Up until this point I’d been playing as a Rangerish bow/dagger thief class. The kind I always play in most RPGs. I like to steal things and stab people, don’t judge me. However, the magic in Skyrim is pretty damn fun to play with as well and it was already starting to grow on me. Frost spell in one hand, fire spell in the other. Fire spell in one hand, healing spell in the other. I mean, Oakflesh is just an awesome name for any armor spell, and it’s not a bad name for a Swedish metal band either. Yes, the magic was definitely growing on me, but once again, I digress…
Camilla had seemingly vanished, but luckily I knew the way to Bleak Falls Barrow, so me and Faendal made haste. I like to travel in 3rd person for some reason. Probably because I have a nice ass, but that’s besides the point. A pair of wolves came at us as I switched back into first person and readied my longbow and iron arrows. I took the first wolf down no problem but the second one was charging fast and I didnt have time to draw my bow again. But just then an arrow whizzed by my head. Faendal had plunged one straight into that furry bastard from 20 yards behind me, stopping it dead in it’s tracks. Bloody marvelous. The wonders of companionship indeed. So we pressed on.
After a few more fights and fading light we’d made it to the Barrow. The last kill before we made our way inside had netted me my first level. (woo) The coolest part about leveling up (other than the fact that it’s a thing you do) is the awesome sound effect that plays when you do. It’s that “OOH HOO RAH!” chant from the trailers. You know the one.
Every time you level you will be prompted to increase either your health, stamina or magicka. Choose wisely, these choices are critical at the early stages of the game. Might I suggest health at first? Dying does suck you know.
Now, I’m not going to go into detail about the leveling and I didn’t write down all the skill trees like some people wanted me to, but if you truly want to know more, I suggest you start here.
I’m also not going to into great detail about the Golden Claw Quest, as you can watch the entire playthrough here. However I did make a couple of interesting discoveries along the way.
First of all, your companions like to make witty comments about things. They will offer up such helpful tips as, “This looks dangerous!” and “That was close!” They are also seem to be immortal and regenerate health* I realized this came in quite handy when I needed someone to test out traps. Poor Faendal, he was like a damned crash test dummy deep inside the Barrow.
*Many people have told me that companions can indeed die in Skyrim. I’m not sure why Faendal was tagged as an immortal. Perhaps he was a necessary part of a larger quest chain that I was unaware of? Perhaps it was a glitch? Perhaps he was a Super Saiyan? I honestly don’t know.
Although obviously unrealistic, I find this a rather welcome feature. Nothing is more annoying than having your companion die for reasons outside of your control and having to go back and reload a previous save. Nothing. Immortal companions for the win. Literally.
I find the companion system is very similar to that of the current Fallout games (except that you can have only one) in that you can make them carry things and they will equip what you give them. However, there doesnt seem to be any way to make them decide whether to use ranged or melee attacks or decide which armor to put on if they are carrying lots of it. I find all this rather frustrating. Why can’t we just play dress up with our companions as if they were our own character? It feels like something is sorely missing in this department and poor Faendal suffered for it. Then again, not final build, not final features, who knows!! Anyhow, when I sneak he sneaks, when I move he moves, when I stop to take a piss… he waits patiently ^__^
Another thing I noted during my time down in the BFB was the fact that I could use the environment to dispatch my foes. At one point I was being hounded by a group of Draugr (Faendal’s useless Elven arse was already uncounsious on the ground) when I noticed a puddle of oil on the ground. I thought to myself, “Hmm, those are undead, there’s some oil, and this is a fire spell in my right hand…” Then I remembered that one scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Sure enough, a stream of fire set the oil and the Draugr ablaze! I was quite proud of myself, and quite proud of Bethesda for figuring this out as well. Not long after I executed the same maneuver again, only this time I shot a lantern off the ceiling and it exploded into the puddle of oil below. Awesome. This sort of environmental interaction was not something I expected in Skyrim, but it was certainly a welcome addition to the gameplay.
The last revelation came when I finally reached the Dragon Word Wall at the end of the quest and prepared myself to fight the Dragon Priest that lay inside the tomb nearby. However, there was no Dragon Priest, all I got was a Draugr Lord.
I’m pretty sure I was supposed to fight a Dragon Priest and not a Draugr Lord since that makes much more sense, but alas – not the final build yadda yadda epic loot.
And there was epic loot indeed. Inside a nearby chest was a warhammer and an axe. Great, I’m playing as a guy who uses daggers, swords magic and bows and you give me two giant 2-handers. Trollolololo indeed.
For some reason I didn’t write down the name of the axe, but it was a 2 hander that dealt frost damage. The warhammer was an Iron Warhammer of Dismay. This 2 hander causes enemies to flee for 30 seconds. An enchantment which I quite frankly never really understood, but one that’s quite common in the Elder Scrolls Universe.
By the time I returned the golden claw to Lucan in Riverwood, I was level 5 and had plenty of new gear for my rangerlicious build. However, it was all for naught. Sometime between starting and finishing the Golden Claw quest, I’d fallen in love with dual wielding magic. I knew then and there where me and Faendal had to go. To the College of Winterhold!
For the first time in my roleplaying life, I wanted to be a mage.