Roundtable: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

After having some time to play and absorb the monolith that is Skyrim we sat down to discuss some of the finer points of the newest addition in the fantasy RPG series The Elder Scrolls. Beware, there will be spoilers.

Dean: So just to get us started off; what experience do we all have with the previous Elder Scrolls titles? For myself it’s just Oblivion, on PC and PS3, and a handful of attempts at getting the free Daggerfall to run on my modern PC. I know that which games have been played before seem to affect how folks have viewed Skyrim so be a good start. Also for readers I’ll point out that we’re all playing Skyrim on PC.

Ben: Well, Oblivion was one of the very first games I bought for my 360. A few years later, when it became dirt cheap, I also bought the GOTY PC edition, and after that, I dipped my toes into Morrowind. But other than that, I’ve never touched Arena or Daggerfall. And I also never messed with mods for Oblivion; Skyrim is the first time I’ve even downloaded a change to the game script.

Darrell: I’ve played everything from Daggerfall forward: Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. Oh, and they were all played on PC.

Connor: The first Elder Scrolls game I played was Oblivion on the Xbox 360… Then I got it on PC and put a few hours into that and then I decided to buy Morrowind, after being told that was better. I couldn’t get into it myself, after having started with the simpler Oblivion. I actually got Oblivion after Fallout 3! Fallout 3 was my first Bethesda game and I wanted to see how Oblivion shaped up after really enjoying that.

Dean: Oblivion was actually one of the first 7th gen games I had, Tom lent me the GOTY edition was pretty fun, put in many many hours into it that summer. Then I got it on Steam one day, aquired tons of mods and then become totally confused. It’s only since slimming down the mod count I’ve been able to get back into it.

Johnny: My first contact with the franchise was with Morrowind on the PC, which I completely loved despite it’s incredibly dull combat. It managed to completely sell me on it’s alien and inhospitable world. Oblivion, later on, completely disappointed me with it’s generic fantasy world. I felt like Elder Scrolls had lost all of it’s personality in the transfer from 6th to 7th gen.

Declan: I played a bit of Morrowind on the Xbox but I never got into it, I played it afterwards on PC but again, didn’t like it even though I played that version more. Oblivion was what hooked me on the series but I never finished it. After a good amount of hours I just gave up. Good memories in general of the series nevertheless.

Dean: So Skyrim has brought about a fair amount of changes from Oblivion, the main one being their heavy reworking of the Gamebryo engine used in Oblivion and Fallout into the newly named Creation Engine. I think it’s come out pretty damn fine. The textures aren’t much to be proud of (I’m running medium though) but the lighting engine is much improved and the FaceFX tech is night and day to the mushy potatoes Oblivion called faces. 

Ben: Both the Khajit and Argonians look so much better now. The cat faces looked incredibly smooshed in Oblivion.

Declan: I hated the look of Oblivion. Thankfully the mods eventually helped to change it but the characters were always so ugly. Not just ugly a lot of the time but plain fugly to the nth degree. I don’t think I ever got over that. Skyrim is leaps ahead in that department, thankfully, and there’s so much more life in the characters this time around too. There are things here and there that throw you off – the shadows for one – but they’ve done a good job in this department in general. I’ll trust in the community to touch it all up.

Johnny: It’s a huge improvement. Oblivion looked like the most generic high fantasy game I had ever come across, and tried to push technical wow-factors like bloom over artistic consistency. Skyrim, on the other hand, adds quite a bit of personality back into the franchise with it’s varied environments and consistently bleak art design.
Oblivion sort of ran like crap as well. I still have the same rig that I used to run oblivion on, and Skyrim runs far better on any settings than Oblivion does today when I pull the settings down.

Darrell: Overall, I’d place Skyrim well above its predecessors visually. The frankengine contrivance has accomplished two important things: greater stability and more compelling environments. There is nothing TES — nothing! — like ascending a rise to see a defile and all its landmarks laid before you, or climbing a crag and watching the aurora-raiment draped over the stars. With the help of the new engine, Skyrim made exploration what it was before Oblivion ruined it for me: everything I want from a TES game. I should note that I’m not using any visual mods: graphical chastity intact!

