The Day Lydia Died

Minor spoilers. Nothing huge.

I’m now around 20 hours of Skyrim in the last 4 days. As many, I was hooked in the opportunity to build a RPG character that could fit my own play style; hooked on the chance to build my “melee caster” character, which I seek for ages in every RPG I play. But, after 20 hours in the last 4 days, I’m feeling more and more like this game was rushed into release, even with so acclaimed reviews.

It all started in a mission where I had to take a carriage to a party. For this I left all my gear and my companion, Lydia (which I’ve been saving from the most horrendous deaths thanks to the power of “quick load”). So, all nice and dandy, I was following the quest as it should, fighting my way back, punching guards till I could get some armor, using spells and whatnot and merely surviving each encounter, just to hide in a corner, waiting for my mana to regen so I could cast “Healing” and recover some health.

And then, I reached an open area.

Now, this area was behind the main building, one that couldn’t be reached without a proper key to open a gate (or pick the carriage to simply be “teleported” to the right place). There was a wall which blocked the way from the back to the front (and vice-versa, obviously). And guess what, the game engine decided it would be a good idea to “teleport” Lydia to the front part, where she was gang banged by 3 guards, 1 wizard and one elemental. Needless to say, besides her ability to hit enemies with her 2 hander like a truck, she went down.

But I was too far away in the mission and, that time, the power of “quick Load” would not be enough to save her.

All I wanted now was simply complete the mission, get out of there and, hopefully, that Lydia would simply appear in the other side, just waiting for me to give her more stuff to carry. But the damn building had a guard with two daggers doing a shitload of damage, so I kept attack him for a bit, them turn around, out of the door, healing, and then back into the building to hit more and get hit more. In one of those “back to the yard” walks, a shield popped in the ground. “Oh good, some defense!”, I though. But when I reached the shield, I was presented with a sad message.

“Lydia / Search”.

Yup, Lydia was death. I managed to loot all the things she was carrying, including the two hand sword she used to destroy any enemy that would be a problem to her Thane. But still, the fact that she was dead and there was no “quick load” good enough to bring her back — or the prospect of, in the cast of a quick load, she’d not spawn in the middle of a huge mob — seems to have hit me.

But, thinking back now, it seems I felt more frustrated with the constant glitches and weird stuff than losing a companion.

See, first we have a companion simply appearing in an impossible location; then, we have said companion being teleported from one location to another. I had to fight conversations most of the time ’cause the option under the cursor was not the line my character said when I clicked it. Storing is a pain ’cause the game uses the same key with different meanings when you’re storing stuff and when you’re picking stuff (“R” stores an item, but “R” picks all the items in the store — so you guess what happens when you’re organizing your backpack for the next mission, storing a bunch of stuff and then decided to mindlessly pick that item in the chest: time to start over again).

There are so many of those that even the Elder Scrolls wiki have a huge list of known bugs and more and more videos of Skyrim acting funny are posted on GameFails.

The promise of Skyrim is pretty good, but the game is slowly falling into the cracks of its own bugs, to the point where it’s more entertaining to stay in the city, doing things like disenchanting, alchemy and smithing than exploring to world to be greeted with random glitches now and than — and believe me, I had that experience first handed after losing my Lydia.

And it’s not just the glitches and bugs that can be frustrating. Quests have one way and only one way of being completed, no matter how you decided to play. For example, before that mission I mentioned before, I did another one where one the cat people try to convince me to light out a lighthouse so one ship would crash. Because I’m playing the nice guy, that’s something I didn’t want to do. Could I convince him that this shouldn’t be done? No. Could I talk to the guards and have him arrested before he could do anything? No.

Related, dragon fights are too damn easy. I had a shitty gear and a two hander and still managed to down a dragon. And they are popping out of everywhere, like some kind of rat or pest. Weren’t dragons supposed to be some mythical creature, who destroyed everything around? How can one guy with some gear kill them? Even a Ice Yeti is harder to kill than a dragon!

And, on a deeper level, it seems your presence in the world, your options, change nothing. You can tell someone off and they will still ask for your help later. In the very beginning of the game, you can chose to follow one of the guards or one of the guys who would die in the block, but it doesn’t really matter who you chose: the game follows the same line after that. And hey, even putting a lighthouse off to make an Imperial ship crash doesn’t affect your Imperial affiliation (which I chose before doing the mission). Simply, your presence in the world doesn’t matter. Same as your decisions.

Again, the premise of Skyrim is awesome: An RPG, in a very large world, where you can build the character you want, with the powers you want. But your choices affect only that and nothing more.

PS: And, before anyone says anything: “Faction rewards” is not that hard to implement. You just need a list of factions, add or remove points based on your actions and make the NPCs check your faction count before doing anything. Surely, fixing teleporting bugs, random spawns and making battles really interesting would be better and such concept should be in the design since the beginning but hey, maybe we can hope for a full fledged RPG in “The Elder Scrolls VI”…