REVIEW For The ELDER SCROLLS 5: SKYRIM- LEGENDARY EDITION
Genre: Open-World, Sand Box, Adventure-Fantasy Role Playing Game
Gaming Platform: PC
Release Year: 2011
Developed by: Bethesda Game Studios
Published and Distributed by: Bethesda Softworks (Retail Disc) and Steam (Online Download)
Media Format: DVD ROM Software
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Operating System: Windows 7/ Vista/ XP (32 or 64 Bit)
Processor: Dual Core 2.0 GHz or Equivalent Processor
Memory: 2 GB System RAM
Hard Disk Space: 9 GB Free HDD Space
Video Card: DirectX 9.0c Compliant Video Card with 512 MB of RAM
Sound: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Processor: Quad-core Intel or AMD CPU
Memory: 4 GB System RAM
Video Card: DirectX 9.0c Compatible NIVIDIA or AMD ATI Video Card with 1GB of RAM
Instruction Manual: 2 Page Insert in Black and White, Plus a Single Card Insert about the Official DLCs ‘Dawnguard,’ ‘Dragonborn,’ and ‘Hearthfire.’
Additional Content: Map Insert if the Fictional Province of Skyrim Plus a Single Card Insert about the Beta Version of ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’ (PC Version)
ESRB Content Rating: Rated ‘M’ for MATURE 17 Plus (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol)
Series Legacy: The Elder Scrolls: Arena; The Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall; The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind; The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion; The Elder Scrolls Online
On the distant world of Nirn, there exists a legend of the “Dragonborn,” a warrior who descends from a dragon bloodline over the centuries. This hero is set to return when Alduin, the dragon that seeks to destroy the world, emerges to cause chaos all over Nirn.
In the province of Skyrim, there is a civil war going on between the Empire and the Stormcloak Rebels. Both sides, bickering over religious rights and political issues, are completely oblivious to the impending doom that looms over them all. Indeed, Alduin is not the only dragon to return. Many other dragons, servants and allies of the world-eater, begin to attack the province of Skyrim and its citizens.
What path will the Dragonborn choose: that of a hero or a villain? Will he or she choose to side with Stormcloaks or with the Imperials? Will the Dragonborn fulfill his/her destiny in destroying the dragons and finally defeating Alduin, once and for all?
The storyline in ‘The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim- Legendary Edition’ (TES5: S-LE) is a grand and epic one, that involves the doom or welfare of the entire world around your character. After creating your character, you venture out into the country of Skyrim. You choose to help or hurt people you encounter. Helping people typically earns you their thanks, or some other reward, like a weapon, money, access to a home or shop, or a special item. Hurting or killing people means you can then loot their body of whatever items you want, but you get a bounty and a very bad reputation in the village, town or city where you committed the crime. With a bounty on your head, City Guards may attack you on sight or try to arrest you. Other characters you have stolen from or wronged in some way may hire thugs and mercenaries to attack you later on when you least expect it.
You are doing more than just being nice or nasty to the local population. As the Dragonborn, some of the people you encounter will give you quests to undertake. Completing these quests earns you gold, weapons, special items, and loads of gameplay experience, all helps you to level up your character. The higher your overall skill and experience level, the more powerful and effective your character becomes overall.
The further along you follow the main quest line, the more the story of the invading dragons and the Thalmor involvement in the Skyrim Civil War, becomes unlocked. Before the end of the main storyline, the Dragonborn will encounter a variety of different groups with different agendas like the Companions, the Greybeards, the Dark Brotherhood, the Blades, the Imperial Legion, the Thieves Guild, and the Stormcloak Rebels. If you have the time and interest, you can even join the College of Winterhold or the Bard’s College in Solitude.
No doubt there is plenty to do as an original created character, wandering around in the world of Skyrim. You can choose to follow the main story, or branch off and perform side-quests to earn extra experience, more Septims (gold coins) and other useful items.
The main story line becomes very deep and very involved at certain points, partly because of the way some characters are urgently telling about the evil that the dragons pose to the world of Nirn.
