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Why Skyrim Will Be A Disappointment (but we’ll all buy it anyway)


Friends. Romans, countrymen,

1. This was written back in March, when all we had were sketchy details. I regret nothing of what I said up there, because at the time it wasn’t contradictory.
2. I’m glad to see that people agree with me about the main quest, while at the same time managing to condemn me for not playing it as a thief.

If more comments come, I’ll follow this up with a full post.

Those of you who keep track of the gaming world might be aware that the next Elder Scrolls Game, Skyrim, will be out on 11/11/11 (those of you who are in the process of passing on your genes might want to read this, by the way). I’m going to be buying it for certain, even though I’m writing this now.

It will be a hefty disappointment (for me at least), no matter what Bethesda do, and here’s why:

Dragons won’t be right

My friends have a running joke that I have a fetish for dragons (I don’t) because I had a slightly drunken rant about why dragons get a hard press. In my mind, Dragons are rather aesthetically pleasing creatures (This being one of my favourites), and I feel like every time that we see them used in any medium, be it film, book or game, they’re portrayed as world destroyers, or as treasure pilferers. It drives me insane, and we already know that we’re going to have to kill these creatures to get powerful abilities.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t kill those who are evil and trying to breathe fire on us. I’m just saying that we could probably stop killing a creature automatically just because it can breathe fire. How To Train Your Dragon made people remember how awesome they are, so let’s have some dragons that we aren’t trying to kill, eh, Bethesda?

You won’t be able to play it as a thief

This has always been one of my main gripes of the Oblivion series. I’m a heartless backstabbing bastard and my play style works in the same way. Why would I go and be the boring fighter who moves towards them making “clunk” sounds and swinging an axe when sneaking forward with a speedy dagger with a myriad of poisons can do the job just as well.

Oblivion’s main quest wasn’t just boring fantasy fare, it was difficult to play it as a sneaky man/woman/tiger/fish-thing. The plot lines revolved around walking into battlefields or demonic lands, and sneaking doesn’t work if they already know you’re there.

Combat will be clunky

We still haven’t worked out how to do combat effectively. Hack and Slash games have been trying for a long time, but even recent offerings (like that game that steals pretty much everything from another game, which you may know as Darksiders) haven’t managed to create a fluid combat dynamic where momentum actually matters.

What I’d like is physical wounds being made, as well as a proper stumble if you get hit. I’m fed up of hitting someone with my daggers of doom and nothing really happening.

Now, I’m willing to trust Bethesda to fix all of these things. However, even if they don’t, I’m still going to be sucked in to Skyrim. I’ll just make occasional rants to everyone who’ll listen – as well as those who are won’t.

Patrick Rose is General Editor of How To Play while trying to get a Computer Science degree at Sheffield University. His twitter is @drugcrazed and you can usually find him on Steam under the name Drug Crazed Dropkick

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  1. Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this information to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

  2. its posts like these that ruin the interwebs.

    there was nothing wrong with Skyrim, nothing wrong with Hearthfire, and nothing wrong with anything Bethesda has made.

    in fact, everything they have ever put out is an amazing feat of intricate art, and programming.

    people just need to stfu and plan the gd game.

    perfect example: hearthfire is 400 msp. it adds 100’s of items, and realizm, to a ROLE PLAYING GAME.



    and meanwhile, ROLEPLAYING is in the name of the games GENRE.

    all i have to say….

    Some Peoples Children!

  3. Somebody essentially assist to make critically articles I’d state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and up to now? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular post incredible. Magnificent task!

  4. Nytstalk says:

    So, how does it feel to be a complete failure of nature?

  5. kingsword says:

    Wow, the guy totally had it wrong on all accounts, that’s a feat in itself.

  6. PJ says:

    Sooo…. how does it feel to be completely wrong about everything?

  7. SkyrimAddictionHotline says:

    And now the game is out…. And no one has anything to say? I have had 4 hours sleep since the MIDNIGHT RELEASE @ 12:01am 11/11/11….. I have managed to contract vampirism, spread it, cure it, and kill off the ones I turned.. Win a drinking contest that lead to a massive blackout of which ended me in some strange place with a daedric prince.. Sitting silently in the dark mothers coffin (with her rotting body) listening to dark brotherhood rantings… Following a wooly mammoth to find shelter from a friction blizzard, only to get my arse bit off by a sabretooth (of which is lovely hide)… Looted dwarves ruins for there metals and smelted fine jewelry (and a lot of dwarves armor!)….Etc, etc, etc… and I haven’t seen a dragon since the into to the game! WHY…. Because I haven,t even started the first MAIN QUEST. Hello… This game is stunningly beautiful, completely interactive, and actually let’s YOU play for real this time. And I dunno, the dragon in the intro never touched me once, nor I it…

