The Skyrim Journal: Day 10

Alright, it’s time for me to emerge out of the dark cave I’ve been living in playing Skyrim for the past week, and write another installment about my findings. Let me just check the save file here and let’s see, oh wow, 45 hours in.

That’s triple how much I’d played after my first journal segment, and now I should be a bit better able to comment on some of the larger aspects of the game rather than pure first impressions.

I’ve spent the last two full days of gameplay time doing a mix of missions from the main questline to the various guilds around Skyrim to the assorted random missions that seem to crop up with each new person you talk to or area you discover.

My melee character sword and shield is now level 30, and has evolved from a relative wimp to a medieval tank almost incapable of death. Find a few pieces of quality equipment, level up your stats the right way, and I don’t know, but I’m feeling a bit overpowered at the moment, and I’m not sure I like it.

This is the opposite of me.

My nord barbarian now fears almost nothing. My complete set of dwarven armor and increased blocking and defense perks make him simply not take damage the vast majority of the time. My level 90 one handed weapon skill would be fearsome enough already, but I did a relatively simple random sidequest and ended up with a Daedric mace that’s far surpasses any weapon I’ve seen in the game so far which has made me completely unstoppable in battle.

I just did an side questline that involves taking over the entire country for the rebel leader Ulrich Stormcloak. He had me invading fort after fort and I cleaved through legions of Imperial soldiers like I was Sauron wearing the One Ring. I now walk up to giants, the one hit kill wonders from early in the game, spit in their face, turn them to ice and them beat their asses into the ground in couple of swings.

I laugh at dragons now. The first time they  land, I pummel them to death within a matter of fifteen seconds or so. In fact, I can almost say I’m getting a bit tired of dragon encounters. Randomly generated battles like this seem cool in theory, but about the fifth time it happens, you sort of know the drill, and by the fifteenth? You’re sort of tired of it, and just want to get on with your quest.

Most of dragon battles are just waiting around for the thing to land, while lobbing arrows at it sporadically. No matter what sort of dragon, this tactic never changes, and honestly, they just haven’t been hard opponents so far. There’s enough time in between their fire and ice breathing to heal yourself five times over, and when they do land, you can just whack them on the tail and wings taking almost no damage until they die. Then there’s the annual tradition of transporting  their heavy ass bones and scales back to your house for storage, or else you’ll find yourself over encumbered the next time you pick up a potion.

Scary when I’m wearing leather, not so much when I’m coated in golden impenetrable metal.

I’ve had a lot of fun learning new dragon shouts as I’ve progressed, and as there are a ton of dragon encounters I’ve always had the souls to unlock them. My favorite is probably the ice shout, which freezes opponents solid, and though my usual go-to is my fast recharging fire blast, I enjoy ones like Become Ethereal which makes jumping off a cliff a breeze without fear of damage, and Slow Time is just damn cool to watch. I haven’t unlocked the one I’ve heard is the coolest, which summons a lightning storm, but hopefully that’s soon.

I’ve tried to spread out my missions quite a bit, as I’m not sprinting through the main plotline and doing everything else later. Rather, I do a few main missions, stop, do an entire guild plotline, do a few random quests, and then keep going. I’ve learned that an ancient dragon is reviving all the dead dragons from their burial grounds in the earth, and I need to seek the help of an Elder Scroll so I can learn a end-all shout that can defeat him. I have no idea how far I am through the main plotline (don’t tell me), but I want to say I’m probably more than halfway through at this point.

Rather most of my time has been spent with guild missions, as each of those sub-stories could be their own game, as they usually take many hours to complete. I finished the Companion quests, but I found their werewolf-inspired plotline to be a bit lacking and I don’t recall receiving any significant or useful rewards from them. Rather, I appreciated the story of the Thieves Guild a lot more, as it had twists and turns and backstabbing, and I was gifted actual useful things like new stealth powers and awesome medieval Batman armor that is by far the coolest thing I’ve seen in the game so far.

No, I’m not built for stealth at all, but I’ve found that even as a straight fighter, you can bumble your way through any mission, or pretend like you’re agile and sneaky for the few seconds you’re required to. Currently ,I’m crashing my way through the  College of Winterhold (Mage’s Guild) missions despite my complete and utter lack of magical skills for any spell that doesn’t heal you or create a light over your head.

The Companions were supposed to be my brethren, but I found them a bit boring.

Doing these guilds and other side missions let you acquire companions to accompany you in battle. It’s a cool idea, but one that split my decision making for a while. I used a companion for quite a bit of time. They can carry extra weight, and can help you out during particularly tough battles where you could use a distraction.

