Back when I first played Skyrim, I really enjoyed the levelling system. The thought of being able to become this Uber skilled warrior by just using your abilities was brilliant. Having replayed the game again recently, I am having second thoughts about it. I’m not entirely sure that quests without XP rewards are for me. The game is still fun, but questing without XP just feels a bit odd.
Using XP as a method of progressing levels is pretty much the boiler plate, factory setting, default that we come to expect from RPGs. It works well and it has been around for a long time. In all it’s greatness, it does have its flaws. Returning back to an early area in the game is a waste of time when you become a high level as there is no XP reward for doing anything. A quest worth 100 xp when it takes 10 million xp to get to the next level isn’t going to get you very far. As little as it is, it is still something, it’s still progress.
When it comes to quests in Skyrim, there is no benefit to your character at all to completing quests. It helps progress the main story and you can get some cool loot, but that little feeling of progression you get from completing a quest is gone. You work your ass off and all you get is some gold. It’s good at the start, but when you have 10k gold, money isn’t an incentive anymore. The quest itself is fun, but the process of handing it back in has become very tedious. Something that was once an exciting activity as you knew that handing this quest back in was going to bring you closer to the next level. In other words, the quest and the narrative were engines to push character progression. I am someone who obsesses over this, so it feels like something has been lost.
I am starting to think that this is sounding like a rant against Skyrim, when it is far from that. I really like this game. When comparing to something like Fallout 3, the leveling system in Skyrim solves a lot of the flaws that this game had. The game has a level cap, once its hit, you don’t have a chance to focus on a skill set that you didn’t give priority early on. With Skyrim, if I suddenly decide I want to become a mage near the end of the game, I can start working to boost all those skills without worry about any level caps or limitations. I would go as far as saying that the system of character progress in Skyrim is far superior to that used in Fallout 3. As great as it is, questing without XP is just weird for me. They need to have some sort of character reward.
I’m not sure what the overall opinion of this is, I’m sure Bethesda have done plenty of research. I will be looking forward to seeing what changes are made to the system in the future when we finally get a new Elder Scrolls game.