Well, now that I’ve gotten to level 10, I figured I’d pause for a moment to share my experience. SKYRIM IS AWESOME. That is all.
OK, I suppose you want more. They took some of the more frustrating and broken parts of the game out (like being able to craft your own ‘cheater spells’ or getting more skill advances for repeating low level spells than for using high level ones) and added some of my favorite mods for Oblivion (like seeing chests open when you open them, or plants actually being harvested). They exchanged the old lockpick (which was a pointless skill in Oblivion if you had patience and actual skill) for one more like Fallout and made the skills actually pertinent. I just tried to pick a Master level lock at level 20-ish and wound up not only breaking my first lockpick, but about twenty more as well. I appreciate making skills useful for what they are, while still allowing you to use a lot of patience and skill to overcome. The whole game has a sleek, streamlined feel to it rather than the bulky “console” look of Oblivion which is awesome, and still doesn’t remove you from the world.
Elder Scrolls games are all about “you are what you play” and this one is more applicable than previous entries. There are no “classes” and all skills will help you advance. Play how you like and you will get better at what you enjoy. I suppose I can still offer some advice for races and special perks that you may enjoy if you like a particular playstyle, though. I always start out as a thief/assassin, so my first character is a wood elf. I’m working up to possibly dual-wielding daggers as well as using archery. The perks I’m looking for are One-Handed: Dual Flurry/Dual Savagery (and Fighting Stance), Archery: pretty much all of them, if I decide to continue with archery, Sneak: Backstab/Assassin’s Blade (15x multiplier on sneak attacks with daggers!!), Lockpicking: Treasure Hunter (more special treasure and a prerequisite gives you more gold too), Pickpocket: Extra Pockets is good for anyone with an extra 100 lbs of carry capacity, Alchemy: Green thumb/concentrated poison/experimenter, Enchanting: Soul Siphon/Soul Squeezer (if only for the awesome new animations and the name, of course), and Smithing: Arcane Smithing. This will pretty much set me up to be able to do whatever I want. I already have Destruction: dual casting because I was in the middle of getting my butt kicked by a frost troll when I leveled.
If you like to play melee types, you can’t go wrong with a Nord (which seems to fit in well with one particular story line as well). Focus on one-handers and a shield or two-handers, Heavy Armor, Block, and probably Restoration. If you are a mage, High Elf for offensive casters or Breton for a more defensive ability will probably be best, and you would obviously want to use magic skills. Beyond the typical Novice/Apprentice/Adept/Expert/Master in each school, some interesting perks you may like to check out are Illusion Quiet casting, Restoration: avoid death, and you should definitely look at Alteration: Mage Armor and Magic Resistance if you are planning to wear robes. Like I said though, just start playing, and no matter what, you’ll end up with a character you love to play because playing is how you make him or her. A couple last notes on character creation- there is no difference between male and female, and there are no starting stat differences. The only differences are in starting spells and abilities, and slight skill increases to give you an edge at low levels. If you want to be a High Elf Barbarian, though, go for it! I started out with the intent to be a sneaky assassin who uses bow or dagger, but I find myself often going to Flames or Spark in my left and a sword or axe in my right since I don’t yet have the power to do one-hit kills, and magic is WAY MORE FUN in Skyrim than Oblivion. Also, I’ve occasionally dropped to a set of Destruction or Necromancy robes (bonus to Magic regeneration) and dual wielded Flames to take down trolls. The great thing is, I’ve considered starting over a couple times to change what skills I want to use, but then I realize I don’t have to! There is no bonus for using one skill instead of another, and I still haven’t come across a three stone thingy to give me a bonus. (Edit: the 3 guardian stones to give you 20% faster skill increases for one of the “playstyles” are on the road from the tutorial to the first city. I missed them because the first time through, I decided to hike through the wilderness instead of following the road.) I just play like I want to, and wind up with what I like to play! It’s great!
It looks like you have a choice to make between the Imperial Army and the Stormcloaks, so I will probably start a second game at some point as a Nord Spellsword (mainly magic and one-handers) to be a Stormcloak.
If you have any questions or want my opinion on anything (because I am highly opinionated, if you weren’t aware) then just drop me a comment, and I’ll be glad to answer what I can.
As for achievements, so far I have Unbound (tutorial), levels 5 and 10, Select a standing stone blessing (the Ritual lets me raise all dead in the area to fight with me), absorb a dragon soul, join the Companions (wow, what an intro!), create a smithed item, enchanted item, and potion, and “Bleak Falls Barrow” (the one with the golden claw).