The Giants Of Skyrim
While walking through the forest in Skyrim, I came across the sight of a Giant viciously beating a den of wolves. It was one of the first NPC fights that I came across in the game and I watched from a distance wondering what could have provoked such an encounter.
I had passed by Giants before and they seemed rather passive. They will stop as you approach them and if you stay in front of them for too long they will hold out their arms in a half “What do you want?”/ “Do you want to fight?” type of way. As long as I always gave them their space they never attacked me. This made me conclude that the wolves must have attacked the Giant.
I continued down the path a little ways and off to the side I encountered a dead Mammoth on its side. The picture had suddenly become clearer to me, that the wolves must have attacked the Mammoth and killed it and the Giant is just now dealing with them. But just this simple action brought up a whole deeper understanding of Giants to me. You see Giants herd Mammoths and use them to make milk, meat and cheese. This is evident if you ever loot a giants camp since you will get a lot of Mammoth milk, meat and cheese.
I knew previously that you couldn’t speak with giants in this version of The Elder Scrolls, at least not that I’m aware of. I know in The Elder Scrolls Daggerfall you can gain the ability to learn giantish and can convince Giants not to attack you. Giants although by all rights probably the toughest npc in the game including Dragons seem largely passive and are just simple herders. The higher the difficulty level you play Skyrim with the less warning they give you before they attack. But another interesting thing about when Giants attack is how you approach them. For example if you approach them with a sword out and charge at them, they will give you no warning at all they will simply club you out of existence. If you keep you weapon sheathed however and stroll up to the Giant nonchalant, then the Giant will stop and stare you down for a second or two giving you the option of walking away before similarly introducing you to their club.
What really struck me about the Giant wolf encounter though is that most of the times in NPC behavior, if you had a Giant protecting a Mammoth like this it would ignore the Mammoth after it died. But this Giant in Skyrim, once it finished pummeling the wolves put its club on its shoulder and walked over to the Mammoth I had found and simply looked down at it. This Giant had a memory, it knew it had purpose in the game world and it knew it had failed. This gave me a weird feeling about the gameworld, an NPC character had just displayed a sense of loss to me without saying a single word and on top of that its one of the most fearsome characters.
Is this really how far games have come? Even NPC mobs have a purpose and reason for behaving like they are. In the future is killing a mob going to become a moral debate about which mob is more evil that can be leveled up on?
I’ve observed odd behavior of Dragons fighting Giants as well, mostly with the Giant coming out on top. Perhaps if the little people had been friendlier to Giants they wouldn’t need a dragon born.
Even the Mammoths that the Giants herd have unique behaviors for NPCs. Once I walked toward one of the smaller Mammoths to get a closer look at it, only to have a larger Mammoth intercept me and stare me down. Also another time while being attacked by a Frost Troll a Mammoth that was nearby with a Giant travelling through the forest charged to my rescue, killed the Troll looked at me and simply wandered back to where the Giant was.
Its probably just my imagination. But it seems to me that the Giants received special treatment in this game. But because of their behavior, I’m probably not going to kill a Giant again.
By James Sullivan
James is a regular contributor to GameAspect.Com and also the operator. He’s primarily a PC gamer but enjoys the occasional console game.