I’ve owned quite a few games of which I believed the replay value to be enormous. For example, I thought that Fable III would hold a great replay value. That never happened. I finished the game and never touched it again.
For both Fallout 2 and Fallout New Vegas, I was certain that I’d play the whole thing again and make different decisions. That, as well, never happened.
The Mass Effect series has, up until last week, been the only game series that I actually did start over once I finished it the first time around. I didn’t get far, though. Playing a different class didn’t add much novelty the second time around and playing the full out renegade path wasn’t fun at all. I just didn’t feel comfortable playing something against my nature.
Enter Skyrim. Queue epic chorus.
This weekend I started my second play-through of the game. Right from the start things were different. On my first character, after escaping execution and almost being roasted by a dragon, I decided to split paths with my imperial benefactor. I just ran off into a different direction and never saw him again. Not even later when I eventually did make it to Riverwood. This decision resulted in me not getting into early contact with the Imperial Legion. I ended up joining the Stormcloaks and helped Ulfric wage his wars.
This time around, I followed Hadvar down the mountain path and we both arrived in Riverwood together. Events unfolded entirely different from last time. Once he meets his uncle, the blacksmith, they invite me into the house and I immediately learn something about the Imperial Legion. Something that made me immediately sympathetic to their cause. When I played Skyrim the first time around, the initial choices I made, must have caused the game to automatically tailor certain NPC appearances to my progress in the story. I never really got to know much about the Imperial Legion. My impression of the story was very biased towards the Stormcloak’s side of the war.
Now things are off to a different start. This will open up a huge storyline of the game that I haven’t seen anything of until now. That’s huge. On my last playthrough I chose to be a battlemage. This time around I am going for a Sneak/Archery build. In only 2 hours of play I started to notice the difference. My approach to the game is entirely different and I am seeing and noticing things I haven’t seen before.
Before Skyrim there were only two game series that I ever played through twice - The LucasFilm/Arts adventures from the early 90’s and Sierra’s “Quest” games. Now, over 20 years later, Skyrim will join them in my personal hall of re-playable fame.