Certainly by now you’ve read a review of Skyrim, the latest Elder Scrolls iteration to grace our boring Earth (unlike the always-interesting Tamriel). The last thing you need from me is to write yet another account of how great the game is; you know it’s great, even if you haven’t played it. Instead I want to take you on a journey into the life of a Wood Elf in Skyrim named Halodir, the character to which I pull the strings for. So go right on ahead, prepare for a day in the life of Skyrim citizen Halodir by stepping into his Dark Brotherhood-issued Shroud Boots, which just so happen to allow silent running (no, not that Silent Running).
Halodir (whose name came to me at random when trying to think of a Middle-Earthy, medieval-type name for an elf of the forest) is interesting in that, while he has no friends, he has many friends. This is so because Halodir is a member of just about every club/team/organization/grouping in Skyrim. He engages in thievery for the Thieves Guild while also acting as a cold-blooded assassin for the Dark Brotherhood. He dabbles in magic at the College of Winterhold (Mages Guild) while also serving the public good via the Companions (Fighter’s Guild). And, to boot, he is the newest member of the Stormcloaks, the rebel alliance in Skyrim opposing the Imperials (who are assholes, by the way). I could’ve been an Imperial sympathizer, actually, but when helping them take down a dragon I accidentally (seriously) shot one of their soldiers in the fucking back with an arrow. “Why are you in my fucking way? Stop standing in the dragon’s ass and let me shoot him!” Once the dragon was vanquished, these armor-studded pricks came back for me. Seven versus one–real mature, guys. I stuck around the area long enough to absorb my dragon soul (because I’m also the last of the Dragonborn) and then hauled ass on one of the Imperial’s horses. So what if I stole it–when in Rome…
As was true with Oblivion, I am enjoying the Dark Brotherhood missions the best thus far with the Thieves Guild missions in a close second. These two guilds suit my skills: lots of sneaking, excellent marksmanship, stealing cool shit to use or sell later, and now, wicked backstabs. The College of Winterhold has been pretty fun thus far and so too working with the Companions. I have really only scratched the surface of each faction, trying to acquire more enchanted items and money to build my evil, but helpful, operation further and further.
Halodir has killed six dragons thus far. I’ve obtained four shouts, but honestly I’ve just started to really utilize them; they weren’t extremely useful to my style of play but I’m finding they can be very beneficial. I’m sure after more utilization of these weirding words I’ll see their fruits, but at this point I am content to zip an arrow into the bean of an unsuspecting bandit from the shadows. I really enjoy the magic system in this sequel, namely the ability to hold down on the trigger and keep the flames/frost/sparks flying. As someone who never uses a shield, Halodir feels the best defense is a good offense. If some asshole gets up in his grill, the elf starts laying down the flame and striking with his soul-stealing mace. It seems to settle down most of the rabble. My magic skills are not strong enough yet to use some seemingly-fun/strong spells as I have focused more on enchanting my items. Enchantment works similarly to Oblivion, except in this realm of Tamriel, you can break down an already-enchanted item and learn its mystical properties, destroying the item in the process. Halodir has found it very useful to destroy an Axe of Embers (since he is not much of an axe man) to learn how to add fire to an item.
Bouncing through all the guilds’ missions as well as the main storyline has given this game incredible balance for me. And, as I found with Fallout 3, I love just wandering through the wilderness and finding new locations, as well as the occasional rare ingredient, like Nirnroot! The enemies appear to level up with Halodir, as they did in Oblivion. I’m seeing a lot more bears and sabre cats now (at Level 23) who prove very challenging, especially to someone with a fairly-low light armor rating. These insidious creatures take a ton of damage and give as good as they get. Giant frostbite spiders are quite pervasive in this quest, and, despite the fact that I am not arachnophobic, these big fucks still give me the heebies. Something about a giant spider that makes no sound when it attacks is quite eerie. However, after dispatching these spawn of Ungoliant, your adventurer is free to extract frostbite venom, a useful poison that attacks stamina and makes it just a bit easier to drop someone with an orcish arrow.
As I alluded to before, Halodir is best suited for the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild. His sneaking and archery skills, along with lockpicking and pickpocket abilities, provide for a very enjoyable method of game progression. Halodir will kill anyone when it suits a necessary purpose, but rather than just a indiscriminate killer, I think of him more as following Skyrim’s Code of Harry, ridding the land of its poisons and plagues. Bandits are often shot on sight, as they would be just as merciful if they saw me first. Necromancers are not spared, nor are vampires. These vile persons will all taste the tip of Halodir’s vigilante justice as it pierces their heart and bleeds their soul.
Thirty-plus hours so far and a character level in the lower 20s, but there is still so much more to go. If you don’t have this game yet, if you’ve never played Oblivion and are uncertain about jumping in to the franchise at this late hour, forget all that worries you and buy the title post haste. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is more than worth $60; it’s a game that gives you 100-plus hours of adventure and exploration. The world becomes your own as your character becomes a loose extension of yourself. Halodir, the wood elf who has glowing eyes, crouches through the shadows, and kills the dishonored, is an overly-extreme version of me, only I lack the pointed ears, stealth abilities, or the capability to commit murder. Other than that, yeah, I guess we’re alike, especially in regards to our Destruction spell skills.