11 November 2012

One Year On: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, released one year ago today proved to be a phenomenal success both commercially and critically for Bethesda. It was likely always going to be, launched even as it was within days of titles such as Modern Warfare 3 and Assassin's Creed Revelations, following the stunning reveal of the title at 2010's Video Game Awards.

Though the fifth installment in the series it would not be until Skyrim's release that the The Elder Scrolls brand truly made waves, selling ten times as well at launch as Oblivion, the previous entry in the franchise.  

Skyrim also marked the first game in the series to be released simultaneously on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The Gamebryo engine had had it's fair share of glitches and bugs - some where hilarious and harmless, others irritating and even game breaking. 

So Skyrim, with an all new engine should have put those issues to rest, of course that didn't happen. As with Gamebyro the Creation Engine's problems were most acutely felt on the PS3 where extreme lag hampered the launch on the console. 

Also notable is that months after both Dawnguard and Hearthfire's release those expansions still have not arrived on the system. 

Bethesda recently tweeted "we're also close on new Skyrim content for PS3 and PC."

Not much of an update at all, really. Yet that is what PS3 gamers have had to suffice with - it should be noted that neither Dawnguard or Hearthfire are particularly outstanding or necessary additions to the game but that is utterly besides the point, particularly with Dragonborn already announced and on the way for the Xbox 360.

Being unfamiliar with the PS3's architecture was a reasonable argument in 2007. In 2012 it simply isn't.

However, the game is more than just the difficulties it has faced. As an RPG it is difficult to find one more expansive (though if you're looking for a large fantasy RPG this year's Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning is certainly worth a look). 

Skyrim may not be able to compete with the characterisation of BioWare's Dragon Age or with the plot of a more narrowly focused RPG - strong narratives are inherently difficult to marry to open world titles - indeed the Civil War quests proved particularly weak in that regard however the core plot was significant improvement on Oblivion. 

I can't comment on Morrowind, Daggerfall, or Arena having never played them.

The Elder Scrolls can never quite make you love your character the same way a BioWare title can, as a blank state and with your character's background is largely (in terms of the plot) irrelevant this would be very difficult feat to pull off for any developer. It is also the Elder Scrolls' greatest asset. 

The Elder Scrolls is ultimately about freedom. Few games have enough diversity that, theoretically, having completed the opening level you need never return to the main quest-line. There are the side and miscellaneous quests as well the guild missions each the length of many other entire games. 

Skryim creates a world and if you want you can save the world from dragons or simply chase the butterflies. This is, and always will be, The Elder Scrolls' greatest asset.     

No comments:

Post a Comment