First Person: Skyrim is Soulless

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Skyrim is Soulless

Skyrim doesn't seem to care about you or what you do.

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Isn't open and without consequence exactly what gamers want out of Skyrim, though?

Dennis Scimeca:
Everyone is so impressed with Skyrim, but I can't help thinking about another open-world role-playing game published by Bethesda last year, Fallout: New Vegas. By the time I had logged as many hours into New Vegas as I have in Skyrim, I felt like I had big decisions to make that were really going to change the world of New Vegas.

While I don't entirely agree with your conclusions, I can't help but agree with this point. In Skyrim you never really feel like your decisions are making any differences. With my current character I've won the civil war for the Empire, and nobody seems that fussed. One or two NPCs have additional lines of dialogue and there are more Legion soldiers around the place, but considering that a major event has been resolved there's been remarkably little fanfare. The same goes for the destruction of the Dark Brotherhood. The guy who asked me to do it seemed pleased and gave me a fat wedge of cash, but beyond that nobody seems to give a shit that an ancient and once greatly feared society of assassins has been destroyed.

I think some kind of faction mechanic like Fallout:NV had would have worked well in Skyrim. Maybe not in major towns, but in villages and forts it'd be nice to be associated with a certain group and hated, feared or loved because of it.

Dennis Scimeca:
Perhaps I haven't arrived at that point yet in Skyrim, but I'm finding it difficult to continue caring about a world that feels completely indifferent to me and what I'm doing.

And here's where we disagree. I still care about the world even if it doesn't care too much for me or my mighty deeds. I don't know why, but I have certain NPCs I like and others who annoy me. Favoured shopkeepers, a preferred house, although I'm much less a roleplayer and more a "play the game as a game" type of guy.

Zachary Amaranth:
Isn't open and without consequence exactly what gamers want out of Skyrim, though?

Without consequences, what is the point of options? A lack of consequences for your actions would make said actions feel meaningless. The fun comes from finding out what the consequences are, and the thought that's been in my head the entire time I've been playing has been "I wonder what happens when I do this?"

If you make big, world-changing decisions and the world fails to change notably, it can be an immersion-breaker to say the least.

For me, the Elder Scroll games have never really been about "moral choices," and how they change the world. So the lack of influence my character has on the world doesn't bother me too much.

I always hate free roaming western RPG's. They give you all these "choices" that have no real impact and mean nothing.

Ogre Tactics I always thought had one of the best choice systems ever.

And this is why Skyrim doesn't get my vote for GOTY. There's sadly more soul in a game like Saints Row the Third, which is something for Bethesda to consider.

While I get the general point of teh article, I can't help but think that part of the problem was the author's own expectations and approach. It may be true that the Agnis situation is odd, and I felt the same thing when I ran into her, but there is some responsibility on the part of the player to put themselves in the role rather than have it be handed them entirely by the game. Also, while there are characters like Agnis that are perhaps more vacant than they could be, there's also other characters that have a surprising level of emotion attached to them like the blind half crazy man in one of the town's who is only clinging to some semblance of life because he's waiting for his sister to come home. There are also the times when guards or those around you do react to something you've done or accomplished.

Basically, I suppose that I feel it's both hit and miss, and that while some active suspension of disbelief on the part of the player, it's not as cut and dried as this article makes it sound. Skyrim doesn't let the player role play as much as I wish it would either, but even a table top DnD game with other live people can be pretty soulless if you approach it by expecting everyone else to do all the work for you.

See, when I met Agnis... I had the complete opposite reaction.

Here was the perfect character to exemplify how the game has a soul. It's self aware. She knew even before the bandits were killed at her feet that someone else was going to come along anyways, and it didn't matter in the least. She'd seen it before. She'd see it again.

What this story is describing? That's the limitations of a game that strives to be massive.

You can't have it both ways. You can't have a world TEEMING with infinite dialogue and interesting characters while also being enormous and filled with random interesting things to do. It's just one of the many little signs that say:

"Even though we were busy designing this big, beautiful world... we haven't forgotten the people who make it up."

She has a personality. It's a limited personality, because Agnis is NOBODY... but it's a personality. It's a mindset. It's a character. You can't develop EVERY character, but you -can- give minor set-piece characters a little flair.

Agnis is the perfect example of this.

