200 Games, 200 Words: 9 – Skyrim

I played the usual 150+ hour playthrough of Skyrim on release, but I’ve never really gone back to it. It just never grabbed me the way Morrowind and Fallout 3 did. Both of those games have atypical settings, what with Morrowind’s weird giant mushroom and crab-shell cities, and Fallout 3’s retrofuture post-apocalypse. This probably explains why I’ve spent hundreds of hours on both those games, over multiple playthroughs.

Have you seen Skyrim? It's generic fantasy, but the helmets have curved horns. Curved. Horns.

Have you seen Skyrim? It’s generic fantasy, but the helmets have curved horns. Curved. Horns.

But recently I went back to Skyrim, this time on PC. Bethesda’s games on PC have an entirely different life than their console equivalents, thanks to the huge array of mods available. Graphics overhauls and other mods for 2002’s Morrowind are still being updated today, long after the console version is forgotten and lost to the succession of console generations. There are mods for just about every aspect of Skyrim, of varying degrees of imagination and functionality, generally in inverse proportion to each other.

I think what made Skyrim less appealing to me than Morrowind or Fallout 3 is that while the Norse-influenced setting is a little different than a generic pseudo-medieval fantasy one, it’s really not different enough. This is a problem that Oblivion had worse, which explains why I’ve never managed to play more than a few hours of the game. And Fallout: New Vegas emphasised the post-apocalyptic aspects of the setting over the retrofuture ones, making it seem closer to the generic archetype (plus issues I have with Obsidian’s implementation of Bethesda’s game language). I was hoping to make Skyrim more interesting with mods, but it really wasn’t working that well. As I said, the more imaginative a mod is, the less likely it is to actually work.

What Skyrim modders actually believe.

What Skyrim modders actually believe.

As generally happens with compulsive games, I played something else for a bit, and found little motivation to return to my modded Skyrim playthrough. And the other night, while reorganising my Steam files, I accidentally deleted my entire Skyrim directory, including the carefully curated and patched-together collection of mods I was using. That put a definitive end to my attempt to revisit Skyrim.


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