First Person: Skyrim is Soulless

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Mcoffey:

Hal10k:

Mcoffey:

Your quote is well written, but doesn't really hold weight in the wake of Fallout: New Vegas. There you got a game that allowed you to roleplay just as much as Skyrim, but still allowed for an enthralling story and incredible characters and depth. After coming off of more than 250 hours of New Vegas, Skyrim (while still greatly enjoying it) feels somewhat hollow.

New Vegas had a more consistent story, but it did so by sacrificing exploration. The game world, as a whole, is a lot more limited than Bethesda's titles; your character is essentially sheperded down a linear valley for the first 2/3 of the game, and the non-story locations you visit tend to feel more shallow, with a lesser focus on the subtle backstories that Bethesda likes to cram into every location. You have places like Vault 11, but they felt few and far between. My opinion, of course.

Story and characterization are always going to be subjective, too. One man's rich and compelling character is going to be the most annoying thing on Earth to another. Personally, while I liked the faction leaders and companions in New Vegas, it really felt like all of the other characters were just there to take up space.

I don't know if I would say it sacrificed exploration. It definitely wanted you to see some things before you really cut loose, mainly so it could establish the NCR and the Legion. Personally I thought doing that That said, you were never really restricted. You could always take those other roads if you wanted. They were much more difficult, but they were still options. And yeah while some of the areas were pretty bare bones, when it was good it was better than anything I've seen Bethesda make in any of their games I've played.

And yeah, there were definitely main characters and side characters in Vegas, but even most of the main characters in Skyrim don't live up to the low standards of the side characters in Vegas. Esbern is one of the liveliest characters in the game, and he has less characterization that The King. Your companions have virtually no characterization and are only there to hit stuff and carry your dragon bones.

Give me more people like Cass or Arcade, people with opinions and histories and a stake in the fight.

Maybe that was never the intention behind Skyrim, but it's been shown to be possible, and it's omission is all the more noticeable now.

I understand why the developers wanted to make you take a specific path, but I'm not sure that it was a good thing. Fallout 3 had places that low level characters couldn't go without risking impalement, such as Old Olney, but they were always out of the way and easy to go around. New Vegas, by contrast, throws a deathclaw nest across the middle of the main road of the game, making progress in that direction basically impossible unless you exploit a glitch or severely min/max your character. It's one thing to want to establish a conflict, but it's another thing to block all side-paths with grinning death so that your character can experience your epic story in this ostensibly open-world game.

And like I said, Vault 11 was nice, but I can't really think of many other locations in the game that were as memorable. It felt to me like Obsidian had worked most of the story, realized that they only had a few side buildings, and then said "Screw it" and had interns copy and paste buildings to fill out the map.

Also, in my opinion, Obsidian really suffers from wanting to explain everything to the player, and they lose out on subtlety in the process. They can tell nice things about a setting with characters or computer logs to spell it out for you, but they can't really do it without that. Fallout 3 had a lot of little touches that really fleshed out the game world for me, like finding cherry bombs still lying in the toilets of a private school, or finding a skeleton with a case of beer lying in one of the personal shelters, or finding out that the ex-raider's house contained a teddy bear with a knife stuck through it. This is the sort of thing that New Vegas generally lacked, and, from my perspective, it suffered for it.

I find your nomination of the King to contradict my claim that only the followers and faction leaders in New Vegas were among the best NPCs dubious, considering that he's the leader of a faction, but that's unimportant. Regarding Skyrim, I found most of its side characters to be superior to New Vegas' side characters. Virtually every NPC in Skyrim who isn't a soldier or an always-chaotic-evil (and some who are) possesses a unique, if not necessarily complex character. Talk to all of the stall owners in Riften, then compare them to any of the vendors in New Vegas. Your findings may vary of course, but I find Skyrim superior in this regard.

If you're looking for followers with motivations and backstories, I'd stay away from Lydia or hired mercenaries if that's who you've been using. You already know their motivation for helping you: it's their job. Most of the followers you meet in faction sidequests are pretty well rounded; I'd nominate Onmund or J'Zargo in the College of Winterhold as examples.

Hafrael:

Mcoffey:

Hafrael:

I guess some of those bandits didn't like her cooking, she is the target of a Dark Brotherhood assassination.

ETA: This facebook guy said it best

Your quote is well written, but doesn't really hold weight in the wake of Fallout: New Vegas. There you got a game that allowed you to roleplay just as much as Skyrim, but still allowed for an enthralling story and incredible characters and depth. After coming off of more than 250 hours of New Vegas, Skyrim (while still greatly enjoying it) feels somewhat hollow.

I disagree, Skyrim gives me so much more room to roleplay. New Vegas gives you a well written story, in Skyrim you are writing your own story. Whereas Skyrim thrusts you out into the world with only a fleeting enmity towards the Imperials, or Stormcloaks, New Vegas shows you a guy who shot you in the fucking head and buried you, and then tells you to go track him down. In Skyrim your companions are basically blank canvases, they come in multiple varieties; knight, mage, mercenary, assasin, but they all have little to no character, letting you build them yourself. New Vegas gives you characters with well written back story, special mention goes to Raul and Boon, but sometimes I don't want to hear someone else's heartbreaking tale, I want to create my own. I love New Vegas, it was my GOTY for 2010, and my most played game of all time. But as an RPG it just doesn't measure up to Skyrim.

