At long last I started playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to digest the Official Game Guide (still available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble) but it’s an avalanche of information that is really best served once you’ve started a game. This isn’t time I’ve tried an Xbox 360 game. The last one I played was Assassin’s Creed 3, which tells you I didn’t have time to really get into it. I dabbled with an earlier version of Call of Duty and oddly enough had aptitude with one of the Madden games. That was my attempt to learn about American football (NFL). I’m still trying to get into that. Anyway over the summer we fired up ye old Nintendo GameCube (I blame Co-Optitude for that.) and I had so much fun. It was time for me start playing video games again but only one and for maybe one or two hours a week. Since I’ve never played a Role Playing Game (RPG) and Skyrim happened to be in the house, call it Kismet!
Since its release in 2011, this game has not only garnered widespread critical acclaim but become a fan favourite. I’ve heard so much about Skyrim on Nerdist Channel and Geek & Sundry among others. They carry on like it’s the best thing since sliced bread and now I wholeheartedly agree! The game starts with four prisoners (including you) being taken to the town of Helgen in a horse-drawn cart. You start getting on-screen instructions for things like turning your head and plot points from the other prisoners’ interactions. Even at this early stage, you can rotate your view 360° and see a fully-realised environment with landscape, characters, animals, fire, buildings, etc. It’s very cool. When you finally get out of the cart and realise all the prisoners are being executed, it’s time to choose your character. This was an agonising decision. Seriously guys, I’ve been contemplating this for days now! There are ten races in this game: Argonians (Lizard People), Khajiit (Cat People), Dark Elves, High Elves, Wood Elves, Orc, Redguards, Bretons, Nords and Imperials. Each has advantages and disadvantages, which are painstakingly described in the game guide. So I was overwhelmed by the aforementioned avalanche of information but thought it would be a hoot to be a lizard or cat. Despite telling myself not to end up as a walking digital cliché, I chose a High Elf (Altmer) because they’re magical. Not for the pointy ears…because they have pointy ears.
My character’s name is Chaconia. Yes, she’s a Trini to d bone. Although she doesn’t know it yet is The Dragonborn, which makes her the chief star girl of the story. She has black hair and light skin like me, but that’s where our similarities end. Chaconia is tall and I’m getting an unexpected kick out of being at least a head taller than most of the other characters. My nephew warned that High Elves are insufferable snobs. Think Thranduil, King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood in Lord of the Rings. However that comes with the territory as powerful beings and one of the land’s original races. I’m not worried though because Chaconia will handle any shade thrown her way. As soon as I finished creating her, other characters started treating her accordingly. Hadvar, a Nord guard was surprised that a High Elf was slated for execution, promising to send her remains to the Summerset Isles, which is where her people live. The Captain on the other hand was eager to separate Chaconia’s head from her shoulders.
Chaconia’s head was on the chopping block when a dragon attacked and escaped certain death with help from Hadvar. (There’s another character named Ralof, a fellow prisoner from the cart, who would also help your character if you chose to follow him.) Certain death was avoided with his help and this quest called Unbound was also the game’s basic tutorial. I lost Hadvar during the dragon attack and in a panic didn’t see that the manual’s instruction that pressing the controller’s Right Stick (RS) switched between 1st and 3rd person views. This would have been helpful especially when I kept walking into a wall. Thankfully the kid told me what to do and I felt like a noob…because I am a noob. Hadvar led me out of Helgen’s ruin and through a forest towards Riverwood where his Uncle Alvor lives.
Along the way, Chaconia acquired weapons, a change of clothes, learned to pick a lock, fight, sneak and encountered Standing Stones. I chose to be blessed by The Warrior Stone, thus increasing combat skills 20% faster. At this point, I intend for Chaconia to become a deadly assassin/fearsome warrior with mad magicka skills. She has facial scars – a sign of her violent and mysterious past. (See that, guys! I’m role playing. Woot woot!) Of course Chaconia might end up with rubbish magicka skills because her life depends on my choices. If I choose to focus more on combat then Chaconia will be a better warrior. If I decide that she’ll be a thief then I’ll have to focus more on pickpocketing. I don’t have to check the Skill Constellations to see that my thievery skill set levels are low because I haven’t stolen anything. The game keeps a check on how fast you improve and in what fields, then automatically adjusts to suit.
Another interesting aspect about Skyrim is that unlike other games where your character follows a specific path dictated by missions or in this case, quests, you can wander around exploring everything in this world for as long as you like – everything! How you play affects your character’s growth and interactions with others as the story progresses. You need to use skills like blacksmithing. This is how armour and weapons can be improved or even created. I got to do that at Alvor’s house and intend to pop back there after finishing Before The Storm. Or I could leave the outskirts of Whiterun and go back to Riverwood before resuming the quest. There’s no rush. It might not also be a bad idea to go hunting so I can tan animal hides into leather, which is an important raw material for smithing along with steel and iron ingots. I’ve also found some stuff that I can sell (or trade?). Full disclosure: I’ve taken stuff from dead people, a few of whom I killed because they were trying to kill me. (Stripped ‘em bare.) There are also opportunities to steal weapons and pick pockets but I don’t feel comfortable leading Chaconia into a life of crime already. She’s only about two hours old, for goodness sake!
This game has a huge backstory. This is the fifth instalment in the Elder Scrolls series and a lot of stuff has gone down on this continent called Tamriel. Don’t worry. I’ll spare you the endless details and stick to stuff that affects Chaconia. There are people out there who know everything about that world and more power to them but I don’t want all of that in my brain. My goals are to make some stuff, do some stuff, grow some stuff, build some stuff, hire people to watch over my stuff and maybe even get married. This is all part of having a grand time playing Skyrim. Imagine if you get caught stealing stuff then guards will be looking for you and this could mean jail time – actual jail time! There’ll be a bounty on your head which you’ll have to pay or get locked up. It’s okay to kill people if they see you commit a crime. Holy cow! Committing crimes and killing witnesses? I don’t think I can do that…or maybe Chaconia can? We’ll find out eventually.