This also works with your horse, and any companions you have following you. In fact, we have our horse to thank for most of our dragon kills - he actually attacks the dragon, and never seems to die, no matter how many times he's set on fire. As it begins to dawn on you how dense the dragons are, some of the drama gets lost - but you'll still feel a spasm of delight every time you bag one.
The aforementioned horse 'glitch' points towards a wider problem in Skyrim: as amazing as the world is, it's plagued by tiny niggles and weird AI. It's certainly not on the same level as Oblivion and Fallout 3, whose technical shortcomings have become notorious, but it's still mildly disappointing.
More than once, characters we were supposed to meet somewhere wouldn't turn up at the agreed location. We'd go back to where we initially met them, and they'd be stuck behind scenery. Then, there's the fact that some dungeons have traps, like jets of fire that burst out of the floor, and your companions will blindly run into them. Others: if you talk to a character on a stairway, they'll inexplicably bob up and down - and occasionally the game will pause completely for a few seconds.
But when you consider how much Skyrim has to offer, you can forgive its technical shortcomings. Oblivion and Fallout's glitches would actually hamper your progress. In Skyrim, mercifully, they're only a minor distraction.
Two thousand words in, and there's so much we haven't mentioned. We haven't mentioned the fact that you can hunt animals and take jobs like chopping wood or mining. We haven't talked about how you can take over entire cities. We haven't talked about the fact that every skill has its own set of Fallout-style perks. Hell, you can even get married. There's just so much stuff, and the discovery is half the fun.
If you're an Elder Scrolls veteran, you'll already know what you're in for. This is not the next evolutionary stage of the series: rather a loving refinement of what made Oblivion and the now-aged PC title Morrowind so special. It's those games with better voice acting, a slicker interface, a richer world and an improved story. It's also the most polished and user friendly games in the series, with smarter character progression and a gentler learning curve.
But, more than any of those things, it's an adventure; an escape into a compelling world of myth and magic - and it's the biggest, deepest RPG of the generation.
A vast, open world overflowing with excitement, danger, mystery and humour. Truly, a generation-defining RPG.
- An immense world bursting with quests and secrets
- Feels like an adventure
- Fixes most of Oblivion's biggest problems
- Minor glitches and unpredictable AI
- Confusing loot system
- Dragon battles are too easy to exploit