Your background and motivations for tracking down Benny are your own to decide though. It could be revenge, it could be to finish the job, or it could be you just want to take his suit.

If having card-board cut outs for characters and no story is better than fantastic characters and a great story because it allows me to make my own story, then I may as well be covering my eyes and making sword slashy sounds with my mouth.

You're saying "Use your imagination" but Skyrim is only holding me back from that!

That sounded kind of harsh, but "Good writing" will always be better than "No writing" to me. Just because I can fill in the blanks with my mind (And I do. Kinda have to) doesn't make Skyrim better, it just makes their writing department lazier.

You're not roleplaying when you have to give characterization to basically everyone you're just making up a completely different story. That's not an accomplishment of Skyrim's story and characters, it's a failure. It's story/characters are so unengaging and lifeless you pretty much have to make up characters in order for the whole country not to feel completely empty.

It has gotten to a point, a couple of times, where the utter divorce from the scripted lines and what I've actually done gets a little depressing. People threatening to set the Dark Brotherood on me, for example, when I'm the damn Listener.

I assassinated the Emperor. I robbed the entirity of Solitude and killed a woman on her wedding day. I've infiltrated the stupid Elven magical lot, and I can speak the language of Dragons. And nobody really seems to have noticed. Having said that, I do still love the game, and I get very much caught up in all the sneaky stabby dungeony action and how my character developes. I just sometimes wish I gained abit of recognition for some of it ingame.

Hal10k:

I understand why the developers wanted to make you take a specific path, but I'm not sure that it was a good thing. Fallout 3 had places that low level characters couldn't go without risking impalement, such as Old Olney, but they were always out of the way and easy to go around. New Vegas, by contrast, throws a deathclaw nest across the middle of the main road of the game, making progress in that direction basically impossible unless you exploit a glitch or severely min/max your character. It's one thing to want to establish a conflict, but it's another thing to block all side-paths with grinning death so that your character can experience your epic story in this ostensibly open-world game.

Well it is a wasteland, it's supposed to be a dangerous place, but I get your point.

And like I said, Vault 11 was nice, but I can't really think of many other locations in the game that were as memorable. It felt to me like Obsidian had worked most of the story, realized that they only had a few side buildings, and then said "Screw it" and had interns copy and paste buildings to fill out the map.

Also, in my opinion, Obsidian really suffers from wanting to explain everything to the player, and they lose out on subtlety in the process. They can tell nice things about a setting with characters or computer logs to spell it out for you, but they can't really do it without that. Fallout 3 had a lot of little touches that really fleshed out the game world for me, like finding cherry bombs still lying in the toilets of a private school, or finding a skeleton with a case of beer lying in one of the personal shelters, or finding out that the ex-raider's house contained a teddy bear with a knife stuck through it. This is the sort of thing that New Vegas generally lacked, and, from my perspective, it suffered for it.

Maybe it's subjective, but I don't remember any of the places you're referring to. I don't remember much of anything about the wasteland of Fallout 3 except that Megaton makes absolutely no sense and to stay away from Old Olney.

I still remember Vault 11 though. And how going through the sewers near Vegas showed it was filled with NCR Soldiers, ready to invade. I remember going through one of the Vaults and having to decide whether to save the ghouls trapped in a room filling with water, or let them die to prevent the NCR Sharecroppers from inevitably starving. I remember exploring all of Zion tracking down the story of the Ranger. New Vegas was filled with stories.

I find your nomination of the King to contradict my claim that only the followers and faction leaders in New Vegas were among the best NPCs dubious, considering that he's the leader of a faction, but that's unimportant. Regarding Skyrim, I found most of its side characters to be superior to New Vegas' side characters. Virtually every NPC in Skyrim who isn't a soldier or an always-chaotic-evil (and some who are) possesses a unique, if not necessarily complex character. Talk to all of the stall owners in Riften, then compare them to any of the vendors in New Vegas. Your findings may vary of course, but I find Skyrim superior in this regard.

Was King a faction Leader? I suppose he did lead freeside, apologies. Okay, The First Recon Team in Camp McCarran. All of them had very interesting stories attached to them. What were the vendors in Riften about? I only remember the one who asked about his past.

If you're looking for followers with motivations and backstories, I'd stay away from Lydia or hired mercenaries if that's who you've been using. You already know their motivation for helping you: it's their job. Most of the followers you meet in faction sidequests are pretty well rounded; I'd nominate Onmund or J'Zargo in the College of Winterhold as examples.

Yeah, I've definitely liked what I've seen so far of the College of Winterhold characters and questlines, but shouldn't that be the norm, rather than the pleasant exception?

Mcoffey:

And like I said, Vault 11 was nice, but I can't really think of many other locations in the game that were as memorable. It felt to me like Obsidian had worked most of the story, realized that they only had a few side buildings, and then said "Screw it" and had interns copy and paste buildings to fill out the map.