Unfortunately, sometimes the story becomes too complex and too convoluted to remain interesting. There are too many relevant names to keep up with, and there is way too much back-story that is brought up, most of which ultimately does not play any significant role in understanding or enjoying current overall story in this game.
Fans of the very long-running Elder Scrolls series will enjoy all of the bits and pieces of lore scattered throughout the world of Skyrim. The lore is typically in the form of different books you find, read and collect, while journeying through the world.
However, if you don’t like to be bogged down reading a huge amount to text in many of the in-game books, you may choose to skip reading the books. Of course, some of the books (Skill Books, in this case) help to automatically level-up some of your gameplay skills, so you are tempted to at least open the first page of each and every book you find, in the hopes of leveling up one of your skills.
The best way to enjoy the lore is through encounters with other characters found throughout the province of Skyrim. Some of these characters will tell you the history of locations, ancient characters, enchanted weapons and items. These dialogue encounters are by far the much more interesting ways of learns about the vast lore of the previous TES games, which are continued in this game. The dialogue explanations of the lore are the preferred way to learn about the Skyrim and Tamriel histories; certainly more preferred than reading endless amounts of text in books.
Another confusing aspect of TES 5: S-LE lore are the so-called ‘9 Divines.’ These are what the characters call their ‘gods.’ The story involves a dispute in which the Nords of Skyrim worship a god name Talos, who was once a human, but the Thalmor who are made up of Elves oppose this Talos Worship. It sounds interesting at first, because it points towards religious intolerance. Talos is the 9th Divine added to the 8 others, who are worshipped all across Nirn. However, it serves mostly as a “background lore theme” more so than a concrete part of the story. In other words, it never goes anywhere.
Fictional deities in video games are nothing new, but some real-life gamers (depending on their real-life faith or beliefs) may not be too keen on having the character they create and play with in Skyrim, go to worship any of the so-called gods in the game. Some gamers may not be comfortable with the whole idea of their created hero, engaging in pagan worship, even if it is within the context of a fictional video game. And, there are 9 gods to contend with, not just one or two; essentially a lot to keep track of.
Thankfully, you are not compelled to worship all of them, but you will undertake quests for some of the 9 divines, if you want to obtain special item rewards, or special skills and abilities that will help make you a better warrior or craftsman. Some quests even require your character to “pray” to one of the gods, or pay some sort of homage to them.
Other times, you are required to pray at a shrine of any of the deities in order to get healed of any disease your character may have been infected with. This practice is also optional, since you can use Potions you buy, make or loot, to heal yourself instead. Again, some real-life gamers may not be comfortable in using their character to serve pagan gods, even within the context of a fictional video game.
GRAPHICS and ANIMATIONS
Better hope your PC is up to specs, because for a game released back in 2011, the requirements are pretty extensive (see the introduction of this review for all the system requirement details for TES 5: S-LE).
This title impresses visually. Skyrim is the cold world of the Nords, so expect to see snow, ice and frost in a lot of in-door and out-door locations. When there is heavy snowfall, there are a lot of snowflakes visible on screen, and it all holds up very well without slowdowns or crashes, in most cases anyway.
Color is in short supply on purpose, because the province of Skyrim is meant to be bleak and dark in many ways. There is some color displayed in some decorated interior homes and palaces, and maybe with certain vegetation outside. Still, the overall world in the game has mostly subdued colors.
Each weapon swing has its own animations. In fact, depending on which weapon you are using, your characters idle and attack animations change. For example, if you equip a great sword, war hammer or battle axe, your character will use both hands to hold and swing such weapons. If you equip normal swords, war axes or daggers, your character will hold and swing them with just one hand.
Since you can cast magical spells, you have animations in which you charge up and blast a variety of elemental energies at your foes. The spells typical have a variety of colors to match whatever elements they are representing. For example, fire spells are orange in color, while ice spells are white in color.
Spells that are blasted on enemies and on surfaces also leave residual visual effects on them. For example, you can see black burn patterns on the ground or wall where fire spells were fired. You can also see ice spikes embedded into enemies you shoot frost spells at.
Attacks with physical weapons like swords, bows, arrows, axes, hammers and daggers, all draw blood, whether you strike foes with them, or whether you are the one being attacked by them; this all looks fairly realistic during first person or third person combat.