Declan: Frankengine – I like that! I’m using a mod that replaces the starfield with a high quality true starfield map and it looks fantastic. Bethesda have said that Skyrim is a console game at it’s heart. That it was the version they were focusing on but they’ve not done bad on the PC end

Dean: I just used Qarl texture pack. I didn’t mind Oblivion much tbh, I do like that the races are much more defined now though. All the elven races were just slightly differently coloured, but now they have character. And the arganoian and khajit are pretty damn sexy looking. I’ve seen the Morrowind races too and I have to wonder what the hell happened with the dunmer and Argonians in Oblivion. I do miss the variety of landscapes Oblivion had though. Skyrim is Bruma everywhere, only unique area I’ve come to is the volcanic area to the east.

Johnny: The apple-for-a-head orcs were just absolutely wonderful in Oblivion.

Connor: Yeah the visuals are so much better in Skyrim than in Oblivion… The textures aren’t amazing but from a distance, the environments are amazing. As for the faces, they’re also so much better. I think everyone knows just how awful Oblivion looks these days. It was pretty much impossible to create a normal looking character, but with Skyrim, I’m pretty proud of my badass looking wood elf!


Dean: As far as gameplay goes Skyrim has spiced it up. There’s now dual wielding of weapons and spells, making a mage class much more viable this time around (Oblivion was a bit of a mess, only on console with the quick access wheel did it become fine to play mage). On a visual side of things they’ve spiced the spells up too. It also introduced the dragon shouts your Dragonborn character is gifted with. Personally I’ve being mostly mage type, the odd swing of a soul-tap enchanted weapon in my hand. The shouts I’m not entirely keen on. I don’t feel they’re overly powerful for the minimal amount of use you can put into them (the storm shout has a 5 minute cool down on just the basic levelfor example). However Unrelenting Force sure is fun when you’ve got it lined up right.

Johnny: I love the combat in Skyrim. Well, that is, the magic combat. I don’t really do melee on my character. Throwing spells feels powerful, making combat a joy in a way that is entirely unlike it’s predecessors. The shouts, while fitting nicely within Skyrim, feel a bit out of place in the larger elder scrolls franchise. I don’t think they’ve been mentioned at all before.

Ben: I’ve been playing a battle mage myself (Daedric mace in one hand, magic in the other), and I’m a fan of most of the aesthetic and mechanical adjustments they’ve made to the formula. I do wish the shouts were a little more powerful, but I still really like them. It feels a natural extension of the whole Norse mythology feel the game carries.

Connor: I’ve actually had two characters… I abandoned one because I got bored. My first was a battlemage… All destruction spells and a few swings of a sword… After a while I decided to start again as a dual-wielding rouge type, complete with daggers. I found both to be a lot of fun in combat for different reasons, and that bodes well overall.

Dean: I know that Mount & Blade has been brought up a lot with regards to the combat in Skyrim, I can’t say I see the allure. I know M&B let you be a bit more tactical with your weapon blows, mouse direction adding to how your blows were landed, but I was just never keen on it, felt too complex for a simple task. It did have mounted combat though, that’s still something TES hasn’t done yet which I think is starting to get a bit silly to be missing at this stage.

Ben: Yeah, the lack of mounted combat has definitely put me in some awkward positions. I’ll be riding along on my horse when a mountain lion suddenly jumps on me, and I have no way to defend myself until I dismount from the horse. I didn’t mind it at first, but after a while it started to really get on my nerves.

Declan: Yeah, the lack of mounted combat really takes you out of the moment. Hang on there, Mr. Troll. I’ve got to get off my loyal steed. I feel like it’s much easier to play an all round badass but still have specialists that are clearly defined and limited but still very viable. It should be a very fun game for multiple playthroughs. I like the dual wielding too but it can become tedious to switch about styles or use potions in combat.

