Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you must have heard all about the release of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The internet is absolutely smothered with reviews, articles, posts and tweets about this hugely anticipated game and I’m sure you will have already seen the great acclaim it’s (deservedly) getting. So I’m not going to bother writing a proper review and will just ramble a little bit, as I feel I would be remiss in my duties were I not to at least say something about it.
It’s bloody brilliant. I’ve carefully removed my rose tinted spectacles about past games of legend and I’m steering clear of the immense stupidity of trying to be cool NME style with their “slag it off cos it’s popular” bollocks. As a result I think it is safe to say that this is the best RPG of all time, one of the best games of any format ever and is certainly the new benchmark in creating a truly organic feeling gameworld. Normally one could assume these would be bold fanboi style claims, yet this time round they’re really not. Skyrim is an exceptional game and one of the best I have ever played.
However, that does not mean everyone will like it. People that like games of little depth or just want constant mob spam gun waving action of BLLLAAARRGHHH!!! may well not get on with Skyrim. That’s not a criticism of their gameplay desires, but it should be recognised that Skyrim is a massive true RPG and as such takes time and effort to play. I’m absolutely loving it and have put almost all other gaming on hold (our KF Bloodbowl league is the only exception).
What I’ve found interesting from my MMO skewed view is just how much Skyrim highlights the abject failure of recent MMOs to create a living, breathing gameworld that aren’t just graphics with sterile feeling spawn points. When it comes to creating a world with an immersive atmosphere, where it actually feels that bit more alive, Skyrim has absolutely nailed it. Nailed it hard... HARD! With a huge bloody hammer wielded by a very angry Viking. It’s so good that despite the game having horse drawn coaches that can take you to towns you’ve not been to before, I’ve actually not used one once. I prefer walking and in fact I’ve not even rode a horse yet. Seriously, I have walked for bloody miles and it was fun. Walking… fun? Unusual I know, but it’s actually enjoyable just travelling through Skyrim’s vast landscape. And there’s a damned good chance that you’ll be having a bit of adventure on the way.
I don’t think there’s any one thing that I could say is the reason the world feels so much more real, it’s more a combination of many factors; the dynamic weather, the way mobs interact with each other, the scale of everything, the way the land has been hand crafted, etc. In theory you could take all of the things that make Skyrim’s world feel so alive and put it into an MMO, but you’d immediately hit big problems when Gandullf and NoobRaper turn up spamming /dance macros and farming mobs faster than they can respawn. To be honest it’s probably unfair to compare a single player game with a multiplayer one, they have very different problems to deal with and I imagine the developers have different goals, but as a player that doesn’t really matter, it’s not my problem. As RPG gaming experiences they are comparable and that difference in immersion and quality stands out like a sore thumb.
Skyrim is easily my game of the year; in just a few days I’ve had more “O M G that looks amaaaaaaaaaaazing” moments and unscripted scenes of epic drama than I have in months of other games. I’m already considering how I’ll replay it totally differently (sneaky murdering rogue style next!) when I’ve finished the game, which judging by the size of the thing I imagine will be sometime in 2013…