After a much anticipated wait by thousands upon thousands, or 3.5 million plus, 11.11.11 has finally arrived. Some people will have gotten the game on launch day, some unfortunate enough to receive it after. And for the lucky few a day or two before release.
There has been a lot of coverage of Skyrim leading up to its release that people have likely seen, about the animation, the sound, the world, the decapitations and dragon battles. But honestly none of that can truly do justice for how wonderful the game is, you need to play it for yourself to see it.
When running down a snowy mountain and first entering a pine forest, memories of oblivion can start to enter the mind, but they soon get washed away by fresh ones as the many new and improved aspects kick into play. Basically the game is a sure improvement over oblivion and here is why.
Firstly: (MINOR SPOILER) Werewolves are indeed back, and better than ever!
When you charge towards someone and swing a steel great sword with full power at their head, it feels like you're charging towards someone swinging a steel great sword with full power at their head! The way the camera subtly jolts and the dragonborn's body continues moving in the direction of the force for a second. Though these attacks drain nearly all your stamina at first and take a brief moment to recover from.. well if you can land it the attack is as deadly as it looks, usually killing enemies with a single blow. It adds a new found sense of realism just like when it comes to firing arrows at enemies, you no longer have to fire more than 4, no more hedgehog arrow enemies unless they are really strong. Don't think this means the game is easy though, on the normal of the 5 difficulty settings, you can easily be slain if you make silly decisions and forget to block or heal accordingly. Try swinging a sword non stop at one enemy whilst their friends fire arrows and spells at you; see how long you survive.
The dual wielding adds a brilliant new dimension to the combat, you can select what goes in your left or right hand by pressing the L or R triggers in the weapons menu, meaning you can use a spell in both hands for greater effect, two of the same weapons, or mix them up. Sure; the woodcutter axe is for chopping wood at the lumber mill, and the pick axe is for mining ore (both doable jobs) but you can dual wield the two in each hand and do combos with them by holding down both triggers. This means 2 little daggers can quickly become a lot of fun. You can even dual wield staffs! If you can sneak up on someone without them detecting you, you can slit their throat for an instant kill! this is actually more satisfying then the old 3x critical strike of past games as you feel more rewarded for your sneaking, you can still do critical strikes but the slit throat one is also available. And this allows for continued non-detection.
The kill animations are quite satisfying too and tend to happen at random which means they don't become repetitive (my fear was every enemy on low health equaled a kill animation) but sometimes it's a normal kill, sometimes you can run up to a full HP enemy and stick your great sword through them as their body rises in the air. The neat thing here is enemies can do final kill animations to you and each other adding even more gritty realism to the elder scrolls universe.
Magic attacks in this game are awesome and not to be over looked if you are the hack and slash type of player, when you have 3 deranged people trying to kill you, there's nothing better than assigning your flame spell to both hands and unleashing fiery hell on them. There is a nice variety of spells in the game, from the elementals to conjuring, alteration and traps etc. That's before even touching the dragon shouts.
The dragon shouts are alot of fun to use, they feel powerful while the controller vibrates and are a nice new addition to elder scrolls. They can really give the edge in a battle that is difficult. And they are just as scary when you fight a enemy that can use them such as a Draugh scourge.
Five years later after Oblivion, there are indeed new features, and old ones that have been refined to give a more user friendly and credible feel. I'll list them.
- Dual Wield (As you know, wield both magic and weapons in either hands)
- Cooking (using recipes to make food that get better healing properties)
- Grindstone (Used with gathered materials to better weapon quality)
- Workbench (Used with gathered materials to better armor quality)
- Forge (Used with gathered materials to create new weapons, armor or jewelry)
- Tanning (Put a knife to a animal hide to gather leather strips)
- Mining (Use a pick axe in your inventory to gather ore from rocks)
- Smelting (Use gathered ore to create ingots used in equipment creation)
- Alchemy Lab (Use ingredients acquired to create and try new potions)
- Log Cutting/Lumber yard (Two additional ways to make money)
- Buying Properties/Invest (To live in or help increase merchants default funds)
- Dragon Shouts (Acquire dragon souls, spend them on shouts learned from walls)
- Vampires, Dragons & Werewolves oh my! (Be a vampire or werewolf, or get help from a dragon later on)
- Can now press RB to sprint! a much welcomed addition to get around faster, or run away from things faster. Sprinting along with holding R trigger makes the character do highly powerful attacks, they aren't so easy to land however.
