The Games Of Christmas ’11: Day 24

By RPS on December 24th, 2011 at 12:49 pm.

Listen out for Horace's growl tonight!

The final game of Chistmas had been chosen. It is the game you should play with your family before you are devoured by Horace The Endless Bear later today. Good luck everyone, we’ll see you at the other end.

It’s… The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim!

Jim: So here we are! Another year, another Game Of The Year that basically won’t surprise anyone. (Last year was the year of Minecraft, of course.) We’ve chosen Skyrim, the game we, as a collective of Old Men, have had the most fun with in 2011. You only have to browse through the archives over the past couple of months to see how much we’ve enjoyed ourselves, and that sort of speaks to me as a gamer and as a writer. One of the founding principles of RPS has always been that we should write as much as we can, or as much as we like, about the games we are enjoying. That principle soon expanded to have more of a “let’s try and be a broad church and post all the news, too” but the fundamentals of the site remain about writing lots of guff about arsing about in games. Skyrim is one of those games that, by virture of what it is and what it does, generates anecdotes, ideas, and pleasurable frothings of writerly inspiration. So we wrote. And wrote. And this phenomenon wasn’t confined to RPS: the entire gaming sphere is bubbling with it.

It’s not all positive, of course, and I myself was bug-eyed with indignation over Skyrim’s awful UI and colourful rainbow of unfinished features, glitches, and errors. But this is one of those games in which shoddy QA and bad finishing, while unacceptable and exasperating, has not defeated the game, or even significantly damaged our enjoyment of it, and for that we are all thankful. We are thankful too that it seems to have clawed back our attention to Bethesda games, through a wonderful world and some entertaining writing, from the ambivalence we had toward Oblivion and Fallout 3. Both those were competent games in their own right, but they had something missing. Fallout 3′s personality and mechanics were such that I could not stomach more than an afternoon of it. I enjoyed Oblivion far more, but the days I spent playing it were nagged at by the bland fantasy world, and the weakness of the challenge. Skyrim’s nagging has been far less insistent, and have wandered through autumnal forests and snowy wastes in a dreamy haze. Here is a game I have been glad to be able to lose myself in.

There have been a couple of other games whose RPGish sentiments have had me glad to be gaming in 2011 – The Witcher 2 and Deus Ex to be specific – but it’s the open world, open game systems, and open arms of Skyrim which have ended up commanding the majority of my escapism. While I rushed through the core “defeat the dragons” plot and found it to be “okay”, it was always the diversions and stumbling side-quests that really kept my attention. And I know that’s been the same for most people playing it. The game has so much to it than even after a couple of hundred hours it is still throwing up little tricks and idiosyncrasies.

Of course what is perhaps even more exciting for those of us who dabble in modding is the base that this game represents. The vanilla game is a feast of ideas and materials, but it will no doubt be the next two or three years of modding that will genuinely set it up to the heights it could achieve. Coming back to this in 2013 is going to be a delight. It’s a big game, but it’s an even bigger space of possibility. And that fills me with a special kind of glee.

John: I love Skyrim. I love it enough to continue writing positively about it even after sodding WordPress ate my first draft of this entry, in which I was astonishingly hilarious, erudite, and would finally have won an award for my journalistic wonder. I love it to bits.

As it happens, I didn’t get on with Oblivion. It never grabbed me, beyond its role as a horsey-riding simulator with nice sunsets. But Skyrim, I was instantly hooked, swept into a story about being the dragonborn, and then being enormously distracted by the appearance of about a dozen other equally interesting and detailed entire storylines. I’ve loved and lost, fought and gained, robbed and given, and killed a really terrible number of bears. And like being in real life love with a real actual person thing, I love it with all its faults, not despite them. Even that sodding skill screen.

I’m constantly astonished by the extraordinary scale of everything, and yet the miniscule detail of every moment. For a world this massive, usually you’d expect to see a great detail of repitition, but rather every tiny nook is stuffed with a unique story, or justification for its dungeoneering. Deliberately trying to climb a seemingly impassable mountain, instead of breaking the game of falling out of the skybox (which I admit I have done once) I usually discover a hidden castle tower, which reveals a trapdoor entrance to an abandoned haunted prison, a dead body with a brief note, and a mystery to solve. That is ludicrously rewarding.

My time of late is recently spent randomly wandering the map clearing up any of the fifty or so quests I’ve somehow gathered along my way. This has led to my rather awkward habit of doing really terrible things for terrible people. I’ll have been given a quest long ago by some nefarious type, asking me to a dastardly task, and then forgotten about it. But now there’s a tempting arrow pointing to a cave nearby, so I may as well pop in, follow it to its ends, and then realise I’ve given some huge help to a terrible god who is hell-bent on killing us all. Er, oopsie. One such error saw me realising I was about to murder some priest because a daedra wasn’t a fan of his. I couldn’t remember what it was he’d done wrong, and I’d lied to him to lead him to his demise, and I realised as amoral as my game had become, I really wasn’t okay with this. So I reloaded (shut up, you’ve done it too) to just outside the building and instead walked straight by.

Which means for the last week or so I’ve been accompanied on my adventures by a friendly priest, who absolutely cannot be gotten rid of. And why would I, when he provides fragile but useful help? His ranged magic ensures he doesn’t get in the way as he helps bring down the enemies. Which also means I’m now in a party of three, joined as I am by a new housecarl by the name of Not Lydia.

And Not Lydia is great too! Sure, she’s not Lydia, but here’s a thing you might want to know. After I became Thane of Solitude, and bought my amazing mansion, I was awarded the servitude of Not Lydia, who instantly won my heart the first time I “traded items” with her. Despite her having been given the same line as Lydia in this instance, she enunciates it so differently, intoning the words with deference and generosity. “I’m sworn to carry your burdens.” And I yours, Not Lydia, I reply.

Alec: Skyrim takes me back less to Morrowind and Oblivion than it does to the glory days of World of Warcraft, to a time before I knew all the rules and limitations of that then-amazing virtual world, when there was constant awe and confusion, when each new skill and town was an unexpected wonder rather than a matter of incrementally-improved course. The first sight of Ironforge, the first time I sewed my own pair of trousers, the first fight with something four times my size…

The first time I levelled up. The first time I levelled up my crafting. The first time I donned armour with a stat boost. Skyrim, honestly, can be an awful lot like what have become the worst aspects of MMOs: the hunger for numbers, the preparedness to grind to make those numbers bigger. When I play it til 3am, I am often conscious that I am doing so perhaps more to improve some stats than to soak up some new environment or engage in epic combat.

Thing is, it’s taking those MMOy futilities and giving them purpose. I’m not trying to level up or max out crafting because I want to keep up with other players or become suddenly able to access a new zone or quest or piece or magic hat. I’m doing it because I want to shape the world of Skyrim, and the adventure I have in it, to my own greedy little desires. It’s all about me. Mememememememememememememememememememememememememememememememememememememe. I want to make all the armour, I want to steal all the things, I want to cast all the spells, I want to enchant all the things in my inventory, I want EVERYTHING AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME.

Only I can stop me, and I’m not going to stop me. A rush and a push and the land of Skyrim is mine, all mine. There are no other players cluttering up my adventure, stealing the ore I had my eye on or trying to loot the masks off the Dragon Priests before I can get to them. Skyrim is perfect indulgence, a choose your own adventure in which you can disappear into the murky depths of your needy little soul, but unlike an MMO you come out of it bristling with anecdotes about what you saw, what you fought, what you found and the inadvertently hilarious bugs you discovered in the process. Yes, it comes up short on characters and overarching purpose for quests both big and small and logic and interface and all the rest, but Skyrim Is Videogame. It is so many of the introverted things we want from our electronic entertainments, presented without rancour or obstacle in a fantastic Scandi-landscape that I would happily spend months of my life rambling around.

Also dragons, but whatever. I can steal the clothes off people’s backs now; what would I care about dragons?

Adam: A lot of people have a Skyrim that’s all about collecting the toughest armour and the sharpest sword, finding the best combination of perks and killing the most dragons. My Skyrim isn’t like that at all. Mine mostly involves being a tourist in a cold and terrifying world. Dragonborn or not, I’m inclined to keep my head down as I set out to explore the world, collecting bits and pieces as I go.

I’ve not put in the hours that the others have because I’m still waiting for the perfect time to shut myself away for a weekend and lose myself as completely as possible. It’s the first RPG for ages that has made me want to ignore the save game function, except when the world outside pulls me away, and just exist for as long as possible. I’ll be the shabbily dressed hunter in the corner of the tavern; the one who avoids roaming monsters and packs of beasts and backs out of dungeons when the threat of death becomes too real. I may seem a coward compared to most but actually I’m just a sensible man in a dangerous world. The kind of person who would rather track a fox than a dragon.

And what a world it is. There are plenty of things that displease me in Skyrim the game, but very few in Skyrim the place. There are dragons and giants, sure, but the Nordic climate, bringing about the storms from which I’ve sheltered on lonely mountainsides, makes this an ideal world for a survivalist to find himself trapped in. It’s a harsh place, yet still extraordinarily beautiful. A large part of my role involves discovering the best of it, finding the vantage points and spots of outstanding natural beauty that seem to exist for no other reason than to be wandered to and wondered at. That may make me sound like a sort of flâneur of the mountain ridges but mine is not a life if idle leisure.

