My name is Jared Whittaker, one of the hosts and Audio Chewbacca of the Super-Fly Podcast and PCW! Welcome to Game Changer, a weekly burning missive about all aspects of video gaming with a little bit of opinion thrown in for fun. Proceed with caution and tread lightly, gentle gamers. It’s going to be good time. Like the first time you saw Super Mario 3 good time.
2011 has been a pretty unbelievable year for video games. Red Dead Redemption. Dead Island. Modern Warfare 3. Battlefield 3. Mass Effect 2. Dead Space 2. Killzone 3. LA Noire. Dead Island. Gears of War 3. And a boatload more that I’m sure I’m missing. All were great games and had great experiences. But the game that I’ve been most excited about this year was The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. As a veteran Elder Scrolls and role playing game player, I was blown away at the first sight of the trailer on Spike’s Video Game Awards in Febuary. The news that dragons would be showing up in the game made my head explode. My now infamous story of playing Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion for 671 hours, (at last count) is legendary in it’s absurdity. People often ask “How could you play ANY game for that long?!?” The game is unbelieveablly deep with so much to do and see that the game becomes a difficult hole to get out of. And with the release of Skyrim, it’s starting all over again. So for this week’s Game Changer, I figured that I’d let people know what I’ve been up to in the game so far and what I’m looking forward to doing in the hundreds of hours I’ll likely be playing this monstrous adventure.
Taking in the sights
The first thing I noticed about the game this time around is that it is beautiful! The Elder Scrolls games in the past have looked really good visually, but this time around, Skyrim looks AMAZING!! There’s been times that I’ve just looked around at surroundings and taken screencaps of the view. The draw distance is pretty awesome on PC. The giant mountains in the background beckons you to climb them and see how far up it goes and what you might find up there. One of the problems with Oblivion was that the environments weren’t that different from one place to another visually. In Skyrim, the environments differ greatly from one place to another. In the mountains, at times, it literally hard to see because of the snowfall. The forests are beautiful, looking like fall if fall was a thing that still happened around where I live. It’s an amazing thing to see.
You fight EVERYTHING!!
Combat is a must in a game like this. And the amount of different ways to fight threats you encounter is pretty staggering. You can go straight up hand to hand, one and two handed swords, bow and arrows, magic, the works. I’ve been using a two-handed sword mixed with destruction magic and archery. To make things more interesting, Bethesda included the killcams from their other game, Fallout 3′s V.A.T.S. system when you make a critcal hit. The shock of shooting an arrow and the camrea following it to the victim or having two axes in hands and cleaving off a bandit’s head had me screaming out loud and was one of the most visceral gaming experiences I’ve ever had. The amount of different enemies is pretty staggering. Couple that with fighting them WHILE you’re constantly looking out for random dragons flying around that will attack EVERYONE in the fight and it makes for a tense environment. Having to fight four dudes at once and then had a dragon crash the party, that’s a game changer for sure. I don’t think that I’ve run faster in any game. Which leads to my next point….
You can get killed by EVERYTHING!!
While totally frustrating at times, I kind of like that fact that you can just get killed at any moment in this game. While Skyrim does level up some enemies as your character levels, there are places in the world that have enemies that will kill you. I mean kill you quickly. I’m on level 11 and bears, Spriggens, Ice Wolfs and any amount of multiple bad guys is enough to kill you. I like the fact that you don’t ever feel safe at anytime and that there are places that if you are not ready to go to, the game will let you know fast. Some games, it’s cool to walk into an area and waste everyone once you get to a current level. In this game? It ain’t safe, sir. You will get killed if you don’t keep your eyes open and have the right weapon or spell loadout ready. It’s a more deliberate way of playing the game, but more realistic and fulfilling when you clear a room full of bandits with just a little bit of health left.
I go to work, baby.
One thing that works very well in Skyrim is the job systems. I never cared about smithing in the least, but when I started it for a short quest, I couldn’t stop sharpening my swords and making new armor for myself. Hunting is fun and much easier when you use force electric powers. Killing people in the Dark Brotherhood is pr…..well….I shouldn’t talk any more about that. The jobs are so much fun and really adds to your adventure. That’s the part that really makes the jobs worth doing. Having an end result where you get something for jumping through the hoops of working is the best way to go. I’ll be making ebony swords, armor and boots pretty soon. All black everything.
This is just some of the fun stuff that has really grabbed me in the game. To be fair, I haven’t really scratched the surface of the game. But, it is, in the early stages, an amazing game. I’m having a lot of fun with the game. I’m sure I’ll be updating you with more about my adventures in Skyrim. What do you think? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Let us know.
Jared Whittaker plays a lot of games. Not as much as he’d like, but as much as time and money will allow. If you want to play some games with Jared, you can find him on Playstation 3; PSN tag: JFX. He is also on Steam and Battle.net as JFX316 and while he doesn’t have an Xbox 360, he has the coolest Gamertag in the world: Obiwan Jaborni. Feel free to add him as a friend or email him at JWhittaker@PanelsonPages.com. and on Twitter as JFX316