If you just plain don't care about the story, well... I can't help you. If you don't care about the plot, or the characters, then there's not really a lot to be done. But I loved them. I loved meeting folks in Skyrim. Even folks who didn't have anything useful to say.

I've played the hell out of every Elder Scrolls game ever made. This is the most alive a world has ever felt for me.

"One of the lovely things about Skyrim is there is no doubt whatsoever if a human being is an enemy or not."

Tell that to all the Imperial guards I've accidentally nailed to the ground with an arrow from 200 feet away.

Skyrim is Elder Scrolls game. Its all about scenery, freedom and old misteries. Living people, NPC, are there only to give quests or to carry loot and be killed. Remember Morrowind? Any shopkeeper would just stand there, no matter what. And dialogues in prior Elder Scrolls games? They didn't exist. At all.

New Vegas on the other had is all about people and their stories. Parts of it did come to Skyrim - like every bandit chief now has a diary with some backstory, and in every dwemer ruin there are traces of some exploring party unlucky enought to venture there before Dragonborn.

And what worries me - I don't really like elements of New Vegas been dragged into Skyrim. They just don't belong there. Its Elder Scrolls - I want to be a Hero, not a Lone Wanderer in daedric armor.

SonicWaffle:

If you make big, world-changing decisions and the world fails to change notably, it can be an immersion-breaker to say the least.

Honey, EVERYTHING is an immersion breaker.

The sooner you learn how useless the word "immersion" is, the better.

"First person breaks my immersion!"

"Third person breaks my immersion!"

"Health packs break my immersion!"

"Regenerating health breaks my immersion!"

"Lens flare breaks my immersion!"

"HUDs break my immersion!"

"The inability to see my status breaks my immersion!"

"Immortal kids in a fantasy game break my immersion!"

Lack of consequence may be an immersion breaker, but I'm sure not being able to roleplay out a consequence-free murder fantasy breaks a few thousand other people's immersion.

Woodsey:
"One of the lovely things about Skyrim is there is no doubt whatsoever if a human being is an enemy or not."

Tell that to all the Imperial guards I've accidentally nailed to the ground with an arrow from 200 feet away.

Play as an evil character and you won't have morale remorse for those accidents.

It's quite realistic. You don't walk outside and see the name of living organisms in red/yellow/green text above their head.

I was starting to sharpen my arsenal of enchanted daggers, but then I read more than the title and noticed that you have a very good point! Kudos!

There are plenty of occations where NPCs DO react to their surroundings. But in a game with as many possibilities as Skyrim, you can't expect them to react to everything. That would require tremendous amount of AI code and dialog. You might as well complain why people don't react to putting cauldrons over their heads or why they don't start limping if you put an arrow into their knee. There is only so many situations you can handle in a world of unlimited possibilities.

Still, I suppose you are right that the specific situation you describe -could- have been put in and would have made perfect sense. The thing is that in Skyrim there are probably hundreds if not thousands of these little situations that could have been put in, and that's just not feasible.

I think the problem with Skyrim is that it makes a very realistic impression in some parts, and that raises the overall expectations, which then are not delivered half of the time.

scw55:

Woodsey:
"One of the lovely things about Skyrim is there is no doubt whatsoever if a human being is an enemy or not."

Tell that to all the Imperial guards I've accidentally nailed to the ground with an arrow from 200 feet away.

Play as an evil character and you won't have morale remorse for those accidents.

It's quite realistic. You don't walk outside and see the name of living organisms in red/yellow/green text above their head.

I do (reppin' the Dark Brotherhood); its just a waste of arrows.

I find the New Vegas comparison suspect.

All this talk about changing the world, but nothing changes.

A slideshow doesn't count as making a change in the world. Just like the very thing you're arguing against, New Vegas is static and stale. You make decisions, but their impacts are nil. You never see those pan out, you never see those change the world. You make a decision, and hours down the line, a narrator tells you the scope of that decision. Where does the game experience change? Where do the populace react to what you do, any more or less than Skyrim?

It doesn't. They don't.