Also, in my opinion, Obsidian really suffers from wanting to explain everything to the player, and they lose out on subtlety in the process. They can tell nice things about a setting with characters or computer logs to spell it out for you, but they can't really do it without that. Fallout 3 had a lot of little touches that really fleshed out the game world for me, like finding cherry bombs still lying in the toilets of a private school, or finding a skeleton with a case of beer lying in one of the personal shelters, or finding out that the ex-raider's house contained a teddy bear with a knife stuck through it. This is the sort of thing that New Vegas generally lacked, and, from my perspective, it suffered for it.

Maybe it's subjective, but I don't remember any of the places you're referring to. I don't remember much of anything about the wasteland of Fallout 3 except that Megaton makes absolutely no sense and to stay away from Old Olney.

I still remember Vault 11 though. And how going through the sewers near Vegas showed it was filled with NCR Soldiers, ready to invade. I remember going through one of the Vaults and having to decide whether to save the ghouls trapped in a room filling with water, or let them die to prevent the NCR Sharecroppers from inevitably starving. I remember exploring all of Zion tracking down the story of the Ranger. New Vegas was filled with stories.

That's the thing, though. When Obsidian wants you to tell you a story, they are damn well going to make sure that you see that story. All of the stories in New Vegas are out there in the open; walk through the sewers and find the soldiers, walk through the vault and decide whther to dick over the ghouls or dick over everybody, walk through Vault 11 and become sad. Everything I mentioned was the small, subtle bits of storytelling that were hidden in the corners of Fallout 3, something I think New Vegas sorely missed.

Mcoffey:

I find your nomination of the King to contradict my claim that only the followers and faction leaders in New Vegas were among the best NPCs dubious, considering that he's the leader of a faction, but that's unimportant. Regarding Skyrim, I found most of its side characters to be superior to New Vegas' side characters. Virtually every NPC in Skyrim who isn't a soldier or an always-chaotic-evil (and some who are) possesses a unique, if not necessarily complex character. Talk to all of the stall owners in Riften, then compare them to any of the vendors in New Vegas. Your findings may vary of course, but I find Skyrim superior in this regard.

Was King a faction Leader? I suppose he did lead freeside, apologies. Okay, The First Recon Team in Camp McCarran. All of them had very interesting stories attached to them. What were the vendors in Riften about? I only remember the one who asked about his past.

I was more using the shopkeepers in Riften as an example of how even the game's minor NPCs can be easily distinguishable. First Recon is involved with several quests; of course Obsidian would bother to flesh them out more. But all of the random residents of Freeside are just there to fill space, whereas Skyrim at least bothers to give minor NPCs a few character traits.

But, it's like I said: a good character to one person will seem boring to another. I liked Skyrim's minor NPCs, you didn't think to pay them mind. Let's leave the question on why our opinions diverge on the matter to the philosophers, of which I am not one.

Mcoffey:

If you're looking for followers with motivations and backstories, I'd stay away from Lydia or hired mercenaries if that's who you've been using. You already know their motivation for helping you: it's their job. Most of the followers you meet in faction sidequests are pretty well rounded; I'd nominate Onmund or J'Zargo in the College of Winterhold as examples.

Yeah, I've definitely liked what I've seen so far of the College of Winterhold characters and questlines, but shouldn't that be the norm, rather than the pleasant exception?

It's pretty much the norm for the factions. The Bard's College is the only one that seemed shallow to me, and it still has one or two interesting moments. It's like the Arena from Oblivion in that regard.

Hal10k:

Mcoffey:

And like I said, Vault 11 was nice, but I can't really think of many other locations in the game that were as memorable. It felt to me like Obsidian had worked most of the story, realized that they only had a few side buildings, and then said "Screw it" and had interns copy and paste buildings to fill out the map.

Also, in my opinion, Obsidian really suffers from wanting to explain everything to the player, and they lose out on subtlety in the process. They can tell nice things about a setting with characters or computer logs to spell it out for you, but they can't really do it without that. Fallout 3 had a lot of little touches that really fleshed out the game world for me, like finding cherry bombs still lying in the toilets of a private school, or finding a skeleton with a case of beer lying in one of the personal shelters, or finding out that the ex-raider's house contained a teddy bear with a knife stuck through it. This is the sort of thing that New Vegas generally lacked, and, from my perspective, it suffered for it.

Maybe it's subjective, but I don't remember any of the places you're referring to. I don't remember much of anything about the wasteland of Fallout 3 except that Megaton makes absolutely no sense and to stay away from Old Olney.

I still remember Vault 11 though. And how going through the sewers near Vegas showed it was filled with NCR Soldiers, ready to invade. I remember going through one of the Vaults and having to decide whether to save the ghouls trapped in a room filling with water, or let them die to prevent the NCR Sharecroppers from inevitably starving. I remember exploring all of Zion tracking down the story of the Ranger. New Vegas was filled with stories.

That's the thing, though. When Obsidian wants you to tell you a story, they are damn well going to make sure that you see that story. All of the stories in New Vegas are out there in the open; walk through the sewers and find the soldiers, walk through the vault and decide whther to dick over the ghouls or dick over everybody, walk through Vault 11 and become sad. Everything I mentioned was the small, subtle bits of storytelling that were hidden in the corners of Fallout 3, something I think New Vegas sorely missed.

