The Elder Scrolls V is a game that is very near to my heart. The return of the Dragonborn is presented as an epic tear through the frozen tundra of Skyrim. You’re attacked by a dragon within the first 10 minutes of the game! Real edge of your seat kinda stuff. And the game experience itself is just plain fun. There is plenty of room to stretch your legs. The combat is engaging, and deep. The lore, the world, perfect. And the visuals are stunning. I still recall how impressed I was seeing the mists pour over the peak of High Hrothgar in the morning light. However, all games have their faults, and Skyrim is no different.
The game is a victim of its time. Modern game development, with its big business interests, desire for mass appeal, and time constraints leads to an assortment of issues. On top of that, a seemingly stubborn attachment to tradition, has led Bethesda to repeat in Skyrim, the same issues that have plagued Elder Scrolls games of the past.
Even the most ardent fan of the game will agree that there is plenty to be frustrated with in Skyrim… perhaps even hate.
20 Dude… Is Your Horse Ok?
Elder Scrolls games are known for their glitches, and Skyrim is no exception. Time constraints and financial concerns are likely the culprits, as game developers are forced to release games to market before they are entirely polished. Though I do hate this aspect of Skyrim, I'd be lying if I said I didn’t get a laugh or two.
For example, AI pathfinding is a particular issue. I am sure we have all enjoyed a companion versus bandit game of grab-ass. Endlessly running after one another. Or foe and friend alike, taking the longest and most ridiculous path to reach you.
Or even the classic horse glitch. Is he buried face first into the ground? Perhaps, he is levitating 6 feet off the ground beside you? My personal favourite is the E.T. trick where he literally carries you off into sky.
19 Skyrim Doesn’t Keep The Pedal On The Gas
Right out the gates, the game begins strong, as the Dragon Alduin lays waste to the village of Helgen. During this attack, you are made to choose a side in the ongoing civil war ravaging Skyrim. However, after the excitement of the opening and the newness of the game wears off, things kinda get derailed.
As the game progresses, you come to realize that the civil war is almost meaningless. Except for giving a few characters a motivation, the struggle between the Nords and the Empire is relegated to side quests. Certainly a missed opportunity.
Concerning the dragons themselves, everything seemed to be geared toward shoehorning them into the timeline. I mean they were ret-conned from being destroyed in the past, to now being sent forward in time… Really ‘time-travelling dragons?” Lazy story-telling for real.
Probably why I played 300+ hours of side stuff before I went back to the main story line.
18 Is That All You Got?
This is part of a general trend in modern gaming. The financial motivations behind most developers is to make the game as accessible to as many people as possible. This mentality leads to modern games just being too damn easy.
There are no advanced systems to explore: you don’t have to worry about eating, sleeping, or drinking. There are mods out there—such as Frostfall—that can add these challenges to your game. But are we paying the modding community or Bethesda to make games?
In addition, so much money and good weapons are available early in the game. After a not too steep learning curve, you well on your way to domination. Hell, you can even become the Archmage of Winterhold in the first few hours… I mean THE FRICKEN ARCHMAGE… Come on now.
17 Lydia, I swear… If you say that one more time…
When it comes to followers in Skyrim, Bethesda certainly took the quantity over quality route. There are almost 100 different companions in the game. However, I use the term “different” very loosely.
Most of the followers have barely any depth, individuality, or personality. Nearly all of them are silent, and if they do speak, they often utter inane babble. Uthgerd for instance, comments: "You don't see that every day!" every time you enter a dungeon. Really?! I think we saw that yesterday, and the day before that.
Many can be found in taverns, hawking their hollow dead eyes for companionship. While others are made your housecarl, like Lydia. Who, always repeats, “I’m sworn to carry your burdens,” every single time you ask her to hold something… Every. Single. Time… *_*
16 I Require A… Magic Rock… Yes, That’s What I Need
Fetch quests are easily one of the biggest qualms gamers have with the modern RPG, and Skyrim jumps on that bandwagon with enthusiasm. Too many quests require you to grab some arbitrary do-dad from some random place. Nearly half of them!
The ubiquity of the amount of magical knick-knacks at the end of yet another group of cave-dwellers is astonishing. It’s a thinly veiled attempt at extending the game experience. I mean, how many hours have you spent trudging through a cave killing, yet again, another Draugr, just to fetch a stick, horn, rock, or random dude. It’s absurd!
15 It Just Doesn’t Matter
It’s hard for me to recall when I was required to ponder my options in Skyrim. In both the main quest-line and side-quests, no real choices were offered to the player that had any lasting consequences.
Nothing really feels impactful. When given the choice to chose either the Empire or the Stormcloaks at the beginning of the game, all you seem to be doing is deciding which colour of dudes are gonna be slaughtered and infinitely respawned as you escape Alduin.
More significantly, the game forces you to be a good guy. Regardless of what you choose to do, the worst you can possibly achieve is chaotic good. So too bad for you sociopathic role-players out there.