Johnny: I actually do not mind it, because not having a first person camera while mounted is already keeping me from ever riding a horse. Fix that, and I might bother to care about it.

Declan: This should be able to be done by mod tools if they don’t though, right? I used the tools for Oblivion a bit and they weren’t very restrictive. It would be great to have the 1st person view though

Connor: Yeah, I rarely ride a horse… Considering how fast they go too, it doesn’t really seem worth it.

Darrell: As an arcane archer, I tend to do the delightful deed of downing some hoes from afar. Can I say hoes? I hope so. That makes me fairly oblivious to melee combat. I held an axe once. I think I held it. My general approach is one I’d planned on using since my lovely lass came into being: sneak attack followed by loosing foul sorcery. It feels delicious. I can taste it. There’s something inspiring about lodging your arrow in another person, and the way its fletching sprouts victoriously. Hurray, arrows! Good job, you! The same goes for spellcasting. Although, the whole dual-casting deal with cupping your hands strikes me as a bit silly, like an Elder Scrolls Kamehameha.

Connor: Stealth kills with the bow and arrow, the most satisfying kill attainable in Skyrim. Feels good.

Johnny: You can’t have used the Ice Storm spell yet.

Declan: I love the bows! My greatest moment yet was fast travelling to a dungeon and having a dragon swoop down on me before pulling two giants and three mammoths into the fight. I killed them all with the bow. Then I died when I got too big for my boots and challenged another giant – Damn you stamina!. I also forgot to save.. Yeomen for life!

Ben: I love the additions they made to the stealth in this game. Specifically, the new throat-slitting animations when you line yourself up perfectly behind your target are viscerally satisfying. The slow-motion moments from Fallout 3 have triumphantly returned here, and they’re a delight every time they activate.

Dean: I’m not too far with the Dark Brotherhood quests, so not had much of a chance with stealth. Well proper stealth. I have killed people in their sleep. With my mace. I want a bound bow though, I want a shot at archery but can’t be bothered with keeping track of bows and arrows and such.

Dean: So for a minor break from our gushing of the improvements I’d like to take a moment with one of my biggest beefs with Skyrims changes and that’s the UI. They say all the dungeons in Oblivion were made by one man, I’d be surprised if the UI in Skyrim had even that. It looks pretty and swish and stylish. The skill tree in the stars is a nice touch. But it controls like crap. The map is missing a legend key, the chests aren’t broken in categories, E and R mean different things depending on if you’re depositing or withdrawing from a chest, there’s no filter by value and weight. And not to mention the overall clunkiness it has with mouse control on a PC. The amount of times I’ve ended up opening the shop dialogue when my mouse is in fact directly above the “any rumours” dialogue is grating. I’m really hoping this is a top priority with the coming patch.

Johnny: This is without exaggeration the biggest problem with the entire game. The interface is rubbish; it feels designed to look pretty for trailers, not for any actual use. Luckily, modders can (and have started to) deal with this, but it doesn’t excuse how incredibly lazy this “we’ll let our community fix it for us” approach is.
I like how easy it is to look up the location for a quest, but that’s about the only nice thing I have to say.

Darrell: By far the most glaring issue with the game. Forget bugs, someone censure these guys for birthing one of the most backward interfaces I’ve ever used. It downright refuses to listen to me at times, and I’m certain I’ve heard a curse or two thrown my way. I cannot understand how a game receives so many perfect reviews given what’s been done(and hasn’t been done) with something so vital. Though, among the boons, it becomes something of a rash or not-very-well-endowed husband. You deal with it.

Declan: What they said. I don’t think I can add any more than my agreement here. It’s just bad.

Ben: Forget the key; the very worst part about the map is the inconsistency with the color-coding. I assume that black is supposed to represent an undiscovered or uncleared dungeon/fort/whatever, and that white is supposed to represent discovered and cleared. Unfortunately, it always doesn’t work like that. Sometimes dungeons will turn white as soon as you discover them, and sometimes they’re stay dark even after you’ve cleared them. It turns exploration and your sense of completion into a nightmare game.