Maybe, but it's about the story, is it not? The locations would of course be boring without the story being there. And just because the stories invite you in, doesn't mean you have to pay attention to it.

Mcoffey:

If you're looking for followers with motivations and backstories, I'd stay away from Lydia or hired mercenaries if that's who you've been using. You already know their motivation for helping you: it's their job. Most of the followers you meet in faction sidequests are pretty well rounded; I'd nominate Onmund or J'Zargo in the College of Winterhold as examples.

Yeah, I've definitely liked what I've seen so far of the College of Winterhold characters and questlines, but shouldn't that be the norm, rather than the pleasant exception?

It's pretty much the norm for the factions. The Bard's College is the only one that seemed shallow to me, and it still has one or two interesting moments. It's like the Arena from Oblivion in that regard.[/quote]

Yeah Bards and Companions seem very light on content in comparison to the College stuff so far. Haven't delved into Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood stuff yet, but I've heard good things.

Mcoffey:

Hal10k:

Mcoffey:

Maybe it's subjective, but I don't remember any of the places you're referring to. I don't remember much of anything about the wasteland of Fallout 3 except that Megaton makes absolutely no sense and to stay away from Old Olney.

I still remember Vault 11 though. And how going through the sewers near Vegas showed it was filled with NCR Soldiers, ready to invade. I remember going through one of the Vaults and having to decide whether to save the ghouls trapped in a room filling with water, or let them die to prevent the NCR Sharecroppers from inevitably starving. I remember exploring all of Zion tracking down the story of the Ranger. New Vegas was filled with stories.

That's the thing, though. When Obsidian wants you to tell you a story, they are damn well going to make sure that you see that story. All of the stories in New Vegas are out there in the open; walk through the sewers and find the soldiers, walk through the vault and decide whether to dick over the ghouls or dick over everybody, walk through Vault 11 and become sad. Everything I mentioned was the small, subtle bits of storytelling that were hidden in the corners of Fallout 3, something I think New Vegas sorely missed.

Maybe, but it's about the story, is it not? The locations would of course be boring without the story being there. And just because the stories invite you in, doesn't mean you have to pay attention to it.

I don't have to pay attention, but I still do. The more carefully engineered details that you put into a setting, the more it feels like an actual place as opposed to something that only exists because the writers had to plop down their story somewhere. Many of the locations in New Vegas felt like they were only there for the sake of filling space or being occupied by plot, which is why I consider New Vegas to be inferior in this regard, at least.

Obsidian and Bethesda really come from different schools of thought in game design. Obsidian builds a detailed story and then rearranges the setting to conform to it, whereas Bethesda fills in all of the details of their setting and then works the plot around it. Neither approach is superior, simply different, though I personally prefer Bethesda's approach in a game where exploration is a key gameplay element.

Mcoffey:

Mcoffey:

Yeah, I've definitely liked what I've seen so far of the College of Winterhold characters and questlines, but shouldn't that be the norm, rather than the pleasant exception?

It's pretty much the norm for the factions. The Bard's College is the only one that seemed shallow to me, and it still has one or two interesting moments. It's like the Arena from Oblivion in that regard.

Yeah Bards and Companions seem very light on content in comparison to the College stuff so far. Haven't delved into Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood stuff yet, but I've heard good things.

If you haven't already, I'd head towards Markath when you get a chance. It's got one of the best quests in the game.

Soon enough, there will be the Agnis mod that adds reactions, storylines and factions battling it out just to have Agnis as their housefrau.

Extravagance:
It has gotten to a point, a couple of times, where the utter divorce from the scripted lines and what I've actually done gets a little depressing. People threatening to set the Dark Brotherood on me, for example, when I'm the damn Listener.

You wouldn't be a very good leader of the Dark Brotherhood if everyone knew who you were. My main annoyance in this regard was with the Companions - public heroes, yet even they talk down to you once you become leader.

And, spoiler box for your second paragraph probably appropriate. ;)

60,000 lines of Dialogue in Skyrim,
65,000 in New Vegas
40,000 in Fallout 3
For no particular reason.

Dennis Scimeca:
Skyrim is Soulless

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

Read Full Article

Expecting a game as huge and as intricate as Skyrim to be totally flawless and to have no immersion breakers whatsoever is ludicrous. The game is teeming with things that other games don't have. You can't expect every single NPC to react realistically to every situation.

Yeah, Agnis is a bit of an immersion breaker - but so what? I can forgive them for that hiccup because I can admire the scope of the game.

If the game was linear like Mass Effect and it happened during a cutscene? Yeah, it would be a problem.

Dennis Scimeca:

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

Of course it doesn't. Advernturer types think they're all unique snowflakes but really, you're not so special. There's so many of you these days, always doing the same thing. Agnis understands this, she's seen it all. Stop boring her to death and get on about your business.

And this (both the article and comments), honestly, is why I have no interest in Skyrim.

It's weird. After hearing it hyped from the roof for so many months, I knew I would have been really excited for it if it were an MMO. But as a single-player game, I didn't care at all. Setting it in a living world would have been all it took to interest me.

