Here comes the last addition to Elder Scrolls series.
I have first read about Elder Scrolls, specifically Daggerfall in a Turkish gamer magazine. The magazine was heavily praising on the free form play that it offers. The graphics were not so satisfying but still the endlessness of the game put a spell on the author.
The first meeting with Elder Scrolls personally was the 3rd game: Morrowind. Everytime I start, I ended up with too much items to carry even in the first town. I also died a lot. Finding the killer of tax collector in Seyda Neen introduced me to Morrowind that if you do not have anything on, you are dead. I was playing Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment at those days, so I was expecting more talk less fighting. But Morrowind told me it is a dangerous world in Tamriel and you must be ready for combat at every step. That is why I kept restarting again and again and try to build a character that was as low level as possible. As you know, the Elder Scrolls series are known for their adaptive difficulty. If you leveled up your non-combat skills quickly and they were your major skills, it is highly possible that you could not advance in the story without cheating. I was doing Fighter Guild and Mages Guild quests and I happen to enter a Dwemer ruin. Two ghosts which I could do nothing about since I had only steel swords and a couple of machinery, I gave up and closed the game. It was hard. Really hard.
In Oblivion, I was more consistent. The difficulty was not that hard and if you have left the main story a bit, you could have joy from the world. The leveling system became simpler and skills were more balanced. There were many skills in Morrowind and we have seen in Oblivion that most of them combined into more refined ones. The skills were also divided into levels where you gain some abilities at some point. The shortcomings of Oblivion was:
- Spell creation system might become problematic that you could possibly create spells that never in your life that you could cast
- Difficulty becomes too easy in the higher levels
- High level sneaking might turn into weird situations where the person of the interest did not detect you even if you are toe to toe with him.
- Oblivion gates remain on the map after they are closed, destroying features present in that cell.
- Realm of oblivion was not interesting and did not present any challenge when you get used to it. It also produced items that were too heavy to carry and useless. I was expecting more powerful artifacts that are light but strong. I happen to take nothing from Oblivion realms.
But the world of Cyrodill was too busy in the means of quests. Every guild have interesting quests that you could follow. The best quests were Dark Brotherhood’s where you should dispose your targets with a specific mean. The rules of every guild forces you to carefully undertake your actions.
Let us come to the Skyrim.
You start at a very displeasing situation, you are going to be beheaded while you did nothing. After the prologue, you enter the world. While the world of Morrowind was humble and the world of Oblivion was joyful, the world of Skyrim is dark. First thing you see is a winter scene where snow is dominant, the rivers are flowing harshly. You understood that this will be a tough world. And it is.
In Skyrim, the animals are tough, bears kill you easily even in middle levels, you could not create your own spells, resulting in limited choices and all your plans could fail with a dragon sweeping by and killing some quest characters. The alchemy process is so simple that you do not care to meddle. The potions you create is so weak that you decide not to touch it, ever. Enchanting became meaningless that you could only put one charm on an object and you should have disenchanted the required effect beforehand. It is also meaningless that you could only put specific charms in specific objects. So, you could not produce a feather set that you use in order to haul all the stuff you obtained in a dungeon to a city. It is also worth mentioning that at one point, it becomes impossible to sell any haul to a merchant since a small dungeon could net you with 10k gold and the most rich merchant I see had 4000, and it was after a long process of restoring the thieves guild.
Ah, yes, quests.
The variety of guild quests become non-existent. With the radiant quest system, the guilds offer you nearly the same quests over and over. The main guild quests are short and meaningless. Aside from thieves guild quests, there is no story and no sense of accomplishment. Dark Brootherhood quests, after abolition of 5 tenents, became meaningless where you do not have any optional requirements to kill your target. You just sneak behind him and pray that he goes down with one backstab. While the main Dark Brotherhood quest line have some interesting twist, it is mostly composed of sneak-kill-fast travel. Mages Guild quest is also very short and you become unsatisfied with the final result. Becoming the head of every guild does not produce any meaningful results. Also becoming Thane in every hold is waste of time since it is only a title. You do not even get the respect from the guards, despite the game says so.
The main story is interesting but not majestic enough. Battling with dragons is charming with your first 3-5 kills. But afterwards, it became routine.
The Dragonshout feature is just an excuse to remove custom spell making. The shouts are interesting but not useful. The famous Fus-Ro-Dah is probably the most used one since it gave you some space.
Skyrim could have been more. Morrowind was rich, Oblivion was good but Skyrim is very like the story’s situation: It is going bad.