Disclaimer: I play on Master difficulty, which may alter the way I perceive certain aspects of the game. While this leads to many headaches, overcoming the challenges is always worth it for fun's sake for me. There's nothing like encountering a seemingly impossible situation and going through your entire inventory to find a combination of random collected potions, spells, weapons, etc, and doing the right combination of attacking, dodging, hopping, sprinting, healing, and artifical unintelligence abusing that actually allows victory.
In no particular order:
You can go to any place you can see! Well, sorta. You can go to any place that isn't blocked by an invisible wall or locked with a key. Invisible walls bounding the world I guess are forgiveable, as sandboxes do have limits. I sorta wish they could've designed these a little better though. I was traversing the mountains in the south on my wayish to Riften, and was just following a pathable set of gaps/climbable inclines when I abruptly ran into the southern boundary. First, it was much farther north than I expected, and second there seemed to be no purpose to its placement. I wasn't heading south when I hit the wall, I was heading east. I had to backtrack a ways and guess and check my way to a different makeshift path to get through. Half the time when near mountains (which is most of the game) I don't know if the designers expected me to be able to be able to climb the way I did or if I glitched it hopping and strafing. Occasionally when I'm climbing up I abruptly (and often near the top) can go no further, and sometimes have to backtrack or walk around the mountain quite a ways to find a path I can actually take. I wish there were fewer false leads up the mountain so I wouldn't waste time trying to climb where I'm not "supposed" to. I climbed down the mountains behind Windhelm only to find I couldn't enter the city, invisible wall and no way to enter the city cell. Had to walk all the way around the city to get to the front gate. What happened to being able to jump into the area with the final boss from the beginning of the game? Couldn't get somewhere? Levitate, no problem.
Skyrim protects its quests too much. In the southeast I ran into this villa or something surrounded by water, and couldn't get in because it was surrounded by an invisible wall. Put the place in a different cell if I can't get in without activating the quest. It was annoying because I spent quite a while jumping from the water and from small pieces of land trying to find a section where I could successfully jump into, and eventually just used the console to confirm the presence of an invisible wall.
Again in quest protection: there are too many places locked with keys. What on earth is the purpose of the lockpick skill if all I can use it for are arbitrarily locked doors and chests which I'm already expected to get into? Sometimes chests with awesome loot have no locks, and I opened a masterlocked chest that had 2 gold. I've come across so many inaccessible places throughout Skyrim: houses in cities, or specific doors within houses, dungeon front entrances, the doors halfway through dungeons leading to large portions of them, and chests.
Again in quest protection: quest items being undroppable and heavy. Atleast Oblivion didn't weigh me down. 25 fucking pound dragon stone, fuck that. It's always nice when I accidentally find or take (or steal) a quest item, and can't drop it, and also have no idea what quest it belongs to. Running into the middle of quests in general can be very annoying (and buggy often too).
Again in quest protection: Fucking unkillables. Half of Windhelm is fucking unkillable. I found that out very quickly with my "rogue" character who crept through cities killing and stealing. First house in Windhelm I went to was unkillable. Can't even take their loot. Atleast I don't get a bounty from "killing" them. Second house was the " 's Curiosities" guy. Trying to kill him broke his quest permamently, couldn't get it to work with multiple console attempts. What good is making him unkillable to protect the quest if it doesn't actually protect the quest? Just let me ruin the quest so as to not break my immersion/roleplaying.
Magic improved and revamped to give players more options! No. I was really excited when I heard about being able to cast spells in different ways, like constant stream (e.g. flames), bolt (firebolt), charge (most spells, but master spells retardedly so), and on the ground as a trap. Well, they definitely didn't envision that the way I did. I expected a single spell to be castable in all of these different ways, giving the player the choice to use them as they wished or as the scenario required. Instead, we get the basic destruction spell, healing, clairvoyance (most useless spell ever), and the hp-to-mana spell, and maybe a couple others which escape me as the only ones that can be cast that way. And aside from a perk or two, they can't be improved on. So if you want to blast things with fire shooting constantly from your hand and expect to kill shit, don't level up and don't fight things which have a lower level cap higher than 1. Instead of having good choice with rune-based spells, we get 3, 1 identical spell for each element, which have absolutely terrible damage/mana ratios, and have basically no purpose except maybe to squeeze out 1 spell's worth of extra damage by regenerating mana before using before luring your enemy into it. Except that's useless too since you could've just carried magic regen potions which happen instantly and you can drink an unlimited amount as needed. The three "wall" spells are sort of similar to runes, but I find them to be pretty useless damage/mana-wise as well. They atleast look cooler though. Anyway using these spells to good effect is counting on the artificial unintelligence to make the best of your spells. The other colleges just flat-out lack these alternate methods of casting, so I guess I should be grateful. The master level destruction spells are a fucking joke too. Blizzard atleast looks cool, even if it can't kill anything. 10 second charge with both hands for a spell that competes with nothing and does friendly fire is pretty funny, not sure how they designed these and went "looks good!". What's the point of having to do a quest to unlock worthless spells?
