Friday, November 04, 2016

Review: Skyrim ReMastered

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition also called Skyrim: Remastered

Bethesda last week rolled out an improved version of Skyrim, its most popular role playing game. It is the fifth in the Elder Scrolls series. I have played Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, but not the first two.

Skyrim is set in a world where there be dragons, and you are, should you choose to be, the Dragonborn, and thus the dragon slayer.

The thing about Skyrim, as well as other video games, is there is a story line. Most non-players do not understand that. It's not just shoot and kill, shoot and kill. There is a plot. There are morals (or not, your choice). The Elder Scrolls games in particular are immersive and non-linear, meaning you can roam about a detailed countryside, sit down in a bar and have a beer, and create your own story line if you want by simply ignoring the quests and storyline offered. (Some of the storylines need to be ignored - they are obviously written by 20-year-old boys who have spent too much time in their mother's basement.)

I have over 1,000 hours in the original Skyrim, which was released five years ago. Of course, some of that has been recovery time from my health issues, so it's time I may have spent at work or elsewhere had I been well. But I digress.

Skyrim 2015

Skyrim: Remastered is a better graphic version of Skyrim released five years ago. However, for PC users, it isn't much of an improvement. Fortunately, Bethesda released it for free to PC users - but other platforms have to purchase it.

Is it better? Sure. I suspect on a console, it is fantastic. I do not have a huge gaming computer, so I have to play on low-level graphics anyway, and even with that limitation, the graphics are better. There is no change in game play, though. The easter eggs remain, the ways to get things that are kind of cheats (but not) remain - and the dialogue is still screwed up in places. (I know this because I'm up to a level 19 character with 14 hours in the last week.)

Seriously, guys, if you were going to all of that trouble to re-release the game and call it "remastered," couldn't you have fixed the dialogue in Riften so that Bolli and the guy in the Pawned Prawn aren't married to the same woman? And couldn't that the quest in the Riften Hall of the Dead send you to the right place initially, not to Windhelm instead of Whiterun, where you are supposed to go? How could you re-release this game and not make those simple fixes? You're a big gaming company. Do you not have a proof reader or copy editor or something?

So far I have only played the vanilla version of Skyrim: Remastered. In the initial version, I generally played vanilla first and then attached a few mods, mostly multiple followers and a bat file that kept all of my NPCs from being killed by master vampires early in the game. I like having more than one follower - they are good for hauling loot and watching my back. And I hate it when my NPCs die. There aren't that many of them to begin with.

I have a tendency to create my own story line and immerse myself in the game world, looking at every shelf, reading all the books, building the houses - and it is good to have someone tackle the bandit who slips up on you from time to time.

That's the thing about Skyrim. It is a great interactive world. The AI is a bit long in the tooth as far as the NPCs go, but overall, it's very easy to say, "I'm going to play for 30 minutes" and two hours later you're wondering what happened and why you're still hunting for that darned dragon priest.

Bethesda now needs to put out Elder Scrolls VI, and move forward. Skyrim is having its second go-round - according to Facebook there are 180,000 people talking about it right now - but I am ready for a new story. I don't want to play online with other people. I want another game like this one, but with a new plot and a new land. Nirn (the world of the Elder Scrolls) is a big place. Let's explore more of it.


To answer an oft-asked question, yes, I am a female who plays video games. I have played video games since there were video games. I started out with Pong and moved on. I have a huge box full of 3.5 disks with most of the ID Software games, and I have all of the Age of Empire games, all of The Sims games, and I loved Might & Magic in all of its incarnations. And let's not forget Commander Keen, Wolfenstein, Myst, King's Quest (all of them), Fable, Dungeon Quest, and even NASCAR.

I do not play games that require me to interact with other people, because in my experience, it is hard to find other female players, and many guys are jerks. I know they're not all jerks, but the majority are, and I choose not to subject myself to that.

How many women play video games these days? And by that, I mean role playing games or online character games. Not just Words with Friends or Angry Birds. I play things like that, too, but those are different from an immersive RPG.

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