  8. TacticalProdigy says:

    What other creature could fit perfectly in this type of world as a horrible threat? DRAGONS” fit perfect in my opinion.. & i like how there not mindless lizards.. Not sure if you guys kno or view them the right way.. They are a race same as any other they are called Akavir.. They are inteligent dragons with different sub races and different personalities and views, and most likely they are back for a reason. Alduin is the world eater, Nordic God of Destruction but Thats the whole mystery of the game ya kno, same with the endless other things to see & do. but i think you’ll meet other dragons (or dragon gods) and learn things and possibly gain aid from them to protect certain areas from Alduins dragons.. Also you can shout and summon a dragon so you could kinda turn it into some dragon duals right above you.. Fire vs, ice dragon LoL ” would be epic

  9. dmad88 says:

    ok for starters dragons have been stemmed from ancient chinese legends as hunters. Thus the wingless version of dragon was born. Then further as it progresses through history the dragon is reformed off of an eagle a “bird of pray”. so in all truth the dragon was originally meant to be a killer. and in a game like skyrim, well what would a tasty little whatever the heck you decide to be to a dragon then a light snack. Now i do agree that a dragon that is friendly to human would be cool but totally unrealistic. these are opportunistic hunters. they will take whatever they can get whenever they can get it. and for the inability to play a darker side of the story i agree with it’s not like they are going to redo an entire game just for a minute percent of the population. Now i to am someone who always loves to be evil (in games) and would love a counter story to this. but what are you gonna do? the game itself goes far beyond anything which likes of I have ever seen in a game just because of the amazing detail as well as every other aspect of the game. so in conclusion i have three words to sum it up: Deal. With. It.

  10. Komichi says:

    1) the dragons are trying to kill you because you are Dragonborn, the one sent to kill them, foretold in the prophecy, so even if you brought them flowers they would still kill you. Get over the fact that you have to destroy them, it’s the way the world works.
    2)How the heck do you know you won’t be able to play as a thief? Besides, being a thief does not mean silently killing all your enemies from a distance without ever running into any sort of confrontation like a baby who can’t handle combat (and ill assume that by “thief” you mean assassin), it means getting a sneak opportunity in when you can, prepping, and executing the best well thought out battle you can muster with agility, distance striking, and speed, which you can do very well (especially in the dark brotherhood).
    3) Combat will not be clunky, it will be better than anything thus far more than likely. If you had the sort of realism you are talking about with doing actual slice and cut damage to a realistic level, you would more than likely die the first few hours of the game when a mudcrab pinches your foot and you get a nasty infection 18 miles from the nearest city due to your lack of medicine (since you are apparently a combat shy thief short on medical supplies more than likely). Game combat works off a health point system, you need to get used to that. Otherwise it would be completely dumb.
    All in all your points suck, and you are judging the game before its even out. Stop complaining because you know it’ll be the game you can’t put down. You could nitpick on anything you want in life, doesn’t mean you’re right, or that you could have done any better. Get over it, buy it, play it, and enjoy it instead of trying to pick it apart.

  11. graham says:

    by now you can see that the combat is more evolved, it is easier to be sneaky, and they released info that you can have dragons fight by your side. I understand your opinions however in Oblivion i went through the whole game as a sneaky fighter and did perfectly fine. but i really understand your frustration with the clunky combat which is why i am so glad they made it so much more fluid in Skyrim.

  12. Rusty Lark says:

    After reading this entire post, it just seems to be several misguided opinions. To be honest it was written a while ago and if you didn’t cross reference your information you came out spouting rumours of the desperate. I’m not saying anybody is wrong as you’re all entitled to your own opinons and if you can offer valid arguments then fair play.

    Mainly everybody who has mentioned that Oblivion wasn’t the first game seems to hold this nostalgic view that Morrowind was the be-all and-end-all. Arena and Daggerfall came previous an having played them all it seems that you’re all being very unfair. It is a series and each instalment is different, if you want more of the same replay it. All that has happened is that the game has become more accessible and less complex. I you’ll recall Morrowind was harsh, unforgiving and at times confusing, (I spent bloody ages hunting for that Dwenmer puzzle box) what has been done is a condensing of the series so it’s easier for more people to play, and you can’t really blame a developer for that. It seems to be a massive criticism that games either change or don’t change, a serious catch 22.

