Backlog Project: The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim

Some games in my backlog are ones that I have actually played quite a bit, but it wasn’t until later that I started to care about Trophies and felt like going back to some of them. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not a new game to me, as I got it the day of release and played it extensively, and even got it again later on PC, which is where I really got my money’s worth by utilizing the vast selection of mods available. I went back to it on PlayStation 3 after realizing I was pretty far along in Trophy progression, and decided to tackle it one last time, after years away from the game.

Skyrim_Cover

  • Name: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Genre: Role-Playing Game | Action-adventure | Open World
  • Released: 2011
  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360

Skyrim probably requires no formal introduction: it’s arguably one of the most widely recognized video games in existence, and I myself have mentioned it numerous times on this very blog. My personal opinion of it has varied depending on context, but generally I view it as a fine game (even a great one for its time), yet one that disappointed me in its streamlined mechanics and dumbed-down world creation, being a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which seemed like a much deeper role-playing experience to me.

Dragons are one of the key elements of Skyrim, although hardly the best part of the game. Screenshot credit: http://www.gamefaqs.ne

Dragons are one of the key elements of Skyrim, although hardly the best part of the game.
Screenshot credit: http://www.gamefaqs.ne

With all the time that has passed since the name Skyrim was constantly on everyone’s lips, I’ve been able to reconcile my relationship to this game that I wanted to dislike so much for not living up to my ludicrous expectations. As most people would’ve told you from the bat, it’s really a great game, with good mechanics for combat and exploration, graphics that please the eye and a world filled with so many things to do. It still makes me miss the more complex RPG mechanics from Morrowind, as well as the locations and characters that I can find genuinely interesting, but there’s no arguing Skyrim is a good game.

I’m still going to go into the flaws a bit. As a Bethesda game, it obviously suffers from performance issues, whether it’s framerate drops, pop-up, physics glitches or tangled scripting. Even after 5 years, the game still isn’t even on the level most games are at launch. The scope of the game is no longer an excuse, as I pointed out in one of my earlier blog posts (among a bunch of other people out there), seeing how The Witcher III: Wild Hunt has no such issues despite the fact that it’s at least as big a game as Skyrim.

The immersion of this game is crippled by how shallow every NPC seems to be. As you walk into a town, every bystander instantly blasts you with everything there is to know about them – not their life’s story, just everything that relates to a quest you now know will be available at some point. Why would the merchant’s wife just open up to a foreigner, telling them everything about his marital troubles, without as much as a “hello”? It just makes all the NPCs seem plastic and poorly written. Full voice acting with a cast that’s not nearly proportionate to the number of characters in the game doesn’t help either.

Although I was never crazy about the setting or the thematic appearance of the game, Skyrim still looks really good. Screenshot credit: http://www.videogamer.com

Although I was never crazy about the setting or the thematic appearance of the game, Skyrim still looks really good.
Screenshot credit: http://www.videogamer.com

Another major gripe I have are the major questlines. Not only do all of the factions within the game – the Companions, Thieves’ Guild, the Civil War belligerents – exist as if in their own separate dimensions, completely independent of the world at large, but their storylines are some of the most cringe-inducing I’ve seen in a game of this caliber. The fact that the Mages’ College promotes you to Archmage after barely finishing your formal training – straight past the experienced magi who taught you in this college – makes the whole story seem ridiculous and dumb. And even some of the better stories are executed in a way that makes them seem silly, rather than epic.

Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable game, and these flaws – while sizeable – do get buried in the greater experience that remains mostly positive. Skyrim still stands as a unique milestone in video game history, and many games to this day look to it for guidance and examples of what people want in games.

Trophy Hunt

I completed the Trophy list for Skyrim in two portions: a bit over a month of game time back in 2011, and another month in the spring of 2016 to achieve the Platinum on May 7th. It’s really difficult to estimate the exact time it took, but it’d have to be at least 200 hours.

Skyrim is one of those games where the Trophies can be collected in any order, and there’s only one Trophy that can be missed altogether. They are all doable with one character, and many of the more time-consuming ones are actually much smoother to collect with a high-level character anyway. I had a total of three characters in 2011, with which I completed a variety of Trophies, such as completing the Dark Brotherhood and Mages’ College questlines.

Returning to the game in 2016, I created a new character, since I had clearly grown estranged of the game and my old characters during the four and a half years that had passed. With this character, I finished Thieves’ Guild and the Companions, as well as the Civil War and the main questline. I also engineered a 1000 gold bounty in every hold for Master Criminal, collected 15 Daedric artifacts for Oblivion Walker (which is the only missable Trophy in the game). I also collected the Dragon Souls for Dragon Hunter and the Shouts for Thu’um Master, reached Level 50 for Master, and cleaned up any other remaining Trophies after completing all of the more time-consuming ones.

For a game of this size, Skyrim has a pretty fair Trophy list, except for Oblivion Walker which I can only imagine is a really infuriating one to realize you’ve missed. That’s one of the reasons I created a new character as I got back into the game – I had no idea if I had in fact already neglected acquiring the reward for some of the Daedric quests. Besides that, it’s a fun list that you can tackle at your own pace, in any order you want.

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