The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It marks the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls franchise having been released in 2011 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Today I'll be looking at the Xbox port of the game.
I know, I know, I should have gotten it for the PC. And before we begin I just want to add that I haven't played any of the previous Elder Scrolls games so I'm going to be looking at the game on its own. With that out of the way let's dive into Skyrim.
The game comes with a map of Skyrim showing you all of the main locations. You begin the game in Helgen and from there, well from there you can pretty much go and do whatever you want. It's a sand-box RPG so the world is your oyster. This map is a little bit better than the in-game map as it has lines drawn for roads so I would recommend keeping it close by if you're like me and have no sense of direction.
The game opens up with you being transported to Helgen via carriage and your wrists bound as you were captured by the Empire during an ambush laid out for the Rebels that they're currently at war with.
With you is a Rebel soldier, the leader of the Rebellion and a thief who got caught up in the ambush trying to cross the border like you. Interesting border control...
The carriage stops at your destination and you're brought to a guard who asks who you are, and from there we are shown the Character Creation menu. You have several different races to choose from in the game, four brands of humans titled Breton, Imperial, Nord and Redguard. Nords are from Skyrim and are known for being tall and good warriors. Bretons come from High Rock and have a resistance to magic. The Imperials, from Cyrodiil, who have more luck finding gold and finally the Redguards are from Hammerfell possessing a resistance to poison.
On the elven side of things we have High Elves, Wood Elves, Dark Elves and Orcs. That's right, you can play as an orc! Then we have the two beasts, an Argonian (Saxhleel) that looks like a reptile and a Khajiit which looks like a tiger. Each race has their own skill bonuses and special abilities to choose from. After you take your pick of race you have your gender choices, man or woman. Easy enough. Then you have appearances: hair, eyes, skin, facial hair, tattoos, scars, dirt, jewelry, feathers and horns. Some options obviously depending on which race and gender you pick.
When you're done with all that and pick your name prepare to be executed! Wow, this was a short game. Well, this is ToriJ signing off–! Okay, okay, you don't die. Right before the executioner can chop off your head a huge chibi dragon shows up and starts burning everything to the ground. I see Daenerys' dragons have grown up quite nicely. Controls:
You move your character with the left control stick and move the camera with the right. Hold down on the left stick to switch into sneak mode when needed and the right one to toggle between first-person and third-person view. LB will have you sprint and RB will allow you to use your dragon shout or your race power. LT and RT use your left or right hand in battle and varies between what you have equipped. Start opens up your journal where you can browse through your quests, general stats, and the system menu for saving, loading, looking over settings and controls. Selects allow you to set a certain amount of time to wait in order to kill time and replenish health if you have no other way to do so.
A is your select/action button, pretty much. B pulls up the Character Menu where you can cycle through your skills to level up, items that you've attained on your travels, magic and to explore your world map. X sheathes your weapon and Y allows you to jump. The D-Pad mark items, spells and shouts and while having the Character Menu up use LT or RT to equip weapons.
Right off the bat the visuals are stunning, so much so that a person on tumblr once praised God for them. It looks very realistic and the first-person aspect of the game really allows you to be absorbed into the atmosphere and feel like you're actually in the game. And I say this as a person who personally hates first-person view styles, but Skyrim shall be added to my ever growing list of exceptions.
Gameplay wise, oh where do I even begin? Your gameplay experience will differ the most from what race you select and some will address you differently according to your gender, but that's all. A lot of it is just exploration, discovering new areas and then marking it down on your map so you could pull it up and fast travel to return there at a later time. The compass is also of good use as it shows direction, locations and quest markers. You can fight enemies with swords, iron maces, bows, your fists if you're feeling lucky enough and even magic! When fighting with a melee weapon RT is your attack while LT lets your character block, this comes in extra handy when you're equipped with a sword and shield.
Do keep in mind that if a weapon is too heavy you'll only be able to hold that with both hands and won't have room for a shield. If you want to use a bow on the other hand you need to hold down the RT button to draw the bowstring to full extension and then release it to fire. If you want to cancel a shot simply press the X button. Always mind your stamina when in a battle. When it's too low you won't be much good to anyone. There are potions and food available in order to replenish both health and stamina during battle.
The game has three class archetypes to choose from: The Mage, The Warrior and The Thief. Each class has a set of skills that you can level up the more you use them, and then various perks you can select or save for later. Let's start with The Mage:
There are five major magical skills in Skyrim: Alternation, Conjuration, Destruction, Illusion and Restoration, each one representing a magic school. The success of a spell cast from the school of your choice depends on your perks and skill level in that particular school.
In order to cast a spell you need to equip them in the Character Menu like you would any other weapon. Some spells will cast instantly while others need to be charged in order to work. Keep an eye at your Magicka, as it needs to be high enough in order to cast spells or otherwise you won't be able to. You can replenish Magicka in similar ways you would with your health and stamina.
Enchanting lets your character add magic effects to their armor and weapons. Requirements include a learned enchantment, filled soul gem and an equitable item that has no enchantment yet. You can learn enchantments by taking items to an Arcane Enchanter to be destroyed. Soul gems can be found in the world or created through use of a “Soul Trap” spell that captures a creature's soul in a gem. Keep in mind that some enchantments can only work on weapons or armor and not for both. Weapon enchantments use charges per hit and needs to be recharged when emptied, armor enchantments are permanent.
