The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
“You’ve grown strong Dovakiin!”
Bethesda is back, with more side quests than you can wrap your head around. We return to Elder Scrolls Universe, 200 years have passed since our last visit, and northern land of Skyrim seems to be were all the cool kids are hanging out. We’ll take you through the ups the downs, and why you might want to take your next vacation in Skyrim.
For anyone that’s not a frequent of Bethesda’s RPGs you’ll quickly learn that their games are very nonlinear when it comes to story. You can completely forsake all storyline quests and jump right into the side quests after a brief tutorial. That’s not to say that the story is boring in any sense, but your ability to explore and discover the game’s world is only limited by your desire to keep searching. Really want to do anything to your heart’s desire the game allows you to. Want to be the greatest thief in all the land? No problem! Steal away to your heart’s content. Become an artificer that just creates forges items and enchants them? You can do that too! How you play the game is all up to you.
Skyrim has ten playable races with their own powers and perks, some are better at others, but no race stops you from specializing in anything. I decided the Nord was the way to go for the first character due to their bonus with two-handed weapons and smithing. However all of the races, depending on what you want to do, have their benefits and there are no clear cut choice to which race you can play. The game starts even before you design your character, or even give them a name. In fact you actually don’t even see your character until they’ve almost been executed. A dragon comes and begins attacking the village before your head can be chopped off and put into a basket. Players than flee the dragon and gets a basic tutorial on the games skills.
Probably one of the biggest changes from the Elder Scrolls games is the change to skills and stats. Stats have actually been removed from the game. No more Luck, Willpower, or Personality. Everything is now dictated by skills, sans luck which has just been thrown out altogether. There are total of 18 skills players can choose from which are divided up into three categories combat, magic, and stealth. Like luck skills such as athletics, hand to hand, and blade and blunt have all disappeared or have been merged into other skills. Skills now provide perks which give bonuses as you level them up. Some perks have ranks and some don’t. For example in two-handed the Barbarian perk improves your two-handed weapon damage and you can increase this up to five times. Likewise in the lock picking tree Unbreakable allows lock pricks to never break, and is only a single skill point. However it’s not as easy as just dumping points into what you wish. Perks can only be taken after a certain skill level in the skill tree itself has been earned, and you may have to take other perks earlier in the tree to get deeper ones. While sounding complicated it’s actually quite simple. The really interesting thing about the skill trees however is that they’re all in the form of constellations, which actually as you level them up appear in the night sky above your character.
As the game’s main story progresses, if you chose to do so, you find out that you’re actually the last of an ancient kind called Dragonborn, or Dovahkiin. As a Dragonborn you were actually born with the soul of a dragon and speak their language. This is important because when dragons speak, they do some really cool things. A mechanic has been added into the game called shouting. In the game shouting, or Thu’ums, are phrases that your character well… shouts. Depending on what shout you have selected different effects occur. You can even choose how much of the shout you wish to say and alter its effect. For example the shouts whirlwind spring, will carry your character farther the longer he or she shouts. This of course however extends the cooldown of the shout extensively but depending on the situation it may be quite useful. In addition the shouts are actually yelled in another language in the game and your character will actually shout the phrase. Like most cool things in game, all of the phrases are not handed to you on a silver platter. Players must explore Skyrim for words hidden throughout the land to improve or learn their power. In addition to that players must also slay dragons and consume their souls in order to begin using the shouts themselves.
While Skyrim’s gorgeous scenery and revamped game play have been wonderful and a great breath of fresh air into the series, the game of course is not without faults, but then again what game isn’t? Terrain is probably the most notable issue in the game. If you pay attention any sort of comics online you’ll find that the terrain can easily be abused by simply riding a horse. Players can, for the most part, scale any mountain in the game given enough time and patience; obviously an unintended side effect. Crashing is another thing that seems to plague the PC version. Luckily while the game auto-saves often, but you can still easily lose up to half an hours’ worth of game play in a matter of seconds, without warning. Even with these issues and a couple of particle effects, and other bugs the game is still highly playable.
Skyrim’s large anticipation was easily met as one of the most fun I’ve had with games this year. Given the numerous amounts of side quests, the multiple forms of gameplay from charging into battle like raging berserker, to wielding magic of the highest caliber to vanquish foes, Skyrim has been proven to be worth the ride, and then some. Skyrim gets a 9/10 from The Game Guide. If you’ve never experienced a Bethesda game, now’s your chance to dive into one of the best western RPG’s of all time.