But also, they can be annoying as shit. They’ll give you away on stealth missions, they’ll stand in every doorway and narrow hallway and simply refuse to move, and worst of all, they’ll die and make you feel really, really bad. It got to the point where I would win a tough battle against a truly hard enemy, but then realize my partner had been killed in the process .Guilt would force me to reload and try to win WITHOUT them dying. I got tired of this repeated situation, and finally sent my follower home, and now that I’m an immortal god king, I don’t really need their help any way. And on the truly hard battles where I would? They wouldn’t last three seconds anyway.

Rather, the companion I appreciate most is my trusty golden horse whom I finally bought after twenty hours or so, and he’s my friend and escort in the wide world map. I didn’t realize exactly why you were supposed to buy a horse, but now I wish I’d gotten one earlier. I thought they were just for getting around a bit faster, but what I didn’t realize is that through some weird interpretation of physics, they can climb  most of the steep surfaces that my character cannot. I was complaining about jump and climbing mechanics in my last post, but the horse solves all these problems, and makes navigating those treacherous mountains a great deal easier. It might not exactly conform to the laws of science as you can park your horse on a 75 degree slope with no problem, but it does do an effective job of solving a fundamental gameplay problem.

I’ve mentioned how dominating my character is now, and while it’s cool to see him evolve, it’s almost sort of an issue. I feel like most of the time now I just stumble into whatever ruins or cave I’m supposed to be invading, whack everything with my mace of doom, and kill the boss and find the treasure. I’ve actually been really enjoying watching my roommate play his character, a summoning, archery-skilled wood elf who relies on stealth. In each room, he slowly slinks in, snipes everyone with his bow, and if he is detected, summons a spirit wolf and rains down arrows from afar. At merely level ten, I’ve watching him take down giants already through sneaking and strafing, and it’s a very cool playstyle.

Everyone you see here will give you a quest. Even the dog.

It is one, however, that makes the game a great deal more challenging, and much of the time in a frustrating way. Creeping around everywhere makes every dungeon take twice as long, and when there is a boss who charges straight at you, there’s nothing you can do to defend against it if your spirit wolf dies in one hit and you can only get off two arrows before a battle axe smashes into your face.

As for mages? I can’t speak for them, but if I ever do return to this game, I’ll try that sort of character and see how it goes. I feel like it’s a much more technical option, and you’re really going to have to plan what you do with each encounter rather than run in like me wearing adamantium armor swinging a mace forged by the devil himself.

To this moment, I’m still just in pure awe of the world that’s been created here. It’s literally one of the most breathtaking video game worlds ever created, and even the dungeon design is fantastic as there’s nothing at all that feels clone stamped about the game, which is normally a staple of games like this. Sure, the dungeons are linear, but they’re well designed, and I really do appreciate the little backdoor exit they built into each one that doesn’t force you to backtrack through 20 minutes of dungeon again.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention this, but it’s something that I discovered that’s a timesaver ,but also another minor gripe with poor design that I feel could have been easily fixed. The problems with Skyim’s unnecessarily laborious menu system has been well-documented, but I was at least glad to learn that you can in fact hotkey items for quick selecting, and don’t have to pop open the favorites menu EVERY time. You can map two things to either left or right on the D-pad, and though useful, it’s far from a perfect system.

I have my shield and mace as my go-tos in my left and right hand. I wanted to have a healing spell and a bow as my two alternates. The system is screwed up though, as I’ll select healing, which will pop up on my left hand ,but after I use it, when I press left again to go back to my shield, what does it do? It makes BOTH my hands healing? What? For what reason would I ever possibly want to do that? That means I need to make my shield my quick select on the other side, or else I’d have to go into the menu and manually select it. But even if I was able to make the bow my alternate, pressing it once to equip is fine and dandy, but pressing it again does nothing, and I have to back into the menu to manually unselect it and get my other items back. Why they didn’t make pressing each of these hotkey twice switch back to what you had before is a mystery to me, and I have to believe that this could have been better done, and hopefully is something that can be fixed in a patch.

Yes, my next character will probably be a female mage. Check back next year when I start that game.

Outside of poor design in menu and quickselect, I’ve encountered very few actual glitches, though when they do hit, they’re major. I ran across one in a Daedric quest for Azura’s star that literally just put a boulder in front of the door I was supposed to go through. Usually, you think of a glitch to be something really obvious, like the door would just be stuck shut or something, but this was a literal part of the landscape, and I wandered around the cave for half an hour trying to understand what I was supposed to do. I finally consulted online walkthroughs, and after a half hour of online searching with no mention of such a boulder, I came across a brief note that said it was in fact a glitch, and I need to leave the cave and come back to make the boulder disappear. Uh, what? But it worked.