If somebody offers me a task both rewarding and in keeping with my inquisitive nature, I’ll gladly accept. I’m saving up for my first home so I could always use a bit of extra income and there are plenty of compelling mysteries in the world. The occasional delve into both the personal and the esoteric can be a great pleasure and an education for a traveller in a distant land.

So that’s been my Skyrim so far. One day I’ll decide I need to kill an infinite number of dragons and I look forward to that as well, but for now I’m more than happy just to be an explorer in a new realm. There are plenty of aspects that irritate me but this is my favourite Elder Scrolls game since Daggerfall, which I shower with praise at every opportunity despite its glaring problems, particularly back at launch. Patches were an issue then as well.

I think our frustrations have been as clear as our excitement over the past months, although the latter has far outweighed the former. That doesn’t mean the problems are insignificant, but it does say a lot about how fantastic the scope of the game is. What’s more, the expected release of the development tools and arrival of integrated mod support in January mean Skyrim’s players will be generating new stories for years to come.

Those are stories that none of us can predict yet and despite the fact that I feared it might turn out to be a rather banal case of more dungeons and more dragons, it’s been a pleasure to realise that there’s enough personality and detail in Skyrim to keep me adventuring there for a long time to come.

Happy Christmas, one and all. You’ve been fantastic this year. Back soon!

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218 Comments »

  1. Damn You Socrates says:

    Vivec bless us, one and all!

    • Meat Circus says:

      I was a first post like you, and then I took an arrow to the knee.

    • CrookedLittleVein says:

      This meme really needs to die.

    • skorpeyon says:

      I used to wish this meme would die, like you, and then I took an arrow to the knee.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      I saw a mudcrab the other day…

    • Phantoon says:

      I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I had a close call and realized this life was too dangerous for me. I have a wife and two kids. Two beautiful little daughters, so new to the world. I couldn’t keep risking my life and taking chances that I knew would result in my death before they were even old enough to ask about boys, or ride a horse, or even walk on their own, if I was really unlucky. No, I knew better. With that in mind, I set off one last time, to a tower I knew to be easy pickings.

      I was right. The bandits of the local area didn’t provide much resistance, and the key the old woman had given me years before when I was but a lad still worked. I hadn’t known what I expected to find, if anything at all. Armor? Gold? Gems? Weapons? But inside, was but a simple bow, worn by the ages. I felt disappointed, but also relieved. Knowing that my adventures could end as poorly as this one, I made up my mind to never set foot in another crypt or abandoned keep.

      But as I grasped the bow, I felt something. The weapon had power. Lots of power. I laughed, but at the time I did not know why. I know now, of course. I held the weapon, marvelling at the oddity until I heard a cry behind me- one of the bandits yet lived, and was charging me! I quickly nocked an arrow, but he was too fast for me to strike him in the chest. I deftly dodged to the side, and let the arrow go, landing the shot into his knee.

      He spontaneously became a guard. It was if he had never been a bandit. His armor had changed to match the armor of the Hold we were in at the time, and he began to wander off. When I tried to ask him questions, he only responded with the same statements, like “Citizen?” and “I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow in the knee.” and “Curved. Swords.”

      It was at that point I realized why I couldn’t stop laughing when first gripping the bow- the weapon was one of Sheogorath’s! I resolved to sell it to some buyer, but every time I did, the bow somehow found its way back to me. Sometimes it would be an adventurer that sold it to me at my forge, sometimes I just found it in a crate, sometimes it would be on my mantle like I had never lost it. Regardless, I ended up having to keep it with me. It never seemed to afford me any ill, though it was always odd to see the guard population of the town rise every time I lost the thing.

      So while you may have turned the rest of the tavern into sweetrolls with the Wabbajack, I know for a fact you cannot use that staff before I hit you in the knee. Just walk away, and we can both go on with our lives. Or you can risk it, and we both take a chance at being warped by the Madgod- I out of self defense, you out of callous self-importance.

      (Sidenote: take an arrow in the knee doesn’t have the quality that ‘what a shame’ did, and like the ‘I’ll never stop looking’ compared to ‘I never asked for this’, it’s the less interesting and versatile meme that becomes popular. At least, in my opinion. And in my opinion, you don’t get to the Cloud District very often.)

      EDIT: Also, this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etbDj8hsRR4

    • povu says:

      Phantoon: That guy just stole that from Wes Johnson’s (The voice actor of Oblivion guards) own youtube channel. Here’s the full original:

      Much better.

    • Bhazor says:

      Fucking knees, how do they work?

    • The Tupper says:

      I used to be an apiarist. Until I took a bee to the knee.

    • Shoor says:

      I used to not say I took an arrow to the knee, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

    • alundra says:

      I used to like this kind of stuff, then took a meme to the knee.

    • gdpaacngfl says:

      I hated Oblivion. Couldn’t get into it, didn’t find anything interesting, the scenery was bland, the characters were awful. I was on the fence about Skyrim; the landscape looked a lot more immersive and the characters finally didn’t feel like it was all a 5 year old drawing the whole lot of them. http://711.la/877

  2. Meat Circus says:

    We need to talk about Frozen Synapse.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Don’t forget there’s a runner’s up list!

    • jezcentral says:

      In a year where Indie development seemed to mean Point-and-Click, Tower Defence games or Rogue-likes, FS seemed to be a proper, new kind of game. My opinion is it should have made the list, but what are these lists, but opinions?

      But you are wrong here. *pouts*

    • Cooper says:

      FS protracted beta was an odd point here. It got a decent amount of coverage from KG, which prompted me, and others here I’m sure, to stump up for the beta.

      I played the beta until it was frayed around the edges, and so when it was ‘released’ I was kinda done with it… Which makes me think that it got less attention than it deserved upon release as many who would trumpet it, had already done that and moved on…

    • Wizlah says:

      Granted, I’ve not played everything on the list (nor will I, because I am a parent and have no time ever), but I’m kinda surprised FS didn’t make the list in terms of overall polish, a very distinct kind of game, commitment to both multiplayer and singleplayer – they did everything right, including the music. seems like that should have been honoured over, say, LEGO, which feels like more of an award for all the telltale games over the past couple of years.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      FS is a “not as good” copy of a 10 year old game, surely?

    • jezcentral says:

      And which game is that? Because I haven’t heard of it.

    • paralipsis says:

      Until Frozen Synapse, I did lament that nobody seemed to want to carry on the torch of the gameplay style in Robosport.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      No Frozen Synapse? I seriously thought that was a contender for game of the year, so I’m a bit surprised it didn’t even make the list.

      And Skyrim and Deus Ex as numbers 1 and 2?

      While I hate it when people cry “conse-itis!” it’s a bit sad when the games on the two top spots were designed with consoles in mind and show it.

      They aren’t bad games, but they definitely don’t do anything new or innovative and, over all, are a bit mediocre I think.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Laser Squad Nemesis.

      Using the current lingo you could say FS was a consolised version of that.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Juan Carlo

      Deus Ex is not “number 2,” there is no number 2 on the RPS advent calendar. Go back and read the full calendar post.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    I hated Oblivion.

    I don’t hate Skyrim, despite it making most of the same mistakes again.

    So, that’s nice.

    • Tuco says:

      Same here.

      That said, I’m not even particularly fond of Skyrim.

    • Vander says:

      I am i nthe same boat. While i coulnd find Oblivion interesting in any ways, and Fallout 3 was an insult to the fallout fans that i am, Skyrim had me hooked on for 10 hours.

      Until the mechanichs become boring, and that the shallowness of the gameplay made me stop. And the scenario, dialogs and voice-over were superior to the precedent games of Bethesda, were still not really a selling point. And the world do no really react to you. Sure, the guards and others pc will speak to you differently, but even that was badly done, with for example guards knowing things that they shoulndt. You can become the head of a number of guilds and things like that but…what the point? I was the grand i-dont-remember-the-title of the college of Winterfell, and apart from one line from the npcs, and a room, i never felt like it had changed nothing in the game’s world.

      But i understand why people like it. It has good points. But its too shallow for me.

    • D3xter says:

      I am highly perplexed by all of this too, as that really is the best thing I can say about Skyrim… I don’t hate it like I did Oblivion or Fallout 3, I also don’t feel like playing any more than the hours I put into it already though, reaching the Greybeards atop that mountain, after which they sent me off to yet another dungeon full of undead to get some horn I didn’t really care about.

      Aside of perpetuating their oath of continuously delivering broken game mechanics – from the leveling systems, scaling, loot systems, UI, AI and whatnot, Bethesdas way of designing the world and dungeons is still that of the late 80s and early 90s, where you just stick some wall textures and set pieces together, throw it through some randomizer and a few procedural algorithms and then maybe let a human being rearrange some of them for a bit and add a bit of fluff and voilá… 120 totally uninteresting dungeons to explore!

