When the teacher for my Interpersonal Communications class didn't show up last night because her tire had blown out on the way to the school my first thought was, "I can go home and play more Skyrim." I stayed up way too late playing it, too. It's kind of nice being this excited about a video game, it's been such a long time.
I'd been hanging around an area called Falkreath Hold which I liked because it had a whole undead vibe with a really neat tomb carved into a mountainside and a little village in its shadow with a massive graveyard. And since I'm trying to practise alchemy with my character, I was pleased to find a lot of nightshade in the area, too, which has its same usefulness for poisons it had in the previous Elder Scrolls games. However, alchemy itself works a bit differently. As in Oblivion, all ingredients have up to four effects and you create potions by combining two or more items that share one or more effects. However, wherein Oblivion, even at a low level of alchemy, you knew at least one of the effects of all ingredients, in Skyrim you start out knowing nothing. Which means a lot of trial and error. It's harder but I have to say I like the feeling of experimenting--it adds to the sense of being a budding alchemist.
In fact, among the many changes in the Bethesda RPG style game I'm seeing a lot more things that make the game harder rather than things that make the game easier. And so far I like all of them. In Oblivion, for example, I was able to go up in marksmanship fairly quickly because it was easy to run backwards from enemies while firing arrows at them. Skyrim says, "Wait a minute. It's hard enough firing arrows accurately and with power while running, but doing it while running backwards?! No." Something else I like, that isn't necessarily making the game easier or harder, is the introduction of killing blows. Meaning there's always a chance you can take someone out in one shot--or you can be taken out in one shot. I've seen there's already a mod disabling this, but personally, I like it. It's something I've actually always wanted. I mean, I don't care how low your skill is with a blade. If your steel has cleaved through someone's head, that someone's going to be dead. Or at the very least incapacitated. Though I admit I wish these kill shots wouldn't happen so much with undead and fantastic creatures. I took out a vampire with one iron arrow, which just doesn't seem right.
I've already run into two vampire caves though I'm hesitant to try becoming a vampire myself. I'm sure I'll give it a try eventually, but I want to play a while as a regular human first. However, if I come across one of the werewolves that are purportedly in the game, I'm definitely going for the lycanthropy. It was just too cool to play as a werewolf in Morrowind and I sorely missed it in Oblivion.
Maybe I'll have a chance of running into one in the area I'm in now--I moved to the south east last night, an area called The Rift and there are a lot of wolves around. I love their AI now, too. They move in packs, and you frequently hear them howling before you see them. I hid in the shadow of some boulders at one point and watched two of them chase down a rabbit.
The wildlife in this game is great--more than in any of the others, you get the sense of a forest alive with animals. All Oblivion had was deer and there were some sheep in farms. Among generally non-aggressive wildlife in Skyrim so far I've seen rabbits, foxes, different kinds of deer, hawks, butterflies, and salmon. And there are bees you can catch and use as ingredients. It's really strange, you just pluck them out of the air.
The Rift has this wonderful, gloomy, autumnal look. I just like being there.