I've planned on making posts like this for some time. Similar to Phipps in regard to his views on certain games and movies. If this turns out well I may do more. I’ve have seen and watched many videos about Skyrim and always wanted to voice my opinion on it. Before I get started, I want to make things clear. While I have many problems with Skyrim it still holds a place in my heart for personal reasons. Skyrim was my late cousins' favorite game and one of the last games he ever played. I still have a pic of his character saved on my pc. Due to that I have played an ungodly number of hours in Skyrim whenever I start to miss him. Although, if my cousin were alive today, I can safely say that The Witcher series would be his new favorite franchise. Don’t think my sentimentally will make me bias in the games favor. Even with games I love and enjoy I always try to keep a critical eye. Now that we got that out of the way I think it’s time we talk about the things I feel were positives in Skyrim. 1. I like the mix of both Nordic and Imperial aesthetics in the world of Skyrim. It makes sense that Skyrim would have a mix of both cultures given how Skyrim was a part of the Empire for several centuries. 2. I love exploring the world. It is clear that Bethesda put a lot (If not most) of their efforts on making the world fun to explore. It is sometimes quite therapeutic for me to just explore a forest or dungeon dive a fort after a hard day. 3. I love the support for modding. I will give Bethesda some credit. It was nice of them to release the Creation Kit for modders and players. This really allows the player to get creative and make their game unique. 4. There are a lot of good ideas in Skyrim. I like the ideas that they had for things like the Forsworn, the Dragon Cult, the Civil War. If Bethesda spent more time developing these things, they could have really made something special. Now on to the negatives. This will be a long one. 1. Little to no RPG elements in the game. There is very little in regards to actual RPG elements in a self-proclaimed RPG game. There wasn’t a lot in the way of dialogue choices. If you were lucky you may sometimes get an option to be either snarky or direct but that is about it. This really leaves things lacking when it comes to both interacting with the world and allowing the player to customize the type of character they want to play. It feels like you are playing the character that Bethesda wants you play instead of you playing the character you want to play as. The people of NMA who know me know that this was one of the biggest peeves I had with the New Vegas mod New California. While it seemed like Bethesda did take some baby steps with the Dawnguard DLC in which you can side with either the Dawnguard or Vampires and if you side with the Dawnguard and are about to enter the Soul Carin you have a choice to either become a vampire or be partially soul trap in order to enter the Soul Carin. You also have the option of discussing your parents' fate with Serena. Not perfect but baby steps. It’s just too bad that Bethesda didn’t improve on that and instead took a major step back in regards to player choice with the Dragonborn DLC. 2. The magic system is garbage. I am no magic user. I love playing as a ranger type character. Give me a bow, sword and some leather armor over magic, staves and robes any day. However, my boyfriend loves playing as a wizard character. The wizard is his go to class in both D&D and Pathfinder. He absolutely hated the magic system in Skyrim. It was extremely lacking and basic. Compared to the types of spells you can get in mods like Apocalypse and you really get the feeling that magic was an afterthought compared to melee combat for Bethesda. 3. The skill tree is lacking. When playing an RPG and gaining a new level one should feel rewarded when choosing their next perk. You should also take into heavy consideration when choosing a new perk. When I play New Vegas, I would plan and chart out what skills I wanted to improve on and what perk I wanted to get at that level. It felt rewarding when my character would level up and the gameplay would change for me a bit with what new perk I got. With Skyrim’s skill tree I really don’t feel rewarded nor does the gameplay change. Most of the perks were just percentage increases to skills. Other perks included things that were very basic that really didn’t impact gameplay like zooming in with your bow or sneak roll. I didn’t really feel rewarded with the Skyrim skill tree. It’s no wonder that mods like T3nd0’s Perkus Maximus is so popular on the Nexus. 4. The speech skill tree is also both useless and broken. In a game like New Vegas, ATOM and Greedfall (which I am currently playing) I always invest a lot in the speech skill. While I like playing as a ranger/bounty hunter type character I prefer to try to solve most of my problems nonviolently and get access to information that normally would be locked out for me if I didn’t have a high speech skill. In Skyrim, the dialogue as we all know took a back seat to the open world aspects of the game. There is little to no speech checks in the game which makes the speech skill useless. Even if you do invest in the speech skill you will find that persuasion and intimidation checks are broken. The only thing that the speech tree is useful for is bartering with merchants and investing in their businesses. It’s clear that the speech tree was an afterthought to Bethesda when designing the game. 