Last week, Bethesda announced a great new feature for Skyrim: mounted combat. This will definitely make travel easier, as we won't be required to climb down from atop our gallant steeds to swing a blade or fling an arrow at the occasional Horker, Skeever, or mudcrab. Horse fanatics who enjoy Skyrim (a massive demographic, I assure you) will surely breathe a collective whinny of joy. However, the one thought I can't get out of the back of my mind right now is why this feature wasn't included in the game when it first launched back in November.
And then I remember. "Oh yeah," I say to myself, "Skyrim wasn't finished when it launched."
Now, I know I've ranted before about Skyrim's absurd multitude of bugs. And, since we're on the topic, remember those two quests I was unable to complete that I mentioned last time? Those still remain in the game, unaddressed, taunted me with their permanent placement in my quest log as if etched there in stone. But squashing bugs isn't the only thing Bethesda failed to do before stamping the "Gone Gold" seal of approval on the game and proceeding to quaff several bottles of Elder Scrolls-themed ale.
You see, mounted combat is only one of example of the various cool features that could have been implemented in the game before it was pressed onto disc. Another recently added feature was Kinect integration. Now, probably the coolest thing about Skyrim's use of Kinect is that you can actually say your dragon shouts to activate them. How's that for immersion? Instead of scrolling through menus and equipping/de-equipping your shouts, you just actually shout, pissing off your neighbors like a true Dragonborn would.
Additionally, with each new patch, Bethesda seems determined to add a new collection of violent kill cams. It's always nice to murder people with style and grace, and it's even better when there's great variety in the methods of celebrating this dark hobby.
Don't get me wrong; all of this stuff is greatly appreciated. It would be straight-up foolish to complain about Bethesda's commitment to this game this long after its launch date. The more I think about it, though, the more I'm convinced that Skyrim would have been a much better game had it been given at least six more months in the cooker.
Now, several gaming media outlets have dubbed Skyrim as 2011's Game of the Year, including SPIKE TV at its illustrious VGAs. Personally, I don't think this is fair. In a year that saw Uncharted 3 (Cheat Code Central's GotY pick last year), Portal 2, Skyward Sword, and Batman: Arkham City—all of which were complete games that were as incredibly polished as they were entertaining—Skyrim didn't deserve such an honor. In fact, I don't think it deserved to even be a nominee.
Now, don't get me wrong here. I adore Skyrim. I love this game to pieces, and I've spent over 100 hours in its fascinating open world, often getting sucked into eight-hour binges that keep me up until 4 or 5 AM. The game is absolutely great. But it just has too many flaws to be considered a true masterpiece.
My point here is that Skyrim shouldn't have been 2011's Game of the Year; it should have been 2012's Game of the Year. I mean, imagine, dear readers, stepping foot into Skyrim for the first time and having that be a completely polished and refined experience. Imagine backward-flying dragons never having been a thing. Imagine having Kinect integration and mounted combat right out of the box. Just imagine…
Now do you see what I'm saying here? Skyrim is a great game that over time keeps getting better. It's a game a lot of us have had to love despite its flaws, and it's just saddening that there has to be a "despite" in this sentence at all. In the end, I guess I'm just left wondering how the game would have been received had it spent an extra year in development.
Editor / News Director
Date: May 28, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*