That's the thing about sandbox games for me. I'm not exactly a roleplayer, but I usually end up in that category because I like writing backstories for my characters and making decisions that I feel they would make. But I don't actually roleplay. I prefer to be handed the blocks of the basic story and then use my imagination as the glue that ties it all together, like in Dragon Age: Origins, or in Final Fantasy XI where it was optional. (In the case of the latter your character just hangs out in the background during cutscenes, so it took it upon myself to work out what she was doing and thinking at any given point. It was a ton of fun for me, and she's still my favorite character I've ever created. I have no interest in doing that for every character in the game, though.)

If, like in Skyrim, I'm expected to create everything from the ground up, I just don't care at all. I like to be surprised, I guess. I like there to be elements that could have come from someone else's imagination, not just my own, since I already live with my own imagination.

Also, with fictional settings I tend to prefer "small but highly detailed" to "vast but fairly shallow."

I'm surprised this is considered unusual, given all the preceding games that came before.

As I play through Skyrim, I mostly find myself wondering whether Bethesda were literally just doing more of the same for fans who will throw money at anything with Elder Scrolls on the side of the box, bugs & missing content & all. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed modded & patched Morrowind & Oblivion too, so it's not like I hate Skyrim or the concept - I just find myself thinking 'Have you finally had any concept of quality control? No apparently not.'. It's like there's been this Pavlovian conditioning where gamers (including me it seems) who will downrate & slam games for being released as buggy & unfinished won't notice it at all when it comes as a moddable game from Bethesda, even if mods can't fix some of the bugs.

It's not that Skyrim is soulless per se. It's that they made (again) a vast but ultimately haphazard world. I object to the shallowness really only when it comes across as lazy - when it's so obvious you end up thinking 'surely the developers would be embarrassed to leave it like this?'. I don't object to NPCs I listen to once only ever having one or two stock lines. I object when people I spend serious time interacting with don't evolve when my actions directly affect them! It's not lack of soul; it's lack of thought about how the individual game item interacts with the rest of the game world. Sometimes it's nailed perfectly; a lot of times it just hasn't been done. It makes the game look unpolished & unfinished, more so than dragons flying backwards, and more so than if the entire game had been entirely ignorant of my actions all the time. Consistency, that's the problem.

An example of where it went wrong - NPC 1 teases NPC 2 about sleeping with NPC 3 - subsequently NPC 3 dies, as part of a quest no less, but the teasing continues. It's like there was no overall 'producer' level oversight that said 'hey that's not going to make sense'.

Companions are another good example - here is a person I could easily spend 90% of my long long game time with, but they had one 'I've a bad feeling about this' line crafted in and that's it. Marriage apparently changes the entire personality & voice of some NPCs. I mean seriously, that's just plain lazy. Implement a feature properly or not at all.

An example of where it went right - NPC 1 is a well known blacksmith and gets killed. NPC 2 reacts and has entirely different dialogue.

So yes, I firmly believe Bethesda can achieve this because they can clearly get it right in some cases, and no I don't believe it's an excuse to say 'it's a huge world, you can't expect to get everything right'. I'm not asking for everything right, I'm asking for proper care, thought & QA in their actual content. Some quests currently play like an intern put them together and never actually ran through the finished product to see if it worked.

So, no, Skyrim isn't soulless - it's just badly put together in places, just like Oblivion was.

As a final thought - clearly Skyrim is filled with adventurers, given the number that turn up with knee related injuries later on, so being one is clearly nothing that special ;)

I agree strongly with the author, but it's not just Skyrim, it's pretty much all Bethesda RPGs. Compare the consequences of the decisions you make in Skyrim to those you make in Witcher 2 and tell me which is better.

To start off, i felt that elder scrolls was devoid of emotion since morrowind. It seems no matter how hard they try i am a lone figure in an otherwise static world that changes based on my movements. I understand that this is what the game is trying to deliver but more then once in the wee hours of the night i felt very alone in their world. Its not a good feeling. No matter how much interaction they give the NPCs it is still a game based around me and my quests. Which most often dont end with their interests at heart. and as is explained in previous posts no one seems to react to that. Then to counter the author. How about we look at the context of the speech. The speaker said that many people come and go here. I find that a point of irony written in by the game developers in that she sees adventurers come in here and kill her people EVERYDAY while watching them all go by looting and killing. Waiting for the next adventurer to come in and do the same. Its a pretty metaphorical experience that the game developers would exploit this weakness within the gamer. The fact that she is conditioned to the experience shows an interesting viewpoint.

So.. After saving the world from Alduin, not a single person save for the Blades members seemed to have anything new to say... And what happened when I went to talk to the Stormcloacks and said I'd help them take Skyrim back? They told me to prove my worth to them by killing what.. an Ice Wraith? Seriously? I eat dragon souls for breakfast, I saved the god damned world and you treat me like someone who has never fought in his life?

Oh and by now I hoped that they had added some sort of self preservation mechanism to the npcs... I'd gladly spare some of them if after begging for mercy for a second, they didn't always try to run at me with their weapons drawn yelling how they are going to murder me.

Or if they had the common sense of running away after seeing 4 of their friends getting blown to pieces by a single fireball instead of poking my heavily armored ass with a tiny knife followed by getting multiple ice spears shoved up theirs.

None of the NPC's seem even remotely alive.

