Salad Goes To Skyrim

I’ve just started playing Skyrim on the Xbox – so free of the infamous mods galore that you can get on the PC version. I bought it a few months back, but after a few hours without really getting into it I left it to go cold. I recently had an urge to play it again and wanted to share my thoughts on it so far (albeit 2 years after it released!).

the_elder_scrolls_v_skyrim

The first thing I do need to say is that the world is immense and well detailed. Skyrim feels alive, and pretty brutal on the whole. I can’t really say that’s a negative, but the world is out to kill you. Hugely powerful giants, which you’ll only be able to kill ably much later in the game, roam the plains pretty much right where you begin. Its brutal and you will die repeatedly – at least they put lots of auto save points in! I can’t really fault the brutalness of the world, its meant to be that way, its the wild untamed north that breeds brutal and wild people.

It just frustrates me when I am punished for exploring. I want to be able to wander around the plains where I start without being insta-killed by everything and anything, including being turned into the Skyrim Space Programme (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWV9hSDXTkg). It frustrates me, as does many enemies giving you diseases that can last forever if you don’t spot them (and whether you have diseases is a very well hidden menu at that). Again, it makes sense but its so unforgiving that I just became frustrated on my first play.

I decided to look past all of that, it does after all add to the feel of the place, and I gave the game another go.

Leading on from the immense and detailed world is the good character creation and customisation. I don’t think its the best I’ve ever come across, but for a predominantly console based game it is fairly impressive. I made myself a big buff Breton with a bright red Mohican, in full plate and a huge sword. Funnily enough though, I generally prefer the character flatmate made which was a cat-like Khajiit who was called Biggles. Biggles is the polar opposite of my buff Breton, Biggles is sneaky, quick and likes magic. Breton gets the job done with brute force. I like being able to play how I like, and also to change my mind as to how I want to play, which I often did. The balance of classes, customising and leveling up is well done in Skyrim.

A Khajiit a bit like Biggles
A Khajiit similar to Biggles

However, besides the customisation and immense and detailed world I’ve yet to find much to commend about Skyrim. Most of all, the controls are awful. I can’t stand the first person, so I’m glad they put in a workable third person – that was some advance on previous Elder Scrolls. However, there is still a very poorly made targeting system. I wished they’d put in a semi-auto target, similar to Grand Theft Auto, because without it the combat is hideous to work with and not fun in the slightest. There are many who can get on with the way it works, and I wished I could, but I most of all just wished there was an option for some form of auto-targeting for those who can’t deal with the controls.

The menu system is incredibly finicky as well. For example, since when did the B button mean exit entirely instead of back to last screen? The menus are split, and it means that swapping magic spells is so difficult, when it should be so fluid, that magic classes are too disjointed for me to enjoy playing.

I also, for all the beauty of the world of Skyrim find it rather too grim. I think that predominately boils down to the obsession with dungeons. That’s something of a long running thing for Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls, and a staple of the RPG genre, to have dungeons galore but the dungeons in Skyrim are incredibly grim, often repeated and needlessly tedious. There was potential for the dungeons to be as awe inspiring as the outside world, but they fell very flat for me in comparison – the same old skeleton and grave robbing enemies as always.

A generic dungeon scene
A generic dungeon scene

The story is fairly good, but for me the only ones that interested me was the Civil War and the Magic College storyline, but that is just scratching the surface of the entire story.

So, as much as I’ve wanted to get back in to Skyrim I’ve just found myself turning the console off in anger more than anything. I’ve adventured through repetitive dungeons only to die against a boss that I can’t target as all because he’s a wraith type enemy – which are near impossible to hit even with a side swipe. I’ve wandered just one minute out of cities to find myself surrounded by insta-kill giants who launch me into the atmosphere with one hit. Even when its going well I find it incredibly frustrating when the menus break and switching skills is so disjointed. There’s something addictive about Skyrim, that makes me want to play again now that I’ve returned, but I never find it fun when I do. Salads do not belong in Skyrim.

Tell me about your experiences in Skyrim! Maybe there’s an awesome build I should try if I can’t get on with the targeting? Let me know your thoughts, and of course, keep on having fun!

 

Digital Salad โ€“ https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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8 thoughts on “Salad Goes To Skyrim

  1. Jeromai November 24, 2013 / 11:34 pm

    Maybe consider picking up Skyrim on the PC when it goes on Steam sale, prolly during Christmas. It sounds like a good part of your lack of enjoyment is not liking the controls and targeting of the console version. Mouselook on the PC version is way kinder.

    I seem to remember giving giants a wide wide berth after being launched into the stratosphere a few times, until one got more powerful equipment. Oh, and there was the time I found a giant and a dragon busy duking it out, and my sneaky thief/mage crept in and plinked away at both with an enchanted bow and ranged spells. That was satisfying. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Digital Salad November 25, 2013 / 9:39 am

      Thanks for the comment.

      I thought about looking at the PC version, I’m much more used to RPGs on pc controls, but I’ve read that Skyrim on PC has awful controls so was a bit put off by that. Although apparently there are mods to fix that, I wished Bethesda would have finished it off properly instead of leaving it to players to finish the game design.

      I’ve done that myself actually, but what really confused me about that was that the giant kicked the dragon’s ass. It was an entirely one-sided fight. Seemed strange to me that a giant could so easily kill a dragon. At least I managed to sneak in and grab my loot though!

  2. C. T. Murphy November 24, 2013 / 11:36 pm

    My best recommendation is to roleplay your character. Come up with personal reasons why they are joining specific factions, picking specific abilities, etc. That helped me tremendously because I got more into the game since my characters better reflected what they were doing. It’s a bit weird to have your armored up, giant hammer wielding Orc run through the paces at the College, for instance.

    • Digital Salad November 25, 2013 / 9:32 am

      Thanks for the comment Murf.

      Thats probably a good idea actually. I joined the College as my beserker style breton, which felt a little odd, especially as I had Lydia in tow at all times. So if I’d role played that as a proper apprentice mage it might’ve been a bit more fun.

      What was your favourite skills to play with out of interest?

      • C. T. Murphy November 25, 2013 / 11:17 pm

        I found my Assassin/Ranger to be the most fun. Archery just feels good in the setting. Melee was fun too, but there still isn’t enough difficulty or nuanced to justify it.

        I’ve attempted more interesting Mages (Illusionists) but I usually get too bored before the class gets good.

      • Digital Salad November 25, 2013 / 11:46 pm

        I just can’t get on with the archery unfortunately. I love archery in most games, it’s usually my first choice in games even when they’re more melee focused. I just can’t get on with something in the Skyrim archery, which I think is how impossible I find it to target effectively with it. It could be a problem with playing it on a console though :/.

        I’m going to have a tinker with some different play styles some time soon and I’ll report back on if I find them any more fun ๐Ÿ™‚

      • C. T. Murphy November 26, 2013 / 12:03 am

        I read a journal somewhere of someone trying to play the game without killing anyone. Using illusion spells to calm bandits down. That’s certainly an idea too!

        The problem is that despite its depth, the game’s combat isn’t varied enough to make different builds as fun as they could be. Every fight is a few AI controlled bags of meat for you to pound, shoot, or light on fire.

        I love the Elder Scrolls but combat still needs love!

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