All the same, like others have pointed out, Skyrim is dotted with moments where your actions have direct consequences on the world around it. NPCs note your actions and will comment on them often. Cities reflect the ravage of warfare you may bring to their gates. Revive an old symbol of religion, and you'll start meeting people on a pilgrimage to see it again. Convince a Jarl to resume her town's own burning man festival, and then you can see it hosted weekly from then on. Meeting certain conditions can sometimes alter the very appearance of a place or objects. These moments are everywhere! They're just not....everywhere. You can't see these moments in everything, because it's simply impossible to account for all player's tastes and actions, and have everything respond accordingly.

Could it be better?

Sure. Couldn't everything?

But to say that the world is completely static and non-responsive, that's simnply not true. And to also look to New Vegas as a source of inspiration for choices that matter, well, that's just not right either.

Well it's sort of true but it's soulless just like Minecraft is, i.e. you fill in the gaps with your imagination and you do need a pretty good one.

The problem is voice acting.

I don't want to sound like a disillusioned hipster from a different gaming era, but look at Fallout 1 and 2. Those games had a living, breathing world, which was also -- I dare say -- more dramatic than anything GTA comes up with and funnier than anything Saints Row comes up with.

The game had ridiculous amounts of text written for it, and it showed. If you played as a character with an intelligence level less than 4, I think, then you spoke like a caveman, and everybody reacted to you as if you were a caveman. Choices you made which involved a faction changed what all members of that faction said to you. There was consequence for killing innocents, and -- while we're on the subject -- you could totally kill children. It wasn't a six-gigabyte beast like Skyrim, but it felt much bigger.

In Skyrim, you have to take voice acting into account. Sure, you can write books and books of dialogue, but who's going to pay the voice actors to say it? Especially when Max von Sydow or whatever his name is is on the bill. In their quest for a more realistic game -- which they hoped to achieve by adding voice acting -- Beth essentially diminished the soul of the game.

But hey, why go far for comparisons? Compare Morrowind to Oblivion and Skyrim. Very little voice acting; such a big world.

That being said, I'm not going to stop playing Skyrim. We've only got to wait for strong content as long as we have to wait for the Creation Kit. When the game's given over to the hands of the community, I'm sure the community will know best.

Nazrel:
I always hate free roaming western RPG's. They give you all these "choices" that have no real impact and mean nothing.

Ogre Tactics I always thought had one of the best choice systems ever.

Er...what choice was there in Ogre Tactics? I only remember 'Don't try to dump all the EXP to one unit, because then you'll always be fighting weaker enemies, which means your karma will plummet, and everyone will hate you. Also, you can't recruit most people at low karma. Or take over cities...which is...strange.

Edit: I was thinking of Ogre Battle. Nevermind.

SPOILERS!!!! I think?

The reason I suppose Agnis doesn't have much diaglouge is because you are supposed to kill her for a dark brotherhood side contract.

Of course the point still stands. I kinda agree with the article in that your actions don't really have consequences, such as the SPOILERS AGAIN!!!!! war, you could join the stormcloacks and invade whiterun. Now I know that the game isn't suppose to be that dark, but usaully when a town is invaded, it gets sacked.

No difference is made between whether the stormcloacks or imperials win,but really I would of thought that when the stormcloaks win, that they would of looted the town and raped the women and killed the livestock and blah blah blah you get the idea.

Instead the only difference is that the guards are now stormcloak guards and you can ask some of the townspeople what it's like under stormcloack rule.

Of course I still don't complain about it too much as I expected that Skyrim wouldn't exactly have much in the way of consequences.

Zachary Amaranth:
Honey, EVERYTHING is an immersion breaker.

"Honey"?

Alright, but I'm going to start calling you dollface!

Zachary Amaranth:
The sooner you learn how useless the word "immersion" is, the better.

The issue with "immersion" is not that the concept is worthless - without it, games like Skyrim would be reduced to pick-up-and-play games you got bored of in an hour rather than sweeping addictive experiences - but that the word is heavily overused.

If immersion is broken for you because of your viewpoint or the game mechanics, then you are perhaps playing the wrong game. However, if you are totally immersed in the experience of a game because you're really enjoying it, you've managed to overcome whatever technical obstacles you had and really get into the world and the story of the game. If the game, like this one does, makes a huge deal about giving you freedom and choice then those choices have to mean something. If in your head you are a mighty elf battlemage astride the land like a colossus, choosing who will reign the realm and who lives or dies, then to find out that nobody actually gives a damn will bring you out of that experience like a bucket of cold water to the face.