Conjuration likewise is a joke. Can only summon 5 things, and they don't scale. I doubt the familiar ever has any use. Flame atronach is great if you get it at level 1, and eventually (and before you can buy frost atronach) becomes useless. Once you're high enough skill level to buy the spell and invest a perk in the new level of casting you're set again until it becomes useless. Except for the Dremora of course, which seems to be good forever. As someone in the skyrim thread said, "now I'm watching [the dremora] play skyrim" is pretty true. Then after doing some quest you get to unlock the truely awesome spells: the ability to cast and have permamently follow you the 3 by-now useless atronachs, yay! Necromancy would be awesome if it was viable in all situations, but it's only awesome when you can kill a high level monster early in a dungeon and can summon it to help you fight shit for 60 seconds. So in a 1v1, it's useless. And if you can already kill a high level monster, you don't need to necro anything. Dead thrall only works on humans, which discounts most of the good enemies in skyrim, so that's useless too. It's impossible to solely be a necromancer, immersion/roleplaying deadend there. I love the spell banish daedra, and that it's expert level even better. What's the point of banishing something you can summon yourself? There aren't even that many summoners in skyrim. Playing on master difficulty might be hurting me here the most, as when I'm getting one-shotted so are my summons, making them absolutely useless after a certain level. Can't even soultrap summons. Really miss being able to summon, soultrap, and loot a Golden Saint.
Illusion used to be pretty good. Now you can make things run, stop fighting, or fight something near it (which might be you, even if something else is closer). Making things run makes it harder to kill if you need to kill it, and doesn't give you loot or experience in any skill except the meager amount you'll get for illusion alone. Making things fight is great in what would otherwise be a 1v5 or something, but if you can successfully cast on it and it's in a group, you could probably have easily killed them without the spell (until you're maxed out on illusion/perks, until level 40 or something where they stop working again or however that works). So only way to kill things as an illusion caster (such as draugr boss in first main quest dungeon) is to use a weapon (or destruction spell if you don't mind having no mana to use), which makes worrying about illusion useless. Might as well have saved the perks and just gone pure warrior or whatever you choose.
Alteration is pretty silly. Can't use some of the useful things until higher up in the skill, like waterbreathing (well, it would be useful if skyrim gave it a use, but it would've been useful in previous two games atleast) and detect life. Being able to light the place up is nice sometimes, but I'd rather save the mana for something else. The transmuting ore is nice when one wants gold ore, too bad you have to drop the silver ore in order to make a second one if you want. It would be a lot better if you could make the ore into anything. Gold isn't actually useful for anything (neither is silver for that matter). Obviously I want to sit and level alteration to 70 to unlock the ability to pay an exhorbitant price for a detect undead spell, and then level to 75 to waste a perk on the ability to cast it at a reasonable mana-cost. Guess they felt sorry for alteration and gave it illusion's most useful spell, making the latter shitty as I described above. Of course, you can't kill anything with alteration either (unless you lure them to cliff and paralyze them so they fall down and die, but that possibly prevents collecting loot), so again you need a weapon. And weapons can paralyze on their own. The armour spells are probably nice after getting all the relevant perks, but just leveling an armour skill is probably more effective (especially since you can improve armour with enchantments and smithing, while the spells don't scale whatsoever). Again master difficulty isn't helping here, my mage was getting 1-shotted with or without armour spells, dunno why I bothered upgrading any health.
Restoration might be nice if wards were useful, but at master they aren't. I haven't encountered a situation where having any spell beyond casting the default spell in both hands would've helped anyway. First perk effectively doubles your magic as far as healing that way goes, the perk that does +50% duration helps it scale, and the perk that makes it give stamina too gives the same spell an additional use. Why can't all spells be this great?
Speaking of dual casting, with my first, experimental character in skyrim, I got the dualcasting perk for destruction, and laughed when the dual-casted version did lower damage/mana than just casting without the perk in both hands, and gave up on that shit. Beyond the stunlock bullshit the one perk gives it seems useless. I can't help but to expect it to have been designed better =/
Of course, all of my mana complaints are solved by maxing enchanting and getting +100 (in two different schools of course!) skill for free magic, but that's a lot of wasted perks and time just to make the spells past firebolt be useful without liberal application of potions.
