First impressions: Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim (PS3)

Its all updated! Faster & better looking! - Its also moving away from the stats and number crunching of traditional RPG's and moving into Arcade game territory.

Morrowind on the PC, a game that required a Skynet of specs but one which I hadn’t had so much enjoyment from since I played Elite 2 – Frontier.  Years later, I bought Morrowind for the Xbox and the expansion packs – it was a great “open world” experience.  Then came Oblivion, even bigger, even prettier and my PS3 had to stay up pretty late as I explored every dark corner, prodded everything with a stick and make a fortune in gold by both honorable and dubious means (thanks Dark Brotherhood!).  The expansions were great and its the only game I’ve kept  playing for years on end.

Now Skyrim is here and whilst I jumped on board a few days late, I had mixed feelings about getting the game, yes it would be a great graphical leap forward, yes there would be new wonders and missions, but maybe it’s because I’ve played Oblivion (and before that Morrowind) for so long, that the formula and genre is now wearing a little thin?

So last night I powered up Skyrim for the first time and since this is not a review, merely my thoughts so far, I’ll cut to the chase (there are so many reviews on the net anyway)

So what am I liking?

The combat is great, both graphically and its implementation, with camera movement, blood on the screen and cut scenes depicting death blows.   Spells look better, character models both in the creation section and the game itself look more real and the game engine seems to have been optimized since there’s no apparent drops in frame rate yet as you would often get on all platforms on Oblivion.  A great addition and really something that should have been included in Oblivion is dual wielding, the art of double chopping, its nicely done too.

Theres more (and seemingly less) interaction with scenery, you can burn spilt oil, manipulate objects, however its seems so far, that unlike Oblivion, you can’t knock over some random objects on tables.  In oblivion you could make a right old mess of someones table, sending cups, plates and food flying around the room in a foray of spitefulness merely by swinging your sword at it.  In Skyrim it seems I’ve found a few objects on tables which refuse to budge no matter what chopper I choose to bash them with.  With that in mind though, there are many new skills, most notably smithing in which you can create your own armor, however these do not make up for the fact (in my book anyway) that an integral part of a RPG is character diversity/development, and this as I explain seems a little lacking.

So now we move on to what I don’t like so far and I’ve touched on a “step backwards” above.  It seems that everywhere on the net Skyrim is getting very high scores.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a great game however the score reduces somewhat the more you have played the previous titles.  The main concern I have for the Elder Scrolls range is that after the last two releases it seems to be getting dumbed down for a mainstream audience.  Morrowind was a wealth of stats, choices, influences and decisions whereas Oblivion took away some of that complication and made more of an arcade feel to it.  I unfortunately don’t feel as much in control of my character with Skyrim and I think with todays consumer in the main, the likes of Morrowind days are long gone.

It may not be as grand, it may not look as pretty, but Morrowind offered an RPG experience thats sadly been dumbed down over the years.

Skyrim appears to take another step towards that goal.  The achievement point system is good, but leveling looks to offer very little variety and I get the feeling at this early stage that everyone will end up with roughly the same character at the end (with a few different perks).  The developers seem to think it great that if you get bored with a certain skill you can train another, but I am of the opinion that RPG’s are all about choices, choices which you have to live with (or start again).  Now it appears Merlin can become Man at arms and theres no character class to differentiate any of them.

I am enjoying Skyrim so far, its  a great story and nice to keep in with goings on in Tamriel I am sure I will discover more great features as I progress through the storyline,  however I find myself enjoying this more like Fable, rather than an entirely open, character choice critical RPG of the past.   Within 20 minutes of gameplay I find myself a criminal because in the first village a chicken accidently hit its head into my heavy hammer five times.   Surprisingly enough, I have to give credit to the chicken who had a damn good stab at taking on a blunt heavy battle weapon.

Graphically it looks nice, although I’m not really that impressed over Oblivion and I don’t think much of an improvement has been made with the in-game faces of human players.  For this seasoned Elder Scrolls player, I would give Skyrim (so far) 7/10 certainly not the silly 9 or 10 I’ve seen other sites dish out.  Maybe if Skyrim was my first outing into the world of Tamriel things would be different?

For the first timer to Elder Scrolls or indeed the RPG genre, Skyrim should pose no problems integrating them, the menu’s are intuitive (although “hand holding” for a grizzled old RPG’r like myself) but then it would be selfish (and wrong) to think that Bethesda wants to do anything but appeal to as many people as possible ergo sell more copies.

Enjoy Skyrim, I will, however for my true RPG experience I hold a torch for a new franchise that will cater for those who like things a little more in-depth.