Connor: I’ve sorta just gotten used to it now. That doesn’t make it any less awful, I just be careful on the menus and stuff, but yes, I quite simply agree with everything you guys have said.

Dean: As far as the map goes I dislike it’s all essentially black and white. Including quest markers. And while they’ve added the “Cleared” feature, unless you pass over each marker one by one there’s no simple way to work out where you’ve already been.

Dean: On the minor side, so minor I don’t think most have even touched upon these, Skyrim has also brought in a bunch of distractions for us such as marriage, farming, chopping wood, smithing, hunting, tanning and so on. It’s also brought a more fleshed out follower system from what was in Oblivion too, though I’m disappointed it isn’t as fleshed out as what New Vegas had. Though I am aware it’s different developers there. As far as marriage goes I’m currently looking for the perfect woman. I’m thinking  Gabriella of the Dark Brotherhood. She likes moonlit nights, Seaside strolls and knitting, what’s not to love.

Connor: I’ve married one of the hunters from the Companions. Why not, I thought! It’s a very simple system. They just realised I had the amulet of Mara on and said “oh boy”. As I understand it, you have to have been friends/done quests for them or something. You don’t really get anything out of it. As for the other stuff you mentioned, I’ve experimented with smithing, hunting and tanning but I’ve not done any of those things (this goes for alchemy and enchanting too) to their fullest potential. I want to get better at them but there’s so many other things to do!

I haven’t touched on marraige yet but I’m getting attatched to a certain women. She’s not much help in battle but she’s as strong as an ox. So she carries my stuff. I’ve done a lot of smithing and mining and a bit of everything else. It’d be nice if the cooking was more like the alchemy but with everything else to keep me occupied, it’s not a big deal.

Dean: I’ve smithed a lot. To the point where I leveled up twice outside  Warmaidens in one rather long session. I had a ton of iron daggers by the end though. Which then got enchanted with petty soul gems. I now have the Black Star, so I’ve really gotten into enchanting since getting that.

Ben: My in-game husband is basically a cash register. I talk to him every so often and he gives me gold and food. I feel sort of guilty about having no way to pay him back. Maybe I’ll go on an adventure with him or something, try out the companion feature. But I would probably feel even more guilty if I got him killed.

Johnny: I don’t see the point of the marriage thing myself. Do like smithing and all that jazz though, if only because it’s an even cheaper way to get items to throw enchants at.

Darrell: I’m role-playing my character. Lass doesn’t want to be married to anyone in Skyrim. So I went about a quick ring on the finger and reloaded. The option is there, though, and that’s something. Options, they’re something. If I wanted to go about romancing the one with the stellar chassis in Haelga’s Bunkhouse, I’d have the option of teaching her what Dibella has
taught me. Sure, it’s mostly adventitious, but so is working the lumber yard. That doesn’t make it any less desirable. Concerning followers: Hey, you! Quit throwing fireballs when I’m sneaking! The AI could use some tweaking(something like Vegas would be preferable). Regardless, I’ve grown fond of the three followers who I’ve accidentally downed with Ice Storm and subsequently had to drag to a proper burial site. Brelyna has a tomb north of Winterhold. Eola, some dwemer ruins. Aela the Huntress, a funeral pyre.

Ben: I’d also like to say that while the quests are incredibly plentiful, they’re also rather hit or miss. I found the whole legion/stormcloak line of quests to be incredibly poorly handled. It involved a lot of repeat dialog and monotonous “Take this fort, and afterward take THIS fort!” objectives. And once I had finished, I felt like nothing had changed, even though my actions had supposedly critically altered the political scene in the country. That Talos priest was still out there doing his thing in Whiterun, even though the new reign of the legion would technically remove him from power.

Connor: I can’t really comment on the Legion/stormcloak missions, as I’ve not affiliated myself with either faction yet, but I agree that some quests are much better than others. I’ve finished the Dark Brotherhood and Theives Guild quests and they’re a lot of fun. Some random quests I’ve found around have also been interesting, whereas others have been “go here, get this, take it there, do this” and so on.

