Final Thoughts on Alarrah’s Skyrim Run

As promised in my last post, I did a final run today with Alarrah, taking care of a few loose ends. Mostly this involved doublechecking all my properties, and seeing if there was anything I really felt inclined to build or move around.

(This post is long, so it’ll have a More tag on it. Mostly no game spoilers here though!)

Answer: mostly, not so much. I do enjoy all the smithing and crafting and building, though at this point since the character feels “done”, I’ll enjoy it more with another playthrough.

I did however damn well take Song of the Alchemists to Lami in Morthal! And she bumped up my Alchemy to 94 for my trouble. :D Also, I was a little alarmed to see a dragon show up while I was trying to head into Lami’s shop, but fortunately for Morthal (and also me, since I was ridiculously overloaded and had gotten to Morthal to begin with via Arvak-based fast travel), the dragon never actually landed. So I didn’t have to try to fight it.

I was going to try to tally up all of the books I’d acquired. But this rapidly became untenable–I had a whole lot of books scattered across the various properties I owned, all across the Skyrim map, and trying to get a proper list of all of them at the very last minute just isn’t a thing I’m going to bother to do. Suffice to say I collected a lot of books, and in several cases, multiple copies of the more common ones. On subsequent playthroughs I might keep better track.

I also thought about sharing with you all a tally of gold and loot and stats and things. But that rapidly also became untenable just because Alarrah has so much stuff.

So while I have a lot of screencaps, the ones I’m going to share with you in this post are just the ones off the Stats tab I could get to in the game UI. And with that as a reference source, I’ll offer some final thoughts about the experience of playing Skyrim as a whole overall.

Favorite Follower

I’d say Lydia, but I’d kind of be lying. Don’t get me wrong, I love my darling Lydia and there’s a lot to be said for your very first housecarl. <3 Lydia is very much one of the best parts of the game and she’s the standard against which I measured all other housecarls. Really, most of them never had a chance to stack up because she’s the housecarl I had first, and she’s the one I had on the majority of adventures.

But that said, Serana in the Dawnguard quest is awesome. She has even more personality in her performance than Lydia did, a testament to how well her voice actor performed her.

So it’s a very, very hard call for me for which of these two makes for my favorite follower. And if the game had let me be romantically involved with both Lydia and Serana, I think I would have been!

Favorite City

Whiterun, no question. Partly because that’s the city I settled in first, but partly just because I like the overall geography of the place and its general open spaces and airiness.

That said: Solitude is really, really nice, and Riften for all its bad rep has a strong argument in its favor about being arguably the most diverse major city in all of Skyrim.

And I gotta admit, that even though southern Solstheim is kind of horrible being an ash-ridden volcano land and all, Raven Rock did rather grow on me at the end of Dragonborn!

Favorite Daedric Quest

The quest to get Dawnbreaker for Meridia, with the quest for Azura’s Star a strong second-place contender. :D

Favorite Non-Daedric Main Game Plot

The entire College of Winterhold plotline that leads you to becoming Arch-Mage.

Favorite Armor

The dragonscale, no question. I spent most of the latter stages of this run wearing that, not only because it was my best set of armor, but also because it looked coolest on Alarrah.

The Shrouded armor I got from wiping out the Dark Brotherhood was a close second, just for the coolness factor. And the Stalhrim armor was third. I would have liked it more if the helmet hadn’t had the sticky-uppy horns.

Favorite Weapon

Dawnbreaker, up until I got Dragonbane, just because Dragonbane dealt more damage. But I remained very, very partial to Dawnbreaker right up until the end. And the double-fire-enchanted stalhrim sword was pretty badassed, too.

Favorite Named Dragon

Paarthurnax. :D

Things I Actively Disliked

The quest for the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, as I’ve written about before. I respect the narrative decision it followed, but I still don’t feel like it offered enough compensatory reward to the player for putting the time in on that quest without the expected resolution.

How very very easy it is to accidentally steal something when you don’t actually intend to–c.f., my adventure in Solitude with pissing off the innkeeper at the Winking Skeever when I tried to read a book on one of the shelves in my room, and how he hired three thugs to beat me up over a book.

Also, again as I’ve written before, the Switch build was super buggy. It’s not clear to me how much of this was due to the Switch port of the game specifically, and how much of it was simply bugginess in Skyrim in general.

Most of the bugs didn’t bother me usually, except for the ones that actively broke the game:

  1. The important plot-relevant cutscene that I couldn’t watch properly
  2. The hard frame-rate drop at that one Forsworn lair in the Reach where a giant frostbite spider was rendering in a tent way too small for it
  3. The carry weight bug that eventually made it impossible for me to upgrade Lydia’s armor

I really, really wish that the answer to a lot of the bugs I ran into wasn’t just “enter such and such a command into the debug console”–because, well, no debug console on the Switch. And as a QA professional, I’m deeply confused as to why a lot of these bugs, which were in fact apparently fixed in later patches, didn’t get those fixes into the Switch build. Because as near as I could tell, those patches were released before the Switch build came out. So why the hell didn’t the Switch build have the fixes?