Citizens, soldiers, bandits, and monsters all have very distinct looks and styles to them. Soldiers wear certain colors and styles of uniforms, which let you know if the troops are either allied with the Imperials or with the Stormcloaks.
Citizens like miners, blacksmiths and woodcutters, wear different styles of worker clothes, which easily let you know that they are part of the labor force.
Monster like Draugr look like decaying warriors, with skeletal faces. They are fearful in appearance and are armed to the teeth with a variety of weapons. These cursed freaks typically can be found guarding ancient Nord tombs.
Falmer are monsters that are blind under-dwellers, who can typically be found near of within Dwemer ruins. Relying mainly on their super sharp hearing, they have elf-like ears and wear loin clothes and are also armed and dangerous. The more powerful Falmer wear body armor made from hardened Chaurus hides.
Dwemer constructs are automations (robots) which guard Dwemer ruins, in the absence of their disappeared masters. These Dwemer guards look like machines with humanoid or arachnid features. For example, some Dwemer Centurions looks like humanoid giants made of metal, while other much smaller Dwemer guards look like mechanical spiders.
The number of wild animals range from saber-cats, wolves, the rat-like skeevers, goats, deer, foxes and even mammoths. Humanoid giants even domesticate and herd mammoths in the wilds of Skyrim.
Ugly dragons round out the pinnacle of beasties that you have to face and kill. They look like dragons typically do: like giant winged reptiles who breathe not just fire, but frost as well. If you mange to get up close to any dragon and survive, you will notice the great amount of detail in the scales covering their body.
Some of the Nord buildings resemble what looks like Viking halls that existed in the past on Earth. That is all intentional on the part of the developers, who partly used Viking lore and mythology to create the fictional Nord culture and architecture.
Killing certain enemies will earn you a ‘Kill Cam’ Animation. At random intervals, your final strike with a weapon or unarmed, will sometimes trigger a fatality animation. Basically, it is a dramatic action sequence of your created character finishing off an enemy. This could range from killing wolves, to bandits, all the up to the elaborate fatality performed on a dragon.
Some Kill Cams are simple, yet stylish. For example, killing off a foe with a Projectile Spell or with an Arrow, leads to a dramatic, slow-motion, rotating Kill Cam. Just like regular Kill Cams, these animations occur at different, random intervals and not all of the time. Kill Cam Fatalities change depending on which weapon you currently have equipped.
AUDIO and SOUND
The developers of Skyrim claimed to have actually created an original dragon tongue language, which your character has to learn some of, in order to weld words of power called “Shouts.” This dovah-speak can be heard been uttered by dragons you encounter, as well as been used as attacks by certain enemies like Draugr.
These dragon shouts your character learns are made up of 3 words, which you typically learn one at a time. Sometimes, the Dragonborn has to travel to different parts of the world in order to find “Word Walls,” indoor or outdoor structures which have ancient dragon language inscribed on them. As the Dovahkiin (your character) gets close to one such Word Wall, you hear a strange musical, chanting laced with drumbeats. You can then use that sound to guide your player character to find the hidden Word Wall. Once you stand right in front of the curved Word Wall, you will magically learn the single Word of Power. Then, you need to use an absorbed dragon soul to unlock the Word of Power, after which you can now use that Shout as a verbal weapon.
Dragon Shouts can consist of spewing out fire or ice at enemies to damage them. Other shouts can slow down time for everyone around you to give you a tactical advantage, while other shouts just blast away even the strongest foes.
Dragon Shouts have a cooling down period, so don’t expect to just use one shout after another, in rapid succession. It won’t happen, since after each shout, you can’t shout again until a set number of seconds have past first. Once that time has elapsed, you can then use any of the shouts you want. This is to prevent your character from becoming too over-powered during the course of the game.
The main theme song is a very dramatic variation of the traditional Elder Scrolls main theme. The Skyrim main music tune relies heavily on subdued drums beats, along with mainly male vocals, who all sound like warriors chanting war songs.
Encountering enemies in the world of Skyrim also triggers different variations of battle music. After you defeat all enemies present attacking you, the combat music comes to an end. This type of music applies to when you are been attacked by any type of foe, ranging from mud-crabs, bandits to skeletons and dragons.
