Skyrim, Borderlands 2, BioShock Infinite

gaming, xbox comments edit

I haven’t blogged much about games I’m playing recently, so given I’m “between games” at the moment, I figured I’d talk a bit.

Yesterday, after about 172 hours, I finished Skyrim with 1000/1000 achievements. I probably could have finished sooner, but I did spend quite a bit of time building up my various skills and running non-required side missions before getting to the main story. I didn’t get any of the DLC, so the time doesn’t include that.

Back in 2006 I played through Oblivion with a buddy of mine and I don’t remember it being nearly this big. I do remember it being more “grindy” – having to jump a lot to build up stamina, or run everywhere to build up strength. I don’t feel like Skyrim was quite like that, but there was a fair amount of tedium. The alchemy thing – having to make potions – was annoying and tedious. I think there were too many possible combinations of things, too many ingredients. Mining ore to refine into metal ingots that could be fashioned into armor or weapons that you’d then have to improve… yeah, that was pretty tedious, too. But I think the most tedious thing was selling stuff. I had so much stuff to sell and no one had enough money to buy it all. I’d stick it in a chest in my house intending to come back and sell it when I needed money… but I never needed money. I had so much money I couldn’t spend it all. I really wish you could set up sort of a… well, like a consignment deal with the local merchants. Deposit your unwanted stuff in a chest in the shop and over the course of time they’d just take stuff out and put money in.

That’s not to say I didn’t have fun. Skyrim was, for me, incredibly addictive. Just one more mission, just one more quest… and even though a lot of it was sort of the same, I didn’t really get tired of it. If I didn’t have Grand Theft Auto 5 to get to next, I’d go for the DLC on Skyrim.

I played a female orc character, though I spent far too much time getting her to look right considering I play in first person view so I never actually saw her except in a couple of cut scenes after that. I think you had to name your character, too, but they never used her name, or not enough to remember. I think in a couple of ransom notes or something.

What I liked most about Skyrim was how I actually kind of got to know and like (or dislike) some of the NPC characters. Cicero, from the Dark Brotherhood, I hated. I hated him from the first time I met him. He was annoying and whiny. I sold him off to the Blades. The whole battle between the Stormcloaks and the Empire was cool, too – the whole world changes when you decide who to side with and it makes it feel so real and important.

And you could get married in the game, which was neat. I ended up marrying Lydia, my housecarl from Whiterun. It didn’t make sense to me to marry anyone else. She was the first “follower” I got; she was always there and friendly when I went to my house to drop stuff off; and she’s the only real NPC who was totally loyal – she doesn’t stab you in the back or send you on a stupid quest. When I thought about which NPC to marry, it didn’t even occur to me to pick anyone else, like it’d be in-game “cheating” or something. I sort of surprised myself when I felt like that, like it actually mattered somehow, which just speaks to the depth of the game.

Before Skyrim, I ran through Borderlands 2. I got the season pass for that so I’ve run through all the DLC, too, with the exception of this latest “Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep.”

I loved the first Borderlands, and this second one didn’t disappoint. Bigger, better, faster, stronger. Great characters, great writing. Some of the Claptrap jokes actually made me laugh out loud and when I think back I still giggle. (“WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING? THAT WAS COMING F\^&*ING GOLD!”)

I had intended to play through it co-op with my dad and uncle, but with our various life commitments it was really hard to get together on a consistent basis. In the end, we all ended up playing through on our own, teaming up occasionally for harder battles.

That’s the biggest problem I had with this latest Borderlands. It pretty much assumed you had a group of four people to run through the game with. The harder guys – no way you can beat them on your own. And even some of the DLC was super hard until you really leveled up and were a few levels above the bad guys. I never did kill most of the “Blah the Impossible” or “Blah the Invincible” characters. I got in there with my dad and uncle, we all died enough times that we lost millions, and we still couldn’t kill these guys. I don’t mind a challenge, and I’m a fairly decent player, but it got pretty ridiculous in there. Watching YouTube videos and reading forums for strategy, I wondered where people were getting these full inventories of super-rare weapons, which I have to assume is because they went through the whole rest of the game with the team of people. What about the solo Vault Hunters?

I played through with a couple of different characters, and with one of my characters I played through twice. After all that, plus the DLC, plus the ridiculous challenge in places… it burned me out. I will probably return to it at some point to get through Tiny Tina’s DLC, but it’ll be a bit.

Somewhere in there I played through BioShock Infinite. I liked it, as I liked the rest of the BioShock franchise, but I didn’t feel all blown away by the ending the way many folks did. The game play was fun, the environments very immersive, and I did love the characters. Some of the “jumping onto skyhook lines” stuff got a little frantic. It was a neat idea, but seemed to make it a little more complex than it should have been. I didn’t play through the DLC in that, and I may at some point since they’ll be returning to Rapture, but, again, after GTA5.