Side Quests and Crafting in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim is a land of frosty beauty, ambient chatter, and endless distractions--among them, side quests and crafting systems.

The world of a role-playing game like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, however open, is a playground arranged along the trail of quests that will eventually make you ultimate messianic hero. It is populated by quest-giving actors waiting for you to traipse through their village so they can have you can kill this, escort that, or fetch 10 of the other. That the land of Skyrim is so successfully disguised as a real, living place is one of this game's considerable marvels.

Skyrim, home of the fair-haired Nords, feels real and natural. That is not only because the vast, bleakly beautiful wilderness is alive with beasties and the roads scattered with travelers, but also because the towns and cities are hives of authentic activity, with inhabitants convincingly going about their business. Dialogue from all sides overlaps into pleasing ambient chatter as the locals gather wood, gossip, argue, or walk past each other.

As you trot through the walled city of Whiterun with an urgent message to deliver, for instance, there might be a couple arguing within earshot about a missing sword and a monk preaching for his dark cult across the way. Both are recognizably pick-up points for new side quests but are signposted with a pleasing lack of staginess, thanks to the impression that the place is home to real people whose lives don't revolve around you. It doesn't feel as if once your back is turned, they're all going to relax and duck out for a smoke. It feels like a world that's living, breathing, and muddling along without you, which will make it all the more gratifying when you presumably do become ultimate messianic hero.

Much has been said on the mythical heart of this Elder Scrolls installment: Skyrim's all-important dragons and the powerful dragon shout spells you learn as the dragonborn hero. The dual-wielding combat system, with which you place a weapon or a spell in each hand, works well. A flamethrower-like fire spell in each hand, with a perk for bonus damage, is invigorating fun. But we suspect the everyday business of being a hero will be just as compelling as the spectacular dragon battles. The sense of discovery in the early hours of the game, not just of places but of new stories and tricks, is absorbing.

In the mill town of Riverwood, the elf archery trainer is mooning over Camilla, the sister of the town shopkeeper, while in the store, Camilla is bickering with her brother over the theft of a golden trinket. And in the tavern, a rival suitor, the local bard, is plotting against the elf. It's a neat little fantasy soap opera, with each of the players also a quest giver or helper, and their dialogue in direct conversation with you is as natural as their ambient nattering. When you talk with the shopkeeper, his sister chips in from the other side of the store. But if you'd rather not play matchmaker or hunt down a golden dragon claw, you might instead sink time into any number of the crafting systems.

An alchemy workbench for creating potions.

Away from the towns, there are wild plants and mushrooms to be harvested and butterflies to be captured. Each of them are ingredients to be ground up and mixed into potions at an alchemy workbench, which intriguingly invites you to experiment with combinations of items to discover new elixirs. There are also tanning racks for treating animal skins you've nicked off Skyrim's wildlife, blacksmith forges for working weapons, and cooking spits on which to prepare food. We whipped up a batch of magically active cheese fondue that was flavored with illegal moon dust lifted from an orc dealer we met and murdered on our travels.

Also on our travels, we came across and similarly murdered a band of camping bandits. Then, while we rifled through their tents for goodies, a wealthy businessman passed by on his way to a wedding in a nearby town accompanied by his wife, who was duly horrified at the corpses in the road. If time hadn't been short, we might have tailed them to the wedding and not murdered them for the pricey wedding gifts they were carrying.

With distractions like these leading off in all directions and discreet side quest invitations issued in overheard dialogue, it's easy to be enjoyably sidetracked in the land of Skyrim. Even in the early hours of the game, rumors of a Dark Brotherhood, word of a distant mage college, or a warrior band battling a giant in the potato field of a nearby farm might lure you off the main breadcrumb quest trail that leads to your eventual destiny as dragonborn. Endless, beguiling distractions are only right and proper in a rich, free-roaming RPG like this, and we can't wait to be endlessly distracted when Skyrim launches on November 11.

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Discussion

286 comments
Zhyren
Zhyren

@stefanmcneal. shut u mouth , so do not hit them and keep blocking

boixwunder
boixwunder

i wasnt sure if i was going to get this. after all the hype and obvious awesomeness that this game entails, i preordered it today. haha.

stefanmcneal
stefanmcneal

Well They fixed the leveling system so it should play a little more like fallout....Which in my opinion is a very welcome edition. I hated leveling block in oblivion. My character was too strong and always eneded up killing everyone before I could get some good block Exp.....

Ramiro92
Ramiro92

I think this will be a great game, is one of the few games that immerse the player into a fantasy world that seems real. I think it will be the best RPG of the year. I remember playing Oblivion a lot, but I could not finish it, however, spend beautiful moments slay bandits or any animal angry XD. And Skyrim, slay dragons will be much more exciting!

Yaslana
Yaslana

@supermariofan97 yeah, one day after mine. Kind of appropriate to have this game as a birthday present as it will cost us a year of our lives.

