Monday, 14 November 2011

Skyrim Review

Overall Skyrim is an excellent game. But as a hardcore player of Morrowind and Oblivion there are a lot of changes that I just hate. My first charactor was a breton mage. I avoided the main quest at the start because I didn't want dragons all over the place as i went along doing other things. The first place I went was the Mages Guild (or College as it is now). One of the things I missed from the earlier TES games was progressing through factions. Gaining ranks, getting paid for gruntwork, and then much later on doing some large quest that makes me the head of that guild. In skyrim that is totally gone, the first thing you do in the mages guild **VAGUE SPOILERS** is find this orb, then you find out its a problem, then you solve it. Only 1 real quest line that immediately makes you the arch mage. I was not even journeyman at any mage skill and now I'm the archmage? There were many other mages there all masters in their field that realistically should have taken over. But whatever.  Then I played as a warrior for a long time to get a feel for the combat.

The new magic mechanics defiantly have their good points, they look better for starters. But so much was removed from the last game. There are significantly less spells, and less ways to use them. Also they removed the mysticism skill. SPELLMAKING IS GONE! which really ruins the experience for me. Spellmaking made magic much more personal and fun. Plus there were a lot of ways to use spellmaking to grind out skills (like damage armour on self for armourer skill). This happened between oblivion and morrowind too. Morrowind had many more spells like levitate, mark&recall, blind, etc which were all removed. Enchanting in skyrim is good. I think the Idea of finding enchantments by destroying enchanted stuff is a good change. Enchanting still uses soul gems and is pretty simple. Enchanting in Morrowind was much better though, it was much more open. For example in Morrowind you could take a ring and enchant it to have fire damage on target spell, so now this ring worked like a scroll with multiple uses. They removed that in oblivion so that you could only have constant effect on objects, or effect on strike on weapons.

Another incremental change that I have always disliked is that armour and clothing have less and less pieces. In Morrowind you had 8 pieces of armour (helm, currias, left and right pauldrens, left and right gauntlets, grieves, and boots) This allowed for much greater customization. It also made it much harder to find full sets of armour. Also you could add clothing on top, and under the armour. you could wear pants under the armour, and a cloak on top. This meant you could enchant everything all to have more effects, making you more powerful. In oblivion they removed a lot of that. Only 5 pieces of armour, and no clothing under or over anything. Now in skyrim its even less, only 4 pieces of armour (greaves are removes and just added to currias). So now theres even less customizations than in either of the previous games. Also, in Skyrim, you can only have 1 ring on, WTH? 10 fingers and only 1 ring?

Leveling in skyrim is..different. In one sentence; skyrim is now an action/RPG, instead of an RPG. The perks system brought in from fallout is great. Its much more fun, and allows for more things to do with each skill than what oblivion had where you would get a new action every 25 levels. Also the fact that you can save perk points for use later is excellent, being forces to use them at leveling up would have really ruined the leveling in skyrim. However, there are less skills now then ever. There is NO MORE ACROBATICS, OR ATHLETICS, this is a horrible loss for the overall experience. This means that there is only ever 1 speed to run at, and only ever 1 height to jump at. One of the reasons I loved the TES games is that I could max out these skills and just fly around. Especially in morrowind where speed, athletics, and acrobatics were enhanced by enchantments I could basically fly around. Jumping from mountain to mountain and fall from the highest drops. This was lessened a bit in oblivion, but by stacking spells I could get the same effect. This is now GONE in Skyrim, I can use the console and whatnot but thats not gameplay at that point so its not nearly as fun.  Another big difference is that there is no longer any attributes, like at all!  This is why I say its more of an action rpg rather than a rpg.  Some people don't like the leveling in oblivion, which is understandable because morrowind's leveling was much more open and easy.  In morrowind you werent punished for getting levels up that you didnt intend.  Also you could level up infinitely by using damage skill spells, in Oblivion the max level is 52.  In oblivion if you were trying to get strength up you had to work on nothing but strength skills, anything else would ruin the +5 attribute at level up.  I guess thats not a problem anymore...

They took away a bunch of awesome, usefully, fun skills and added pickpocketing... A whole freaking skill for pickpocketing, I never even used it in the first games why would I want it now!? 

The Combat mechanics are different too.  As expected they use much, much better animations.  Everything looks realistic.  However because you have to wait for (the sometimes lengthy) animations, the controls are not nearly as precise.  In oblivion you could block every attack fairly easily because the shield would raise instantly, and the animations were quick.  In skyrim I always seem to be swinging at something, have it miss and then get hit in the back.  Which is really frustrating.  I guess that's why they added the regenerating health.  But its so slow that it doesn't make any difference in actual combat.  The fallout style kill cam works pretty well.  It makes the combat much more fun when you get a good beheading on the enemy.  Sometimes you get a messed up camera angle and see through a wall, or see nothing but a wall.  But this isnt a big problem because the kill cam lasts only a short time.  Oblivion's combat changed in a similar way from morrowind's.  In Morrowind the animations are pretty bad (in today's standards) and it was more complex in that different moves had different damages (eg: Trusting with a spear did more damage than slashing)  and there was chance to miss based on skill.  But at least it was precise in the last two games.  You could hit what you wanted, when you wanted, and you weren't flailing around hitting air.  Its more realistic now, but the controls just are not what I'm used to from this kind of game. 

One awesome new change is the smithing skill.  You can craft weapons, and armour, and jewelry by mining ores, smelting into bars, then smithing.  Then you can improve your weapons, and armour for extra effect.  I really enjoy this new mechanic.

There are also a couple smaller changes, It seems impossible to make an attractive female face in the character customization ( A problem that will quickly be solved by wonderful modders).  You cant use any colour you want for hair use have to use presets.  The third person camera zooms slightly when you put away your weapon.  so im always adjusting the camera so I can see, this is especially annoying in caves.  A great new change is the voice acting, theres now more than one voice for each race.  Also the UI is perfect for a controller ( I play on PC but with an Xbox controller)  very simple.  the map is cool too, although sometimes is hard to find where im looking with all the snow.  Also the dragons are good, shouting seems like a good addition so far.

Skyrim has a lot of changes that as a fan of the last two games I just cant get over.  Its a very different game now. It feels like im not playing a TES game, but just an action oriented rpg with a lot of caves.  Im really happy I decide to get this game on PC because the mods will be amazing.  I might re-learn the construction set again just so I can play around with modding too.

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