I find that the soul he's looking for is mostly in the main plotline, especially when you talk to Paarthurnax. There was something absolutely enthralling about talking to an ancient wise-man dragon monk on top of a mountain while the Aurora glows brightly in the night sky. Yes, a lot of the basic dungeons/forts aren't going to have much in the way of "soul," and it's disappointing to hear that they dropped the ball on something like Agnis. That said, there's still a great amount of soul in the game, and it's right where it needs to be.

SonOfVoorhees:
Why would the game world care about you? Your a nobody

Respectfully disagree with ya here, are we talking about skyrim? The game where once it's made clear your a dragon born, it becomes a big deal and heck, the sky themselves at one point split open and call your name?
Where a good deal of conversations can be skipped by saying "im the dragonborn"?
Where story npcs rattle on about you being this born dragon slayer, the kind of which hasn't been seen in generations, the only hope for skyrim and the only one who can prevent the end times and imminent apocalypse?

In skyrim you are anything except a nobody, the main quest line and way certain npcs react to you makes that clear. Also how once you being dragonborn becomes more wideknown a fair amount of ancient and powerful organizations take an active interest in you due to your heritage.

Not taking any sides in the debate but felt this had to be corrected as it just doesnt ring true, but on topic skyrims the first ES game ive tolerated and managed to enjoy, it has just about enough soul to keep my interest (the previous games though...eek, if you lot complain about voice acting in skyrim, check the previous games...) and though i wish i could indeed see more sweeping changes based on some major plot points, what there is is just enough to keep me happy. For now.
And by for now, just wait until the development tools are released and modders start working their magic :)

SPOILERS:

Agnis is one of the last main targets you have to kill for the Dark Brotherhood. That's why she doesn't really have any uniqueness to her.

END SPOILERS.

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.

I like this!

If people really like games where they choose where the story leads, how come so few have played the 'Way of the Samurai' series?

Anyway, I don't think gamers who play Skyrim and the like don't play them for story or decision making. These games are just dungeon crawlers where the dungeons have been replaced by sparce, open environments, and you have to do more walking between battles.

I didn't think of Agnis as a prisoner, I mean she tells you that she just cooks and cleans and other people keep coming and deciding that they now own the fort/castle and they don't kill her because she isn't going to reveal their location she is just going to keep doing what she has always done, she just doesn't care who ocupies the fort/castle. I will admit however that they did miss out on a quest that explains why she is so attached to the place.

Two columns on the same site, with the same name minus a single word and near-identical logos using the same imagery, themes and colours to boot? Please editors, try to distinguish the various parts of this site. It's getting very confusing for us more casual readers (sorry about the slight off-topic).

I don't know if this has been mentioned, I haven't read through all 6 pages, but if you clear out the Bandits from that fort then Agnis sends a bunch of hired thugs your way with a letter saying something along the lines of "he thinks he can just come in here and kill people, rough him up a bit" (paraphrased). Killing the bandits does actually have a consequence! It just isn't immediate.

And she gets killed as people have said.

hmm, the only time I saw Agnis was when I was payed to kill her. I don't know what she did or why someone wanted her dead, but the dark brotherhood was asked and I was a blade for hire. It did seem odd to me that this non-combatant was in the middle of a fort full of bandits, but I was the type of assassin that didn't talk to targets. I snuck in eliminating all opposition silently and knifed the old lady in her sleep.

The thought did occur to me, "If I had come across this fort under any other circumstance, what would my interaction with Agnis be like?" Most of the places like that only have humanoids with the name "bandit" and all of those attack on site (if they see you). I might be an assassin, but I'm like the predator and only kill threats (or contracts in this case). I wondered what I would have done if I hadn't had the contract, but I also thought that the inclusion of Agnis in the dungeon was odd because it created this awkward situation for anyone that didn't have the quest associated with the person. Having her there regardless worked for continuity's sake, but she caused a jarring anomaly from the rest of the game.

You really have to have that "What's over the hill?" attitude of exploration in order to enjoy a game like TES, because there aren't any real "characters" to be found.

I played and enjoyed Morrowind IN SPITE of there being precious few NPCs with any actual personality; it was even worse in Oblivion where the only NPCs that people seem to remember regularly are the generic imperial guards, the Adoring Fan, and Patrick Stewart.

Mostly for being annoying, or being Patrick Stewart.

Agreed but then again Skyrim is all about how you play and see it as a game. It is so huge and vast that you can not expect it to be overlooking every single detail, aspect and conversation you encounter. I find Skyrim quite realistic because it reflects the attitude of real life: No one cares really about what you do unless it affects them directly

Atmos Duality:
You really have to have that "What's over the hill?" attitude of exploration in order to enjoy a game like TES, because there aren't any real "characters" to be found.

I played and enjoyed Morrowind IN SPITE of there being precious few NPCs with any actual personality; it was even worse in Oblivion where the only NPCs that people seem to remember regularly are the generic imperial guards, the Adoring Fan, and Patrick Stewart.

Mostly for being annoying, or being Patrick Stewart.

Old thread is old.

I personally have that attitude, it shines when I play most MMORPGs and I want to discover a new area and see how it's designed and what it is all about. Exploration is always an exciting thing. Same thing happening in other Single-Player "Open World" RPGs like the Gothic-series or Risen.

Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 in Skyrim behind that hill is just another very same-looking hill. And that exciting new dungeon? It is too eerily similar to the 2-3 I've already seen before and even inhabited by the same things.

This makes me not want to give a crap about the game (or any Bethesda game for that matter) at all after a low amount of double-digit hours and either play something linear where there's always something new and awesome to discover and experience instead or play an "open world" game that doesn't just copy/paste the same assets and structures 95% of the time...

200+ hours in, having assassinated political leaders, become archmage of the college, restored the thieves guild to a former glory and in turn now command it, and even walked through Sovngarde to defeat the firstborn of Akatosh, there is no consequence for it. At no point do bandits cower, challenge, or respect it, saying something like "Shit! The Dragonborn! Fight for our lives, boys!" or "The Dragonborn! Think of the stories they'd tell of us if we killed 'im!". It's so token and empty. The only people that respect your status are those of the various groups you can join. It's gratifying to hear the other thieves or Dark Brotherhood members bow their heads respectfully, showing that yes, you are capable and worthy of being the leader. But at no point does one of them say "Not only the head of our little family, but in charge of the companions too!" It belies what has really happened. It's a pool painted to look like it's full of water--it might look really wonderful, but any observation from less distance shows it to be a bluff.

The most change I've seen was that you can ask a couple of people around town how things feel now that the Stormcloaks are in charge. Most of them tell you that not much has changed, which really makes the whole "civil war" thing seem like this happens a lot, rather than being some kind of grand rebellion. Big whoop.

It reminds me of where Dragon Age 2 did things right; by the third act of the game, bandits, attackers, and assassins can all mention about the champion. The fearsome Qunari near revere you, which doesn't stop them from attacking, for they consider it a test of worth of themselves to fight you. People start going to crazy extremes to try and fight you, knowing your prowess. Lines they wouldn't normally dream of crossing become the only feasible way to defeat the champion, for whatever reason they feel they need to do so, and in doing so there's clear evidence of what you're capable of.

But in Skyrim? No one cares. The Jarls shouldn't be slumped in their chairs when I come bursting into their halls, they should be intrigued or bemused that here's this Argonian who would come before them without reason. But nope, it's nonchalance and apathy all around. Never once does it cross the mind of the vigilants of Stendarr to attack me on sight, while I'm wearing three Daedric weapons on my person, and full Daedric armor about my body.

What's even more annoying? My armor and weapons get more respect and/or fear than I do, barring the times people have such little health that they're asking for mercy--which, if granted, means nothing, as they just stand back up and attack again. Only rarely do they flee from my demonic appearance, my warped and spiked mace, my all-consuming fires.

You'd think word would get around that the Argonian who's now in charge of the college has been seen breaking into people's houses, or leaving an area where a dead body would later be found. You'd think someone might make a connection here or there. Tough luck on that one.

BehattedWanderer:
200+ hours in, having assassinated political leaders, become archmage of the college, restored the thieves guild to a former glory and in turn now command it, and even walked through Sovngarde to defeat the firstborn of Akatosh, there is no consequence for it. At no point do bandits cower, challenge, or respect it, saying something like "Shit! The Dragonborn! Fight for our lives, boys!" or "The Dragonborn! Think of the stories they'd tell of us if we killed 'im!". It's so token and empty. The only people that respect your status are those of the various groups you can join. It's gratifying to hear the other thieves or Dark Brotherhood members bow their heads respectfully, showing that yes, you are capable and worthy of being the leader. But at no point does one of them say "Not only the head of our little family, but in charge of the companions too!" It belies what has really happened. It's a pool painted to look like it's full of water--it might look really wonderful, but any observation from less distance shows it to be a bluff.

The most change I've seen was that you can ask a couple of people around town how things feel now that the Stormcloaks are in charge. Most of them tell you that not much has changed, which really makes the whole "civil war" thing seem like this happens a lot, rather than being some kind of grand rebellion. Big whoop.

It reminds me of where Dragon Age 2 did things right; by the third act of the game, bandits, attackers, and assassins can all mention about the champion. The fearsome Qunari near revere you, which doesn't stop them from attacking, for they consider it a test of worth of themselves to fight you. People start going to crazy extremes to try and fight you, knowing your prowess. Lines they wouldn't normally dream of crossing become the only feasible way to defeat the champion, for whatever reason they feel they need to do so, and in doing so there's clear evidence of what you're capable of.

But in Skyrim? No one cares. The Jarls shouldn't be slumped in their chairs when I come bursting into their halls, they should be intrigued or bemused that here's this Argonian who would come before them without reason. But nope, it's nonchalance and apathy all around. Never once does it cross the mind of the vigilants of Stendarr to attack me on sight, while I'm wearing three Daedric weapons on my person, and full Daedric armor about my body.

What's even more annoying? My armor and weapons get more respect and/or fear than I do, barring the times people have such little health that they're asking for mercy--which, if granted, means nothing, as they just stand back up and attack again. Only rarely do they flee from my demonic appearance, my warped and spiked mace, my all-consuming fires.

