The Internet is full of cats. So what? I thought we gathered here to talk about Skyrim, probably the best RPG of the year, but also the worst in some areas. Well, this is also about cats. More to the point, it’s a stripped blue eyed Khajiit, eager to stick its whiskers in all of Tamriel’s affairs, the more dangerous, the better.
My choice of race has to do with my “little” cat obsession, but also with other choices from the Elder Scrolls series. Only Morrowind was played with a human, while Oblivion saw an orc female, green and fanged. And the choice is much easier in Skyrim since there are no classes: the theory says that the Khajiit cat was more of a thief, but it got along very well with a 2 handed axe.
But I jumped forward a bit here and I have to set some technical details straight: Skyrim was played both before and after the patches, but no MOD was used, in order to properly evaluate the work done by Bethesda, not the devotion of the fans (which is always very appreciated in the long run). And even if it might seem a bit strange, I continue to consider Morrowind as the best Elder Scrolls game. Yes, I can’t deny the production values in Skyrim, the huge number of gameplay hours, the quests and the impressive variables involved in creating weapons, armors or potions, but…
I just wasn’t “drugged”: I didn’t feel that need to keep on playing, keeping the game in my mind while going to work. It didn’t glue me in front of the screen, quite the contrary, I about had it at one point with receiving quests that could be solved only on the other end of the map, deep in the mountains, without any other discovered location nearby. It’s hard to express what’s missing and it’s not the huge innovations (though the Shouts part is interesting); it’s more of a matter of repetition.
But let us put aside philosophical debates. The people in Skyrim need my help. It doesn’t matter if it’s the civil war, a lost dog, the recovery of a legendary amulet or eliminating the threat of a pissed off dragon god. No matter where you go, there’s something to do, find, search or recover. No matter where you go, all doors open with only one word: Dovahkiin – Dragonborn. Skyrim starts with just such a legendary hero, but which is utterly anonymous in the beginning, and in danger of being beheaded due to a… misunderstanding.
The game isn’t really a direct sequel to Oblivion, because the action takes place some 200 years later, in a crisis age of the Empire: the king was killed (in a fair fight, apparently), the north wants freedom, but the idea isn’t particularly appealing for the imperial forces. On top of the civil war come the dragons, apparently resurrected by Alduin, the first born son of the supreme deity of Tamriel, Akatosh. Why Alduin is playing his hand like that, you’ll have to find out on your own, since the story does have its moments.
Still, like in most Elder Scrolls games, the main story isn’t the best, nor the most interesting. You have to go to all the cities, caves and temples to discover really bizarre, dramatic, sad or happy stories or… not. It’s up to the player how much time he wants to invest to go around through this huge world; you might not find the vampirism mission and you might not become a werewolf. Or maybe a magical amulet will never find its owner, even though you carry it with you all the game. But you can also be grand master of the wizards, the Companions or grand assassin in the Dark Brotherhood. The thieves also come into play and you can go for any war faction, whether it’s the imperials or the rebellious Stormcloaks.
The main story, with its 19 mission,s isn’t very long; however, the factions and guilds come with more consistent lines: you can work your way towards grabbing the leadership of the Dark Brotherhood, the Winterhold College, the Companions (a sort of Fighter guild) or the Thieves Guild. Of little importance are the Bards College missions or the one offered by the Blades (the organization that used to protect the dragon kings). I skipped this last one, since I grew fond of Paarthurnax.
Depending on the civil war faction you choose, the missions change their objectives and actors, but the end is similar, with a fight for a city (Windhelm or Solitude); another „mission” for the dedicated fans are the altars and their objectives; careful though, as not all the Daedric altars give quests, because some are included in other narrative lines.
The biggest part is formed from secondary missions, found in different locations or given to you by NPCs. Some are short, you just have to deliver something, others develop into surprising lines and many send you to be a bounty hunter: the innkeepers give you the bounties and you just go kill the wanted bandits. The problem is that the “random” quests get tiring at a certain point and the merry-go-round approach loses its appeal.