The game starts with you being brought to a town for your imminent execution. Before they sentence you to death they ask you your name and you plunge into the character creation process. This alone took me roughly thirty minutes to finish. You can customize each and every feature about your character to make them appear however you wish. I ended up creating an Imperial since they're a pretty well rounded race to pick. As you approach the block to have your head severed for the crowd...it happens. A dragon swoops in from the mountains and begins burning everything and everyone to bits. Through the chaos you escape to the underground tunnels with a fellow prisoner who's not too keen on getting caught. Together you brave the underground maze and step out into the open world of Skyrim...it's at this point where you simply stand and marvel.
Standing atop a small peak you look out over just a portion of Skyrim's world. With high reaching mountains in the distance, a forest to your left, the sound of running water coming from a nearby river and so much more it finally sinks in that this is a world you can explore every single inch of. Your partner tells you to meet him at his home in a village just up the road and he trots off. The world is now your oyster. I took a few steps towards his town, Riverwood, but then decided to wander off into the forest on my left. I picked some herbs that could be used for making potions, startled some unsuspecting deer whom I didn't have the heart to burn to bits, caught some butterflies whose wings I inspected to find crafting traits and eventually stumbled across an empty camp. A fire was still burning and there was plenty of goodies just sitting there. Naturally I helped myself and started grabbing some bread, fruit, leather and tried to pick a lock on a chest. Suddenly I heard voices. I knew whoever owned this camp was almost home so I turned to run...I was too late. Three bandits rounded the corner and stopped dead upon seeing me. Apparently they weren't too interested in asking questions as they drew their swords and charged. I dodged to the side and began blasting them with a stream of fire from both my hands. Eventually I thwarted my enemy and was left to freely pillage the rest of their loot. I justified my actions by deciding they were labeled as "Bandits" since they had in fact stolen these goods in the first place.
This type of encounter is exactly what Skyrim is about. Yes, I have spent a couple hours following the main story line learning about my place in the world as a Dragonborn. But more importantly I have wandered aimlessly through the mountainous regions of Skyrim. The beauty of the game is that it is a completely freeing experience where you can literally do whatever you feel. These are just my first impressions from the game but I am already hooked and can't wait to continue discovering hidden secrets in this world. Once I complete more of the game I'll write a full review, but for now I'm going to take my time exploring, crafting, battling and simply living in the world of Skyrim.