So, thanks to pre-ordering Skyrim a whole three days or so before it came out (I couldn’t decide where I wanted to buy it from) I ended up getting the game from Amazon in the end, and I got it early.
After making sure everyone on Face Book knew I had it, I got down to some playing!
Initial impressions: the map for pre-ordering is very nice. There’s no activate anything code – so Skyrim is second hand purchase friendly. I assume Bethesda is more sensible than everyone else and thinks – people are going to buy our game anyway if they want it.
The game then installs some data to the PS3, alongside an update (already?) and then I can play. One immediate bugbear is there is nooo options menu before starting a game – I really dislike this. I like to fiddle with some options before playing, not starting a save only to pause it straight away to look at some options.
But anyway, with a save started (and some options fiddled with, no subtitles on by default – for shame) I can now see the…disorienting opening to the game. It’s very pretty, sure, but I’m riding on a cart sideways and it looks weird! That can’t just be me, right?
I initially chose to be a female Breton – then (like Peter) after a day of playing and figuring out how everything works started a new save again (a save for keeping this time) playing a female High Elf. Character creation is both extensive – you can change lots of things, but still missing a few details. I get that certain races are certain heights, but people are generally still different heights within a set minimum and maximum – but alas, no height option. Changing the weight doesn’t really make too much of a difference either.
The game looks really nice. Or I think so at least. The world is very pretty, the character models are quite pretty (though my word Breton’s are short and High Elf’s are tall) and it is…quite obviously – Gambyro. Which is fine – there’s nothing wrong with it for the most part. There was an initial stutter the first time I went into character creation, but that was it.
The feeling of being in the world is really nice. There’s animals running around, sounds all around, things cast shadows, leaves fall off trees and the snow looks really nice. All around very nice looking really.
Now, the important part. The underlying levelling/game system. There are no classes for you to pick. You don’t pick High Elf – then Mage. I am a High Elf, and therefore have a Magicka bonus, but that’s it. No downside, I can be a magical warrior or a thief or anything.
You have three main statistics now, rather than the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills from Fallout – Magicka, Health and Stamina. You pick one of these three to boost each time you level up and you level up about fifty times I think. Beyond this, are all the other smaller skills. Like Lock pick, Heavy Armour, or Destruction Magic for example. And these…you level up by using them. Which isn’t actually so bad. You don’t start off crap at everything, using things more will just make you better at it.
The enemies however, (unlike Oblivion, thankfully) don’t get harder and harder as you do. The difficulty is – I assume, determined by the overall difficulty you can pick. There are five difficulties to choose from, ranging from Novice to Master – with the default being the middle option Adept. Which is the one I’m on, and seems pretty reasonable. Bandits and smaller things are pretty easy – you’re first bigger boss is a bit harder, and there are even bigger things that smoosh you (like the really tough giant I wandered into by mistake that just smooshed me).
Reading books you find or buy increases your skills and you can still pay certain people to help you train skills as well – all fine and dandy. On top of this, with each level you gain you can pick a perk, an extra bonus. Like novice spells cost half Magicka, or the ability to dual spell cast. Unlike Fallout however, you don’t have to think really hard to plan these – if you have nothing in mind to pick, you can save the perk point and spend it later.
Moving on from the levelling system, the game has lot of things here and there to do – I wouldn’t call them mini games, but it’s things to make money or items. You can chop wood and sell wood on. You can mine to get ore – to sell or smith you’re own items. You can harvest a whole bunch of items – plants, fungi, flowers, bugs and animals – for either selling to specific people, cooking or alchemy.
The cooking and alchemy system does have a little irritating feature – if I want to make say…three of something. I have to select craft over and over and over. Just a number to craft option would have been nice. The alchemy system is pretty functional – lots of ingredients to experiment with and make potions. You don’t however, have to remember all the items and potions combinations. If you discover something about an item, such as it’s health giving, that property is then listed with the item. Potions you discover through experimentation are also listed afterwards so you can make them easily and quickly.
There is a nice big map system, that’s a 3d map of all things, that allows fast travel.
Other than looking at the system, so far I’ve done the usual picking up everything that isn’t nailed down to sell it (which is, as usual, a bad idea), made an awful lot of food, opened every book I’ve ever come across, and generally enjoyed the game.
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