I’ve made it no secret on this blog that Skyrim is my favorite game of all time (as noted here, here, here, here, and here :P). I cannot count how many times I’ve returned over the years for yet another journey through its frozen mountains, rocky canyons, ancient ruins, and dangerous depths. But I try to be as objective as I can when I talk about games on The Brink of Gaming. If I don’t come from a place of fairness, what is the point of writing reviews and opinions? There will always be games that I favor, just like any other gamer would have their own preferences and distastes, but in the name of due diligence I have to tear my darling to pieces. Skyrim might be my favorite, but it is FAR from perfect. *sigh*…Alright, let’s get this over with!
Bad Character Animations
I always get the feeling that the citizens of Skyrim walk around wearing corsets under their armor. Character models are blatantly set to a harsh vertical axis that they are unable to break away from, yet as soon as someone is killed in combat, their corpse becomes a rag doll that contorts into all manner of pretzeled shapes. Whereas other games feature characters dodging, rolling, jumping, climbing, picking things up, etc., Skyrim has a very limited palette of realistic animations, and those that do exist are slow and nondescript. It’s not really a BIG deal, but it ages the game significantly nowadays! “Stabby” kill-cams that show your character’s weapon flailing around when it’s clearly lodged inside an enemy don’t help Skyrim’s case.
Dull/Repetitive Voice Acting
Part of the Elder Scrolls charm seems to stem from memes about its campy, sometimes downright awful voice acting. Too many guards and characters share voices that sound like bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonations, not to mention that even some main characters share their voices with regular NPCs. And the passerby dialogue… I am so tired of being warned about “fiddling with any locks around here” when I am a respectable member of the Companions who only uses lockpicking for opening treasure chests in caves! This kind of dialogue should be reserved for characters who have past bounties or have gone to jail before. And yes, sir, I am very sorry about your wounded knee, but I CAN’T HELP YOU! It’s not my fault you didn’t bring enough health potions on your adventure and got shot in the knee like a chump!
Extremely Basic Combat
Whether fighting off monsters or raiding a bandit camp, combat is a crucial part of the Elder Scrolls experience. It’s also an area of the game that has largely been left stagnant across the last few entries. You can swing your weapon and you can block- that is combat. Minor nuances like power attacks and shield bashing don’t add much in the way of substance to the equation, but merely small strategic implements to simulate meaningful actions. The only time these skills came in actual handy was during my Legendary playthroughs, when blocking with a shield is nearly required to survive encounters with Bandit Chiefs who wield two-handed weapons [unless you save-spam ;)]. Or you can just bypass this issue altogether and be a stealth archer.
Boring Magic System
While we’re in the vein of combat, the magic system in Skyrim comes across to me as very lackluster compared to even older games like Dragon Age and Fable. You can do elemental damage of fire, frost, and shock, minimally alter enemy and ally stats, heal damage, create invisible armor to protect against physical damage, and make the undead run away from you. The only “interesting” spells stem from summoning, raising the dead, or late-game God powers like Paralysis and Invisibility. I miss utilizing magic for non-obvious things, such as locking and unlocking doors, altering my jump height, flying, and even teleporting across the map! I’d love to create a compelling mage character again, but I always feel so limited by the streamlining of Skyrim’s Magicka.
And here it is. The big kahuna. Of all its flaws, Skyrim is most well known for being infested with glitches from the ground up. In lieu of vague descriptions, lets dig right into the meat with a bulleted list:
-Dragons flying while motionless
-Mammoths raining from the sky
-Unequipping dual weapons on the quick-select when they have the same name
-Certain armor items not meshing and causing your face to disappear
-Dragon Shouts not activating despite the cool-down being finished
-Giants blasting you into the stratosphere with a swing of their club
-Quests that are rendered impossible to complete
-Quest items becoming permanently locked in your inventory
-Daily NPC schedules getting thrown out of whack so that shops don’t open
-Abandoned kill-cams, leaving an enemy immortal until you trigger another one
-Enemies remaining in combat despite fast traveling away from the area, leaving you with booming fight music while you sell items to merchants and donate gold to beggars
-Random environmental textures becoming blurry, or entirely invisible
-Closing doors on a corpse makes them spasm like they stuck a fork in a light socket
-The entire “Blood on the Ice” quest line
….Need I go on?
As much as I adore Skyrim, its flaws are blatant and obvious for all to see. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. Skyrim’s strength lies in its ability to let every player craft their own story as they adventure. Everyone might have the same basic building blocks, but no two players do the same things in the same order; attribute the same meaning to their character’s actions in the same world.
Did I forget any major issues with Skyrim that you feel need to be addressed? Tear apart my favorite game in the comments below with your own criticisms! Or even just share your own experience with Skyrim’s many flaws! Thanks for reading along, and game on!