Skyrim Woes: A World of Difference

I could write a piece evangelize how great Skyrim is, and I could go on and on about the wonderful nuances of the design or the character of the world, and how refreshingly open it is. But that’s boring, and I’m sure that it gets tiring to hear nothing but praise. Skyrim is a wonderful game, but it has its flaws.It’s definitely gotten to that point where the newness and initial excitement of Skyrim has tapered off a bit, and we can finally start talking about what the problems with the game are. They may be few and far between, but they can be substantial. Whether it may be the observation that only a mere illusion of choice exists, making most quests boil down to a “do it this way, or don’t do it at all” structure, or whether the world feels severely disconnected, to the point where NPCs don’t seem to be paying attention to any actions the player has been doing. Those are fine things to talk about, but one thing that I could have done with more of, was the main storyline.

Before the game was released, it was reported that the main quest line could be beaten in just over two hours. I have to assume that is with no exploits, but just a very expedient, knowledgeable run. Either way, that is a pretty quick main story. Even when I played it after exploring for thirty hours first, the main quests came and went like any other quest lines. At the end, I just thought to myself, “Oh, is that it?” and continued on my merry way. And it isn’t just the number of quests, which is only a few more than something like the Dark Brotherhood quest line, it’s the content. I never feels like something special is happening.

I love the opening of the game. The dragon attack was sensational and exhilarating, while completely preparing me for an intense battle against vile beasts. Unfortunately, the rest of the quests never gave me a feeling like that. Yes, it was cool to actual find a titular Elder Scroll, though getting it was like going through many of the dungeons I’ve gone through before. Yes, it was cool to fight side by side with ancient heroes of lore, though it made the final battle a bit easier.

Maybe that is it. I expected one thing and got another. I felt that within the framework, the main story would have a little more pull towards my emotions. I guess that has been the case for most Bethesda developed games. Fallout 3’s main story line was quite lackluster, especially in comparison to the quality writing in other aspects the game. Oblivion’s main quest was barely touched upon by most people, given that it was never really that interesting to begin with.

But Skyrim has dragons, and dragons are really cool. I wanted to continue the story. I actually wanted to go on an insane adventure, ridding the world of dragons one wyrm at a time. I got some of that, but just not enough. Not enough to feel like I did anything of substantial value to the land of Skyrim. Even the NPC’s around the game did not notice a difference when I had finished vanquishing the evil that nearly wiped them out. I saved the world from ending…apparently.

The end of the world! Maybe that could have had some urgency to the storyline, or some directing of the player. Dragons are coming back to life by a devious monster bend on destroy humanity. Hold on. The thieves guild wants me to sabotage a brewery. Oh, well, that’s cool. I guess you’ve got some time, or whatever. Because the game didn’t treat this stuff with importance, I think neither did I. In reality, I could have never done the main story and it would not have made much of a difference. That’s the kicker, I feel like I didn’t make a difference. Like I stopped destruction for a fling.

For something that pertains to your entire existence in the game to some extent, the main story just feels incomplete. It contains all of the ideas for something much bigger, including being the goddamn “chosen one”. But it all gets condensed into a few fetch quests and dungeon crawls. Then, has a couple of quests that consist of having conversations with people. I don’t want to come off as someone who just wants pure Modern Warfare style action in all of my games, but with material this dense, and a situation this dire to the world, I expected something a little more grandiose.

The best example I can give to sum up my experience with the main story line is the encounter with Odahviing, a dragon you capture in Whiterun. You eventually convince him to help you, and he says he will fly you to where Alduin, the main antagonist is holding up. I start thinking, “Oh man! I’m going to fly on a dragon and it’s going to be so cool!” Then the screen fades out, fades back in and shows the dragon flying away, with my character sitting on top. Needless to say, it was disappointing.

Most of what happened felt like a tease towards something much cooler nearly every step of the way. Fighting Alduin at the end felt like fighting just another dragon. It just didn’t feel special. It is a bit disappointing when the main quests become:

  • Go through dungeon, but it’s just longer
  • Fight dragon, he’s just tougher
  • Find this artifact, it’s just more important sounding

There were chances for much more memorable events to take place in this potential beast of a story, and overall it feels like more hammed up versions of other quests instead of unique instances. It felt shorter than it should have been, it didn’t feel as pressing and it didn’t feel as extravagant as it needed to be.

Exciting.

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