      The only difference between now and then is that they’re using higher resolution and higher polygon assets and it looks prettier, but they’ve basically kept making the same game in different iterations and with a few new features since 1994: http://tinyurl.com/86jqfeo although I can give them that they at least made a bunch of progress with Skyrim… and at least discovered verticality amongst a few other things.
      The exploring was somewhat enjoyable for a while for me, till that feeling that they are just starting to waste my time yet again in my journey through Blandistan crept in, that I’ve been to this small village before, that I’ve entered this house for a few hundred times before with that exact same layout, the table and the chair and the armoire aligned the exact same way as any dozen of other houses, that I’ve explored and killed dozens of moving things in a cave just like this before, that I’ve endured enough of the inane ramblings of some NPC sounding similar and saying similar things before and that I’ve done that “fetch” or “kill” quest a few times by now and don’t feel like it anymore and so on…

      The Witcher 2 has like 14+ GB of assets, RAGE had 24GB… they’ve put 3-5+ years of meticulous detail work into making their worlds breathing out of every pore with lots of unique stuff and hand-designed levels and they’re both orders of magnitude smaller than “Skyrim”, but even one or two major parts of those games contain more visual and distinct “content” than Skyrim does with all of its “large world” and all of its assets fitting in around 4GB. Yet SKYRIM gets the compliments for “one of the best game worlds” instead of them by constantly repeating and copy/pasting things…

      If any of the people that found SKYRIM rather bland and forgettable want to see an engaging open world game, hand-crafted with unique elements and gameplay almost around every corner try the early Gothics (1+2) or Risen instead.

    • wodin says:

      D3xter…I agree totally….Skyrim was good….but after say a couple of hours you’d pretty much done everything your going to do…your just going to do more of the same.

      It’s the landscape that really is the highlight of the game. Take that away and it has nothing new to offer.

    • stahlwerk says:

      d3xter, you do realize that byte count is not a good metric for volume and quality of content at all?

    • D3xter says:

      It is a very good metric for variety of content though if you aren’t comparing different types of games (say 2D with 3D), cause them textures and (high) poly models (or assets in general) take a lot of space and make for the largest share of a game’s size while scripting and actual code are usually negligible. Most of those games that they try to fit on a disc nowadays (like Skyrim or Dragon Age 2) have a very large number of repeating assets…

      That and I’m still using that amazing tool of my own eyesight and the game itself displayed on this magic mirror in front of me.

      It’s also the main thing I connect with a Bethesda game, in Fallout 3 for instance they recycled the same one or two burnt out car models a few hundred times, along with the same office table with the same terminal on it and a number of other things…

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      BETRAYAL AT KRONDOR HAD A VERY SMALL BYTE COUNT SO THEREFORE IT SUCKS AND I HATE IT.

      Oh excuse me, I just realized the fallacy of my argument. How silly of me. I apologize to The Internet and beg for its collective forgiveness.

    • morningoil says:

      @Vander @D3xter @Meat Circus

      Yeah. Me too.

  4. McDan says:

    Ah Skyrim, definitely my game of the year. So good that I can’t even name a specific favourite part, well now I say that it’s probably the exploration. I think that even this time next year, if I haven’t discovered all the locations (very probable) I’ll still be amazed when I find a new ruin or cave system. What a game, sure there are flaws, most annoying for me is how companions and summoned things get into doorways and are then impassable. But the flaws for me can be overlooked by just how good the rest of the game is. So very well done Bethesda, another excellent entry into the Elder Scrolls. Well said gentlemen, well said, enjoy your holidays!

  5. Tams80 says:

    Has the Elder Scrolls had pretty much the same formula since Morrowind? I thoroughly enjoyed Morrowind, but in the end the enormity of the world took its toll and I almost ended up hating the game, even with mods. The world ended up seeming empty. Maybe I just played too much?

    Would Skyrim likely have the same effect? I suppose I could play until I tire of it. If my experience with Morrowind is anything to go by, that would probably be my money’s worth anyway.

    • Lord Byte says:

      Much less so, whereas the Morrowind dungeons had a boring samey feel to them and felt tacked on (as did a lot of the quests, they felt like they’d been randomly generated), Skyrim, even though that actually DOES create random quests, does it with such an attention to detail that it feels “real”, much more a living breathing world.
      Except it isn’t, like every TES game before it (and pretty much every RPG out there) everything is in stasis until you arrive and do stuff. I wish stuff would just happen whether you’re there or not, and you’d have to live with the consequences if you’d ignored it.
      There are some small grating issues that really challenge your suspension of disbelief (everything in the world hating YOU with a passion, so much so that bears and trolls AND thieves will gang up on you, before doing their own thing. Which is killing each other and then leaving the dead body to attack something else. People constantly talking to you but ignoring everyone else or whatever is happening (arrow to the knee…), but after all it’s a great game and while I’m bored with it now (haven’t finished the main quests yet) a hundred and twenty hours in pretty much interrupted only be sleep and food says it’s a GREAT game.

    • The Tupper says:

      @ Lord Byte:

      Your take on Skyrim is completely valid, but personally I enjoy the game as a computer generated theme park, like ‘Westworld’ or an interactive Pirates Of The Carribean (the Disney ride, not the movie). Viewed like that, the repetitive dialogue loops and scripted events take on a daft, enjoyably naff quality that endears the game to me rather than repels.

      Although, admittedly, this might be the most blatant piece of revisionist apologia for bad game design ever written. I guess it’s a testament to the game when even I don’t know whether I’m talking bollocks or not.

    • Stevostin says:

      I don’t think those games feel “enormous”. They feel small : small cities, small lands, reduction. That’s enormous gameplay thus (although far less time than a MMO). It certainly doesn’t feel empty : everything is just packed with interaction – IMO it feels empty only when you’re missing a goal as a player. Which happened in Morrowind, less in Oblivion, way less in Fallout 3 and very rarely in Skryim. Skyrim is a bit “TES done right”. It’s not perfect but this time, the cocktail is working. And it makes you drunk real quick.

    • Tams80 says:

      When it takes me half an hour to walk to the nearest town, I’d call that pretty enormous.

      I might pick Skyrim up then after I finish exams and socialise a bit (boring). My backlog will look at me with disgust, but ah well.

  6. The Tupper says:

    Agreed. Skyrim is simply beautiful and, although flawed in some aspects of its implementation, has taken me into its world like nothing else I’ve ever played in my many, many years of gaming.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Pretty much this ^ ^ It’s simply the most beautifully crafted world I have ever been a character inside. Any flaw it has is made enormous by the magnitude of all else it does so very right. I’m approaching 300 hours on a single character, and am very confident that I have still dozens of hours to go even if I just focus on the main quests, let alone my ever present desire to explore. I’ve taken time to play Saints Row and Anno in the mean time, but when I pick up Skyrim for a couple of hours again there isn’t a moment of regret – no shred of curiosity or wonder lost. It’s all amazing again and the hours fly past.

  7. The Tupper says:

    Oh – and merry xmas to the RPS guys and everyone here. Am off to get pished.

  8. Cryo says:

    I’ve put 50 hours in it, then Patch That Broke Everything came out and I decided to wait for a bit until it gets fixed. Now I just can’t force myself to go back to playing. Strange.

    • rayne117 says:

      You’ve got what I’ve just dubbed the “PC gamer blues.” It’s when some stupid game crashing/breaking glitch occurs and causes you to realize that many, many other people don’t have this same problem and in fact most are doing just dandy.

      I get “Your ATI driver has crashed” (I won’t even bother getting into the details but I’ll just say I’ve spent over 20-30 hours solely attempting to fix the problem and have done everything I can short of flashing my BIOS or buying a new card) on SO many games: GTA IV, JC2, Tribes: Ascend, BC2 and more. Usually it’ll work if I just keep trying over and over, some games I’m convinced will never work.

  9. Will Tomas says:

    Absolutely the most amazing experience in gaming this year. Deserves everything it gets.

  10. HexagonalBolts says:

    Right, devil’s advocate: I’m only level 22 and it feels repetitive in the extreme.

    Because quests themselves do not give experience and because equipment is never that varied all of the quests rely upon you fighting to progress – thus every quest inevitably sends you off down a dungeon to fight those bloody bandits again. The mage’s guild questline is especially bland and otherwise an absolutely massive proportion of my quests involve ‘go to dungeon x kill y’ or ‘go to dungeon x find y’. This is compounded by the guilds (and the themes within them) being pretty much identikit copies of Oblivion’s.

    There are a few standout towns, but they’re mostly just the same quaint villages. This is a tired complaint, but the creativity and variety really does not touch upon something as mental as Vivec, towns made out of mushrooms, the Ministry of Truth, or the tribal villages or even plain ol’ Balmora out of morrowind.

    Undoubtedly, the scenery is massive and spectacular, they’ve captured the ‘icy northern’ atmosphere superbly, and I can forgive Skyrim for being a buggy mess in which my horse routinely takes off as some kind of equine-aeroplane. I can forgive Skyrim for spawning a dragon every 3 minutes with the same awkward animations (much to the boredom of the local folk as well who are more often than not supremely disinterested). I can forgive Skyrim for (AGAIN after Oblivion!) filling towns with crowds of lunatics who shout the same damned ‘Have you been to the Cloud District recently?’ sentence at you every single time they see you. But, crucially, the actual core content feels repetitive and the mechanics for advancement flawed.

    (sorry that I love editing so much)

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Yeah, but I spent a lot of time playing it, so it MUST be amazing! Same reason vacuuming is more fun than sex.

    • ThTa says:

      Buttless Boy, thank you for that analogy, thank you so much. I will remember it forever and use it once the opportunity arises. (Which it is bound to)

      But yeah, I couldn’t really get into Skyrim. I tried, oh I did. As all of my friends were speaking of it, asking me what I’d accomplished (which I initially had to answer with “Uh, I haven’t… I haven’t played it yet.”, feeling the shame resonate in my very heart, as I hadn’t purchased it yet), while telling me of their spectacular adventures and arguing about the internal politics.

