This week I’ve been a little short on gaming time, but all the time I have had has been sunk solely into Skyrim. I can think of few better games in terms of pure escapism. The mixture of incredibly sedate activities like decorating my house, or levelling up smithing as well as the more traditional dungeon crawler and save the world type content, is what keeps me coming back to the game. In effect, I can pick what sort of experience I want that day, and there are sufficient options to keep things fresh, and mods certainly help with that as well.
I’ve spent a really quite inordinate amount of time building and decorating my palatial home, Lakeview Manor, located just to the east of the town of Falkreath. This content came with one of the games DLCs, Hearthfire, and whilst you can’t truly build a house from scratch in your own image, you are given just enough customisation options to make things engaging. Materials needed for construction suddenly become of value to players, and you may find yourself scouring through the hills in search of goats in order to use their horns as wall sconces. The humdrum activity of building part of the houses extension, then realising you’re out of materials, then hopping to town, then back home, then back to town, can be quietly mesmerising in its own way.
For once, I’m actually attempting to engage with the games main storyline, and I believe I’m pretty far along with that. It’s not too bad, but I’ve never considered story to be one of the strong points of The Elder Scrolls series in general. I have encountered one particular moment which I found quite exciting to be a part of, and that’s the ‘peace council’ between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks that it’s possible for the player to initiate in the right circumstances. Sitting round a table with all of the games most important characters, and carving up Skyrim between the factions in the name of peace and neutrality was oddly exhilarating, perhaps because being given that much influence over the game world was a little surprising to me. Anyway, I’m currently about to fly off on the back of a dragon to what I imagine is pretty close to the conclusion of the story, but I’m not in a huge rush to get there just yet.
As always though, the games strongest selling point continues to be it’s open world. It’s just so detailed compared to previous iterations of TES, and you feel that over every hill and in every nook and cranny, there is something worth seeing. It’s beautiful, and diverse, and at it’s best can feel quite alive. I probably spend more time simply exploring, or journeying from one point to another, than on any other activity in the game. Whether it’s the lush forests of the south, the harsh craggy landscape of the west, the snowy tundra of the north, or the fertile, misty lands to the east, I never tire of looking for new things to see and do.
I’m still having a lot of fun with Skyrim. I feel that, for perhaps the first time since its release, I’m actually going to systematically clear its content. I’ve only lightly touched on the DLCs, mainly just a little exploration, but it’s nice knowing I have fresh content I haven’t seen yet to come to later. And of course, Skyrim is almost endless given the sheer weight of high quality mods available, and the ease with which they can be installed, updated and maintained thanks to the Steam Workshop. So overall, I’m really glad I picked up Skyrim again. I hadn’t spent anywhere near as much time with it as I would of liked, so it’s nice to get around to correcting that.