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Mar. 10th, 2012 @ 09:35 pm Finished Skyrim
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I've finished Skyrim. I've done pretty much everything there is to do: I've become Thane in every hold, I've done the complete questlines for the Companions, the Magician's College, the Thieves Guild and the Black Brotherhood. I've joined the Stormcloaks and kicked the Empire out of the province. I've collected every word of every shout. I did all the daedric quests. And of course I've finished the main quest.
(OK, so I haven't done the Empire questline, but that's because the start of the game found me with my head on the chopping block by the hands of the Imperials -- why would I help them after that!?)

I've spent 180 hours on the game. It's big, though the main questline itself isn't that big. But there's a lot to do. (Yes, there is an infinite number of quests, but those quests are of the type "go there, kill this, get back" -- you have to be pretty dull to find that interesting for very long.)

I've played a sneaky archer, a style that meshes well with me -- just like I played a sniper in Mass Effect. Some of the things are pretty stupid: you shoot people and creep away, then if they can't find you within half a minute they'll just return to their posts, assuming they imagined the arrow sticking out of their head. I've occasionally had to switch to melee weapons, but I've tried to avoid that. I like that skills do improve with use, but some skills are too easily spammed to be taken seriously -- for instance, I started smithing when I was level 35, and by the time I hit 45, my smithing was at 100. I must have made thousands of iron daggers, and they all counted towards the skill points. Same with enchanting and alchemy.

The game is very open-ended. There is no fixed order, which is a strength -- but also a weakness. If you accomplish something like kicking out the Imperials, some things are different when you return to that part of the province: like which jarl is in power. But all of the other things are exactly the same, and then it doesn't seem like you have a lot of influence in the world, even though you brought about a major change!
Another dissapointment is that you can't really build up a relationship with people -- something that I liked very much about Dragon Age. In Skyrim, you fetch someone's sword from a cave, and they love you. They'll follow you into dungeons, and may even agree to marry you! And then when you are married, they just hang out at one of your houses and merely wait for you to return home. I missed that.

I've had a lot of fun with Skyrim. My next game will be Xenoblade Chronicles, because it's time for a JRPG again!
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From:merle_
Date:March 10th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
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But all of the other things are exactly the same, and then it doesn't seem like you have a lot of influence in the world, even though you brought about a major change!

That was my one complaint about Darklands, an ancient RPG from '92. After you complete the main story lines every quest is one of three variants. To make matters worse, dragon quests end up permanently destroying villages and raubritter castles regenerate only half of the time, meaning after nine game years of playing you are down to just cities and a handful of villages.. meaning most quests become "go way across the country and steal this item for me". Doesn't matter that you defeated Baphomet, you still have to retrieve some lost love letters for less money than your sword is worth.
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From:fub
Date:March 11th, 2012 08:55 am (UTC)
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It's the same for Skyrim. At the end of the main quest, you get a pat on the back and you're sent on your way to do Great Deeds... But I made sure to do all the side quests before finishing the main quest, so all that was left to do for me was mopping up.

But some of that was pretty amusing anyway. You come across a castle filled with bandits, and the rightful owner is camped outside with two bodyguards. He needs you to go in there and open the portculis so he can retake his castle! Or you find a keep, again filled with bandits, and you find a farmer who didn't know his wife left him to become the leader of these bandits...
And I came across a hidden bar for (again) bandits in a cave. However, the evil Falmer had raided the bar and killed everyone. Just as you wipe the blood of the last Falmer of your sword, a group of bandits enter the bar to get a drink, and find their comrades killed and you with your sword out...
It's little mini-stories like that that kept me playing. A lot of creativity went into those.
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From:zolphia
Date:March 11th, 2012 12:19 pm (UTC)
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My next game will be Xenoblade Chronicles, because it's time for a JRPG again!

I'm curious if this will improve your opinion on JRPG's.
(Though it is generally agreed that these days Western RPG's are better than Japanese)

Two non-spoilery tips:
-Read the in-game tutorial text. They contain a lot of useful info. There have been people playing the game for 40 hours before they realized there was such a thing as a quick-warping-system.
-Some sidequests will become unavailable due to storyline changes. But don't worry, the game will warn you which sidequests these are and the game will warn you from which point on they will become unavailable.
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From:fub
Date:March 11th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
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(Though it is generally agreed that these days Western RPG's are better than Japanese)
Perhaps the JRPG as a genre has the same problem that many anime have: they're focussed on an increasingly smaller, more 'specialised' audience consisting of anme nerds. Hence all the 'cute girls doing cute things'-anime, which don't appeal to the mainstream at all.
In parallel, JRPGs cater to gaming nerds who like grinding and crafting the characters minutely. I'm not one of those people.

I guess Dragon Age II is the ideal RPG that combines the best elements of both sides: the open-ended nature of the WRPG, combined with the emphasis of the overall plot and the relationship between characters of JRPGs.

Something that does make me wonder: Final Fantasy XIII is generally regarded as a pretty bad game (even though it got a score of 83 on Metacritic). Now XIII-2 is out, and it's pretty much the same game with a few tweaks -- and still it gets a score of 79. I guess people want to like Final Fantasy games, for old time's sake?

Anyway, thanks for the hints. I did read all the tutorials, and that made the game a lot easier to play. The battles do get hectic, though, and it's not always easy to manoever yourself into the right position...
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From:zolphia
Date:March 12th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
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they're focussed on an increasingly smaller, more 'specialised' audience
In that light, it's also true that there haven't been big gameplay developments or growth in the JRPS genre. A JRPG now looks and plays a lot like one from 5 years ago - only with prettier graphics. Whereas that is not the case of WRPG.

I guess people want to like Final Fantasy games, for old time's sake?
As objective as one may try to be, reviews are essentially about one's enjoyment of the game, which in its nature is subjective.
Sure, pink-tainted glasses and feelings of nostalgia as if you're meeting an old friend, can help improve a game's rating. Though the alternative is also possible: with a huge game franchise, there are high expectations for a next installment. And if it then turns out to be merely good instead of great, it immediately feels like a huge disappointment.
Finally, maybe some people are superficial and like the nice graphics that come from FF's high production value.

The battles do get hectic, though, and it's not always easy to manoever yourself into the right position...
As always, practice makes....
Anyway, once you have more people in your party (surely that can't possible count as a spoiler), you can also pick other characters as your playable. And due to different skill-sets, they have a different play-style. So for some, position is less important.

BTW, do you play with the Japanese or English VA? I started in Japanese for ten minutes, but then realized I preferred to understand what people are saying not just based on subtitles. So I switched to English instead and didn't go back.
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From:fub
Date:March 12th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
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Whereas that is not the case of WRPG.
...because WRPGs have been incorporating elements of JRPGs.

Anyway, once you have more people in your party (surely that can't possible count as a spoiler), you can also pick other characters as your playable. And due to different skill-sets, they have a different play-style. So for some, position is less important.
True. I tend to stick with Shulk, though, because he has a nice mix of arts.

BTW, do you play with the Japanese or English VA?
It took me some time to discover that there was a Japanese track, and by that time I had already fallen for Fiora's accent. Too bad she had to die.
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