      But when I played it, I found no joy. No joy in repetetively crafting my armour (and various useless bits to improve my smithing), no joy in finding out about minute details in the game world, no joy in the combat and no joy in completing arbitrary sidequests. I enjoyed roaming the world for a bit, but even that got stale. Perhaps it’s my lack of time, demanding I be statisfied in every tiny chunk of gameplay I’d managed to fit in my schedule. But everything felt off: The gameplay felt repetetive, and the story and world meaningless, barren.

      I really wanted to like it, and I’m not going to claim it was overrated, since it obviously brought much entertainment to so many others, but I did not

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah I agree with this.

      Can’t believe this is getting game of the year from so many sites and people. It has a lot of content and stuff to do. But leaves me feeling cold. It didn’t make me smile once I don’t think.

      Trine 2 and Portal 2 had me grinning like a loon and laughing almost constantly throughout. Would have gone for one of those.

    • Stevostin says:

      Didn’t play the mage quests, but maybe the issues of Oblivion are here again : some questline are memorable, and other really bland ? I am playing Thieve guild questline, and while not hugely epic it really is finely crafted – plus there are all the procedural quests to regain cities, which feel really nice. So this one is good, and the DB also starts well (was really good in Oblivion). I feel my quest are of really different sorts : some bandit bashing, some antic dungeon scavenging, some thieving and some assassination. So that’s cool. But I can see how if I remove the thief / assassination part it may become repetitive. The Mage guild QL was OK in Oblivion, and the mage gameplay was really cool. How is it in Skyrim ?

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I don’t want to spoiler the mage’s questline too much but it’s very predictable, a painfully unsurprising ‘twist’, an evil artifact of great power, blah blah…

      The dark brotherhood feels weaker than in Oblivion where there was usually an attached bit of intrigue to it (I have distinct memories of dropping a stuffed boar head on someone) where as now I seem to spend all my time squatting in different ridiculous positions trying to find the right angle in the room/town so I can kill them without anyone seeing.

      I’ve only done a few thieves guild quests, they do have a nice bit of context surrounding them, but ultimately it seems to boil down to awkward stealth-crouching, if not just walking in to a relatively empty building, taking the item and walking out again.

      I’d love a game where I could TRULY be the ‘shabbily dressed hunter in the corner of the tavern; the one who avoids roaming monsters and packs of beasts and backs out of dungeons when the threat of death becomes too real.’ where there are actual heroes going around biffing things and events unfolding around me, towns actually developing and changing of their own accord.

      But sorry to be such a grumbler RPS/Hivemind, you know I’m not normally like this! Merry christmas!

    • Nova says:

      I understand your points. I played for 35 hours, and can see the dullness/repetition creeping in. On the other hand I played it for 35 hours which is quite a bit.
      Maybe the “gamer approach” is the problem. Hording quests and working them off one after another instead of role playing. Adam has probably the right idea.

    • Kaira- says:

      What little (~5 hours) I’ve played on my friend’s computer, I have to say that seeing how much the game revolves around combat, I am very disappointed by the actual feeling of combat. Weightless weapons whittling away HP a small piece by piece. I guess Dark Souls has ruined it for me.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      I have to say I would’ve disagreed with you in my first few hours, but now…

      I hated Oblivion. Couldn’t get into it, didn’t find anything interesting, the scenery was bland, the characters were awful. I was on the fence about Skyrim; the landscape looked a lot more immersive and the characters finally didn’t feel like it was all a 5 year old drawing the whole lot of them.

      I bought it at release and lo and behold, I actually enjoyed it. Over the course of a week I poured about 30 hours into the game, according to Steam (the vast majority of which was done through a single weekend). I loved the game, though I avoided the melee combat since I still found that fairly clumsy, instead opting for a mage setup.

      Then I went on to something else and never replayed the game again. I’ve not finished the major quests, only the College line. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve yet to see and do, but I don’t feel compelled anymore. The dungeons were starting to get extremely repetitive, I just didn’t want to have to fight another Draugr or bandit. The magic wasn’t evolving very fast, I was still stuck with limited spells. The quests weren’t all that original or interesting. I was also overloaded by the sheer number, but underwhelmed by how most of them were derivative.

      In many ways, I would have preferred Skyrim to be a much smaller game. Axe 60-75% of the quests but pour all the energy you’d have used for those to make the remaining quests truly original and rewarding. Do the same for cities, NPCs and dungeons. After the 10th cave/scandinavian tomb, I was getting bored. The dwarven (whatever they’re called in the game) city that you went through at some point was a breath of fresh air but over all too soon. The claw concept was nice, but not as much after the 4th one using the same principle.

      What I’m saying is that Skyrim is victim of its own scope in just about every possible way: less time to make each quest unique and an overwhelming feeling which makes me feel lost and uncertain of where to go to next.

    • BathroomCitizen says:

      The mechanics might be a little dull and can become stale after some hours, but this game still oozes atmosphere!

      I mean, I still can’t remember a game that let me dick around the world as much as Skyrim and let me create my own mini-adventures. The bugs in the game make these situations even funnier and left some really some good memories in my mind!

  11. Lobotomist says:

    Best game !

  12. kwyjibo says:

    All the readers were cheering on Modern Warfare 3. You’ve ruined Christmas.

  13. Man Raised by Puffins says:

    I AM THE KING OF SPAIN DOVER.

  14. shinygerbil says:

    What a shame.

  15. pilouuuu says:

    I simply hated Oblivion, but I enjoyed Fallout 3 until I got so bored of it that I uninstalled it. I have been enjoying Skyrim. The thing is there are a lot of Skyrim that I dislike, but then I realise that I’ve been playing it more than any other game, so those things don’t matter that much. It’s not perfect, but it’s such a great game.

  16. Unaco says:

    Good call, and a great article. Personally, it’s not my Game of the Year (needs a couple small mods, and I need to put more time into it), but it’s definitely in the Top 3, if not in 2nd place. Really is a good game… I had no faith in it when announced, after Oblivion and Fallout3, but the more I saw of it, and read about it, the more encouraged I became. It’s NOT a character or story driven RPG, like Mass Effect or The Witcher… it’s different than that… it’s a World driven RPG, it’s what Beth do really well and seem to be getting better at, and I hope they stick with it. It’s still a flawed game, but those flaws mean little compared to just how much game there is in it, how compelling the world is, how gorgeous it looks, how convincing (certain parts) of the world is, and how damn fun it is.

    And that’s the point of it, I think… As Jim says in his opening paragraph… It’s the game that you’ve had the most FUN with in 2011. I think that’s something some of us can lose sight of with games.

    Happy Hannukah, and enjoy your bastardised Pagan festival of indulgence.

  17. AmateurScience says:

    There hasn’t been a game that’s gripped me more this year, nor one that I’ve felt the need to harp on about to my mates more. So it fits the bill for my personal game of the year.

    It really is a fantastic *experience*. Which is about the highest praise I can think of.

    Merry festives everybody. It’s been a good year and I’m extremely happy to have found this wonderful little corner of the internet to hang out in.

    Edit: I’ve just noticed my ‘Played’ time on Steam. Good Lord I’ve sunk a lot of time into that game.

  18. DrazharLn says:

    “at the other end”!?

    HERESY! Horace is endless! Without ends!

  19. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    In the end, what else could the GOTY be? Skyrim has not only been the best game this year, it’s been the best game by an almighty margin. It’s trounced everything else I’ve played.

    Glorious, magical, epic, involving and glorious.

  20. Godwhacker says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubw5N8iVDHI

    Should have been Portal 2, really.

  21. Dominic White says:

    My sentiments echo the RPS bloke-folks, generally. While I got on well enough with Oblivion and Fallout 3, they still felt hollow. Like there was a great RPG framework there, but all the details were carboard cutouts labelled ‘GENERIC ORC WARRIOR’ or ‘POST-APOCALYPTIC BANDIT’.

    Skyrim is a game I played for about six hours solid on my first look. And then another few hours before bed. It’s a much juicier, meatier, more fleshed out experience. While it’s still not the deepest or most detailed of things, it really does provide a rather convincing virtual country to roam around, and it’s absolutely packed to the gills with things to do, places to go and people/monsters to stab or electrocute.

    Most of the killer bugs have been squashed, the community have already fixed half the UI issues (and are working on the rest), and there’s already HD texture mods and various optimizations/improvements to really push my shiny 560ti video card. And the mod tools haven’t even been released yet – this is possibly going to be one of my favourite games of 2012 if things continue the way they have, but I’ll settle for making it one of my 2011 top five.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yeah, it seems Skyrim is able to overcome it’s many flaws, and with continuing support from the community and (hopefully, the signs point to yes so far) Bethesda, it will only get better. I had a ton of fun with it, and although I’ve put it aside for now, I’ll be coming back some time next year, and the year after that and the year after that and so on.

      It’s sort of fun tracing the path from Oblivion to Fallout to Skyrim. Especially in these sequel-mad days, it’s nice to see a developer refining the formula and game-play so well. What’s especially notable is how often mods from previous games are assimiliated. It’s something we see a lot in shooters, but the rpg genre is usually afflicted with drastic changes and reboots. I hope in another 5 years or so we will once again get More Of The Same But Better.

