The One About Skyrim

Be warned, fair traveler. I am about to do what is commonly described as “hating on”.

Skyrim (or, as I like to call it, Wrong Side of the Mountain) is Warcraft without the people. It successfully translates all of the hyperaddictive qualities of an MMO to the console. You craft. You explore. You play dress up. All that good stuff.

It’s massive. Multiple main plotlines, a seemingly limitless number of sidequests and errands. Just walking from one end of the worlds to the other would take a few hours, even if you ignored all the random stuff happening along the way. Cool secrets to be found only by wandering. And the occasional bitchin’ dragon fight. It really is quite fun.


Get used to this.

Gripe Primus: In Red Dead Redemption, you can six-shooter your way from snow-covered mountains to desert plains without a single load screen, even if you go inside. Huge.  A typical mission in Skyrim consists of the following:

  • Get a quest.
  • Go outside.
  • Fast travel to a city across the world.
  • Go inside something.
  • LOAD SCREEN again.
  • Go deeper inside something.
  • Another LOAD SCREEN
  • Do something.
  • Start to leave.
  • What’s the deal with these LOAD SCREENs?
  • Go outside.
  • LOAD SCREEN? Really?
  • Fast travel back.
  • Play a quick round of Hero Academy during this LOAD SCREEN
  • Go inside something.
  • Turn in your quest.


Gripe Secundus: travel. This game is built for exploration, for coming upon beautiful and wonderful things as you walk through the varied environments. Walk up the northern coast and see the towering edifice of the Mage’s College come into view, aloof and imperious. Gorgeous.

But if that quest you’re on points you to some cave on top of a mountain, get ready to run around the craggy terrain for half an hour trying to find a way up and wishing there was a “just climb over that damn rock” button.

Gripe Thirdiary: Maybe I’ve been playing too much Assassin’s Creed, but the game is kinda… ugly. Crumbling tower in the distance? Pretty. Crumbling tower close-up, with repeating textures and colorless environments? Not as pretty.


Complexity and beauty = good

Dull gray = less good.

Gripe the IV. You need to go read Genevieve Valentine’s essay on dragons. Seriously. But here’s a bit:

The dragon, a legendary beast more chameleonic than most, embodies the world and the time of those who would honor it, or slay it. The modern dragon is aware of its parentage, but as humanity’s struggles have changed from merely surviving in the world to conquering it, so has the dragon become a steed (as are the dragons of Pern), a helpmeet (The Dragon and the George’s Smrgol), an irascible employer of brave young women (as Cimorene soon discovers).

Dragon as helpmeet, as wise counselor, as aloof eccentric. I refer you to the dragon in the Thames from The Magicians. The dragons of Skyrim are essentially a medieval fantasy rat problem.

Disclaimer: It is important to note that I have spent as much of my free time as possible playing this game. Too many hours, and still many yet to come until I get the Platinum trophy. It’s fun. It’s deep and wide and engaging. If you play it, you will enjoy it. But, again, be warned.


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