- Perk Tree (New way to evolve in skills as you choose what perks to spend points on gained from leveling up, and some new abilities)
- Companions (Make people like you enough and they'll let you take stuff from their house, eventually you can marry! Some people are hirelings who will join you and guard you for a small fee, or you can get a pet war dog. Remember Morrowind's companions and pack rats? Seems Skyrims has the goodness of Morrowind in many ways. There is an equipment trade option and excellent command option where you an get your hireling to attack anything, or take/harvest anything)
- Weapons/Armor (The game has all the classics re-imagined for Skyrim plus a nice amount of new equipment for people to get their teeth into)
- Radiant A.I - (Meaning you'll never end up doing the same sub quests! each keyed to different locations by different people. I haven't been able to tell what miscellaneous quests are scripted and what ones are made with radiant AI)
World Map - (Zoom up into a real time view of the world, it is the same size as Oblivion but it feels much bigger to me because of the varying environments esque of Morrowind, like beautiful deciduous forests & huge tundra's to name two. Also though the world has a lot of mountainous regions, and by this I don't mean lots of snowy mountains you have to glitch jump up, but a lot of the time you'll have to traverse up or down craggy water falls and different levels of land, it's somehow great because it makes the game feel bigger and means the draw distances really get put to the test. Bear grylls would love this place.)
The menu - (has been streamlined to make it more accessible and with the favorites hotkey; fluid, this makes using spells and weapons or shouts quicker than ever. In the menu you can also view 3D models of every item!) Also unknown to most without some trial and error. You can hold Left or Right on the D-pad whilst browsing through the items in your Hotkey menu, little numbers (1 & 2) will appear next to the items you choose. Now during gameplay people can switch between 2 things like a weapon and healing, quite time efficient!
As you can see the game has a host of new features, and there are more little surprises I won't mention.
When you pick up something that isn't yours, when you take stuff from your
inventory and chuck it on the ground randomly, when you run into people, NPC's will react to these and many more things you do. Your individual companion will even make comments about a situation or wherever you both go, like "we've reached a cave, but I don't think warm fires and friendly faces wait inside". When you sprint or swing a heavy weapon til low on stamina, your character will gasp as they need breath. Read books and the pages turn with real writing, not text. Spells when fired leave their mark on the land such as ice and fire, blood spatters show on surfaces, enemies, yourself and stay on weapons for a period of time.
The full weather cycle is lovely, best of any game easily, you get rain and thunder, fog, grey cloudy skies (like Britain) then blue skies and sunshine, orange fantasy like late evenings and then the really bad weather. I ran through the northern wastes of skyrim jumping from ice slab to ice slab in the midst of a foggy blizzard that'd make any bad weather we've had in recent times look paltry. Then after tangling with a snow bear and large walrus (horker) I came to a clearing on land and the snow started to get lighter as the fog gradually cleared and the skies opened. Being night I could see stars, the bloodmoon and a reddish aurora that looked amazing. (moments like these can stop you in your tracks, seriously!)
Stand on a outcropping rock near a water fall and listen to the howling wind as you're high up, see the leaves from the pine forest above blow around you, look down to the crashing waters below and watch as they fluidly move around rocks and down stream. Stare at the wolf thats howling at you and circling before firing a single arrow at it's head; the first you tried too fire to quick and it dropped in the stream, the second hits the wolf between the eyes sending it rolling down the hill. Read more ›