5. Dragons are pathetically weak. To anybody who has ever played a D&D game will know that dragons are some of the toughest boss monsters in the game. It takes a lot of skill and planning if you want to stand a chance on taking on a dragon in its prime. In Skyrim though the dragons don’t really provide that much of a challenge. If a lowly giant is able to easily beat a dragon, that we are told were once the undisputed “God-Kings” of the world, why does Skyrim need the Dragonborn? Seems like anybody and their grandpa can take on and defeat a dragon. Sure, the normies who play this game will feel like they are fulfilling a power fantasy with Skyrim which is why Skyrim is very popular with the normie crowd but for fans of fantasy and fantasy RPG’s and table tops the dragons in Skyrim are pathetic and kind of insulting. Which leaves me to the next thing on my list. 6. Aduin is a badly written villain. As the old saying goes, a story and hero are only as good as it’s villain. I can’t really say that Alduin is a bad villain. Mainly because he doesn’t have a character. Unlike villains like Kylo Ren and General Hux where there was enough character for me to discern that they are badly written villains that isn’t the case with Alduin. In game we are told that Alduin is the "World-Eater”. That he destroys the current world and begins the next kalpa. He however ended up forsaking his role as “World-Eater” and instead sought to rule it. His tyranny lead to the ancient Nords rebelling and starting the Dragon War. Throughout the game it is unclear what Alduin’s goal is. Does he want to destroy the world or rule it? What is his goal? What are his plans? We really don’t get any answers to that. Compare this to the main villain in Morrowind, Dagoth Ur. In Morrowind we learn what Dagoth Ur plans and goals which are: Establish a theocracy in Morrowind based on the new-born god Akulakhan. Establish the ancient heirs of House Dagoth as the god-priests of Akulakhan, and the Sixth House of Dagoth Ur as the dominant political power in Morrowind. Through charismatic conversion, unite the Dunmer under the guidance of Dagoth Ur to battle against the foreign races who hold Morrowind in subjection. Expose the false worship of the Tribunal and destroy the ecclesiastical authority and political power of the Temple. Extirpate all remaining individuals of “inferior” and “mongrel” races from Morrowind. Reclaim ancient territories stolen by Skyrim and Black Marsh. Drive the Empire from Morrowind. Extend the worship of Akulakhan to all nations of Tamriel through subversion and conquest. Now these are the plans of a well written villain. Not to mention that Dagoth Ur had many plans that he set in motion to make his goals a reality. Such as spreading the Blight and Corpus to create more followers and converts, creating bases of operations, assassinations, stroking anti-Imperial sentiment and inspiring uprisings with the native poor against the foreigners, rich and those in power. What also made Dagoth Ur an interesting villain is that he tries to tempt the Nerevarine to join his side. Reminding them that they were once friends in a past life. Hell, even Mankar Camoran had goals and plans. He thought that he would be able to create a paradise if he helped Mehrunes Dagon dissolve the barriers between Nirn and Oblivion. He had minions who he used to spy and assassinate his enemies and further his goals. Alduin had none of that. With Alduin it is confusing what Bethesda was going for. I think they were going for something similar to Sauron. A villain who mainly works through their minions and what not. Problem is that we really don’t see a resurgence with the Dragon Cult and the dragons as I stated earlier don’t really provide the player with a real challenge. Also, Sauron had a clear goal while Alduin does not. It’s so frustrating to me as Alduin could have been a great villain. Like Dagoth Ur, he could have tempted or challenged the Dragonborn. The Dragonborn is kin to both man and dragons. He could have tried to use that fact to lure the Dragonborn to his and his dragons' side. Perhaps trying to convince the Dragonborn that the mortal races will only exploit them for their power. The prime example the player would see in the game is of course the Stormcloaks, Empire, Blades and Thalmor who wish to use the Dragonborn as a weapon against the other. Instead of being used as a weapon to the petty mortal factions causes the Dragonborn should instead take their place by Alduin side and rule over and dominate the races of mortals. It is the nature of dragons to dominate after all. I mean, give us something to invest in Bethesda! 7. The factions and the stupid fact that you can be the leader of all of them. I don’t know about you but I find it irritating that your character can become the leader of every faction in Skyrim. Play as a sneaky and callous assassin who delights in murder for the Dark Brotherhood but wants to see if you can join an honorable band of warriors? You can and with no repercussions! Of course, normies love this as they hate restrictions when it comes to RPG’s which I find weird. An RPG is supposed to have restrictions in order to encourage replays. Play as a warrior character but wants to see what goes on in the Mages Guild? Well play a mage in your next playthrough! Bethesda however didn’t want to restrict the character with what factions they can join. This was a bad design choice. Let’s contrast that to an actual RPG, New Vegas. In New Vegas the player ultimately has to side with one of the factions, NCR, Legion, Mr. House or Yes Man. You can’t side with all the factions. You have to make a choice on which faction you want to side with. When you do many of those factions' quest will be cut off from you. The reason why is because the four factions in New Vegas are culturally, politically and philosophically different from each other who all have the same goal of conquering New Vegas. As such you can’t side with all of them. Likewise, the factions in Skyrim are culturally and philosophically different and conflict with each other. The Companions look down on magic, thievery and the underhanded tactics used by the likes of the Dark Brotherhood. