Picked this one up last week and have been playing it a lot. Too much lol. It's very good and it's so easy to get lost doing this or that in the game. Hours can disappear just selling your items to different people and deciding what to buy.
Currently I'm a level 28 high elf mage. Don't use any staffs or weapons, just dual cast destruction spells. All points save for one are into magicka, the other is in health. Never have any trouble killing anything fast, and my low healthy hardly ever bites me (just fast heal or use a quick potion if it's that low). I can't take a beating, but I don't need to -- no one gets close. Staggering opponents with dual cast spammed firebolts works great (fireball now), and if it's a dragon or other boss, highborn means infinte mana for spamming fireballs as fast as I can cast them.
I've been reading the last few pages, trying to catch up on the latest conversations here.
Two things I wanted to comment on... companions, and karma/morality.
First, I've never used companions? I was given the housecarl, but she died literally the first time I took her out. Never knew what commands I could or couldn't give or whatever, just told her to follow me, and she did, and out of the gate I aggro'd a giant and some mammoths (didn't know how strong they were, first time seeing them), they killed her, and I didn't know she wouldn't come back, so I kept playing without her. I've never felt the need for a companion yet, and I can't see myself wishing I had one in the future, but am I missing out on anything good by not having one? Seems a lot of you use them extensively? Maybe they just aren't needed for a mage? Is there any other reason to get one?
Second, I haven't played oblivion, but I did play fallout 3 and mass effect and loved both. IMO, this is much closer to fallout 3 than mass effect. Personally, I do really miss the karma system. I wish my decisions and interactions with NPCs had more meaning. Skyrim gives me a few choices of what I can say, but I wish the choices I made actually meant something. It seems that 99% of the time the option I choose does not do anything, or, after I say it, it just becomes grayed out and I have to choose one of the others anyway. I wish if I chose the "bad ass" or a-hole comments, I would be viewed as more of a bad ass or a-hole, changing future decision trees or comments. Or if I chose the helpful and kind comments, I would be viewed and treated as helpful and kind. That type of system seems to be sorely lacking. I see confidenceman argues against such a system for the same reason I would argue for it -- because then my decisions would have meaning. I don't get the desire for a generic storytelling experience. I like it better when my decisions are meaningful and I can decide "who" I am going to be instead of just what skills I'll be using. Perhaps part of the reason I feel this way is because I'm not sure what he means by "min/maxing". I assume it has something to do with gaming the system to max out your character? Or maybe it's a reference to mass effect where it was advised that you go all the way good or bad and don't flip flop? (Meaning you kind of don't have a choice anyway, if you play that way.)?
Anyway, so far this game is great. My biggest gripe is really just that the interactions with the NPCs could be better. What they say seems extremely canned, and my responses are very very limited, sometimes only one choice, and the decisions themselves seem completely meaningless. When talking to an NPC, in 99% of cases, the only meaning/outcome of the response I choose is whether or not I will accept a quest, or not. That's it. I wish there was more consequence to those decisions, even to those simple decisions of taking a quest or not. For example, maybe if I tell Character XYZ to go screw themselves, the local shop owner will give me poor prices for being a jerk, or another quest might not be available because the quest giver was friends with the person I wronged. Then, to take it a step further, to "fix" the issue of the ripples I've caused, I could either apologize to the first person and help them (be good), or I could threaten the shop owner or other quest giver (be bad). I guess "ripples" is the key phrase here. I don't care how they accomplish it -- whether it's a karma or morality system, or what, I just wish that my decisions rippled throughout Skyrim and had real meaning on the story, the quests, the world, and my experience with the game.
The game is still very good in spite of this, I just think it could be even better with better and more meaningful interactions.
My only other gripe is that it is a little easy. I was thinking about turning up the difficulty from the default setting, but like another poster mentioned, I have a hard time wanting to, because it feels as though I'm defeating my hard work at getting better and more powerful. If I was given one tip before starting the game, I wish it was to max out the difficulty before playing a minute of the game.
But enough with the negative comments! I truly do love this game and I'm playing the crap out of it. I haven't been this engaged in a single player game since fallout 3, and frankly, I wasn't sure I could be. But man, it is good, and definitely does grab you. The world is huge, and one of the biggest pros for me is that the storylines of the sidequests are VERY engaging and awesome also. They are almost like mini-main-storylines. Awesome. That was one of my biggest gripes of mass effect. I never wanted to do any side quest, because they were not nearly as interesting or rewarding, and the main storyline kept beating URGENT URGENT URGENT into my head, to the point that I did not feel as though I had time to or should be dicking around with side quests. Skyrim mixes them in perfectly, and once you get into one, you almost forget there is a main story about there. Love it.