Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review
One of the best roleplaying games of all time
The game’s UI has been entirely re-designed for the better. Gone is the extremely clunky crossbar and sub-menu laden interface of Oblivion that did not feel all that good on either the consoles or the PC. In its place is a four-pronged quick draw menu that allows you to easily pull up your inventory, your magic, your stats, and the game map. From there, it is a number of menus moving from left to right that can be easily retreated from and entered by flicking left and right on the analog stick respectively. While I have not had time to play with this UI on the PC version of the game, I imagine it may feel a bit clunky as it seems like it was designed entirely around the use of an analog stick or D-pad.
Two of Oblivion’s weakest aspects, the leveling system and the combat, have either been revamped almost entirely or greatly improved upon. Traditional player stats have been done away with and replaced with a simple boost in either magicka, health, or stamina each level followed by the ability to choose a perk unlocked along a number of skill trees, one for each of the player skills retained from the previous games. While the traditional RPG player in me cringed at hearing this initially, it works out to be a much better character creation system than before. Every single level and every single perk unlock feels like a tangible advantage you have given your character. It is much easier to see how you have improved in concrete gameplay terms rather than simply dumping a number of points into your primary stats and hoping you will see higher damage, defense, etc. because of it.
Combat is perhaps the weakest part of Skyrim (and the Elder Scrolls series at large), but it has seen improvements since Oblivion. The systems retains the basic mechanics of moving in a direction and hitting or holding the attack button to differentiate between normal and power attacks along with the attack’s direction. The ability to dual-wield is obviously the most apparent change, and it really does give the overall feel of combat a much better sense of variety fitting of the game’s overall openness. One-handed weapons and shield gameplay works considerably better than before and really feels like you are actively deciding when to block enemy attacks and when you are failing to do so, rather than the die-roll bases shield mechanic found in previous entries like Morrowind. Archery and magic have both been made much more viable through the inclusion of new perks and a better flow of combat overall. The new character perk system allows for archery to finally become as deadly as it would be in the real world. Dual-wielding allows mages to utilize a variety of spell combinations or even focus on one school of magic and dual-wield the same spell for maximum damage focusing.
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