Yams1980
Yams1980

hope the pc version is good. im sick of the consoles lowering the quality of the pc versions.

adamomars
adamomars

this is the fourth time ive posted on this page, but im just so goddamn excited for this freakin game. I wonder if it will be a memorable game? So epic and mysterious that it ranks amoungst the most eoic video games. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, is by far my favourite video game. I wander if this one will be able to strike a draw? errrr!

cjf187x
cjf187x

@fustahman24 Why not make it 4?

vadagar1
vadagar1

3 days left may God preserve Bethesda for us for all time *kneel* these will be the longest 3 days of my life

jakeletwin
jakeletwin

(lute music comes on) no dude, dragons are our friends. NOOO, this is not how to train your dragon or anything, you are here to kill those bastards. lol @ the developer

jrm83
jrm83

Haven't preordered a game in years. For this, however, i had to make an exception. Can't wait to stick my sword through a dragons face (I have anger issues) Hey is that hoodie cooking meth? Oh yeah......... alchemy lol

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Hope the hype is not just hype and Skyrim is all its cracked up to be. We will learn how much the developers have learned and if they had listened to us. If they have, this is going to be one interesting and enjoyable game.

adamomars
adamomars

Firstly, i like how everthing you did ended-up/ involved murdering someone. Encore. secondly, i'd hope that the senes of discovery doesn't fade after the first few hours of game. that was Oblivions fallout. I like mushrooms, which was morrowinds greatest aspect, both magically and artistically. Skyrim had better be better than both combined, having had both fallouts released since oblivion. I preordered this and am stoked. just hope not unimpressed. (i aint saying i could ever do better though)

slade360
slade360

Couldn't wait and had to grab a new mobo and dual n 580s :) Couldn't afford the 2 590s at $2k - $1k was enough on cards plus a sick OC mobo for $500... Now I'm counting the days and stocking up on Jack Daniels for the long immersive haul.

bigZmanship
bigZmanship

caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant wait

lib4m
lib4m

just counting the days......@_@

krollvetter
krollvetter

Loved Morrowind and Oblivion - I'll probably marry Skyrim! Nice to be able to drop out and go to another world. As good as a book.

kullashaker
kullashaker

annoyed with oblivion. unending walk. i enjoy taking a nap with this game. wait for dragon age 3.

Kjwintringham
Kjwintringham

skyrim or assassins creed? which one do i buy first? which one do i get for christmas? ah decisions! decisions. but yes i cannot wait either way!

madglee
madglee

@wristbreaker: PC always has the capacity to be better for RPGs, simply because of legacy, downloadable content, and graphics. Bethesda admitted that the PC version is a port in this case, though, so I'd guess that the console version will be "better."

Jake518
Jake518

I'm looking very forward to this game! I had a great time playing Oblivion and Skyrim looks promising!

WDMonday
WDMonday

With Oblivion being one of my favorite games, I'm pretty psyched for this. Unfortunately, I've gotta wait till at least Christmas, and it's killing me.

Gerikst00f
Gerikst00f

guess it's time for my elven archer to save the world once again

wristbreaker
wristbreaker

which would be better console or pc.... I wonder... not just the graphics but also the manner of how you use a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard... which will add to gameply value.....

NightFox313
NightFox313

Never played the earlier Elder Scrolls games but this I am definitely getting.

DrunkPrince
DrunkPrince

21 days to go... Hell Yea! Skyrim coming closer and closer!!

Tidal_Abyss
Tidal_Abyss

I love my Dark Brotherhood missions and the Morag Tong missions in Morrowind.

sdlentz
sdlentz

can't wait. if its as good as Bethesda keeps bragging about and not full of bugs like some of their other games. this one will blow Dead Souls out of the water.

kaeyny
kaeyny

less bug please!!! don't be like a "rage"

mer1in79
mer1in79

Vrygar777 i know it's mad isn't it you can actually like two games of a similar genre and not have to limit yourself to liking one and slagging off the other also goes for other things like consoles Xbox and Playstation whoops i've gone to far that's just crazy talk.

premsrj
premsrj

I can't wait.. my mouth is already watering at the prospect of playing this future Game Of The Year..

IndiePrower
IndiePrower

0:18 Lmao, I remember that part when he shot that guy with arrow and his friend in front of him did nothing, they cutted that part XD

deathwish026
deathwish026

well cyall in 22 days ime gonna pop in my newly invented stasis pod and sleep for a month. peace fools!

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

@mer1in79 What? You can actually enjoy Skyrim AND Dark Souls. OMG WTF YOU MUST BE CRAZY!!! The two are almost completely different yet one has to be better! btw I liked your post about hero by day and flower picker by night lol, the imagery from that is too funny. "I am Dovahkiin, catcher of butterflies!"

X-Bs3
X-Bs3

@ShadowofSonic Online gam... what?! This is not a MMO you fool. This is a massive free-roaming SINGLE player RPG. Have you not heard of Morrowind or Oblivion? Do you even know what the Elder Scrolls is? If you haven't, I am deeply sorry. You have missed out on getting the life sucked right out of you in the most enjoyable way possible.

mackinchz
mackinchz

can't wait to sink my life in this for awhile...

Joolsy
Joolsy

Seriously excited about this, only playing Dark Souls this last month has kept me sane I think.

Alexandros1
Alexandros1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

vadagar1
vadagar1

22 days left ....... where is superman when you need him..... he should make a few spins around earth and MAKE TIME GO FASTER.

SHERNEE
SHERNEE

Haha how to train your dragon... Dragons shall rue the day I set foot in that game.

Llama345
Llama345

preorder and you get a MAP!