Tim (Goblin)

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. buenomucho says:

    I agree totally with your points, I’ve enjoyed earlier games in the series and Skyrim is certainly worthy to carry the torch, but lacks the character depth I found earlier on. I also bought Dark Souls a little after it came out, and I would recommend that to you, if you fancy something a little more hardcore.

  2. openbytes says:

    Hi there! I’ll certainly take a look…. It seems a common theme today that everything is dumbed down….

    Now that Bethesda have found a RPG formula that appeals to the masses, I doubt we will ever see a return to the more traditional RPG….

    Shame. After I’m done with Skyrim, I’ll certainly take a look at Dark Souls.

    Regards
    Tim.

  3. buenomucho says:

    I agree, I also feel that video games across the board are being simplified to open up the ‘casual’ audience. It’s just capitalism I guess.
    That said, From Software is a Japanese company, and their products seem to stick to their guns; after a good success with the game’s spiritual predecessor, they haven’t dumbed Dark Souls at all; if anything it’s more complex.
    I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Seems like more of the slam, bam style of RPG…is it too much to ask to have better choices of characters, more nuance and wider diversity in characters? And cripes, my Seasonal Affective Disorder is bad enough without slogging through these dark, muddy scenes.

    I am bored with the whole thing…and I’m only at level 6.

    1. openbytes says:

      Having been a fan of Morrowind (and Oblivion) it saddens me to say that I agree with you…. I’m only at level 4 and all this wandering is starting to get to me already…

      It doesn’t feel open like Oblivion or Morrowind, it doesn’t feel as populated nor as rich a world…..

  5. chew says:

    I think the options interface needs a serious rethink to say the least. Otherwise your (and previous posters) points stand.

    Personal opinion, the Witcher 2 is much better.

    1. openbytes says:

      HI!

      Haven’t looked at Witcher before, however the interface is poor (imo). Its fair enough making it accessable to all, however its bland and when it does get a little fancy (the skills/perks screen) thats not a very intiuative way to present them. Ive noticed on the Start menu you can see things from the old Elder Scrolls games such as “Houses bought” etc but the whole experience is still very cushioned in terms of an RPG.

      As I said before I think Skyrim is more of a hack and slash with perks and bonuses than an RPG….

      Having said that, I’ve spent more time with it now so I’ll be concluding the final opinion shortly.

      1. chew says:

        Unfortunately Witcher 2 is only available for the PC (Windows) and an Xbox version in 2012.
        But there seems to be an impression that a PS3 port is on the way…

        http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-06-13-witcher-2-ps3-dev-would-love-to-do-it

        In the mean time enjoy this vid review…

        http://www.ign.com/videos/2011/05/24/the-witcher-2-video-review?objectid=37653

        Apparently works reasonable well under Wine…

        http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=version&iId=23504

  6. Dann says:

    While I own Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, I’ve only played Morrowind and Skyrim so far. The transition from Morrowind’s battle system to Skyrim’s was a bit of a shock I suppose, mainly because leveling up in Skyrim felt slower and yes, less specialized. But having the ability to level up all abilities also made the world feel more open and accessible. Certain abilities I haven’t trained up at all, but I may do so later just to get the level up perks. In Morrowind, the problem for me always was that I couldn’t fit in all the abilities I wanted into the major and minor slots. Maxing out stats was difficult unless you found that sword in the glitchy first versions of the game that would lower your armor skills permanently, then train those back up. (A minor complaint, it was definitely more fun than Skyrim)

    The most irritating thing for me in Skyrim was the lack of an Athletics ability. But perhaps that’s why Morrowind was so glitchy at times (jump up, get stuck in a roof, etc)
    The greatest thing about Skyrim is the atmosphere and environment. Some of the voice acting is quite good, though you can tell they reuse the handful of actors. Definitely listen to the Daedria talk, it’s quite powerful. Also: Horses (though I heard they are in Oblivion too, can’t say for sure)

    Maybe once I play Oblivion I will see exactly what you see. It’s nice that weapons are no longer a hit/miss, but your skill dictates their strength (and speed?)

    1. openbytes says:

      Personally for a RPG fan such as myself I much prefered Elder Scrolls… Oblivion was watered down, Skyrim even more so…. For a person not playing Oblivion, the “jump” between the two products must be even more noticable.

      In Skyrim most stats have been taken away from user control. Magic, Strength and stamina are all that remain with weapon skills acting like “perks”…

      I liked Morrowind more that it was more stats based and you had to stick with the choices you made about your character from early in the game. With Skyrim I feel that everyone playing it will end up with roughly the same character.

      Maybe as a testament to Skyrim, I haven’t been back to it for a while, Morrowind and Oblivion I played to completion for a long time.

  7. Sol says:

    I wonder if I could get Planescape: Torment running on my Linux box….

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