Oops…I Skyrim’d again

I really don’t know it is with me and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I know that for some players out there, Skyrim has become a lifestyle, a mode of being, a gaming paramour, of sorts. For me, however, Skyrim has become analogous to…well, I want to say “climbing Mount Everest.” That’s overdramatic, but that’s the sentiment. It was this goal that I struggled to complete, and once I finally did, I thought I was happy. Instead, the completion just made me restless.

It took me two tries, two years, and two PS3s to see through Skyrim’s story when it was first released. When it was all said and done, and the credits rolled after the final battle, I remember feeling happy but very unimpressed. It could have been because that’s just how things go in big Bethesda games (the end just sort of fizzles out), but it also could have been because I didn’t feel all that invested. I didn’t exactly make a beeline to the end of the story, but I certainly didn’t experience all that the game had to offer. Something about that bothered me. I saw people around me simply cooing over Skyrim’s awesomeness and grandeur, and I wanted that. I wanted to know what I had missed that would invoke such strong feelings.

I’ve lost count at how many times, and over how many versions, I’ve attempted to play (and heck, maybe even complete again?) this single title. Maybe it’s peanuts compared to some, but I know that over the course of the past many years, I’ve made and played at least one character from every race of the game, and I’ve returned a few times to different Orcs and Khajits (my latest is a Khajiti sorcereress). With each and every single one, I’ve gone through the exact same beginning motions – follow main story quests only until reaching Riften, and then start branching out into side quests. (A quest called “A Cornered Rat” usually sets off the light bulb that it’s time to do something else.) I can’t fully explain my devotion to this ritual, but it’s usually around the time of reaching Riften that I feel leveled and geared up enough to venture out into the wilds.

Looking intense while dungeon crawling.

It’s also around the time of reaching Riften that my interest in the main story starts to decline. I mean, dragons are cool and all (at least, they are to the main character, the so-called “Dragonborn”), but so is exploring, delving, finding secrets, and tackling intriguing side quests that involve all those things. I’ll go off and get involved in all manner of world-saving trouble only to eventually forget about dragons. And by the time I remember them again, I’m ready to move onto something else entirely, leaving behind my Skyrim adventures once again.

How do I “exorcise” myself of this strange “curse”? Simple. I need to complete the game’s main story again. It worked recently for Fallout 4. Last year, on a whim, I played through that game’s DLC for the first time ever, and when I was done with it, I was left with this nagging need to put the game “to bed,” even though I had little interest in the game’s main story. (Much less than I have with Skyrim.) In the case of my new lone wanderer who had gone all-out raider, that meant returning her to the Brotherhood of Steel. Having previously completed the game only once with a different faction, at least the journey to the ending was different (surprisingly so, actually, in ways good and bad). Once the game’s credits rolled, I felt truly sated and ready to be done with all things Fallout 4 for a while. In my head, it follows that this same approach should work for Skyrim.

My new Khajit has just reached Riften, and…well, old habits die hard. I’ve so far been successful in ignoring all the calls to help this person or check out that new region, but it’s tough. Although I’ve covered a lot of ground in Skryim over the years, there so much that I’ve not done, not explored, not discovered, that it’s hard to want to stay on track. Will my resolve hold? Time will tell, I guess.

All images, including lede, captured by author during Xbox Series S gameplay of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (© Bethesda Game Studios).

One Comment

  1. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    The title of this Virtual Bastion post says it all. Yep, me and Skyrim. We might not be “2gether 4ever,” but it’s close enough!


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