I know you guys know by this point, or at least you should have guessed, that I am a colossal nerd. I love all things Doctor Who, Marvel, Firefly, or otherwise sci-fi/fantasy/super hero related.
My “Wall of TARDIS” that sits behind my bed.
What you may not have guessed, because I don’t talk about it much, is that I am also a pretty avid gamer. I’m also an incredibly cheap one, and won’t buy anything that’s not on sale or costs more than $10, but that’s another story.
So when I came home for Thanksgiving break, I knew the gaming sites would be having their Black Friday sales soon. I did not realize that they would start a few days before Thanksgiving, or that my number one most wanted game would be on sale. But there it was when I opened up Steam. Their sale had begun and Skyrim was on sale for less than $5. How could I possibly say no?
Actually, it turns out that, given a really good sale, it is fairly impossible for me to say no anyway. I bought a total of 7 games over break, which are as follows in order of how much I think I’m going to enjoy them: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Portal 2, Terraria, Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, and Portal. I very narrowly passed up the opportunity to buy Goat Simulator, because I really want to play it, but cannot justify spending any amount of money on it. Now I have no idea if this list is accurate or not (other than the first position), but I guess the only way to find out is to actually play them.
He he he.
Getting back to Skyrim now. If you don’t know what the game is, I’ll explain. Basically, it’s an open world, over-the-top, do-whatever-you-want, fantasy adventure with dragons sprinkled on the top. In a word: awesome. I highly recommend it. It’s worth every penny of the $20 it usually costs, and at less than $5, it’s a downright steal.
But be warned, if you do buy this game, expect every minute of your free time to be spent down the newly formed inescapably pit that is Skyrim. I feel I may have made an awful mistake in beginning to play this game before final were over.
That said, after plunging headlong into the game and spending what Steam tells me is 42 hours playing it, I have learned a few things both about the game and about myself.
1. Don’t kill the chickens
Most of the game is spent fending off bandits, hacking undead zombies apart, and shooting every furry bunny that runs across your path just so that you can increase your archery skill. Which is all well and good, or course, but all that slashing and shooting can make you forget that some animals belong to the NPCs (non-playable characters, for the video game illiterate), and you can incur a penalty for killing them. I did not know this. Or rather, I suspected it, but kinda wanted to test it out. I also wasn’t entirely sure you could kill the farm animals.
So one day, after figuring out how to use my shiny new flames power, I walked out of a tavern (because that’s how all good stories begin), and I saw a chicken sitting on the ground in front of me.
I looked at the chicken.
I looked at my flaming hand.
I looked back at the chicken.
And then I set its feathery little behind on fire. Turns out you can kill chickens. I saw a little notification pop up that my bounty had increased to $40.
And then EVERYONE IN THE FREAKING TOWN came after me with everything they had. I tried to defend myself, but I was so surprised that I ended up pausing the game and just staring at the screen. Finally, I reloaded the game to the point before I had killed the chicken. This time, I walked up to the chicken, stared at it angrily, and then moved on.
I learned later that if you put down your weapons, the people should stop attacking. That’s good to know, but it doesn’t explain why they took a mere chicken killing as a declaration of war on their entire town.
So don’t toast the chickens. It’s not worth it.
2. I’m a jerk to followers
In Skyrim, you occasionally have an opportunity to choose to have a particular NPC follow you around and help you in battle. Now, that sounds awesome. Who wouldn’t want to have a friend to take on your bandit-camp-pillaging and zombie-slaying adventures. However, the reality is a little more inconvenient. Followers aren’t much for conversation, they don’t follow orders very well, and they get in the way all the time. That said, they are useful in other ways.
I will admit that I mainly use my followers as human shields and pack mules. Which is kind of awful. The first time I watched one of my followers rush into battle ahead of me only to end up on beaten into the ground, I feel I should have felt pity or concern. Instead, I sensed an opportunity. I realized I could use them as a human (or elf, as the case may be) shield, while I increased my archery skill from a safe distance.
You see, the baddies in the game seem to be programmed to attack the closest thing to them. So I’ll run in, shoot someone, and then back out while my companion rushes in and takes the brunt of the damage, and I reap all the benefits.
I also dump all of my junk on them until I can’t dump anymore. I also accidentally shoot them. A lot.
Which makes me kind of a jerk to my followers. Turns out that this can backfire after a while, especially the turning a follower into a pack mule part. I finally had one of my followers get killed in the middle of a battle. I didn’t realize how much I was depending on my follower until she dropped dead of an arrow wound (which might have been from me, but I’m assuming it wasn’t so I won’t have that on my conscience) in the middle of battle, and I was forced to deal with a horde of angry mages all on my own. I ended up not being able to get through the cave by myself, AND I had to leave behind all the cool weaponry and artifacts that my follower had been carrying in that cave because I couldn’t carry all of it myself. I had my best stuff on me, but I’m still mad about losing all the other stuff.
3. This game forces me to make moral choices, and I don’t like it
Most games I’ve played in the past have given me a very clear cut good guy/bad guy dynamic. It’s not like I’ve never played the bad guy before. I have, but I’m used to at least knowing it and knowing who to fight. I’ve played games like Assassin’s Creed where the main character’s virtues were questionable, but I knew who the bad guys were. But in Skyrim, you can’t know.
Both sides in the major plot line have their good sides and bad sides. The Empire is made up of a bunch of spineless wimps who won’t stand up for their own people. But they do seem to genuinely want to help, and their peace treaty seems to be the only thing holding Skyrim together. The rebel Stormcloaks on the other hand are for the people and self-government to an extent. But most of them are really racist…
To continue the main plot line, I will have to join one side or the other. But it’s hard to make a clear choice on who is the best. Neither seems to be really bad, but neither is really good. There’s no black and white to this war. It’s kind of like reality.
The only people that I can say are legit bad guys would be the evil elven group called the Thalmor, the bandits or dark mages that attack me for no reason, and the dragons that keep attacking random towns. It’s nice to have these, but I’m still annoyed that I have to choose a side in the main conflict.
The main story isn’t the only place you have to choose. There are numerous other side quests that force you to make a moral choices. Often, it’s a matter of choosing between what seems to be the right thing and what will give you the best payout. I know it’s just a video game, but I have to wonder what it says about me if I decide to kill some random innocent guy just because I want a cool staff.
There’s a lot more to the game, and I think I’ve got a few hundred more hours of gaming in the Skyrim world ahead of me, but this post is long enough. If you guys like it, I might do other gaming posts in the future. I can think of quite a few things to say about The Sims 3, for instance.
P.S. Sorry for not posting in a while. School’s been taking up all of my time, but another break is right around the corner. Hopefully, I remember to post this time.
P.P.S. If you are interested in more funny and philosophical content about video games, I highly recommend checking out the videos of Goldvision on YouTube.