Wot I Think – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

By Alec Meer on November 10th, 2011 at 1:01 pm.

If we gave scores, this one would be mammoth

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the sequel to Oblivion, launches tomorrow. I’ve been playing the PC version of it during every waking hour of the last three and a half days, and most of the non-waking hours too. I’m still not really ready to tell you what I think. I will anyway.

I have not bought a house.
I have not worn heavy armour, wielded a two-handed weapon, dual-wielded two one-handed weapons or fired a bow (for anything other than as a distraction).
I have not got married (I did propose to a middle-aged warrior-woman by accident, but didn’t get around to seeing a priest yet).
I did not acquire any spells above Apprentice level, even though I regularly fried foes with lightning bolts.
I have not completed 44 quests listed in my journal, nor even accepted probably twice more that number.
I have not visited the vast majority of locations marked on my map.
I have not visited the college of magic, or joined a mage’s guild.
I have not contracted vampirism, though I have cleared out several vampire dens.
I have not killed anyone in cold blood, though I have been sorely tempted.
I have not hunted animals for their pelts, even though I need leather to make better armour.
I have not replaced my initial horse with a better one. I’m very fond of the fat old idiot.
I have not been invited to join the Dark Brotherhood.
I have not earned the favour of any of the Jarls who rule Skyrim’s various cities.
I have not sided with either the Stormcloaks or the Empire in the great civil war wracking Skyrim.
I have not fought a dragon.
I haven’t even seen a dragon, apart from the one in the mandatory introduction quest.

I have not needed or been forced to do any of those things, but I have been very, very busy doing many other things and I am excited that there is so much still remaining. I have played Skyrim for over 30 hours, and I barely feel I’ve scratched its surface. I haven’t even thought about taking on its main quest, so lost was I to the other arcs and needy little self-interests this RPG is so generous in offering. I am earnestly worried that I will be playing it for months to come, because I don’t know how I can reconcile that with also playing other games for my job.

Here’s some of what I have done:

I have been inducted into the Thieves’ Guild, and solved the mystery of why it’s fallen on hard times – a tale of subterfuge, corruption, dark gods and decades-old lies.
I have joined the Companions, the booze-loving remnants of what was once the Fighter’s Guild, and discovered the secrets of their true nature.
I have run alongside a wide-eyed fox, for miles, across snowy hillsides.
I have snatched dragonflies from the air and then immediately eaten them.
I have cooked a fine assortment of vegetarian meals. Oh, alright, and quite a few meaty ones too.
I have acquired a faithful hound who follows me everywhere. Wish he didn’t bark all the time though – it seriously messes with my stealthing.
I have explored a vast dwarf city (the dwarves of this world vanished long ago), full of giant brass robot guards. For a while, a small brass robot spider was my loyal guard.
I have seen a werewolf tear five men apart in an instant.
I have made a meagre but honest living chopping and selling firewood, and selling crops to farmers…
…But then I got bored of that and robbed half the world blind.


Also…
I have resolved the great Mead Wars of Skyrim.
I have made naked zombies fight each other.
I have pickpocketed everyone from the lowliest peasant to the grandest Jarl, and can now even take the very weapons from their hands.
I have balked at a request to publicly shame a local woman for sleeping with three men in one month.
I have sat on a lone chair inexplicably placed on top of a high tower overlooking a vast valley, feeling like the king of all the world.
I can pick any lock you care to test me with.
I have raised zombie wolves, spiders, crabs, rats, bandits and zombie-zombies. A frightened farmer killed my zombie wolf on sight, which I was a bit annoyed about.
I have jumped down a waterfall hundreds of feet high and lived to tell the tale.
I have crafted epic Elven armour, enchanted fearsome weaponry and acquired a second set of clothes entirely dedicated to thievery. There are several tiers of light armour – my specialism – I haven’t even tried yet.
I have unsuccessfully tried to stop an unfair public execution.
I have traded so often with one particular blacksmith that he gives me gifts every other time I see him.
I have fought Draugr, daedra, skeletons, ice wolves, necromancers, death lords, ice-throwing harpies, vikings, walruses, a giant and a mammoth. The latter were titanic, desperate, dramatic fights I can’t believe I won.
I found a shop almost entirely dedicated to hats, and bought a chef’s outfit.
Most of all, I have stolen oh so many vegetables.

Every time Bethesda reveal a new game, one of the first queries they have to deal with is how big its world is compared to previous games, with the general onlooker sentiment being that their open worlds are shrinking with every new generation. I can promise you that Skyrim is an enormous game, perhaps Bethesda’s biggest yet in my perception of it, and that isn’t anything to do with landmass (of which there is a vast and wonderfully varied amount). It’s because there’s so damned much to do. Hours fly by, great adventures are embarked on, and it barely dents what’s on offer. The thieves’ guild questline alone, the closest thing my time with the game had to a fixed purpose, offers more than do most other big-budget games’ singleplayer modes.

And it’s good stuff too, this thievery corporations’ tasks: long, ambitious, twisty quests that take you all over Skyrim, require lateral thinking and exploration of the outer limits of stealth, plus offer bona fide drama and intrigue whose outcome I was invested in for reasons beyond money and power. I’ve only made early inroads into the Companions arc and that seems similarly huge – add in the other guilds and factions, and the reputation quests offered by each city’s rulers, and the purportedly infinite roster of procedurally-generated favours for random NPCs, and you have something of grand magnitude, and an RPG that no sane person would consider writing a review based on a mere four days’ play. Sigh. Still- expect follow-up pieces, particularly on the main, dragon-y questline that I’ve seen nothing of, so happy was I in doing my own, primarily kleptomania-based thing.

Of course, listing all this epic quantity means little without addressing the rather more nebulous question of its quality. I’ll admit, I’m in the camp that believes Bethesda’s games have been on a downward slide since the hallowed Morrowind. I got plenty out of Oblivion (especially the thieves’ and assassins’ guilds arcs) but it did feel hollow, bland and awkward compared to its predecessor. Fallout 3 I found boring, contrived and clumsy, though I deeply wanted to like it. I seriously worried Skyrim would, for all its talk of lavishness, depth and dragons, continue the transformation into a trudging, consolified action game filled with clunky acting. It does not. It slams on the brakes then reverses at dangerous speed back into Morrowind territory. Some things are lost (e.g. Persuasion is a sadly watered-down, irregular affair now mostly to do with shopping), many things are changed (e.g. recharging magic items can be done anywhere) and it’s certainly not as weird (no flying or Siltstriders), but it truly reclaims that sense of being in another world, rather than a generic soft-focus, over-familiar fantasyscape.

What perhaps didn’t make itself known amidst all the exciting talk of dragons and dual-wielding over the last year of hype is that the cold land of Skyrim is based heavily on Scandinavia. And I don’t just mean “big blonde guys who sound like vikings.” There are sweeping, beautiful Norwegian-style fjords, there are grassy Swedenesque archipelagos, there are thoroughly frozen, near-Arctic plains and chasms, there are towns made up entirely of log cabins, there are multi-tier cities winding around a towering waterfall, there is an inn built inside an upturned longboat… It is surprising, it is oft-changing and it is gorgeous.

Mostly. All talk of this being a brand new engine quickly becomes unconvincing, most especially in terms of character animations and errant bloom, but it is vastly improved over Oblivion and Fallout 3. With settings racked up to Ultra (on a GeForce 560; occasionally the frame rate dipped slightly but generally it held steady) it’s a dramatic, magnificent sight. Clever trickery (snow and mist are useful tools as well as being thematically relevant) makes distant areas look far more detailed than the sparse background of Oblivion, textures don’t turn into a blurry mess up close and most of the characters look distinct, as opposed to the indistinguishable pudding-faces of Oblivion. Which is not to say they look great; characters remain The Elder Scrolls’ weakest link. The vast majority of NPCs I spoke to – or indeed adventured with – I wouldn’t recognise if I passed them in one of Skyrim’s many towns’ many streets. I know them from their favoured locations and sometimes from the fact an objective marker is hanging over them, not because of their faces, names or voices. Take ‘em out of their regular context and they’re perfect strangers to me.

I’m not even sure I can recall a single character’s name, for instance. My main thieves’ guild contact is called… um, starts with a B? Nope, that’s it. I can’t even tell you the name of the companion character who I had following me around and fighting for me for hours, until I decided I’d feel more comfortable without a silent stalker behind me all the while.

However, and mighty mercifully, the general standard of voice acting is much improved. This does not mean it’s much beyond generic, but it is very rarely wince-inducing and there isn’t the problem of everyone sounding the same. There’s much more variety, but most performers err towards the flat, not helped by oft-leaden dialogue. Major quest-givers talk a lot, and not terribly engagingly – all too often I just skipped through their pre-amble then just looked up what it was they wanted me to do from my journal later. But honestly, overall it’s much better than Oblivion and Fallout 3, and for that we once again have Scandinavia to thank. The Nords, Skyrim’s most prevalent race of people, are voiced by Scandi-folk, whose accents add character to even the most turgid dialogue, and adds to the crucial sense that you are in another place. It’s so much better than the usual prevalence of cod-English and unnaturally clipped American accents (of which there are still plenty).

There are even a few genuine highlights, such as the meat-headed drunkard who’s convinced he’s a living weapon or a few of the conflicted, self-interested, preening Jarls. On the other hand, there are a couple (possibly voiced by the same guy) where you can practically hear the furrowing brow of unrehearsed confusion and the page-turns of a script. That’s the exception not the rule, and given the sheer quantity of people here I can forgive it. Also, a couple of ‘em sound weirdly like Arnie, which I can entirely get behind.

Other things go wrong, and can disrupt that precious immersion. The shopkeepers who eerily greet me and offer me bargains in their sleep from beds a floor up while I’m invisibly robbing their stores at night, the way climbing rocky mountainsides on horseback has your steed appearing to hover in thin air on occasion, the monsters who get stuck behind rocks while chasing me, the arrow that’s been protruding from my character’s face for the last ten hours, the characters who don’t seem to notice me robbing them blind in plain sight… It’s not buggy as such, it’s just that there are a few cracks in this enormous wall. Many will be patched, I’m sure, but it is testament to just how much the game gets right and just how much it offers that these slips didn’t ultimately bother me.

Everywhere I go, I’m immediately presented with more opportunities and possibilities than I can possibly keep track of, let alone do all of. Both in terms of overtly-offered quests and ambient observation and intervention (racist attitudes towards Dark elves in Windhelm, the grim poverty of Winterhold…) , there is so damned much to see and do.

I have been deeply anxious about writing this piece for the last two days purely because I don’t feel I’ve seen enough. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so long smithing and enchanting an epic armour set. Maybe I should have gone dragon-hunting instead of obsessively picking every lock and pocket I stumbled across. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone mammoth-hunting just for the hell of it. Maybe I should have been a full-on mage or an axe-wielding barbarian. Maybe I should have ditched my namby-pamby pacifism and joined the Dark Brotherhood. Maybe I should have used a shield even once. Maybe I should have let that Master Vampire bite me instead of lightning bolting him to death. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent several hours simply riding from West to East and taking it all in.

Maybe I’ll do all that next time. First though, I really fancy a nice set of Glass Armour, so time to explore a few caves for ore to mine then spend some good, honest hours at the forge. I may be some time. I may be the rest of the year, and beyond. Not only is Skyrim, for my money, the game of the year, but… oh this is hard. Very hard. I’m sorry Morrowind – I love you, but I don’t need you anymore. I think, at last, there is a new Best Elder Scrolls Ever.

To be continued.

