An Ode to Skyrim

Sometimes, you have high expectations. You read the first announcement, you watch the first trailer and think “what will it be like”? Remember the anticipation before watching the first Lord of the Rings movie (by the way, it only counts if you read the books BEFORE)?

We all wondered what Skyrim would be like. We knew it would be based on the Fallout engine so we roughly knew what we could expect. We thought it would be something like Oblivion – a minor upgrade at least, an epic adventure at best.

As it turns out, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is all that – and ten times more. Bethesda just created a masterpiece. Simple as that.
Skyrim is maybe the best sandbox game ever so far. It is a sandbox in its purest form: Here’s the world, it’s your oyster, do whatever you like. There are no gameplay hindrances such as a simplistic good/evil bar or blocked-off areas. Of course, there are consequences, but they might be realised only in the long term: Getting caught stealing and murdering can be expensive, and should you level up your non-fighting skills too much you might not live long enough to regret it, especially if a giant kicks you to the moon. But then again, you want to experiment with alchemy, enchanting and smithing because they offer great rewards.

And the world of Skyrim is simply gorgeous. From the breath-taking snowy peaks (is there anything cooler than being in the middle of a blizzard?), the dark, moist marshes with lurking Spriggans, the different towns and villages to the amazing dungeons – Rabidgames might have visited around 20 and they all look different (in your face, Dragon Age 2) – Skyrim is that amazing you can get lost just exploring the landscape. Hell, you can jump into a river and let the current do the work for you. Once, Rabidgames found a poor dead traveller at the bottom of a big waterfall. It’s not just the scenery – all the tiny details make the realm of Skyrim believable: The world does not feel like a generic fantasy world, it feels like a real universe full of myths, lore and people.

The books give away tons of knowledge (one even explains the story of Oblivion) or just nice little jokes (remember the old RPG books which told you to go to page 23 in order to attack the troll with a kitchen knife?). The bards, usually found in Inns, are just a simple but amazing feature to create a dense atmosphere. You can even join the Bard’s guild. If you become a thane in a hold, you get away with minor crimes easily. Rabidgames could go on and on about all those details for hours.

And a big kudos to Bethesda for one more reason: Not only did they create an awesome game, they also gave the finger to everything that’s wrong with the video games industry these days: No fragmented pre-order bonus crap, no Day 1 DLC, no fucking codes whatsoever … No signs of casualisation, no thoughts about an action-mode, no holding your hand, no tacked-on multiplayer.

Of course, Skyrim has its problems, too. But they are all of technical nature: Missing HD textures on the 360 are a pain, crashes on PC as well, and the save file bug on the PS3 can completely ruin the game! But in terms of gameplay, Skyrim knocks on the door of perfection. Here’s the thing: After 25 hours of Skyrim, Rabidgames cannot point the finger on even one negative gameplay-related aspect. Not one!

Rabidgames admits: He loves Skyrim. Never before has Rabidgames played a game that immersive, that detailed and that awesome. Bethesda even worked on Oblivion’s weakest point, the main story. Rabidgames actually wants to know what happens next. But the ‘problem’ is – on the way there, you can and you will get distracted and do ten other things. Why? Because you can, of course! Skyrim really provides you with interesting quests, places or just hunting deer for hours.

Skyrim is a huge adventure brimming over with immersion, details, freedom and fun. It easily exceeds all expectations and might even define what console RPG should look, feel and play like from now on. With Skyrim as competition, poor Bioware might fall into oblivion soon …

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