Softer, more soothing music plays while your character roams around the open wilds of Skyrim, as well as when inside villages, towns, cities or holds. This includes when you are buying or selling items, or when you are engaging in craftsman activities like blacksmithing or alchemy.
Swinging an axe, sword or hammer all have their own sets of sound effects. Pulling on the string of a bow and firing an arrow also have their own series of very realistic sound effects. Stabs, slashes and slices with edged weapons also have realistic sound effects, especially when you perform a kill move on an enemy.
Magical Spells also have their own unique sets of sound effects. For example, lightning spells have very distinct crackling audio effects, whether you are charging them up in your hand or firing them off at opponents.
Sometimes, after making use of a magical spell, there are annoying left-over sound effects, which linger long after you have ended combat, and are no longer using magic. This is an irritating audio bug/glitch, which continuously loops the sound of the crackling lightning spell, as it was still been used actively, even when it is not.
Animals from bears to wolves to dragons, all have their own distinct sounds, from growls, to snarls and to roars. When they are dying as you deliver them the death blow, they also give out a howl as they collapse.
Chatter is plentiful in Skyrim, as many citizens have numerous lines of verbal dialogue, some which they say when they are near you, others they say when they have encounters with other NPCs (Non-Playable Characters). Some of these spoken words are necessary for you to hear because they inform you about the current location you are in (like a village or town). Other times, the dialogue is told to you to inform you about a quest that you are being sent on. Some parts of these dialogues can be repeated by speaking to a particular NPC a second time, to hear the instructions for or the objectives of a particular quest.
The voice acting is very well-done in Skyrim in general. Some characters have accents, others don’t, but their lines of dialogue are delivered professionally. The main NPCs, particularly does involved in major questlines, tend to be done by some popular and well- known celebrities. The one noticeable draw-back of the voice-work in Skyrim is that many of the same voice actors are the voices of many of the NPCs in the game. So, one character in one town may end up sounding like another, unrelated character in another village all the way across the may.
Beginning a quest will trigger an instrumental sound effect, to let you know that you have started a new questline. Whenever you have completed a quest objective, you also hear sound effects that let you know this. This is also true when you complete or fail an entire questline.
GAMEPLAY CONTROLS and MECHANICS
PC gamers will no doubt use the standard computer mouse and Keyboard to play TES 5: S- LE. Console gamers may want to play this title using an Xbox 360 wired controller. Either way, you get to choose which kind of control-scheme you desire to use.
SKYRIM- PC KEYBOARD CONTROLS
ESC: Pause Menu/ NUMBER KEY 1 TO 8: Hot Key Items
TAB: Skills, Magic, Inventory, Map
Q: Favorites/ E: Activate/ R: Ready or Sheath Weapon/ T: Wait/ I: Inventory/ P: Spells
CAPS LOCK: Walk, Run, Toggle/ W: Forward/ A: Left/ S: Back/ D: Right
F: 1st/3rd Person Camera/ J: Quest Journal
SHIFT: Walk/ C: Run Straight/ ALT: Sprint/ SPACE BAR: Jump/ CTRL: Crouch
/: Skill Menu/ M: Map Menu/
MOUSE: Move Camera/ Click on buttons for Right Hand and Left Hand functions
SKYRIM: XBOX 360 GAME PAD as a CONTROLLER (Default Settings)
LEFT TRIGGER: Left Hand/ RIGHT TRIGGER: Right Hand
A-BUTTON: Activate/ X-BUTTON: Ready or Sheathe/ B-BUTTON: Character Menu
Y-BUTTON: Jump/ RIGHT STICK: Toggle POV Camera/ LEFT BUTTON: Sprint
RIGHT BUTTON: Shout or Power/ LEFT STICK: Sneak
BACK BUTTON: Wait/ START BUTTON: Journal
Remember, if the Default Control Configuration is not to your liking, then you can go into the options Mode and change any all the settings until it’s just right for you. This is true for both the Xbox 360 Control Pad as well as the Mouse plus Keyboard.