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407 Comments »

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  1. Teddy Leach says:

    But did you see a mudcrab?

    • McDan says:

      It looks like there are some on the wall as trophies on the third picture up from the bottom? Although I don’t know why they’d be trophies. Unless they’ve buffed them up so much it takes 20 men to kill one.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Well, that ARE supposed to be terrifying creatures.

      “I saw a mudcrab riding a dragon the other day.”

    • Stormwatcher says:

      Disgusting creatures. I hope to never see another.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Can I admit that I really like mudcrabs? I like the (not entirely preposterous: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_crab) idea of a species of large crustacean just going about its collective business across the world. I also like the idea of an incredibly weak enemy which nevertheless always reacts to your character with extreme hostility, even when you are decked out in the best equipment available.

      In short, long live mudcrabs!

    • SamfisherAnD says:

      Now the question is, was there a quest where you had to kill rats? Cos that would be awesome.

    • RakeShark says:

      You guys do know that the whole crab infatuation Bethesda has in their games is mostly due to them being based in Maryland, and very close to Chesapeake Bay. You can’t throw a dead crab and not hit a crab shack in the bay area. To ignore it and leave them out would be like… a UK developer leaving out tea as a consumable , or a Polish developer not inflating half their character dialogue with vile insults.

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    • midsummermuse says:

      In fact, I have seen a mudcrab–and I have made it my zombie. ^_^

  2. Teronfel says:

    Stop right there criminal scum!

  3. Coins says:

    I hope you’re right, Mr Meer, I really do.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Of course he’s right. Unless he’s lying, and this isn’t really wot he thinks. Which would be cruel and pointless.

    • adonf says:

      Not a word about the interface or performance. I was hoping for a more PC-centric review (or not-review since this is not a review). Will we get more details later? I’d like to know if they kept Oblivion’s stupid the enemy scaling too.

    • McCool says:

      I got to play this thing for about an hour back at Eurogamer, and I have to say Meer’s report chimes best with what I felt of anything I’ve read. The sense of being in a world with it’s own culture, rules and logic, was about all I had time to soak up. Where Oblivion was bland, everything in Skyrim points towards a theme -and the Scandinavian accents are a big part of that. I’m just relieved to hear that this feeling holds up for 30+ hours.

    • WotevahMang says:

      I was also hoping for something more PC-centric from Alec “XCOM FPS is gonna be good guys” Meer, since everyone elsewhere is most likely going to be referring to the console versions.

      Yeah not a word on bugs right now, but come a few months later, reviewers will be referring to Skyrim’s imperfections.

    • JackShandy says:

      Dude that video is a fucking amazing example of emergent play and I wouldn’t patch it out for all the bug-fixes in the world.

    • Josh W says:

      That’s amazing, I wonder if you can bucket people when they are moving, and so blindfold a whole town..

  4. Premium User Badge

    UW says:

    Ohoh, I hope you’re prepared for the backlash of dethroning Morrowind! I get the feeling from some comments that a lot of people could never accept that a newer RPG is better than Morrowind, no matter what.

    Personally, I hope I agree with you. This game sounds like everything I’ve hoped for and more… really looking forward to getting into playing it.

    • bill says:

      Morrowind was horribly flawed in so many ways, that I can’t imagine anyone being annoyed at it’s dethroning. It did have a marvelously unique world though.

      But just imagine if it had had a decent interface….

    • JackShandy says:

      That’s what makes everything so sad for a Morrowind fan, right? It’s a stupidly terrible game in so many obvious ways. How come it wasn’t surpassed right away? Morrowind is an impressive achievement, but once you’ve made it it really doesn’t seem hard to make Morrowind-but-better.

    • Apples says:

      All the best games are horribly flawed. Deus Ex is flawed, Silent Hill 2 is flawed. But they’re flawed in good, fun ways, like how Morrowind almost immediately gives you ridiculous Icarian Flight scrolls and lets you make yourself into a god with potions. Most games are kind of too polished and too precise to let you do stupid things anymore, and the fun things feel organised, as if the game devs are tour guides pushing you from one interesting setpiece to another without any meandering inbetween. Morrowind’s flaws are its beauty!

      I think the interface was pretty good, everything on one screen and you could shunt everything around to your liking. Very PC.

    • Craig Stern says:

      Morrowind was great for pure adventuring, but it desperately needed more interesting characters and more unique character interactions. Once you’d been around the island and seen the sights, everything just felt a bit hollow–there were no character relationships to make me feel invested in the place. It sounds like Skyrim has made some strides toward fixing that, which (if true) would make it far superior, IMHO.

    • Jumwa says:

      Y’know Apples? I think I agree with you. On all points.

      I kind of cringe from the notion of giving big companies a free pass on problems, but it’s true that there has to be some leeway.

      I mean, many of the things people would pass off as bugs and rage at the developer for, end up being my favourite parts of games. Like how I could diddle with enchantments in Morrowind to make myself godlike. Exploit the training system to max out my level around the 70’s and become master of everything. None of those things were forced on you, they were just things you could exploit for interest and fun if you wanted to.

      And yes, Morrowind’s UI was near perfection I thought. Going back to that game and decorating my home with meticulous detail is still one of my favourite PC gaming activities because of how the UI was designed to allow for it.

      The too-polished gaming experience just ends up feeling limiting.

      Though there is of course a line there, and bugs can only be excused if the ambition of your title rewards the player with something phenomenal. And there’s of course a certain degree of bugs that just don’t really ever get excused. New Vegas’ had an inexcusable amount of wide-spread bugs that affected all or most players at launch, for instance. So even though I loved the game itself once it was working for me, the fact it ate everyone’s game saves due to a problem with Steam Cloud implementation at launch was just… ugh.

      Anyhow, rambling now.

    • Tams80 says:

      I thought Morrowind was the bees knees at first and loved every moment I played of it. Then suddenly it got stale and even looking at the world make me feel slightly nauseous. I probably played it too much, but the drab colours didn’t help.

    • Frank says:

      Nah, wrong backlash. I’m here to say that Fallout 3 shouldn’t be lumped in with Oblivion. It’s characters were distinct (albeit still pudding-faced) and the drab landscape was not inappropriate for the wasteland setting (though I’d rather see some more bustling, dense cities like the Hub in there). I’ve yet to play the expansions or Obsidian’s expandalone, but apparently they make it even better.

      Oblivion on the other hand, Oblivion is irredeemable crap. It looks like they generated their landscapes, trees, dungeons and voice-acting by algorithm, an algorithm that makes the whole game feel like killing rats on the road outside Morrowind’s first town.

    • Apples says:

      Oi, Morrowind’s colours weren’t drab! The Grazelands were lovely!
      Honestly I think the drab, rainy nature of Balmora – the first real town you come to – was what grabbed me about the game. It was like a little London, full of bad-tempered xenophobes standing in the rain and rolling their eyes at my tourist exploits. I felt immediately at home in a way I never did amongst the friendly, docile, pretty Imperial cities.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I always thought Morrowind was a good game, not a great one. The writing was very, very thin in spots. It just had a better atmosphere than Oblivion or even Fallout 3. The game won’t beat Morrowind for me unless they put flight back in.

    • Wizardry says:

      Daggerfall is far and away the finest RPG in The Elder Scrolls series. Everything released afterwards, including Morrowind, are much weaker in the RPG department. Therefore Daggerfall is the best RPG in the series.

    • Jumwa says:

      I didn’t know they made such high prescription nostalgia glasses.

    • RandomGameR says:

      The love of Morrowind over Oblivion is always baffling to me. Morrowind’s world was more unique but ugly whereas Oblivion was just Morrowind’s gameplay VASTLY improved but with a generic fantasy tinge to it.

      I do think that it’s all nostalgia.

    • asshibbitty says:

      How does the word nostalgia apply to an experience you can replay over and over again? Like how I’ve been replaying Morrowind for years now.

    • Wulf says:

      Morrowind was special for two reasons: It was about the world, and it was about enabling.

      I’m sorry Alec, I really am. Skyrim might be special in a lot of ways, but at the end of the day? The plot is still “DUUURRRP DRAGUNS!!!1″, which can never be intelligent or clever. We all know this. This is a truth. You don’t even need to play the game to know it, because no one’s ever done a game about a testosterone-pumped idiot who’s slaying dragons that’s been intelligent.

      And the moment it starts being intelligent, it stops being about the testosterone-pumped idiot and his dragon hunting. Think about it. This is a trope, it is a trope and a truth, you cannot tell a story of a smart, interesting man who hunts dragons. It does not exist, it is an impossibility, and having such a thing exist would be a paradox that would cause a localised anomaly that would tear apart time and space.

      Morrowind was about, the first time you stepped off that boat, finding yourself in a swamp and in a land that was as old as it was screwed. It was steeped in culture and philosophy, it was in the books and the words of people, and it was everyone just trying to get by. But more, it was the war of the downtrodden, it was the fight of all the people who get caught up in the schemes of empires, racists, and madmen. It was a fight to let those people have their time.

      In Morrowind, I saw towering mushrooms, and lost dwarven ruins, I saw a massive asteroid floating above a city, suspended in mid-air, I saw a great city with some really bizarre architecture, I saw… such wildlife, strange wildlife. I saw something memorable, beautiful, that felt like it was a new world, but that it had its own identity. It wasn’t new, but it was old, and it was old in a good way. These were old lands, with old people. What they had done they’d done since time immemorial, and I was just there, in the middle of that. Caught up in the ancient wars and struggles.

      In Morrowind, when I set free a bunch of slaves, or dealt with some anti-Ashlander racism, it meant something. I was bringing people together, I was dealing out justice to those who believed only in suffering or slavery, I was giving the place a second chance to shine. It was a bunch of towns and cities slowly sinking into a swamp, but it was a place of old beauty. It was a place unlike any I had been to, before. And it had everything. Despite being gay, it even had the best damn romance I’ve ever seen in any game, and almost completely because it had nothing to do with sex.

      It was a subtle, savvy romance which was weaved around words, it was almost poetic. And it had me stealing stuff from rich people! I miss you, Ahnassi.

      No matter how good Skyrim may be, it’s still… “Icelands and DUUURRRP DRAGUNS!” and that’s never going to be able to replace the wonder of the ancient, beautiful lands of Morrowind. And killing flying reptiles with the AI equivalent of a chicken won’t be nearly as satisfying as dealing with the cultural, social, and political problems that plagued Morrowind, that made it so difficult for so many groups of people to simply be.

      I’m willing to buy that Skyrim may be good, especially if you avoid the dragons part of it, and you play a clever character rather than a steroid pumped idiot, but it’s cursed from the outset. It’s cursed by Bethesda wanting you to be these things, this game doesn’t want to be intellectual, and it doesn’t want you to be, either. It sounds like a bit of air-brained, poppy bubblegum fun. It’s not something that’ll get you thinking in the way that Morrowind did.

      And that’s why Morrowind still hasn’t been dethroned, at least not to me. And you’ll either get that… maybe? Or you never will.

      —EDIT—

      This is the kind of stuff that captures my imagination, everything I’ve seen in Skyrim is pedestrian by comparison.

      I’m sorry, but Skyrim just hasn’t caught my imagination. When I first saw Morrowind I saw the swampland, the silt striders, the netches, the nix-hounds, and something that was genuinely strange. Something that someone really cared a lot about. When I see Skyrim, I see… the most decidedly average medieval fantasy setting I’ve seen since Oblivion.

      Where’s the imagination?