Zachary Amaranth:
Lack of consequence may be an immersion breaker, but I'm sure not being able to roleplay out a consequence-free murder fantasy breaks a few thousand other people's immersion.

Choices must have consequences. If they don't, there's simply no point in giving the players choices.

Imagine you're the kind of person who wants to play a child-killing sociopath. You kill a random kid, and...nothing happens. You chose to do something, you carried it out, but nobody cares. There are no consequences, no ramifications for your behaviour. Wouldn't you rather have furious city guards and weeping parents attempting to take vengeance? Would you want the realm to be alive with whispers of your terrible deeds? I'm sure you wouldn't want to be totally ignored, regardless of what you did.

After that, it's simply a matter of scaling. If small actions have minor consequences then large actions (like deciding a civil war or killing a Jarl) should have major consequences. They don't, at least not as far as gameplay is concerned.

Oh wow, this article sums up everything I've been yelling about Skyrim since day one and got flamed to death for.

I think the ultimate problem with Elder Scrolls-style open-world games can be pointed out by expanding the Uncanny Valley concept.

Games that fit into a 16Mbit cartridge were only very vague approximations of reality. Players didn't expect realistic responses from sparsely-animated pixels that marched along two-dimensional platforms. It was easy to divorce oneself from reality because the games of the old-school make no pretensions toward reality.

Now, technology can't possibly emulate the real world perfectly. Heck, we barely understand half of how the real world works at all; there's no chance under heaven and earth that we could have powerful enough technology in the foreseeable future to model that. Why, then, do we expect realism from Elder Scrolls and not from Mario? Because the pretensions toward reality are very much present. The Uncanny Valley is a computer-graphics trope originally, suggesting that a point when things get close to realism, but not quite there, the ability to accept and appreciate them falls off dramatically. In short, they're close enough to seem real, but that just makes them more obviously not real.

Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind have been firmly rooted in the Uncanny Valley. Back in Morrowind, aided by mods, I could adventure the world, dungeon-delve, cast spells, get my character pregnant (with attendant difficulties wearing armour) and carry a child to term... but the child would never grow beyond an infant. In Oblivion I could listen to conversations between NPCs... that would make no sense. (I'd make a Skyrim comparison but I haven't played it yet.)

Elder Scrolls games and their like don't feel real because they come so close, and clearly want to come so close. It makes the suspension of disbelief a lot harder because it only has to happen sometimes. I know I can't kill things by stepping on them like Mario does, so I'm already pulled out of reality when I play one of his games. Mentally I'm already prepared to accept a world I don't recognise, so things that don't seem believable are the norm for its existence.

Don't let it be said that I don't like Elder Scrolls games; I'm still hacking away at Oblivion mods. I kind of like living in the Uncanny Valley, but it never lets me forget I'm there.

New Vegas had lil visible consequences.

Skyrim has lots of em. START THE quest to destroy the dark brotherhood, guards will go all fanboy on you saying youre that guy who killed x. use your shout too many times in a city, a guard will come to tell you to keep it quiet. etc etc

but of course, if you find ONE situation that doesnt go beyond its expectations, the game is ruined. :/

Would love for people to show me a game that does this better.

Wall of text incoming...

Part of the problem is voice acting. Its far easier to have variable/radical/dynamic changes in NPC dialogue when you use text. Much, much easier.

I don't have a huge problem with Skyrim's soullessness because like every other TES game I've played its more about the cool stuff you do. Plus, I am really good at making my own fun and filling in the gaps with role play in these games.

The problem is: there is no way the developers could create dynamic enough NPCs to react to half of the possible things players can do.

Here's a good example of something I did last night (minor spoilers for anyone who hasn't been to Solitude at least once to follow): I was playing my lawful good Khajiit merchant/monk last night who was very unhappy about the poor Nord who was about to lose his head on the executioners block. My character thought it was unjust and grew furious with the situation, so much so that the beast was coming out (he's a werewolf, reluctantly). As the crowd was shouting about how crappy a guard the Nord happened to be my character wandered behind a building in an attempt to brace himself and prevent his transformation. He failed. What resulted was my Khajiit flying into a blind werewolf rage and charging the executioner's block. He killed a generic guard and the Imperial captain in charge of the beheading, then ran out into the wilderness and passed out. When I returned to Solitude that morning I found the man who was to be executed dead in the middle of the market place... the guards had killed him after all. When I talked to an NPC about the execution he simply gave his opinion about whether or not the man deserved to die. He failed to mention that A MOTHER FUCKING WEREWOLF interrupted the execution and murdered the captain of the guard.