    With regard to combat being ‘clunky’ it’s a hard thing to argue at any rate, because it’s not a dedicated combat game it is by derivative the hybrid of several genres. If you would like a seamless combat experience then it seems that you would like to watch a movie or play street fighter. I think the game has excellent combat compared to what else it does, you’ve got a whole range of extras that take up development time and actual space of the disk. For example horses, theft AI for seperate creatures, a highly detailed customer characterisation, lighting effects etc. To pick on an aspect that in theory you don’t actually have to use (as you have magic and shouts) seems a little petty.

    What else has grabbed me by this thread is that what is being complained about class wise is a minuscule part of the game. My reasoning being that it isn’t even the stealth element being drawn into question, it’s a single class of ‘assassination’ (get hitman or thief if it’s the case). It is just a bit staggering that such a view can be imposed when a player can interact with the economics, control weather or fight a dragon hand-to-hand. It’s just worth baring in mind that this game wasn’t made for anybody in particular, and to say it doesn’t fit your play-style is a tad egocentric as I see it.

    To be honest with the whole inherently evil dragon argument is a little odd, if you have got a dragon fetish that yours to enjoy behind closed doors ( but it is odd haha). It appears that this is the same argument had over Tomb Raider, it’s just worth baring in mind that they’re obstacles nothing more or less. Yes, it has been confirmed that dragons have different temperament/agendas. Also unless you’re a crypto-zoologist they are a work of folklore, ballads and fiction. You’ve also got Argonians for your reptilian quota.

  13. Smiling scum says:

    You know its stated somewhere that not all of the dragons are bad, some of them are good and supposedly you have a choice to side with some of the good ones.

  14. Chilly says:

    who gave this retard this opportunity? lol @ “oblivion series” this is like asking me to do an article about a soccer game or something.. it would prob be about this good

  15. Cullen says:

    Fuck you sir.

  16. Patrick Rose says:

    A common misconception is that they pay for good reviews. They allow early publish for good scores sometimes.

    Not had much experience of that meself.

  17. JoeTheMighty says:

    Well i kno back when i played dragon age origins, i thought it was an amazing game! When Dragon age 2 was on its way i actually pre ordered.. I knew it would be great! When i played about 30mins of it.. it was the cheapest, most horribly done button mashing bltch fit ive ever seen, i felt so dissapointed. They basically used DAO’s Rep as game of the year, To Coax people to buy quick cluster fuhked trash to fund other projects.. ill never buy a Bioware or EA game ever again because of it.. I hope Bethesda doesent dumb down skyrim,Would be a bad decision for them.. My advice to you is dont even read there skyrim news or trailers.. and dont pre-order or buy on release just watch youtube reviews from real people! not IGN or gamespot or any company.. they get paid to give it a good rep” But if bethesda does fail on skyrim(i dont think they will) i am selling my console & games and never looking back

  18. iscrewy says:

    Sounds like you haven’t played Morrowind since you refer to Elder Scrolls as the “Oblivion series”.
    Although, that’s probably what we should refer to all the bad Elder Scrolls games as. So I guess Oblivion and Skyrim are the Oblivion series?

  19. Me says:


  20. Derak says:

    “Why would I go and be the boring fighter who moves towards them making “clunk” sounds and swinging an axe when sneaking forward with a speedy dagger with a myriad of poisons can do the job just as well.”

    This question could be posed the other way around and with a question mark. It’s just a difference in play style. I prefer the direct method.

    They are also making a game that you don’t need to play. It’s not that game developers haven’t tried to make games with other play mechanics, it’s that not all of them turn out being fun. These games end up be a success for a reason.

    The dragon thing is a bit silly. It’s like complaining that fantasy games have robbed us of the joys of befriending kobalds. “You just don’t understand, they have very complex social structures!”

    Regardless of the updates that have happened since you wrote this I think your goal should be to have reasonable expectations for the game and just enjoy it.

    Keep going to school kid, I can’t wait to see the game you put out.

  21. Scott R. Hinckley says:

    I agree completely. As much as I find myself getting excited, I still know the same problems I’ve always had with Elder Scrolls will still be there. I hate dragons portrayed as villains, the combat absolutely will still be clunky (all the gameplay videos show enemies’ complete lack of reaction to being hit until the moment they die in a crazed fit of ragdoll), and it appears to once again devolve into the “hit back up hit back up hit back up” rhythm from last time.
    Don’t get me wrong, ABSOLUTELY buying, but not expecting this to be the second coming on a disc that my colleagues are wishing for.