    • IDtenT says:

      @RandomGameR You say it’s baffling, but then you go on to say that Morrowind had a more unique and atmospheric setting…

      Oh wow, I’m agree… I’m agreeing… I’m agreeing with Wulf? *gulp*

    • Wulf says:

      Also, that it’s nostalgia is pure bull.

      I wrapped up another playthrough of Morrowind just a month ago, enjoying some new content for it, I was. But yeah, the land was still the same, this ancient, beautiful, inspiring thing. A world that had always been there, waiting for me to discover it. It was ‘new,’ and yet it wasn’t. It didn’t feel like it was trying to be a tour guide. It was just an incredible landscape to explore.

      Oblivion, on the other hand, felt like it wanted to be my tour guide through the most troped fantasy lands imaginable. That game… put me to sleep more than a few times. It actually did. On trying to play it I’ve just fallen asleep. There’s nothing there that captures my imagination, nothing that makes my jaw drop, it’s just all so soulless. It’s completely without identity.

      And Skyrim? Skyrim seems like what would happen if Oblivion decided to rip-off a bit of Morrowind’s identity, and then added dragons. It’s just as soulless, just as lacking in identity, imagination, or wonder. It’ll never be Morrowind. Good, it might be. But it’ll also be boring, troped, and average. So average.

      (And agreeing with me isn’t that hard if you actually pay attention to what I’m saying. I’m an impassioned person, yes, but everything I say is often well thought out and completely honest. I don’t say anything to fuck with anyone, I say what I say because I believe it.)

    • tormeh says:

      It isn’t as much nostalgia as Oblivion being a very disappointing game and Fallout 3 not being much better. Not only Morrowind but also The Witcher 1/2, Deus Ex:HR and Fallout:NV were better. Oblivion was generic and boring, I just played it because I bought it in the vain hope that it would be as good, and have as much character, as Morrowind. I never bought any of the expansions, even though they were supposed to be better, because I didn’t want to be disappointed again. I really tried to like it, but I couldn’t.

      EDIT: Oh, and Wulf, you should play the Witcher series and Deus Ex:HR and then see if you think Morrowind is still on top. It’s still up there but while it still has the best world out there, it’s not as far ahead as it used to be (DE:HR has a damn good one) and it’s far behind in story and characters (Witcher 1/2). Not to mention gameplay and graphics, that’s a walkover.

      Both the The Witcher series and Deus Ex:HR are extremely interesting and intelligent games, and everyone that thinks Morrowind was better than Oblivion should try them, because it’s our kind of games.

    • Donkeydeathtasticelastic says:

      I prefer Vvardenfell, but give me smoother combat and physics and this time, for the love of anything, give me back spears and crossbows.

      I love spears. Also crossbows.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I am going to enjoy Skyrim. Suspend my disbelief and immerse myself in this world. I will enjoy the enhanced combat, the improved visuals. The repeatable quests (for a while) and the new factions.
      .
      On the other hand, I am also going to agree with Wulf.
      .
      How can this be? Because just last night I finished Bastion. Because I have wandered in the wonderful realms of authors such as roger Zelazny, Glenn Cook and China Mieville. Because even now I am reading the Game of Thrones series.
      .
      And because I, much like Wulf, long for Fantasy world in my games. A world that feels foreign, alien. A place that is, from your first glimpse of it, different. And like Wulf, I long for a game with intellectual stimulation and a gripping, emotionally moving story. (If you think games cannot have these things, you have not played Bastion.)
      .
      I am going to enjoy Skyrim because I do enjoy an action RPG in an open, immersive world. And because I enjoy mods and modding. I will enjoy it because I do long to fight a dragon with naught but a blade and my courage and in Skyrim, I can.
      .
      But I am still going to long for a fantasy game intended for an adult audience. Something that makes me think, and moves me. Not the Witcher. I liked the first game well enough, but I want my own character in this gritty, thought-provoking adult world where problems are solved as often with brains and wits as with swords and spells.
      .
      I am going to enjoy Skyrim. But I am still going to long for more.
      .
      And I am also going to second the notion that Obsidian create their own open-world RPG soon. Or maybe Supergiant Games. Someone…anyone, there really does exist a community of adult gamers who long for an adult, open world game with thought provoking stories. I promise.

    • Wubbles says:

      You haven’t played Skyrim, Wulf. Impassioned as you are, perhaps you should wait until you’ve experienced the game you’ve decided to dismiss.

      Here is the Morrowind trailer. It certainly doesn’t suggest much about what makes Morrowind really wonderful, does it? You learned to appreciate Morrowind after playing it, not seeing promotional material, no? I don’t see what makes Skyrim any different.

    • RandomGameR says:

      You can definitely experience nostalgia for something you can still experience and it does color how much enjoyment you get out of the experience. I still love watching the movie Labyrinth, for instance, and I assert that it holds up well to the test of time but everyone I say that to tells me I’m crazy. I have to assume that either everyone else is nuts or I watched it so much when I was a kid that even now I can’t watch it without that experience coming back. Or perhaps a third option.

      I think that something similar is going on with Morrowind and the lot of you who are crazy for it to the point of hating Oblivion. I’m not trying to paint it as a bad game, but I do think that Oblivion objectively improved upon the gameplay of Morrowind. Morrowind had a more unique setting, but I don’t think it had a better setting. There wasn’t a location in Morrowind where I sat and stared out into the distance and though “wow, that’s pretty.” It was always “wow, that’s dusty brown looking.”

      Another way to put it is… if Morrowind never existed, you’d all probably have loved Oblivion.

    • Premium User Badge

      AlwaysRight says:

      It’s worth clicking on Wulf’s youtube link just to see the one comment on there:

      ‘so what wulf. its a fvcking zerg overlord
      Bobsagetisshaft 25 minutes ago ‘

    • ChromeBallz says:

      @Wulf

      It seems like every single one of your posts on RPS is complaining about something…

      Morrowind was deeply flawed in many ways. the combat sucked, potion stacking and levitation were utterly broken, the graphics were mostly drab, brown and more brown (i tried spending a lot of time in Grasslands and Ascadian Isles because of this) and the replay value *should* be high, but once you know where to get the best stuff it became insultingly easy, etc etc….

      It’s a masterpiece, but it’s not a perfect 10 and will be surpassed by another game at some point, whether that be Skyrim or the next TES.

      Why would the inclusion of dragons automatically make a game bad? That comment just makes me think you’re just trolling, but i get the feeling that that’s what you do all the time on RPS anyway unless you truly believe that no opinion but your own can be valid, but that would make you a sociopath…

    • rayne117 says:

      Wulf speaks for those who cannot find the words.

    • RandomGameR says:

      …maybe they can’t find them because he took them all?

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I’m with Wulf on this one. Skyrim doesn’t excite me because I’m tired of medieval tropes. The only two games with such settings that has ever made me want to play them is The Witcher for its intriguing story and characters, and Morrowind because of its rather strange world. Skyrim has yet to show such uniqueness with all its promo videos, and frankly I’m raising my eye brows at the fact that they’ve yet to remedy their atrocious facial animations.

    • tormeh says:

      @ChromeBallz
      No, at least I wouldn’t. Yes, my expectations didn’t do Oblivion any favors, but It’s mostly what I look for in games that makes Oblivion into a regression from Morrowind for me. Oblivion is good, but most of its improvements were in areas I didn’t care that much about and most of its regressions were in areas that I care a lot about.

      @RandomGameR
      While it’s certainly a bonus that a game is pretty it’s more important that it has identity. Morrowind incited wonder and piqued my curiosity, while Oblivion didn’t. Oblivion gave you some “wow, that’s pretty”-moments, but Morrowind gave you some “What is that thing, where does it come from adn why/how were they built and what’s inside?”-moments. Guess which of the two are more emotionally powerful for me.

      No, I haven’t played Skyrim, but with this review I probably will. I have to agree with Wulf in that the dragon thing worries me. What can possibly be mysterious or interesting about a dragon? It’s one of the most generic things I can come up with. They’re to fantasy what spaceships are to Sci-Fi. I can’t imagine any dragon being more interesting than the mad god, but I hope that Bethesda’s pulled it off, I just worry that they can’t.

    • McCool says:

      While I think Wulf is right about what makes Morrowind unsurpassed to this day I also think you should all give Skyrim a chance. From what I’ve played of it, and read about, it really does capture that feeling of an old world, with old problems, old divisions. It has a rich sense of culture and place to it, maybe not as strong as Morrowind’s alien beauty, but still a fascinating fantasy world for us to inhabit. And considering how much the gameplay has come leaps and bounds since Morrowind, this is a world we will truly be able to inhabit in more meaningful ways. Personally I have my fingers crossed, I’m not expecting anything better than Morrowind, but a modern game that comes anywhere close would be worth the wait, and very much looks on the cards.

    • gwathdring says:

      “because no one’s ever done a game about a testosterone-pumped idiot who’s slaying dragons that’s been intelligent.

      And the moment it starts being intelligent, it stops being about the testosterone-pumped idiot and his dragon hunting. Think about it. This is a trope, it is a trope and a truth, you cannot tell a story of a smart, interesting man who hunts dragons. It does not exist, it is an impossibility, and having such a thing exist would be a paradox that would cause a localised anomaly that would tear apart time and space.”

      I heartily disagree. I’ve read so many short stories especially that turn tropes like this on their head … not about dragon slaying specifically, no. But about testosterone pumped idiots, sure. One in particular comes to mind in which a kid talks about how he grew up learning to fight and how much bitter enjoyment he got out of beating up his brother in their battles. Sure other stuff happened. And while one could have argued the story is more “about” the other stuff, the testosterone-pumped idiocy wasn’t filler. It was the character. It was his life. The story was at least as much about that as any of the more artistic concepts we talked about in class.

      I guess, I would be more inclined to agree in this: for a story to grab me as interesting and intelligent, it usually can’t be about any single thing. Including transhumanism, or the dystopian fate of 1950s American society, or otherwise “intelligent” concepts. If your story is only about one of these higher concepts, it’s going to fall flat just like a story that’s just about dragon-slaying. But even there I can think of exceptions.

      I most strongly disagree that to make intelligent commentary on something, you have to step aside from it. I think extremely intelligent commentary can be made from within a trope or a cultural framework–this is why I respect anthropologists enormously. I feel that, since our perceptions cloud our judgments no matter how objective we try to be, why not embed ourselves within a trope and try to understand it and elevate it from within it’s own rules instead of subverting the genre by simply adding new bits of intelligence on top of an old, untouched framework?

      This is, I think, the more admirable and interesting task for a writer. Take something you think can’t be done seriously. The write it seriously (replacing both “seriously”s with “humorously” or other adverbs also works). I don’t think it’s all that difficult with dragons. It’s one of the most profoundly affecting stories across many cultures–a quest to defeat an ancient and powerful foe impossibly superior to the hero. Sometimes it’s symbolic, and sometimes it’s literal, and sometimes it’s a bit of both. But it’s one of our most important stories and it is told over and over again, with or without the dragons. To say it can’t be done intelligently simply because the dragons are left in as literal lizards is, to me, excessively closed minded. And I’ll take it as a challenge. Sort of. I’m a bit busy with Organic Chemistry at the moment.

      Er … Skyrim. Right. I … haven’t given it a go yet. How is it?

    • Lowbrow says:

      I got bored with Morrowind fairly quickly, I got my money’s worth, but I felt like I was just indulging in OCD activities with no real payoff. I haven’t liked the combat in either game, and something about the dialogue presentation just feels stale to me. I didn’t get sucked into the story at all in Morrowind (more so in Oblivion until advancing skills sneaking around in my first dungeon made every creature instakill me), and the “unique setting” was all window dressing to me, even when reading all the books I could find laying around. It felt like procedural generation covered in a blacklight poster, whereas Oblivion took away the psychedelics and tacked on a story.

