Oh how I've looked forward to Skyrim. I've read about it, watched videos, memorized Dan Bull's Rap, Pre-ordered it and the game guide months ago, checked the door every half hour on Friday like a puppy til UPS dropped it off.
As soon as I got it I ripped it open and fired it up and it all began... My bouts with narcolepsy and love of the pause button.
It started up and here I was sitting a wagon staring at some shlub that was talking to me in a weird accent and I thought..."oh how trite. I was knocked out and wake up in a moving vehicle going lord knows where....except unlike in the Darkness, I don't get a shotgun." I listened to dude drone on as we plodded on, some other guy joined in the convo to whine and I wanted it all to end. It finally did, I get outta the wagon, some contrived shit happens in order to let me make and name a character and frustration began.
I want to praise the fact that Skyrim went back to the Morrowind race model in that every race looks distinctly different as opposed to Oblivion where excepting the "beast" races (Argonian, Khajit, Orc) every race looked the same except with different skin tones and either pointy ears or regular ears.
However, was it necessary to make them all so utterly hideous? I'm a girl, I like playing as a girl, I gave up trying to make a girl that didnt give me nightmares. My husband actually told me after 30 minutes to go get a smoke and let him try to make me something a little less fugly. Bless his heart he tried, but she's still pretty ugly. Since I like being a battle mage in EVERYTHING (or in Mass Effect a SPACE battle mage known as Vanguard) I needed someone who was pre-disposed to magic and combat. In Oblivion and Morrowind I was a Dunmer (Dark Elf) but damn if the Dark Elves in Skyrim aren't frightening enough to keep you up at night. Tried a High Elf...more magic than combat but...you know, I could make it work...or not...*shudder*
So we moved on to the humans, Breton...well thats a promising battle mage, except she looked 50 and in a snit and you cant get rid of the wrinkles...look i'm old enough without playing some fugly old chick in a game spanning hundreds of hours. Best looking females? Nords and Redguards, both useless to me because they are mostly warriors. My husband said "look, pick a race, go outside and smoke, I'll make it work" Ok Tim Gunn, I half-heartedly chose Imperial and left.
When I came back I had a...less hideous female character and after we fiddled back and forth with hairstyles and war paint I gave up and said "ok its been over an hour, I wanna play so fuck it"
OMG it was an odyssey to just MAKE a character!
Got past that, and the beginning run around and then I was free and out and about. YAY!!!
My wonder and excitement didnt last all that long.
Yes, the game as a whole is lovely, but up close, its kinda meh. Being the kind of person that totally just blows hours roaming around aimlessly killing things and finding new locations to fast travel to later (cause I'm lazy as hell, suck at riding a horse and like getting to places quickly) I found the whole bleak snowy atmosphere dull. After a bit of a jaunt through the woods I gave up and just headed to the first town I was sent to.
Unlike most people I'm guessing, I haven't gone out in search of a dragon, and I haven't run into any which suits me fine at this point in the game. The enemies I have found are not exactly difficult to fight except when they gang up on me. Magic I've found is utterly useless aside from..well, ok, its all useless. I spend most of my time with a shield and a mace. WTH is up lately with games that hve "choices" but not really? first it was Deus Ex "play how you like as long as you like stealth" and now Skyrim "play how you like as long as you like hacking and slashing". Its ok though, I can live with it, I dont mind braining someone with a mace. What I'm having a hard time with is the boredom....oh the boredom.
Now before you jump all over me about how its an open world RPG and you explore and make your own adventure...I'm not stupid. I'm well aware what its supposed to be. I've played Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. I love JRPGs and if that isnt a study in grinding I dont know what the hell is. However, I can't seem to find Skyrim compelling.
The first night I got it, I felt I MUST stay up and play, I waiting this long, I talked it up constantly and drove my family nuts about it so now I must prove how awesome and engrossing it is. I think I smoked 3/4's of a pack of cigarettes that night because smoking required me to go outside and play a game on my phone (kiddies, no smoking allowed in the house). I stayed up til 5:30 and barely scrapped my way to level 6.
The Next day I fired it up and never got past the start screen. I fell sleep controller in hand. NINE hours later I woke up and tried again. Hey look I made it past the start screen! Then I fell asleep again. At 4am I turned it on again and played til 6am. Next day my husband asks me "so how much of that was that you couldnt sleep?" I had to be honest and answer "all of it". Yes, I played because I couldnt sleep and hoped it would put me to sleep. It did.
Yesterday I was determined. I was going to explore and hack and slash and level up and love Skyrim. That was my mission! I had the game on all day.. literally, ALL DAY. I made it to level 11, found 34 places and paused the game 6 million times. I spent most of the day doing other things with the game paused.
You see, I get it, its Skyrim, its cold and snowy and mountainous. Its also boring and dull. I'm tired of the grey, I'm tired of the dull green, I'm tired of the snowy white. I'm tired of encountering a wolf or if I'm lucky a bear once every 2 hours. I have no desire to find a dragon, I'm sure it would kick my ass soundly. I had a run in with a giant and he sent me flying to my death in one hit. But I got my revenge..oh yes. I reloaded the game, shot him with an arrow and hauled ass over to a group of guards who did my dirty work for me.