And to a lesser degree, I also really wish that the temporary truce you can pull off during the main quest could have been a more meaningful actual peace. It’d have pulled more narrative weight for me if “saving the world from Alduin” also meant “making the warring factions actually stop being stupid so they don’t waste having the world being saved for them”.

And oh yeah: I’m not the only Switch player to have observed this, either: that the Switch build runs really frigging dark on the brightness levels, and in some dungeons, that makes things almost unplayable unless you very specifically have a light source, or unless you feel like going outside the game and dialing up your brightness levels in the device’s system settings.

My solution to this was, get really friendly with the Candlelight spell. But given that this made me have to alternate between the spell hand a shield a lot, this may not be to the taste of all players. And I can see it being an additional layer of problem for any character trying to favor two-handed weapons while playing the Switch build!

I wanted to like having a horse. I really, really did. And I tried. But the game makes horses so fragile that it’s impossible to keep them alive for any reasonable length of time. :(

Things I Wish I’d Done Differently

The biggest obvious thing is “done the earlier bits more competently”, but this is what I get for playing Skyrim as an utter console novice. :D

Once I got the hang of how to lay, though, it became more of a question of how I did the game flow and which bits, in retrospect, I might have done differently.

I did find it distinctly odd, in the narrative sense, how I could just bounce all over the place doing whatever I damn well pleased and not have the main plot impacted by this in any meaningful way. I totally get that this is to aid the whole open-sandbox style of the game, and that in some respects, you just have to play fast and loose with the flow of time in order to just enjoy the game.

Still though, as a writer as well as an avid reader, it still just bugged me about how I could bugger off for weeks at a time in-game, and not have the main plot give a shit. This makes for more convenient game play but it does diminish the the whole “OHNOEZ ALDUIN IS GOING TO DESTROY THE WORLD” urgency of the plot.

So with that in mind, I kind of wish I’d played through in a more coherent, plot-linear fashion. I’m not quite sure exactly how I’d have pulled that off, mind you, without knowing the game going in. Playing through in a way that makes the narrative flow of time make sense and allows you to hit all the side quests as well just may not be doable.

But I do still wonder if I could have organized my play flow better. This is a question I will perhaps explore in subsequent playthroughs. Up to and including finding out whether playing the DLC plots before finishing the main plot actually works better narrative-wise.

Next time, I also plan to take better advantage of how you can rename things when you enchant them. I feel like some of my better weapons should really have been named. Some of the other things I enchanted would have been easier to pick out of my sea of loot if I had identifying names on them, too.

And while having a horse was super helpful for my play style this run–which involved GETTING ALL THE LOOT– I spent way too much time juggling loot and being overburdened, which in turn impacted my mobility and effectiveness in combat more than once. I will need to be more judicious about my loot gathering in future playthroughs.

And Now, Some Stats

  • As of the last save I did for Alarrah’s game today, she had over 175,000 gold
  • She was thane of the following places: Whiterun, Hjaalmarch (centered in Morthal), Haafingar (centered in Solitude), Falkreath, the Pale (centered in Dawnstar), the Rift (centered in Riften), the Reach (centered in Markarth), and Winterhold
  • She had the following properties: Breezehome in Whiterun, Proudspire Manor in Solitude, Honeyside in Riften, Vlindrel Hall in Markarth, Lakeside Manor in Falkreath, Windstad Manor in Hjaalsmarch, Heljarchen Hall in the Pale, and Severin Manor in Raven Rock on Solstheim
  • She was a member of the Bard’s College in Solitude
  • She was Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold
  • She did not choose a side in the war

Here is a gallery of screenshots of her stats screens! Of interest to me on these screens are the bits I never realized I triggered until well after the fact–such as, how much bounty I’d accrued, how many kills I’d made (and the breakdowns on various types of opponents fought), how many Shouts I learned, how many things I crafted, etc.

I am also deeply amused that the game tracks how many bunnies you HEARTLESSLY SLAUGHTERED, YOU MONSTER YOU. :D

Next Time

Alarrah’s story is done for the time being, unless Bethesda ever releases new DLCs for the game!

In the meantime, though, a new Dragonborn will rise–and I’ll be sharing their adventures, too!

Thanks for reading my in-depth nerdery, everybody! I’ve had huge fun not only playing the game, but also writing up my playthrough for you all to enjoy!

When I do subsequent playthroughs they are most likely not going to be quite so in-depth on every aspect of the game, just because by definition, a lot of it I’ll know already so it’d be redundant to write about it again.

But I will write about the stuff that I haven’t played yet with Alarrah, as well as anything I did do with Alarrah but which other characters wind up doing differently! I hope you all will enjoy those writeups too!

And for the record, I have created a standalone landing page on my site with a complete list of all of Alarrah’s adventures–originally as posted by me to Twitter, then on annathepiper.org with standalone blog posts! You can find that page here:

Skyrim Playthrough: Alarrah

Cheers all. And watch the skies, travelers. :D