Rather than try to rehash my half-formed and half-forgotten thoughts after the fact, I'm going to do what I did with my WoW starter posts, that is, constantly interrupt myself to write down what I'm thinking of the action at the time. I suppose if someone read deeply enough into these posts they'd be like a walkthrough of a sort. A really useless walkthrough.
I don't like "action" at the start of games. I'm in a new world with a new game and having to run around at the start tends to disorient me. Oblivion had a much better first start, sticking me in a small cage for a while while Captain Picard talked about stars. And I couldn't quite hear the dialogue early on ad had to put my system volume much higher, with the game already maxed out. I expect to be deafened if I play anything else (take note of the use of if vs. when and consider it part of the review). It feels a bit like Oblivion with prettier graphics and an inexplicably worse interface. That's an impressive feat, given that Oblivion already had a pretty bad interface, particularly for spells. At least now it seems to break them up better into restoration vs. destruction (Are there no other types? Don't answer) whereas Oblivion seemed to have "all powers" "active effects" and "random assortment of some of the powers".
The continuous casting is pretty nice so far. I can't explain why, but I like the feel up of it more than the magical quanta of Oblivion. On the other hand, holding up my glowing hands constantly makes me wonder when I'm going to hear a crackling voice over the radio, "Hit em with the combo! Zap em and whack em!"
My first death came early on, when I was picking up a cabbage. I couldn't quite get the other, so I tried to jump onto the cart for a better angle. Then the physics engine woke up on the wrong side of the bed, stuck me through the cart, and threw us both against the wall until I was dead. Thankfully, I quicksave compulsively after even the most minor of events (excluding death by cart), so I wasn't set back very far.
So stuff happens and I kill a bear with an arrow in the knee and next thing I'm being told we should split up but meet him at such as such place where his father works or something and I'm thinking:
1) We just met and you think we need to break up?
2) Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm not into men.
3) We just met and you want me to meet your father? Woah, slow down there!
So I did the logical thing and wandered off aimlessly. I caught some flowers and killed a couple bandits. Then I met some hit woman living in the mountains where I was searching for a dragon. She taught me to shoot a bow and I didn't kill her. Then I wandered some more and died a few times to a Sprig monster that seemed to kill me with magical floating bugs. But eventually I wandered into a town and did my first alchemy and got annoyed that it gives the option to randomly combine ingredients when none have known effects, failing to carefully explain to the noob that you're supposed to eat the ingredients raw and if they don't kill you, use them for potions. So I ate a bunch of stuff and then needed some healing. Then I went off to kill a great beast and wandered into a cave that I should have guessed was a bad place to be, based on the large quantities of blood. Shriekwind Bastion isn't exactly an inviting name either.
Things were going quite well until I found myself incapable of seeing the chain to opena door. Eventually I googled it and got through, but this annoyed me, to be searching outside for information. Then I ran into a master vampire who demonstrated a remarkable ability to kill me in three hits on the middle difficulty while also being faster. I searched again and didn't find anything special beside him supposedly being vulnerable to fire, and yet he was still taking a long while to die to my double-casted fire, or at least a long while relative to the three seconds needed to kill me. Even after putting the difficulty at the lowest I found myself chugging potions to get him down. I guess that's a boss? Maybe I'm not supposed to be here at level 3.
More later, but that's enough of this round of rambling.