Let’s state the obvious: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a monumental achievement. Within the gaming community, it’s proven itself to be one of the most beautifully-realized role-playing games of the last decade. Despite claims of “dumbing down” the franchise from hardcore fans, Skyrim remains a deeply involving and immersing experience, and offers players the chance to explore one of the most detailed worlds ever built in coding and programming. On their own terms.
Based on sheer scale alone, Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements in what is known far and wide as sandbox gaming: there’s simply an overwhelming (and even exhausting) amount to do. Just like when you try to think about the origins of the universe, thinking about all that Skyrim has to offer simply hurts the mind. 50 hours of gameplay is nowhere near enough time to scrape the surface of what this epic venture has to offer. For Bethesda, the game’s developer, praise of the highest order is definitely deserved – they have succeeding in crafting a slice of entertainment with an unrivaled sense of ambition and scope; scope which kind of puts the content inclusion in other games to shame.
And yet Skyrim is absolutely crammed with bugs and glitches, is prone to frequent bouts of freezing, suffers from a numbing kind of repetition, and is impossible to fully complete thanks to some horrific programming errors which stall and break many of the quests. That’s what we’re here to focus on: the quests.
For the most part, main quests are varied, creative and fun, even if they’re riffing on similar tasks over and over again. Though many of the dungeons are mapped in the same skins, each one is designed with a fair amount of variation. Enough to stop you feeling like you’ve been there before, anyway. Since there are several hundred quests in all (not including the infinite number of side quests and miscellaneous errands), there were bound to be some absolute stinkers in the mix.
Odd, ill-fitting, bizarre and lacking in creative invention, here’s our list of The 3 Most Ridiculous Skyrim Quests. These aren’t the ones that glitch wildly and doom the gaming experience (thank you very much, “The Forsworn Conspiracy”), but the little miracles that force you to look at the screen and ask, “What the hell is this? Seriously?” You know the kind: those quests which give you the sinking feeling that the story guys were off with diarrhea and the interns were forced to write the quests for the day. Really, really quickly.
3. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Though this quest seems to have won over the majority of Skyrim players as an obvious homage to The Hangover, it also doubles as a messy, incoherent bunch of objectives that never live up to their full potential: two blokes racing around Skyrim trying to piece together what happened after a colossal drinking session should be hilarious. “Hey, uh, what if… what if we did a quest that was like, uh, The Hangover?” isn’t the worst pitch in the world, but there’s something lazy and insane about the way the story comes together in Bethesda’s universe. Seriously.
It’s all Sam’s fault. He’s an affable guy – of course you’re going to accept his invitation to get drunk. After the two of you down a couple of pints in Whiterun, you suddenly awaken with a prissy woman standing over you shouting in your ear to get up. In your stretch of utter debauchery, you’ve travelled halfway across the continent, stumbled into a temple and knocked some jugs and books over and stuff. That’s not all: with Sam nowhere to be found, there’s an amusing mystery to solve! But the next steps aren’t particularly interesting and there’s no sense of fun to be had (just like a real hangover, really). Eventually you’re directed to a castle where nasty mages attack you and a portal opens up. It’s not clear why.
You wander inside and appear in a misty wood which resembles a kind of hipster party paradise. Here you find a group of jolly men seated around a table, and Sam. He’s pleased you’ve made it, offers no explanation about why the hell you’re in a misty wood inside a portal (unless you follow the quest path exactly), and transforms into a daedra. With about as much tact as a tipsy uncle, he reveals that it’s his job to spread cheer around Skyrim and that the whole quest was just a bit of fun at your expense. He doesn’t offer to let you stay at the party and transports you back to Whiterun. Um…
2. THE MIND OF MADNESS
What begins with the player creeping through the halls of an cobweb-infested palace culminates with him or her wielding a face-embossed wand called the Wabbajack and firing purple light at a dead prince as he desperately tries to get some shut eye. That’s right: this seriously wacky quest takes place in the mind of a down-trodden daedric prince named Pelagius who has about as much self-confidence as a forgotten boot. All the mania arises when you’re sent to retrieve a lowly pupil’s master, Sheogorath, from “vacation.” A couple of weeks in Whiterun might’ve been better suited for some simple relaxation, but the old goat has ended up inside Pelagius’ head and is refusing to come out.
Once you’re teleported to a clearing surrounded by three stone arches (and stripped of all of your equipment), it’s revealed that the only way out is to cleanse Pelagius of his foibles: paranoia, night terrors, and anger issues. So you set off through each archway, armed with the only weapon you’ve been granted: Wabbajack. Wabbajack is unique because Wabbajack might be the only weapon ever that is simply annoying just because it exists. What does it do? Well, it fires a benign purple light to varying effects, of course. Once you’ve cured Pelagius of his insecurities (one section has you shooting at different-sized Pelagius incarnations as they beat each other up), you’re home free. For all your trouble, Sheogorath gives you Wabbajack to take back to Skyrim. “Uh, no, thanks. You keep it.”
1. A DAEDRA’S BEST FRIEND
There are a couple of reasons as to why this particular quest takes top spot, but it’s mainly down to one inclusion: Barbas the dog. For many Skyrim fans, utterance of that name alone is enough to give them bad Mafia movie flashbacks and queasy headaches. Look, we all know that Skyrim is a vast and diverse continent, and yes, it’s filled with fantastical creatures and strange happenings, but a cocky, talking dog with a tragically attempted and horribly thick New York accent? Heck, Barbas might not even supposed to sound like he’s from Brooklyn (it’s that obscure), but he definitely doesn’t sound like he’s from anywhere in Tamriel.
You first encounter this canine Tony Soprano on the path to Falkreath where he’s happily bounding about without a care in the world. Introduce yourself and he talks right back at you. Wisecracking almost instantly, Barbas is at least somewhat self-aware as to how ridiculous his talking might appear to the average Nord: “Skyrim is now host to giant, flying lizards and two-legged cat-men… and you’re surprised by me? Yes. I just talked. And am continuing to do so.” Barbas goes on to explain that he’s fallen out with his master, Clavicus Vile, and wants you to help them reunite. Soon enough you’re teamed with the little twerp and awkward buddy comedy here we come.
The frustrations begin early: Barbas is possibly the most incomprehensible and badly programmed AI creation to hit gaming. He never stops barking (which drowns out the rest of the game’s sound). He detects you when you’re supposed to be sneaking. Knocks into you. Blocks you into corners until you’re forced to strike him. Skyrim suffers from generally mediocre AI on the whole, but Barbas takes the golden bone. After what seems like an age of following him through woods and mountainous peaks to a set destination, you meet Clavicus Vile, a daedric prince and creation of ridiculous campy indifference. As if Barbas wasn’t jarring enough, this quest contains two intolerable characters built on half-arsed accents. When the quest finally comes to an end, you’re given the choice to execute Barbas in exchange for a weapon. It’s safe to say that nobody in the world knows what happens if you don’t kill the little fellow.
Agree? Disagree? Which Skyrim quests have left you stunned and staring at the screen in bemusement? Let us know in the comment section below.
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This article was first posted on January 25, 2012