The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: A Retrospective
Common wisdom holds that the first Elder Scrolls game you play will be your favourite. For me that was the series' third entry, Morrowind, and over the years I racked up hundreds of hours of adventuring in a land before fast-travel, with my enchanted fireball pants and, due to the exploitability of the enchantment system, health regeneration and damage resistance that made me nigh unkillable.
Morrowind was my Elder Scrolls game, so why would I care about Skyrim? I bought it but bounced off it it, barely playing it, and struggling to deal with 'decision paralysis'; wondering which of several directions I should be throwing myself in. I'd just graduated, too, so was trying not to get fired from my first adult job — I failed, by the way, coming in after the Christmas holiday to find all my passwords changed. Marketing wasn't for me, anyway — and also living with a girlfriend that didn't understand or appreciate me playing games.
I was too busy for Skyrim, is what I'm saying.
But it's re-released and I now play video games for a living, so I thought it was time to dive back in and give it a fair shout. So, Skyrim: the game and narrative experience. These still feel weird for me - miles away from Morrowind's gruelling lack of fast-travel, weird systems and verbose storytelling. Skyrim is nearly the opposite: fast-travel; maybe-not-for-me-but-you-might-be-fine-with-it brevity in both the writing and storytelling; and a sleek, well presented external make a game that's perhaps objectively a better product but felt nearly impenetrable to me. I found that I didn't want the house in Winterhold, I didn't want Lydia to carry my burdens and I didn't want to be the Dragonborn, although I do have a soft spot for shouting people off the top of mountains.
Most of the quests involved me going to a place and shooting all of the people in said place with a multitude of arrows. If anyone got close to me I'd set them on fire with my hands, before returning to get my reward. Then I found myself having to babysit Lydia, who said she was my friend but spent every quest trying to punch warlocks while I desperately tried to save her life. Then I adopted a dog, and he really wanted to bite warlocks, so my game truly became a babysitting simulator.
Admittedly, there was the time I got turned into a werewolf and charged about the place splattering everyone I met but then when I regressed back to human form I found I'd killed an entire village, and couldn't use the market stalls or talk to any of the villagers. Game over, man, game over.