Since it’s release last Friday I’ve spent the majority of my time ridding Skyrim of Dragons and Trolls. And believe me, it’s addictive. The game is a clear improvement over Oblivion’s repetitive dungeons and awkward NPC interactions. The quests are motivating and diverse, the environment is incredibly detailed. It might not quite match the uniqueness and sense of vastness of the world of Morrowind, but it certainly keeps you hooked. But one thing that I find it lacks is any notion of humor. Unless your idea of a joke is to play hide and seek with a bunch of kids, then turn into a werewolf and tear them to shreds, Skyrim will do many things, but it won’t tickle your funny bone.
This is nothing new for the Elder Scrolls series: while the graphics and environment are usually up to the state of the art in video gaming, Bethesda always tends to neglect the plot line and character writing. Unlike for example Bioware, it just seems like they are happy to provide an immersive experience and do not worry too much about the underlying narrative. With all other aspects getting more and more refined, I do feel that this is starting to show in the game though.
Specifically I think that a world drowning in violence and disorder of a civil war, as is the case with Skyrim, could use some lighter moments to make the picture more complete. It just is a common human trait throughout history, that no matter how bad the situation, people will try to lighten things up by humor. And it’s not an uncommon sight in CRPGs either – just thinking back to Fallout’s exploding outhouse or Boo, the miniature giant space hamster from Baldur’s Gate. Then again, Bethesda managed to suck the fun out of the Fallout series as well – see Fallout 3.
If Bethesda would try to incorporate just one joke, and I am using the term loosely, into every major quest line of a game of Skyrim’s scope, I think they would make a significant step towards recreating a realistic world.
Well, got to get back to those dragons now…