Skyrim, 2 years on…

One aspect of my New Years Resolution for 2014 is to write more often.  NaBloPoMo 2013 was an excellent way to get me writing again after a significant time away, but I want to ensure that my writing won’t get stale and laboured again, so I will be trying to blog twice per month from now on (and hopefully at least once per month).  I will be talking a bit more about changes I’m trying to make in my second post for the month, but for now I want to talk a bit about Skyrim.

I purchased the Legenday edition of Skyrim for the PS3 in November. I wanted to pack my XBOX 360 away to make room for a PlayStation 4, but I was reluctant to do so in case I ever wanted to go back to playing Skyrim. Since I had no intentions of packing up my PS3 and hadn’t yet purchased any of the DLC for the game, I thought that the Legendary edition was my best option. From a technical perspective, the game runs much better after all the patches, though the load times can still be uncomfortably long and the frame rate still chugs when you first enter towns. It is, however, totally playable at this point.

As I mentioned in a few of my NaBloPoMo posts, Skyrim is my favourite game of Generation 7. While I still stand by my choice, I have to admit that until just this week, I had never finished the Main quest line, or the also important Civil War quest line. The meta game of dungeon delving, buying, crafting, and selling was almost always the biggest draw toward Skyrim for me, and it was interesting enough that I didn’t need the mediocre story messing that up. Finally, after two years of back and forth between the two, I was able to complete some of my most significant objectives in the game: both meta and ortho.

I completed the Main quest line. The story, of course, wasn’t particularly interesting, but it was fun to play. I especially enjoyed the environment of Blackreach, an enormous Dwarven settlement. It was a fascinating place to explore, even if Falmer and Chaurus enemies make me terribly uncomfortable. I thought that the armistice discussions in A Season Unending were also interesting, and forced me to read more about Skyrim’s political history like the Great War, and the treaty with the Aldmeri Dominion. I had never paid much attention to these elements of the story before this series of play sessions. I knew that Nords didn’t much like the Thalmor due to their involvement with banning the worship of Talos in Skyrim, but I hadn’t ever absorbed much more than that.

Learning more about the Great War made the Civil War quest line a little awkward for me. While I knew that the Stormcloaks were racist against other groups, my character was a Nord and I had resolved to join tthat side of the war long before I started playing again in December, but I’m not sure if I like how things turned out in the end. The replacement Jarls were a little creepy, even after A Season Unending. I liked Balgruuf and Laila Law-Giver (though I’m assuming she became Jarl again after the Stormcloaks won the civil war — I didn’t check). The guy in Markarth was a little sketchy, but his replacement, Thongvor Silver-Blood was far worse.

There were just so many wider political issues at stake in the conflict as well. I agree that the people of Skyrim should have had the right to worship Talos as they saw fit, and I think that they deserved the right to be autonomous if that’s what they wanted, but I’m not sure Ulfric Stormcloak much cared about any of that. Ulfric seemed far more interested in his own power to me, and even in creating his own empire, than he did for the people of Skyrim. While he was tolerant of other races in Windhelm, I can’t support his segregation of the Dunmer and Argonians in various parts of the city. The racial elements of the Stormcloak cause were a great source of discomfort for me. All that said, I’m not sure the Empire was working particularly well either. I may watch a Let’s Play of that side of the story to see if their aims may have been more palatable, but I’m pretty sure it would also be a mixed bag of motivations and justifications. All that said, I was level 35 by the time I got to the Civil War quest, and it was pretty fun killing off large waves of Imperial soldiers in two hits apiece.

I also felt that both the main quests had difficult endings. I found it hard to accept that the Dragonborn would fade in to obscurity after singlehandedly solving both the dragon problem and the civil war problem. I know that this is necessary to allow the player to continue to explore the enormous world after the main quest is over, but I still found it a little difficult to accept. I wonder if this is something Bethesda will try to think about a little more in the next Elder Scrolls game, though with all the controversy that’s happened around this issue in the Fallout series, I think they may not bother doing much about it.

And so I will now be taking a nice, long break from Skyrim. Aside from those two large quest lines, I finally was able to get the 100k gold achievement, purchase and upgrade all of the city houses (and Lakeview Manor near Falkreath), and discover all 13 Standing Stones. I still have a fair amount I’d like to accomplish, however. I would like to try out the Dragonborn DLC and travel to Solsheim and get the 10 sidequests achievement. Eventually, I’ll get there.


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