Well simply put the game is awesome. Yes there are some very minor annoyances with the game that in reality shouldn't detract from its splendor, however as you will encounter these small annoyances constantly throughout the game that does yield a moderate amount of frustration.
This is a Role Playing Game (RPG) where you choose what class and type of character you wish to play as. There are many different classes of bi-pedal animal you can choose to play as. I must confess here that I am not really interested in this element of RPG, so I just chose the default character, the animal I selected was a Human looking Nord. Looking at the stats for this character it suited how I wanted to play. More as a warrior than a spell caster / mage.
The game to say the least is massive. There are so many quests and so many locations to visit that you will be overwhelmed with what this game offers. Talking to everyone in the game will provide you additional locations or quests.
Beyond the quests and locations you can uncover, lies the most complex part of the game, and probably the most interesting aspects. The skills / perks and leveling up section. This, to say the least, will have you confused and even now after having played for over 150 hours, I am still not very clear on how exactly it all works.
There are 18 different skill sets that you can learn. Each skill has 100 levels of upgrading and numerous bonus perks which you can select once you reach certain levels. There are also 4 main sections of play style. Magic / Alchemy / Enhchanment and Warrior. Each one yields different benefits
As you play, the more you use a certain skill (such as one handed weapons) you gain experience with that skill. You have your player level and then you have the individual level for each skill. You can also pay people to train you in a specific skill, however you can only train for 5 levels and then you must level up that skill in order to be able to train more.
The whole level up system is quite confusing because it is not always clear when you actually level up, you can increase to the next level for a skill but that does not trigger a level up for that skill, nor does it trigger the player level up.
You will also encounter many quests that simply can't be completed or are bug ridden, causing other effects such as not being able to receive the next quest. Luckily playing on the PC you can use the console and help resolve these quest conflicts. Sometimes it's just that you have two conflicting quests (both associated to the same location), so complete one and the other will now be available to function correctly. If you find yourself in a situation where a quest is broken a good place to start your search for a solution is THIS WEBSITE .
Another strange issue with the game is there's no Moral compass. The game seems to not base your character on your actions. Unlike their previous releases like Fallout 3 where you were shown your current standing between Good and Evil. Many quests you will be given appear to be down right evil and yet there seems to be no consequence for accepting these missions, if you are primarily trying to play as a good character. The same goes for stealing. The only side effect seems to be those stolen items are a little harder to sell. Of course don't get seen stealing an item as will trigger the guards and you will get a bounty.
One last point is there's no damage. Sure you can inflict damage with your weapons, but when you are attacked and they hit you with their sword you are actually awarded skill points for that impact into your armour. So if you are wearing heavy armour then your heavy armour skill rating goes up? Surely that seems illogical. If the enemy was able to strike you then you are not blocking, nor are you efficient enough to get out of the way, yet the game rewards you for being struck? I would also like to see the side effect that your weapons and armour need repairing. Just like Fallout 3, where you had to keep your equipment in good working condition. The better condition the better the efficiently, but this game has none of that, which I think is a shame.
All character animations looked great and the frame rate was quite good through the whole game. The only exception is in the map which seems to really exhibit some mouse lag and I can see a substantial drop in the frame rate.
There are two pictures in the gallery which demonstrate just how strange it is to see objects appear infront of you that appear very close
With scenery that includes so much detail it is inevitable that you will simply not be able to spot the enemies, however their vision range is not obscured by the landscape and will be able to see you at all times (unless you level up sneak and can then attempt to hide yourself). This isn't a huge problem in the game, but one that can get a bit annoying, especially once you start walking around off the paths.
Combat feels a little cumbersome and you will find yourself starting a power attack and not being able to stop even though the enemy has moved away and you're now attacking nothing. Once you initiate an action you can't stop or cancel it. Playing in 3rd person mode makes the combat a little more difficult as it is hard to gauge distance to enemies to ensure power attacks contact the enemy. When in first person view you will find that the weapon you are holding blocks a reasonable amount of your screen (especially dual single handed weapons), so it feels like a constant to/from 1st to 3rd person switching game.
In one instance my companion simply got stuck in the landscape somewhere. However their location was impossible for me to locate. When they appear to get stuck they will re-route and find a different path. That means they could be anywhere, so if you backtrack the way you just came, that is no indication you will find the companion. In one instance in the game my companion simply got lost. I tried waiting, fast travel and sleeping, all to no avail. Then a few days later bingo my companion turned up again, but now in default settings. That means all the armour / weapons and inventory items I had given them were all gone, and their character was reset. WHY?.
You have no ability to control your companion. You can not tell them to break off an attack, or retreat and they choose the most ridiculous battles to fight. The game really needs better companion commands. Also you should have the ability to select what weapons you want them to use (ie hand to hand or ranged weapons or magic). In many battles the companion is behind me firing magic at the attacker that is infront of me. Yes you guessed it I end up with a back full of friendly fire.