      I’d like to think that Skyrim would have enough story to keep me interested, but I’ll probably get bored after playing around for a bit. Not a day-one purchase.

      @Wulf A true testosterone-pumping dragon slayer would actually be novel. Plenty of unlikely heroes and honorable knights going around, but I would actually like to see someone having a go with a Beowulf persona (arrogant, boastful) as a protagonist. That is a bit character that never gets fleshed out, but a good writer could do it. Think of the guide in “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macombre”, wouldn’t you like to see a good take on that?

    • Premium User Badge

      lurkalisk says:

      I would love for Skyrim to be the new best ES game, and am open to that possibility, but there are few things harder to believe. Nothing I’ve ever seen Bethesda do since morrowind would support that (especially not the “streamlining” they seem to think is good). It’s almost like saying zombie Hitler has come back from the dead and not only has the means, but wants to usher in a new era of peace and happiness on earth, dependent only on good will and tolerance. I would love for that to be true, no matter how bizarre the example, but I’m simply no going to believe it without seeing it, and even then it will likely require a good deal of pondering to realise.

      EDIT: Got some hours ago. Currently hard pressed to argue against it.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      The plot is still “DUUURRRP DRAGUNS!!!1″, which can never be intelligent or clever. We all know this. This is a truth

      Nope, that’s clearly an opinion.

    • RandomGameR says:

      @tormeh: I guess what I’m trying to say, which I didn’t articulate well, is that Oblivion isn’t bad just because Morrowind was good.

      Oblivion’s setting may be standard fantasy fare but Oblivion’s many stories weren’t and they were handled well. Morrowind had a more interesting setting but also had stories that were handled well, some which were standard fantasy tropes and some that weren’t.

      Objectively Oblivion is a smoother more polished and “designed” gameplay experience. It’s clear that the developers learned from Morrowind when making Oblivion. It baffles me that people hate on Oblivion because it wasn’t Morrowind. It also baffles me that people can’t fathom the idea that some people preferred Oblivion when the one feature that makes Morrowind special (its somewhat unique setting) isn’t the only aspect of the game in existence.

    • ohminus says:

      @RandomGameR

      Oblivion’s setting may be standard fantasy fare but Oblivion’s many stories weren’t and they were handled well. Morrowind had a more interesting setting but also had stories that were handled well, some which were standard fantasy tropes and some that weren’t.

      Demon invasion #6352 is not standard fantasy fare? The only interesting bit of it was the justification – a justification that you were given at a point in the game when the daedra spawning from the games had already threatened plenty of towns and likely attacked you so often that you were very likely to still consider stopping the invasion the better choice of action.
      Compare that to Morrowind were even though it didn’t give you the option of joining Dagoth Ur, you still had plenty of leeway to interpret your role – a servant of the Empire, a servant of Azura, or someone just happy that just about everyone needs them and content to end up on top of things.

    • Davie says:

      @ohminus

      Oblivion’s main quest may have been drab and cliched, but like every TES game the main quest is by no means all-encompassing. What about the sidequests where you have to go inside a painting, or save a wizard from his own nightmare by defeating his subconscious challenges for him? That was just the kind of storytelling that people praised Morrowind for. I’ll grant you that there was less choice available to the player, but the majority of Oblivion’s storytelling was at least as good as Morrowind’s.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      @Wizardry:

      That read like a parody of your usual posts, I gotta say.

      @Wulf:

      Have you ever considered that maybe all that philosphical and cultural depth you percieve in Morrowind is just that, perception? As in, what you took from the game rather than what was in the game? That is to say, nostalgia?

      Also, couldn’t you just say “Morrowind will always be my favorite” and leave it at that? Did we have to hear about the struggle of the proletariat and sexy grasshopper plants with ties or whatever the hell you were talking about?

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Also, Morrowind does have an amazing world.

      And really, really, horrendously terrible combat.

      And boring, same-y dialogue trees.

      And ugly brown graphics.

      It has not aged as well as you fellows think it has.

    • RakeShark says:

      I think Wulf likes his cultures to be convoluted and impenetrable placed in a Xen environment. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that he’s better off looking to science fiction, not fantasy, for that kind of world building. Or at the very least, he has to step outside the traditional European mythos and assets and looks towards Asian and African fantasy mythos and assets.

    • ohminus says:

      @Davie

      Oblivion’s main quest may have been drab and cliched, but like every TES game the main quest is by no means all-encompassing. What about the sidequests where you have to go inside a painting, or save a wizard from his own nightmare by defeating his subconscious challenges for him? That was just the kind of storytelling that people praised Morrowind for. I’ll grant you that there was less choice available to the player, but the majority of Oblivion’s storytelling was at least as good as Morrowind’s.

      The majority? The fact that you have to cite one-shot quests should by itself show you that’s quite a stretch. The one quest series that often gets cited as having good storytelling is the DB – a group that a lot of players might even not want to join. The other faction quest series are far from being literary masterpieces. With bad fighters vs. good fighters and mages vs necromancers, all that was missing was pirates vs. ninjas. Compare with Morrowind, where the Thieves Guild, Fighter’s Guild and house Hlaalu quest lines were weaved into each other. They might not individually have been great literary masterpieces either, but the grand total actually created the concept of a world in which several groups existed together. Conversely, in Oblivion, the grand total was LESS than the sum of its parts because the world seemed not to take note of any of the events at all aside from being adresses as Archmage or whatever. The fighter’s guild and the mage’s guild were chiefly concerned with their own individual nemesis rather than the Oblivion invasion or what was happening to the other guild. It was as if each existed in its own private copy of Cyrodiil where none of the other events actually happen. That is a mistake Morrowind avoided not just with the Guild quests but with the House quests as well.

  5. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I’d have settled for “better than Oblivion” while hoping for “about as good as Morrowind.” I think I’m going to be a happy camper.

  6. McDan says:

    Oh. My. Word. Best RPG ever contender maybe? Words cannot express how happy this makes me, it only comes second to when I’ll play the game.

    • InternetBatman says:

      He said best Elder Scrolls. There’s a pretty huge leap between that and best RPG.

    • The Colonel says:

      WizardRYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!……..

    • Wizardry says:

      Exactly. Even if this is the best game in the series, it’s not even the best RPG in the series due to Daggerfall’s far stronger RPG mechanics. And even Daggerfall is a relatively average RPG in the grand scheme of things.

      Don’t get your hopes up.

    • PodX140 says:

      Colonel, you so owe me a coffee and a non stained shirt.

      So unfair!

    • The Colonel says:

      Heh heh,

      If you’re ever in Brighton look me up and you shall have your coffee.

      In the meantime here is a video of Tim Booth doing his thing…

    • Wulf says:

      I’m sure it’ll be a good Elder Scrolls game. But it’ll be good at doing what Oblivion did, rather than being good at what Morrowind did. And that just makes me a little bit sad. It makes me sad because not even Alec understands what made Morrowind great (tip: it wasn’t the combat, the magic system, how one could interact with the world, how many things one could eat, or even the hats).

      I long to walk through a world like Morrowind’s again, and I’m bitter at Skyrim for being so far from that. I know people are going to hate on me for that, it’s an invariable thing, this is AAA, new, and shiny. Therefore it must be good and I am the devil incarnate, and I’m ripping on it just for my own amusement. Because that’s what I do.

      Yep. Nothing at all to do with how much Morrowind affected me, how its visuals could brand themselves into my mind so that I’d never forget them, nothing to do with that at all. And nothing to do with my desire for just one RPG to visit a world like that again. One that’s as strange as it is beautiful. One that isn’t completely average. One that’s about actually doing something amazing rather than appealing to the lowest common denominator.

      But money talks. And the average person is going to want Oblivion or Skyrim, Morrowind would probably scare or confuse them. That’s the way that Bethesda looks at it, anyway. And thus Bethesda remains stuck in this cycle of tedium and averageness. I think that if I’m looking for a Morrowind to ever come along again, it won’t be from Bethesda.

      Whilst this may be sacrilege to some…

      I want Obsidian to develop The Elder Scrolls VI.

    • The Colonel says:

      @Wulf: So you’ve played Skyrim? You must realise that you are looking at Morrowind through very rose-tinted glasses. What is there about the plot (?) and characterisation (??!!?) of Morrowind that is more “intelligent” than the prospect of playing a person that fights dragons? I assume you know from your playthrough that “cultural, social, and political problems” are absent from Skyrim?

      I’m not putting any stock in the writing being good or intelligent, but that’s purely from the evidence of every other game Bethesda have made. The games do, of course, have other strengths. Please stop talking about dragons.

    • asshibbitty says:

      @The Colonel
      For that you might wanna check the last part of Alec’s Morrowind LP.

    • gwathdring says:

      @ Wulf

      It doesn’t sound to me like Skyrim has a lowest common denominator world. I’d argue that Fallout 3 didn’t either, precisely, but it’s closer (and it certainly lacked detail). Oblivion … the argument becomes more salient. I agree that more games should have the “alien world” factor where things seem genuinely unfamiliar. It is a shame to see it in so few games.

      But I don’t think less alien worlds are inherently boring or lacking creativity. I don’t think more alien worlds make a game inherently better or more interesting. There’s so much more to a setting than how recognizable it is. It seems that matters a lot more to you in particular, though. In which case I sympathize and I hope you get more such game settings in the future.

      For me, the intricacy and vivaciousness of a setting is what matters. I want characters to start interactions, to appear to have their own desires, to appear to carry out their own lives in a breathing world. Simulation is not the only way to do this, even (though it’s the only way to effectively do it in a non-linear game). If the world is internally plausible, intricate, and interactive I am usually happy. This is part of why I love books so much–the genres I favor have long traditions of world building illusions and not of the codex-stuffed Bioware sort. I crave surprise, I suppose, but for me it is the surprises of depth more than the surprises of strangeness that matter. That said, when I get both … I devour Neil Gaiman short stories. Those accomplish both for me.

      Your point about doing something amazing is one I find particularly interesting. I’m genuinely unsure of where to start with it … in video gaming, amazing super-human feats have ceased to be awesome and inspiring because many of them have been done so often by gamers. What can we do in games that is truly awesome and inspiring? It’s an interesting challenge. The typical answer, across all mediums, is to try to do the same things only better this time (either more dramatically or with better special effects, or with a more intricate plot or with better actors and so forth). Which makes sense. We only have so many stories we can tell. How do we make them seem alien?

      What are your thoughts? How would you make a fantasy world seem alien? Forget Morrowind for a moment. Try not to think about what you liked in Morrowind in too much detail. Let’s be broader than that her. Your thoughts?

    • ohminus says:

      @gwathdring

      You make seem things more alien by making them less familiar. You can do that in a multitude of ways, but certainly not by throwing half the spectrum of existing clichés into one pot and declaring it “roleplaying”.

      The original review states the author can’t really remember the people he dealt with in the game. I still remember Divayth Fyr and his Corprusarium pretty well. Might be because I can relate to him as some kind of fellow scientist, but that wouldn’t change that with such a host of characters in a game, surely there should be some so memorable that their name becomes something that casts a smile over one’s face?
      You say that if the world is internally plausible, intricate and interactive you are usually happy – but you don’t really address the problem that the latter is all too often at the cost of the former. The more you are allowed to interact, the less plausible does it become. Is the numbers of switches on a device a sign of depth or could it still largely be a Rube-Goldberg machine?
      From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t see any particular intricacy and even less plausibility. Instead, in order to adress a sense of entitlement to being able to do as many things as possible, whether they make sense or not, interactivity has been boosted in some parts at the expense of credibility of the world up to and including the economy (If arms and armour etc really can produced that quickly, how come they’re not much more common?

