Pointless Nonsense

Posted in video games by Bill on July 12, 2014

skyrimThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is too much like Bethesda’s Fallout games. It has all the things I hate about those games only more so. And the fantasy setting doesn’t appeal to me as much as the post-apocalyptic retro-futuristic thing Fallout does.

Probably the biggest problem in Fallout 3 and New Vegas is that you spend too much time fiddling with your inventory to get under your carry weight. In Skyrim it’s unbearable. The mouse pointer has a really narrow tip so that it’s kind of hard to click accurately, and when you misclick on the inventory headings, you exit out of the inventory entirely. Your carry weight isn’t displayed while interacting with vendors. The value and weight of items isn’t displayed unless you select them. And of course there’s no way to sort by either weight or value, because that would be too useful.

The next biggest problems in New Vegas was the roads not being clearly marked on your map, so you try to go directly to your destination only to run into a mountain. At least in Fallout 3, your obstacles were usually buildings, so you could tell you couldn’t pass over them. But with mountains, sometimes it looks like you can make it over and you don’t know until you’re 6 feet from the top that there’s an invisible wall in your way. Skyrim does the same thing, except there are mountains everywhere. And even when you’re on a road, dirt roads are poorly defined and you can lose track of which way the road goes. Snowing doesn’t make it any easier.

I think I must have been doing things in the wrong order or something? Because I keep being told to go to dungeons that I’m clearly not high enough level to be in. I say clearly, but it’s not clear at all at first. I’m two-hit killing things at the entrance, so I think this is totally appropriate for me. Then I get a little further and I’m using healing potions like crazy. And then the boss one shot kills me.

Having visited all the nearby places with quests on my map and found them too difficult, I went further out, finding a new city and acquiring new quests I couldn’t do. So I went after the far-away locations, and of course spent about a half an hour circling a mountain range unable to actually get to the places I was trying to get to, despite a narrow line on my map through the mountains that sure as hell looked like a road but I guess it was just a coffee stain or something. Fallout New Vegas at least had a much better designed world. If you headed down a road to the north from your starting town, a Cazadore would show up and kill you very quickly, so you knew not to go there. It was a nice way to prod you to go south instead, where the lower level content was. Here I don’t even know. The random wilderness enemies all seem very easy, even when they’re adjacent to a cave full of crap that kills me.

I was presented with several opportunities to join factions, but at no point has any distinction between the factions become clear. I mean, they are fighting each other, but other than disagreeing over who should rule, I don’t understand their argument or why I should pick one side over the other. Like the Imperials were going to execute me for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the Stormcloaks seem borderline interested in ethnic cleansing (they are Nords and don’t like the idea of being ruled by non-Nords). My only instinct so far is that one side’s court wizard lady is voiced by the woman who voiced Wonder Woman on the Justice League cartoon, and that just sort of makes me want to do what she says. I mean, it’s Wonder Woman, she wouldn’t lead me astray, right?

Combat is kind of weird. It’s first person and you click to attack. So when you’re fighting with a sword, you walk right up to stuff and click like crazy. Then it moves, and you try to follow, and you end up slashing your companion, and oh guess what when they are killed by friendly fire they die permanently. It worked a little better when I switched to an archer companion, but despite being this expert archer guy, if I give him a sword or axe or hammer to hold because I’m at my weight limit, he’ll use it. And then get killed by my friendly fire. I’m not sure magic or archery would have been a better choice, because it seems even easier to kill your companion that way.

There seem to be way too many crafting discipline. You can make weapons, armor, jewellery, potions, poisons, cook food, enchant weapons, improve weapons, improve armor, destroy enchanted weapons to learn their enchantment… your inventory is flooded with crafting recipe items.

The game is not without positives. You get a variety of goofy European accents, from Swarzenegger to the Family Guy’s two foreign guys that almost don’t have accents to Swedish Chef. I haven’t decided if I’m going to pick it back up, but I’m definitely taking a break. The game at this point is just frustrating as hell.

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