11th November 2011. You’ve just got your hands on one of the most anticipated games of that year. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. You throw it on your console of choice back then, mine being Playstation 3 and load up into the magical world of Skyrim. When I first played Skyrim, I was taken back in pure amazement. Never had a game enticed me and made me feel so badass. Running around shooting flames out of one hand while I have a mace of a daedric overlord in the other, in combination with one of the most popular phrases in gaming, ‘FUS RO DAH’. I felt unstoppable. The guilds made me feel a part of the world. The levelling system allowed me to build my character. I had freedom to go where I please and do what I want. My first playthrough I barely used fast travel. I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. To experience it all. I wanted it all. My lust for power is what drove me to explore caves, complete quests and excavate the many dungeons of the secretive dwemer. The dark brotherhood and thieves guild was a throwback. The same idea however, a new story completely told. It was the plentiful of activities to do in Skyrim that made me enjoy the game so much. I could loot and plunder till my heart’s content. I could slay dragons like it was a normal thing to do. I could even put buckets on top of my companions head.
THE WAGON SIMULATOR, AN INTRODUCTION
‘Hey, you, you’re finally awake’
The only phrase in the world that haunts me in my sleep. After the first playthrough, it loses its touch. It loses everything. It’s a lackluster attempt an introduction to a mythical RPG. You start on a wagon, why? You were caught by imperials. Why? Yeah we still don’t know really. It appears you have been caught with the treacherous (This is me being sarcastic as he feels anything but treacherous) being that is Ulfric Stormcloak, the leader of the stormcloaks. The games attempt to make you feel like a prisoner is poor. The imperial driving the wagon shows no authority towards the prisoners. We can speak freely but only Ulfric has cloth covering his mouth. Surely, they don’t want any of us to speak? Isn’t the stereotypical action when a prisoner speaks to tell them to “Shut up”? It’s a sad attempt to make me feel like the civil war is a prevalent ongoing event in the world of Skyrim. Boring dialogue from the whole 3 voice actors they hired. A boring sequence showcasing nothing but the dull bland colour palette of the world. You just want to skip the scene and get to the gameplay. The introduction has no relevance to the story. Why do you think there are so many mods which skip the introduction? Because it’s not needed AT ALL, nobody likes it. You can completely bypass the introduction to Skyrim and still understand the story. That’s not what an introduction should be.
Take Horizon Zero Dawn for instance. Within the first, 30 seconds you’re introduced to Rost. A hugely prominent character in Aloy’s storyline. You need him for character development. You need him to progress. I don’t need Ralof or Ulfric. Rost makes you feel connected to the character and the storyline. There’s emotion and feeling. Skyrim just doesn’t achieve it. You can go the whole game without seeing any of those characters again, so why is there what feels like an hour long introduction putting you through what you’d like to say is a rip-off movie directed by Michael Bay where it’s not actually Michael Bay. And that’s a compliment. Skyrim tries to reel you in with it’s over the top explosive action scenes and loud noises. Todd, I’ll be honest with you. It doesn’t work.
HZD introduces a main character, the world, the enemies and a plot. Everything you’d expect. There’s emotion. There’s awe and there’s threat. What does Skyrim do? Roll you in on a wagon with no reason why. Send me to the block. Behead me, nobody, before the leader of the Stormcloaks. Then a dragon attacks. I say attack, he just flails his wings about and makes some loud noises. I don’t need to explain it. I’m sure you know the rest. Where’s the threat? Where’s the intimidation? If I wanted to feel intimidated by the Imperials, kill the Stormcloak leader in front of me! Then I’d say “Oh I should not mess with these Imperials, they are ruthless” It will throw me off, I wouldn’t expect it but what do we actually get? They shoot an arrow into someone who runs away from being captured. A measly NPC who is there to ‘fill the scene’. In retrospective, every NPC within that scene is a ‘fill the scene’ NPC. Not one of them will change the outcome of the story.
I don’t know if Bethesda did this on purpose, maybe they wanted a soft introduction. Show you that there’s a civil war going on. To give you a choice between two factions that’s actually covered up as a one way street. Maybe it’s because the game gives you freedom, one thing Bethesda is good at. You don’t have to join either faction. You don’t even have to see them. You can kill them all if it makes you happy. You can play as you see fit, to an extent, that’s a story for another time though.
In conclusion, if it’s your first or second time playing Skyrim, don’t take my word for it. The introduction is impressive to new players and will reel you in. If it’s your third or fourth time, well I’d suggest trying to find a mod that skips the introduction. It will make your gameplay experience so much better. While you’re at it, you might as well install some more mods. There’s a lot of problems we need to discuss. My last wish though, form your own opinion. I just press buttons on a keyboard. You are the player. You’re the one in control. What have you got to lose?