      This is role-playing. Interactivity is not an end but a means. It should be conducive to actually playing a role. If you want to be a smith, by all means, I have nothing against a game giving you the chance to be one. Just be aware that you’ll have to spend most of your time playing at the forge or you won’t be able to make a living. If you want to be a tanner, but all means, do so. But realize that it means that you won’t be the town hero but someone who reeks so miserably that he hardly has any friend in town and who won’t be very welcome in the pub. If you want to be a smith, be a smith. If you want to be a tanner, be a tanner. But likewise, if you want to be an adventurer, be an adventurer and not the master smith dragon slayer who constructs the most intricate suits of plate armour in his spare time instead of buying them from a specialist who expects to be well paid for the days and weeks of work he poured into his creation. It cheapens the craft and sacrifices any “role” to be played on the altar of instant gratification, of being able to do things not because they make sense but because you want to. How can you appreciate the services of a smith if you can do better given five minutes?

      Trying to cramp as many features as possible into a game while executing none of them in a fashion that holds water to stepping back and thinking things through in my eyes is quite a stretch from creating a “plausible, intricate and interactive world”.

    • ohminus says:

      Well, RPG is a stretchable concept, but I think that Bethesda is starting to wear it thin by heeding all the calls for “let me do this and let me do that”. In an actual world, there are limits to what you can do. Unfortunately, Beth decided to introduce limits where they don’t make sense (e.g. acrobatics) due to sheer laziness in ironing out the problems and removing limits where they would have made plenty of sense (reducing master craftsmanship to a parttime activity, reducing individual natural talents…)

  7. zeroskill says:

    Well thats all dandy. Any advise where to buy it? As I am from Eastern Europe, Bethesda doesn’t allow me to buy it off of Steam. An no I don’t want to buy from retail. Also, its not on Gamers Gate for me. They really make it hard for me to not just visit TPB.

    • h4mst4h says:

      Buy it from Green Man Gaming, If you use my referral link We both get 2€
      http://www.greenmangaming.co.uk/?gmgr=refayono
      Just click it and press the create new account located somewhere at the top.
      If you don’t like money here’s the non-profitable link:
      http://www.greenmangaming.co.uk/games/rpgs/elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-eu/

      It’s 37.97€

    • n0s says:

      “I don’t want to buy it retail”….. I’m sorry, but why?

      To me, it sounds more like you are trying to justify TPB.

    • zeroskill says:

      Thanks for the replay. I will consider buying it from Green Man Gaming then. However, im concerned about it actually being a Steamworks game and it requires Steam to play. I have no problem with that at all, I own over 200 games on Steam. But im not sure if I will actually be able to unlock it if it is not available for my region at all.
      It sais this here on the page:
      Third party DRM: Steam
      This game requires a free Steam account to play.

      Anybody knows what up with that?

    • Twilightx says:

      You can activate a game on Steam, even if it not available to buy in your region (I have the same problem). Just buy retail, register on Steam and it will be added to your library like all other games :)

    • Was Neurotic says:

      I live in Poland, and both merlin.pl and empik.com have it for 139.99 PLN. On Direct2Drive it’s 40 GBP, which works out to about 215 PLN, so I’ve ordered my copy from merlin and saved a shit-load.

    • Beardface says:

      I wouldn’t worry about that, zeroskill. I live in the UK, and Space Marine is not available on Steam here – but when a friend from France gifted it to me, it worked perfectly fine.

    • almostNormal says:

      @h4mst4h
      “This product is not available for purchase in your region at the present time. Please check back soon.”

      WhyTF measure like this was introduced in the first place?

    • zeroskill says:

      Thanks guys.

      Edit@h4mst4h: Unfortunately, as they say, GMG gives me this: “Unfortunately this product is not yet available in your region. Please check our FAQ for more details.”
      So no luck there. Probably will wait a month or too and get it from a local retailer then, let Bugthesda roll out some patches and let the modding scene get rolling before I buy it. Kinda ridiculous tho, I don’t know when I had to buy a game from a traditional retailer the last time. Some 7 years ago.

    • hackl says:

      Does somebody know if there is currently a voucher code for GMG? 40€ is already an alright price, but I wouldn’t mind paying less either…

    • almostNormal says:

      @zeroskill
      well, looks like we have to thank 1C for this (same story as with Rage) . and that at least 2-3 months of waiting for me (or you could get one from amazon (not sure, actually), i can’t – everything that amazon send – goes trought local post office, and they are quite good at losing stuff :\ )

    • asshibbitty says:

      @almostNormal
      What’s that about waiting? 1C version should be playable in around six hours. 10 of Her Majesty’s UK GBPounds.

  8. Leelad says:

    Just got my dispatch from Amazon, all I know is that some bodily functions occurred and all I want to do now is cook a mammoth with flames from my hands.

    • Syra says:

      Yus mine is dispatched for guaranteed next day delivery, just dispatched too! That set into motion me reading about 12 skyrim reviews in the last hour…

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Oh my gosh why has mine not dispatched yet? argh! *gurgle splutter*

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      Gameplay.co.uk have let me down for the first time – my Skyrim pre-order hasn’t even dispatched yet. They will not fail me a second time (force choke sound).

      Now I’ll have to drive to the shops and physically buy a physical copy, or resign myself to spending all today and most of tomorrow downloading it from Steam and only being able to play it when it unlocks at about 6 o’clock due to Valve Time = World Time.

      EDIT: Turns out that it unlocks at midnight UK time, so that’s nice. It would take me 10 hours longer than that to download it though, so retail it is. Damn it.

  9. sneetch says:

    “I’ve been playing the PC version of it during every waking hour of the last four days, and most of the non-waking hours too.”

    “I have played Skyrim for going on 30 hours”

    So according to this you sleep for approximately 16 hours a day? Shocking!

    Similarly dammit, now I have to get Skyrim!

    • Alec Meer says:

      I didn’t get it until Monday evening actually – tweaked to reflect that.

      Also, eating meals/acknowledging my girlfriend/at least one shower.

    • iucounu says:

      Punctuation is a funny thing.

    • aldo_14 says:

      Also, eating/acknowledging my girlfriend/at least one shower.

      Pff, you can do all three of those at once.

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      I do like the idea of acknowledging multiple showers, mostly by just furrowing one’s brow and nodding.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I know it isn’t how you meant it, and I hope I’m not making too personal a joke, but “acknowledging my girlfriend” works as one of the most gloriously aloof double entendres for sex that I’ve ever heard! Although if I were ever to use it with mine I’ve no doubt he would ‘acknowledge’ me with a swift kick in the balls.

    • sinister agent says:

      Punctuation is a funny thing.

      We are part of the secret club who saw that comment pre-edit. It is a sacred bond, and I shall treasure it for the rest of my life.

    • Poison_Berrie says:

      @Eddy9000:
      Maybe you shouldn’t have called him your girlfriend, then.

    • Pole04 says:

      Puncuation… Yes yes I think I will change that…

      Lol wow glad I’m not the only person who picked up on that.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      @Poison

      He rather likes that.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Eddy9000:

      This thread suddenly got a lot kinkier.

      Proceed.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Come on now skeletons, let’s not lower the tone of this thread with talk of kinky sexual practices, the important thing is that we all get to do some skyrimming tomorrow.

      Wait, what?

  10. Premium User Badge

    tengblad says:

    “The Nords, Skyrim’s most prevalent race of people, are voiced by Scandi-folk, whose accents add character to even the most turgid dialogue, and adds to the crucial sense that you are in another place.”

    Uh-oh! Being a Swede myself I don’t really like the sound of Swedish/Scandinavian accents. I’m hoping I’ll be able to tune that out, ‘cuz the rest of the game sounds pretty dang-good-tastic.

    • formivore says:

      If they are anything like the Companion Vilja mod (http://www.tesnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=28977) I will not complain.

    • PopeBob says:

      The voices are pretty schizophrenic, actually. There’s a bit of Swede, a bit of Norway, a bit of Austrian (as Meyer noted in saying some sound like Arnold), a bit of American, a bit of British, it’s really just dependent upon what the voice actor was capable of, I imagine. I doubt most of them are native accents in any case, but rather crude facsimiles.

    • Christian O. says:

      This Dane agrees. I hope they aren’t overpowering Scandinavian accents.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I hope they’ve hired this guy as the voice actor:

    • Christian O. says:

      @PopeBob

      No Danes? Saaaved. I can just retire in the knowledge that it’s a game dedicated to involuntarily making fun of the other Nordic countries.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Speaking as a Rifftrax fan, I hope that Secundus from Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe is one of the voice actors.

      That is all.

    • Shadram says:

      The first jarring moment came for me, when you arrive in Riverwood (the first village, about 30 mins in) and meet a lady with a Scandinavian-ish accent, and her American-accented son.

  11. Flukie says:

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH You’ve made the wait 100x worse.

    Fantastic review, a list should be mandatory for Skyrim reviewers.

  12. ryryryan says:

    So the graphic options are decent? Performance not a problem either?

    If so, I am pleased. REJOICE

  13. Ondrej says:

    So, Bethesda can have my money after all, you say?

    • caddyB says:

      Exactly what I thought.
      I was going to skip this, because … well, a more consolified Oblivion would not be a good game until mods came out to fix it and a game of the year edition or something with all the dlc would be a cheaper alternative for me.

      But after reading this, first day buy. Definitely.

  14. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Oh shit, I’m not getting any sleep tonight am I?

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      ^ What (s)he said ^

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Tomorrow might be my first video game induced “sick day.” Sorry boss, I got a wicked case of the black-heart blight, I’ll see you Monday.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      I *had* booked the day off, but science is a cruel mistress and I’ll have to come in (albeit very briefly) to tend to my experiments. I’m just hoping that the day one patch downloads quickly so I can get some gaming in before bed-time.

    • Ravenholme says:

      I know exactly how you feel AmateurScience – I too have to go in to the lab to check up on my samples, but I’m hoping to get shot of it by midday, go out for lunch and then come home and Skyrim until glorious unconsciousness takes me (For not having had any sleep this coming night)

    • Shadram says:

      Patch is tiny, took seconds to download. I got up at 4am (it unlocked at 3am here in NZ) and got 3 hours in before work this morning, and with 1.5 hours left, I’m wishing it away so I can go home and play more…

  15. mechabuddha says:

    Thank you!

  16. pkdawson says:

    I have traded so often with one particular blacksmith that he gives me gifts every other time I see him.

    That’s a nice small touch.

    You’ve raised my hopes about the Thieves’ Guild stuff. It’d better be good!

  17. Valdyr says:

    After Dragon Age 2, I told myself I wasn’t going to get hyped for any more modern RPG releases. I wasn’t going to preorder. (Except for the Witcher 2, which I’d already preordered months before.) It was over. No expectations, no excitement, just a stoic, Daoist acceptance of whatever came to me.

    I can’t help myself. I preordered Skyrim earlier this week. I am excited as fuck. After reading this feature, possibly even excited as double fuck.

    • godgoo says:

      Gee thanks, your article just cost me £30 I don’t really have to spare for a game I wasn’t even going to buy.

  18. sinister agent says:

    Meh. Fallout 3 with horses.

    But really, this on top of Tom Bramwell’s bit the other day and lots of other things is really tempting me to buy this next week. I must resist.