Also when in a battle with many friends, magic and ranged weapons are being fired everywhere if one friend hits my companion or vise versa they start fighting between themselves. This is just stupid logic. You should have control to tell your companion to stop the attack and/or holster weapon so the other NPC knows they are not aggressive anymore.
So to be honest the game is much more enjoyable WITHOUT a companion.
Potions will allow you to do basic stuff like regenerate health faster, but you can also create (or buy) potions to make your skills better, so you can do 40% more damage with bows for 60 seconds, or you can enchant spells 50% stronger etc. Potions can be very beneficial in the game as you increase your other skills, because they will allow you to go beyond the maximum level of 100 . You can technically overclock many skills by creating a potion.
Enchanting This is probably the most difficult aspect of the game because it's the most time consuming (due to the implementation) and due to the fact that this relies on so many other factors. Enchanting is the ability to add magic to weapons and armour. You could for example enchant your boots so you can carry more weight, or enchant your armour so your health can regenerate faster.
There are three types of enchantment groups. Increase your resistance to (ie frost, fire, magic), Increase your ability to (ie do more damage with bows and swords) and Provide an additional benefit with (ie steal health, regenerate magic/stamina/health faster). You can only place certain type of enchantments on certain items.
For example you can enchant clothing so that you are better at smithing or better at alchemy.
Smithing This is where you can create weapons and armour, and then enhance them so they yield greater damage rating or have higher armour rating. You need to select upgrade your Smithing in order to have the ability to create higher class weapons and armour. All the classes of weapons and armour are very interesting and unique and all exhibit different benefits and limitations. You have light and heavy classes of armour.
Smithing in my opinion is one of the most valuable of the three, because Alchemy is only temporary, Enchanting can only add effects to items, not make them better, but smithing you can create some weapons that do some real damage. If you have the ability and the time then having all three will make your character incredibly powerful.
Here is an example. with Alchemy you create a potion that makes enchanting better. You drink that potion then use the enchanter and enchant items so that your alchemy is better. You then wear those alchemy enchanted items, and use the alchemy to create potions that make enchanting better. This will be a stronger potion than what you created initially (due to the benefits of the enchanted items you are wearing). Now you can drink that potion and return to the enchanter and repeat. You will get to the point that you can't make any better potions, or you can't enchant items any better. Once you reach that point then you create potions so your smithing is better, and enchant items so your smithing is better.
Then you goto a smithing section, put on all the enchanted smithing items, drink the best potion for increasing smithing you created and then enhance your weapons and armour. You will produce some incredibly strong items.
The issue with the above skills is how they are implemented. with Alchemy all you need are the ingredients, which you can find or buy anywhere. with Enchanting what you need is the enchantment, so you must find an item with an enchantment on it, then dechant it to find out how it works. You destroy the item in the process so you lose the item. Now you need an item in order to place a new enchantment on, plus you need a soul gem. There are numerous classes of soul gems in the game and the higher the quality gem the stronger the enchantment. With smithing you just need any item, or if you have some ore and leather you can create items. You can re-enhance any item as your skill level increases (with smithing).
THE MAP The game has a map and you can use it to fast travel to locations you have visited, plus there is a journal that lists all quests (active and completed).
You can save at any time and have as many saves as you want.
Other important aspects of the game are Shouts. This is a very interesting aspect of the game worth mentioning. There are key locations throughout the map that you can learn new "words" You can train in these words to provide yourself additional benefits in battle. For example Become Ethereal means you can not be harmed (but you can not cause harm either) . Elemental Fury allows for faster weapon strikes, You can also slow time, or use unrelenting force and blow the enemy off their feet (a cool one to use). Another good one is Whirlwind Sprint which allows you to run incredibly fast for a short burst. This is idea for getting past 'indiana jones' style threats.
Enchanting Now this section however has some very annoying aspects. I do not know why they made this so different to Alchemy. Here is the comparison. With Alchemy, you select the type of potion you wish to create, then you are shown the list of ingredents known for this potion, you select upto 3 ingredients then you click create, and you can keep clicking create until you run out of ingredients or you have made enough.
Now lets compare that to Enchanting. You first select the item you wish to enchant, now you select the enchantment you wish to place on it. Here you are give a list of all enchantments known and the ones you can not apply to this item are simply greyed out. WHY? with alchemy they are removed from the list if you can't use them, so why not do that with Enchanting too? it's absurd that you have to scroll through such a huge and long list looking for what enchantments you can apply to the selected item. Ditto if you choose to select an enchantment first, you then have a list of every item in your inventory and once again the items you can not apply the selected enchantment to is greyed out. Why not just remove them from the list like Alchemy?. This is just absurd.
So continuing on. You now have selected your item and your enchantment, now you select the required soul gem, then you create your item. But wait if you want to create another item you have to repeat the whole process, reselect the item / enchantment / soul gem. Why not just leave it like Alchemy where the current selection is retained?
