Home > Bronte, The Elder Scrolls > “Oddball Confessions” or “Decimating Dragons”

“Oddball Confessions” or “Decimating Dragons”

"I'm too sexy for this shit!"

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:

  1. The story
  2. The amount of fun I am having
  3. 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.

"Come to papa!"

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.

Categories: Bronte, The Elder Scrolls
  1. Zulu
    December 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve played over 230 hours and completely stop about 2 weeks. I’ve finish around 50% dun, discovered location 130 around, and 5 line main story. I completely burnout. Skyrim has very nice graphic but overall feel too dark mood to me. And there are lot of bugs that need to use earlier save version to overcome it (+ googling). I am happy to most quests and different identity potentially conflict really interest me. However, i think the scale war and population is ridiculous small. I also took experience to kill over one in all towns. It is so ridiculous that over 30-50 ppl are immortal. Exploration are interesting but I still think the option availabe there are limit to me. Plus i feel play it a bit lonely.

    • Zulu
      December 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      I mean about stop weeks before* iphone writing is a bit difficult.

      • January 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

        Can’t get enough can you? And with the development kit coming this month, the amount of playable content should shoot through the roof!

  2. December 30, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Can you beef up the difficulty level any further? Go to Settings/Gameplay/Difficulty and set it to Master, if you haven’t already.

    • January 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      I did. The dragon died in two hits, hahaha!

  3. December 30, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    looking forward to more skyrim time whenever I finish with SW:TOR… whenever that happens!
    nice to have you back blogging!

    • January 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Sounds like SW:TOR has a spell on you! How is it so far? I have steered clear of major review sites because no one should be able to “review” an MMO less than a month after launch…

  4. January 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    This is the same reason why I can’t really get any headway made on Loremaster and similar achievements – running around completely OP for a while is fun, but it gets old really quickly. See the start of any Metroid game for a decent implementation of the king for a day syndrome.

    This is the thing about sandboxers, though… you either need to scale the core content (unpopular) or accept that people are going to get lost in the world and come back way further along in character progression than you’re designing for. To that, I’d like to point to venerable ol’ Final Fantasy VIII. Sure, you could run around and follow sidelines or grind… but because your primary stat growth was also tied to the GF system and you only got GFs along the story path, you actually ended up with way less stat growth at the end of the day than you would if you more or less followed the rails.

    Yes, it results in a less deep world (and serious stat issues at the end of the day) but it’s a fair model to start with for balancing this sort of thing.

    • January 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      I never played FFVIII, but several people in my core group of online gamer friends did, so I have an idea of the identity issues that title had with “on-rails” vs. “sandbox”.

      Skyrim, at the end of the day, is a great game, and although I laud their attempt to allow every profession to equally grant you skill points and experience, I think ultimately this was a mistake. You can effectively get to the 40’s just leveling blacksmithing, enchanting and alchemy alone, and then the game becomes ridiculously easy, even on the highest setting. I am not saying I have a better solution, and I am not saying this was a bad idea. Someone had to try it. But I think it just doesn’t work out in the long run.

  5. January 6, 2012 at 12:41 am

    What has worked best for me, Bronte, is setting an established “ruleset” for my character. I started with a Khajit stealth-type character, and much as you comment on above, was able to sneak around and snipe just about anything to death without ever breaking a sweat. Sneak is ok on its own – sneak + archery is just overpowered.

    This time – on Master – I’ve decided to play a “Paladin” type character with restrictions on what skills he can use. There will be no enchanting, no sneaking, and no offensive magic. Basically, One-handed, Block, Heavy Armor, Smithing, and Speech, with Restoration and Alteration. Playing “in character” and on the max difficulty has made the encounters challenging again.

    Also, as the difficulty goes up, apparently your NPC follower (which I loathe and rarely use anyway) gets the same NPC buffs as the mobs – so, if you’re looking for challenge, don’t use them as the setting goes up.

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