Diary of a casual video gamer: Skyrim

Yeah, I don't have a device for hooking my xbox up to my laptop so this is literally a screenshot. A blurry, pinstriped screenshot. Enjoy.

I’ve been flat out with work lately (as in, writing thousands of words a day for the last ten days) so I haven’t had much time for gaming or hobby stuff. I haven’t even been checking my regular gaming blogs.  I did manage to start playing Skyrim a little.  That guy up there is my 5th level orc, Krabulos.

Did I mention how I hate Ryu players? They're humourless jerks who seem to think they are tireless warriors rather than couch potatoes pretending to be a tireless warrior. Oh how I love smashing them, and how I cry when they smash me.

As I’ve said many times before, I have a short attention span with video games and I’m not that interested in winning them or getting achievements.  Except for Street Fighter.  I can’t help trying to win at Street Fighter, against my better judgement.

With computer/console RPGs I often play them on “easy” so I can get through the story without having my suspension of disbelief broken by my hero constantly dying and respawning.  It’s awesome, it makes my hard-core gamer friends spin in their graves while they’re still alive.

The Elder Scrolls games I like because I don’t have to do that.  You can play at your own pace.  I played Oblivion for something like 80 hours and never attempted the main story.  Skyrim I am so far enjoying even more than Oblivion.  I’ve already spent about 4 or 5 hours of real world time just running over mountains picking flowers and trying (unsuccessfully) to hunt rabbits with fireballs.

Krabulos enjoys running through the mountains and occasionally being slain by animals/wandering monsters/falls/drowning.

The reason I say I like it more than Oblivion is aesthetics.  I think the Elder Scrolls games have always fallen short of what they were trying to achieve visually, at least for me.  You could see they were going for a natural, woody feel to everything but it just came across a bit bland and flat.  The people looked strange, with tiny heads and odd colouring.  It was almost impossible to make a good-looking character, unlike in Dragon Age II (and Bioware RPGs in general) where everyone is hot.  I always play these games in third person view if possible because I figure since I spend ages making my character and collecting their gear, I might as well see them.  And if I’m going to be looking at someone all day, I want them to look cool.  Krabulos looks pretty cool, I have to say.  And my girlfriend’s character looks like a swimsuit model wearing a sword.

I also didn’t like the armour and weapon style of Oblivion and Morrowind.  I’m not a fan of golden plates of armour that look like leaves.  I like furs and iron and animal teeth, Hyborian style.

Skyrim has more visually arresting backgrounds.  I think they finally struck the right colour balance between vivid and realistic.  The people also look much better.  The armour and weapons are Conan-esque.  I’m enjoying the leveling-up system too.  You improve skills with use, but you still have the ability to control your development in a more traditional way by picking perks.  It’s a nice combination.

I have a couple of criticisms too of course.  The bewildering array of skills from other Elder Scrolls games has been drastically cut down.  There’s no hand-to-hand skill for example, so I can’t play a fist-fighter or monk style character effectively.  I was kind of looking forward to being an orc brawler, but I pretty much have to use a weapon.  I suppose it’s more realistic, but punching armed bandits to death is fun dammit.  The dual wielding thing is cool except that it seems like to use a spell you have to have it equipped. This means you’re constantly switching up what’s in your hands in the middle of combat in a very unrealistic way.

All in all though, my criticisms aren’t stopping me playing every chance I get.

Oh and the voice actors are . . . variable.  Some characters seem to flow between being Scandinavian, Irish and Transylvanian while you’re talking to them.  But a video game with perfect voice acting just wouldn’t have the charm now would it?


6 responses to “Diary of a casual video gamer: Skyrim

  • Frontline Gamer

    I’d love to say that I too have played loads of Skyrim and agree with everything you say… but… well Mrs Frontline Gamer is hogging it and has threatened physical violence against my person if I dare take ‘her’ copy of the game away from her. Domestic violence over a computer game!!! What’s the world coming too?

  • James S

    Yes, er . . . I got most of my playing in while the mrs. was at work. When she’s at home I watch her play 😉

  • Stahly

    Hi there!

    Have you already checked out my new hobby blog, Tale of Painters? I’ve joined forces with Sigur and Garfy, whose models you’ve probably seen in various forums or on the blog on GW.com. We’ve got tutorials, showcases, reviews and various projects going on, e.g. Garfy posts about assembling and painting a mighty Thunderhawk!

    We’ve also started a new Blog Network! Join by adding a Tale of Painters banner to your blog, and your newest posts will appear in the Network widget over at Tale of Painters! A great way to promote your blog and find new readers! On top of that, the crew at Tale of Painters keeps a close eye to the Network and will present the best posts in a post of their own!

    So come over and check out http://www.taleofpainters.com, I’d be very happy 😉

    (PS: Sorry I spammed your comments to get in touch with you – if you feel offended, just delete this comment 😉

  • James S

    That’s a really funny and thoughtful article @Fulgrim. Anyone reading this should click on Fulgrim’s link.

    I’ve managed to control my playing pretty well. No more than three or four hours a day. Like I said I have short attention span for video games. I’m level 10 now and I’m just riding around the countryside on my deeply stupid (and apparently suicidal) horse, wandering into caves and killing necromancers.

    It’s such a good game. There are problems (why can’t I talk to people from horseback? Furthermore, why doesn’t my horse remember how to fight unless I get off him?), but I just keep going back. That fire wood won’t chop itself . . .

  • Fulgrim

    Hey, thanks very much 🙂

    Yeah, it’s quite some game. I suppose you can also live vicariously through your girlfriend’s character, too. I’m getting better, but it’s bizarre how much of a draw it has.

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