Ihave spent around 600 hours in Skyrim since the game first came out in 2011. I suspect that number might actually be far greater. In anticipation for the new release, I started playing again.
It must have been the shiny modded version vs. my old XBOX360 memories that inspired these observations, because certain idiosyncrasies of the game started to click with me this time around. Here are some of my favorite realizations.
1. On the Skill screen, there are astonishing blue, reddish-orange, and green nebulas. I’d always loved this particular choice for ambiance, as the game felt pretty devoid of color to me. These menus were a way to add in a little of the color the land lacked. With all of the text on the page, I never realized that each of the nebulas was actually an archetypal character for the skills they governed.
I love the art even more for this menu. Kinda cool, isn’t it?
2. Primarily playing non-mage characters, I never took time to appreciate the power that spells have in this game. I started up a shock mage character for fun and went about my business, wreaking havoc on the countryside. Something about the way the mage’s hands looked on the screen was so familiar. Startled, I looked down to see that my own hands were shaped in the exact manner as my character before.
It felt like the creators were making a gentle play on “holding the power in your own hands.” I loved this little detail.
3. Along with my shock mage came the territory of casting spells types I rarely used before: Lightning Runes. After casting a few, the patterns of the ruins started to look clearer to me, and I realized that the central letters on runes stand for the type of rune being casted.
I loved these spells because they felt reminiscent of Diablo II’s assassin traps, one of my favorite stealth game mechanics. The nostalgia factor runs hard for me with this character. Kudos if anyone can make out any meaning in the runes around the circle. I haven’t been able to make heads or tails of them.
4. Dabbling in alchemy with this character seemed a necessity since I needed great quantities of magicka just to make it through one dungeon. As I was delving into the depths, I recognized that the alchemy labs generally had the ingredients I needed laid out on them. Once I picked them up, I could use them in combination to make a potion.
I thought this was a cool mechanism for the creators to show, not tell, players how to make new potions.
5. Being a frequent visitor to the College of Winterhold made me really appreciate Skyrim’s attempt to honor the glorious spires of the Arcane University in Oblivion. However, upon wandering the halls, it was clear to me that the design of this building makes no logical sense.
I realize this may be a Harry Potter-esque reference, but no other part of Skryim’s design makes as little sense as the College of Winterhold. I was really hoping for a more believable design. It’s less Harry Potter and more Winchester House.
For suffering through all of that, shall we say, insight, I will grant you with one bonus item! Curated from my preferred Elder Scrolls installment: Oblivion!
+1. There are no gloves in Oblivion. It’s true! The entire game was created with the massive oversight of no gloves. It really hindered my thief RP, because what good thief would leave their fingerprints everywhere! Seriously, I love this game though, even with all of its difficulty and imperfections. It’s a true roleplaying game and not just a sandbox like Skyrim. Both great games, but Oblivion will always be closer to my heart.
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