How long have you been playing Skyrim? Too long?
Listen, this post is not about addiction to the one of the best RPGs of last year. If you don't know when to physically stop playing Skyrim, or any game, the answer is usually "When you forget what it's like to make words come out of your mouth."
This is about game length. When is Skyrim over? Sure, there is an ending to the game's main story, but with hundreds of side-quests and tasks, a player could spend upwards of 100 hours in the land of Skyrim, collecting butterflies, making potions, chasing elk, trying on new helmets, watching sunrises, putting buckets on people's heads, standing, vandalizing farms, staring at chickens, learning about knee injuries and their impact on one's career, squatting, clearing out mines, and so on.
Skyrim is a lot of fun. The game lets you pick the quest you'd like to tackle next. This means a player can go for days and weeks without touching the main story. But this could also be a problem.
Eventually a feeling of repetition sinks in. There's little difference between one task to retrieve the Staff of Jellybeans from the Cave of No-No, from another task to retrieve the Shield of Nice from the Temple of Bad. Your character keeps doing the same thing again and again: Find the temple, clear it, collect the good thing, and bring the good thing to the guy who sent you to the temple in the first place.
Granted, that's the premise of most RPGs, and there are a few variations to this structure in the game, but after a while, we couldn't help but ask: Um…aren't there dragons killing lots of people? Is it really necessary for me to steal some fancy pair of pants from a temple that's miles and miles away—pants that have no bearing on the overall story? Is this really a good use of my dragon powers?
We're thinking of giving up these side-quests (and maybe the game altogether). To those who have completed the game, we turn to you for advice. Please answer the following questions to the best of your ability. (Try to keep spoilers to a minimum.)
1. When did you decide to finish the main quest? (How many hours did you spend playing before you made this decision?)
2. What is the worst dungeon with the worst loot that we should avoid because it's completely pointless?
3. Did you ever find the quests boring after the first 40 hours? Are we being snotty jerks?
4. Did you want to kill the Thieves Guild as badly as we did? And then did you get all bratty when the game wouldn't let you kill the Thieves Guild? And then did try to kill them again, anyway? And then did you stop going to the town of Riften because that place is dumb and the Thieves Guild is dumb and mean, and you shouldn't have to join the mean people and be mean if you don't want to!!!!
5. What's the point of riding a horse or hopping a ride in a cart?
6. Did you ever use the forge? Be honest.
7. We're carrying around about 60 bottles of poison and never used any of it. Not once. We keep assuming there will be some situation that will call for 60 bottles of poison. Is there such a situation? Or should we just dump it all on the bards?
8. Why the hell did we become bards? (Anyone want to buy a lute? A lute filled with bottles of poison?)
9. Should we shut up and continue playing, even though Mass Effect 3 is coming out and lasers are spaceships are better than dragons?
10. Do you make up lyrics to the opening song, too? Our version is, "Here! Here we go! We are go-ooooing! To that place! With the thing! And we're going to win!"
We love Skyrim, honestly and truly. We just want to make sure that after three months, we've been playing it correctly. And that the ending is worth it.