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Skyrim: The Watered Down RPG

I may be the only person in the free world that thinks Oblivion is miles better than Skyrim. Skyrim felt like a half-assed rendition of a RPG. The game was significantly lacking in terms of customization and character “uniqueness”. The abilities available to a character and the ability to make a God character was made drastically easier with the new skill tree. While Skyrim is by no means a bad game, compared to Morrowind and Oblivion Skyrim is severely lacking and does not offer that much when it comes down to brass tacks. I would not hesitate to give Oblivion a perfect score. It had everything an RPG should have, great gameplay and a story to keep you interested. Your character was unique to you and the amount of replay value was through the roof. I could (and did) play Oblivion for 5 straight hours with no regard for the time of day. Skyrim got old very quick and there are many aspects that made it unappealing to play (like the kill cams).

 

Skyrim feels like a recent Fallout title more than an Elder Scrolls title. If you like Fallout you will most likely like Skyrim. The way the game plays out and how you develop your character seems to relate more to the style of gameplay Fallout 3 has. While I love Fallout 3, I want it to stay in the Fallout universe and do not want those elements to trickle into my other RPG franchises. So why am I writing this editorial? I wish to point out the gameplay discrepancies between Skyrim and it’s predecessor, Oblivion.

 

My biggest beef with Skyrim is the lack of character skills. Here is a list of skills in Skyrim, alteration, conjuration, destruction, illusion, restoration, enchanting, archery, block, heavy armor, one handed, two handed, smithing, alchemy, light armor, lockpicking, pickpocket, sneak, and speech. These are the skills your character can learn from the start of the game and every race has their proficiencies and their weaknesses. When you level up you gain a skill point. You use the skill points to purchase the perks for the respective skills you wish to level up. This is one thing I really enjoy about the skill system. However, there is something about this new system that I do not like and for some reason I cannot place my finger on it. Notice in my first sentence I said lack of character skills. There are 18 skills in Skyrim while there were 21 in Oblivion. This may not seem like much when you see what is taken out you may see why I have a problem.

 

Oblivion’s skills are, blade, blunt, hand to hand, armorer, block, heavy armor, acrobatics, light armor, security, sneak, marksman, mercantile, speechcraft, illusion, alchemy, conjuration, mysticism, alteration, destruction, and restoration. Notice there is not a one-handed/two-handed skill. The blade/blunt skills governed what weapons you used and when you leveled them up you gained different skills for one handed and two handed weapons. Hand to hand was straight up taken out entirely for no real reason. Armorer is smithing but a major component was taken out. With the inclusion of mining/ingots you are able to craft your own armor. I have no problem with this addition the exclusion of the ability to REPAIR damaged equipment is my issue. It may seem small but it added to your character and his/her story. You always made sure you had top notch repaired armor before you went spelunking in tombs. 

Marksman was changed to archery, while athletics and acrobatics were taken out as well. There are no replacements for these skills in Skyrim as well. Unlike the one handed/two handed combination of blade and blunt the speed at which you run and height you jump was significant to your character. Khajiits would typically have higher athletics and acrobatics because, well, cats. Mercantile was erged with speechcraft and the perks for merchant haggling are in the speechcraft skill tree. Mysticism was a skill that involved spells that absorb, reflect, dispel magic, move objects, sense life, and bind souls. This was merged with alteration in Skyrim but it was spread out among the other magic skills. Security was changed to lockpicking yadda yadda now you get the point.

 

Skyrim merged many skills together and taking other completely out. I feel as though this was to save time and effort. The specific skills are not present even though there are recognizable perks within the skill trees. I find that the exclusion of armor/weapon repair, acrobatics, and athletics really hurt the way the game is played and they way you build your character. As previously mentioned this has a negative effect on how unique your character is.

 

Now that I got the skill stuff out of the way I can move on to attributes, or lack thereof. In Oblivion every skill had a governing attribute that determined the effectiveness of the skill. These attributes are, strength, endurance, speed, agility, personality, intelligence, willpower, and luck. In Skyrim, you have three, strength, willpower, and endurance. Endurance changed your fatigue and health, strength is how much you carry and it contributed to your fatigue as well. Willpower determined the amount of mana you have and how good you are with spells. How do you go from eight attributes to three? You over simplify it. This is how it was divvied up to make Oblivion a better way to build a unique character. Intelligence governed conjuration, mysticism, and alchemy. Willpower governed restoration, alteration, and destruction. You may have noticed in Skyrim that magic is incredibly overpowered. This is exactly why. With these two magical attributes fused together there is no need to divide up the skill pints to make your mage different. All of your magic depended on one attribute, willpower. Everything goes into one stat so it makes magic that much more powerful.