      (oh god I used the word rpg, please don’t kill me guys)

  22. Stevostin says:

    The more I play it, the more I am surprised by the weight of the rants. Sure, the inventory could be better, but hugely better ? It’s not like I can think of an RPG that let me do the same things in a more convenient way, unless you’re aiming at a screen flooded with action button ala Wow or an excel sheet. Sure the dual wielding shortcut has some strange flaws, but it’s already way more convenient thant 95% of other RPGs. It’s not using the PC well ? Ok, show me one PC game that has more “wow” moment while exploring it. The skill tree isn’t as handy as Diablo’s one ? Well maybe it’s because Skyrim is about exploring skills rather than optimising them, don’t you think ? And how much of the game’s experience does the time spend in this skill tree represent ?

    Good grief, there’s even people bitching about the map. The map ! I’ve yet to see one RPG with a map half as beautiful and/or handy than this one. Objective with legend on the map ! zoom ! scroll ! Clear icons ! What can be wrong with that map ?!

    Then everyone agrees to say that the positive greatly outweighted the negative – how couldn’t they ? Still, I feel that there are some very nice thing to be said about that game that are forgotten.

    About UI : it’s modern, it’s clear, it has a great learning curve (learn from that, The Witcher 2 !), it has a strong identity. Let the guys who designed it know that despite the huge bitching everywhere, there’s at least one guy who think they’re actually smart and competent UI designers. Also, there are a lot of people ranting, but there a huge amount of people PLAYING the damning thing, which says something about how enticing the UI has to be.

    About gameplay : a really goody surprise. Bethesda has always made rigid, clumsy gameplay associated with rigid, clumsy animation. Now we have great animation, and AFAICT, great gameplay. I play thieve assassin, and really, you can’t play it like a warrior – you get your ass kicked. You’re hugely more efficient playing stealth, which BTW doesn’t feel too much like “i win because AI sucks”. Backstab are soooo coool. Love it.

    About the writing – I’ve never read so much the book than in this one. For the first time in a TES game, I can feel that strong, specific, background – way more than in Arean, DF or Oblivion, and slightly more than in Morrowind. Also quest are interesting, involving, and (learn from that, Obsidian) you always get it when you’re supposed to, even when there are some twists.

    And visually, well all I can say is that I am constantly baffled and impressed. Also, the design’s right. It’s like exploring a Frazetta painting. I’ve been waiting for this for quite a time.

    I took the time to tell because I feel it’s important to understand why this game is such a success and obviously a landmark in RPGs history in videogames. Some people worked well. Not smart, maybe, not the kind of fancy design choice that make people talk about it immediately, but good craft. Wise decisions – not all of them, but so many of them, including some the community would have never backed up but still happen to be choices that make sense once you play it.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Any UI that does not allow you to set it up to your preferences, is, by it’s nature, flawed.

      I know I do not have a single play session where I do not load all the contents of one of my storage containers unintentionally, or don’t get caught in a conversation/reload loop when I can’t get the game to choose the choice I am pointing my mouse at. Flawed.

  23. kyrieee says:

    For me Skyrim consists of a lot of decent parts that don’t come together to form something great. The combat is not good enough for me to want more of it, the dialogue is not good enough for me to not want to skip it and so on. The best thing about the game is the world and that part is good enough for me to want to keep playing, but not enough to make it a great game.

  24. Nighthood says:

    As usual, the popular wins over the good.

    • Delusibeta says:

      It’s just that this time, both “the popular” and “the good” seems to be the same thing.

    • Unaco says:

      Why is the game so popular though… could it be, because it is good?

    • DrGonzo says:

      No, it’s long. Very, very long. Apparently anything that you can put 100 hours into is good. That it is hollow, soulless, entirely generic and boring doesn’t matter.

      I know I’m going a bit far. But I really do find it terribly dull and uninteresting.

      I’ve played many hours of Skyrim. It’s a huge improvement on Oblivion. But the general attitude of it’s hip to hate on Skyrim, therefore no one can possibly not like it is really getting on my tits. And if it’s the best game of the year then god help us.

    • jaheira says:

      Why did you play it for many hours if it’s hollow, soulless and generic?

    • Unaco says:

      Gonzo… what? Why bring God into this? You sound like you’ve started on the Sherry a bit early.

      Just because you find it hollow and boring, doesn’t mean everyone else does. The game is not just liked because we can sink 100+ hours into it (if it was then a Statistics textbook would be #1 on Steam)… people are sinking 100+ hours into the game, because it’s good and they like it. Read the article above, and you’ll see 4 writers giving 4 largely different explanations of why they think the game is good, and none of them have said it’s “because I can play for 100+ hours, even though it’s a bad game”. People wouldn’t be putting 100+ hours into a game that they found hollow and soulless and generic and bland.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “I’ve played many hours of Skyrim.”

      Why? If it’s bad why not play something else? Saying you don’t like something is fine, but then saying you played it anyway is baffling.

      And the idea that we’d ever reward a game for being long is laughable.

    • Dominic White says:

      A lot of people like the game, and have played it for a long time, proof positive that it’s actually terrible and everyone is putting dozens of hours into something they secretly hate because PEER PRESSURE. Also, RPS’s reviewers have given into the mainstream and their corporate overlords require them to put Skyrim in #1.

      No, wait, that’s nonsensical on every imaginable level. If they were playing the populist card at all, there’d be a Call of Duty game somewhere in this list.

    • John Walker says:

      Yeah, Nighthood, you know RPS – we’re always being driven by peer pressure.

      When working out the 24 games of the year we all thought, “What are the games other people are going to want us to like? It would be awful if we didn’t look cool.”

      You twit.

    • Resonance says:

      “But the general attitude of it’s hip to hate on Skyrim, therefore no one can possibly not like it is really getting on my tits.”

      Um…what?

      You’re saying the general attitude is that it’s ‘cool’ to hate on Skyrim, therefore everyone must like it?

    • AndrewC says:

      It’s something like: the true and secret arbiters of taste have created a cultural narrative where haters of the game must be doing it only out of contrarian posturing.

      Which translates as yet another poor soul needing to create impressively convoluted conspiracies to explain how reviewers can disagree with them over a computer game.

      The conclusion is that, somewhere underneath the aggressively independent veneers they show on the Internets, these are people that desperately want their leaders’ approval. Which I think is sweet.

    • AndrewC says:

      Oh yes, I really enjoyed Skyrim, and can not wait for the DLC, the mods and a PC powerful enough to play it on Ultra.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Just for the record, I thought it was pretty damn bland and still played 100+ hours, because I’m unemployed and frequently sick. I thought it was a fun game despite being bland; but I didn’t think it was a great game and definitely not the best game of the year.

    • thegooseking says:

      Apparently anything that you can put 100 hours into is good.

      You’re accusing the same people who regarded Portal 2 so highly of this?

    • ffordesoon says:

      @AndrewC:

      I think you hit the nail on the head, and not just about Skyrim. “YOU, PERSON WHO WRITES ABOUT VIDEO GAMES! PRAISE THE GAMES I LIKE, NOT THE ONES YOU LIKE! OTHERWISE MY TASTE ISN’T REAL!” has, somewhat creepily, become the normal attitude on gaming forums the world over, this year in particular. Which is a shame, as this year, with all its faults, has been the best year for gaming in quite some time. We’ve had a true embarrassment of riches this year, in every genre under the sun.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in any other year, DXHR would be my GOTY. It’s a testament to the quality of this year’s releases that it doesn’t even crack my top five.

      And yet people bitch and moan. That recent Kuchera article about this had some flaws, as Jim’s rightly pointed out, but his underlying premise was rock-solid; gaming’s better than it’s ever been, and nobody seems remotely happy about it. I’ve seen people threaten to “quit gaming if X happens” quite a lot this year, and sometimes I’ve even agreed with their underlying complaints, but more amazing games have come out this year than in the last five years combined, and some of those were pretty fine years indeed. Surely that fact trumps everything?

      Regarding Skyrim: the TES games have always had the best concept in gaming (go anywhere you want in a vast world stuffed fit to bursting with interesting things to see and do, all the while playing it how you like), but this is the first time Bethesda’s made a game that’s delivered on the concept. No, they’ve not delivered flawlessly; the opportunities for meaningful choice and consequence are relatively thin, there’s an overreliance on using lethal violence to solve problems (I understand not wanting to record massive amounts of non-violent dialogue, but surely they could let you smack dudes over the head with something that didn’t simply murder them outright?), and the skill checks from Obsidian’s New Vegas have been largely ignored by Bethesda’s designers and writers. And then there are the bugs and UI issues.

      But, crucially, these are all things I think about when not playing Skyrim, which indicates two things: 1) they ultimately don’t really matter, and if you judge the game on what it is instead of what it isn’t, it’s easily the game of 2011, and 2) I am thinking about Skyrim constantly when I’m not playing it. Add to that the fact that it passes the Fun Test with flying colors, and it’s pretty hard to argue against it unless you are a bitter, resentful grognard. Or Wulf. ;)

    • Snargelfargen says:

      @ffordesoon

      You’re right that there is a tremendous amount of, well, bitching about games going on. While the level of discourse is sometimes immature, and the complaints can be irrational, I think this is a great sign. The gaming community is slowly and painfully becoming self-aware and that is a good thing in the long run. Maybe in another couple of years we can have “new games criticism” and we can all admit that the games we enjoy are flawed, but that’s okay? Maybe, just maybe, developers will strive to avoid some of the common mistakes that are still being made in AAA releases, after seeing how quickly some indie developers are able to respond to complaints.

      But yeah, AndrewC’s summary is a pretty accurate representation of most gaming forums these days.
      Edit: Oh I already quoted AndrewC elsewhere. Appparently I agree with everything you say, guy!