Pay attention to the bottom of the game screen: you will see a Red Health Bar in the middle, a Blue Magicka Bar on the far-left, and a Green Stamina Bar on the far-right. If your health meter empties completely, due to damage taken from attacks, bobby traps or from a fall, then your character will die. If your stamina bar drops to zero, your character can’t run or perform powered weapon attacks. If your Magicka runs out from over-use or from enemy attacks, you can’t cast spells. Basically, it is in your best interest to keep you health, stamina and magicka gauges full or close to being full at all times.
Certain elemental and magic attacks will do more damage to each of these meters. For example, frost attacks will deplete your stamina, in addition to causing damage to your health meter. Lightning based magic hurts you and reduces your magicka bar very fast. Fire attacks cause extra damage to your health meter. Remember that you can also do the same thing to the energy meters of your foes, so use this knowledge to your advantage in slowing down enemies and defeating them in combat.
Skyrim may not be set on Earth, but it still follows the rules of combat found on our world in ancient times, namely the use of swords, axes bows and arrows.
Armors protect you if you wear the matching entire set: the helmet on your head, the gloves/gauntlet on your arms/hands and the boots/grieves on your feet/legs. This way, you take less damage from most types of attacks in the game. Heavy Armor cause you to run, move and attack slower than if you have on Light Armor. Heavy Armor can protect you better in battle than Light Armor, but the latter can allow you to move around faster, and make it more difficult for your enemies to hear you when you are sneaking around near them.
You equip a weapon to either your right or left hand, and you swing or used said weapon by pressing the corresponding right or left triggers. So, you can equip a shield in your left hand, while equipping a sword in your right hand. Essentially, now you can block attacks with your shield, while alternating with sword attacks.
Bare in mind that you can only equip 1-handed weapons to one hand each. 2-handed weapons, like war hammers and great swords, need both hands to equip and use. Thus, you can only actively use one 2-handed weapon at a time. You attack animations are slower when using 2-handed weapons. You can still block in-coming attacks when you are holding a 2-handed weapon, but it won’t be as effective as blocking with a shield.
You can equip two 1-handed weapons by putting one weapon in each hand. For example, you can equip two swords, or two axes or two maces, one in each hand, and duel weld them. The advantage of using two 1-handed weapons at once is that you can unleash a stylish flurry of fast attacks on an enemy. The disadvantage of welding two 1-handed weapons at once, is that you cannot block, like you would be able to, if you had a shield or a larger 2-handed weapons.
Bows and arrows also require using both your right and left hands; one to hold the bow, and the other to draw on the string and fire the arrow. You can shoot in 3rd
Person or in 1st
Person View. You get a zoom-in feature in 1st
Person View, for more precise aiming and more accurate shots.
The Spell systems of combat work in much the same way as the physical weapons combat, with some key differences; you also equip spells to one or both hands. After that, you can then charge-up then fire or instantly fire off the equipped spell at your target. You can get creative by equipping a physical weapon 1-handed weapon in either your right or left hand, while equipping a spell in another hand. So, now you can alternate between using 1-handed weapon attacks and blasting monsters with elemental energy. You can also duel weld two spell attacks, by equipping one spell onto your left and the other into right hand. So, imagine shooting off fire from one hand and ice from another hand while in combat, which is perfect for a magically designed character build.
Your character can also ride on horse-back, all while cutting and slashing enemies, as they charged into battle. There are obviously some changes that have to be made to horseback combat versus normally comeback while standing on your two feet.
The more mundane gameplay functions include opening doors, chests, barrel lids, or activating buttons and levels to trigger a specific mechanism. These events are usually accompanied by a specific sound effect and a short animation, to let you know that the object or door or lid has successfully been opened or closed.
If you go to blacksmith or create potions at an alchemy table, you get a series of very specific menus, which direct you as to what you need to do. All of these Skill Crafting activities require different tools, parts and ingredients to gather first, before you can make use of them effectively. These activities are actually part of gameplay in Skyrim, because you can create items like weapons and armor (in blacksmithing) and potions (in alchemy), which you can then use to aid you on quests, or you can just sell them off, to make yourself more money, of which to use and buy any other goods.
