Thursday, May 29, 2014

Leaving things on the ground

I have been playing Skyrim these past few days.  I bought it because of my experience with Wildstar, specifically the scripted, no choice opening sequences that made no sense.  People have generally given Skyrim fantastic reviews and praised the openness and freedom of the game so I thought I would give it a whirl.  That, and the price has understandably cratered in the two years since the game launched.

I gotta say, I love leaving things in the dungeon.  Skyrim is full of crap.  Linen wrappings sitting on shelves in a dungeon full of mummy type critters is so perfect and I can pick up those linen wrappings and vendor them back in town for a pittance.  Every monster I fight has arrows sticking out of them that I can retrieve, axes I can cart away, and shoes I can pillage.  I am completely free to pick up every damn object in the dungeon and carry it back to the village to convert into cash if I should so desire, but of course this is a very stupid thing to do.  Instead I must figure out a ratio of item weight vs. cost to determine what junk I carry with me back to civilization.  I don't know what a blacksmith in a tiny, sleepy village *does* with 37 Ancient Nord Axes but I got paid so I don't care.

Not only am I free to cart away every iron pot in the world but I can go wherever I like.  I found a random hut in the middle of nowhere with a dead person next to it.  Figuring that she no longer needed her stuff I liberated everything in the hut that wasn't nailed down including the gear the corpse was wearing.  Somehow her relative from far away figured out I was the thief and sent thugs after me to kill me.  Random fights to the death on the porch of the inn are super exciting though strangely the people in the village don't seem to care that much that I just massacred some dudes right in front of them.  They really do care when you accidentally click on a chicken and kill it though and sometimes you have to reload after massacring villagers who really should have known better than to attack in retaliation for cluckicide.

Skyrim does have a lot of things I have criticized in games in the past.  There is a lot of walking, and there are tons of ways to trivialize fights.  I have had hilarious fun using traps to demolish monsters, shooting things from places they can't get to easily, and knocking people off of things.  It isn't fair, and it means that you can beat things that your numbers would indicate should be beyond your talents.  It is fun as hell though and I quite enjoy it.  This style of game requires a lot less grind and a lot more improvising, and although my natural tendency is to worry about balance first I find myself greatly enjoying all of the silliness.  After all it is much like the real world in that regard.  If I was going to kill someone for real I certainly wouldn't walk up to them and engage them in a fair contest of swordsmanship!

Skyrim has what MMOs have been lacking for me - a world I can play in, where I can find my own path.  Scripted stories with lots of phasing have become the norm in new MMOs but honestly I am having a lot more fun with the Lego that Skyrim is than the novel that MMOs have become even though I have to play in the world all by myself.

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