter in the village was with this sweet little girl, who basically tells me to fuck off even before I initiate conversation. Sidenote: I have played very little of the game, as I will get into later, but have watched two of my housemates get pretty far in it, so I feel safe to ask why does every character in Skyrim either act like a total douche or try to make a pass at you? Well, while Iím *not* usually the violent type, someone needs to teach this little brat some manners, so I swung my brand new mace at her stupid smirking face. Thatís when I stumbled upon the lovely fact that children are invincible in Skyrim. And their parents donít take it too kindly to strangers swinging maces at them. So, a slight overreaction to a snide comment has the entire village lighting torches against me. So once again I had to cut my way through angry villagers (if I had a dollar every time that happened), and the last one standing was my quest giver, Halof. Well, he wasnít in the mood for quest giving, but after a little spat I had him on his knees. But what do you know; he gets right back up and comes at me again. After three more deaths I realize that this guy isnít going away, so I run from Riverwood, basically ending any chances of advancing in the main quest before even starting.
Such ends my first, albeit short, experience with Skyrim. Iíll admit it, my strategy in the game wasnít to be desired, however itís slightly ridiculous that the main quest of a game can pretty much be eliminated by one swing of the sword (or mace). The beginning sequence in itself took over an hour to complete, only to find myself in sort of a hole without a roadmap as to where I should travel next. So I basically spent the next few hours wandering around the never-ending expanse of the Skyrim world, mercing mud crabs and bandits and what have you, until I go so bored without a single direction to take that I placed the game aside, for a time.
This initial experience left a bad taste in my mouth for a couple months, but currently I sit in between the limbo of college graduation and the beginning of my next job, so time is abundant and seeking to be filled with gratuitous game playing. So I figured what the hey, Iíll give Skyrim another chance. Maybe this time Iíll be more discrete, build up my characters strengths more and then, return to Riverwood for the rematch of the century. This time I make sure I enter my characters name in correctly and begin my quest. Again.
And once again I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the size of the text. How can I not read anything on a 48Ē television without sitting close enough to ensure blindness by the time I reach age 30? But no, I must push forward. Skyrim still deserves a second chance. After the hours I spent watching my housemates play this game, I had a better inkling as to where to go and what to do, yet I still found it difficult to complete even the simplest quests in adequate time. One of my first quests was to become part of the Companions, however for the first two hours I spent my time squinting at the screen, trying to read the building names in each village and city, the choices given when I initiated conversation, and the ridiculously complicated yet similar names of the characters. I mean seriously, Jorrvaskr, Vignar, and Vilkas? Did the designers just take a Scrabble game and fling all the letters at a wall, naming places and characters after where the letters fall? And not only that, when seeking a certain character out, no one happens to know where they are, and their positions change every few hours anyway for me to nail a certain character down. I understand the game is trying to create the feeling of a bustling city, where people are going about their everyday lives, but you got to throw me a bone or something.
After a few hours of frustratingly travelling back and forth through Whiterun, completing these boring tasks for the Companions that constantly say that each member is their own man yet they have to run stupid errands for each other, I finally was given a quest I could sink my teeth into (no pun intendÖ ah shit, it was intended), I leave Whiterun and sprint in the direction of my next destination, only to find the game had hit a bug, propelling my character forward even when I release the joystick, right into the conveniently placed bonfire directly in front of me. At this point I was slightly peeved, however I didnít get too far, and hopefully I would start my game again in Whiterun to retry the quest, so I waited. And waited. And waited. I sat there staring at a model of a stupid mud crab for twenty minutes until I threw my hands up in frustrations and shut the PS3 down, never to return to this game that ate up my time with useless quests and anti-user game play. Another Sidenote: As a game designer, I really do like the idea of having the models shown during loading screens. It really allows us to examine what content is really used in a professional game. But I really hate loading screens.
One final note from my overall experience with Skyrim; the environment of the game. The world of Skyrim is really beautiful, and I found myself in awe more often than not during my limited time in the game. It is extremely impressive how they were able to create such a vast, detailed landscape that can be explored almost entirely during game play. That being said, travelling across this world for game plays sake is exhausting. I just want to behead some skeletons and bandits, not have to spend hours travelling from one city to the next, being startled by stupid elk every ten feet of the way, hoping that itís an enemy I can battle. In addition, the sections of the game the player should be spending most of their time in, the dungeons, like to take a page from the book of popular game color schemes: brown, grey, and darker brown. While at that time I was a pro at squinting at the screen, I still had to do it in every room, trying to pick out important treasures from the similarly colored and shaped rocks and remains.
So there ends my short yet greatly exasperating experience with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Iím sure my experience is in the vast minority, and I have nothing against the critical acclaim the game has gotten since its release, however itís worth noting that I have had nothing less than a irritating experience with the game and have no desire to continue that experience. For a game that was created by a team of 100 designers by a company that holds no less than a shining sport in my heart, I was immensely disappointed with Skyrim. Itís dark and hard to see dungeons, small, unintelligible lettering, extended loading screens in a time where loading screens have all but disappeared, and random and infuriating bugs throughout the game have left me with little regard for the game. Ah well, I guess I'll stick to Fallout. read