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This week has been quite strange. After invested upward of 150 hours into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I decided (in a caffeine-driven state) to restart my character. An action I never went through with -- and then a day later I find my save files corrupted. Maybe it's a blessing from the Nine or my luck is incredibly timely; regardless, a new file beckons new thoughts.
In the meantime, I borrowed The Saboteur, Pandemic's last hurrah, from a friend and I should have a review done by early next week.
No better time exists is rip into the game we've mocked, gawked and walked in for weeks. The following is my list of necessary changes to keep the game fresh and exciting while never losing that Northern charm.
1. More dragons. Bethesda is heavily emphasizing the creatures' existence, and clearly they are a focal point. But after playing for so many hours and annihilating one after another, the types tend to blur. When you can walk into a dragon fight knowing you'll come out on top, it ruins the experience. And since Bethesda has built theatrics into those encounters, fighting one just seems silly. That's why more dragon appearances and an increased variability would work a long way to keep players invested for years to come.
2. Make leveling skills more realistic. When the many blacksmiths of the province speak of who's best, they say Eorlund Grey-Mane, the only Nord capable of forging Skyforge Steel. And he's an older fellow, so presumably he's been doing it for most of his life. Even before the Dragonborn was born, perhaps. Magically, however, the Dragonborn can attain Smithing Mastery in a couple of hours just by making iron daggers. A cheap and uniquely effective method to acquire the best in-game armours. But spending a career making iron daggers doesn't make anyone a master. As the levels increase, lowly weapons shouldn't give any experience. The stages should progress with the player, forging different materials to eventually reaching Daedric or Dragon armours.
3. Make marriage more engaging. Life in Skyrim is hard and unpredictable, and that's why love is so easy. All it takes is an Amulet of Mara and a shared romantic interest. But marriage doesn't go beyond that. Your new wife or husband starts a stall who you can sell stuff to, and he/she gives you gold daily. That's it. No interaction other than your partner continuously thanking you for returning the "Golden Claw". The sanctity of marriage legitimately means nothing in Skyrim, but it would've been nice for more options.
4. Horses. A small gripe, but still annoying. The animals are invaluable to travel the vast expanses of Skyrim, but galloping for long periods is limited by the Dragonborn's own stamina bar. This is completely illogical. Horses have far greater stamina than anything with two legs and for Bethesda to limit that doesn't improve gameplay. It does the opposite.
There are many more issues, including glitches, quests breaking, and prominent lagging. But through virtue of this being a blog post, I don't want to stretch this into a novella. If Bethesda implements these small changes, Skyrim and its downloadable content will actually be deserving of the GOTY praise. Jeff out.