I just went looking for some snapshots from Elder Scrolls — Skyrim to post here. I looked in my own collection and the I looked online. There are many shots, but none of them (so far) convey the vastness of the game or the scale of the experience. I suppose I’ll have to get back to you on that. Right now we’re here for some initial impressions of the game and some initial thoughts on what’s good and bad.
I’m not doing a full review here. The game is vast and it will be quite a long time before I approach finishing it. I’ve only barely scratched the surface of the main quest and only finished one questline (for the mage’s guild). There’s likely going to be a few post on this topic here.
On the good side, I’m favorably amazed with the new dialog system. There have been a number of things tried. In Oblivion, we zoomed into the target face for a wooden presentation. Similarly in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, a static shot. In Mass Effect (the original), we tried to have dialogue “scenes” that were semi-directed. There were even some scenes of dialogue with more than two people (the scenes in the conference room after major missions, for instance). This was expanded in Mass Effect 2 where fewer multi-person dialogues were had, but the direction and shot-to-shot cutting was more complex.
New in Skyrim is that you’re not entirely frozen. You can look around to a limited amount. You can even (mostly) hit tab and walk away … forcefully ending a conversation you’re not vested in. The “looking around” is somewhat limited … your head turning gets slower as you get further away from the speaker. Maybe this is a concession to the idiot factor, but it feels like an acceptable one. You’re still choosing from a list of topics, but I don’t think we’re going to loose that one for awhile.
The most amazing new thing, however, is the multi-person chats. You start talking to one character. Another character walks into the conversation and you are unlocked from the first character … in effect “passed” to the next character to which you’re going to address. This can happen fluidly with even more than two other characters. The only downside I see here is that the game must predict which character you’re going to address next, but it’s a small downside in that hitting ‘tab’ releases you.
Also good is the dragon combat. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but the game sorta drops the dragons on you … I don’t know how random the event is, but it seems to trigger and “happen” without too much relation to what you’re doing. There might be some places where you won’t fight (like inside?), but one dragon dropped on me in the small courtyard of the mage’s guild (which is pretty tight quarters for such a large creature) and another fight happened in the nearby town — it largely landed on the rooftops where the town’s main street is too narrow for it.
But the combat itself is challenging without being overwhelming. The dragon is a flyer, but it stops every so often. I choose the dark elf for 50% fire resistance as a race ability — so far the dragons have been fire-breathing, but that might not hold. Certainly in Oblivion, where most of the Oblivion monsters were fire based, the dark elf was a good chioce.
But that leads us to the one real downer I’ve encountered so far. When you fight your first dragon, you learn your first shout. It’s a pretty big deal. And you’re going to try it a few times. More than a few. Your words are so powerful, they knock people back. Cool.
Shortly thereafter, you head back to the nearby city where shouting a few times will bring the city guard to ask you to stop as you’re keeping people awake (might also only happen at night, I don’t know). You also quickly talk to quite a few people who tell you that you are “dragon born” and that your appearance during what amounts to a civil war seems to have meaning. Certainly dragon born are rare.
But then (and here’s the downside) you go off to do things in the world and people don’t seem to notice this “difference” of yours. Even though it’s loud or rather obvious. Then you end up killing a dragon single handedly in front of someone and then absorb the dragons soul (it’s all very dramatic) and they hardly notice or comment.
I get it: coding for every contingency is time and budget consuming in a game. doubly so when it needs to be voiced. But the single thing that makes you (the player character) special in Skyrim is being “Dovahkiin” (dragon born) and it seems petty that this isn’t recognized more often.