Blacksmithing helps you create new weapons and armor which you can keep to use during quests or in combat, or to sell for money. You will need things like Iron and Steel Ingots, along with leather strips, to make most basic weapons and armor sets. Other more advanced weapons and armor require much more rare, expensive and exotic metal ingots and parts, which you can purchase, steal, or pick-up during any of your adventures in the world.
The more you blacksmith, the more your blacksmithing skills increase. The more your black smithing skills increase, the better weapons and armor you will be able to create. With improved smithing skills, your armor would be able to withstand more damage, effectively protecting your character more. With improve smithing skills, the newer weapons you create can also cause increased damage to enemies you attack, killing them in fewer hits. With increased smithing skills, you can improve the overall quality of any current weapon or armor you own. This way, you can choose to keep any weapon or armor set you like, and just use your increased smithing skill to improve their overall quality. The best quality battle gear earns you more money, if you so choose to sell them for profit.
Alchemy helps you to create both Potions and Poisons. Potions are drinks that give you temporary abilities, powers or magical effects, such as turning invisible. Other potions increase your body’s resistance to the damaging effects elemental and magical attacks. Still other Potions can cure you of any disease or poison. There are also potions that either quickly or gradually restore your Health, Stamina or Magicka when you drink them.
Poisons are applied to the weapon you are currently holding, and they can have effects like making the next person you hit with it to become weaker to frost-based magic and enchantments. Other poisons just do significant amounts of damage to the Health, Stamina and Magicka of your enemy.
The better your alchemy skill is the longer lasting and more powerful the effects of both potions and poisons become. Just remember that you need all of the right combination of Alchemy Ingredients to mix and make both potions and poisons. The better quality potions and poisons tend to fetch you more gold coins, if you decide to part with them for a price at a merchant’s store.
There is another aspect of gameplay that involves non-active combat, but which can affect combat immensely. This is the skill of Enchanting. You use an enchanting table to destroy enchanted items you buy or pick up as loot during your quests. Once you have destroyed the item on an enchanting table, your character automatically learns of the magically enchantment on the piece of jewelry, armor or weapon which you bought, stole or looted. After that, you can then use your newly learnt enchantment to apply it to another piece of jewelry, armor or weapon.
Enchantments on apparel you wear can offer you protection against elemental or magical attacks, by providing fire, frost or shock resistance. Enchantments on weapons can allow you to apply elemental effects to your weapons. So, for example, you can turn a regular steel sword into one that can now not just cut your foes, but also burn them with fire damage.
For enchanting of any kind to work, you need Soul Gems. Soul Gems are crystal-like objects, which can contain the souls of most (not all) enemies you slay in your various combat encounters. You will need a specifically enchanted weapon, which can absorb the soul of a fallen foe, before you can then fill a Soul Gem. From there, you can use your filled Soul Gems, to power-up, refill or enchant any weapons and or armor, at an enchanting table. Depending of the type of enemy you kill with your enchanted Soul absorbing weapon, he, she or it, will release different sizes of souls, which will then fill up different sizes of Soul Gems. These range from Petty, Lesser, Common, Greater, Grand, all the way up to Black Souls. For example, the rat-like Skeever will release typically a Petty soul, while other larger animals will release souls that fill up “Lesser” to “Common” Soul Gems. Living Humans and Humanoids’ souls fill in Black Soul Gems only.
Perks are special combat and skill advantages that your gain as your character levels up. With each new level you achieve, you gain one Perk Point to spend. Select the Skill Options in the Menu Tree and you will be taken to a very colorful Skill Screen that resembles a type of fictional astrological zodiac.
As soon as you enter the Skill Menu, you must first choose which Energy Meter you want to increase permanently: your Health, Magicka or Stamina. Once you pick which meter to improve, it’s time to spend your Perk Point or Perk Points on specific Skill Trees of your choosing.
Under each Skill Tree, you get to spend one Perk Point on improving your Combat, Smithing, alchemy, Enchanting and Magical Skills. These major skills are all divided into numerous other Skill Trees that cover how to improve everything from your 1-handed weapon abilities, to improving your armor skills, to improving how you summon creatures and cast magic. Basically, you choose which Skill Tree gets which Perk Point.
