Oblivion is my all-time favorite game. I love every little detail about it, even the monsters who level up with you. When Skyrim was launched back in 2011, I was thrilled. Due to technical difficulties, it took me a few years to get my hands on a copy, and I just recently played it through. I would very much like to say I love it as much as Oblivion, but our relationship has been rocky at best.
The first thing that drew my attention in Skyrim wasn’t its beauty (which on occasion does exist, Bethesda really knows how to make skies pretty) or its technical superiority (which is the ultimate joke, one would think at least something was learned from Oblivions various bugs), but the fact that it seems to have been made for XboX. Skyrim completely abandoned the elaborate quest-lines that mark The Elder Scrolls, and reverted to being just another hack&slash wind tunnel. The enchanting world that made Morrowind and Oblivion so remarkable and the grasping story lines that made you forget about the real world are absent in Skyrim.
Skyrim seems to have been made for a next generation of gamers. It’s simple, it’s straight-forward, and the only part that requires concentration are the never-ending puzzles Bethesda has seen fit to place at every second entrance. Sure, it was exiting to place a dragon claw into a door and figure out a combo of images to open the door with, but when you’re required to do it for the twentieth time, the player asks a question.
“Was it so difficult to come up with, like, another kind of puzzle? Maybe make us look for a key? Bring an herb? Dance naked with Sheogorath? Anything but this?”
The earlier parts forced us to think, to figure out how to catch an NPC at an opportune time, how to make them like us enough to share relevant information, how to put together a sequence of spells to open a stubborn door. Skyrim makes us turn pillars and stone rings around. And slay dragons.
In lore, any lore, every lore, dragons are rare. They’re elusive, magical beasts, friends to wizards and warlocks, rarely seen in the sky.
Except in Skyrim. The realm is littered with them! Every time I fast travel, I’m greeted by a dragon. Every time I’m I a hurry, I get stopped by a dragon in need of killing. Every time I hunch down to wait for someone to enter a secluded place fit for a quiet kill, a dragon starts spewing fire at me. Once, a dead one haunted me. It fell from the skies on me five times until I marked it for delete. A friend of mine crystallized this thought beautifully. "Skyrim", he said, "making killing dragons a nuisance since 2011".
Upon completion of the main quest, dragons are supposed to be the Dragonborn’s best friends. Still, they need to be killed. Over and over again. Apart from turning pillars and shooting dragons, there’s not much to do. Skyrim, compared to Morrowind and Oblivion is as interesting as a grey brick wall. I felt it a duty to play through the main quest, Dark Brotherhood, Mages Guild, and several side quest (which were all nearly surprising in length, or lack of) and know that I have gained the right to say that Skyrim was a complete and utter disappointment in both plot and appearance.
If I ever see a dragon again, it will be too soon.