Honestly, do I expect the AI to be programmed in such a way that it could comprehend that situation? Not really. It's pretty much impossible to put that level of dynamic detail into a game as big as Skyrim.

Dandark:
SPOILERS!!!! I think?

The reason I suppose Agnis doesn't have much diaglouge is because you are supposed to kill her for a dark brotherhood side contract.

Of course the point still stands. I kinda agree with the article in that your actions don't really have consequences, such as the SPOILERS AGAIN!!!!! war, you could join the stormcloacks and invade whiterun. Now I know that the game isn't suppose to be that dark, but usaully when a town is invaded, it gets sacked.

No difference is made between whether the stormcloacks or imperials win,but really I would of thought that when the stormcloaks win, that they would of looted the town and raped the women and killed the livestock and blah blah blah you get the idea.

Instead the only difference is that the guards are now stormcloak guards and you can ask some of the townspeople what it's like under stormcloack rule.

Of course I still don't complain about it too much as I expected that Skyrim wouldn't exactly have much in the way of consequences.

Spoilers:
it is being invaded to strengthen the side that is invading it. Stormcloaks cant sack it, they need the city for the war effort. theyre basically just changing the jarl to one that will help them. If they sack n plunder it, whats the point of invading and wasting your own resources on it?
End Spoilers

Its easy to find things you think should of been done diferently in a game with this much content. Its soulless because you look at it that way. you WANT to find something that makes it bad. I married Mjoll and Aerin kept snooping into our house, cause he follows her everywhere. i got to a point where i couldnt stand him snooping in our relationship and decided to kill him. i dragged Mjoll to some corner, tld her to wait, then headed to Aerins house, broke in, sneaked behind him, and killed him. Thus creating a really complex story, all using game mechanics.

SonicWaffle:

The issue with "immersion" is not that the concept is worthless - without it, games like Skyrim would be reduced to pick-up-and-play games you got bored of in an hour rather than sweeping addictive experiences - but that the word is heavily overused.

Without it, games like Skyrim would still be exactly as they are.

If immersion is broken for you because of your viewpoint or the game mechanics, then you are perhaps playing the wrong game.

Oooh! A variant of "you're playing it wrong!"

I like where this is going.

However, if you are totally immersed in the experience of a game because you're really enjoying it, you've managed to overcome whatever technical obstacles you had and really get into the world and the story of the game.

Sounds nice, but it's the opposite of the above and still just as silly.

If the game, like this one does, makes a huge deal about giving you freedom and choice then those choices have to mean something.

Most games that tout freedom and choice don't really give you either. Clearly, this line is crap.

If in your head you are a mighty elf battlemage astride the land like a colossus, choosing who will reign the realm and who lives or dies, then to find out that nobody actually gives a damn will bring you out of that experience like a bucket of cold water to the face.

From the guy who said he wasn't a roleplayer.

Choices must have consequences. If they don't, there's simply no point in giving the players choices.

Except, as above, that's not the case. You repeated it, so I did. Sorry for the redundancy.

Imagine you're the kind of person who wants to play a child-killing sociopath. You kill a random kid, and...nothing happens. You chose to do something, you carried it out, but nobody cares. There are no consequences, no ramifications for your behaviour. Wouldn't you rather have furious city guards and weeping parents attempting to take vengeance? Would you want the realm to be alive with whispers of your terrible deeds? I'm sure you wouldn't want to be totally ignored, regardless of what you did.

You're asking me to weigh what I personally want or what I know others want? Because the former, yes, I want there to be repercussions. But if you're focusing on me, you're choosing to ignore that these people exist. They're everywhere. Some are even on this board and have posted things to such an effect.

After that, it's simply a matter of scaling. If small actions have minor consequences then large actions (like deciding a civil war or killing a Jarl) should have major consequences. They don't, at least not as far as gameplay is concerned.

And they probably never will.

But it hasn't really stopped people from being "immersed," regardless of what you've argued.

And that's both the beauty of "immersion" and why it is completely meaningless.

