A Post in Which I Gab About Skyrim and Reminisce About Stuff
I bought Skyrim on Steam for 50% off a while back during the winter sale, at the urging of a friend who has sworn by the game for some time. I heard great things about the game, and having some free time now I figured, why not?
My first impression was “hey, the graphics are nice” which then turned in to “I don’t like the movement system” which was followed by “ok, I get how to move, but where are all the dragons?” and quickly succeeded by “This sucks.” I promptly returned to WoW and left it alone for a few days.
Convinced I wasn’t giving the game a fair shake, said friend encouraged me to try again. So I logged back in and gave it my best shot. I died about a hundred times (pro tip: don’t murder people in their houses, it doesn’t turn out well), forgot to save even more, and eventually declared I didn’t enjoy it and, once again, returned to WoW.
It’s taken me a while to realize that the problem isn’t Skyrim. The game isn’t too hard or too complex or too demanding. The problem is me. I’ve forgotten what it was like, 7.5 years ago when I decided to try out my very first computer game of the genre.
I’ve spent last better part of a decade becoming more than mildly proficient in WoW. I take a bit of pride in knowing everything that I do, in being able to play as well as I do, in being able to accomplish the things I have. But I’ve utterly forgotten what it took to get to this point where everything comes easily. I had forgotten what it was like to start fresh in a world you knew nothing about, in a game genre you’d never played before. I forgot what it was like to know literally nothing and to learn everything by trial and error. Lots of error.
I had forgotten that when I rolled my first forsaken, I didn’t understand at all about armor proficiencies. I kept trying to equip leather and mail armor on a mage and grew increasingly irate when I was told by the game that I couldn’t do that. I had forgotten what it was like to know nothing about spells or talent trees. When my druid was a wee level 18, I had talent points in every tree, and had equipped my armor to my action bar. I didn’t understand why I kept dying to simple Darkshore mobs until a friend (the same friend as above, in fact) kindly pointed out over my shoulder one day that I should equip my armor to my character, and put all talent points in the same tree for the best possible outcome. Ooooh…
I had forgotten that my very first character ever, a tauren hunter named Shaunii, died repeatedly in the level 1 starting area because I couldn’t figure out how to attack things that were attacking me. I remember when I thought rolling greed on an item meant you were greedy and rolling need on everything was better because at least then you weren’t greedy.
Now I look back at my first failed attempts at Skyrim and I remember. I remember that I’m brand new to the game, which is a hell of a departure from WoW’s mechanics. I remember that you always have to start at the bottom, and learn as you go. I remember that I died tens of thousands of times while leveling my various characters as I tried to navigate the world and the various perils of being a new low level player. I remind myself to shelve my WoW-ego and to accept that this game is brand new and I’m not going to master it inside of a few hours, or a few days. I remind myself that I can’t play my level 7 Skyrim elf the same way I play my level 90 Warcraft elf. It’s not the same game. Slow your roll, girl. This game is entirely new.
I realize now how much I miss that feeling. Once upon a time WoW was completely new. I had never seen it before, never experienced it before. Every new thing I encountered was incredible. Every new zone was awe-inspiring and every new class and race was so profoundly interesting. I remember I used to look at this game and my eyes got as big as saucers when I saw something I hadn’t seen before. Now I only get that feeling when a new expansion hits and, to a lesser extent, when a new content patch launches, but it isn’t the same. I will never feel that way again. I will never see WoW through the eyes of a new player again.
So I think the solution is to stop complaining that I die too often in Skyrim, stop whining because the mobs are too hard or I can’t figure out what to do, and just take it all in. Because after I’ve played for a year or so, it won’t be new anymore. I think it’s good sometimes to take a step back and feel like an incompetent boob, because it reminds us that even if we think we’re big bad somebodies in a game, we all started out as fumbling, bumbling clods who couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without keeling over dead.
I think once my second druid hits 90, I’m going to log back in to Skyrim and see if I can’t put my newfound philosophy into action. See you in Tamriel or Azeroth, folks.