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood see the honor bound culture of the Companions as trite and self-righteous. The Mages Guild don’t look too kindly at the Companions bluntness and disregard for knowledge or the Thieves Guild stealing the knowledge and magical items they acquired. Nor would they look too kindly at an assassin of the Dark Brotherhood joining their ranks and giving them more of a bad name with the local populaces. Bethesda either didn’t think this through or they truly believed that restricting the player in which faction they can join would be a detriment to the player’s experience. It reminds me of my four-year-old niece playing with her Barbies and saying that her Barbie is a princess, queen, vet, super hero, spy and sorceresses. I look at her and say “Sweetheart, you can’t be all of these things at once.” Only for her to say “Yes I can! I can be everything!” That was Bethesda’s mind set in regards to player’s joining factions. Speaking of factions... 8. Bethesda obvious favoritism with the Thieves Guild. Nobody likes it when the developer plays favorites with a character or faction. I remember how Mass Effect fans were annoyed at the obvious favoritism that the developers had with Liara. The same can be said with Bethesda and the Thieves Guild. Bethesda really tries to push the player to joining the Thieves Guild the moment they come into Riften. Even if you tell the Guild’s second in command to sod off, he still offers an invite for the player to join the Guild. I had no interest in joining the Thieves Guild given that I like to play as an honorable warrior in shining armor character that sees thieves as opportunistic and greedy low lives that only make the lives of innocent and hardworking people miserable. She would rather wipe out the Thieves Guild alongside Mjoll the Lioness and rid Riften of the corruption that the Thieves Guild and their chief client, Maven Black-Briar, have brought to the city. But no! Bethesda doesn’t want us to do that to their precious Thieves Guild. You are going to join the Thieves Guild whether you want to or not! The worst part is that nearly all of the Thieves Guild NPC’s are essential. If that doesn’t show favoritism, I don’t know what does. This goes to show that you aren’t playing your character in Skyrim but Bethesda’s character and they will flip you off for daring to play your character your way. This is a bad design choice in an RPG. The equivalent to this is a dungeon master in D&D playing favorites with a certain player, faction or class and changing the campaign so their favorite player, class or faction come out on top and the expense of the player’s role-playing experience. I get the feeling that Todd, Emil and Pete are “that guy” when they play table tops and are the dungeon masters. 9. The civil war feels very under developed. The ideas for the civil war are actually really good it’s just too bad that they are under developed. You have a country that is divide. Some of the local Nords feel that the Empire has forsaken them. Making them abandon their gods and choosing their leaders for them who they feel are nothing but puppets for the Empire and their interests. While Nords loyal to the Empire as well as the Empire themselves feel that Skyrim belongs to the Empire and that if Skyrim becomes independent then both they and the Empire will be weak to the threat of the Aldmeri Dominion. However, we really don’t see a land in war. There are no skirmishes, no aftermaths of battles or NPC’s getting into fights or harassing other NPC’s who are on the others side. This is a land divided. It should feel like that. We should also have NPC’s giving the player good reasons as to why they should join their cause. The Stormcloaks could try to tell the player that the Redguards proved that the Empire is no longer needed to keep Skyrim safe and if the Redguards could single-handedly take on the Dominion and win then why can’t they? While pro Empire NPC’s will try to convince the player that Skyrim will be stronger if they remain in the Empire and things will only get worse for Skyrim in terms of law, order and economics. They also should have shown the bad that each faction has. Such as the Stormcloaks being bigoted to non-Nords and walking all over them or the Empires nobles and puppets being cosmopolitan, elitist prats that look down on the local Nords as knuckle dragging savages that don’t know what’s best for them. You see a little of this but not really a lot. Both sides should have their equal amounts of positives and negatives. The game that of course did it better was New Vegas. All four factions in that game had both their positives and negatives. The NCR is a democratic republic were the people can vote for their leaders and