Monday, June 25, 2012

Review #1 - Skyrim

Skyrim -

Well what can I say about it? Did you play Oblivion or Morrowind? Well regardless if you’ve played either Oblivion or Morrowind (or even Daggerfall or Arena) you’ll have a blast in Skyrim. I have seen all types of gamers fall in love with this game. The self-titled “Hardcore” gamers love its depth and playstyle (most have been fans of Morrowind) and the casual gamers love that you can jump into it and get hooked by its story and game play.



I’ll start off with the basic plot (what can be accomplished easily and sets the stage for the first 30 mins of the game). You start out captured by the Imperial Legion who were trying to capture a Stormcloak rebellion group with their leader, Ulfric Stormcloak. They reach Helgen where you are to be executed for crimes of treason (bad luck you happened to get caught with Ulfric) when Alduin, a dragon, shows up to stop the party and announce the return of the dragons. You avoid your execution and are lead to safety where you continue on with the tutorial level. Once out (much like Oblivion) you are free to do whatever you want. If you want to advance the main story however, you are told you can go to a small village to the east, known as Riverwood. There are a few quests here and things to do (learn about blacksmithing). Eventually you will arrive in Whiterun and a dragon will attack a watchtower close to Whiterun. After defeating the dragon you absorb its soul and will get summoned by the greybeards into High Hrothgar because you are the “Dovahkiin” (dragonborn), and then the story can begin (this is the point where you’ll learn the infamous “Fus Roh Dah”.


My First Experience:

My first experience was (like I imagine how some others were) hard to explain. I had just come off of Oblivion (started playing it again when Skyrim was coming close to release) and was used to that gameplay. I didn’t much like the new system and gameplay to begin with, it felt weird and different and I couldn’t fast spells unless they were “equipped,” but i decided to push through it. Once i got the hang and feel of it, it was the best thing ever. I could finally equip two weapons at the same time (not like that mod that was getting close in oblivion i had). I had channeled spells and could cast two different ones at the same time, or have a weapon and a spell. The best thing i found was the talent system. I was skeptical because every game that has talents will end up having one superior tree that you have to focus in and you’d be bad to take other talents. I suppose this is true, but it still allows you to play how you want without being restricted by class types (warrior, mage, rogue). I had the option to focus in alteration, one handed weapons, heavy armor, illusion, and stealth if I wanted to. And it would work! So of course I did what i wanted to, but couldn’t, in Oblivion, dual wield two one-handed weapons. Oh my god it felt epic. Sneaking around to find my next victim and suddenly ambush them with a flurry of aggressive strikes, one after the other (I’m probably making this sound better than it actually was, but this is how i saw it). Once it was over, my enemy had no idea what had hit him. Of course I explored the world, learned about blacksmithing, the new enchanting, the new alchemy and did the main quest up to learning the full “Fus Roh Dah”.



Since this game has so many aspects and depth to it, I’ll glance over a few points that i found interesting and quite the upgrade from Oblivion.


Let's start with my favourite update, Dual wielding. This is something i was begging for in Oblivion (who wants to be a rogue with a shield) and we finally get it in skyrim. my first experience outlines what I thought of dual wielding personally. This mechanic is fun and varied. Let me explain, the speed of your dual wield power attack is based off of your off-hand weapon speed (daggers -> swords -> axes -> maces) and you deal damage with both weapons on each weapon hit. If i remember correctly, you use the same animation as long as a heavy weapon (as in, not a dagger) is in your main hand, and two daggers get their own animation. Having a heavy weapon feels like a vicious, quick, furious assault on your opponent, whereas two daggers feels like an assassination attempt. In the one handed weapon talent tree you get the option to focus in individual weapon types, swords, axes, and maces. As well as the option to focus in two weapon fighting, where you’ll get the power attack cost reduced, and faster attacks.


Alchemy, Enchanting, and Blacksmithing got reworked (and added) to make them a little better. With alchemy you can go out and find your ingredients and mix them together to find out different properties of each ingredient. You no longer need to level up your alchemy to learn the different properties, and you can combine three at a time to attempt to discover alchemical properties. So, for example, you know that glowing mushrooms and blue butterfly wings will have restore mana, you can combine them to make the potion and learn its effects and potentially discover new ones. You can also eat a raw ingredient to learn its first effect (theres a talent that allows you to learn the first 2, 3, and 4 [all] properties).

Enchanting works differently this time around. Instead of being able to apply an enchantment to a weapon from the spells you know, you need to know that particular enchant. When you find a magic item in the world, you can take it to an enchanting table (not as rare in this game) and disenchant it to learn its effects. Let’s say you find a sword that does additional fire damage, you can then disenchant it to learn the fire enchantment. Then when you take a new item to enchant, you can apply the fire enchant to it. This is the only way to apply and learn new enchantments, it is no longer dependant on the spells you have. the perks for the enchantment talent tree are basic increase the power of x enchants, but the reason its so good to spec into is for the final talent, which allows you to put two enchants on one item. So, you can have an enchantment to reduce the cost of destruction spells by 25% and increase your lockpicking by 25% on the same gloves.

Blacksmithing is the new one that’s added and it’s exactly as it sounds, make armor and weapons. Throughout the world are mining nodes that (if you have a mining pick) you can mine for ores. You can then smelt the ores into bars and create the appropriate armor/weapon. to get beyond the iron armor and weapons you have to specialize in the blacksmithing talent tree and choose between forging light or heavy armor (and the weapons to go with them, Glass = light armor, glass weapons, Ebony = heavy armor, ebony weapons). You can also upgrade your weapons and armor you craft, so say you make a glass sword and it deals 20 damage, you can use some more malachite to upgrade it to deal 30 damage (increases as skill increases).


Spells work much differently in Skyrim now. Everything isn’t just instant cast. Some of them are channeled (hold down the attack button and drain magic for as long as its sustained) and casted spells (hold down the attack button until its ready to be released). This will take some getting used to, but (completely my opinion) i find it better to use. You also need to “equip” spells now and can have two equipped at a time. You equip them as you would a weapon or a shield in order to cast them (so no more weapon, shield, and a spell). There are also talents in each of the respective mage talent trees that amplify the effect if you equip a spell in both hands, and cast it as such (both at the same time) for an increased effect.


“Shouts” are the new thing that has been added that everyone is looking at. When you defeat a dragon you absorb its soul, and you can then spend its soul to learn a new shout. To discover a shout you need to explore ancient ruins or find word walls that will have a word to a shout on it. Each shout has 3 learnable words with the first two usually being relatively weak, and the third one unleashing all hell. There is a wide variety of shouts to be learned and you can ask someone in High Hrothgar to tell you where a new word is located (3 day cooldown).

(published but incomplete)