Skyrim Review: Five Things to See and Do
Skyrim is my game of the year. I’ll just get that out of the way and say that it is by far the biggest, funnest, and most well designed title to come out in 2011, and possibly the best to come out in the past few years! There is so much to do and see in Skyrim, but in my 46 hours of experience (nowhere near done mind you, just taking a break to write this), I thought I might share some of the most notable experiences I’ve come across during my travels.
1. Slay a Dragon: okay, this is an obvious task on the to-do list for anyone thinking of playing Skyrim, but honestly, it’s a good place to start on a list of must-do’s. Dragons are bits of ancient history come to life for the people of Tamriel, and thanks to some cosmic coincidences, you happen to be the best there is when it comes to slaying these living legends. Dragon battles can come at any time during your travels, be it in the mountains, on the plains, or on your way through any of the myriad towns you might run across. They can be exciting and terrifying, making quite the scene silhouetted against the beauty of the northern lights, or splashing down amidst the volcanic hot springs to spray you with fiery destruction. How you choose to kill the big lizards is entirely up to you, but be quick and creative in your approach; even at higher levels, a dragon can be a challenge, and you don’t want them getting the drop on you because you were being sloppy.
2. Snipe a Bandit: I know there are tons of ways to play Skyrim, but I’m just going to share this as one of my favorite experiences. I like to play stealth in an open world game like this, and being the delicate sort in character build department, I tend to take up the bow over the dagger. Well, Skyrim was perfectly accommodating on that count. The new perk system lets you craft the perfectly overpowered character to handle any and all situations. As a rogue archer, I tended pick perks that improved that play style I added damage and a time-slow effect to my archery, and a neat trick where I could crouch and disappear from view based on my high stealth skill. After that, I decided to take some points in smithing and enchanting to improve my gear and stats even further, crafting a beautiful Glass Bow (flawless) with an enchantment on it that trapped souls if they died within one second (being a one-hit killer, they always do). In addition, my work in enchantment opened up a perk that recharged the bow’s enchantments with every kill, so I am now the proud owner of the Bow of Infinite Soul Traps! Of course, I focused on just four of the dozen skill trees available to all players, and I’m still a long way from level 50, so there’s no question that Skyrim gives you more than enough tools to play the way you want to play.
3. Shout Down a Bear: Dragon Shouts are the powers that separate you from the rest of the crop in Skyrim, the mark of greatness that obligates you to solve everyone’s problems and live a life of wandering adventure. I’ll avoid specifics to keep from spoiling where these powers come from and their purpose in the world at large, but something I must insist you try is using some of these powers on a cave bear. In my time playing, I’ve accumulated a number of shouts, but my bread and butter tends to be Unrelenting Force, a shout that sends anything (and anyone) caught in the path of your voice flying! So, with this in mind, it was only natural that when a pesky cave bear chased me across the hills of Skyrim and trapped me against the base of a cliff, it was Unrelenting Force that I unleashed upon the poor beast. The image of that rag-doll bear blowing away across the hills will warm my heart for years to come.
4. Serve the Daedra: I’ve always considered the quests in the Elder Scrolls to be home run material for the series, and Skyrim is no different. In fact, a lot of the quests tend to be even more in-depth and stimulating than anything the previous titles in the series had to offer. During my playthrough, I’ve joined a prison riot, stolen a vampire’s journal from under her coffin, and tricked a meddling cleric into coming to a cannibal’s feast…in my honor! There are heroic exploits to be had in the Companions and the College of Winterhold, as well as not so honorable tasks to be done for the likes of the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieve’s Guild. Every town needs your help in some way, shape, or form, and there’s legends to be found and explored throughout the countryside. Even at level 36 and nearly 50 hours of playtime, I’ve yet to explore any of the guilds mentioned above outside of their introductory quests, and I’ve only completed the first of three acts in the main story. I feel it will take days, or maybe even weeks, to fully explore the game and all of the adventures is has to offer.
5. Smell the Roses: Seriously, if you take my advice and buy Skyrim (now! Today!), I would recommend you play for a while, and then stop; not playing, I mean stop in the game. Stop walking, put away your weapon (if that won’t get you killed), and just look around. Being Skyrim, I have no idea what you’ll see when you do this, but it could be anything; that’s what’s so amazing! It could be a living town, with peddlers and workers going about their business, and your own house just down the street. It could be a temperate forest, with deer and foxes running about, or a field of volcanic hot springs tended by a tribe of giants and their woolly mammoths. Or maybe its a dank, underground crypt, covered in ancient sigils and filled the the bodies of the ancient dead, waiting to rise again and purge you from their stronghold (you might want to only stop briefly if that’s the case). Skyrim is possibly the biggest and most well-realized fantasy world ever achieved in video gaming, and head and shoulders above its nearest competitor this year in terms of value and achievement. This may be my new favorite game of all time, but at this point I’m gushing and want to get back to playing. Buy Skyrim if you even remotely enjoy RPG’s, and if you don’t, hopefully this game will help you feel otherwise.
Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Developer: Bethesda Softworks