Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Is a Libertarian's Dream

An actual screen shot from the game.  Beautiful.  Oh,
and my Kajiit assassin is fucking BA.
I've said for a long time that Bethesda is one of the last truly great game developers in the gaming industry.  Of course they want to make money, but they want to do it by making games of amazing quality.

The latest entry into the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim, will likely be game of the year.  It might even possibly be one of the greatest games ever made.  I know, that seems a bit premature, but hear me out.

Games today seem to be trying to tap into the human desire to distinguish oneself.  Even people who believe in austerity or conservative modes of operation are trying to distinguish themselves from others.  They want to be recognized as a part of whatever group they belong to.  Non-conformists do the same thing, although they want to distinguish themselves as not part of a particular group.

I think that's why video games today offer so much more customization.  It could be that game engines are stronger and allow for a more personal experience, but that's the thing.  For the most part, gamers want a personalized experience.  That's where Bethesda comes in.

Now since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowwind, Bethesda has put some restrictions on their games.  In Morrowwind, I was able to regen some 20 hp every second, and that's nothing compared to what my friend had going on in that game.  You couldn't do that with Oblivion, and you can't do that in Skyrim (without modding the games and removing such restrictions).  Be that as it may, if you're the type of person who is all about personal freedom and meritocracy, Skyrim might just be your wet dream.

First off, you get to pick what race you want to be.  Then, you don't even pick a class in Skyrim (unlike Morrowwind and Oblivion).  You pretty much just do whatever it is you want to do.  Want to wear heavy armor?  Go ahead.  Tired of heavy armor and want to wear light armor?  Do it up.  Getting bored of using war axes?  Not a problem, just start using a sword or a mace since they're in the same skill tree.  What if you're a mage type, and you want to have bad ass destruction and restoration skills?  Start casting shit at people!

And that's just the play style.  Then there's all the content you get to tackle.  In addition to the main quest line, you've got 4 other major quest lines to follow should you choose.  You can join up with the Companions (the figher's guild); steal shit everywhere for the Thieves Guild; go be a mage guild puppet; or go completely bad ass and assassinate people for the Dark Brotherhood.  And those are just major quest lines, not even taking into account the fact that there's tons of other side quests to do in each of the cities.

To give you an idea of just how much content there is, I completed my first playthrough in 70 hours, and I skipped a faction (I didn't want to do the mage's guild).  70 hours is twice as long as Oblivion took me.

But then here's the other beautiful thing: you get out of it exactly what you put into it.  If you don't use your skills, you don't get any better at them.  If you don't perform quests for people, money and rewards are tough to come by.

The beauty of it all is that you can pretty much do whatever you want, however the hell you want to do it.  Some avenues of gameplay might be tougher than others (I'm finding out that playing a sword and board character is infinitely more difficult than a stealth guy), but if you put in the hard work then you'll achieve your goal.  My goal is always to break the game, and make my guy out to be a walking deity.  I pretty much achieved that with my assassin, as he was able to 1-shot dragons by the end of everything (so long as he was not detected).

You can buy property, you can decorate your home, you can break the law, you can toss a coin to a hungry beggar, and you can save the world.  Or you can just choose not to do any of that and do something else entirely.  Really, you can do whatever the hell you want.  Go nuts!  That's what makes Skyrim so amazing. 

I mean aside from the fact that the graphics of the game are fairly fucking awesome, the story-lines are pretty solid, and the gameplay mechanics are nearly perfect, what really makes this game shine above the rest is the fact that with the exception that Bethesda still has a specific story to tell, you're free to be whatever/whoever you want to be.  And ultimately, that's what every human really wants.


KP said...

I may have to try gaming someday!

In the meantime, what are you thinking about Urban Meyer coaching football at The Ohio State?

Jack Camwell said...

Well, as a Michigan fan (I know, I'm a sacreligious traitor) I'm not to pleased by it, but whatevs.

KP said...

He is a very good coach. It only serves to make the game with big blue larger each year.

Harrison said...

This Skyrim thing is all over Reddit. That's where I heard about it. Just not sure I need a time sink like that. Civilization is bad enough.

Jack Camwell said...

Yeah, seriously if you love your spouse or whatever, you should not get this game, lol.

I'm a big civ fan myself, so I feel you on that one =)

Harrison said...

Alpha Centauri rocks too bad no sequel.