I realized finally that I love Skyrim. And I love it for many of the reasons I thought I didn't like it. The story isn't fed to you, you have to pay attention, listen, read, and find it yourself. You aren't led through the game on rails. You have to explore to get from point A to point B. Nothing is obvious. I find myself tabbing out to research things for long periods before I make a choice, or go to a certain quest.
There is no good guy or bad guy. Well except Alduin of course. This is only my second run, and I only realized this time that the civil war isn't part of the main quest. As much as it's talked about and seemingly in the forefront, you can let it go unresolved if you so choose. Or so I have heard. My first run I killed Alduin before I resolved the conflict on the side of the Stormcloaks. I can't even tell you why I chose the Stormcloaks aside from the thought that it was the right choice. I hadn't stopped to eavesdrop on Tullius and Rikke. Had I done so, I would have been as conflicted as I was this time.
So this time, I'm more careful. Going more slowly. I put 74 hours in the first time. I have 86 hours in so far and I'm nowhere near the "end" if such a thing exists.
This game challenges me on a level above anything else I have played. Not in combat, or questing. But emotionally and mentally. The way I prefer to be challenged.
Now I just need to find some money for the new DLC.