    • ffordesoon says:

      Oh, and I do want to add that I do somewhat empathize with DrGonzo and understand his complaint regarding Skyrim, because I experienced that same feeling with Oblivion. I hated most of my time with it, but it was addictive as hell, and I did sink more than a hundred hours into it. It is possible for a game to be fun without being Fun, which is to say that it’s addictive and fun in the same way that popping bubble wrap or vacuuming can be addictive and/or fun. It is a kind of fun, but it is a thin, piecemeal, “why am I doing this to myself?” sort of fun.

      Then again, there is also a substantial amount of merit to Jim’s counterpoint. Nobody’s forcing you to play Skyrim, DrGonzo. I ended up hating Oblivion, but I’d never argue that it doesn’t have a lot of good points, nor that those good points outweigh the bad for a lot of people. I just can’t say they did for me.

      Oh, and Dark Souls is tied with Skyrim for me, FYI. Together, they represent everything I love about gaming, more or less.

    • Nighthood says:

      I’m firmly in the opinion that things like To The Moon deserve to be seen as the best game of the year, but as it’s not popular, it’s not going to get made the best.

      Plus, saying that something MUST be good because you played it for lots of hours is a stupid argument. I played all of Skyrim so I could see it all, then make an opinion. Just the same as I do with most games. Happens to be that Skyrim is longer, that doesn’t make it better by any stretch.

      Also, it was, for the majority of it, badly written, badly animated, buggy as hell, and shallow. It’s a collection of a lot of mediocre things that are seen as good because there are so many of those mediocre things put together.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Eh, all four pieces up top spend a lot more time talking about how much there is to do than how interesting any one piece of it is. I suppose length is a linear measurement and Skyrim is not a linear game, but it does seem to be a triumph of quantity over quality. I mean, I haven’t played it. But nothing I’ve read makes it sound fun.

      Re: “no one forced you to play”, this ignores sunk costs. Suppose the last ten hours of a game were of questionable fun. Maybe the game gets better? Everyone else seems to like it. The only way to find out is to play–and then once you’ve played, you can’t get that time back.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Also, suppose we were talking about film.

      Would you say that being popular means that it’s good? Would you use the fact that a critic sat through the film as evidence that their negative criticism was insincere? Would you defend a piece of criticism by arguing that all opinions are subjective and all criticism equally valid? Would you claim that because a certain critic was correct and insightful most of the time, that it’s impossible for them to be wrong about a particular work?

      I would never do any of that. For film or games.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I can only speak for myself, but if I hated a game, I wouldn’t play it for ten hours, let alone a hundred. If you don’t like Skyrim, that’s fine. But to continue to play it for a hundred or more hours, hating it all the while, is a rather ridiculous decision. Now, you can come to hate a game, as I did with Oblivion, but I’d never argue that Oblivion isn’t worth the money, or that it’s a bad game. It’s a good game with a lot of problems, and it entertained me for a long time. That’s enough for me.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I don’t think I would play one I didn’t like for a hundred hours (DrGonzo merely said “many”), but I’ve definitely played games for more than 10 hours, then decided they sucked and quit playing. Why? A combination of the “vacuuming” thing you refer to, and because I was expecting them to get better. Perhaps the first hour looked promising. Maybe I’m looking forward to some cool thing someone told me about. Maybe I’m using it to procrastinate from something I should be doing.

    • Wulf says:

      @ffordesoon

      Actually, I wasn’t that hard on Skyrim. Haven’t been paying much attention, have we? :|

      My only major point of contention from the start, which remains so at the end, is that it forces the player to be a violent troglodyte, and encourages them into that mindset by only providing that as the only option. This shouldn’t be GTA: Fantasy Land. An RPG is about options and choices.

      I’m not that grumpy about Skyrim, actually. Pay attention and you’ll note that I like a lot of what it does, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to explore. I’m just sick to my stomach of games forcing violence on me as the first and only option.

      I still want a Discworld RPG where I can join the Watch and just apprehend people for a bloody change.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      “a Discworld RPG where I can join the Watch and just apprehend people for a bloody change.”

      I would absolutely LOVE to play this, but only if I had the option of being stupendously incompetent.

      As an aside, apparently Terry Pratchett is a big fan of the Elder Scrolls games and has actually helped to write some of the dialogue for one Oblivion mod. Search for “Vilja” on Tesnexus.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @Wulf:

      Dude. I’m teasing.

      And I will say, I completely agree that the game is too focused on violent means of solving conflicts. It doesn’t bother me, per se; I love the game. But I would absolutely adore a means of fighting that didn’t result in murder. I mean, to the point that I would pay for DLC that simply adds non-lethal options to the extant quests. I don’t know how many people would pay for that, but it does always aggravate me when I’m not allowed to do what I really want to do. Hell, you wouldn’t have to change the majority of the dialogue; just give me a blunt instrument to knock dudes out with, then let me inform the nearest guard that Broken Mango Ravine (man, those names! Skyrim clearly has no board of tourism, ’cause I wouldn’t visit anywhere on the map except the cities if I were a tourist) or whatever is full of knocked-out bandits. I suppose the issue with that would be that there simply isn’t enough room in the prisons for them, but, hell, add a prison as your Shiny New Content in the DLC, and let the player be the warden. Have it be an infinite prison, with the prisoners you capture “moved to lower cells” (read: removed from the gameworld so as not to tax memory).

      Or something, I dunno. Just let me do more than kill/avoid sometimes. It’s not always what I want to do.

      But that’s in Skyrim’s Glorious Future, not its present. And the present is a game I love.

  25. Demon Beaver says:

    It’s a symbol of merit to a game that my girlfriend rolls her eyes at the mere mention of its name

    • The Tupper says:

      Oh you need to sort that out. Mrs The Tupper bought me the game, listens to my boring stories about it and and actually wants to play it herself, whenever I’m done with it – which will be a long, long time, I reckon.

  26. CaLe says:

    They need a trophy or something to hang in their office. Did you make them a trophy or something to hang in their office?

  27. Drake Sigar says:

    Merry Christmas you old goats.

  28. BobsLawnService says:

    Great choice for Game Of The Year.

    I too can find tons of faults and yet I can’t put it down. It is an amazing game and Bethesda has done a great job.

  29. japstersam says:

    Congrats Skyrim :D brilliant game, and I really didn’t get on with Oblivion either. Loved Skyrim, a deserving winner.
    You know a game is good when you look at your bed and wonder where the E key is :D
    Quick shout here for To The Moon though, which (despite arguably not a GAME in the truest sense of the word), is certainly the best thing I installed on my PC this year :)

  30. Resonance says:

    Shows how good this year has been for us gamers when you can take a list of 24 games and argue at least half of them could be GOTY.

  31. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    BULLSHIT.

    GOTY is obviously RPS’s forum error text-based adventure game.

  32. Jonith says:

    Guessed from the start.
    It is the right choice, as somebody who thought Morrowind was amazing, but hated both Oblivion and Fallout 3, this brought Bethesda back up to standards in my eyes.It’s simply an amazing game, best RPG of the past few years (Only caught up by the Witcher games)

    Edit: Also very, very buggy, it wasn’t ready for release at launch, but thats what happens when people want all games to come out at christmas (don’t understand why, only children need games out at this time as its one of the few times they get money… Oh, thats a reason)

  33. mod the world says:

    Yes, the game where you can undress everyone with maximum pick pocket-skill is RPS’ game of the year. No surprise there.

  34. rustybroomhandle says:

    Still enjoying Skyrim. Loads of bugs, but at least some are amusing.

  35. jaheira says:

    My gaming moment of the year happened during a nighttime assault on an Imperial Outpost. Violent chaos everywhere. Arrows flying, dying guys screaming, the ring of freezing metal on freezing metal etc. Mjoll the Lioness (my wife!) is by my side trying out the new evil looking Daedric sword I just made for her. I’ve summoned up a Storm Atronach to help out our side so he’s firing off lightning non-stop and I’m chucking fireballs as quick as I can make ‘em. In the middle of this glorious mess I hear a heavy “Whumpf” and a huge shadow passes overhead. It’s a dragon. It circles round the tower and strafes the melee indiscriminately; it’s a three way fight now. I look round at Mjoll and she’s in the middle of impaling a baddie on that sword. “I love a good fight!” she says. Yep, me too.

  36. jealouspirate says:

    It’s been a great year for gaming! I agree with Skyrim though. I’ve unintentionally lost more sleep over it than any other game this year, realizing it’s 3am and hours have flown by.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  37. TODD says:

    Your opinion about video games is wrong.

  38. Gary W says:

    Humbug and thrice humbug! May everyone at RPS be visited by the games of Christmas’ Past, Present, and ‘Wot is Yet to Come’ this very night:

    Darklands, Crimzon Clover and Dark Souls, respectively.

  39. Inglourious Badger says:

    A tiny tiny part of me thought maybe you’d leave Skyrim out and give the award to Frozen Synapse instead. A worthy winner. Spending the majority of a week off in November getting lost in the snowy wilds of Skyrim was certainly the highlight of my 2011 gaming.

    Happy Horace day to all. Early prediction of Bioshock Infinite for next year’s GOTY?

  40. Auspex says:

    “Happy Christmas, one and all. You’ve been fantastic this year. Back soon!”

    We haven’t fantastic though have we? Objectively the comments have been worse than ever this year.

    RPS is still mostly great though so thanks for another year of great writing guys.

