I avoided playing Skyrim when it came out back in 2012. I was a sophomore in high school, and I had a very hipster attitude when it came to games I played. Skyrim was huge, and I just knew that it was overhyped and I wanted nothing to do with it. Despite what my friends said, I refused to give the game a chance. A lot if this also came from the odd notion that people cared more about Elder Scrolls than they did about Fallout, which I suppose it true (but also Fallout sells really well, so I guess it's not).
My hate for the game lacked any real merit. I would not play Skyrim for a long time - eventually though, I would go on to buy the game's Legendary Edition from Wal-Mart during my senior year of high school. I think I initially logged about five days worth of playtime - and during that time, my hatred for Skyrim changed. Instead of hating it, I felt disappointed by it (a trend for Bethesda nowadays).
I do not hate Bethesda's Skyrim, I don't. I think that for all of the game's many, many faults, there are so many great things. Skyrim was groundbreaking for it's time. It's huge landscapes, and easy-to-learn, fun game play changed a lot of how RPGs were amazing. The story was generic at best, but that's a lot of high fantasy nowadays. But, once you look past the initial hype - you begin to see the buggy, poorly acted mess that Skyrim is.
Graphics. Or what you could call graphics.
Graphics and Bethesda have a very strange relationship. Bethesda's games are always huge, technical marvels - until you actually play for more than an hour. Then, you see the games for what they are, and Skyrim is no different.
Sure, game development is hard. It's hard not to have bugs when you release games as massive as Bethesda's. BUT, that's not what I'm talking about here. Bethesda has done this amazing thing where they've made graphical bugs a sort of staple with their larger games. You see them in almost every title - especially Skyrim.
They can be small, like weapons clipping through walls. Or they can be large, where you accidentally fall through the ground and into the void. They bugs are so bad, that modders (people who make homemade modifications to video games) have to make patches to fix the problems that Bethesda doesn't. And that should not be a thing! We shouldn't have to rely on the consumer to fix the product! Come on!
It's crazy! But it works, because the game is really fun. The glitches are not looked at as annoyances, they are looked at as funny parts of a fun game. And, as much as that irks me, I can't deny that Skyrim is really fun. And I think a lot of that is due to the games fun controls.
Controls. I love these controls.
Usually, whenever I play an RPG, it's a turned-based JRPG-type game ( Final Fantasy, etc) or I'm playing a third-person hack and slash (Kingdomg Hearts, The Witcher 3, etc). You've also got your isometrics and your Legend of Zeldas. Skyrim, though, is different. It plays like a first person shooter.
Now, chances are, there are plenty of great RPGs that do this same thing, but I am one human being and I can't play everything on the planet. And, even if they do exist, they probably don't play as smoothly as Skyrim. This is where the fun lies - you get to see the world and interact with it as if you were just looking at it. And a lot of high fantasy games don't give you that. You do get to see a beautiful world, but you don't get to see through your characters eyes. Skyrim makes the exploration feel more personal, by giving you that first person perspective.
As the Dragonborn, you go around and talk and fight. And sure, the acting is atrocious, but it doesn't make it any less cool to feel like these people are actually talking to you. Plus, fighting is so much more fun. The combat system is just as exciting as playing something like Call of Duty or Overwatch. The melee can be a little awkward, bit it's not super frustrating and only mildly affects the over experience. It can get a little too easy, once you're at a super high level and you've got your dragon shouts going hard, but what game doesn't?
The acting is also very eh.
So, listen, voice acting is very important and I don't know why people thought the voice acting in Skyrim was okay, because it wasn't. Was it all bad? No. But, it definitely wasn't great. Like, why does every single character sound the exact same? What's with that? I'm not even going to spend a whole three paragraphs on this one. Basically, the voice acting felt like an afterthought and that disappointed me.
The Bottom Line
Okay, my problem with Skyrim is that after playing other games from the time, the story of Skyrim felt generic at best. The graphics and the acting were not amazing. Replaying the game today is frustrating, because I see a lot of things that could have been avoided. I see a game that could be much better - or a game that deserves a sequel that improves on this game's problems. I definitely see a game that doesn't need a million different rereleases. But, hey, I'm not Todd Howard.
Skyrim is an iconic game - but that doesn't mean it's an amazing one.
Shann Smith is a lover of video games and writer of plays and screenplays, based in NYC. Do you guys have a game that you think is significant to the LGBTQ+ community? Email me, and I'll give it a look!
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