I’ve found that Skyrim, like most of these games, requires a Wiki to help you sometimes. Yes, in situations like the one I’ve described, but sometimes it’s just literally not possible to do things without consulting an online guide. Right now, I have a fetch quest that has me hunting down 24 stones as one of my main objectives, not a miscellaneous quest. To get it off my screen, I need to find all of these items scattered around the world. With probably close to a thousand locations, there would be literally no way to find them all without help. The same goes for quests which give you no direct objective, as you can either spend 50 more hours randomly searching for something in the world, or a minute finding the info online. Yes, a certain amount of exploration is fun, and what makes these games great, but some of these quests simply aren’t able to be completed without help, and as these Wikis are just now being built online, there are a few quests that have me actually stuck until I can find more information on them. That Daedric one would have been one of them if not for that helpful glitch tip.

I love this game, I really do. I wouldn’t have put 45 hours into it otherwise, and I’m sure I’ll be over 100 by the time I’m done. That said, the last ten or so have felt a bit repetitive as my character has become something of an unstoppable juggernaut, and I think perhaps a break is in order over Thanksgiving before I pick things up in full again. WAY down the road, I’ll try to be a mage, but I can’t imagine starting all this over any time soon. Right now I’ll keep playing in this style, and have some final thoughts when I beat the game in another week or two.


Similar Posts


  1. Are you playing on the hardest difficulty? I am an I must say the dragons are the most difficult thing in the game for me. Maybe it’s because I went the sneak route. I can one hit backstab everything. Disappear and redo. Except you can sneak up on random dragon encounters. If I go toe to toe with a dragon I barely damage it and it takes a long time to go down

  2. Play Demons souls and then darks souls you will see a complete difference between games. Both games will show you that no matter how strong you get a weakkling has the posability of killing you. great games. Im still placeing Skyrim on hold till i get everything in darksouls complete. 80= hours on main file love invading players.

  3. Right now I have two characters a Level 20ish Bosmer Archer/Assassin while my second character is a Dunmer Spellsword, (low level maybe like a 3) I’m laying off of my archer/assassin in order to take a break and come back to it later. I’m going to eventually build my character to the point where I use Destruction/Conjuration to deal most of my damage with my sword as backup for those bad bosses you mentioned.

  4. just hit 47 and finished the main Questline. I focused (in the following order) on Conjuration, Healing 60, Enchantmment, Block, 1-Hand, Heavy Armor

    The game was devided in 2 parts for me.
    1st there was the pre 100 enchantment part, where I was a wimpy mage, 1-2 Shotted by Bosses and especially by powerful Casters.

    But i had my Fire then Frost Atronarch and later my 1-2 Dremora Lords who were able to kill a whole Dungeon, City , Dragon or whatever on their own.

    All I had to do was not getting caught in the crossfire and end up as colleteral damage.

    2nd there was the post enchantment part. I had collected/bought a full ebony armor set, and enchanted it with +1-hand damage , magice resistance and other useful things.

    From that point I was the one clearing Dungeons, Citys, Dungeons and everything without taking real Damage.

    Oh and btw the conjured sword might not do the most damage per swing, but it has about zero stamina cost and is really fast. Couldn´t find a better weapon so far

  5. I chose to be a Redguard because I liked the dual weilding / one hand bonus. I leveled up my smithing early so I could make my dragon skin light armor and am currently weilding dual Blade Swords, one being the Dragonbane, both upgraded to legendary status. My current travel companion is Aranea the Dark Elf mage ( a real badass) from the Black Star quest at the Shrine of Azura. I am currently about 3/4 through the main mission, but I have been working on finding all the word walls so I can finish up with the greybeards, kill Paarthurnox and get the loyalty of the Blades. I’m about 50 hrs in and a level 33. This game is epic.

  6. I’m playing with a stealth and archery focused Wood Elf. I’m level 23 and combat is still a challenge. Boss characters can kill in 3 or 4 hits so there’s still a lot of strategy to each encounter.

  7. I play a stealthy dagger and bow insta-kill elf thief assassin. It makes the game easy when you are almost always hidden from sight. I have yet to encounter a boss that gives me any problems at all.

  8. You should just up the difficulty, then. Since you can change the difficulty of the game on the fly, without even needing to exit to the main menu, it’s pretty much a given that you should continue to push towards the harder difficulties as your character gets even more powerful.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.