I encountered an Ice troll at one point, yes, just one, and He got stuck on the scenery so I shot him with flaming arrows at my leisure til he keeled over.
I spend 90% of my time plodding through snow at a snails pace because I'm over encumbered. I could have dropped crap ,but I needed the cash to buy a house. I did finally get my house and furnished it, YAY!
I spend more damn time at the Blacksmith's selling shit than I do anything else.
I've found 2 Shouts, but I can't use them.
I hate the enchanting. Now I need to wreck my shit to learn the enchantment in order to enchant something else. Seems counter productive.
Alchemy is another snoozefest and I can only do it at an alchemy lab unless I want to eat bear turds in the wild. I know that I used to bitch about carrying my alchemy gear in Oblivion because it weighed me down but, I miss the alchemy on the fly when necessary.
I can't say I'm feeling the UI either. its kinda cumbersome and every time I hit the B button to pull up the menu its slow as hell. The map is very cinematic and a bitch to read. the favorite thing is helpful but not by much.
After all this you probably wonder why the hell I even bothered to keep playing since all I seem to be spewing is hate. But the thing is, i'm not. Yes, there is PLENTY I dont like about the game, thought at least I know I found a cure for insomnia, no game has put me to sleep this fast since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. However, I'm gonna be very honest. I HATED the hell out of Oblivion when I first played it. I plodded through it for 60 hours...yes, SIXTY, before I changed my opinion of it and loved it. I ended up making 2 characters and blowing over 300 hours on it, then I bought it for PC as well as 360. I now own 3 copies of Oblivion and 2 of Morrowind. So, there's hope Skyrim will grow on me.
The difference is that when I first played Oblivion I was pretty new to gaming, especially open world RPGs, so I didn't know what to expect, or what to do, things got better after I got the game guide. (about the game guide, I must have read that thing like a novel about 15 times).
In Oblivion, I was just kinda...lost. In Skyrim, I'm just bored.
I'm gonna keep going though, i'm gonna keep playing because I WANT to love it. I want to be excited about it, I want to explore..dragons..meh, they'll probably slaughter me so, whatever, but dungeon crawling, looting, chatting with the locals, buying houses and furnishing them, zapping things with shock spells. I want to do all that and enjoy it. I don't know if i'll succeed, to be honest, I dont have much hope but, who knows, maybe I'll hit that place where it will all click.
I think one of the things that's really holding the game back for me is the sameness,the monotony of...EVERYTHING. The same mountain copy pasta'd everywhere, everything everywhere is white and dull green. The armour is all the same fugly flavor. messy, ugly furs, messy ugly leather, messy ugly iron and messy ugly steal. I'm sure as I level up it will get better, God I hope so. I miss the beauty of Glass and Dweomer armour in Oblivion.
Maybe I'm clinging too much to Oblivion and need to let that go to enjoy this. It happened with Fallout New Vegas. After Playing Fallout 3 I felt NV was a step down, the scenery flat and dull ,the added crafting cumbersome, the story meaningless and less motivating than Fallout 3, Mr. New Vegas utter shite compared to Three Dog.
I still stand by all those things, I've just separated the 2 games and taken them each on their merits and I've enjoyed New Vegas very much, especially Honest Hearts and Old World Blues. I've actually gotten further in the storyline of New Vegas than I did Fallout 3, mostly because I spent most of FO3 exploring every nook and cranny and less time on story.
And there's the rub, in both Skyrim and New Vegas's predecessors, I felt that sense of adventure and wanderlust, I didnt feel pushed along a path, I just...roamed. I helped some people, I killed some things, I looted many many places and I liked it and didnt feel compelled to follow step 1 to step 2 to step 3.
In New Vegas and Skyrim, I feel like the game is frowning at me for dicking around and not moving forward with the story. Skyrim has dropped like 30 quests important and miscellaneous in my lap and I feel this little invisible clock ticking at me. I dont like that. I know its just me, but you know what? I paid for the damn game, so I only care about how I feel about it.
Is it huge? Oh yeah. Is it snowy with majestic mountains and towering conifers? Definitely. Do I get to wear a hat with horns? Honestly I think it might be an unwritten rule that its illegal to NOT wear one. Is there plenty to do? Oh it boggles the mind how much there is to do. Cooking, Blacksmithing, Enchanting, Alchemy, chatting the locals, reading books...oh yeah...you can also fight too, sometimes.
That's the thing, combat, exploration, they are such a damn afterthought. Especially combat. Maybe they figured DRAGONS!!!!! Who needs to kill wolves, or bears, or bandits when there are dragons..Me! That's who. I want to fight things that arent the size of a skyscraper.
I'm sure with time,, lots of naps and pauses and some game play, my opinions will temper, I'll probably even learn to like the game the way I did New Vegas. But for now, I leave it at "meh, with a chance of a'ight"
Most exciting moment in Skyrim so far?
I ran into M'aiq the Liar!!!!!! woohoo!!!!