Johnny: Most of the quests I’ve done have been fun. The College, the Thieves Guild, and the daedric missions have been my favourite parts so far. Haven’t really touched the Imperial Legion or Stormcloak quests too much yet. I don’t really care; my character is an elven wizard with an appetite for power and hidden knowledge, and would rather not be a part of this silly conflict.

Ben: The Daedric quests have definitely been the highlight for me. Don’t want to go into too many details, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by each one I’ve completed so far. The weapons acquired from those quests are also some of the best loot you’ll find in the game.

Dean: I’ve heard that some of the quest chains get better as they progress, especially on the main lines like Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild. But up to now it’s not much to write home about. Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion alone had such memorable moments as leaving a warning finger in a guards chest, attending a Cluedo like party, breaking into jail, swapping out medicine for poison. I just don’t feel Skyrim has been as creative in its quests. Not helped by the Radiant Story they’ve brought in which rapidly fills up your journal with repetitive bounties and dragon hunt quests. I have progressed to a stage I’m not too keen on with the Stormcloak quest line. I’m not sure if it would be too spoilerish, but basically you attack Whiterun. I ended up checking the Wiki on it because as soon as the quest initiated I already had the courier outside with inheritance from a killed NPC. The Daedric quests are neat though. Currently the highlight for me up to now. Especially now I have the Mace of Molag-Bal.

Ben: I really dislike how the Radiant Story missions just blend in with the rest of the story-based main and side quests. I would like to know whether it’s just a repetitive “kill these people in this dungeon” mission before I decide to make it a priority, and I usually can’t figure it out until I actually complete it and get another one just like it.

Declan: I haven’t actually done all that many quests. I’ve got a ton of misc quests that I want to clear but then I get distracted and do something else. I’ve done a few things incidentally but I have yet to dive into the main plotlines. So far, everything feels very natural.

Johnny: I never did the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion, but Skyrim outdoes everything I did do in OB. In particular, the Daedric quests – while short – always seem to mix things up.

Declan: I’ve heard good things about the Thieves Guild and bad things about the Dark Brotherhood quest-lines but I’m still undecided on what order to do things in.

Dean: I know they’ve brought in the Radiant Quests in order to encourage people to explore, but I’m an explorer-type anyway so I don’t really need a nudge. It makes me wonder just how little exploring people did in the previous games. All it’s done is fill my journal and once I clear out the bounties I end up with a dozen more. It’s a shame Dave isn’t here because I know he’s said he wasn’t keen on the thieves guild. Might have to get his thoughts on that as an addendum here.

Ben: Most of my friends did zero exploring in Oblivion. They used Fast Travel exclusively to get from questline to questline, and never wandered off the beaten path. I can see how that would be frustrating for Bethesda, because they worked incredibly hard to present this vast world and want players to explore every nook and cranny, but one has to wonder whether this was the right way to go about encouraging others to explore.

Declan: I suggested Skyrim to a casual gaming friend and he mentioned Morrowind. He didn’t like it because it was too huge. Fast travel is great to have but I agree, it’s a shame many don’t get to experience the finely crafted world they’ve created. That being said, I have a feeling that a lot more people will explore with Skyrim of their own volition than they did with Oblivion. Skyrim seems more varied and rich.

Johnny: I haven’t done many Radiant quests either. I like that they are there though. Thieves Guild started out really weak but ended strong. I considered skipping it, but it got interesting just when I was about to lose patience. Could have had more of a focus on stealth though.

Connor: Yeah I dunno, the radiant quests are strange… I mean, it’s great that they’re there to keep you doing something but there are far too many and the journal does get filled up very quickly. My journal is overflowing with quests and with the misc. ones, it’s at the point where I’m not sure why I need to do it, because I can’t remember who gave it to me and what they wanted, and there is no description with those.

Johnny: They do tend to clog up the quest log. But I think that’s more of a problem with the interface than the quests themselves.

