So, I’ve had Skyrim for over a week now and I’m roughly 50 hours into it. I’ve finished the main quest and a couple of the biggest side quests as well. Don’t get me wrong, Skyrim is an absolutely amazing game. What I want to do in this post, however, is to make 5 criticisms of things that I think the game did badly; the things that it could improve upon.
Combine this post with my First Impressions one and you’ve got yourself a fairly solid review of the game (at least, I hope so!). Anyway, on with the nitpicking!
1. Crime System
The biggest flaw in Skyrim, without a doubt, is the crime system. In fact, I was so put out by it that I’m going to write an entire post dedicated to giving out about it and suggesting how it should be changed – check back tomorrow evening if you’re interested in reading that! [that post is now available] For now, I’ll give you a summary of my argument here (a pre-taster, if you will!).
There is basically no penalty for committing crime in Skyrim. You’re fined a few hundred gold – and that’s it. Once you’ve paid your fine everyone continues on as if nothing happened. I could brutally murder a little old lady in the middle of the town square, and after I paid the fine nobody would blink twice at her corpse, or even mention anything as I continued nonchalantly buying the week’s groceries.
There’s tabula rasa and there’s tabula rasa. This is definitely the bad kind, and it kinda ruins the experience.
They really need to explain things better in this game. After the first short introductory sequence, you’re kind of left to do whatever you want and tutorials only pop up when you try something new. The problem is that if you’re not even aware you’re able to do something, you’re not going to try to do it; and if you don’t try to do it, you’ll never know that it’s something you can do.
It wasn’t until I was about 10 hours into the game that I realized that I could sprint. In fact, I probably would never have worked this out if it wasn’t for my friend Oisin, who, while watching me play, innocently asked me “Why do you never sprint?!” This revelation revolutionized how I played the game. There should be a form of tutorialization (I maybe just might have invented that word) that makes it clear to a newcomer what they can do; you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to discover how to do basic things like this.
You can get married in Skyrim – which is pretty cool. You even get an achievement for doing it. My problem here is not with marriage in general but rather with marriage with one specific young lady, Ysolda, and how that interacts with one specific quest.
Basically what happens during this quest is that you get into a drinking game with a friendly young fellow in the local inn. You black out and wake up in the morning in a temple which has been strewn with rubbish. A cranky priestess tells you that you arrived at the temple incredibly drunk in the middle of the night and that you were responsible for making the mess – and the gods know what else! You resolve to find out what it was that you did, and where the young man who got you drunk in the first place has got to.
I decided not to do this quest right away (I’m a busy guy!) and continued on my merry way doing other bits and bobs. However, I was in for a surprise when I arrived home and said hello to my wife. Upon talking to her, she started asking me about my fiancee and if the marriage had gone ahead. I was rather confused. She then told me that she really hoped it worked out well, as it was such a romantic story, but that if it didn’t she really needed the wedding ring she lent me last night back. Apparently, Ysolda had given me a loan of her wedding ring so that I could propose to some other woman I had fallen in love with. This would have been an interesting quest if not for one small problem.
I was already married – to Ysolda!
There’s no polygamy, divorce or remarriage in Skyrim; marriage is for life. Having my wife tell me about how she had happily helped me to marry someone else was a really bad oversight on the designers’ part; they should never have used a marry-able NPC for this quest. It just doesn’t make sense! Luckily, my wife forgot all about it as soon as she’d told me what I needed to know, and I haven’t mentioned my second marriage to her since.
It’s for the best, I think.
In Skyrim I am a master assassin, warrior extraordinaire, and slayer of dragons!
Why is it then, that I get instantly killed by a cat?
My first encounter with a sabercat was when I was innocently walking through a forest. I saw something run out of a bush just a few feet in front of me, and had only enough time to think “Is that a wolf?” before I was torn to pieces. Apparently, my character can fight gigantic dragons and live to tell the tale – but a cat is simply too much for him.
In fact, everyone in the game is making a big hullaballoo about the dragons returning. They shouldn’t be worrying about dragons when there are bloody evil killer cats roaming all over the place!!! Get your priorities straight people!!!
I understand that Bethesda needed some form of monster to make travel dangerous. But they shouldn’t have used a cat. They should have used…. I don’t know…. Bigger dragons or something.
Well, at least sabercats can’t fly.
Skyrim is a role-playing game, and you expect that you’ll be able to role-play the character of your choice.
Unfortunately, the game’s design is working against you. How so? Let me use the guilds as an example. There are 4 guilds in the game (guilds comprise the biggest secondary quest-lines): companions, mages, thieves, and dark brotherhood. Now, the first two of these are morally good and the second two are morally evil.
The problem here is that if you want to roleplay either a good or evil character then you’re effectively limiting yourself to only half of the game’s content. And let’s face it: you want to play all of it! You could create two characters to do this, but there’s still going to be overlap – and this solution definitely won’t appeal to those of us who just want to do some casual roleplaying.
What ends up happening is that you’re forced to roleplay a very specific type of character: one who cares solely about power, or one that is completely insane. In fact, any loopholes you invent to explain why your noble hero is going around murdering people for the Dark Brotherhood are impossible to take seriously; you know they’re loopholes and you can’t make yourself forget that.
Thanks for reading! Do you agree with my criticisms or do you have any that you think should definitely be on this list? If so, leave a comment! And don’t forget to check back tomorrow to read my in-depth analysis of Skyrim’s crime system. And finally, don’t let these criticisms ruin an absolutely fantastic game for you; it’s still great! – Kevin