Published on July 10th, 2013 | by Ricardo
Skyrim: I don’t like it
“Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got a city to keep.”
Well thanks, Jarl Balgruuf. I just thought that, ya’ know, after I killed a dragon that I’d have a tad more acceptance in Whiterun. I mean, I am Thane, right?
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a lack of continuity here. I am playing as an Altmer mage who, for all intents and purposes, should be as accepted in most parts of Skyrim as an arrow in the knee. Despite my resemblance to the oppressive Thalmor of the Aldmeri Empire, however, nobody seems to receive me negatively.
In fact, they don’t seem to be all that receptive at all.
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve got some issues with Bethesda Softworks’ 2011 masterpiece, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Now two years removed from its release with the entirety of its DLC available and a “Legendary” edition released last month I got the urge to give the game one more shot.
Again, I came away less than enthused; wholly disinterested in heading back to the land of Tamriel and its northernmost region.
Even at launch, at the height of Skyrim’s hype train, I had issue forcing myself to enjoy it. While seemingly everyone else in the gaming world was having a blast shouting their way through the game, I could only muster playing the game in the shortest of spurts before I would walk away from my Xbox. I’d impotently shrug my shoulders and say, “Well that was… fun, I guess.”
While it was always easy to blame the game’s sometimes lackluster combat, that certainly couldn’t be the real reason I disliked. It couldn’t be the game’s lack of polish in some areas. I’d played games with far less to offer than Skyrim’s sprawling world, yet found them more fulfilling.
So I fired up the game earlier this week to see if anything had changed since then, and after discovering it hadn’t went on an unceremonious rant on my Twitter account (*cough cough* @ImperiousRix *cough cough*).
But after getting it all out of my system, it hit me. The real reason I can’t bring myself to be invested in Skyrim is because I frankly don’t feel like the world gets invested in me. This is mainly due to the fact – and hear me out here – I don’t think that Skyrim is a very good role-playing game.
Do I feel like Skyrim is a big sandbox of goofiness where, if you want to do something, you can without relative consequence? Yes, and it does that quite effectively while building systems that don’t cause the entirety of the game’s framework to come crashing down when excessively poked or prodded.
But in terms of inhabiting a character in this world, specifically one that’s going to be wholly unique from any other character in any other person’s game of Skyrim, I can’t help but feel like the Elder Scrolls V totally fails.
Here is this universe with incredibly deep lore and a myriad of races, factions and roles to inhabit and although Skyrim’s inaugural minutes of play conclude with the Imperial guardsman, Hadvar, asking your character “Who are you?” you really don’t have a chance to be anyone truly special in Skyrim.
You might say that, “You’re the Dragonborn! Of course you’re special!” Yes, but so is everyone else who plays Skyrim. As I’ve been saying, I play a role-playing game so I can inhabit a role (naturally) and a world. In Skyrim, my high elf mage might as well have been a Khajit rogue or a Redguard warrior. It really doesn’t matter at all.
And to me, that’s the biggest sin a game like Skyrim</i> can commit; to make me feel like my experience doesn’t matter. Like my experience isn’t special.
So while I fully understand that people love Skyrim, and that it fills a certain gap in their gaming consciousness that other games just can’t, it has never felt like anything I couldn’t get elsewhere.
If I want an epic, customized story based in a deep universe, I can get it elsewhere. The Mass Effect series, for example, has the same wealth of information about its universe while still delivering an emotionally compelling story. If I want to play in a sandbox, I can have a lot more fun with just about any other game of that type. Minecraft or, heck, even Rockstar games like GTA IV or Bully can let me experiment with their worlds in a more entertaining and/or carefree manner.
I guess in a roundabout way, what I’m simply trying to say is I don’t like Skyrim. I probably never will.