  41. thegooseking says:

    I didn’t get on with Oblivion. It never grabbed me, beyond its role as a horsey-riding simulator with nice sunsets.

    I’ve said it before, but I used to love Oblivion for that, but then I took an arrow to the knee played Red Dead Redemption.

    Skyrim is brilliant, though, first for utterly personal reasons, and then for not-so-personal reasons. The personal reason is that it evokes the kind of fantasy that I’ve always found most attractive, the rough-edged Nordic folkloric fantasy rather than the more familiar pointy-ears dancing about in forests fantasy of Oblivion. The not-so-personal reason is that it not only evokes it, but unequivocally lets me be a part of it. It’s a two part puzzle, and one of the pieces alone would not be enough, but for me, Skyrim fits them together wonderfully.

  42. Faldrath says:

    Merry Christmas and happy 2012, RPS. You guys make the internet endlessly more bearable!

    • The Tupper says:

      Well, it wouldn’t be xmas without a pun on RPS. Or Halloween. Or Valentine’s Day. Or Mothering Sunday. Or International Refuse Collector’s day. Or Talk Like A Pirate Day. Or, well…y’know.

      The booze is kicking in and I feel a real…physical…love for all of you.

    • Milos says:

      Their honeyed words make us feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

    • The Tupper says:

      I was trying to think of a pun, but decided I was too drunk and couldn’t be, erm, ursa’d.

      Genuine apologies.

  43. Angel Dust says:

    While I do think Skyrim is better than any other Elder Scrolls game, I still stopped playing it after 20 hours. The setting is great (even with the usually Bethesda mistakes like the homicidal/suicidal wildlife and bandits, and NPCs who can’t wait to tell you the same thing every time you see them) but all you essentially do in it is kill, often the same enemies, over and over again. Everything else is really just a prelude to the slaughter and since the actual combat gameplay is, while much improved visually over previous games, very shallow, it gets boring fast. Stealth and magic are equally unsatisfying. Oh, for an Elder Scrolls game with combat like Dark Souls, stealth like Thief, a magic system like Magicka! An unreasonably request, I know, but I can dream, can’t I?

  44. vandinz says:

    If it’d been any other game I’d have torched the gaff.

  45. noobule says:

    The fact everyone’s in love with Lydia says everything about Skyrim, the success of Skyrim, and the state of gamer culture atm. She doesn’t say or do *anything*; she has about a dozen lines of which probably eight are completely neutral responses to player commands/requests, a couple of react quotes (‘are you a priest’ on being healed) and the weary ‘I am sworn to carry your burdens’ line, which is the only thing she says with any personality. She has no character, whatsoever, she’s about one degree from being a literal beast of burden.

    And yet she’s beloved because everyone’s happy to take this empty vessel and put whatever they want to see and feel on top of it, take this often very bland world and fill in the gaps themselves and pretend that Skyrim did it. I mean John’s finding himself stuck with quests he didn’t want to accept (and you usually can’t not accept quests in Skyrim), with resolutions that grossly contradict with the choices he wants to make in the game, and the best he’s able to to do approximate the choice he would like to make he has to step outside the game and load an old save just to artificially reclaim the right to not participate. And because of this, he’s stuck with this old man following him around for the rest of the freaking game!

    And there’s nothing, there’s no criticism (let alone anger) at this astounding lack of choice and interactivity in a game, no annoyance at having to leave the gamespace and skip a whole chunk of the game because there’s such a colossal conflict of player agency and… whatever the word is for what the game is doing there. Instead of criticising this, the situation is once again twisted so Skyrim comes out on top: hey oh yeah nah that old dude is handy with spells good thing I’ve got him around until the end of time haha

    Where does this attitude come from? It’s everywhere.

    • noobule says:

      sorry if there’s any weird typing issues with that, for whatever reason is enormously difficult using the RPS chatbox on mobile.

    • AndrewC says:

      Having a blank slate you can project on is a valid strategy for player involvement. Getting the player to invest their imagination *is* an achievement. It is not a design decision you like.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      This “fill in the gaps” gameplay is called “imagination”. It’s pretty great stuff and impressive that a game can create stories in your own head so well. Last years’ pick Minecraft provoked a lot of it too.

      The great thing about the stories we make for ourselves is that they are always better than something scripted by someone else.

      Edit: took too long, AndrewC got there before me

    • The Tupper says:

      Lydia?

      It’s the tits.

    • Milos says:

      What’s the matter, you can’t stand the sight of a strong Nord woman?

    • Nogo says:

      So the world is bland and empty yet manages to inspire a level of emotional involvement that causes people to interact with the game in novel ways, and that’s actually a problem?

      Would you demand all of Half-Life’s scripted events emerge organically from a robust simulation, or would you find that ludicrous and impractical?

    • John P says:

      Come on people, do you need this spelt out for you? Skyrim’s problem is that it relies on imagination because the game itself doesn’t react to what you’re doing. Get a morally dubious quest you don’t really want to do, and your only option is to … not do it. There’s hardly ever an alternative way to play the quest that might suit your choices better.

      Example: all the people who accidentally joined the Thieves Guild. How does something like that happen in a game that’s supposed to be about choice and freedom? When the Thieves Guild member asks you to plant an item on an innocent Dunmer, do you get the choice to talk to this Dunmer and say ‘Er hey dude, there’s this guy over here wants me to frame you for theft, what’s up with that?’

      No.

      Your choices are 1) do the quest or 2) don’t do the quest. And if you choose not to do it, the Thieves Guild guy stands at his stall until the end of time asking if you’re ready to go. He doesn’t seem to care that a couple of months have passed and you haven’t done his quest yet.

      Beyond the lack of options within quests, the world doesn’t react to what you do. There are a few responsive lines (‘If it isn’t the slayer of the dildodarrow witches!’ or whatever) but nothing actually changes. In the quest in Markarth where you can help that guy break out of prison, I thought something would actually change. He and his buddies break out, run through the town killing guards, they even kill one of the town’s leaders, and I thought wow the town’s going to change hands, this is cool. But no. They kill a few guards, run outside, and bugger off, never to be seen again. And even though you helped them, all their people are still hostile to you. Bethesda can’t even flick an NPC’s property from hostile to friendly based on your actions. Even that is too much to ask. Meanwhile Markarth remains in exactly the same state it started in, and exactly the same state it will be in 20 hours, 100 hours, 1000 hours from now. No change.

      I completed the main quest line and figured I’d travel around to a few NPCs and see what they had to say after I’d saved the world. They said … precisely fuck all. Besides a line or two from the most major NPCs, no one gives a shit. The jarls don’t treat me any differently. They don’t even have a canned line saying how amazing I am. Nothing. The world is in exactly the same state as it was before I even started the main quest.

      There’s still plenty to like in Skyrim. If this was a debut studio’s game it would be a huge achievement. But Bethesda has been making these games for seventeen years. Since Morrowind in 2002 these games have been exactly the same formula. But they aren’t improving on them. The worlds remain just as static and unresponsive.

      There’s supposed to be a WAR happening in Skyrim but you wouldn’t know it. At least New Vegas had little skirmishes between Legion and NCR troops here and there, but Skyrim doesn’t even have that. Nothing actually happens in this game. The only changes happen to you, better weapons and armour, while the world itself remains the same. Meer made this criticism in the article (‘the worst aspects of MMOs’) but didn’t seem to consider it a problem.

      Use those imaginations you value so highly and think about how amazing an Elder Scrolls game would be with a reactive world. Skyrim has a great setup. The Imperials and Stormcloaks are at war. They each control certain towns and villages spread across the world map. Imagine if you could take part in this war beyond just clearing out a camp here and there. Imagine if you could join raids on enemy camps and they would actually change hands. Imagine if you could besiege a town, fight in the streets, capture the town for your side. Imagine if taking these towns actually affected the world, so NPCs would be displaced, some quests would be available to you or not, the enemy would retreat and gather its strength and strike out again later. You could still have a main quest playing out at the same time as this, and the war’s progress could impact it. Like in the peace talks it might be easier or harder to convince both sides to agree based on their situation.

      It wouldn’t be easy to make a game like that, but the result would be amazing. But instead of criticising Bethesda for making the same static worlds over and over again, you all jump to their defence with ‘Haha nah dude, just use your imagination, s’all good.’

      Demand more.

    • ffordesoon says:

      I would love to see that game, John P.

      However, you are judging Skyrim on what it isn’t rather than what it is. If you don’t like it as it is, fine, but it’s kind of silly to ding the game for not being a game Bethesda never promised that it would be.

    • John P says:

      I think it’s a logical progression for the series, though, especially considering we’ve had the same formula three times in a row now. People like the games and Bethesda makes a lot of money from them, so maybe it’s asking a lot to take a chance in a risk averse environment. But Bethesda’s in a position to do so. It’s a shame they won’t. (Don’t get me wrong here, though, Bethesda’s worthy of a lot more praise than, say, Infinity Ward and their money men.)

      But I’m not just asking for a totally different game. Skyrim has serious drawbacks as the RPG that it’s supposed to be. Bethesda makes some interesting exploration games, but they’re poor RPGs. Skyrim doesn’t give you many choices beyond doing or not doing a quest. It doesn’t respond meaningfully to your actions. Everything stays the same. The only choice that makes much gameplay difference is which type of weapon you use to kill people, so it’s no better an RPG than, say, Dark Souls in that regard (and Dark Souls is in no way an RPG). They’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.

