When you play an RPG, you’re constantly told that you’re the chosen one, but still made to feel weak, even though you have incredible powers. It’s a constant contradiction. Look, in the Breath of Fire games, you can change into A FUCKING DRAGON, but often there are forces far more powerful than you and your dragon shapeshifting abilities are often nerfed to compensate for this.
One of the biggest drawbacks of level scaling is feeling like you’ve been punished for leveling up. Not that the developers have compensated by having the enemies be a liiiiiiiittle bit tougher, oh no no. Instead, the enemies often feel WAY tougher and the only way to compensate is to make your character tougher, not a better speaker, locksmith, haggler, etc.
So when I found that Skyrim took a cue from both New Vegas and various elder RPGs, allowing for minor level scaling, but mostly offering the ability to accidentally wander into areas you shouldn’t be going to yet, well…I got giddy. Then I got annihilated. Over and over again. I guess I expected it to be as easy as Oblivion because, I mean come on, I only died in Oblivion if I stayed out in the sun too long as a vampire.
Oblivion was ridiculously easy, Fallout 3 had its moments but it wasn’t that difficult, New Vegas was pretty well on point…and Skyrim can be tough. It can be especially tough if you want to be a master thief, so you pick a khajiit because they seem to be well suited, then opt for the werewolf transformation which, surprise surprise, is actually a bad idea…at least if you deal with magic, which you always do, especially with dragons, which are a main enemy.
Before I hit level 10, I came across a giant. Now, he didn’t pop up as a red blip, so I figured he was just an NPC. I walked up to talk to him and proceeded to get booted into oblivion. It was hilarious. So I reloaded and decided to try to kill him. I whacked him with a couple of fireballs, he proceeded to club me so hard it was like it was homerun derby. Again, hilarious.
I’ve finally hit level 50, but I still feel underpowered in many situations. Sure, there are still weakass enemies like skeletons and various wildlife, but even bandits often pose problems depending on what type of bandit they are. Sometimes a couple of whacks from a spell and they’re down. Now, you might be wondering if I’m supposed to be some sort of master thief, why am I fighting so much and why is it I’m using magic?
This right here’s a pretty good reason.
Well, I’ll tell you. I don’t get into the whole archery thing in these games. It’s an interesting option, but it’s never really appealed to me. Assassination, thievery, and general stealth are usually the ways I play, but in games like this, it forces you to fight as well. So when I fight, I like to be a little good at everything. I’ll select a main weapon to be good with, usually one-handed, and be proficient in light armor since I want to be a thief.
Problem is I still like my character to be a little good at everything, so often what I do is if I can’t get a sneak attack, I’ll blast the enemies with spells until I’m almost out, then wail on them with my mace. And if they get me good? That’s okay. I’m super proficient in restoration. In fact, I encourage getting knocked around because it increases my light armor skill.
I guess my problem is there’s so much choice I almost don’t know what I want to do, so I end up with a character where the things I KNOW I don’t want to do, I absolutely do not train in (heavy armor, archery, two-handed, etc.), but the things I originally set out to be aren’t necessary the highest skill (my light armor skill is actually higher than sneak now).
“Whaddaya mean she’s not wearing any armor? That’s 10 times stronger than any heavy armor I could pick up because of my stats!” – Me attempting to discuss why RPGs make sense.
The other problem is a situation I had recently. So I was attempting, as a level 48 thief, to approach a location with an escort. Suddenly TWO dragons appear…with wildlife. At first, I tried to fight. I managed to take one out, but then I was running low on…well, everything. I was out of potions, magicka, stamina, and nearly out of health. I had to hide. The escort died, then I did as well.
So how did I get past them when I reloaded? Well, I didn’t fast travel. That way, in the event there really were two of them again, hopefully I could single them out. That didn’t happen. They weren’t there. So while it was a longer journey (and completely full of sneaking), I did get to the location, the mission was successful, and it was all thanks to my sneaking skills as well as patience.
The irony is I was trying to get somewhere quick out of convenience and was seemingly punished as a result…so when I just did what my class would’ve done instead, there were no problems whatsoever. I almost don’t even know what to say about this. I’ve had stranger things happen in this game than I had happen wandering deserts in Red Dead Redemption. And goddamn did some strange things happen in that game.
Skyrim is easily one of my top 10 RPGs of all time already. Though, it often does feel like all it does is bully me.
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