  19. Premium User Badge

    dangermouse76 says:

    It’s just sat here on my drive grinning at me. How much Nirnroot have you collected ?

    • Shadram says:

      I got 2 bits in 3 hours, but I ate one of them. It’s poisonous. :(

  20. Elltot says:

    After buying Dark Souls and being moderately dissappointed with it (ridiculous framerate issues, hardly any npc’s, crap story, the need for endless grinding) I told myself I wouldn’t be buying another RPG until ME3.

    This though looks good, very good. Will be trading in Dark Souls for it tomorrow.

    • Jesse L says:

      Dark Souls isn’t an RPG.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      Edited out the snark:
      “hardly any npc’s, crap story, the need for endless grinding”…
      Did you buy it for the story and the NPCs? Because for all the people tooting it’s horn, those two aspects certainly never were counted among the strong points, were they?

      (Didn’t encounter too many framerate issues, though, and grinding definitely is kind of a problem, especially when you’re new. If it’s an RPG or not is up to debate for Wizardry. Either way, it’s a fantastic game IMHO.)

    • Elltot says:

      I did read reviews of it, most being glowing.

      Fair enough I may not be the best at it but I got as far as the forest sections with the stone giants after ringing the first bell and just got bored. It lacked that something for me. I just found it strange that everyone reviewed this game they found amazing and I just didn’t get it. Plus I may have been subliminally convinced by that ridiculous IGN article.

      And it is an RPG, albeit an action orientated one.

    • bit_crusherrr says:

      You don’t have to grind on Dark Souls at all, and the story is there you just have to look for it.

    • MidoriChaos says:

      I’ve played Dark Souls fully once, now on my second playthrough with both bells rung. Not really had to grind much other than because I wanted to craft extra weapons I totally don’t need, and the grind didn’t take more than an hour tops for the 3-4 weapons I wanted crafted.
      While I do agree the framerate in several parts (Blighttown, WHY OH WHY) made me want to gouge my eyes out, and I consider it fun, I’d struggle to call it an RPG. It’s a very action oriented game, and the story is solely gleaned from the NPCs you find along the way. It’s meant to be in the background and not intrude. The atmosphere as someone mentioned further down in the comments is quite good, the combat is great. The Dark Souls VS Skyrim article from IGN is one of the worst things I’ve read on the internet in quite a long time. It’s like comparing a banana to a cat.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      It’s really one of the few games where I can live with that dumbest of all judgements: “It’s not for everyone”. (I mean, I play it for radically different reasons than almost every other RPG. Surely for different reasons than, say, The Witcher or an Elder Scrolls-game.) I can’t 100% surely put a finger on why I like it, but I’d say it is about mastering the system, and bout the thrill of exploring a world that is, in a way, a real Frontier. It’s a struggle to survive, every bit of progress is hard earned, and the world really conceals its secrets (with the difficulty being part of it) – but those secrets and discoveries often are fantastic, in the best sense of the word.

      But yeah, story, roleplaying a character, meaningful decisions and such stuff – not so present in a classical sense.

      But we should be talking about Skyrim, shouldn’t we?

    • Elltot says:

      Both cats and bananas are tasty with ice cream.

      And apoligies for my first post, could’ve worded it better, or not have written it at all, but thats what the comment section is for isn’t it.

    • MidoriChaos says:

      Oozo: The Mighty Overlords might eat us if we keep talking about a console-only game :( I don’t want to think about Skyrim though, because I’m sad I have the disc here and I can’t even install the bloody thing until it unlocks. I have a map I can stare at, maybe I should memorise every path, city and location! Make it be midnight, please.

      Elltot: discussions are to discuss indeed, np :P

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      If Dark Souls is an RPG than Call of Duty is an RPG.

      If Skyrim even comes close to matching the brilliant combat of Dark Souls, it shall be the best game ever.

    • Kdansky says:

      If only Dark Souls was cheaper than 300$. That includes a PS3 which I do not have.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Japan seems to have an even-more-varied perspective regarding the concept of RPGs. I’m getting a PS3 for Christmas; how does Dark Souls compare to something like Monster Hunter, which is absurdly grindy and often very unforgiving but is absolutely enthralling (for me, at least).

    • nrvsNRG says:

      lol, i only hope i enjoy skyrim half as much as ive enjoyed dark souls.
      you dont buy a souls game for npc interaction or story.

    • Blackberries says:

      Kdansky: Do you have a 360? The game is out on that toybox too, unlike the first.

      Drinking with Skeletons: I’ve not yet played Dark Souls, but the first one wasn’t very grindy. You could grind if you wanted a bit of buffing up, but mastering the game comes more through enhancing your own skill at the combat through learning and practice. It was ruthlessly unforgiving but in a perfectly fair way – it’s rarely cheap, just brutal.

      I am massively excited for Dark Souls, but for Skyrim even more so. This has been a good end-of-year.

  21. sur0x says:

    Wow!!! This is the Scrolls game from Notch?
    AWESOME GAME!!!!
    but where is the cards?

  22. MuscleHorse says:

    How does the leveling system work? (as in, does it actually work as opposed to Oblivion)

    • Premium User Badge

      dog says:

      this is a very important point for me too…. i really didn’t like oblivion’s leveling…..

    • PopeBob says:

      Leveling is automatic, but essentially the same as TES has always been- level skills, they translate to Experience Levels. Rather than a cadre of Stats to increase, you have been restricted to a choice between HP, Endurance and Magicka to increase by 10 every level. Though I haven’t tested it, I assume these three options correlate directly to things like defense, encumbrance, magic damage, etc. However the big change is in the so-called “perk” trees, which are in reality just a means to specialization. Many things which you may have expected to simply learn with higher skills are now “perks” you spend your Experience levels on. Where once simply leveling your skill in Heavy Armor would translate to greater protection and lower weight, you must spec into these skills with perk points. The same with 1H and 2H damage, special skills, pickpocketing and sneaking ease, crafting capability etc.

      You will likely only get around 50-60 perk points during the completion of the game without cheating, so it limits you to a much more narrow specialization than Oblivion did.

    • kingcanute says:

      So do I or do I not have to spend a continuous hour pressing “jump” over and over again to level the correct stat and avoid gimping my character? Because that sort of leveling mechanic in Oblivion was game-breakingly frustrating for me.

    • JackShandy says:

      They’ve taken out Agility and Speed altogether. Every character can move as fast and jump as high as every other character.

    • MattM says:

      After playing oblivion for 50 hours I realized how much the leveling system sucked and wished I had those 50 hours back.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      The very best mod I ever installed for Oblivion made it so that skill increases automatically contributed to your stats (decimal values), with Major Skills providing a larger boost than Minor Skills. It basically completely fixed the leveling, since your stats would always be appropriate for the amount of sword-swinging, armor-wearing, spell-casting, or whatever you engaged in, so you could pretty much always handle foes even if your leveling was determined by skills like athletics or mercantile.

    • Shadram says:

      As mentioned above, there’s no stats (meaning Int, Agi, etc). Your skills level up as you use them. After so many skill level increases, you get a proper “Level up”. To level up, you choose whether you want to increase health, magicka or stamina, and get a perk point to spend on one of your abilities.

      Streamlined, but still very deep. You can still master all skills (hit 100 in each) but you won’t be able to get all the perks. It pretty much fixes Oblivion’s problems: you don’t have to force increases in Endurance skills to make sure you get enough health, etc., and it encourages specialisation, since you want the cool stuff at the top of the Perk trees in your strongest (ie, most used) skills.

  23. Ultramegazord says:

    How’s the freedom of choices? Is there different consequences for our choices that really affect the world and characters? Something like New Vegas and Morrowind I guess and not like Oblivion where our choices have no effects at all.

    This is what might make or break the game for me, this and the quality of dialogues and writing but I’m not really hoping those will be good.

    • PopeBob says:

      Elder Scrolls games are very rarely about narrative choice and consequence. You either run the narrative quest or you don’t. Your freedom is in freedom to DO, to wander, to experience a sandbox world. Your freedom is not in whether you choose a dialogue option to save the dragon race or murder them all as hatchlings.

    • Ultramegazord says:

      Actually Morrowind had a lot of choice / consequence mechanics, we all remember the factions quests and how deep they changed the narrative, don’t really know what you’re talking about when you say Elder Scrolls isn’t about narrative choices, maybe Oblivion isn’t but Morrowind was full of it.

    • PopeBob says:

      Except they didn’t. What faction you chose to be part of had almost no effect on the narrative. It effected whether you experienced the sub-story of that particular faction, sure, but it made little to no impact on how events played out unless you mean “there is now a nice little stronghold of X faction in the world!” which is hardly a meaningful consequence in the scope of the story.

  24. Paul says:

    This year is pretty good for RPGs:

    The Witcher 2 – best story driven RPG since Torment, wonderful world, atmosphere, story, choices, characters

    Dark Souls – best combat driven RPG since..Demon’s Souls :-). Intense atmosphere, unparalleled combat.

    TES V Skyrim – best exploration driven RPG since…Risen maybe. Or Oblivion/FO3/FONV. But still, damn good game if this write-up may say so.

    Each different and focused on something else, and each fantastic!

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      Yeah, it’s kinda fantastic, and overwhelming, isn’t it? (I’m nowhere near finishing my first playthrough of Dark Souls, nor the intended second one of The Witcher 2, and then, along comes this, and dares to be good, dammit. #firstworldproblems)

    • Wizardry says:

      But all of those are action games with some RPG elements sprinkled on top. Where’s the actual RPGs? I don’t see any.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      they are all rpgs.
      even dark souls which is combat intensive is still one of the most complex and stat heavy games.
      actually i’d class DS as an action/survival RPG

    • sneetch says:

      Edit: you know what? It’s not worth getting into this again.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I love New Vegas, and I think it’s vastly superior to both Oblivion and Fallout 3, but I don’t really consider it to be as much of an open-world experience. There are so many quests that there’s very little to see that doesn’t tie back to some narrative, and some areas (Freeside, Novac, and the Boomers’ Airfield) are so dense with quests that they could be called quest hubs rather than towns. Also, the main quest–regardless of which path you pick–often feels more like a direction to more sidequests than a structured narrative in its own right.

      Fallout 3, on the other hand, had more things to see for their own sake. There were tons of caves and buildings with interesting things in them–like the gas station with a Mouse Trap-esque mechanism inside–which were there for no reason other than to discover them, rather than experience a little story and get rewarded with XP. A subtle distinction, I know, but that’s my take on it.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Ah yes, the inevitable comment from Wizardry.

      I shall refrain from fighting back against his overly strict and nostalgia tinted definitions of an RPG and just agree with the OP

      This is a brilliant year for RPGs. The Witcher 2 alone saw to that.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Ravenholme: Nostalgia? Just because I go by the definition that cRPGs are computer equivalents of RPGs rather than action video games? Is this just a way to make you feel better? Do you feel better?

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I could go to a bookstore or a library and ask for recommendations regarding the Fantasy genre, but assert that anything other than Tolkien-esque high fantasy is not, in fact, Fantasy. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods? Not Fantasy. Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel? Not Fantasy. George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones? Possibly, but it’s certainly toeing the line.

      Those are the conclusions of a madman.

      I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to mark boundaries for genres. Without some defining, agreed upon characteristics, meaningful discussion of conventions and mechanics become meaningless. But limiting ourselves to incredibly narrow definitions is the path to irrelevance. How can we talk about RPGs–to include the impact they’ve had on gaming–if we say that RPGs stopped being made twenty years ago? That they stopped evolving at that point?

