The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Cover
Platforms Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Genre The Elder RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 18
Keep Playing? Yes
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Do we have another Game of the Year contender on our hands? Skyrim is the latest adventure in the epically massive Elder Scrolls series, released just last Friday. Heralded by many as the second coming of... Oblivion, Bethesda looks to destroy college grades and tear apart healthy marriages.

What else needs to be said? This is a massive game and we'll barely be striking the surface with its first hour, but I hope to get a feeling of the game's tone and pacing, something I would say the series has stumbled with before. This is the first time we've even discussed The Elder Scrolls here at First Hour, but better late than never.

Later this week we'll have an ever-timely review of Oblivion along with the first half-hour of Super Mario 3D Land, and early next week is the release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which will definitely receive some coverage. But until then: the first hour of Skyrim.

Minute by Minute

00 - I select New and the first hour of Skyrim begins. A quick loading screen and we’re off. I’m on the back of a horse drawn cart in a very gray land.

01 - There’s a blonde man in the cart with me, not sure who is driving. I realize I can look around and notice two others guys on the cart. The blonde man says I was trying to cross the border and ran right into an ambush.

02 - Our hands are bound. One of the captured men is the leader of a rebellion, this causes quite a bit of concern with one fella on board.

04 - We’re rolling into a village now. It seems to take quite a bit of mouse movement just to move my head a bit, wonder if that’s on purpose right now or if I’ll need to dive into the game’s settings?

05 - “Why are we stopping?” “Why do you think? End of the line.”

06 - We climb out of the cart while the concerned man tries to argue that he’s not in the rebellion.

07 - They’re calling our names for execution, the non-rebel runs off with his hands bound and gets taken down efficiently by an archer. The man asks me to step forward and the character creation screen appears.

Skyrim cat People

08 - Tons of species and races to choose from, including Argonian, a creepy lizard looking guy, and Khajit, some kind of cat creature. There’s also orcs and three elf species, along with a half-dozen different human descents.

09 - I go with Redguard, a human with what looks like African descent, but since this is The Elder Scrolls universe, I guess they're just Redguard.

10 - I really like one of these Redguard male presets, so I’m going to stick with that for the body type.

12 - There’s about 100 other options to tinker with, but all I do is give him a beard. Now he looks handsome enough. I name him Tarbolin and the camera swivels back around to my captors.

13 - Though my name is not on the list, the captain says I’m to be executed either way.

14 - I really need to fix this mouse sensitivity first... I increase the look sensitivity, hope that does the trick.

Skyrim Dragon Fight

15 - Much better, and just then we get Michael Hogan voice acting again! Just heard him in Fallout: New Vegas.

16 - Umm... there was just this awful cry in the sky, everyone looks around and sees nothing, the execution carries on.

17 - Front row seat to a beheading... nasty. I’m called up next, but the noise is heard again.

18 - DRAGON!

19 - Right as I was about to be executed, a dragon appears in the sky, lands on a nearby building, and starts causing havoc. I’m freed from my imminent death, but now where to? My vision is blurred but I’m told to run to the keep.

20 - We run up the stairs and in a convenient scripted moment, the dragon busts through the wall and nearly scorches me to death!

Skyrim Huge Dragon Battle

22 - Back on the ground, the dragon makes another appearance. I love its design, very classical: spiky and scaly. I’m following a man who knows I’m a prisoner, probably because my hands are still bound.

24 - We zig-zag through the village with the shadow of the dragon looming above. I think I just had a choice of who to follow, but I keep with the guard who’s led me to safety this long.

26 - Temporary safety in this building, Hadvar releases me from my bonds and instructs me to look for some armor. I find an Imperial Light Helmet and equip it.

27 - Another chest contains everything else I need: light armor, boots, and a sword.

28 - Everything equipped, I take a few practice swings. Feels good.

29 - We’re attacked by some Stormcloaks who I clumsily take out. Hadvar did most of the work. One guy has an Iron Warhammer which does more damage, but is probably slow. I’ll take it and try it out. I’ve also got a shield to go with my sword.

Skyrim Stormcloak Keep

32 - The dragon makes a quick appearance, knocking the ceiling down on our passageway forcing us through another door.

33 - Another battle, this one goes much better, though why we’re fighting each other while a dragon decimates everyone above boggles my mind.

35 - We make our way through the torture chambers and pick up the torturer and his assistant in our group. Aren’t we a merry bunch?

36 - I pick a lock on a mage’s cage and take all his gold and potions. Poor guy, he looks dead though. The lockpicking reminds me of Fallout 3’s, could be the exact same system.

38 - I pick a few more locks and move on through the dungeons.

40 - More battles with Stormcloaks as we make our way through the catacombs.

Skyrim Fire Spell Bigfoot

43 - Beat down on some Frostbite Spiders that came down from the ceiling, nasty little buggers. I also pull off a short little cutscene finishing move that also seems cribbed from Fallout 3. “What’s next, giant snakes?” Hadvar mutters.

45 - There’s a bear up ahead, I decide to sneak by. We make it by without hassle, don’t know if there’s any cubs around, after all.

46 - We’ve made it out! Just as we leave the caves we see the dragon fly off for good. I can see for miles across Skyrim.

47 - Aww, Hadvar already wants to split up. He tells me about the nearest town and how his uncle is the blacksmith there. I guess I have a destination, bye Hadvar.

48 - And my first action as a free man is to harvest some strawberries, nom.

50 - Not much else to do except follow the waypoint marker on the screen. Oh, there’s a man hunting, is he friendly? Yep! He’s offers to trade some goods. Wish I could ask him how far the nearest town is.

Skyrim Lady of the Night

52 - There it is! Still a long ways off, but the draw distance in Skyrim is vast.

53 - After stumbling down a mountainside, I sheathe my sword and wander into town.

55 - I find the blacksmith, but instead of sending me off on some grand mission to kill the dragon, he simply asks me to forge a dagger.

56 - Oh, Hadvar shows up and we head to his uncle’s house to talk.

58 - I ask Hadvar about the other prisoners, turns out those were actually the Stormcloaks. Apparently, I really could have gone with them instead of Hadvar, that would have mixed things up early on.

60 - I sit down and listen in as Hadvar and Alvor the blacksmith talk in his home, and Alvor tasks me with alerting some local governor about the dragon. And with that, the first hour of Skyrim is over.

Skyrim Forest Deer Hunting

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Dragon: 18

Bias: I own Morrowind and gave Oblivion a try, but could not get into either one. I'm not really the kind of gamer that just likes to get dropped in a world leaving me to figure everything out, and that is exactly what Morrowind did. I wandered around for about 10 minutes in no direction and got killed by a rat. I barely remember my time with Oblivion, but it didn't go a lot better. I'm also not a very big fan of Fallout 3 or New Vegas. But I always like to keep an open mind, heck, I even gave Assassin's Creed 2 a try.

Would I Keep Playing? Yes.

Surprisingly, I found the first hour of Skyrim very well paced. While the first half-hour was very on-railsy, the combat was enjoyable and interacting with the world was... fun! I liked how I had something to do all the time, even after escaping from that town, I knew where I had to go and though there wasn't an obvious path to take, I just started running over a mountain.

I can see myself playing for a few more hours and giving up out of intimidation or frustration, but so far, I'm having a good time. The graphics are obviously gorgeous and the voice acting is actually adequate! The menus are a bit awkward to navigate on the computer, as they were undoubtedly designed with console gamers in mind. Thankfully, modders will be able to fix this, but they're at least usable in this state.

It's just too bad this season is chock full of games and I'm still a few months behind (Bastion!). But I'll be back in Skyrim before long.