Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Skyrim Journal Part 1

System: Xbox 360
Race: Bosmer (Wood Elf)
Current Level: 37

So I purchased Skyrim the day it hit the stores. I played for about a month on an old 27” console TV before forking out a few hundred smackers for a shiny 32” 1080p model. If you’re not playing Skyrim in Hi-Res, HDTV, I highly recommend it. The increased quality of the graphics made all the difference in the world. Plus, I could not read the smaller print on my old TV set. Now, everything is crystal clear, and I don’t have to squint like an old codger.

Now then, onto the game itself…

As you may well know, Skyrim is the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls series of video games. The vast expanse of wilderness that is covered by Skyrim is second to none. I still do not know how the makers managed to get ALL of the detail for this game onto one disk. It’s simply mind-boggling when you consider all of the towns, dungeons, rocks, trees, blades of grass, etc…and the flying DRAGONS are superb.

There are many things to love about Skyrim. The ability to explore every facet of the wilderness you’re in takes you as close to a real-life RPG as you might want to get.  If you don’t like the main quest-line that the game offers, simply ignore it and go off adventuring wherever your little heart desires. If you do follow a quest line, Skyrim guides you on your way with a directional symbol – otherwise it would be nearly impossible to complete some quests in such a vast world.

One quibble with Skyrim’s predecessor, Oblivion, was that the quality of the faces in the character creation screen was downright awful. Well, the faces in Skyrim are better, but not a lot better. Some of the elves look more like aliens, and it’s quite necessary to tweak the faces so much to make something halfway attractive, that they no longer resemble the races that they were supposed to represent. In fact, there is too much darkness altogether in the faces, and it would have been nice to lighten them up considerably. The Nords have perhaps the lightest skin, and probably look the best of the human-like races.

Skyrim offers only a simple set of three ability scores (Health, Magicka, Stamina) for improving your character. When you level up, you can improve one of these scores, plus one of 18 skills. In turn, each skill has a tree of perks, which are arguably the most important aspect of improving your character. I don’t use much magic in the game, so I have spent most of my perks on Archery, Sneak, One-Handed, Heavy Armor and Enchanting. There are some pretty cool perks available in each tree if you get your skill to 100, but I’m not there yet.

One thing I do miss from Oblivion is the Ring of Night-Eye.  The Khajiit race has this ability naturally, but it’s not available to the other races, except as an Illusion spell. Fortunately, the dungeons are well-lit compared to Oblivion, so you can see pretty well most of the time.

My main complaint about Skyrim is the lack of variety of creatures to fight. This does not keep Skyrim from being a great game. However, I think I knew just about every creature in the game by Level 12. In the wilderness, I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered every kind of creature possible, so that only leaves the dungeons as places where I might meet up with something new. If I do come across something new, it’s usually just a higher variant of one of the many bandits, zombies, falmer, etc…If there’s an Elder Scrolls part 6, I’d love to see some chimaera, cockatrices, gelatinous cubes, or gorgons. And how come none of the Skyrim creatures has the ability to Turn to Stone or Drain Levels?  That would make the combat more interesting.

Skyrim is pretty easy to play with just a basic combat style. I can defeat most foes with my bow even in melee, or then simply bashing the heck out of them with my mace. I recently discovered (around level 35) that having a bow that drains health is by far the best option for long-range combat. At least – I haven’t been challenged much in combat since I started using that bow. I do use my shield every once in awhile, but prefer to keep Fast Healing equipped in my off-hand instead. I also haven’t used Dual-Wielding, but that might be fun to try at some point. I also have a perk that causes huge additional damage with daggers when sneaking, but I haven’t been able to get it to work yet.

My character got married around level 15. I married the first semi-pretty girl I saw, Ysolda – the one who sells in Whiterun at the market stalls.


Her face is OK to look at, but I really like her voice when she says, “Hello My Love". We moved into my house in Whiterun, and she brings in a tidy profit from her trade activities. I can’t for the life of me figure out why she still charges me for her wares instead of giving me what I need, but hey, that’s marriage in the wild world for you. It also spooks me a little that she carries a dagger on her hip when I’m around, and then talks to me in that sweet voice. I got Lydia as my House-Thane, and I find it a little odd that she hangs out in my bedroom, while my wife roams the rest of the house. Three’s company, I guess. Now that I’ve been around a bit more, I kinda like Sapphire from the Riften Thieves’ Guild. I don’t know if she’s the marrying type, though. I sure wouldn’t want her carrying a dagger around in my bedroom…

I just finished a quest where a talking dog took up with me. It said that it needed to go to its master at some shrine, and could I follow it there?  Little did I know that the journey would take us forever, and its master was actually some kind of crazy god. Then, the god wants me and the dog to go ALL THE WAY ACROSS SKYRIM to fetch a certain item. Try climbing a mountainside with a mangy mutt who wants to carve his own path up the hill. He was a really good fighter, though. I think he could have single-handedly taken down most of the baddies that we came across. After all this was done, my only reward was to see dog and god reunited in stone friendship forever. I’m never having a stupid pet, that’s for sure.

Speaking of gods, that insane Sheogorath from Oblivion is back. I won’t spoil the quest that he’s associated with, but it took me awhile to figure out exactly what to do because the guy is clearly bonkers. I’m kind of hoping that he comes back into the game at some point, because he seems to add some random fun whenever he shows up.

I’ve put about 90 hours into Skyrim so far, and I don’t think I’m that close to finishing the main quest-line. I hope you’re having as much fun as I am! I’ll try to have another update for you soon.

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