On The Warrior side of thing you have: Archery, Block, Heavy Armor, One-Handed, Two-Handed and Smithing. When you start fighting you'll be like most people who pick up a sword for the first time, extremely bad at it. Keep at it, raise your skill levels and you'll be kicking chibi in no time flat. This can be extended to all skills in Skyrim pretty much. Here's your first lesson when it comes to using blades.
Locating a forge will allow you to create new weapons and armor just like a Black Smith. The actual forge will let you make them, as long as you have the proper components which can be found or bought, areas like the grindstone and workbench will allow you to sharpen the weapon to improve damage and upgrade your armor. Smelter is where you can take raw ore you found in the world and melt them down into metal ingots, which can later be used to forge weapons and armor. Tanning is a similar outlet to provide components, only it's for making leather.
You don't always have to fight your way through enemies, though. You can sneak. You can pick locks. You can sneak, pick locks and steal things from right under people's noses! The Thief class gives you Alchemy, Light Armor, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sneak and Speech so you can talk your way out of trouble.
As mentioned earlier, you press and hold down on the left control stick in order to sneak. Once crouched down you'll see a sneaking reticle appear on your screen. When it's closed you are hidden, but should it open just half a ways, you're in danger of being caught. When it's opened all the way you can be detected and once the word “detected” is displayed, well, you get the idea. There are also other factors to consider while sneaking, such as your enemy's line of sight, the darkness, movement and sound. If you're hiding behind something then it's unlikely the enemy will see you no matter how good his eyesight. Darkness can help shield you even further and you are harder to detect while motionless. Keep in mind that two-handed weapons make the most noise while one-handed weapons are quieter. Daggers and bows on the other hand are silent.
While crouched you can also pickpocket people. Approach them and then press A to bring up and look at their inventory. Select an item from there to steal, or choose an item of your own to plant on them. If you're caught a crime will be reported (DUH!), I'll talk more about Crime and Punishment in a moment. Just looking however is not a crime.
When you go to pick a lock a new screen will appear, showing you a closeup of the lock and the pick. You rotate the lock with the right control stick and rotate the lockpick with the left. You'll want to steadily move both sticks to make sure the lock is in the correct position and to prevent the lockpick from breaking off.
Remember, it's not a crime if you don't get caught. Caught pickpocketing, picking locks, stealing in general, attacking a man who did you no wrong, trespassing etc. will get you reported. Once the crime is reported a bounty will be placed on your head (don't you feel special) and the price will depend on the offense. This will be limited to the town you're in, the same with the guards who chase you. If you're caught you have three options: pay your bounty, resist arrest or go directly to jail. Paying your fine will avoid arrest, resisting will cause a fight that may be able to be stopped if you yield by sheathing your weapon and going to jail you can either pick the lock of your cell and sneak out, or just serve your time. Serving your time will cause a skill decrease depending on your sentence.
Alchemy allows you to apply ingredients you can find on your travels in order to create potions and poisons on alchemy workbenches to use in battle. Potions apply positive effects on your character while poison is use to add additional damage to your weapon.
With speech you have four types: Persuade, Intimidate, Brawl and Bribe. You can persuade people to do your bidding, intimidate people who try to do you harm, start a brawl or bribe guards. It's especially good when wanting to sell items for more than they're worth and buying them at half their price.
The enemies in the game can range from dragons, spiders, wolves, skeletons, bandits, warriors, giants and a whole butt load of things that the game will make you quickly despise if you play it long enough. One time I even had a thief run up and try to rob me. No joke, people will actually try to rob you, so when that happens Mace them in the face! One thing to look out for is the fact that this is an open-world and one of the dangers that comes with it is that you can stumble upon an enemy that is actually a much higher level than you. You know how when you're playing Final Fantasy II and wandering off too far right can take you to an area where enemies levels are well into the nineties? No? Well then, I'm going to have to review that game some time now aren't I?
By the way, you can be a cook. Finding a cooking pot by a fire allows you to make food with various temporary effects depending on your recipe. Ingredients can be found in your travels across Skyrim.
Now, should you ever be lucky enough to get a horse you approach it with the A button. Gallop by holding down on the LB button and press A again while riding to dismount. Horses can be found in any major city for sell and can be furnished after purchase, just speak with the Jarl's steward in that city to find out more.
The story is simple enough to summarize. The civil war is said to be the last event foretold by the Elder Scrolls to usher in the return of the Dragon-god of destruction, Alduin, who returns to bring complete and utter destruction to the world. A dragon apocalypse, you see. But never fear for you are a “Dovahkiin”. Dragonborn! A man/woman with the body of a mortal and the soul of a dragon. Blessed by the gods to defend the world against Alduin and all dragon threats.
There is a great many things that the game has to offer, and if I were to go over each one I'd be here a very long time. In conclusion: if you're a fan of role-playing games, open-worlds and enjoy medieval times and slaying dragons, Skyrim is perfect for you. The gameplay is fun, the graphics are amazing, the story is simple and the world is vast and glorious. This is ToriJ, Dragonborn, signing off. Wait a minute, if it's my job to slay all the dragons then eventually wouldn't I have to–?