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Too Many Options in Skyrim

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 6 Dec 2011 16:00
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The interesting thing about Skyrim is the sheer range of experience different players have depending on where they felt like going first and how they built their character. I have an associate who lost interest in the game because they were playing a conjurer, and the half-dozen familiars and followers they accrued made the game completely unchallenging. Which I found interesting, because I ended up quitting the game when it became too difficult. I was a one-handed / shield specialist with no followers, and I got trapped in a dungeon that I couldn't leave until I killed the boss, who could kill me in three hits and whom I was expected to fight while a liche was summoning ice monsters in the same room. Even with every buff I had and using the last resort technique of pausing to slam a health potion between every single blow, no amount of believing in myself was getting me through that one.

Earlier on, though, I got involved in a quest in which I had to be followed around by a talking dog that I had to escort to a couple of locations on the map, but I took the opportunity to complete a couple of other quests on the way. Now, being a magical dog with a quest attached, my pedigree chum was completely immortal, and like all followers in Skyrim, it seemed to think that a footrace had been unspokenly declared whenever a hostile enemy appeared within a half-mile radius. This led to a recurring situation in which a dragon was easily defeated because it was busy breathing fire at a small mongrelly dog that wouldn't budge a fucking inch while I stood behind it hacking at its scaly arse with a handaxe.

I actually started to resent this. I felt I had enough problems with my horse stealing my kills that I didn't need the rest of the animal kingdom getting in on the action. And I don't recall the prophecy stating that the Dragonborn would defeat the black dragon with the help of the mangey puppy that kept following him around. So I hastily completed the dog quest just to get rid of it. Apparently too hastily, judging by that dungeon business that made me quit.

I also accidentally became a werewolf. Not because I was bitten by one, I sort of accidentally got into the quest where you become one officially. I didn't know, I did some jobs for the guys and they asked me to come to a little dark evil cave at night so they could give me a special present. And they'd already given me a very spiffy handaxe as a special present earlier on so they seemed like decent sorts. I suppose the option to decline came up, but after they went through all the trouble of giving me the spiel and one of them filled a big sacrificial bowl with rather alarming quantities of their blood, it felt ungrateful.

For some reason, it's very easy to accidentally pledge yourself for life in Skyrim. I and two of my friends all had the exact same story of accidentally joining the Thieves' Guild, too. You'd think it would want to keep a low profile, not aggressively press-gang every potential undercover police officer who shows up at the town gates, but what do I know. Anyway, becoming a werewolf did sound fun, I suppose, even if it proved to be completely useless in the end because the transformation sequence took ages, and enemies could freely whack away at my health throughout, so it wasn't exactly good for turning the tide in a difficult battle. But the first time I transformed and turned back I found myself in the middle of the countryside wearing only my underpants, in true American Werewolf In London style. And the first thing I thought upon seeing my pale, shivering form without armour for the first time since the beginning of the game was "Oh, that's what I look like. I forgot."

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