Why would the game world care about you? Your a nobody. I guess you prefer more linear games where your the star and everyone knows it. You have to want to play, to explore a cave because it intrigues you. Ive started main missions and 6 hours later i realise ive let myself be side tracked by random caves and towns. The soldiers and people sometimes recognise you, saying your the guy that killed the dragon. etc. Could they make the game more immersive? Yes. Could they improve the writing and everything else? Yes. Is Skyrim awesome? Yes.

Actually the main quest of Skyrim is pretty colorful, if that was the whole game it would last about as long as Witcher 2 and noone would complain. Of course that's just the beginning, there's a massive other number of quests to do. The "titled" ones again do a pretty decent job at keeping the player interested in finding out what's going to happen. The random ones of course do not. You can't really expect a world of this size to be filled with interesting characters with personalities that react in a lifelike manner, I think it's an unreasonable goal that only Fallout 2 vaguely approached in an era where the focus of game design was that and only that. Skyrim does at least offer you choice. If you find the open world adventuring too soulless, you can easily skip it without any problems and concentrate on the main queests and side quests. You don't have to go 100% sandbox happy if you feel that you're missing the point. Hell, you're not even gonna miss out on any good equipment, since player-made gear is the best in the game.

I get what you're saying, when I completed the support the Empire quest line all I got was a mediocre sword, and no one else cared, I was kinda ticked, but I still love the game

SonicWaffle:

Dennis Scimeca:
Everyone is so impressed with Skyrim, but I can't help thinking about another open-world role-playing game published by Bethesda last year, Fallout: New Vegas. By the time I had logged as many hours into New Vegas as I have in Skyrim, I felt like I had big decisions to make that were really going to change the world of New Vegas.

While I don't entirely agree with your conclusions, I can't help but agree with this point. In Skyrim you never really feel like your decisions are making any differences. With my current character I've won the civil war for the Empire, and nobody seems that fussed. One or two NPCs have additional lines of dialogue and there are more Legion soldiers around the place, but considering that a major event has been resolved there's been remarkably little fanfare. The same goes for the destruction of the Dark Brotherhood. The guy who asked me to do it seemed pleased and gave me a fat wedge of cash, but beyond that nobody seems to give a shit that an ancient and once greatly feared society of assassins has been destroyed.

I think some kind of faction mechanic like Fallout:NV had would have worked well in Skyrim. Maybe not in major towns, but in villages and forts it'd be nice to be associated with a certain group and hated, feared or loved because of it.

Dennis Scimeca:
Perhaps I haven't arrived at that point yet in Skyrim, but I'm finding it difficult to continue caring about a world that feels completely indifferent to me and what I'm doing.

And here's where we disagree. I still care about the world even if it doesn't care too much for me or my mighty deeds. I don't know why, but I have certain NPCs I like and others who annoy me. Favoured shopkeepers, a preferred house, although I'm much less a roleplayer and more a "play the game as a game" type of guy.

I would of loved continuously killing random people on the roadways and taking their stuff and eventually having some Hold Guards come looking for me, or have a rag-tag band of bandits ask to join with me.

Also, I too have my own favored shopkeepers, blacksmiths, alchemists, and followers [damn you Meeko, why cant I just keep you at my house? ;-; ], my favored home being Solitude [lets face it, as a Imperial Legate Assassin Master Thief Arch-Mage, I simply must have the best.] and even going as far as having my own favored arrows to put into unsuspecting guard's knees. Skyrim I think has done something that other games have tried to do, make a game that you start to unintentionally role play in.

Sure, New Vegas had the whole hardcore mode, which was a nice addition [and one that I cant help but think Skyrim would of been great with] but in the end you didn't start liking the various NPC's, shopkeepers were only a means to get more caps or offload your 400lbs of crap. Both 'factions' were inherently evil, the 'neutral' factions were just indifferent dicks, and once you got high level the enemies became common mook fodder.

Atleast PC Skyrim has the modding community to help us out.

Zachary Amaranth:
Without it, games like Skyrim would still be exactly as they are.

Sorry, but I don't buy that. If you sit down and play a game for eight hours is it because you're immersed and involved, or because you don't give two shits?

Zachary Amaranth:
Oooh! A variant of "you're playing it wrong!"

I like where this is going.