have equal rights while their negatives is that the NCR is becoming increasingly corrupt and imperialistic. The Legion lands are thriving, their money is worth a lot, trade is good in their lands and the people are safe but the negatives are that they are an authoritarian slaver society that treats women like breeding stock and their subjects have little to no say in Legion politics. Mr. House has created a thriving economy in New Vegas and has restore much of New Vegas to its pre-war glory. However, if Mr. House were to be in charge, he would squash any and all factions who he feels would be a threat to him and his power and would run the Mojave like a dictator. With Yes Man the people of New Vegas will be free from the politics of all sides yet at the same time they don’t really progress as a society or look to improve their lot. Things just kind of stagnant. Bethesda was really simplistic with both the Empire and Stormcloaks. Most people side with the Empire because “Stormcloaks are racists!” As someone who lives in the West, being a racist or a sexist is worse than being a child raping serial killer. (Yet the same people who cry about the Stormmcloaks being racist also side with the Forsworn and Dunmer who, according to the lore, are just as big if not more so racist then the Stormcloaks. That never fails to amuse me. HAHA!) I really can’t fault the player for thinking this as Bethesda did such a piss poor job at presenting the two factions. The Stormcloaks are racist while the Empire tried to cut off your head without a trial. That is the depth that we have with these factions. It’s so bad and the type of writing I would expect from a first-year writing student. 10. To many wasted ideas and potential. Skyrim’s entire theme for me is wasted potential. There are quite a lot of interesting ideas that are wasted or half assed. You have the Civil War of course, as I mention earlier. You have a faction like the Forsworn who could have been really interesting. While the Nords complain about the Imperial’s oppressing them and stealing their lands and removing their gods you have the Forsworn saying the same thing about the Nords. When I first heard about the Forsworn, I thought, “Cool! I can’t wait to come across Forsworn NPC’s and have them tell me their stories and their fight and what not.” But no! Instead the Forsworn are little more than reskinned bandits. You have the factions whose quests are very simplistic being that most of them are just radiant quests. You also have the dragons, who I feel were the biggest waste. The dragons had their own culture, language and cult. Why aren’t we seeing a reemergence of their cult? Why aren’t they demanding tributes from cities and holds? In the hands of a more talented writer and developer, Skyrim could have been a very interesting RPG. Perhaps close to the same vein as Morrowind. I don’t know what else more I can say about Bethesda and Skyrim. It is quite clear that things aren’t going well over at Bethesda, especially with the disaster that is Fallout 76. You can see it too with Todd and Pete. They looked nervous at last year's E3. It’s like they now know that they can’t leech off the success of Skyrim anymore. Bethesda has also have had trouble as of late with games they have developed. Fallout 4 received mixed reviews and divided Bethesda’s fanbase. Elder Scrolls Online was panned on launch but receive praise after a few updates and patches but it’s nowhere near as popular as Final Fantasy XIV. Legends, which was to be a competitor to CD Projekt Red’s Gwent is nowhere near as popular as Gwent. Blades was panned by many due to the bugs and micro-transactions alone. Then of course we have Fallout 76 which was a disaster of biblical proportions. Bethesda’s brand is now considered toxic by most gamers. The only company that is doing worse with gamers right now is Blizzard. Bethesda knows that right now they are in a do or die situation. They need Elder Scrolls 6 to be a success. To do that they need to disregard the success of Skyrim. They have been chasing the dragon (no pun intended) that was Skyrim’s success for almost a decade now. Times have changes and with time taste and trends change. Skyrim may have been popular at a time when normies were invading all things nerd culture but times are different now. With games like The Witcher 3, Disco Elysium and The Outer Worlds I think gamers are looking for a more meaningful experience with RPG’s. If Bethesda was smart, they would: 1. Hire new writers. Poach some talent from other studios whose games are known for their good writing and hire them to write for your next Elder Scrolls game. 2. Get rid of the Creation Engine. It is outdated and can’t compete with the competition. CD Projekt Red was able to make their engine from scratch and made it mod friendly. Bethesda has the means and the resources to make a new and better engine. Why they have been delaying the enviable is beyond me. 3. Add in RPG elements. Stop listening to Pete Hines about how games need to be more action-adventure oriented. Gamers want RPG elements in their RPG’s. Look at what people have praised The Witcher 3, The Outer Worlds and Disco Elysium for and learn from their success. I think that is all I have to say about Skyrim and Bethesda. I may do more ramblings like this in the future on other topics that strike my fancy. Anyway, thanks for reading and please leave me your comments. I hope you guys and gals all have a great day and thanks for reading!