Speed and agility go hand in hand as well. Speed governed light armor, acrobatics, and athletics. Agility governed marksman, security, and sneak. A healthy dose of both attributes were necessary for thief. However, a thief class would benefit more from agility due to the sneak and security skills. While a light armor warrior would benefit from speed. It all hinges on how well your character creation is. With the oversimplification of the attribute system it makes characters easy to become masters of at least half the skills. In Oblivion when you chose your race (which skill proficiency changed depending on the gender) you were stuck with what you had and it was difficult and time consuming to learn skills that you were not good at. And of course you can’t forget about that persuasion minigame that allowed you to pretty much get whatever you want. But this added something to Oblivion. If your character was a smooth talker he would find it no problem to convince other people. However, if he was a brutish orc you would have to work at it and it made the races different as well. No minigame in Skyrim and that was also a major letdown.

 

In Skyrim, you may have noticed certain stones that share a similarity to the constellations from Oblivion. You would chose what sign you had and it would govern what attributes and skills your character was proficient at. Or it would change the growth of your character. In Skyrim, they have become optional buffs. If you don’t like one, you can ditch it for something better. The exclusion of having it be a part of your character was yet another let down of character “uniqueness”.

 

Now, I have been talking about the gameplay mechanics that were taken out of Skyrim that were in Oblivion. Why not talk about the additions? Skyrim did offer some aspects to the series that I enjoy. The first I wish to talk about is the return of the dragons. Who does not love dragons? Fighting dragons is awesome and I love it. With you being a dragonborn and using the dragon shouts added a gameplay mechanic that really fit. It was a way to balance out some of the weaknesses the character classes had. Collecting dragon souls and finding dragon shrines to learn different shouts was something to look forward to and give you a reason to explore. Dual wielding weapons was added. So now you can wield a sword and mace or an axe and sword etc etc. However, you lose the ability to block. This made NO sense. You can’t block with two weapons? Really? Since when did making an “X” out of your swords become a bad idea? You can also dual wield magic and a weapon or two magics. In a way, this also made magic way overpowered. However, I feel as though this was a beneficial addition to make mage classes more distinguished.

 

Marriage was something added in Skyrim and I agree with it being in the Elder Scrolls universe. The purpsoe of a RPG is to create your own adventure and life. Marriage is one of those things. Now if children were added that would have been a bit off but again, it would serve a purpose. But that would mean time would have to pass and it seems like it is always the same time in Skyrim. The light and day cycles do not seem to mesh well in the latest installment. It feels like overcast weather all the time.

 

The combat works just like it did in Oblivion with the new addition of dual wielding and dragon shouts. However, the lack of a hand to hand skill is a major downer because it is an actual fighting style. Why it was taken out is beyond me.

 

If you are still with me, congratulations. You have successfully read my rant on why Oblivion has more content and more RPG character depth than Skyrim. To sum everything up, Skyrim offers a simplified RPG experience. Oblivion offers a more in-depth experience in terms of character development and depth. Which was the purpose of this editorial. It was meant to purely analyze the characteristics of the RPG elements contained within tow titles in the same franchise. Skyrim is still a fun game. But it lacks the appeal that Oblivion had as an RPG. Which is why Oblivion is better than Skyrim, end of story.

4 Comments

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  1. Meh says
    June 10, 2012, 12:31 PM

    Skyrim’s lack of ingeniuty in the ways of character development was astounding. Not only did they make it possible for every race to be practically anything they wanted to be and be AMAZING at it, they also made them look more similar. In Oblivion and past games, each race had distinctive traits that made them feel special. In oblivion you choose to make your character a race because that race was good at certain things and had the stats for it. Sure you could make an orc mage, but holy shit did he suck. In Skyrim, EVERYONE IS GOOD AT EVERYTHING REGARDLESS OF RACE. Oh yeah, don’t forget how they added perks that give you straight up damage increases.

    Reply
  2. MaulYoda says
    April 17, 2012, 3:13 PM

    Oblivion and Morrowind are severely lacking when compared to older RPGs. I’m not saying Skyrim isn’t streamlined, but it’s not like Oblivion had that much depth. I mean, Morrowind had 27 skills and Daggerfall had 36 if you look just at that, so it’s not like Oblivion was at the pinnacle. Not to mention the level scaling system killed the difficulty in Oblivion. Also, repairing gear doesn’t add to your character’s story. It adds realism, but it’s pretty monotonous (most older RPGs don’t make you do that, mainly because it gets very annoying). And Skyrim also does not play like Fallout 3 (which was also very streamlined) at all. Fallout 3 actually has base stats (SPECIAL), skills are leveled up with skill points, and perks are not handed out in a linear fashion

    Anyway, the point is that Skyrim is streamlined, of this you are right. But comparing it to Oblivion isn’t the best argument for just how much, since Oblivion was also streamlined to begin with

    Reply
  3. elseagoat says
    April 12, 2012, 1:51 PM

    Seriously? You are complaining about athletics? And attributes? Neither of which were in the slightest bit interesting and literally added nothing to the game other than time consumption. You seriously think spending time deciding whether to go with intelligence or willpower somehow makes your character unique?

    Reply
    • MaulYoda says
      April 17, 2012, 4:54 PM

      It does actually, to the author’s credit. Skyrim had no real base stats, and that did make it more streamlined

      Reply

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