After I wrote my review of The Last Of Us Part I a couple of weeks ago, I thought why not continue through my gaming journey and review games in the order I’ve played them. So, in that vein, welcome to my second game ‘review’ (lol) and The Elder Scrolls Part V: Skyrim.
I was extremely behind when I jumped on the Skyrim bandwagon, but in my defence, I only got a PS3 in 2018. As such a popular game, it was a fairly obvious choice for a second game to play. It’s about as different from The Last Of Us as you can get. Where TLOU is very linear, and there’s not much choice for the player or really any open space, Skyrim is pretty much as open as you can get. In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s a medieval style, fantasy, open world RPG. Skyrim is the country the game takes place in, home to a race called the Nords. While the player can choose to play as a Nord, there are several other races to choose from, and they all vary in how close they are to humans. Nords are one of the closest to humans, but there are also elf races, and a race called Khajiit (cat-people) and Argonians (lizard people). Your character’s appearance, gender and name are all chosen by the player, and that’s only the start of the decision-making. The country of Skyrim is in a civil war between the Empire and another faction called the Stormcloaks. One of the quest lines sees the player picking a side in the war and joining the fight.
Skyrim is definitely the most customisable game I’ve played so far — and I’m not talking about the mods because they aren’t available on PS3, but the mod possibilities on PC are pretty much endless. Within the game, as well as the main quest line and the civil war quest line there are several different Guilds the character can choose to join, and a wide range of different skills to level up. Different skills lend themselves to certain Guilds — there are magic skills that lend themselves well to doing the College of Winterhold quest line for example, or stealth-related skills that are good for the Thieves Guild quest line.
Being the kind of person that I am, rather than actually role playing and giving my character any kind of distinct personality traits, I just did all of the Guilds, and worked on levelling up all of my skills which is never a good tactic. While it’s not the wisest, Skyrim is a pretty forgiving game in that respect. You level up by increasing your skills, rather than increasing your skills by levelling up, so you can actually level up faster in the early game by working on a range of skills (as it’s easier to increase skills when they’re lower: once skills get higher, they take more work to increase). With this tactic, you do just have to watch out as enemies are matched to your character level, so if you level up too much without any kind of specialising the enemies do become harder. Even as a very, very novice gamer, I did manage to keep up with the enemies for the most part, though.
My favourite thing about Skyrim is just how expansive it is. I played for hours and hours, and still didn’t finish the game. Really, there is no way to ‘finish’ Skyrim. You can finish the main quest, sure, but there’s so much more you really can’t call that completed. You can also complete all the quest lines, and all the side quests that you come across, and still not be done. At the end of some quest lines are radiant quests, where you’ll just get randomly generated smaller quests, for example assassinations for the Dark Brotherhood, or fighting a rogue animal attacking villagers for the Companions. These radiant quests are never-ending, and you get assigned a new one once you’ve finished the active one. Admittedly, once you get to this point in the game, it’s probably time to make a new character, because the radiant quests aren’t all that interesting.
Another feature I enjoy about Skyrim is the ability to buy (and build, if you have the Hearthfire DLC) houses that you can furnish with your many trophy items — weapons, armour sets, cheese wheels… Having houses with safe storage is really useful in a game with limited carry weight but hundreds of items, and many unique items you gain as rewards for completing quests that you probably don’t want to get rid of. Anything you do want to be rid of, though, for example your 100th steel dagger, can be sold to different vendors. Selling unwanted items, as well as completing quests for monetary rewards are brilliant ways to build up your stock of gold. The one issue I have with Skyrim is the currency system, however. Past a certain point in the game, you have more gold than you’ll ever need, and you never need to buy weapons in the later game because the strongest weapons are usually ones you find rather than ones you buy from vendors. In the early game it seems like a big challenge to rack up even 500 gold to buy a horse, and buying your first player home fora few thousand gold pieces seems out of the question, but after a while, the currency does entirely lose its meaning.
Despite the semi-useless currency system, and the glitches that Skyrim players are so familiar with (when I first started playing, I couldn’t get past the opening sequence as the game froze every time the dragon landed…), Skyrim is an excellent game. It’s no surprise that almost ten years on from its release, people still love it. I certainly still love it. I did try making a character that I actually specialised in when I got the PS4 version, and I even gave modding a go, but after technical issues (read: destroying the HDMI port) I think I’ve lost that character, so I’ll need to start over again remaking that character on my new PS4.