      To extend the analogy to biology, Coelocanths stopped evolving (more or less) millions of years ago, and they now occupy an extremely narrow ecological niche. They could go extinct and there would likely be little impact on the environment (save for a few parasites that are probably adapted exclusively to their bodies). Sharks, on the other hand, have been around for millions of years, exhibiting wild variances in size, behavior, and physiology. For example, no one questions that a whale shark is, in fact, a shark, despite being far larger than any other species, not being a carnivore (in the strictest sense of the word, though they do feed on other animals), and giving birth to live young (some sharks do and some don’t). Should sharks go extinct, the ecological repercussions would be devastating and far-reaching, as the food chains of every salt-water ecosystem on the planet would have to reshuffle and could easily face collapse.

      My question for you is this, Wizardry: are RPGs extinct? Does the fact that no one makes what you consider to be an RPG anymore mean that they reached their pinnacle and can no longer contribute meaningfully to the world? Should we only talk about them in the past tense? Is there nothing new that can be added to a game without pushing it out of the RPG category? Is there nothing that can be removed from a game and still make it an RPG? If so, then perhaps you are simply a historian, a curator of irrelevant cultural artifacts that matter as much to anyone else as Egyptian mummy-making tools; that is, to offer a curiosity and nothing more.

    • Wizardry says:

      CRPGs are alive as independent games. Therefore whatever point you were trying to make is irrelevant.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Wizardry:

      True, but how different are these independent games? Are they actually contributing to the growth of the genre or are they tending to existing mechanics and conventions in the same way a monk might tend to a bonsai tree?

      Let’s say I want to watch a police procedural on TV. I can watch Law and Order, CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and who knows how many more. I might like one more than the others, but let’s be honest: they are essentially the same. I can watch a rerun from 20 years ago and enjoy it just as much for no reason other than so little has changed. The people who make these shows aren’t artists, they’re workmen. Their product might be very good, but I probably don’t need to watch it regularly–maybe not even at all–to understand how things work.

      Sci-Fi, on the other hand, has been having a bit of a creative bloom. Fringe owes a debt to the X-Files, but it is most certainly not the X-Files. Lost was an unexpected hit, and different from anything before. Babylon 5 did respectably and it featured heavy doses of religious allegory, a notoriously touchy element to include in a work. There are probably quite a few more from the recent past and present that I’m not entirely aware of.

      The point I’m trying to make is that RPGs need an influx of true innovation. With an interactive medium such as videogames, writing is not enough. We need mechanical experimentation, we need new things, even if they aren’t always as complex or as deep as what came before, because if an idea is good, is workable, then someone will take up that challenge, even if the initial innovator isn’t actually as daring with their technology as they need to be. Think about Portal. That technology has basically been around forever (ever play Asteroids?), and even featured in titles like Prey, but it was Valve that really decided to go for broke with the premise.

      You’ll dismiss all of this with a condescending sentence or two–you always do–but I hope that you aren’t truly happy with the idea of RPGs being as stagnant as you proclaim them to be.

    • Wizardry says:

      But there are very few RPGs being released because you only see them from independent developers. How do you expect half a dozen independent developers to progress a genre as much as in the early days when some of the biggest game developers were creating RPGs almost exclusively? You can’t. We’re lucky that some of these few independent developers are trying to match the ambition of the large AAA equivalent development teams of the past, with a much smaller budget and far less personnel. Copying classics of the past is the best way for them to go right now until they settle into a rhythm and start adding completely new mechanics to their games. They are playing catch up and there’s a long way to go.

    • Paul says:

      I find it interesting how troll Wizardry shits over every other posts, and you guys STILL find the time to feed him :-).

    • JackShandy says:

      Skyrim looks great, but they’ve reduced the RPG elements enough that it really does seem like it’s only as much of an RPG as, say Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer. There’s no character creation at the start (apart from choosing what you look like), you don’t interface directly with your stats at any point, no spell creation. You choose from a big list of perks in a talent tree, but again – that’s really only the level of character choice you get from an action game with RPG bits.

      It has a big open world and crafting and alchemy and edible monarch butterflies, and that’s great. Doesn’t make it more of an RPG, though.

  25. johnpeat says:

    I sort-of liked Morrowind BUT I tend just to wander and around and explore rather than do anything the game strongly hinted that I should and lost interest over time…

    I didn’t get on with Oblivion at all – I wanted to “do it properly” that time but everytime I found myself in the big wide world I’d wander around and fall foul of the idiocy that was “monsters scale with you” – it’s bad enough to be killed by a spider in the first few hours – the same spider doing it days later is just bollocks.

    So where does Skyrim sit then? I’m tempted to skip it because I suspect I’ve never really “gotten” Elder Scrolls games and have, at best, attempted to make use of their world for other purposes (and gotten frustrated when I couldn’t)??

    I’d also like feedback from anyone who’s played this on a lower-end rig – an old C2D/AMD24x with something like an 9×00 or 56×0 card…???

  26. Jesse L says:

    OMG

    Also this – “The shopkeepers who eerily greet me and offer me bargains in their sleep from beds a floor up while I’m invisibly robbing their stores at night…”

    Maybe I shouldn’t but I love that stuff.

    • abremms says:

      them shopkeeps work so hard that they sell stuff in thier sleep! seems reasonable. my roommate in college regularly sat up saying in a clear voice “But I don’t WANT to go on the merry-go-round”! in the middle of the night without waking up or being aware of it.

      doesn’t have to break immersion if you can just rationalize it :P

  27. Dariune says:

    How is the new level up system?

    Is it simpler? As the talk has indicated or do the perks make up for the lack of attributes?

    Ive tried so hard not to be excited about this game. After Oblivion and FO3 were a bit of a letdown and pretty much everything Bioware released in the last 5 years has been borderline rubbish i don’t let myself get hyped.

    But its hard because i really want this game to be good, with decent level up options, awesome stuff to explore (you pretty much covered this) and a believable setting (again, covered)

    • Shadram says:

      From my limited play time this morning, leveling up forces you to choose your specialisations (sure you can get all your skills to 100, but what fun is that without all the fun stuff?), and deciding between all the tasty perks is actually pretty tough. They’re rather powerful (+20% armour or +25% fire spell damage? I can’t decide!) so picking just one has been taking me several minutes at a time…

  28. faelnor says:

    Thanks for the WIT, Alec. Especially interesting as we share the same views on Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3, so I’m sure to enjoy Skyrim at least to some extent. Can’t wait for Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests.

    I have a question: is the interface as clumsy and console-oriented as it looks?

    I’ve been raging vainly against RPGs with inventory and categories based on scrolling lists rather than grids (the Witcher 1 to Witcher 2 transition was especially difficult for me), moreover the UI in the screenshots did appear to take a lot of useless screen space. Is any of the Morrowind goodness back with grid inventory, resizable and independently movable windows, small font size, etc.?

    Oh please tell me it is… Laugh at me as much as you want, but a good user interface experience is a very important part of my enjoying a game, especially a RPG :(

    • Lukasz says:

      I second that. OB’s inventory pissed me off as well as fallout 3.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I don’t care how good the game may be, if the user interface is poorly done, that game is way less likely to be bought or played here. Having continual irritations that color every single moment of the game is …shockingly… a strong detriment, imo.

      Wish there had been some mention of this. Though I am not getting the thing anyway. Oblivion is still the fouled anchor for Bethesda game purchases, for me.

      It does sound better than expected (though my expectations are low), so maybe after the basic patches roll out, the price drops, and the good mods come out…..

    • MattM says:

      Yeah the inventory in the witcher 2 was pretty awful. Item names and item descriptions all had to slowly scroll in too small text spaces. The way items in a list changed size when selected worked really poorly with a mouse.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Another thing I’d like to know about the interface, is whether mouse movement has a normal feel in the inventory and quest screens, or if it has that floaty, disconnected feel that many games like Witcher 2 have these days.

      Turning off Vsync helps a bit, but it’s a symptom of poor PC integration (or console porting). I don’t know why devs don’t realize that on a PC game, the mouse shouldn’t feel any different than it does on the Windows desktop.

      Which brings up another question about the WIT here… did Alec play it with a mouse or a gamepad? How is the mouse control in the main screen outside the menu system?

    • Shadram says:

      The interface sucks. No hotkeys for spells and abilities was a terrible decision, hoping that gets patched/modded in soon. The favourites menu sucks, since it only shows 4-5 things in the full list with no indicators that you can scroll up down…

      I hope it’s fixable, or else I get used to it. I’ve already figured out that using the keyboard is way faster than using the mouse to get around the menus.

  29. Sidorovich says:

    I have not witnessed such a redundant way to start off a ‘review’.

    By your own omission, if it’s not worth attempting to review such a large game after 4 days, then why bother at all?

    Whilst it’s good to hear that Bethesda are attempting to re-capture some of Morrowind’s ‘otherness’ with this latest instalment of TES, I would’ve preferred a longer wait for a proper review piece befitting of the title ‘Wot I Think’.

    • abremms says:

      be reasonable. he said there is more coming. its a big game, and if they hadn’t posted SOMETHING today, (when every other gaming site is posting thier reviews), then thier inbox would be flooded with people demanding to know Wot they Thot.

    • Beebop says:

      “admission”

      It’s not a review, it’s “Wot I Think”.

    • JackShandy says:

      He’s saying he’s managed to play for four days straight without doing anything important, and it’s been fantastic. That’s extremely helpful. It’s exactly what I wanted to know.

    • Maldomel says:

      Considering the sheer number of things to review in such a large game, how can you expect to get a decent review in four days? It would take at least two full weeks playing Skyrim only to have a sense of what’s good and what’s not.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s what I think. And there will be more of it.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      I think it’s safe to assume that other major sites have had as much time with the game, yet they wouldn’t admit to such at the beginning. It’s to Alec’s, and RPS’, credit that he begins the review so.

    • Red|Exergy says:

      Personally I read the extremely long introduction more as another way of saying of how much content there is to do rather then an excuse that he didnt do it. But that might be me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      Complaining because a reviewer has only played two hours of a game and then thrown a review up is one thing. Ignoring the entire body of a very useful WIT and whining that the author has only played 30 hours and has played only this game for the past four days is… I can’t even think of something rational to say here. You’re lucky I’m ill or I’d flip into MAXIMUM SARCASM mode and no-one needs that.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I prefer the RPS Verdict columns. In my experience, “Group Reviews” offer the best review experience possible, as you hear a discussion rather than what amounts to an elaborate list of pros and cons and a final overall opinion. 1up had, at one time (still does?), a regular feature where they would post video reviews of new releases in this way. The Assassin’s Creed review, for instance, featured a guy who loved the game, a guy who liked the game, and a guy who strongly disliked the game. Even though that kind of structure couldn’t possibly create a definitive rating, it really showcased the good and bad of the title and why those parts worked/failed. I could be misremembering, but it seemed like you also got a better sense of the kinds of things that each critic valued in games, so you got an idea of which perspective you would most identify with.

      So, in conclusion, I would like to see RPS start doing a “What WE Think,” especially for big titles that you know at least two staff members are going to be tackling simultaneously.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      I think it’s fairly likely that there will be a WiT part 2 and a Verdict for Skyrim. Verdicts generally follow some time after the game’s release and the WiT.

      While people are saying that this is a massive game and it deserves more time, I think they are also failing to appreciate that this is a massive game and finding the time to get everyone to play it for 1000000 hours and still keeping the site running isn’t really practical – especially if they want to get something up before the release date.

