I was up until 2 am last night playing The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim on my PS3. It is an epic treasure chest of content with some epic missteps.

Warcrack
From 2007 to 2013, World of Warcraft was my main game. Sure, I tried other games, but Warcrack (as addicts call it) was “home, sweet home” for me. I spent more time fighting PVP battles in Alterac Valley than I care to admit. I loved the differences between the classes – fighting and healing on my paladin, sword action on my warrior and shooting fireballs on my mage.

The dungeons in Warcraft are uniquely designed. Besides a few template dungeons from the Burning Crusade expansion, they are more complex than a basic “platform crawler.” I love the lore of Warcraft, walking through Stormwind and Ironforge and the many ways that I can level up a new toon (“character”) – via questing, multiplayer dungeons and pvp.

As much as I love Warcraft, I love my couch even more! I bought a PlayStation 3 in 2012 and haven’t looked back. I love being able to sit on my couch, pop in a game and play the night away. If Warcraft ever comes out for PS3, I’m in.

Skyrim – The Good
Skyrim is an epic game and deserves the high ratings it got on almost every site. It beats anything out there when it comes to immersion. NPCs (non-player characters) are at work in the day and home at night. When they’re not at home, you can find them in the local pub or inn. You just walk around, chat up a random NPC and go off on an adventure. I enjoyed leveling my “destruction mage” and will definitely play again as a warrior.

Skyrim – The Bad and the Ugly
After whacking Alduin the dragon last night, I also felt a bit disappointed. Here’s why:

NPCs talk too much – They’re more talkative than an unedited Woody Allen movie. They reminded me of Smaug, the dragon in The Hobbit movie who wouldn’t shut up. Yes, lore is important in RPGs, but I kept clicking “x” to move on and stopped paying attention. Bob Dylan has earned the right to write long, descriptive songs, but most attempts at that style fail. They needed an editor to help them get to the point.
The last boss fight sucked – I had a harder time killing some bears than I did finishing off Alduin, the “world eating dragon.” Warcraft does this better with its “add fights” whereby you fight additional monsters sent by the boss. Crowd control can be exciting. Alduin went right after the 3 NPCs on my side, I hurled a few fireballs and he was down for the count. At least give me some eye candy during a boss fight and make me run around a bit.

Dungeons all looked the same – This is Skyrim’s biggest flaw. The same design team worked on all of the dungeons. Of course I expect recurring themes, but after the 5th one, they all looked the same to me. The colors were exactly the same in each one; it seems as if Bethesda used a basic template instead of going for variety. Many of the dungeons were “long and winding roads.” But unlike The Beatles song, they were forgettable.

Repetitive Content – This is the biggest challenge for game designers. How do you create dozens of hours of gameplay that isn’t repetitive? By the time I hit level 18, I was bored of entering a new town, meeting 3-4 characters who gave me “to do lists,” and then going off to deal with the local baddies. I don’t see how people did this to level 50 and beyond.
There were only 2 male voice actors for shopkeepers and 1 or 2 for female shopkeepers. Same voice, new city.

I still had a great time and am glad I bought Skyrim. After hearing so many friends talk about it, I had to experience it firsthand. Every RPG fan should play it and maybe you’ll disagree with my review!

PS – a week after writing this, I popped Skyrim back in my PS3 and gave it another go. I had a few more hours of fun, but it just didn’t cut it. I’d rather see new content, so I’m playing Batman – Arkham Asylum!

 

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