Some things taken out, a lot of new things added. Still a stellar RPG.
The Great: From the start a few things stood out as things that made this a much better gaming experience than Oblivion. First there is smithing. Smithing is a powerful skill that once you master, can greatly enhance your ability to dominate in this game. Coupled with enchanting and alchemy, you can make some pretty powerful armor and weaponry. Perks are another thing that really make this game better the previous Elder Scrolls installments. Perks carry over from Fallout games. You have all kinds of perks, but only one can be selected per level, and they have skill requirements. If you choose them wisely, they can greatly enhance gameplay and make life easier for you. Last but not least animations have been improved. Running, swinging weapons, and practically every other animation you can think of has been improved. Everything looks more natural and less stiff. An overlooked improvement that I think really makes this game a far better experience is the ditching of character classes. Perks are a much better way to focus one's character to a set of skills without having to commit early in game. There are still racial perks, but now you don't have to decide a class before you even know what you want to do with your character.
The Good: There are many other good things about this game. You are no longer limited to one body type for each race and gender. There is only a physique slider for bigger muscles, but it's still better than nothing. Enemies in this game are bigger and badder. Dragons and giants are super-scaled enemies. The only bad thing about dragons in this game is they weigh you down with their heavy loot (bones and scales). Giants seem invincible at first, but as you improve, you can quickly level up blocking and armor by taking pounding from them. The glitch where they send you flying on kills is also pretty fun. Story is slightly better than that of Oblivion. Much of the story is in books you can find in libraries and in homes. Whoever writes these books deserves some bonuses. That's a lot of work. Too bad most will just open one up to see if they get a skill level from it. It's fun to get into the lore of the game. The civil war storyline is one new aspect that doesn't seem too black and white good and evil. Will you side with the Empire or the Stormcloaks? Character detail is also improved.
The "Whatever": There are many things about this game that I would consider equal with previous games. Graphical atmosphere looks great, but I thought Oblivion had a good look as well. I guess it comes down to personal preference. I liked the clean, clear look of Oblivion, while Skyrim looks foggy and somewhat desaturated. The races of the game experienced another massive overhaul, namely Orcs, High Elves, and Khajits. Orcs looked more like Shrek in Oblivion, but now look more like dark elves with fangs. The facial structure of high elves and elves in general has been changed to look less human. I could always tell elves apart in other games, so I don't know if this was a wise move. I think they look uglier and more grotesque. It may work for orcs, but high elves are supposed to have a noble look about them. There are more ways to make money in this game, but as usual you can't sell high value items to shopkeepers since they have a limited amount of gold. And while gameplay looks prettier, the basics are still pretty much the same. There is no great change in the fighting system aside from them taking out skills.
The Bad: Yes, they took out a few things from Oblivion that I thought were useful. Attributes are no longer there. You just have skills and perks. No attributes to govern skills like speed, intelligence, and so on. I don't mind this as much as the omission of hand-to-hand, athletics, and acrobatics skills. Sure you can sprint longer by getting stamina upgrades, and you can buy perks to make armored gloves into punching weapons, but why take them out? Did they really get in the way? I always liked the acrobatics skill for reaching high rooftops and climbing mountains. This skill was a great complement to Khajit thieves. The game has plenty of other downsides. Vampirism is a pain in Elder Scrolls games, and something I wish they would just get rid of or make into a more useful aspect of gameplay. To make matters worse, there is no obvious way to get rid of it like in other games where you were at least pointed to a cure. Now you have to know that bartenders are the ones to seek out. It wasn't something that I was in the habit of doing, so I missed it my first go with vampirism. Another thing I really didn't like was the new landscape. Mountains to me looked better in Oblivion. They seemed to have a more natural shape to them. Now they look like "spikes" for lack of a better term.
The Awful: I'm saving the worst for last, so here it comes. The greatest pain I had with Skyrim is load times. I spend enough time playing as is without having to wait half a minute just to enter a small house. I can somewhat understand fast travel since the game has to load a whole new region of the map, but it still breaks game flow. They should have at least put a progress bar in to tell me how long I will have to wait. I got tired of rotating random game objects like statues and player models pretty quickly. The game also has a big problem with hanging and players getting stuck in weird places. While getting stuck is not a problem in the overworld where you can fast travel, it means having to load your last save if you are in a dungeon.