Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review (PC)

After seventy hours of gameplay I can finally come to terms with Skyrim. Even after seventy hours I haven’t finished half of the factions quests, half of the side quests or explored more than seventy percent of the map. As everyone is aware Skyrim is absolutely massive and it is continually growing with the support of the modding community. For instance I just saw a mod working to create an online mode. Like Oblivion before it Skyrim offers a full immersive single player experience in a world full of quests, dragons, war, daedric gods and all kinds of enemies out there to end your life. Skyrim is such a huge to try to cover that I am going to do a like/dislike list with explanations, much like how I did the Unity of Command review.

One of the first things you will notice about Skyrim is the graphics, why? Because it is stunningly gorgeous. After a while you will come to notice that some textures are not excellent and could be improved, but the environmental and level design is superb.Bethesda Softworks clearly learned from Oblivion how to create more interesting dungeons, no longer will enter numerous cave networks that feel the same, look the same and leave you with no sense of awe. The only areas that do become repetitive are the crypt levels but the way they make even caves look gorgeous and feel unique is impressive.
Skyrim_Screenshot1

While that screenshot shows off how impressive inside areas are being out in the world is often just as impressive. Whether you travel into the mountains and can damn near feel the snow falling down upon or if you are out walking the streets of Riften as rain sends everyone indoors. One of the biggest complaints about the graphics in Oblivion was how hard it was to run, it was poorly optimized, and how you cannot see any structures from very far away, with Skyrim they added in an amazing field of view that lets you see all major structures as long as you can actually see it. The game still is a bit hard to run for middle line set ups but it seems to have far fewer problems with optimization than Oblivion did.

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In twenty hours I was able to get my second character character to level twenty five or so while my first character has about fifty hours on him and is only level thirty-eight. Like many games once you start playing it the second time you tend to know how to level your character up in a quicker manner. With regards to character development it’s almost the same as Oblivion, you use skills and using them levels you up. Now when you level up you choose to place points into specific skills, all of which have unique trees that are relevant to each skill. For instance, if you manage to make it to the highest possible rank in smithing you can create armor out of dragon bones and scales. Also, you no longer have attributes like strength, intelligence, dexterity etc., now you choose to level up health, magicka or stamina each time you level. While that is simpler it does work well, better? I’m not sure about that, but the whole system is still working fine. I would have liked to see them do a more significant change to make it into a great system and if you didn’t like how leveling worked in Oblivion then these improvements are unlikely to change your view on the system. In regards to leveling enemies no longer always scale to your level but they are now varied based on the location and quest. Some enemies do still scale but even when they do scale all the enemies you fight are not going to be of the same level.

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Now we come to one of my least favorite parts of the game, the UI (the graphical interface that involves all menu’s and displays). At first it is really easy to get used to the UI and it doesn’t feel like there is much wrong with it but once you get farther along you start to notice that it really doesn’t work very well. Much of the UI feel’s like it was meant more for consoles than PC. Often you will open up the inventory or conversation menu’s and the game will say to do this press E to equip (as an example) but that often doesn’t work and instead you have to click it. The game randomly will switch that around and make it so clicking options doesn’t work but keys do, rarely do both work like they are intended. They also added a favorite’s menu, which is easy to use and access but for some reason you can’t bind keys to anything, like a traditional PC rpg. Overall the UI is pretty shoddy and the game has been out for a month and it’s still not fun to use. I’ve seen much worse UI before but this is a huge game with very high production values, it shouldn’t have been as sketchy. To check out the UI and some gameplay check out my some of video I took of my first ten hours of the game.

Many people disliked the main quest in Oblivion and found many of the side quests uninspiring, the same feeling persists in Skyrim but on a far lesser scale. There are some side quests that feel a little tacked on or generic but even those are often met with impressible level designs. All the voice acting through the game helps make the quests more interesting, mainly because they hired some good voice actors for Skyrim. You definitely will hear some voices more than once, especially with random npc’s like bandits or villagers, but it’s all well done. The main quest takes you through some fantastic areas, like one my favorite areas (seen below),   and is complemented by the war side quest ,which is so big that it almost feels like it’s part of the main quest. Between the two it is a longer and more engrossing main storyline but I do still miss Sean Bean.

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Likes and Dislikes
+Breath taking Environments
+Hundreds of hours of gameplay
+Mod Support (creation kit comes out this month)
+Large amount of character creation options
+Can play the game however you want
+No more level scaling
+Fighting dragons is an awesome experience
+Many different types of enemies to fight
+Many large cities to explore
+Companions are very useful and customizable
-The UI is buggy
-Quests/AI can be annoyingly buggy
-Some broken quests
-Some Shouts feel useless

Last Comments
There is a lot to like about Skyrim. The game is so enjoyable that it is fairly easy to look over any and all negatives but every time something breaks it hurts the experience. I was a huge fan of Oblivion, playing it for over two hundred hours thanks to modifications and Skyrim improves upon so much that it is difficult to dislike anything about it. Skyim is a dream for open world rpg gamers and all of it’s improvements may convert some of those who hated previous Elder Scroll games. It is still a game that unleashes you upon a huge world and let’s you loose to do whatever you want. If you are one of the few out there questioning it’s greatness than I strongly urge you to get it when it goes on sale. The world is worth spending time, even if it’s just to summon a storm that shoots lightning down upon the dragon you are fighting, forcing it to crash land before your eyes.

Violent Score: 9.5 (out of 10)
 Skyrim18
-Written by Sean Cargle
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