Darrell: Since I’m late to the Radiant Quest discussion(and after inquiring their meaning), I guess I’ll cover that first. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Not this guy. I can’t say I’ve had much trouble with them, though. Possibly because I’ve kept to the peripheral quests. As I stated earlier, I get off on exploration. So quests are a trivial thing to me. A very large, very pleasurable chunk of my 125 hours has been spent roaming the hinterlands. The quests I have encountered have been, as Ben said, hit or miss. Your typical “go here, fetch this” quests are in bloom, well, everywhere. Still, I can recall leaning back and thinking a few times, “Darrell, this quest line was impressive. Pat yourself on the back for thinking to pat Bethesda on the back.” Sheograth returns to save the day!

Dean: The lack of descriptions on quests is pretty annoying. I gets hard to work out what a quest is, who it’s for. Especially when a quest ends up with no marker and it’s just “Talk to joe bloggs”. Oblivion quests were stories to read in themselves. The Sheogorath quest I’ve only just got to today. For all the hype around it, it was a bit underwhelming. Still, got my Wabbajack.

Ben: Yeah, the miscellaneous quests store no information about the quests at all. I would hear about some kid that was trying to contact the Dark Brotherhood, then when I later decided to check up on the Miscellaneous quests I hadn’t completed, all I could see is “Talk to ____” and stumbled back onto that quest purely by accident.

Johnny: Part of me misses the oldschool quest journal from Morrowind, but that’s probably mostly nostalgia talking. No neat quest log, just a straight-up journal.

Dean: I saw a bit of that when watching the Giant Bomb pre-launch marathon, did look pretty neat, though I imagine a pain to manage unlike Oblivions.

Declan: Skyrim’s quest log is terrible. It’s so cold and messy and apart from using it to track quests, entirely useless. The Witcher 2 did it perfectly – just in case anyone wants a point of reference.

Johnny: One of the larger complaints I had about Oblivion was the way leveling was handled, with major skills being the sole contributor to experience, and the multiplier system forcing the player to micromanage their skill-ups in order to keep up with the world leveling around them. In Skyrim, most of the layers of complexity have been removed in favor for a simpler system supported by fallout-like perks. Personally, I think this new system solved all the problems with how leveling worked in previous Elder Scrolls games.

Ben: I totally agree with this. I hate the tiered levelling systems in games like Oblivion because I always feel like I’m making a horrible mistake in my point distribution. It’s nice to just have three options in the most important categories, then focus on building the more specialized elements of your dude/lady.

Darrell: Level scaling removed? Relieved Darrell.

Dean: I don’t think the scaling has been removed, just reworked. It’s more in line with Fallout 3 style. Most mobs are fine to take one, but as you level up, and thus gain better weapons, maybe a few enchantments, the more powerful beasts like Trolls and such don’t prove as much as issue. Much like Deathclaws were always powerful, but as you ended up with miniguns and rocket launchers instead of 10mm you caused more damage. The reworking of the leveling is much better. I’m not so keen on having to choose just magicka/healthy/stamina per level as opposed to being able to dish out small amounts into multiple categories as Oblivion had. The perk system is pretty sweet though, apart from the previously mentioned UI issues. Let’s you build the character you want to play, rather than having to play the character the system needs you to be. Still has some remnants of Oblivions system though. You do get better as you use that skill. If at level 30 you decide to be an archer you’re going to be pretty naf.

Declan: The levelling in Skyrim is a sure improvement over Oblivion and the scaling seems to be spot on from what I’ve played so far. I’m not sure I think the complexity of the skill levelling is as much as I’d like but the simpler nature helps overall.

Darrell: Reworked, then. My issue with Oblivion was the severity of scaling. Trolls are difficult when you don’t have augmented bows because they’re difficult beasts. As they should be. I shouldn’t have to romance and cosset my skills in the proper way to be able to deal with/avoid certain encounters that prove too much for my approach. Oblivion was more an illusion of freedom broken by the scaling and being forced into impossible situations given that. I do miss certain elements lost with complexity: crafting custom spells, for example. We’ve lost magic schools and been given elemental specialties. Simplicity is agreeable when you aren’t losing anything valuable because of it.

