I am about a week into Skyrim now, and I am enjoying the game quite a bit. I am a big fan of open world games in general, and Bethesda's work specifically. I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing Morrowind and it's various mods and expansion packs. But while I enjoyed Oblivion, I just played through the main story quickly; the enemy leveling system in that game was a real deal breaker for me.
This has been a great console generation for open world games. Oblivion, Fable II, Crackdown, GTA IV, Fallout, New Vegas, and my personal favorite, Red Dead Redemption have all been excellent. I have been really glad to see this kind of gaming come in to it's own on the consoles, mostly because trying to game on a PC has become so irritating and expensive over the last few years. I have pretty much switched to console gaming, and I am glad that my favorite genre has come over with me.
While Bethesda has had many good games before, this one is looking like it will be the most popular. Skyrim is doing more than just selling well, it is much more polished than Bethesda games tend to be at launch. It is also better looking and has better, although still not great, writing. It has not really sacrificed on the freedom, while making it much easier to build your character and follow the main quest if you want to. This could be the big game for Bethesda, the game that is the real breakthrough for them and their style. I think this game has the ability to bring man new players into this style of gaming, the same way that Final Fantasy VII brought so many new players into the JRPG genre on the '90s.
Skyrim is easy to play in short chunks or in long extended sittings. You can advance the main quest and not feel like you are blocking yourself off from coming back to the side missions later. I have always loved the dungeons in Elder Scrolls games, the have a nice mix between finished areas, mines, and natural caves. While the dungeons do get a bit repetitive, the all are a mixture of cave-like and finished areas, and they all have an improbable one way secret door that lets you get back to the start, they are well designed and beautiful.
My first time through, I am playing a stealth archer. I almost never play stealth characters in RPGs; I almost always play a sword and board fighter. I am already planning out my next play through as a dark elf mage.
I will be getting my money's worth out of this one.