It has been 2 years since the release of Skyrim, a game which IGN had hailed as “one of the most fully-realized, easily enjoyable, and utterly engrossing role-playing games ever made”. Although the gaming landscape hasn’t changed much in the last 2 years, I thought it would be interesting to take a moment and take a re-look at Skyrim.
When I first got my hands on Skyrim, I didn’t feel “at home”. I have maintained that Oblivion is, to this day, my favourite RPG, and frankly, after having been thoroughly engrossed in that game for over a hundred hours, the menus, upgrading system and character development in Skyrim felt alien and complex to me. However, more than a 150 hours later, I can safely say that I’ve grown used to it. Like its predecessor, Elder Scrolls IV – Oblivion, Skyrim had its flaws too. The overly realistic setting somehow loses the innocence and the charm that Oblivion has now become famous for. In many ways, Oblivion was the “classic” fantasy RPG. The “cities” and towns and villages in Skyrim are sparsely populated and barely memorable. Compare this to the cities in Oblivion like Skingrad, Bravil, Cheydinhal and you’ll realise that they were far more interesting places to roam about.
That the entire Elder Scrolls series is repetitive when it comes to exploring dungeons, is well known. With Skyrim, developer Bethesda tried to move away from that by introducing unique designs for almost every dungeon; and that did wok well, for a while. Once you’re through with the main quest, you’ll have explored enough dungeons to have gotten tired of even looking for newer ones in pursuit of treasures. The main story in Skyrim is far less interesting than the one in Oblivion. Although most would argue that the presence of dragons more than makes up for the less than noteworthy story, I would beg to differ. Most plots in Skyrim are half hearted attempts at telling a good story.
The thing I loved about Skyrim was how NPCs interacted with me. Having said that, I did miss talking to the city guards and trying to impress them with my “speech skills” in order to extract some valuable information. I believe this aspect could have been taken to a whole new level and Bethesda missed a golden opportunity here. The music by Jeremy Soule is haunting and melancholic. Unlike Oblivion, where the music, again by Soule, was mostly uplifting. In short, taking a stroll in a random street in Oblivion is incredibly more relaxing than taking a stroll in Skyrim. And that is probably the reason why I keep coming game to Oblivion.
Having said all that Skyrim, even to this day, is a major improvement over its predecessor and a hallmark of achievement when it comes to RPGs. It has set the benchmark very, very high indeed for its successors and that in itself is where the crowning glory of Skyrim lies.