My Time With Skyrim (or How Bethesda Finally Won Me over)

Author: Jeff McAllister

Oblivion was my first foray into the console world of Bethesda’s huge open world games. Before that I had given Morrowind a try on the PC, but neither of the games had that certain something to keep me interested in them for more than a couple hours. When Fallout 3 came along, I figured the post-apocalyptic setting and the use of guns over swords might be the extra kick that would keep my interest. Apparently not. After giving Fallout 3 many hours of gameplay (up to Rivet City) I was sad that it wasn’t doing it for me either. After so many people talking the game up about how great it was, I decided a couple months later to give it another go. I picked up another copy and played for a while longer, but the still hum drum feeling of how fun the game wasn’t creeped back in.

When Skyrim was announced at last year’s Spike awards, I was less than giddy, but I’ll admit the game certainly did look phenomenal, especially for being an open world mammoth like Oblivion and Fallout were. And there were Dragons, oh man, were there dragons. If there is one thing that I love in game for some reason, it’s dragons. I played through both Dragon Age 1 and 2 and while I did enjoy both games, the lack of Dragons in the games- especially with Dragon in the title- was disappointing. In Dragon Age 1 I fought 1 dragon. One frigging dragon throughout the entire game and the one dragon I did fight was at the very end. As good as the game was, it didn’t do it for me either, but unlike Oblivion and Fallout, I was able to make it through the entire game.

So with Skyrim I was fully expecting to give it a go from the announcement for the sake of trying it, but I was also fully expecting to not like it one bit from the company’s previous track record. I did give it a go but before I got even an hour into it, I read a tweet by Phil Kollar from Game Informer that said “if you are having trouble getting around, use the Clairvoyance spell.” So after having to climb up a huge mountain right near the start and having spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure how to do so, I decided to give the advice a try and lo and behold, it was exactly what I needed to keep me going.

What the spell does when you use it, it will show a trail of light that will lead you in the direction of your objective. It won’t lay it down permanently, but will give a quick showing and then disappear just as quickly. Sometimes it won’t even appear at all saying that there isn’t a visible path, but the times that it did work- roughly 90% of the time- it was exactly what I needed to keep me interested.

I realized right then and there, that this is what the issue I had with Oblivion and Fallout 3 was. In Oblivion I would walk forever not knowing where I was supposed to be going, the icon marker on the compass not really giving me a whole lot to go on other than the direction to head. The same went with Fallout 3 where I would walk forever in one direction and run into a wall and then have to back track another 20 minutes to find another way. Once this spell was learned, the hindrance that kept me from enjoying these games was removed and suddenly I started to enjoy the game exponentially each minute I played it. So much so, that after 75 hours, I acquired 50 out of 50 achievements on the Xbox 360 version.

Much like Fallout and Oblivion, Skyrim is a broken game in many areas and there were so many times that quests wouldn’t complete due to bugs and the game would hard lock forcing a restart of the console. Even with these issues, I kept coming back to the game over and over, a game that in all respects is just like the previous titles, games that I couldn’t stand to play. Once I got into it, I was able to overlook the glitches and bugs with the variety of storytelling the game offered. The missions ranged from political, to hilarious, to absolutely morbid. Doing some dungeon crawling and coming across a mass grave of children isn’t something I remotely expected, but there it was. Then again, I never expected to do a quest where it was something out of the Hangover where you had to try and retrace your steps from the drunken night previously.

All in all I expected Skyrim to be a massive sprawling game with hours upon hours of content, but I also expected it to be a game I couldn’t get into. It turned out to be more gameplay than I could have imagined and even now after all the achievements have been gained and all the main storylines have been finished, my game still has a ton of quests that need to be completed, with even more I can only imagine, that I haven’t even found yet. Suffice it to say, I’m glad that I was able to get into the game and finally see what it is that fans of Oblivion and Fallout 3 had experienced. Maybe now I’ll go back and see if I can’t get back into Fallout 3 or New Vegas, but after Skyrim, I think I’ll pass on Oblivion for now.