In a game that puts so much care put into lore and world construction, it’s quite annoying when it feels like you are being put on rails to watch Skyrim go by, rather than experiencing it.
14 Don’t Bring A Sword To A Dragon Fight
Doing battle with dragons was one of the main features during the marketing campaign for Skyrim. And to be honest, dragons were terrifying to encounter in the overworld early on in the game. I would hear a roar in the distance, and be instantly set on edge.
However, you come to realize that if you’re not a ranged or magic based character, you’re in for a frustrating encounter. You pretty much run around in circles, throwing whatever is in your pocket as it rains fire and destruction upon you, for what seems like an eternity. Even if you are good with a bow or know some spells, try hitting a dragon raging on you at a million kilometers an hour.
Then, towards the end of the game, when you are way overpowered, dragon fights start to become a nuisance. Oh good, another fly to swat. There is no middle ground with dragons in Skyrim.
13 The Derp Of Inventory
Bethesda designs their games for console users, and PC gamers aren’t too pleased with that. As a console gamer, I am quite pleased with the Skyrim's interface. So I guess I will have to channel my empathetic side to feel computer gamer’s pain.
The UI is indeed big so it can be easily accessible for console controllers. This is particularly an issue when it comes to inventory management. The categorization is extremely limited, often forcing a crazy amount of scrolling. I can see how this could be quite clunky on PC where a mouse could allow for more dexterity. It’s no wonder why SKYUI is one of the most popular mods on the Nexus.
PC gamers are so peeved that a UI fix is even more popular than nude mods! Serious business to be sure.
12 Why Am I Doing This?
Honestly, character development is getting out of hand. Many current generation RPGs pride themselves on their vast customization features, and Skyrim is no different.
Do I really need to that many sliders for nose shape, chin depth, length, width, and sharpness… Really, I’m defining how chiseled my damn chin is? The race selection is another issue. Now, I like the uniqueness of some of Skyrim’s races—namely the Argonians and the Khajiit. But there 8 different versions of humans, only differentiated by skin tone, ear shape, and tooth protrusion.
No no no, it was the fair skinned Breton who took my lute, not the sallow skinned Nord... Are you blind?
I mean, all of this for a game whose perspective is nearly entirely focused on first- and third-person perspectives. A Sisyphean task if there ever was one.
11 You Going Out With Your Hair Like That?
While we are on the topic of aesthetics, what in the hell is up with the hair in Skyrim? I mean, look at that monstrosity above! It is quite apparent that you will be rocking a helmet for most of your play through, but I'm here to beat a dead horse, so won’t you join me?
We all want our heroes to look appealing. So when you are forced to walk around with your head looking like little Timmy got into the construction paper and safety glue; it’s a little hard to capture that epic Dragonborn vibe.
Again, the Skyrim modding community comes to the rescue, as there are literally dozens of hair mods on the Nexus. Seems to be a trend here… Is Bethesda intentionally derping their games to create a vibrant modding community…
Where’s my foil hat?!
10 Everyone Looks The Same
This is a very odd choice by Bethesda. Elder Scrolls games up until Oblivion allowed layered armour. Meaning one could have a large variety of armour possibilities and looks. Simply by allowing the player to toss on a shirt and chest piece at the same time.
Skyrim keeps the tradition brought on by Oblivion. The game only has single slot armour pieces. This causes all characters that you make to end up looking the same. As the armour progression is basically the same, every play through, my warrior, archer, and battlemage all walked around in the same types of armour, always ending up in Daedric armour at the end.
Multiple play throughs literally become a case of “old hat.”
9 The DLC Was Meh
You cannot compare the DLC to that of Oblivion. Shivering Isles from Oblivion is often considered to be one of the best pieces of DLC made. But I am gonna do it anyways!
Skyrim’s Dawnguard was… eh. It was plagued with many of the same problems as the base game—repetitive dungeons and quest lines, lack of player choice, and relatively easy. It was also primarily set in a really boring spectral world.
Hearthfire felt like a medieval SIMs game. I know a handful of community developed house mods that offered more in ways of variety, customization, and originality.
I will admit though, I enjoyed Dragonborn. Solstheim was an interesting, brutally beautiful, and diverse locale. However, the story was a little underwhelming, and Hermaeus Mora’s realm of Apocrypha got repetitive very quickly.
8 Join A Guild, Or Don't… No One Cares
Factions have always been a mainstay of the series. They represented how you would play your character, affecting your actions, and choices made. Being part of a faction made it feel like you were part of something bigger. It was a significant factor in enhancing the roleplaying aspect of The Elder Scrolls; making the game immersive.
Unfortunately, the guilds in Skyrim don’t do anything. They are essentially themed versions of the questing issues that Skyrim is plagued with. Join the Thieves Guild, fetch the thing-a-majig, real sneaky like. Or the Dark Brotherhood, where you kill what's-his-nuts, but in a dark way. But after the job’s done, no consequences for you or the faction.