  22. 519 says:

    I’m fairly sure Todd Howard hinted at the fact that there will be in fact freaindly dragons though he did’nt go out and say it as blaitenly as that, he said that not all dragons will try to kill you. Also in the trailer you can clearly see a man using dual daggers in combat and doing completly welll at it.

  23. jacob smith says:

    they have said they made alot of inprovements to sneak and there are friendly dragons that dont try to kill the player. the combat is useing a brand new engine that is supose to set the standereds for hack and slash style gameplay. and what you said sounded more like a assassin then a thief. the game will have a thriveing economy thuse makeing thievery a much better way of makeing money so read about things before you rant.

  24. Rob says:

    ‘Oblivion series’????


  25. Ben Middleton says:

    My apologies, I indeed did comment before reading your last comment itself.

  26. Ben Middleton says:

    This whole post is stupid, no offence. it is confirmed there is a much bigger emphasis on stealth now, daggers do much more damage than other weapons when in sneak (just the way I like to play). Have you even seen the gameplay demo? The dragons are simply amazing, it is gaming epicness and it’s peak. Combat is not clunky like Oblivion was, you now get kill moves etc…… IT IS A WHOLE NEW ENGINE

  27. Patrick Rose says:

    Friends. Romans, countrymen,

    Hopefully, you’ll get this far and read it before commenting. I’m noticing that this is suddenly getting attention, so a few things:

    1. This was written back in March, when all we had were sketchy details. I regret nothing of what I said up there, because at the time it wasn’t contradictory.
    2. I’m glad to see that people agree with me about the main quest, while at the same time managing to condemn me for not playing it as a thief.

    If more comments come, I’ll follow this up with a full post.

  28. John says:

    No offense, but before writing this kind of article, could you please actually read up on the game first? They’ve already said they’re including friendly dragons, and permanent wounds such as long-term bleeding and the fact that slicing a guys neck is going to hurt a lot more than his palm. And further more i played oblivion very well as a sneaky guy. I don’t think i fought through 1 single dungeon. A mixture of wicked stealth techniques, patience, and the occasional invisibility spell did wonders. True, the main quest was a little more direct combat, but the quest chains of the thieve’s guild and dark brotherhood were great for the more stealthy players.

  29. Ffddfh says:

    This guy dosent know nothing combat in the demo was amazing I’m mean cmon clunky ? Left trigger for left hand right trigger for right hand and WTF are you talking about dragons being pleasing creatures I see a dragon in a video I wanna kill it not bake a dam cake with it

  30. Kate says:

    The only thing that’s really going to bug me is the fact that none of the artists at Bethesda appeared to have researched how flying works. The dragons wings look laughably bad in design. And I can’t imagine a creature with such lacking wing surface flying. For some reason, dragons in video games always have horribly researched wings. Movies seem to get it right, but not games…

    I don’t think the other thing you mentioned, how they’re following the cliche’ of a dragon being an auto evil enemy will be that bad here. Mainly because in Skyrim they’re supposed to be sapient creatures, with their own language, etc. One of the dragon shouts you earn, I’ve heard, is even supposed to summon a dragon to your side to fight with you.

    I agree though, I’m tired of the dragon always being evil, even if they do make fantastic enemies.

  31. Ben Weldon says:

    “Combat will be clunky” strikes me as particularly weird argument. Basically, ‘the combat will suck because the combat in all games suck’. Um..ok.

  32. James King says:

    Say what you like about this post, but I agree completely with the author. I played Morrowind (still the best in the series), but the points above are very relevant to it, as well as other titles in the series. I think what Patrick is trying to say is, why haven’t they fixed these things after so long; and remember he is saying that he enjoys it, and is buying it; but why don’t they just do these small little things to make an awesome game an OMGODTHISISAMAZING game?

    I love articles that are about peoples’ opinions, and they make for good reads as long as you’re not expecting the author to agree with you.

    Stop trying to find people Nerdist, you’ve found your controversial contributor!

  33. Kurt M Andersen says:

    If this was a poignant drama about the civil rights of orcs or the heartwarming story of a lost cave troll returned to his family or an inspiring and uplifting tale of how Sognok the goblin came out of retirement to win the world championship game of elf beheading… then maybe I could see your point. But these are old school Scandinavian dragons we’re talking here. And they will and should always be a threat to the mortals of the northern lands. Screw those namby pamby dragons that people ride on. Vermithrax Pejorative was rolling in his grave at the thought of any of his magnificent kin being domesticated! Phooey, I say!

  34. joe says:

    Nerdist is really struggling to find a good video game blogger. Don’t stop trying, Nerdist.

    Patrick, however, can stop trying now.

