Review – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC)

Summary

The ancient home of the Nords, Skyrim, teeters at the brink of destruction. With the death of High King Torygg, a civil war breaks out, with brothers slaying brothers across the province’s frozen tundras and rocky crags. Many, especially Nords, wish to secede from the Empire, which has been in decline since the Oblivion Crisis. Many loyalists, on the other hand, prefer the unity and security provided by the Empire.

The Elder Scrolls foretell the return of Tamriel’s primeval darkness, the Dragons, and the coming of a mortal born with the soul of a dragon, the “Dovahkiin” or “Dragonborn”—one who will have the power to permanently defeat his greatest foe and end the dark reign of the consumer of worlds: Alduin.

Your journey will be beset with peril. Just as remnants of the kingdom’s shadow guardians, the Blades, will offer their aid, crafty agents of the Thalmor, seeking to advance their own cause, will impede your quest. Acquire knowledge and prove yourself Dragonborn, and the revered Greybeards will grant you an audience to learn of their ancient Draconic arts.

Now great adventurer, free yourself from bondage; take up blade or spell, bow or axe; fulfill your destiny or watch as the world ends around you.

Review

“Who are you?”

This is the most important question asked when you start playing Skyrim.  Who should I play as?  Should I play as a burly Nord, join the Stormcloaks, and free the land from the vile Thalmor?  Would I enjoy playing an Argonian swordsman who goes spelunking in the many tombs and caverns?  Why not play a Wood Elf who rises through the ranks of the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves’ Guild?  Will you play a Orc this time or a Breton?  The possibilities are endless.

Skyrim works upon a simple philosophy: If you can see it, you can go there.  For the most part, this works wonders.  With hours upon hours of quests (and even more if you get the three DLCs), you will never have a reason to stop playing.  Even if you manage to beat every single quest in the game, Skyrim encourages you to play again and again with new characters and a variety of ways to accomplish the quest.  One example is when you must free a man’s brother from a Thalmor prison.  You could walk right up to the front door and slaughter those haughty High Elves with a greatsword.  Not a fan of wanton bloodshed? Then you could sneak in under the cover of night.  Sneak skill not high enough? Then see if you can’t use diplomacy to talk some sense into the head honcho of the place.

Freedom is favored highly in Skyrim, but it is also one of its weakest points.  If you simply follow one quest line, such as the main quest, you might find that the enemies have become far too powerful for you to handle.  Now you have to stop this quest for the time being and do something else.  At other times, you might discover that you have too many quests or some that you aren’t interested in doing again.  After all, why would a scrawny thief want to join the Companions?  Sadly, Skyrim doesn’t offer a way to delete quests.

Another minor fault is that Skyrim‘s interface is clearly designed for consoles (or at least a 360 controller).  I often ran into a particularly infuriating issue where the game will pick a different reply than the one you selected because it would either pick what your mouse hovered over or what option was previously selected.  Another technical issue deals more with hardware than the game itself.  Skyrim is an intensive game, and it cannot be run on just any PC.  If you do not have a PC with a dedicated video card then you might want the console version instead.

One of the main thing that you’ll hear about Skyrim is that it has a huge modding community.

Let me reiterate that.  Skyrim has a HUGE modding community that is dedicated to constantly making this game better.  These mods range from small bug fixes to DLC-sized landmasses.  Want to make the game harder?  Try this. Tired of fighting ugly dragons?  Click here.  Want Lydia to stop being so sarcastic? Behold!  You never have to stop playing Skyrim!

The Good

  • 300+ hours of questing, exploring, and Fus Ro Dah-ing
  • Easy to understand battle system
  • Can be absolutely gorgeous at times.
  • You can ride a dragon! (with the Dragonborn DLC)
  • Think of something.  There is probably a mod for that.

The Bad

  • Interface is not the friendliest with keyboard and mouse
  • You might be playing on low quality or not at all if your PC isn’t geared for it
  • Various dungeons and areas tend to resemble one another as the game progresses.

The Iffy

  • There is no way to cancel a quest, but there are a hundred ways to fail it.
  • NPCs always think they can take on a dragon. (Hint: they can’t.)

Final Score: Buy it if you can play it.

Skyrim is a marvelous game, and you will not regret playing it.   I do stress a word of caution, however, since it was originally designed to play on consoles.   If your PC can handle it, get it now.

Hints & Tricks:  Skyrim is full of secrets, such as the ghostly Headless Horseman and the Ebony Warrior, so go and discover!

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