They stripped the spells down a lot without really adding anywhere near as much in return. In Oblivion there were not only more spell effects, but you could custom-design your own spells as was beneficial. In morrowind I found myself using spells from every college at some point or another, even without actually being a magic-focused character. Sure, it may have taken 10 tries to successfully cast, but those spells were still useful. I find too many of the spells in skyrim to be useless, some after leveling, some from the start. In both Oblivion and Morrowind focusing on one magic skill inherently helped you with the others too because of the attributes int and wis (int giving more magic for schools not bound to it, and wis improving regen for the int spells, and int helping int wis helping wis etc).
One big problem related to many of my issues with spellcasting is level scaling. Level scaling was supposed to be better here than in Oblivion. I haven't noticed that it has at all, and it seems much worse in other ways. All enemies still scale with you, they just have slight restrictions on how well they scale, which changes nothing. Rewards still sometimes scale annoyingly. Spells don't scale at all, except occasionally with perks, which leads into: the perk system could be better balanced. Some perks I can't see any use for, ever. Some perks are just absolutely necessary to use, and others are actual choices. Loot doesn't seem scale. Level 50 and 99% of skyrim is still wielding iron at best. Atleast the loot scaled wonderfully in Oblivion, at level 20 or so the common bandit was decked out in all daedric lol. I've only found one piece of daedric equipment with my level 50 character, and it was a useless shield. Loot in general seems pretty shitty. Better to enchant your own shit (after power leveling/perking it, because it's useless before) and smith everything (after power leveling it, which only takes 10 seconds anyway). Sell enchanted daggers for the money to buy the shit you need (and then buy skyrim, you'll be able to afford it). Getting the strongest character possible seems to be 1000x easier if you stay in a town instead of actually explore, and you don't get 1-shotted there. Enchanting seems the go-to balancer here. If you're too weak, enchant away your weakness. It's nice that enchanting is useful, but its role is a little too pivotal here.
What I think would be better is if skill scaling was different. Rather than have 5 different fire spells, why not just have 1 fire spell which you can upgrade as your skill increases (and upgrade in different ways, given choices. Something like being able to upgrade it to be cast as a rune maybe. Or have rune-casting as an option from the start, with you gaining a better fire spell to cast as a rune as you level. Yeah there's some overlap here with what they did do perk-wise, but it doesn't do enough. Once you can cast firebolt reliably without running out of magic and still having a living opponent through whatever combination of skill increases, mana increases, potion drinking, and enchantment
Lockpicking skill is useless. You can unlock a master lock with skill 1, and can't unlock a lock that requires a key with skill 100. Why doesn't everyone in skyrim lock things with keys? Skill just slightly inflates my level.
Weapon skills seem too compressed to me. I miss morrowind's short sword, long sword, axe, missile, blunt, spear, and hand-to-hand. The game pretends there's choice, but there really isn't. "Two-handed" means maces. I can't pick a sword for flavour's sake, because the mace of same flavour (e.g. dwarven) is just better, especially with (but even before) its perks. Mace does more damage per hit. I believe it does same dps as a sword if both are being swung constantly, but weapons aren't being swung constantly unless I can win the fight no matter what happens. More often there's dodging and hopping and maybe some sprinting (no blocking) delaying attacks, which means the mace is doing more damage period. The perk is probably nice, but since I haven't seen too many things in armour better than iron it isn't all that needed. If I'm two-handed skill I'm just looking for the next better flavour of the hammer (or buying more likely, since the loot sucks so much, luck attribute RIP). Moment I find that next flavour, I toss the old one. Without changing the skill or weapon at all, some kind of upgrading scheme here might be nice too. Maybe a weapon gets better as you use it or something (as you get accustomed to it?) such that all iron weapons don't become garbage the moment a steel one spawns.
I want dragons quicker, it's annoying having to unlock them by getting through the first main quest, but that's a petty complaint. I don't see why dragons aren't inherently in the world from the start though, everyone already knows about dragons since alduin showed up at the very start. Who the hell wants skyrim to not have dragons for a period of time anyway? Dragons are practically the point of skyrim ._>
Kids. I can't kill them when they talk shit to me. One house in Riverwood was impenetrable to my rogue because it had a kid in it. The kid wouldn't sleep, so I couldn't sneak, so I had to just leave. Immersion and roleplaying gone.
Oblivion's block was a little overpowered, every mage had atleast a dagger wielded for blocking's sake, but it seems like blocking (without a shield) is useless in skyrim.
Is there a point to light armour aside from flavour? Heavy armour is just superior, no? You can muffle heavy armour if you want to sneak.