  35. Nick says:

    I was looking forward to a serious critique, but I halted when I read that “Oblivion’s main quest wasn’t just boring fantasy fare, it was difficult to play it as a sneaky man/woman/tiger/fish-thing.” I played through all of Oblivion this way. Hell, to whatever extent I can, I play any open-world type of game this way. It’s possible, and maybe a little more challenging – which is why I like it.But claiming that you’re *expected* to run into the field of battle with a clunky weapon just doesn’t ring true for me. I slayed so many skeletons with arrows that it -doesn’t even make sense-.

  36. tragic 9 says:

    Tom addresses my first concern with this article. On top of that, you’re pretty much griping about what have been tempermental issues with the entire series (which is one of my all time favorites) This may be the worst written and least thought out article I’ve ever read on nerdist.

  37. Tom says:

    Anyone who calls it “the Oblivion series” isn’t an Elder Scrolls fan in the first place. Why not call this post “why the Elder Scrolls sucks?”

  38. TheenyThoos says:

    @kyle morgan the dragons in the game give you ‘shouts’ when you slay them, i think that is their entire job in skyrim.

    I always thought that hack’n’slash that uses the source engine had some awesome combat dynamics, I cant remember the title, but it allowed you to kick baddies into spikes, off ledges etc and the combat with swords was pretty much what youre asking for drug … if beth have taken anything from that game Skyrim wont be that bad! (as long as it isnt the annoying priest like woman)

    I do understand your point though drug, I was dissapointed when oblivion was released, it didnt have the same scope a morrowind and I really hated the way the enchantment was changed … heres hoping i can have a constant effect summon ring in skyrim! Then it wont be THAT much of a dissapointment for me atleast!

  39. Ben Weldon says:

    Hmm…I’m really surprised to see this sort of ‘it sucks because it’s not to my personal taste’ article on Nerdist. Isn’t that what “Topless Robot” is for?

  40. Dom Finn says:

    I love Oblivion. I completed every guild/group except the dirty thieves guild. I am still very much looking forward to it.

  41. kyle Morgan says:

    I’m not sure if you will even be killing dragons. I know you’re character is dragon born .so maybe there is just a couple evil dragons I just don’t think there is enough info on the game yet

  42. Jay says:


  43. Michael Casp says:

    Bethesda made Oblivion, they know what they are doing. As long as they hire more than 4 voice actors.

  44. Nick says:

    If you play WoW, leaders of the different dragonflights were made the aspects of Azeroth and entrusted to watch over it, so they’re good. Except when they get driven mad and become the current expansion’s main baddie.

  45. Patrick Rose says:

    They are nitpicky reasons. They’ll still disappoint me. Also, I WANT fluid combat dynamics. It’ll make it exciting and different, as opposed to how it works now.

    @Josh Dragon boner is a new one… I don’t mind killing them if they’re trying to kill me (god knows how many times we have to kill the ‘sexy assassin’), but I want to not ALWAYS kill them – something very few fantasy games give me.

    Also, if I don’t get a dragon mount some heads may have to roll.

  46. Josh says:

    Kind of early to call it a disappointment, don’t you think? I don’t think they’ve even released any gameplay footage. From reading the Game Informer article on Skyrim, I’m really looking forward to the revamped gameplay mechanics, including the changes to combat.

    Playing a stealthy character in Oblivion was some of the most fun I’ve had in any game, especially playing the assassin’s guild missions.

    And, speaking from an outside perspective, you’ve totally got a dragon boner. If it breathes fire and is contributing to the Elder Scrolls equivalent of the apocalypse then PETA probably won’t mind me stabbing a few. They might make me listen to Sarah McLochlan while I do it, but we all have to make sacrifices.

  47. PapaFrita says:

    Hey, someone has to love ’em. Imagine the good that human/lizard coexistence could do for society (See: Dinotopia). I suppose if you wanted to ignore the main storyline, which many do in Oblivion, you could even lead a dragon-friendly life. Maybe they’re charmable with high enough Illusion? Maybe even… lovable?

    I’m already looking forward to whoever makes a mod with dragon mounts.

  48. Jacob says:

    Am I the only person thinking that the first and third reasons are very nitpicky? Dragons as an enemy is a common fantasy trope and that feels like a pet peeve that I can’t judge, but the combat complaints , while justified, make no sense in a video game. If actual combat physics applied to a game like this you’d kill most the enemies in the game in 1-3 hits and vice versa. How fun will a game be if you run around beheading every enemy with no challenge and every once in a while an enemy beheads you killing you instantly? I understand it’s your opinion but I’m allowed voice mine as well.