Say what you will about the mostly stupid little random conversations between NPC’s in Oblivion. You know, “I saw a mudcrab the other day” answered by “I avoid those creatures whenever I can“. NPC’s were actually talking like they knew each other in Oblivion and it was influenced by how much they liked each other, race, faction and things like that. It was awesome. When you came through the forest in my Oblivion mod Dibella’s Watch, you could hear the villagers talking in a distance. They were talking about world events and topics changed as the player progressed in the storyline. Mostly they talked about Mudcrabs. Those little conversations added A LOT of life though.
Not so in Skyrim. They’re silent. I can pack a room full of NPC’s and they still don’t even give the slightest impression of being alive or even being normal people. Bartenders will repeat “Huh?” in eternity if I stand close to them. That’s as far as conversation goes. NPC’s only stare angrily at each other or blindly into nothingness and then robotically follow their AI packages (ie walk into tables, push cups off, warp around or stand on chairs). The sentences the vanilla NPC’s constantly repeat are no better than Oblivion’s system. We all know Solitude: “Getting old is not so bad. Daughter keeps me fed blah blah” and “You should see me when you get bored, stranger.” What kind of people repeat stupidity like that to passers-by all the time? Even the bloody Mudcrab topic is better! I’d need an army of voice actors to even try and make an impression of my town being alive.
Bethesda cut them out, but they should have built upon them, the conversations. We all laughed at them in Oblivion, but Skyrim’s silence is a whole lot worse.