Not what I meant at all. What I meant was that per your list of examples, if something like first-person viewpoint breaks your immersion, then you really shouldn't be playing a first-person shooter. If a fundamental mechanic of the game is bringing you out of the experience then try to avoid games which feature that mechanic.

Zachary Amaranth:
Sounds nice, but it's the opposite of the above and still just as silly.

Silly how? I don't like third-person viewpoint in Skrim, so I don't use it. I'm enjoying the game immensely, having found a way around a technical issues that marred my enjoyment.

Zachary Amaranth:
Most games that tout freedom and choice don't really give you either. Clearly, this line is crap.

Most give you freedom to choose, but only to choose from those options they have pre-selected. This allows them to keep the story or questline coherent rather than having the game descend into uncontrollable anarchy. If you have a choice between the Stormcloaks and the Legion, the game can't allow you to choose "make a hat out of voles and go on holiday to Bermuda" because then the narrative will fall apart.

My issue is when I'm given what appear to be major choices with extremely minor consequences. In the Mass Effect games, the Rachni and the Collector space station in particular felt like big, real choices because I felt that my decision would affect the galaxy. there will, I'm sure, be consequences for my choices somewhere down the line. In Skyrim, that feeling is largely absent because I know that choices which should have a knock-on effect on the entire world will actually just change dialogue options with a few NPCs.

Zachary Amaranth:
From the guy who said he wasn't a roleplayer.

There's a difference between roleplaying and wanting to feel like what you're doing in-game has a purpose and noticeable repercussions. If you shoot a guy in an FPS, you want to see your bullets having an effect, not for him to drop from fighting stance to dead & stiff as a board the moment you put enough bullets in him to deplete all his HP.

Zachary Amaranth:
Except, as above, that's not the case. You repeated it, so I did. Sorry for the redundancy.

I'll repeat it again - a choice must have consequences to be worth anything. If I kill this guy, what'll the repercussions be? What happens if I steal this potion? How will people react if I set their town on fire? I'm not really following your argument that any of that is wrong.

Zachary Amaranth:
But it hasn't really stopped people from being "immersed," regardless of what you've argued.

I'm not arguing against it. In fact, my argument hinges on the fact that I find the game very immersive but ultimately pointless. What's the point of going to all the trouble of crafting a big, open world full of choices and telling me I'm free to play in it if the major world-changing events I orchestrate or partake in don't actually change anything?

draythefingerless:

Dandark:
SPOILERS!!!! I think?

The reason I suppose Agnis doesn't have much diaglouge is because you are supposed to kill her for a dark brotherhood side contract.

Of course the point still stands. I kinda agree with the article in that your actions don't really have consequences, such as the SPOILERS AGAIN!!!!! war, you could join the stormcloacks and invade whiterun. Now I know that the game isn't suppose to be that dark, but usaully when a town is invaded, it gets sacked.

No difference is made between whether the stormcloacks or imperials win,but really I would of thought that when the stormcloaks win, that they would of looted the town and raped the women and killed the livestock and blah blah blah you get the idea.

Instead the only difference is that the guards are now stormcloak guards and you can ask some of the townspeople what it's like under stormcloack rule.

Of course I still don't complain about it too much as I expected that Skyrim wouldn't exactly have much in the way of consequences.

Spoilers:
it is being invaded to strengthen the side that is invading it. Stormcloaks cant sack it, they need the city for the war effort. theyre basically just changing the jarl to one that will help them. If they sack n plunder it, whats the point of invading and wasting your own resources on it?
End Spoilers

Its easy to find things you think should of been done diferently in a game with this much content. Its soulless because you look at it that way. you WANT to find something that makes it bad. I married Mjoll and Aerin kept snooping into our house, cause he follows her everywhere. i got to a point where i couldnt stand him snooping in our relationship and decided to kill him. i dragged Mjoll to some corner, tld her to wait, then headed to Aerins house, broke in, sneaked behind him, and killed him. Thus creating a really complex story, all using game mechanics.

I don't actully consider Skyrim to be completely soulless but I can see why one could.
Also armies didn't usaully order their soldiers to sack cities, they just did. I mean it wasn't very realistic although I can't really blame them.

Agnis? I could have sworn I killed her as part of the Dark Brotherhood storyline. Maybe I'm wrong.

For me, Skyrims soul lives in the environment it gives us. I have spent hours just jaunting through the hills enjoying the snow and wind.

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