Quite surprised at myself today. Throughout this week I’ve been sticking to my 90m Skyrim limit, although that resolved itself into just two days of actually having time to play, but today when the pressure was off a little bit I ended up playing for about four hours. I didn’t think I would do something like that.

So I’m uninstalling it for now to prevent this happening again, and so I thought I’d note down a few comments on my experience so far to see how they compare to when I reinstall it, which probably won’t be until after this academic year I imagine.

Overall I’m not too impressed. The game’s presentation is in general very good, in that I like the style they’ve gone for, and the NPCs are often interesting and enjoyable to listen to. Particularly, dungeons look absolutely great, with a variety of visuals and lights and whatever. I haven’t done many quests and I am told these are very good and that they may change my opinion of the game, and yeah I have enjoyed the parts of the main quest that I’ve done and I like the equivalent of the Mage’s Guild, the setup is nice. Also I want to learn more about what happened after the Oblivion Crisis and why Vvardenfell is uninhabitable. I’d quite like to know what’s going on with the High Elves.

There have, though, been major holes in the presentation during this questing that have bothered me. Firstly the outskirts of Whiterun looks terrible. It’s bleak but not in a cool way. Then when you kill your first Dragon and this involves attempting to defend the city of Whiterun, you are sent with a troop of I think five soldiers, which is pathetic: this is a massive threat to what is perhaps the capital city of Skyrim, you should have an army at your back! The Mage’s Guild base feels rather barren of people once you’re inside (aside from the library, which is really really cool), though I do like the “magic is academia” thing they have going, more impressively than in Oblivion and Morrowind. They even have the academic paper writing style in some of the (fantasy) academic texts in there down pat, it’s pretty sweet, and they manage to make it cool.

My issue is that beyond this prettiness, and some decent enough questing at least when you compare with Oblivion, there is absolutely nothing else that stands out to me. It does not have Morrowind’s two massive strengths, the alien uniqueness of its world and the extremely-strange-at-first uniqueness of its hard-nosed adventuring. If the former of these comes when you’re more invested in the game, then I hope to discover that at some point in the future, but I haven’t seen it yet. It certainly doesn’t have the latter, which I guess is fair enough as it would not appeal to today’s audience. And so we just have a standard enough sequel to Oblivion, which I didn’t like, so I’m just not bothered.

As for the more direct gameplay, that is the combat, it’s okay, but I don’t see it as a major advance on Oblivion. In general, I really do feel like I’m playing an Oblivion expansion or something with some UI improvements, and some simplification of character progression. I keep referring to the game as ‘Oblivion’ to myself and others.

I am definitely aware that part of this is that I have, very sadly, grown out of immersion single-player games to a certain extent. This is sad because I used to get so much out of such experiences, I mean Morrowind was such a worthwhile use of my teenage years, I maintain. The only reason I spent four hours playing today was procrastination, really. So for now I’ll get back to StarCraft, which doesn’t really work for procrastination in quite the same way.

I just want to hear “you n’wah” as I get charged by a bunch of dark elves in a elegantly constructed dungeon with wooden walkways suspended over water deep in the bowels of the earth.