I went for a "tank" build – focus on having lots of health, heavy armour, and "board and sword" – shield and one handed weapon. I chose Redguard for his race, based almost entirely on how they look. In hindsight, I should probably have gone with Nord – they’re similarly physically focused, but the Nords have a Speech bonus which could have been very useful. For those who haven’t played, Redguard are kind of brown skinned dark haired, while Nords are Viking-esque.
More on gameplay: I struggled for a while to get use to the Left mouse button being my right hand (weapon), and the right mouse button being my left hand (shield). I can understand the logic (left mouse is the more frequently used click for right handed people, and all characters in Skyrim and right handed, so dominant hand = dominant command), but my brain took a while to click. Still, it wasn’t a bad thing that I kept blocking when I meant to swing...
The detail in the game world continues to astound me. Not only do they have food, but it’s nothing like simple "rations – stuff you find is carrots, potatoes, cabbages, leeks, etc. You can go out and hunt deer, rabbit, or kill domestic chickens and cows (although watch out if they belong to someone else, you’ll end up in trouble with the law) for their meat. Then you find a cooking pot, mingle your ingredients to get new food. As I mentioned to people on the weekend, I care far more about cooking in Skyrim than I do in real life. Food doubles as a source of healing (with traditional healing potions). Give me some Vegetable soup any day (restores 720 health over 720 seconds).
Of course, with all that detail you become much more picky. No longer are loot drops a case of "grab everything", now you have to be selective. Yes, I’ll take his armour, but I won’t bother with his 2gp shoes or his 1gp hat. I’ve taken to applying a 10:1 ration in terms of value to weight. So, I’ll take someone’s Hide Bracers (10gp, 1lb), but leave their Iron Axe (15gp, 14lbs). Otherwise you just get weighed down too quickly – each enemy would have at least 50lbs of gear, and you can only carry ~300lbs (including your own stuff). Travel back to the cities would just take forever.
Finally, the skill system is pretty interesting. You only increase your skills when you use them, and your skill increases drive your level increases. I’m not sure how many you need, but for example at 1st level you might need to increase 3 skills by 1, while at later levels you might need to increase 16. You can increase a skill multiple times per level. And when you level you get perks (similar to feats / powers) as well as a choice of health, magika or stamina increase. You can pay for training as well to help you level.
So I’m in a situation where my 1 handed weapon skill is pretty high (51), far outstripping most of my other skills (mid 30’s for other combat skills, mid 20’s for other non-magic skills, teens for magic skills), purely because I practise the old mantra that the best defence is a good offence.