Jay Button: Did Bethesda actually finish a game?

November 17, 2011

Bethesda is a company whom you really can’t begrudge for their faults. Sure they ship unfinished games with horrible, obvious and sometimes game-breaking glitches, but the game itself is usually really good. This actually may not be the case with the incredibly-hyped Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

When Fallout: New Vegas hit the shelves, people were instantly complaining in every corner of the Internet about the glitches that ruined the game for some people. Players were getting stuck in rocks, falling through geometry and finding important NPCs dead for no reason. All of these things happened in my game, and it still did nothing to squelch my experience with New Vegas. While I never finished it, I enjoyed what I played a lot. I’ll probably be saying the same thing about Skyrim in a few months.

But Skyrim’s been out for a few days now, and I haven’t heard a peep out of forum posters or gamers on Twitter about anything wrong with the game’s coding save for a few games crashing to desktop. Sure, a few days isn’t long, but it’s an eternity in internet time. After half a year of people not shutting up about how amazing this game would be, I’m very suprised to see how happy the internet seems to be with it. For months, I’ve seen nothing on Reddit’s gaming board but posts about how people can’t wait to neglect their spouses and children for a video game, and now that’s actually happening.

The glitches I have seen mentioned are all fun and kind of make the game more entertaining. The bucket trick totally works, but I try not to do it, as it kind of breaks the reality of the game. And that’s the real issue with these bugs. Bethesda always tries to create a living, breathing world, and the slightest code issue can totally break your immersion. In New Vegas you’d do four parts of a five-part quest tree only to return to the questgiver who’s died for no reason. Now you can’t finish your quest. Bethesda’s actually found what could be a foolproof solution to this problem in the Radiant Quest System. Anything you do can affect a quest tree and even the entire course of the story.

I had one instance where I’d made my way through a dungeon for one reason and picked up an unrelated item along the way. In the next town another guy wanted me to go back to that same dungeon. Rather than go back to the same place for a thing that didn’t exist until I triggered the quest, a dialogue option opened up that was basically, “Oh you mean this Dragonstone RIGHT HERE?!” He was a magician and was still amazed by my treasure-hunting abilities.

Of course the usual open-world goofiness abounds. Not all of the physics are realistic, as Bethesda had an entire world to worry about. Some things were bound to slip through. I was able to scale an entire mountain on a horse who can walk at 90 degree angles. I own a Spider-Horse. He can also travel down waterfalls and dangerous rapids with little to no effort. And the bounty system is still sketchy. I attacked a chicken in a town; not even killed, just attacked. And the entire town tried to kill me. I had a whole conversation with a questgiver while four dudes wailed on me.

Maybe Bethesda finally made a game that lived up to the promises of an enormous open world with a rich story and plays like you’d want. I know I’m impressed with the six or so hours I’ve poured into Skyrim. I’ve never ever been one to mess around in games. Side quests may as well not be included, as I’m just here for the story. But somehow, Skyrim makes the quest system so seamless that I can’t tell when I’m veering off the scripted path. At least, not until I’m an hour into something completely unrelated to my own goals.

Have any of you experienced a terrible, game-breaking, or just plain funny glitch in Skyrim? And what are your favorite bugs from past Bethesda games? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @SBGCommunity.