    • Shadram says:

      An RPS Verdict is pretty much guaranteed, surely? At least John’s obviously going to be playing the hell out of this (and probably some of the others too), and I can’t imagine him and Alec *not* wanting to discuss it…

  30. abremms says:

    sounds amazing, really looking forward to it. How is the default PC interface though? is it passable on its own or did Bethesda pull a “meh, modders will fix it”?

  31. JackShandy says:

    And I just got done putting my fifty-first mod into Morrowind, too.

    This review has totally assuaged all my anxieties. First time I played Morrowind, I threw the main quest in a ditch, ran straight into the ocean and dived for pearls for a few hours. I saw skyrims 25-minute scripted intro and I was sore afraid.

    Thanks, Alec.

  32. TormDK says:

    How could you NOT join The Dark Brotherhood!?

    Thats the first thing I’m going to do!

    • chackosan says:

      To be fair, he did say he hadn’t been invited, so I don’t think the choice was up to him.

    • db1331 says:

      Well traditionally you have to murder people to get an invite, and he said he was playing a pacifist. Hence, no invite. I’m sure if the Brotherhood opens a vegetable-pilfering branch, he will be first on their list.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Oh verdamnt. I am picking this up tomorrow but need to write some presentation slides over the weekend. The temptation to play “just a little bit” will be overwhelming.

  34. Electricfox says:

    Cliff Racers, yes or no? ;)

  35. Beebop says:

    “Despite this generally positive review, I shan’t be playing this game as I dislike Scandanavians.”

    • Christian O. says:

      Their blood is tainted by generations of race-mixing with Laplanders. They’re basically Finns.

  36. Out Reach says:

    I have a friend who lives in Australia…

    her steam icon on my friends list reads: In-game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

    Torture…

  37. Was Neurotic says:

    “I’m sorry Morrowind – I love you, but I don’t need you anymore. I think, at last, there is a new Best Elder Scrolls Ever.” :O :O :O

  38. Patches the Hyena says:

    ‘For a while, a small brass robot spider was my loyal guard’ made me smile like an idiot.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Really? It made me sad. What happened to the small brass robot spider? Did it bravely sacrifice itself in Alec’s defence, or was it cruelly discarded, its loyalty betrayed?

    • sneetch says:

      I think it got lost and it’s currently searching for Alec. Travelling over hill and through vale desperately seeking him out. Eventually, in the final battle, Alec will be lying on the ground stunned, injured and the Ancient Evil will be poised to deal the final blow then Robo-Spider will turn up just in time to leap into its face and cause it to fall backwards over the parapet into the machinary/volcano and be destroyed, sacrificing itself in the process. Beautiful, Disney will make a movie.

    • Premium User Badge

      X_kot says:

      If Radiant AI could do something like that, it would be such an impressive moment of procedural-gaming storytelling that I might forswear the company of all other action-RPGs to bask solely in its excellence.

  39. Jajusha says:

    Damn this, pre-ordered now.

    Said i wouldn’t plunge on another Bethesda game after Oblivion, but here i am…

  40. Vexing Vision says:

    But what about the cloth map!

  41. derella says:

    Pre-loaded from Steam… it’s calling to me.

  42. Maldomel says:

    You fought walruses?! Now that’s what I like.

    • JackShandy says:

      Oh holy shit, I almost missed that. Walruses! Finally! I’ve never fought one before.

    • Ravenholme says:

      They’re called Horkers and they’re not exactly Walruses.

      Source: TES III: Bloodmoon

    • Shadram says:

      Fight the Walrus! Kill the Walrus! Raise the Walrus as your zombie slave!

  43. airtekh says:

    I must admit, I’m not particularly excited about Skyrim (fantasy RPGs are not my thing) but my interest level has increased somewhat by seeing Mr Meer’s escapades.

    Good review.

  44. Premium User Badge

    JB says:

    I can’t believe there’s no alt-text. There was scope for mammoth puns.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Yes, tusk tusk Mr Meer, this will not do.

    • Chris D says:

      Ivory much agree.

      Wait, Is that one too obvious? Has it been made before? I guess sombody mastodon.

      (I’m so sorry)

    • JackShandy says:

      Reviewing the game in four days might be a mammoth tusk, but let’s address the elephant in the room: This is a trunkated review.

    • Elltot says:

      It was rather a wooly article if you ask me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      And now all I can hear is this.

  45. Premium User Badge

    Drayk says:

    My Amazon account warned me that the game is waiting for me at home… I don’t think i’ll sleep much this night…

    Still I don’t understand how i paid 31 euro for it on amazon when Steam sells it at 45 for a dematerialized version…

    • Kdansky says:

      Amazon.de: 47 Euro
      World of Games: 49 CHF (which is 39 EUR)
      Steam: 49 Euro

      Yeah…

    • johnpeat says:

      Shopto want £27 for a physical copy shipped to your home using trucks and vans and people – or £40 for a digital copy which is basically just a code you enter into Steam…

      Someone needs a kicking for that…

    • Premium User Badge

      Drayk says:

      47 euro on Amazon ? I paid 31.

      Qté Article Prix Envoyés Sous-total
      ————————————————————————–

      1 The elder scrolls V: Skyrim – EUR 31,46 1 EUR 31,46

      La date d’arrivée estimée est le 10 novembre 2011

    • Syra says:

      Pretty simple really, publishers have to support retail distribution because that’s where most of their sales come from. If they price under retail value online, the decline in retail would be much faster putting their business partners in some deep doo-doo. So steam naturally takes the RRP price in the weeks preceeding and following release, whereas retail can chose to compete on their margins with each other, hence always being 5-10 cheaper. Then after a month steam goes all midweekmadness on your ass and offers it for half that, see RAGE.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drayk says:

      It make sense, but it is still a bit troubling as there should be an incentive about buying a dematerialised game, even on day one.

    • mike2R says:

      As a wise man once said, “everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it”. If you’ve got a product that costs you less to supply than its alternative, but that people are willing to pay more for, this is not generally seen as a problem :)

    • mechabuddha says:

      Doesn’t make much sense to me, either. Picked it up for 48 US dollars for a mailed box as opposed to the 60 dollar digital download. I’ll wait the couple of days for delivery for that difference.

  46. Kdansky says:

    Can/Must we register DVD copies of this on Steam? I would like to buy a retail DVD (a lot cheaper than Steam) and then use that via Steam so I don’t have to bother with the physical disk every time I want to play.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      It’s a Steamworks game by my understanding, so yes, a Steam account is required. You can quite happily throw away the disk should you want to after installation.

    • Kdansky says:

      After? Why would I want to put that disc into the machine to begin with? Downloading is just as fast as spinning up a drive that is more than a decade old.

    • Syra says:

      depends on your connection, most of europe is miles ahead of the UK for instance, but I would rather have the data there already on a disc to install immediately than wait an hour for it to download (I’ve got 30mbps now..) and then still put the 10min into installing it. When RAGE came out I had around 2mbps from my isp (paying for 16 ofcourse, sky/adsl is shite) and it took me 12 hours to download and install it -_-.

    • Jajusha says:

      Steam has download servers spread across all Europe, from Paris, to Berlin and Kiev

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      … It’s quite a lot faster for me to transfer 6GB of data from a DVD than to download it. I don’t know what kind of crazy fiber connection you have, but it would take me about 15 hours to download the 6GB indicated by the steam page’s min sys.

    • Unaco says:

      Better on disc for me also… I’m one of these who still lives somewhere remotely remote, and only get downloads of ~300kb from Steam. It doesn’t put my nose out if I buy a game and have to download it through Steam, I have patience, and am usually happy to let it download over night. But if I end up buying a physical copy (which is rare for me these days) having the data on the disc is a bonus that I’ll take advantage of.

      For SkyRim I bought through Amazon, as it was cheaper (with Free Super Saver delivery, which hasn’t been too bad for me recently, 2 days after order/dispatch) than Steam. I expect to get it on Saturday, so for me, working tomorrow, I’m only going to miss an evenings play, which is no biggie for something I’ll probably play for several months.

  47. Eldiran says:

    I’m really curious about the leveling/experience system. I imagine skills still increase based on use, right? So killing that dread vampire in one hit as opposed to ten hits gives you a tenth of the experience?

    • Premium User Badge

      Museli says:

      I’m guessing here, but I’d imagine one hit for 100 HP would give you the same XP as ten hits for 10 HP each.

    • Fiatil says:

      Elder Scrolls games have never worked that way before, so that would be a change. Experience is based on hit or cast, not how hard you hit or how big the fireball you cast is.

  48. The Ninja Foodstuff formerly known as ASBO says:

    I’m so glad this is the only pre-order this year I didn’t cancel.

    Maybe I should have gone dragon-hunting instead of obsessively picking every lock and pocket I stumbled across.

    I think this is exactly what I’ll end up doing for the first few hours too.

    Sounds great.

  49. stone says:

    Take my money, Bethesda. TAKE it!

  50. DickSocrates says:

    I know I’m missing the larger point here, but stuff like terrible looking NPCs and doors not opening really bug me. I saw the video review on GT and was shocked at how similar and antiquated it looked. The landscape looks a lot better, but the people and interiors and general atmoshpere is still depressingly firmly a generic Bethesda game. They get the sprawling part right, but the basics don’t even seem to bother them. Graphic technology gets better but they still think its acceptable for doors not to animate and they make 0 attempt at making indoor/outdoor transitions happen for real, or even masked in a more creative way than ‘screen goes black’ or blurry. Real world instantly scuppered by ancient gaminess that only Bethesda cling on to; poissibly not even noticing as their heritage shows they aren’t really a game company, but a hardcore RPG company who would probably prefer to show you dice rolls if they thought they could get away with it.

    I guarantee about a week or two from now there will be a full NPC face replacement mod that makes them look infinitely better at no performance cost. And we will all wonder what Bethesda were doing letting this happen AGAIN.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      and they make 0 attempt at making indoor/outdoor transitions happen for real

      In fairness, the memory constraints of the Xbox 360 make that quite unfeasible. If you have a few spare gigs of RAM, sure, you can do a lot of chunking and preloading and make a seamless world. But as long as we’re stuck with the current gen of consoles, it won’t happen. Nobody’s going to put in the extra effort when it only works on one platform.

    • Kdansky says:

      Yeah, if only our machines had more than 512MB or RAM.

      Sadly, when you have to limit yourself to so little memory during development, you have to do a lot of low-level hackery to get it running, and then it is all but impossible to remove that artificial limitation easily for another platform.

      My gaming rig has no more than 4 GB of RAM, which is 25% of what my work desktop offers. Because games just don’t utilise the available RAM at all.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I dunno, I thought that there was a considerable improvement in faces even in Fallout 3. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was always something “hand-drawn” about the textures, like wrinkles were drawn with a pencil rather than actually being folds in skin; it simultaneously looked less realistic and more stylized but a lot better since it moved a bit away from the Uncanny Valley. Different tastes, I guess.

      As for the transitions, I just want the game to run reasonably well and I’d frankly rather have brief loading screens than a bunch of obvious buffer zones (like the Witcher 2’s many oddly-functioning doors) or tons of pop-in or any of the other possibilities that you end up with by trying to be seamless.

    • Shadram says:

      The other problem with doing real transitions in an Elder Scrolls game is that pretty much every building is a Tardis (bigger on the inside), and to scale up the exteriors to match would result in some very silly looking buildings. It’s that, or make the interiors really cramped and less interesting… I’ll stick with the transitions.

      Oh, and the doors do animate a bit now (they start to open, then hit the loading screen) and the load times on the PC are tiny.