“Oddball Confessions” or “Decimating Dragons”
I am an odd gamer. Or at least I like to think that I am. I play a lot of video games, across just about ever genre. The only exception is fighting games and racing games (although Split/Second came a long way to change that). But unlike a rational human being who stops playing a game because of a certain reason, such as increasingly lack of interest, boring story, shoddy mechanics, or simply that something better came out, I have to finish a game I have started. It is a weird obsession.
All other factors notwithstanding, three things drive me in a game:
- The story
- The amount of fun I am having
- The fact that I can cross it off of my list when I finish it
Most of the time, a combination of 1 & 2 in varying degrees of success suffice, with 3 being the constant. However, a recent game has kind of ruined this simple three-point agenda for me.
Decimating Dragons (isn’t heroic)
I played The Elder Scrolls for 72 hours in less than two weeks. I couldn’t get enough of it. At the end of the 72 hours, I had barely touched the main quests, reached level 50, brought the thieves back into power in Riften and discovered dozens of random locations as murdered my way through the land. It took a well placed single shot from my legendary Daedra bow to bring an Elder Dragon crashing down to earth, and for me to realize that I was far more powerful than the game intended for me to be at this stage. And that, you see, is a serious problem.
Now don’t get me wrong, I want to finish Skyrim. I love the story, the setting, the graphics. I have installed close to 20 mods to tweak the look of the game to be as gorgeous as my monster of a machine can make it, and even in my over-powered state, I am enjoying the game. In essence, 1, 2 and 3 are all satisfied, but somehow I know this isn’t the way to play Skyrim. I am also dreadfully aware that having an overpowered character is why I stopped playing Fallout 3.
I know that when I come across that Ancient Dragon, it is supposed to be a tough fight, like the second dragon I randomly encountered in the world. I know I am not supposed to clear out a high-level dungeon without a companion by simply sneaking and single-shotting everything from the shadows. At this stage in the game, I can lay waste to entire armies without ever breaking a sweat. I am the Wrath of Odin incarnate. I am Fire, Frost and Shadow personified. I am Alpha and Omega.
And I know there is no challenge left. And this, oddly, adds a fourth dimension to the game that I was not aware of: balance. In order to be the hero, you must be able to perform heroic feats in the world. Tearing a dragon asunder with a single Elven Arrow isn’t exactly very heroic, in fact, as it turns out, it is incredibly lame. I haven’t played Skyrim in five weeks now. I want to play it. There are so many quests in my log. There are so many locations I haven’t visited. There are so many people I haven’t helped. But I am just constantly put of by the fact that when I do get back in, all of it will be so incredibly easy, it wouldn’t make for a meaningful experience. Ever get to this stage?
Images courtesy of Dead End Thrills.