Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Alduin, the main antagonist of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
“Oh man, we about to talk about “Skyrim” this is gonna be so rad! No way you could say bad stuff about the amazing game!”
If that’s what you’re thinking right, then slow your roll, bro.
I like “Skyrim”, I do. I put a lot of hours into it and had some good fun. I am not, however, a super fanboy and do understand the problems with it. If you were looking for that, then stop reading now. That being said, we’re here to talk about characters so let us do that. And for all two of you that don’t know “Skyrim”, I’ll do the usual synopsis.
In “Skyrim”, you roll in as a prisoner who trespassed into empire territory. You are about to be executed when suddenly a dragon swoops and starts doing dragon things. The flame shooting, smashing stuff, etc. This dragon was the mighty Alduin, although you didn’t know it at the time. This attack helped you get free and you now may go and do as you please. Through some achetypal “you are the chosen one” nonsense you find out that you are the mighty Dragonborn. Dragonborn must, naturally, defeat the evil, be the great savior, and go kill Alduin.
So the great and mighty Alduin. Let’s talk about the things I like about him first. The first and most obvious, his visual design. He looks amazing. He’s covered in spikes, has glowing eyes, massive wings, and a dark gray armor-like skin. He looks very threatening and powerful, as he should. He looks like a big massive fearsome dragon. His voice also adds to his ominous and threatening aura. These things, however, aren’t really related directly to character development. He looks cool and has the right kind of attitude, but what about how he affects the story? He kind of degrades as things goes on actually, he doesn’t get better. You are pretty afraid and he seems very fearsome in the beginning of the game, but that changes.
Alduin is said to be the most powerful dragon ever. He is an ancient being who has come to wreak destruction on the world and all that nonsense. As the quote goes, “And the Scrolls have foretold, of black wings in the cold, that when brothers wage war come unfurled! Alduin, Bane of Kings, ancient shadow unbound, with a hunger to swallow the world!” Alduin is a beast of death that will come when war starts breeding in the lands. The game builds him up a lot. He is like the dragon version of Cthulhu in the “Skyrim” world. Except for that he can be killed and Cthulhu really can’t. So you would think he maybe shows up and ruins peoples’ day, or maybe you could seeing him flying around in the sky. Something to give him that sense of this great power that is threatening the world. This doesn’t happen at all. You see him in the start of the game, but never really in the middle. You fight many many dragons, of course, but you never seen Alduin. I don’t think you see him again at all until the end. I may be wrong about this, so mention in the comments if I am. Alduin’s threatening power and presence just isn’t there…like ever. Then you get to actually fighting him.
Finally, the time has come to battle the mighty dragon. The great being Alduin, the Bane of Kings! Truly an epic battle will ensue. Oh, Christ in a handbasket, no. The area you fight him in looks really awesome and you have famous people from the “Skyrim” world helping, but wow is the battle lame. He doesn’t have an special attacks, or cool lines, or multiple stages. Nothing. He breathes fire and roars. Wow. Exciting. He doesn’t even do a lot of damage or anything. You just beat on him like a punching bag until he dies. You don’t have to do anything interesting at all, aside from shout at him so he can’t fly away. So awesome, bro. It was probably one of the most disappointing final bosses I have ever seen. I was expecting…something! Really anything! Then once you kill him, he gets all mad and then sucked up into the void. It’s the most underwhelming thing ever. All this buildup for absolute crap. I was so annoyed at the time. This is a good example of what not to do with your antagonist.
The funny thing is maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, but he does something interesting for the story right?” The simple answer is no. He doesn’t do anything. All of the in between stuff is totally separate from him. Alduin feels like he was just there to have something to fight in the end. He doesn’t send minions or manipulate things or anything. He is just sorta there on his stupid little mountain. The other dragons that attack you randomly are actually more powerful and more interesting than the main antagonist. That is a problem. If Ancient Dragons came in, you actually got worried. These things could actually kill you and would torch huge areas of the screen and give not a single crap. If random attacking mini bosses are better than the actual boss, go back to the drawing board please.
Now for the verdict. Alduin get Sack of Potatoes. Shocker, truly, I know. He looks cool and acts cool and that is it. He basically has no character, doesn’t do anything interesting, and affects the story in almost no way at all. You see this dragon twice, once at the start and once at the end. It is so underwhelming. That is really the word for Alduin. Underwhelming in every way. So much build up and lore about this fearsome beast that you just wreck in about five minutes. Please, if you’re going have a giant ancient dragon of death as your final boss in a game, make him worthy of the title. I have never seen a dragon that made me so sad.