First Impressions: Skyrim

If you’ve followed even a minimal amount of my posts, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I spent most of the weekend playing Skyrim.  After having to not-so-patiently wait for it to be delivered the day after it was released (stupid Federal holidays), I’ve logged almost twenty hours over the course of three days.  In fact, on my second day of play, I had to stop playing because my head actually started spinning from staring at my television for so long.

This game is so massive that it’s hard to decide where to start.  I supposed the most logical way would be to start from the beginning & describe my experiences so far.

Firstly, the game looks great.  It has a very different art style than Oblivion.  It’s subtle, but everything has a more rugged quality.  From the character models to landscapes, it seems further from the civilized world of Cyrodiil.  Speaking of characters, the character creation screen is far simplified compared to the previous game.  I think this is probably because the game no longer focuses in on characters’ faces during dialogue, so they could spare some attention to focus on other things.

There are a lot of things different from Oblivion, & so far they’ve all been good changes.  As I just mentioned, when you talk the people, the camera no longer zooms in for a close up as the person in question stares creepily at you.  Instead, conversations are in real-time, & people continue with whatever they were doing when you talked to them.  This may be just standing around, but it can also be cooking or smithing.  And while I’m on the subject of conversations, there does seem to be more voiceactors this time around instead of the same three people voicing everyone but the really important people.  Although I do laugh every time I hear the guy who sounds like Schwarzenegger.

One of the biggest changes is how you level up.  There are no attributes to worry about now.  You can only choose to increase your Health, Magicka or Stamina  There are also no classes, & the skills have been simplified.  There are eighteen skills: Archery, Block, Heavy Armor, One & Two-Handed (replacing Blade & Blunt), Smithing (replacing Armorer), Alteration, Conjuration, Enchanting, Restoration, Illusion, Destruction, Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak & Speech (combining Mercantile).  Like previous games, you improve skills by practicing them.  As you improve  your skills, you increase your level.  Increasing a high level skill will count more toward your level than a low level skill.  So reaching level 50 in Smithing will get you closer to the next level than reaching level 25 in Heavy Armor.  I really like this system, because even if you max out your core skills, you can still increase your level.  Once you reach the next level, you get to choose a perk in any skill you want, assuming your level in that skill is high enough.  Some of the perks include increasing the damage of your weapon attacks, dual casting magic spells, improved haggling or quieter sneaking.

Now that I’ve mentioned dual casting, that leads into combat.  The combat system in Skyrim is greatly improved over Oblivion.  You can wield weapons or spells in both hands, or stick with the classic sword & shield combo.  Also, when you’re using melee weapons, occasionally you’ll get a cool finishing move animation, though I haven’t figured out yet how it specifically works.

I’ve made a bit of progress on the main storyline, as well as having joined the Companions (Skyrim’s Fighter’s Guild).  I’ve defeated two dragons, one during the main storyline & one during travels.  The first dragon was pretty easy because I was hiding inside a tower & I had a bunch of guards to distract him.  The second was really tough because I was out in the open.  Thankfully I had a Follower to distract him some.  But then immediately afterwards I was attacked by some winged humanoid called Krosis, who was even harder to defeat than the dragon.  I nearly used up all of my health potions on him.  But I got a really cool mask when I killed him, so I guess it was worth it.  And I do have to say, I really like the design of the dragons.  I prefer the type that have two legs & wings attached to their forearms than the more classical four-legged version where the wings are separate appendages.  It just makes more anatomical sense.

I’ve unlocked three Shouts so far: Unrelenting Force, Whirlwind Sprint & Throw Voice.

I also died twice.  The first time a giant killed me, the second time was right after my first dragon fight.  I went to jump out of the window & died when I hit the ground.  Lame.

There’s so much to talk about with this game that I could go on forever.  Suffice to say I like everything I’ve seen so far.  With a game this massive, it’d be silly to wait until I’ve completed the game to review it.  After all, when do you say you’ve completed it?  I’ll probably wait until I’ve played enough to get a good grip of the game’s pros & cons to write a review.  I also plan to chronicle my more interesting journeys in the game.  So expect more news & embarrassing stories.

– GamerDame


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