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The Role of Role Playing Games and Skyrim

Submitted by:

The Angry Grinch

I’ve always been fascinated with science fiction and fantasy.  Especially when it comes to video games, it has usually been this genre that keeps me interested in my continued pursuit of consol gaming. Several years ago when the XBOX 360 launched, a little game named Oblivion was released a few months later, but I don’t remember a whole lot of hype around it. Based solely on the fact that it was a RPG that boasted “nearly 200 hours of game play” I was sucked in. After a few hours of playing, I quickly realized that this game was no different than most other RPG’s that basically subjects you to hours of grinding in order to beat the game. If you’re not familiar with “grinding” basically it is the process of completing redundant and often tedious tasks in order to level up and become more powerful. Oblivion was basically a game centered on grinding, with a few quests mixed in. Sadly, I never finished the game. After joining a guild and realizing it was nothing more than a process of “hunt down this person/thing and collect a reward” over and over again, it quickly became boring. This is very similar to the over-rated Star Wars Galaxies MMO that came out many years ago. I remember at some point, digging in the sand to find minerals, and then asking myself “how is this supposed to be fun?” I just wanted to be a Jedi, but the path to the Jedi (at least early on) was a secret that only a few were able to unlock.

Over the course of time I’ve played all the Fable Games, all of which were fairly disappointing and of course since the time I was ever able to afford my own gaming console, I’ve also enjoyed playing the Final Fantasy Series. Fable was a game that wanted to be Final Fantasy with all the “perks” of additional themes and abilities like marriage, owning property and businesses and a good or evil alignment. But in all three Fable games, my expectations were never met. Either the main story was too short, or there weren’t enough side quests, or even the “art” of courtship was silly and childish. For a while, I began losing interest in RPG’s, until one day I took a risk and started playing a game called FALLOUT 3. And this game really changed my outlook on the RPG gaming universe. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it was engrossing and kept my interest. Periodically, while playing the game I kept picturing myself as the actual “hero” in a vast wasteland devastated by a nuclear fallout. I think it has always been part of the point of RPG’s; to make you feel like you are in the game instead of simply controlling the character…

SKYRIM, a direct sequel to OBLIVION takes place nearly 100 years after its predecessor and is nearly as addictive as Angry Birds. I’ve only been playing for a few weeks and really cannot stop. I’m currently at Level 40, and haven’t even completed half of the main quests. Every time I venture out to complete a quest, I find myself becoming sidetracked by a cave or a fort and decide I must go conquer whatever baddies inhabit these locations. That’s one thing that is very different about SKYRIM compared to the many RPG’s I’ve played in the past, the side quests actually have story lines within them that are not directly related the main quest. You must find secret weapons, ancient magical artifacts and even battle death cults. Of course I think the quest involving the cult expected you (the hero) to join them, but I just decided to kill them off to protect the innocent citizens of SKYRIM. On another quest, I chose to “neutralize” the caretaker of an orphanage because for some reason she gained joy from beating the children of the orphanage. The side quests are so immersive and compelling that I personally didn’t even discover the meaning of “FUS RO DAH” until I was level 20. The only reason I attempted to understand it was because I saw it plastered all across the interwebs. Even now, the new talk is about some “retired” adventurer you encounter who describes his plight by taking an arrow to the knee. I still haven’t met him in my travels.

A few spoilers ahead…

SKYRIM, still has some “grinding” especially if you want to get the best armor (Dragon Armor), but it’s not nearly as tedious as other games. Some skills are “leveled” meaning that as your skills progress, the time to increase skills also increases. But so far, “smithing” (black-smithing for armor and weapons) was the easiest to max out, but it does take some time, and possibly money. Ultimately you can max out smithing in a matter of hours and then build your dragon armor. My character is fully decked out in the stuff at the “legendary level.” Over the course of the game, you start to discover a few cheats along the way. For instance, leveling your blocking skills can be fairly easy once you understand how the process works. Personally, I look at leveling as achievements, and not necessarily as a method to give my character an advantage in the game. Trust me when I say that there are plenty of baddies within the game that will make life very challenging for you. Even when you think you’re exploring through a standard cave or fort, and you run into some seriously powerful, non-story related characters that can kill you in a single blow. You can also use trainers, at each level that will train you in certain skills for a price. But I believe trainers will only train you until reach a skill level of 75 (and each skill maxes out at 100) before they will stop. And you can only train a skill 5 times within a level. Again, even with the trainers, you begin to realize that this process can be “exploited” a bit too once you understand how the process works. Let’s just say whenever I’ve used some trainers, I charge a “protection fee” for keeping them alive in combat. It’s a WIN/WIN.

Throughout the game, you can gain certain followers that will “help” you in your adventures. But don’t get too confident in this system, as in most cases, the followers aren’t all that skillful or powerful. But what is nice, is that you can give them better weapons and armor so they will last a bit longer in a fight. Some followers will die ( I learned that lesson fairly early) and others will just become weakened. This works as an excellent strategy in fights involving multiple adversaries. …Use the follower (that will not die) as bait and set up your sniper positions, then go to town on the bad guys…

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. There are dragons. The Dragon storyline is part of the main story, but as I stated before, because the side quests are so rich, you almost forget that you are in the game to complete a very important task involving dragons. But you can run into them anywhere in the game, once you “unlock” the dragon storyline. And these baddies provide you with some very important and powerful stuff. Let’s just say that if you want dragon armor, you gotta fight the dragons to get it.

My Strategy, for what it’s worth…

Of course when I started out, I had no idea what I was doing. I played a few main quest missions early on, until I found the Companions. Completed all the Companion quests until I became their leader, then completed more main quest mission until I was able fight dragons and learn FUS RO DAH. At this point, I’ve just been completing side quests throughout the game. Which are all very entertaining because every now and again you are faced with moral dilemmas such as “committing crimes” for the greater good. I’ve been chased by assassins, bounty-hunters, and murderers in my travels simply because I made choice independent of the quests I was involved in…I’ve said a mouthful. The rest is up to you and good luck in your adventures Dragon-Born…

The Angry Grinch is one of the newest contributors on You can find him on Twitter @thegrinch13.


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Reader Comments (1)

So no rating?

...or did I miss it.

Nice review.

I'm just curious what you'd score it.


December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus

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