The best way to describe the game content is VAST; too vast to cover completely in this document. It’s probably more convenient for the purposes of this review, to list and explain the main quests, side quests and DLC (Downloadable Content) that are available for TES 5: S-LE.
The main quest line involves your character, the so-called “Dragonborn” (aka Dovahkiin), slowly uncovering your connection with the return of dragons, which are now invading Skyrim. You will encounter people who send you on quests to retrieve specific items, typically magical or enchanted ones. You slowly uncover clues that would eventually led you to groups like the Blades, the Greybeards and the Thalmor, all of whom are connected to either the Skyrim civil war or to the events surrounding the return of the dragons.
“Dawnguard” is the DLC add-on that adds new gameplay features and weapons like Crossbows. The Dawnguard are actually a group of ruthless vampire hunters who are in a seemingly losing battle against an every increasing vampire threat. Other groups like the Vigilants of Stendarr are also partially featured in this DLC. Werewolves and Gargoyles are other monsters that are increased in number during the course of DLC. Your character has an option to actually join the vampires and to in fact even be transformed into a vampire, gaining all of their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
The “Dragonborn” DLC tangles your created character with ancient foes from the distant past. Cultist devoted to an old and now evil Dragonborn, will harass and attack your character during the course of this DLC as you strive to uncover the identity of your new foe and find a way to defeat him.
“Hearthfire” DLC adds into this game, the ability for you to create a series of houses within Skyrim. It’s like a “Create-A-Home” mode, which is seamlessly integrated into the overall game. Upon reaching certain levels and gaining favor with certain holds (districts), the Jarls (rulers) of these holds will now sell you plots of land, on which you can now go and build up your own home. Like with blacksmithing, enchanting and alchemy, new menus open up at the workbenches near where you want to build your new house. Follow the guides in the menus, and obtain all of the very many and very necessary raw materials (like straw, iron ingots, wood, lumps of stones, glass, etc) in order to build up your house. Inside your house, there will be interior workbenches at different corners in most main rooms. From these interior workbenches, you can further renovate and alter the furniture and the designs of your house. From the exterior workbench, you can choose to add a library in which to store all of the books you collect, or to make in-door garden, which will provide for you, all of the many alchemy ingredients you will need to make potions and poisons.
All of this gameplay content is essentially tied-in together with the vast, open world gameplay that is Skyrim. Whether on foot, on horseback, or fast-traveling, your actions within the world of Skyrim will affect the world around you, as well as be affect by the world around you. All of the main content and DLC for Skyrim will also play a part in adding to and enriching you overall gameplay experience.
“Followers” are individuals found throughout the world of Skyrim, who you can talk to and convince to follow you. Sometimes you have to have a “friendly brawl” with them first; if you win, you gain their respect, and after that you gain a new dialogue option which allows you to recruit them as followers. Once they follow you, they will accompany you almost anywhere, especially in battle. Your followers will attack and kill any enemies that attack you or attack them. This essentially gives you an extra warrior to assist you almost any fight you find yourself in, whether you are on a quest or just roaming the wilds of Skyrim.
Other followers require you to go on specific quests for them first. If you successfully complete the quests for them and get the item they want or perform the service they require, then a new dialogue option emerges, which will then allow you to recruit them as your follower.
“Hirelings” are essentially followers you can simply hire to join you. Think mercenary, primarily because you have to pay them a set fee to join you. You can’t just talk them into joining you. Hirelings can be found typically at bars or inns throughout Skyrim.
If you tire of having followers or hirelings within your company, you can part ways with them by simply selecting a dialogue option to dismiss them. They will leave your service and return either to their homes, or back to the places where you initially found and recruited them. You can choose to hire or recruit your followers and hirelings once again, for an unlimited number of times. You can only actively hire or recruit one follower or one hireling at a time. You normally cannot have more than one follower in your party, unless you are on a quest that makes special exemptions (like quests where you have to escort another NPC who can fight for themselves).
SUMMARY and CONCLUSION
The term “illusion of choice” tends to come to mind when you have played Skyrim long enough. This means that you seem to be given an over-abundance of choices to make during the course of your gameplay, but the truth is that there are far more limitations blocking your paths and far less real choices for you to make any meaningful use of.
