Skyrim: Day 0
The ideal scenario, I believe, is to start playing popular (or notorious) games right when they come out. Not only is the potential for spoilers minimized, but there is also something to be said in exploring a brand new game as a virtual group, together. And the pageviews. Can’t forget about the pageviews.
Riding in on the backwash of the tidal wave of Skyrim blog posts does grant me the sort of perspective that First Day/Month players don’t start out with. Sometimes it’s good (“Don’t Sneak into a wall for two hours.”), sometimes it’s bad (“Infinite mana via Enchanting, yo.”), and sometimes… well, you start noticing things right away:
That aside, I wanted to kind of lay out the way I was approaching Skyrim before I get too far (12 hours and counting) into it to remember – indeed, I only stopped to write this because I had a C++ crash-to-desktop interrupting me.
- I strongly disliked Oblivion overall; in many ways, I considered it the anti-RPG. Here was a RPG that punished you for specializing in three skills that you actually use. Here was a RPG filled with quests that had no rewards, i.e. XP. Here was a RPG that discouraged exploration insofar that dungeons get stocked with crap treasure the earlier you reach it. Here was a RPG I broke in half after an hour of tinkering at the weapon enchanting workbench and 1000g (“Hey… -100 HP for 1 second costs practically nothing. And it can reduce them to zero? And it stacks if you cast it real fast?!”).
- If I’m honest, Oblivion’s true crime could simply have been that I played it after having spent 150+ hours in Fallout 3. Not only do I enjoy post-apocalypse settings better than fantasy, but it did everything else Oblivion seemed to be trying to do, but way better. Scaling enemies felt a lot more natural in Fallout 3, for example, while still allowing you the freedom to go practically anywhere starting at level 2 (something lost in Fallout: New Vegas, but that’s another post).
- I did finish Oblivion, albeit after starting a fresh character with 3 non-used specialized skills, a sword/bow that instantly killed everything below 100 HP, and a general disinterest in side-quests. There were some genuinely novel things going on, and I do remember a few of the quests. Like when you had to fish a ring out of a well, but the ring was enchanted to weight 200 lbs. It sounded (and felt) exactly like something out of my college buddy’s D&D campaign.
- The Shivering Isles expansion was loads of fun, and easily better than the entire normal game.
If the above sounds concerning in any way, allow me to alley those fears: I walked into Skyrim with a fundamentally different attitude. In the years since Oblivion, games like Minecraft (and, if I’m honest, other gaming blogs) taught me to enjoy more free-form, emergent gameplay.
I still prefer narrative-driven games, of course, but having an audience for Show & Tell purposes actually gives those random occurrences a narrative feeling – nobody cares about the crazy dream you had last night, but hey, look at this:
So, anyway, Skyrim is happening. Given the blogging saturation surrounding the game, I will attempt to keep “Christ, look at that mountain!” posts to a minimum. There is actually some topical problems I have with the game’s design, which I’ll get into a bit later. Interestingly, none of the problems are the interface.