Connor: All levelling concerns that come with Elder Scrolls games were addressed. That is all.

Ben: Does it rub anyone else the wrong way when they hear repeat voice actors in this game? Bethesda’s a big studio, with a big budget. I feel like they could have sprung for a more diverse cast of actors. When you talk to two people in a camp and both are voiced by the same person, something is definitely wrong.

Johnny: I think I’ve noticed this only once in Skyrim. While it was extremely common in Oblivion, it’s rare enough in Skyrim that I just don’t notice it most of the time. That said, that it’s there at all, and that people who notice stuff hear it, is a shame.

Darrell: Haven’t really been bothered by this, and if I’ve even noticed it at all, it was passing. Perhaps I simply don’t have the ear-parts to discern these things. I am but a man. Returning to the lovely Brelyna: her voice was honeylike.

Connor: I’ve noticed it more than once, and it’s kind of irritating, but a few things that help that is that the voice actors are actually not that bad this time around and it happens a lot less frequently than it did in Oblivion and even Fallout.

Declan: I can’t say I’ve noticed it much. I’ve picked up the clipped American accent a few times but it’s a good improvement over Fallout and Oblivion in my opinion. The most jarring in Oblivion was when you’d have a beggar and a noble voiced by the same person and you’d find a beggar speaking noble one minute and downtrodden the next. I haven’t come across that yet here. There’s an essence of script-reading to some of the lines that pull me out of the story but I’d rather some inconsistencies and general quality over a herd of VAs throwing the cost of the game through the roof or diverting the budget from more critical aspects.

Dean: I was a bit bummed that it still suffered from a lack of VA cast. At least there’s no mix up this time of old beggar woman suddenly gaining the voice of a countess. I’ve not noticed the celebrity voice cast much either. Only voice I’ve recognised is Lynda Carter. Whereas in Oblivion it was “Yes Emperor Picard I’ll save your son Boromir from the evil Mankar Zod”. Also a lot of the script is the same too, despite being different VA much of the shop keepers all have the same lines and feel that could have been changed since it’s hardly like that’s a space saving issue.

I'm on a horse

Ben: Any closing thoughts?

Declan: Release the mod tools, Bethesda. Keep them open. Gamers will lap this up if you let your community help you to improve it.

Ben: It seems that Bethesda finally made an RPG that I can get behind wholeheartedly. I look forward to continuing my adventures in Skyrim, and eagerly await any DLC or sequels they’re planning.

Connor: Bethesda go from strength to strength. Skyrim is no different. I was thrilled to see that they’ve learned lessons from Oblivion and Fallout 3 and have created what is a real contender for GOTY this year. It’s certainly one of mine.

Dean: I feel it is one step closer to the perfect TES game, but still missing a few touches here and there. Their time with Fallout, Bethesdas first “new” franchise after mainly knocking out TES titles, has certainly played a large part in the tweaks to Skyrim. However regardless of the issues it has come out with, and my feelings towards the “let the community fix it” mentality, they are still some of the most content packed games you can get. The bang for buck ratio is insane, I can’t see myself picking up many new games for months.

Johnny: At the end of the day, I think the most impressive thing about Skyrim is how well-made it is on a technical level. It is mind-boggling that this is still a modified Gamebryo Engine powering it.

Declan: It’s the sign of a good engine. Look at Source – still has stuff from GoldSrc and that had stuff from the Quake 1 engine. Here’s to more improvements and all the ones they made.

Darrell: Skyrim was a gift. I would not pay 20% more RRP for a PC game just because Bethesda think it’s acceptable. No Bethesda, it is not acceptable. No. That aside, it’s my second most scrumptious WRPG of the year, and the ultimate Elder Scrolls game if you’re searching for meaningful exploration.

And so ends our roundtable. Feel free to add your thoughts here below, or join in the discussion on the X-Talk forum.

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