Sure, Skyrim is an open world game that allows you to customize very many aspect of your world. Unfortunately, there are many limitations which could have been avoided, or at least refined.
For example, there are many “Invisible Walls” in the world of Skyrim. “Invisible Walls” are basically digital boundaries you cannot see, which block your path and prevent you from advancing forward in a particular direction. You are unable to climb up the side of certain cliffs, hill or mountains, for example.
Also, some quests have you talking to certain characters you may not like. However, you may not be given the dialogue option to express your dislike for them. Also, you may have to help, join or assist such unsavory characters, with little or no way to stop or oppose them, without failing the mission outright if you attack or kill them.
To be fair, there can be numerous options at your disposal, in terms of how to tackle a mission or quest. You can choose to use enchanted armor, invisibility potions and magic to enhance your sneak-ability, so as to quietly take out bandits one by one, all while raising little to no alarms.
Or perhaps your archery skills are up to the task, so you essentially act as a sniper and pick off foes from a long way off with your arrows, before your enemies ever know where you are shooting them from.
Maybe you are an armored warrior who decides to use his brutish might to crush all enemies before you with his over-sized 2-handed weapon.
Like fighting with magical powers? Then over-whelm your opposition using elemental magic to freeze, shock or burn any necromancer, Falmer, bandit or Forsworn foe foolish enough to face you.
Basically, whatever your approach to combat is, chances are there is a gameplay option to support your play-style.
The Create-A-Character Mode at the beginning of the game is adequate, though limited. You can create a male or female character, and you can choose which humanoid race you want them to be. You cannot control things like muscle mass and height of your character, at least not to the extent you may want to. Primarily, you are editing the face and hair of your Dragonborn hero. You get an option later on in the city of Riften, to revisit the Create-A-Character Mode and edit the head (face and hair) of your character. Aside from the start of the entire game, this will be the only other time you can edit your facial features, and you can only do so for a fee. You have to find and pay an in-game NPC to alter your looks, as many times as you like, as long as you can afford it.
In Skyrim, there are audio and graphic bugs and glitches which can be irritating at best, but not completely game-breaking. There are unfortunately instances when your entire game completely locks-up and freezes on you. In other words, you can’t play anymore, unless you somehow exit the game or reset your computer. Game Crashes are also problematic, because you are inexplicably forced out of your active gameplay session from within Skyrim and you are automatically sent right back to your desktop. This is an occasional problem in Skyrim called “Crash to Desktop” (CTD).
The fictional religious aspects of the Skyrim culture may not be welcomed by all gamers. The developers chose to go into extreme details, including the option of worshipping anywhere from 1 to 9 “divines.” Thankfully, you aren’t forced to make your character worship any of these so-called “gods” within the game, if you don’t want to. But, there will be quests where you will have to do tasks for them or even pay respects to them. There are even instances when you given opportunities to serve or oppose the demonic beings known as the Daedra, which some might find questionable to begin with. Depending on your religious or personal beliefs in real life, these very specific aspects of the Skyrim lore may or may not appeal to you.
One major drawback to this title is that there is no “ending” in Skyrim at all. Whether you finish the Alduin quest, the Dawnguard and Dragonborn storylines, you will never get any official ending sequence. This can lead to a sense that you have no really accomplished anything significant, despite all of the work you have performed. From the main Title Screen, you get the option to select the Game Credits at any time you want.
The future of Skyrim gameplay lies in “Mods.” Mod is short for “Modification” or “Modify” and these are DLC made by fans and shared with the online gaming community. Mods are free and tend to include anything from new weapons and followers, all the way up to new houses, monsters, homes, cities and quests. Mods are added into Skyrim and can be used during the course of your future gameplay. Mods either modify an existing aspect of Skyrim by adding to or taking away items, characters, gameplay abilities, locations, etc. Other mods deal with changing the appearance of your character.
In the end, Skyrim is an Open World Role-Playing Fantasy Adventure, where you assume the role of a character, completely of your own creation. Despite some technical limitations or unnecessary lore information forced onto you, you ultimately choose how you want to play and experience this fictional world emerging around your character.