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Veteran Member - Level 14
If you're playing Bethesda's new release, you've likely learned great tips about Getting Started in Skyrim. Hopefully it's just as helpful to learn from the stupid mistakes yours truly has made in all their glorious detail.
First, a few details. My character, Vorhyym Serpensmide, currently is a level 7 warrior who's killed 55 people, 32 animals, 43 undead and one bunny rabbit during over 15 hours of gameplay (more on all that later). With him, I've completed 4 quests, 8 miscellaneous objectives and 4 main quests, and have 4 active quests and 12 active objectives. And I've won one brawl -- with a woman.
Fave weapons so far are the steel sword and flame. Other chosen favorites are healing, hunting bow, battle cry and the unrelenting force shout (the latter two I think are mapped to buttons but can't recall for certain and, yes, I do die from time to time trying to remember). Anyway, with that context provided, on to my missteps (perhaps minor spoilers ahead!).
It's not worth losing one's head over Bethesda glitches
1. Don't have a coronary when your game goes kaput.
This is a Bethesda release after all, and even if you're like me and have experienced few, you're probably aware of their reputation. So instead of flipping out like I did when my game crashed during the opening scene(!), reboot your hardware and smile. This, too, shall pass.
Stop judging me!
2. Don't be wed to your character creation, it will only hurt you in the end.
I love a good character creation tool, but it doesn't always love me back. Consider the one I created for BioWare's Dragon Age that turned out too old to have a young older brother (if I remember). He was retired. Similarly, my Skyrim character was almost identical to the one he follows at the game's beginning. D'oh! So much for the hour or so I spent painstakingly making a unique character model.
Who's the big shot now? What? No, I'm not coming down.
3. Don't forget, the bigger they are, the harder their club falls.
I first attacked giants at range and from a safe elevation, and they ran away! Turns out they're no dummies. After they returned, I came down and what do you know? They hold grudges. And big clubs that will turn you to tundra turd lickity split. So run away, puny warrior.
I should be safe here among the pretty birds. Pretty fire-breathing birds. Uh oh.
4. Don't be the tool that ends up in a virtual remake of 127 hours.
In trying to assault a fort with bandit archers inside, I took a position on some rocks against the outer wall. Who knew I'd get stuck in the environment, praying for a swift death. Half an hour of fruitless leaping later, I rebooted. Avoid the restart by looking before you leap, unless you want to end up like James Franco at the Oscars. And no one wants that.
Our heroes awaken from their delightful B&B ready for more bloodletting
5. Don't waste precious time sightseeing in a world you can spend 300 hours in, unless you're taking screenshots for a blog no one will read.
I'd venture to guess that most of my 15 hours spent in-game were setting up screenshots to document this impressive title. Yeah, I'm weird like that. And eyros will be the first to tell you it doesn't pay like investing in video capture hardware would. But I'm stubborn and cheap, so you get my out of focus smartphone pix instead. You're welcome.
Traps attract followers like moths to a flame
Uthgerd the Doorstop
6. Don't take a follower exploring, unless you're trying to ditch them.
I like my follower, who's pretty good in a fight. Unfortunately she's pathetic when navigating the environment. Whether a snowy mountain pass or a trap filled dungeon, I find myself holding her hand wherever we go. Otherwise, she'd become a popsicle, a doorstop for a spiked gate or mincemeat for swinging cleavers. I have to retrieve her often enough I wonder whether she does it on purpose. In fact, I'm beginning to question who's the follower in this relationship.
It wouldn't be a fantasy RPG without water-hopping bunnies
Nothing like a moonlit dip in full body armor to kindle a romance
7. Don't assume because it's fantasy you can breathe underwater.
Unlike some games, there is no lung gauge for when you're underwater. So imagine my surprise when a health gauge appeared as I began to quickly drown. Be prepared to surface on a moment's notice when exploring underwater or make peace with becoming chum (and BTW, there is reason to explore underwater so don't hesitate to do so).
Tomorrow's headline: Hyargh! Dragonborn dies snapping screenshot
8. Don't mistake Skyrim for Fatal Frame: Photos don't kill dragons, weapons kill dragons.
My daughters, who watched me play this weekend, asked repeatedly, "Are you taking ANOTHER picture, Daddy?" Their groans were audible. Yes, if you're familiar with my blogs, I love taking screenshots on my smartphone. I'll even risk my virtual life for a combat shot. But combat photographer I am not, neither am I a worthy Dovahkiin. Instead, I am dragon marshmallow, hear me burn.
So close, yet so far ...
9. Don't assume you'll be any better with directions in a virtual world then the real one.
As Matt Miller points out in his article, finding your way in this open world is no piece of cake. In my quest to speak with the Graybeards at High Hrothgar, I took a mountain pass as it appeared a direct route. Not so. I went around the mountains instead, only to find that it wasn't High Hrothgar itself where I was supposed to go, but somewhere on that path I assume. Instead of the presale promo map, GPS would have been appreciated.
Here be dragons! And bunnies. Lots and lots of bunnies.
10. Don't kill Thumper in front of your kids.
My daughters were none too pleased when I dispatched a little bunny rabbit before their eyes. After that, they implored me to leave animals alone and squeeled whenever they thought I meant fauna harm. Though the older one did suggest it might be OK to attack a killer rabbit. Where's the Cave of Caerbannog anyway?
Is that a skeleton or are you just happy to see us?
11. Don't ignore dire warnings at the bloody entrance to a scary cave.
A good rule of thumb is if it looks like trouble, it probably is. At one such cave mutilated remains were outside and my follower warned of entering. Ha! I laugh at danger! I also die an ignoble death and take my follower with me to the afterlife.
Fighting fire with fire: How to extinguish the flames of romance
12. Don't barbecue your allies.
In close quarters combat such as in a dungeon or cave corridor, it's tough to hurl a fireball at only your foes. Too often I lit my companion on fire as well, resulting in her untimely death. Sure, Matt warned of such an outcome. But why take him at his word when I can make my own mistakes?
I broke Uthgerd the Unbroken
13. Don't fall in love with your companion unless you're Superman and can reverse the Earth's rotation long enough to turn back time and save her -- or restart from your last game save.
I admit I grew fond of my first follower, Uthgerd the Unbroken, and intended to marry her (after all we had the meet-cute of a fistfight). Weird since we barely exchanged any words but she was a faithful companion. So I was actually upset when she died at the claws of a cave troll (really my fireballs didn't help but I'm blaming the troll). I had no choice but to restart. Twice.
The Skyrim equivalent of running on fumes
14. Don't forget: A potion a day keeps the trolls at bay. Saving your game also helps.
Maybe it's the immersive quality of Bethesda's deep game, or the deficiencies of my aging short term memory. Either way, I keep forgetting to consume my potions or save my game, resulting in more than a few frustrating restarts. So do yourself a favor and protect yourself and your progress, unless you're trying to extend the paltry 300 hours this game provides.
Well there you have it. Part common sense, part ... oh, who am I kidding? It's all common sense. But this wonderful open world game makes me forget myself and, I think, the fact that I'm playing a video game. Just try to remember button mapping or combinations when you're knee deep in the sights and sounds of Skyrim. I dare you.