Final annoyance with Enchanting is when you compare it to Smithing. Say you have some dragonscale armour, and you place a 10% regenerate health enchantment on it. Then you smith it which enhances it to flawless level. Now if your enchanting skill increases YOU CAN NOT RE-ENCHANT that item. Say you can now create a 20% regenerate health enchantment, you can not reapply that enchantment to the item to boost it from 10% to 20%, however as your smithing skill increases you can indeed re-enhance the item from flawless level to legendary level. infact you can resmith the item as many times as you want. The only proviso is that your current smithing skill is higher than what was used to enhance the item previously. Why is this a problem. well it is quite clear.
If you enchant an item and now you wish to apply a stronger enchantment you must create a new item? WHY. Also later in the game you can choose the perk to add two enchantments to the one item, but guess what if you have an item with one enchantment on it already, you CAN NOT add a second enchantment, you must select both enchantments at the same time and then enchant the item. So WHY is enchantment limited to once only per item, and yet I can smith (enhance) an item as many times as I want. That just seems absurd and I do not understand why there is such a disparity between the two similar processes.
This means that each time you need to enchant something you need a new item. So getting to a higher level of enchantment requires so many more things. First you have to procure enough soul gems and create or procure enough items to enchant. This in my opinion is a great aspect of the game that has been poorly balanced when compared to all other aspects of the game.
Your actions will dictate the story to some degree and will definitely vary which quests become available, or which quests are now classified as failed.
You have limited ability to interact with the environment (ie damage), but you can pick / collect flora and you can open doors and set of booby-traps etc. Most locations are interesting.
The major annoyance is there are no sound effects to indicate when you consume potions. You have no idea of when the potion timer runs out. This is very annoying and something I think could have been easily added. Such as a ticking in the background. To hear something so you know the potion is still active would be very beneficial, but alas there are none.
In the game unless you are looking in the direction of the enemy you do not know you are under attack. The compass does not indicate any enemies if they are behind you, but the music does :)
They did this rubbish in their previous title aswell (fallout 3). I have no logical reason why they do not allow you to assign what keys you wish to use. I really hate WASD keys for movement but that is their default key settings. I want to assign NUMPAD 8462 as movement keys and then use 79513 for weapon selection or map or inventory etc.
Your only solution is to use an awesome program like GLOVEPIE which will allow you to assign W -> NUMPAD 8 etc.. without GlovePie I would have simply NOT played Skyrim!
That is how important it is, yet time after time game developers simply don't seem to understand that not everyone plays with the mouse in the right hand !
Here are a few basic issues this game suffers from:
Take All If you look at a chest or piece of furniture you can press R to take all. But there is NO PUT ALL !
When you are looking at an object (ie chest) contents, R is take all, and E is take. Now while still in the inventory go and look at your own inventory. R is store and E is use/equip ? WHY. This is so darn annoying.
You look at your inventory you wish to place in an object, and R is store, now you look at that object and if you hit R you take all. So the one key does take all or store depending on what you look at. Then with the E key, it is either Use/Equip or Take. ARGHH. the amount of times I've drank a potion rather than storing it, or taken all rather than put is just utterly ridiculous.
MAKE IT CONSISTENT AT ALL TIMES
Then when you store numerous items you use R, but if you have more than 6 of that item, you have to now select how many you wish to store, so you have to select the number and then press E (or enter), but when you take numerous items (which is E) you can just double tap E ! Once again consistency out the window.
So you enchant an item. You use E to select the items. then you use R to create, now you have to click on Yes or Y to confirm. Now you create a potion, so you use E to select the ingredients, you click R to create potion, oh a new effect is know, now you have to click on OK to close that box. ARGHH. E R Y enter click all do the same thing depending on what screen you are looking at and what action you are performing. This is just bonkers.
GAME DEVELOPERS. make 1 key do one thing ONLY for the whole game.
In many instances in the game I click E to start a conversation (they could be sitting at their table in their home). I read the subtitles faster than the character talks so I press E to advance, however if the conversation ends and my cursor is pointing at anything on the table i've now picked up that item, which is classified as stolen and everyone in the room turns into an enemy instantly. ARGHH.
Final point with navigation is the inventory screen is frustrating. It does not provide any option to sort or search, you can not see the unenhanced value or damage rating of any item and while trading you can not see how much you are carrying. Plus if you are using a mouse and you are 1mm off the name of an item you are exited from that whole screen (ie trading / object content checking).
If you use the keyboard navigation keys to circumvent the mouse annoyance you will find that each time you select an item (ie put or mark as favourite or equip) the list of items change. Yes the item list is resorted for some insane reason. Plus the item you just selected does not always remain under the cursor or no longer the highlighted item.
Summary - Navigation in this game needs a major overall. Considering the amount of time I have spent trading and in inventory navigation it would easily exceed the amount of time I have spent in combat, so it's a lot of all these minor annoyances that are compounded by the amount of times you encounter them!
The more people you talk to the more locations and quests you will uncover.