Speech levels retardedly. I made a "merchant" character, who all he did was find/make shit and sell it, and with all money that didn't buy soulgems and ore going into purchasing training, I only got like 60 skill by the time my smithing and enchanting were both maxed (with alchemy at 40, more on that soon). By that point there was no point in having a speech skill above 1 anyway, my money was coming from my enchanted shit, with a bonus from smithing. Could just give a beggar a coin + zenithar (or someone else, whoever gives +10 barter)'s blessing + some combination of enchanted gear + potions etc and I'd have a much barter deal. Furthermore, there's almost nothing useful to spend money on anyway after you've smithed your legendary ebony suit (fuck daedra hearts).
Hours of searching and collecting every ingredient outside gets raped in an instant by buying out the alchemist, and the resulting series of potions crafted barely increases the skill. Fast traveling between cities or waiting 24 hours for the one I'm at's stock to resupply isn't very fun or immersive, but it is the best option.
Pickpocket skill isn't useful, you hit the 90% chance cap really early on, and even if you didn't it wouldn't matter, cuz the skill increases so fucking fast.
Sneak is retardedly overpowered, mostly due to the artificial unintelligence being so good. Having an npc walk right next to you and then deciding the arrow in their head was "just the wind" gets old fast. Use a dagger and you don't even have to try and hide. Use 2 if you want the game to have 0 challenge. I sneak killed a guard in the middle of a city and didn't quite kill him with the first sneak attack (from one dagger), but the immediate second swing finished him, and was still a sneak attack. I incured no bounty (and if I had, removing it with the witness would've been cake).
One-handed is useless too right? Sneak outweights weapon skill so much it isn't funny. One handed would allow using a shield or something, but not getting hit works better than blocking and is possible while wielding the stronger two-handed weapons, so I don't see a point in one-handed aside from flavour.
Archery seems no differrent from Oblivion, but maybe that's different at lower difficulty. Still takes the pelting of 100 arows, just instead of backpedaling forever I abuse sneak or the artifical unintelligence. Alternatively you can get 4 pieces of +40 archery equipment (hurr durr enchantment) and bound bow (with mystic perk it's better than a legendary ebony bow with an elemental damage enchantment, and has unlimited arrows) and 2-shot giants.
I don't like the lack of weapon options since it's not possible to run alteration or illusion (and obviously not restoration) based characters without using a weapon, since without +skill enchanted gear for mana costs you can't do destruction + a support school equally. This would be fine, except illusion + sword just feels like a weak (divided perks) warrior. Better weapon variety would atleast improve the feel and flavour of it.
Seems like the vast majority of books are from morrowind and oblivion, there don't seem to be too many new ones, and they left a lot of the boring old ones in too lol.
Unarmed being gauntlet armour rank after the perk is pretty funny, better to have kept the skill imo.
Everything you do has an effect on the world, a consequence. Nope. I'd like more/better npc interaction. There's no effect on anything you do really. Can only do neat things like brawl when it's scripted. "Got any job leads for me?" "Sure, here's a generic quest where you go kill something like a giant, and the reward is 100 gold".
The tomes suck. I've never found a tome I wanted before, never found a tome that wasn't apprentice level (unless it wasn't random loot, like the shit in labyrinthian (which is missing the labyrinth wtf)), and almost never even found a tome I didn't already have (even with a warrior, most tomes are healing and flames...). Have to go all the way to the college just to buy the new spell your skill enables you to get once you hit a certain skill level.
The races are imbalanced as fuck. Alter has +50 magic, by far the best. Breton +25% magic resist, 2nd best by far. Nord +50% frost, 3rd best. Dunmer +25% fire resist 4th best by far. All the other races don't compare. Orc/argonian/redguard have useful (and by useful I mean retardedly strong and abusive) powers for melee characters, but they're still inferior. At any level the top are best, they have something likely to be useful in a significant % of encounters and don't need it enchanted in, potentially covering a gap letting them enchant some other advantage.
The cities are really disapointing. The big cities seem smaller than that of Morrowind and Oblivion, but these were supposed to be bigger. Falkreath, Dawnstar, Winterhold, and Morthal are fucking jokes of cities. The remaining cities look nice, but just don't have a whole lot in them. There isn't a whole lot that differentiates those cities aside from aesthetics. They all pretty much have the same theme with some boring quests that typically give you little.
The whole "entering the world en media res" as opposed to having everything start around and for you thing is present a little bit, but not so in others. Some more consistently would help the immersion imo. Their version of this is usually walking into a room and seeing a bunch of recently deceased bodies.
Horses are retarded. Can't attack or talk or even use first person while riding one. Oblivion had first person and talking atleast. Riding a horse just lets you scale mountains retardedly. Weird shit.
In a lot of ways the game feels simplified, the way Oblivion did compared to Morrowind. There are still plenty of improvements over Oblivion though.
There's probably more, but I've run out of them for the moment. That being said, I could come up with a list atleast as long about how amazing the game is, and I definitely reccomend playing it if you like rpgs. There's something for everyone, and you get out of the game what you want for the most part.