Thursday, November 17, 2011

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) Bethesda Games - My first ten hours (give or take)

Achtung!  This post doesn't have plot spoilers but does discuss some elements of gameplay that you might not want to know about (especially if you didn't play Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and are unfamiliar with Tamriel and its inhabitants).  Other than that carry on:

Achtung Zwei!  The ten hours is actually probably longer since I had to load an old save file when the game glitched on me.

Here are some general thoughts, basic tips, and errata:
  • Keep multiple save files in case of glitch or data corruption.  By multiple I mean at least three in addition to the autosaves.  Basic entry level stuff but seriously I lost about four hours of gameplay because an game progressing item became lodged in a mountain.
  • I've been joking about alchemy and the like with some friends on teh FB (switch to G+ suckas) and I realized that I have an "inner Renfield".  I basically go cross-country eating things I catch and find.  The purpose of doing so is to learn the alchemical qualities of these items and thus brew potions and tinctures.  This boils down to running across fields chasing bugs, ripping their wings off, and eating them (or splashing around in a river catching fish or gnawing on bones or just eating random things).  Kill Screen's Gus Mastrapa "Things I Ate in Skyrim" is a brilliantly hilarious article that really does the whole insane process justice.
  • The three main crafting skills are kind of awesome.  Alchemy, blacksmithing, enchanting (every single time I use this skill I say, "Enchantment?  Enchantment! a la the idiot savant in Dragon Age: Origins) are useful and since I'm the kind of player who is constantly gathering, stealing, and collecting crafting items I can put them to use and never have to actually pay for anything.  The skill that I am kind of unimpressed by is the cooking feature.  It's not even really a skill since you don't gain any higher competency or bonuses.  You make various items into food and then the food has effects (health boost, etc) but the effects are kind of worthless compared to alchemy.  Additionally food by itself often fetches a higher price than prepared dishes so there's not much point in cooking and then selling the junk.  There's probably some side side quest where someone want you to make them a mammoth steak but other than that cooking in Skyrim is kind pf pointless.
  • One thing you can do with produce is sell it to farmers who will pay you as some kind of day laborer farm hand.  Wait what?  I AM DRAGONBORN!  I mean sure I'll help you gather fucking cabbages for a pittance.  Bloody peasants.
  • Speaking of dragons, THERE ARE FUCKING DRAGONS IN THIS GAME!  And not just there's a monster at the end of this dungeon boss dragons.  The fuckers are flying around at random.  Two favorite encounters with dragons so far.  I was on walkabout with my retainer up in the mountains out in BFE and was heading out of a village when people started screaming.  Yup, dragon breathing ice breath on the poor shit shovellers.  So I stealthed into a copse of trees and started ranging the scaly fucker.  I got over-confident and tried to close range for a clearer shot.  Dragon spotted me and levelled the trees around me.  Fuuuuuuuuuuu.  The other encounter involved me walking around the countryside chasing butterflies when a shadow passed over head.  I promptly ran like hell towards the nearby windmill and pretended to be Brave Sir Robin.  Wish I had a rocket launcher and Matthew McConaughey driving me around.  That'd be sweet.
  • I have already contracted vampirism.  Seriously?  Vampirism already?  In Oblivion it took me at least longer than a dozen hours.  So much for seeing the sun.
  • cracked.com's Robert Brockway "5 Personality Flaws Skyrim Forces You to Deal With" is pretty funny.
  • Jeremy Soule's score is kind of better than awesome.  It's so fucking awesome it comes on four cds.  Epic, sweeping, grand, amazing yeah yeah yeah all well and good.  Stopping what I was doing in an inn to listen to the bard?  How's that for impressive?  I'll be picking this up (unless I should wait for Christmas?  ahem).
  • Mark Lampert's sound design is equal to the score. 
  • The voice acting is as solid as it should be.  Plus Max Von Sydow and Vladmir "Should Have Been Thor" Kulich are on the roster.  Too bad they couldn't get Mads Mikkelsen.
  • Many, if not all, of the reviews talk about the scenery and vistas and their quality.  I could quibble about how trees and bushes don't look all that great and and some of the draw could use some work and say I bet this would look better with GTX560 GPU but then I'd be one of those guys.  Skyrim's landscapes and world really shine when you least expect them to and the game really does an excellent job of immersion.  For example I was coming out a dungeon crawl in the mountains and it was night.  Across the night sky were the northern lights and the town in the valley had flickers of light, near the base of the mountain was a bonfire belonging to giantsI wish I had been able to get a screen cap.
  • In addition to the pretty vistas Skyrim is a kind of bizarro trip to Skandinavian lands I have never been to except seen in movies (I have Swedish ancestors too).  I really, really dig the vibe of the meadhalls, jarls, thanes, Northern gods, lycanthopic berserkers, and all that good skull splitting bludgelt stuff*.  It's more than a welcome change from the typical fruity Elven Land of Summer rpg though it does dovetail nicely with The Witcher.  Plus I'm enjoying playing a non-Nord Imperial so the NPCs treat me as more of an outsider and this kind of deepens the game experience for me.
And those are the long and short for the time being.  I'm enjoying the hell out of just wandering aimlessly but really that's the primary reason I pick up Bethesda games. 

Hope you folks are well.  Keep your blades sharp and your wits sharper.


* I predict, and you've heard it here first folks: Skyrim is going to make mead sales in America skyrocket.  I shit you not.

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