There was a moment I reached while playing Fallout 3 where I thought to myself: you know what, screw it. After completing the main story, I retired my copy of the game and haven’t touched it since. At this time, I had clocked up a good thirty hours playing the game, and the whole northern part of the map remained totally unexplored. I had had enough; the game world was twice the size of the known universe, and there aren’t enough hours in a human life to satisfactorily explore it. There was, as far as I could tell, no discernible reason for me to find those other towns and shanties in the Capital Wasteland other than just because they were there. That alone wasn’t enough to justify another thirty hours of shooting-by-statistics.
In light of this, it’s perhaps understandable that I’m a bit ambivalent over Skyrim. A game like Skyrim is a lot like having a child. It’s a huge responsibility, a lot of time and effort is involved, and the decision should not be taken lightly. Most importantly (and this is where I think the analogy fits the best), there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Even though there is a main quest to pursue, you can pretty much do what you damn well please, and if you want to catch butterflies or get married or hunt dragons instead of finishing the story, then that’s ok. Bethesda is a generous god, and will not punish you.
Why is “wench” the only female profession in fantasy worlds?
In a lot of ways, this kind of design approach is refreshing, especially because games nowadays so rarely give you any real freedom. But in a lot of ways, it’s intimidating. When I’m confronted with a staggeringly vast world with so much to do you could easily spend days (real world days, I mean) roaming around and casually taking part in adventures, I just think: where do I start? That kind of scope can be daunting; some of us need a little push in the right direction. I know that the point of a game like Skyrim is that you have absolute freedom to do what you want, but as fans of Indian buffets will know all too well, sometimes too much choice is a bad thing.
A lot of people will say that the point of a game like Skyrim is to have absolute freedom to do what you want, the liberty to hazard your way through the game world on a journey unique to you. Which, given how I’m starting to get linearity fatigue from all the shooters I’ve played this year, is starting to sound like an attractive proposition, so I will finally be bowing down to the pressure of my peers and purchasing a copy soon. I’m going to test the game’s do-whatever-you-want philosophy by seeing how far the game will accommodate me trying to be an evil wizard warlord. It’s going to be biblical, some Sauron-level badassery. I’m literally going to pick an arbitrary direction from the point I start at, and go in a straight line from there, and do a lot of evildoing. If I can fight a massive troll, then that’d be cool too.
I’m getting a little bored with games constantly telling me what to do, and even though I’m worried about how many hours Skyrim will be plundering from me in the future, I have to think to myself: I’m going to be an evil wizard.