Thursday, March 1, 2012

115 Hours Later and I Finally Beat Skyrim

I'm not a hardcore gamer on a whole. I've been playing video games since my parents brought home a Nintendo w/Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Mike Tyson's Punch Out one day as a kid, but ever since college, really, gaming has been a hobby more than an obsession. This doesn't mean I don't have my moments - I've logged an embarrassing amount of time in Team Fortress 2, for example - but it's rare these days for a game to essentially take over my entire life.

Then came Skyrim.

I never played Oblivion, mostly because first person anything tends to rub me the wrong way. But I had some gift certificates, and the entire internet was going crazy over Skyrim, so I jumped on board. The next thing I know, my 12 day Christmas vacation from work involved putting in probably 50 hours into Skyrim, my wife started worrying for my sanity, and all was lost. After 115 hours, I finally beat it, though. I didn't finish everything, mind you - still some leftover quests and such, but the main quest and most of the side stuff is complete. I rarely accomplish that these days, even with immersive RPGs that I'm enjoying. And Skyrim left me with a lot on my mind.

* This game is, by far, the most engaging experience in a video game I've ever had. There is so much going on, so much to explore and do? It's really ridiculous. When people are talking about the size and scope of this game, they're really not kidding, and you ultimately don't care that the game is ridiculously large. In every area, there really are tons of people with tons of stuff going on. I can't imagine actually finishing every quest because, even after finishing the main storyline, I was still finding people with things for me to do in the first town you end up in. It's absolutely crazy.

* Forget morality meters. Fable has them, and I thought that Infamous handled it fairly well until I finished Skyrim. The reason morality in the game works is because you truly don't have to worry about doing anything that will make you lose powers or items or whatever if you're trying to play like a good guy and accidentally kill an innocent. The game truly doesn't care about your morals, but presents the storyline and the characters so well that you feel invested in doing right or wrong. Want to be a psychopath? The game will reward you with being chased out of a city with a pack of guards nipping at your heels. Want to be a moral, upstanding citizen? The people will thank you when you decide not to defraud them or notify them of bad things happening. I know this isn't exactly new, and Oblivion likely did this as well, but it felt really fresh and different for me.

* I hate collecting things, and I hate encumbrance rules. The D&D game I'm in doesn't worry about encumbrance, thankfully, but Skyrim drove me up a wall with them, to be honest. I tend to play games like a packrat - take everything in the event that you might need it sometime in the future. The next thing you know, you have 5 copies of The Lusty Argonian Maid and you don't have anywhere to put 'em. Oh, you can buy a house, but the bookcases only hold 18 books a piece. Thus, you're stashing rat tails in your end table, food in barrels, drag bones in chests, etc. It's ridiculous and unnecessary. And, of course, I didn't use nearly any of the stuff I looted over time. I beat the game using another mace I got in a quest early on - it just didn't matter much.

* I played the game on my 360, and if I have any regrets, it's that I didn't buy it for the PC. There are some slowness issues that my PC might have handled better, and the modding community for Skyrim is nothing short of super-impressive. Nothing wrong overall with the 360 version (although I hear the PS3 version is kind of problematic), but if you're still on the fence and can play games on your PC without too many problems, do it.

* Finally, the weirdest thing. Skyrim owned my life for two and a half months, essentially. I finished it on Monday night this week, and I have zero interest in picking it up again. I just want to throw my hands up and say "yup, that was great, thanks for the good times." I know some people sad it's over, but, for all the good times we had, I'm really, really glad to have my life back. Maybe that's part of being an adult gamer? Either way, 115 hours is great value for a game even at full price.

Of course, when the DLC finally plops, we'll see how my resolve is...


  1. IT IS TRUE!!! Skyrim has an end???

    I have nooo idea what I'm supposed to do or what is the main storyline is I'm just doing whatever quest sounds interesting.

    At the moment I'm trying to finish the thieves guild stuff which is hilarious. I'm trying to find all stealthy ways to get past some guards and then I turn around to see Lydia and my dog have killed everyone. "I said wait there goddamit!"

    The latest ps3 patch has fixed all the lag issues but has added a little bit on the loading times. It makes going into towns and then into multiroom places a bit of a chore. Like the elevator in Mass Effect 2

  2. Well, it's not so much a *true* end as much as you beat what you're supposed to beat and you know you're essentially done. Underwhelming if you're looking for something big and pronounced, but that's not what this is about.