      I think playing up the simulation angle, with some procedural, adaptable AI, could be a great way of having the world respond to you. I think that’s the way The Elder Scrolls should be progressing. Actually I think even Bethesda feels that way to a degree, which is why they’ve spent time on the Radiant AI and Radiant Story systems over the last few years. But those little projects didn’t amount to much in the end. The games need to be rebuilt from the ground up into something amazing.

    • noobule says:

      The problem here though Ffordesoon is everyone is praising Skyrim for being things it isn’t

    • noobule says:

      Criticising something for not being a certain something or not living up to its potential is completely legitimate though – especially in this case where you have a huuuuuge game with a huuuuuge budget and a greatly skilled developer, who have made the same game three times in a row now, and whose games are packed end to end with samey cookie-cutter stuff that could have easily been converted into less but far more enriching content. And the awesome power of videogames is if you do it right, you don’t need a buttload of content to keep people occupied, you make a little bit of high quality and wrap it around a robust ruleset, and the player can generate days and days of unique replayability by themselves!

      I mean, Skyrim has what, a hundred dungeons? It certainly feels like that. And every single one was assembled by a designer, and almost all of them have a small unique gimmick to set them apart from the rest (vampire torture chamber, a trap that releases wolves, a blind guard at the entrance). But even still, they’re extremely samey and repetitive. Why would you put fifteen samey bandit-filled forts in the game when you could have three forts that are under constant seige, constantly changing hands, where the loss of one fort could mean that Solitude is besieged by Stormcloaks and burns, or its shops run dry of supplies, or the surrounding area becomes infested with Stormcloaks making it extremely dangerous for Imperial sympathisers, or a safe haven for those allied with the Stormcloaks?

      You can say ‘just accept Skyrim for what it is’, and there are plenty of situations where one needs to dial down their expectations and accept things for what they are. But any huge hundred million dollar videogame that can’t or won’t even do what games were doing ten years ago with teams of twelve (let alone come up with new ideas) has let down the medium, and is worthy of criticism. Never forget that they made System Shock 2 in 1998 on only $60,000.

    • noobule says:

      Anyway, getting back to my original complaint: the worse part is “But it inspires you to imagine!” is so patently absurd. Something being inspiring is fine, is a great thing even, but it’s not an excuse for missing or unfinished or empty content.

      Harry Potter is inspiring for millions, but no one would accept Hermione if she didn’t have character. If Van Gogh and Picasso left large blank areas on their canvases, art critics would not be praising the paintings based it on the stuff they’d imagined would fill that gap. If Citizen Kane had a scene halfway through the movie that was so bad or so against the rest of the mood of the film that everyone was compelled to fast forward through it, it would not be glossed over by critics – it would be seen as the Great Flaw in the film. And the thrill of sport doesn’t come from imagining that today’s match is a contest between ogres and dragons.

      etc etc etc etc

      Videogames should not be exempt from this. There’s no reason for them to be. Deus Ex (the first), the first two Fallout games, Planescape: Torment, Arcanum, both System Shock titles, Hitman: Blood Money, Stalker, both of The Witcher titles – all these games had rich, detailed and reactive worlds, across a huge scope of genres. None of them required you to imagine what characters were doing to get something meaningful out of them, all of them sought to give you meaningful choice (and consequence!) in every situation they were able. Even Minecraft does this, and that was made by a lazy swede mostly on his lonesome.

      Anyway it’s Christmas, what am I doing.

    • magos says:

      @John P

      I totally agree with your statements – Bethesda are resting on their laurels, but I think this is more a symptom of the ageing engine than anything else.

      I’m surprised no-one has mentioned this in more detail, but Todd Howard was very careful in saying that they had a completely new renderer, not a new engine. Sure, the renderer is new: I can’t see the Fallout/Oblivion iterations supporting the fancy shader clouds clinging to mountains, or the general level of fidelity, but it’s clear that the underlying engine is almost identical. Even Radiant Story is just a simple iteration on top of Radiant AI. And there ain’t anything radiant about either of them.

      Given the current toolset, I can’t see it being feasible to achieve what you’re expecting. And given the fact we’re on the cusp of a new console generation, I think it’s unfair to expect Bethesda to invest in radically new tech.

      I expect the next Elder Scrolls game to start achieving more in the way of a dynamic world, and to see Bethesda invest in a completely new engine and tools. If they stick with the same gameplay style, I will be disappoint.

      But yeah, in spite of all the obvious tired mechanics, chiefly the static world (Bethesda have gone quite on the hallowed Choice and Consequence front), I still loved (and love) Skyrim. Totally my GOTY.

      Merry Christmas!

    • JackShandy says:

      Noobule: How can you say “No other medium would accept flaws in their masterpieces” and then cite Deus Ex?

    • noobule says:

      Well I never said that, Jack, so your question makes no sense.

      I said other mediums are not judged based on what the audience would like to pretend is happening. Flaws are an inevitable part of any creation. My problem is not that there are flaws (I have problems with particular flaws, but not the fact they exist) but that it seems that for many in the greater gamer culture, flaws in sufficiently flashy games are instantly mentally erased and excused with elaborate mental gymnastics. And then defended.

      For the record though, most of the things people point to as flaws in Deus Ex are fairly ludicrous.

  46. alundra says:

    To celebrate it’s 33% off today on steam.

  47. Nim says:

    No Duke Nukem Forever? For shame!

    • Cryptoshrimp says:

      I don’t think Skyrim is all that it could be, but it’s certainly Game of the Year for me. It was good enough, after all. However, when the mod tools come out, it’ll evolve into something amazing.

  48. Hematite says:

    There’s something about Skyrim that’s a breath of fresh air for me, and I think I’ve figured out what it is. I’ve played a hell of a lot of games in my time, and it’s rare to find one that doesn’t seem to be treading the same old narrative ground.

    You might have heard of Chekhov’s gun – the short version is: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

    Chekhov’s gun also has a terrible corollary, in that if there’s a gun in the first act you can expect that someone will be shot in the second. This is fine, and a good writer makes a story about why the gun is fired and how you should feel about it.

    Unfortunately video game writers often aren’t very good. In my curmudgeonly old age I now find it tremendously immersion breaking whenever I come across a Chekhov’s gun. When there’s a sword in a stone, a locked room, a missing child, some rats in a basement, you can be certain that they’re only there so you can draw the sword, loot the room, rescue the child from trolls and kill the rats for 100gp. Then you can leave that crappy hick village and never look back, because Chekhov’s guns have fired their volley.

    And you know what? Skyrim’s full of that crap too. It’s just one of those things. But in Skyrim when you see the withered tree in Whiterun or hear that earthquakes have knocked most of Winterhold into the sea except coincidentally the mages’ guild (mage whistles nonchalantly) at least you don’t know that you’re going to be dragged along on an explanatory quest unless you want to go. It’s a big game, and crucially there’s so much unrelated content that you can stumble across things which will have no real relevance to your character. Chekhov’s gun is there, but it only fires for the Thieves’ Guild and you’re a Legate in the Imperial Legion.

    That’s how Skyrim really succeeds for me. The world is full to the brim with things to do, and you can notice them and wander past without ever participating or even fully understanding what is going on. I don’t feel like the world is pandering to me or only exists as a fairground ride of carefully judged thrills.
    It’s not perfect, particularly in that nothing will ever change without the player having a hand in it, but it’s a damn sight better than any other triple-A game.

    • The Tupper says:

      I agree entirely. I love the way I’ll ride past some huge structure that towers from a cliff face and know that I can either go there directly or might be encouraged to do so later on. I know it’s there and I’ll explore it sometime – an aspect that I love about the map, incidentally, where items only appear when you’ve entered their periphery.

    • formivore says:

      Yeah this is great point, and well stated Hematite. I think a lot of people who are wishing Bethesda would boil down their worlds to something more densely plotted are ignoring this. Or to quote different (sorta)-Russian, “quantity has a quality all of it’s own.”

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      This is interesting. I think you’re onto something.

      KG

    • BooleanBob says:

      Agreeing whole-heartedly with Hematite, Kagey et al. How maddening it can be to be overly game literate!

      One of the greatest strengths of the Zelda series is how it manages to show you these ‘guns’ (not actual guns, natch, but surely that’s where the series is ultimately headed?) and then doing a little trick where it (again, figuratively) blindfolds you, spinning you around just long enough to be distracted by some other corridor/fight/thing, so that by the time you’re solving the original puzzle you already half forgot that it exists, and then hey – you just solved it! Doo dee doo dee doo dee doo!

      Tremendously satisfying, but it only serves to cover the cracks. You still have to do mostly everything, on account of it having been placed there for you to do.

  49. DOLBYdigital says:

    For me, just seeing all the cool mods that are already out before the mod kit has even arrived makes this a great game. They setup a wonderful world that modders can play around with and create crazy amounts of cool content. I can’t wait for custom created spells (there are already some like conjure a dragon) and all the other cool ideas I’ve seen thrown around like multiplayer and unique quests.

    Truly mods will make this a very long lasting and satisfying game. Also the vanilla game is pretty sweet even though it does get a little repetitive. Happy holidays all!!

    • Wulf says:

      Mods definitely made Oblivion, that’s for sure.

      The Deserts of Anequina was some of the most pretty environment work in the game, including officially, and Ruined-Tail’s Tale was some of the best writing.

      Same with Fallout 3, really. Puce Moose’s RP mods had some truly, truly amazing writing, much more so than anything in Fallout 3 itself.

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