You'd think word would get around that the Argonian who's now in charge of the college has been seen breaking into people's houses, or leaving an area where a dead body would later be found. You'd think someone might make a connection here or there. Tough luck on that one.

See, while I can agree with some of this (particularly the Vigilants of Stendarr thing), a lot of the complaining that "Oh, I'm leader of X now and no-one notices" can be summarised with context. No common person should know that you're the leader of the Dark Brotherhood and even if they noticed they'd hopefully keep their damn mouth's shut, the only ones who notice/have the guts to say anything are the guards. Same for the Thieves Guild because it's like going to the head of the Mafia and shouting "HEY! I hear you lead the mafia?" most NPCs apparently have self preservation instincts to say nothing about your Thieves Guild membership for fear of having their stuff nicked. Benefit and drawback to secret societies, you aim to keep yourself secret. The College isn't all that well known, pretty much none of the townsfolk are aware of ANY of the mages save for the small hold where an old professor is staying because Skyrim and the Nords seem to be quite anti-magic (which is odd for a soulless game to have an opinion on a fundamental game mechanic but, eh, popular opinion holds sway) and the Companions... yeah, that one should get around a bit more, people can tell you're a werewolf faster then thy can tell you lead the Fighter's Guild.

Personally, not related to the above post, I take issue with the accusation the game is soulless because of a few elements [POSSIBLE SPOILERS?]. The Sanguine Rose quest (which was the point where, yes, I felt involved in the world by making a mess of it) and the quest with Barbas, because I didn't even finish that quest for ages because I loved having a talking dog sidekick follow me everywhere. I played as a Breton and I didn't stand out all that much so I didn't find it THAT weird when no-one really acknowledged my feats. They acknowledged me when I caught the Vampire and suddenly it was all hands on deck, let's kill this guy.
And I also wound up killing High Elves on principal.
I like to play these sort of games with the moral high ground goodie two shoes type character but whenever I passed a group of Thalmor they'd just say SOMETHING and that'd be it, we were in a fight, I don't even understand how I could get provoked every single time and have to sprint across the marshes to Whiterun to avoid being arrested. Maybe I just played it too immersed but when random NPCs with no personal dialogue can provoke a reaction that says the game has soul to me. Also, it made me genocidal so that's probably not great.

I agree in many ways with this article. I think they spread themselves thin (Bethesda) and a lot of things that would help with immersion get lost in simply trying to create something so vast, dynamic, and complex. Its amazing these games get released at all. Would you prefer that they take 5+ years to complete a single storyline and linear game environment like Valve? I think its a toss up frankly.

I saw this comment already, but I still found it funny that right after reading this, I did a dark brotherhood mission and who did they want me to kill... our favorite indifferent house maid Agnis!

PhantomEcho:
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.

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.

image

I'm not going to argue with you that there is some aspect of choice and relativity in Skyrim; but Bethesda lost its touch. If you've played every Elder Scrolls game extensively, and you feel Skyrim is the most "alive"; then we are going to disagree very thoroughly.

Suspension of Disbelief, Immersion, and the "Wow this world is real"-factor;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZUynhkal1I&list=LL3DVL4-LaCcbQe0BJlOTVgw

Simpler arguments as to why Skyrim is bland and soulless;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JweTAhyR4o0&list=LL3DVL4-LaCcbQe0BJlOTVgw

So, sorry that you were the one getting quoted, but "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." really struck a bad chord with me.

I get around this problem by, firstly, lowering difficulty to the lowest possible setting. Then maxing my destruction, and 75% all the other magical skills ... leaving all but one handed and stealth at their starting levels (these two skills I raise to 50) .... The reason why I do this is because of this dilemma. That there is, more often than not, indiscriminate looting. So I like to think of myself (and hence make a character as closely resembling as possible) as Lina Inverse, from the Slayers anime.

Trust me, it works.

Make a magical girl, and pretend to be Lina Inverse ... and then loot with glee. Then picture all the faces of the poor, ragged commoners who you leave to their poverty when you raid a bandit fort.

it's actually really addictive to dual cast a master level destruction spell and be like "Dragon~~ SLAVE!!!" ... and watch bandits burn. Then picture yourself tossing up and down a collection of gold coins you've stolen from the corpses of the bandits, whistling a jaunty tune as you wander the popular roads (at walking pace only to make the inevitable trip andquesting between cities and realms all the more visceral) from towns, to inns, to dungeons, to towns once more.

There's only so much that one can do. In Skyrim, there's thousands of people they wrote dialogue for, and you can talk to everyone. They have their own little scripted lives - they go to work in the morning, grab a beer after and then hit the sack. Same with Agnes. She; in a castle run by bandits. She cleans it, sits down for supper and hits the sack.

That to me, is the best any game has done in creating a living, breathing world. I am, very much looking foward to Witcher 3, as I expect they've done a tremendous job at just that.

To be fair, I enjoy good dialogue and backstory for everyone I meet. I love cinematic portrayal of characters like in the Mass Effect series. But I also understand how much work goes into creating that.

I've mentioned it in another thread.
Oblivion charmed me.
Fallout 3 charmed me even more.
Skyrim didn't charm me at all.

There's something wrong in Skyrim, and I am not sure what it is.

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