To make it even more silly, you can be the leader of all factions, at the same time. This seems to be “everyone gets a participation trophy” gone amuck.
7 What am I even doing here?
In the rare case Skyrim allows you to make a choice, it doesn’t even acknowledge you’ve done so.
For instance, join the Thieves Guild, fetch, fetch, fetch away. Become the leader. And nothing. Guards don’t chase you, no bounty on your head, and you can’t order your members to do anything. No one cares.
Same thing for the civil war. Nearly no discernable difference is visible in the game. Whichever side you choose, win or or lose: nobody cares whatsoever. You only see more soldier NPCs of your chosen faction wandering around the overworld as you progress through the game. And the side you chose, always wins. There is no contingency for losing. You cannot be outnumbered, and your leaders cannot be killed.
6 Whoops, Forgot Something
If this is your first Elder Scrolls game, you likely wouldn’t know who these species are.The Khajiit are a race of man-cats, while the Argonians are a reptilian people. Each are mainstays in the Elder Scrolls.
Both the Khajiit and the Argonians are relegated to settlements outside of cities because they are untrusted as a species. The rare occasion you do run into them, they have nothing to say and are inconsequential to the majority of quests.
This could have been an interesting meditation of racism in Skyrim's society, but the lack of development of the idea, and the races themselves, makes it feel like the Khajiit and Argonians were forgotten and shoehorned into the game at the last minute.
5 Dies, Dies, Everybody Dies!
The other half of Skyrim questing involves killing things. Everything, in fact. Main or side quest, it doesn’t matter. Old man McRandom wants his neighbour who ate his radishes dead. And it just so happens, that neighbour lives in a cave outside of town where there is always a legion of bandits, skevers, or Draugr in the way. Even the Skeletons don’t have the manners to remain dead, you gotta kill them too.
The after killing that random dude, Mr. McRandom tosses you some change. And it’s off to some other NPC peddling murder for trinkets. The entire third act is essentially killing quests.
Not only is it one-dimensional, but it adds to the lack of player choice issue. It is hard to role-play a good guy when you’re more than happy to execute a building full of people for a sweet roll.
4 Oh Good… Another Hole In A Wall
Coupled with the insane amount of fetch and kill quests, is the repetitive dungeons. Don’t get me wrong, I love dungeon crawling. It’s literally why I love playing Elder Scrolls games. However, after the initial shine of the expansive dungeons in Skyrim wears off, you find that they all seem to bleed into one.
While Skyrim does offer some unique dungeons, most dungeons look the same because they are a rehash of assets. I get it, time and money are issues. You can’t have someone making every dungeon its own unique little snowflake. But when you have to slog through yet another cave, cellar, dungeon, or shack, whose rooms are nearly indistinguishable from one another. Just to kill another rando or gather a fancy hat, it gets a little dull.
Pretty much, if you’ve seen a trap of puzzle, you’ve pretty much seen 'em all.
3 Oh Really? Tell Me More… Actually Don’t
The dialogue in Skyrim is quite abysmal. People just say things, to say them. Walk past the wood cutter in Whiterun: “I work for Belethor, at the general goods store.” Oh, do ya now? Any other unwanted info you can volunteer?
Or the city guards of each hold. The walking meme factories of 2011. “I used to be an adventurer like, then I took an arrow in the knee.” To be fair, I got a chuckle the first dozen times I heard it. But 300 hours in, it becomes a caricature of itself.
However, the dialogue suffers most from the same problem as the dungeons: asset recycling. Characters with different voices will say the same exact thing. Specifically, "never should have come here," which can sound like a threat, advice, or regret depending on the awkward voice actor.
It really reduces my immersion levels.
2 Hoarding Is A Serious Issue.
“You are over-encumbered.” One of the most annoying issues in Skyrim. It’s not just an issue in this game, but a tried and true tradition of the Elder Scrolls series in general.
Now I understand the mechanic's purpose. You can’t have a player looting everything in the game. Ii serves as a way to balance the game. But the struggle is real. I would hate to know how many hours I brooded in a dungeon, pouring over my inventory, figuring out a way to carry just one more Ancient Nordic Sword.
I gotta paid…
Hey, that’s the way it is.
1 You Know You Want It
For all it’s problems, Skyrim is an attention vortex! It’s aware of its faults, and knows you will keep coming back for more. It engulfs and overwhelms me with its complexity. I am entrapped by the by the obsession of “what’s next?”
Yes, that quest was just like the one before it. I know that dungeon felt eerily similar. But, what’s next? What happens if I kill that named dragon? What happens if I explore that one Dwemer labyrinth at the edge of Skyrim?
I know the answer already. But I am entranced by the hypothetical catalog of quests, subquests, branching missions, and the potential journeys just beyond the horizon. It’ll be the same old song a dance, but I love it… and I hate myself for it.
Pokemon Unite is falling far behind the competition when it comes to the metagame, cosmetics, and fun events.