Stormcloaks VS The Empire
This is to be an actual, intelligent discussion (hopefully) in which we discuss the pros and cons of each faction in an attempt to guide players to making a faction choice that is in alignment with their conscience.
Now, to begin, I have always loved being a part of a continent-wide Empire in TES games. In Oblivion, I mainly stayed in and around the Imperial City, where I felt like a noble citizen who mattered to the province of Cyrodiil. Skyrim gives you a different feeling when first dropped into the game. In fact, I immediately rushed to Windhelm to join the rebellion after escaping Helgen (and doing a few other obvious tasks) because, well, the Imperials tried to have my head removed from my body. But, now that I am a much older and much more mature gamer than I was that fateful 11/11/11 three years ago, I see the appeal of the Imperial path through the Civil War storyline.
My biggest turning point was a person reviewing the game saying that the Stormcloaks were doing everything that the Thalmor wanted to happen in Skyrim. They rose up, separated the people, caused distrust among an entire race of people, and began killing Imperial soldiers and talking about a new, independent Skyrim under a new High King. I mean seriously, the Thalmor are probably drooling at the thought. The Thalmor are, ironically, one of the reasons that the Stormcloaks hate the Empire, and I would too. The Thalmor claim to be supervising the expanse and health of the Empire, but the really just advise the High King of Skyrim and poison him with all their silly elven plots. This is where I believe the Stormcloaks are in the right. I would not want the High King of the land of the Nords being controlled by High Elf puppetmasters. I would want my land to be ruled by a responsible Nord, one who fights for a solid, righteous cause and who would never allow the Empire to give him manipulative elves as advisors. Someone like... I don't know... that old Jarl in Dawnstar! EVERYONE likes him! Just kidding, Ulfric Stormcloak is a guy I would stand up and fight with. But part of me still thinks that the Stormcloak-following half of Skyrim are under this silly illusion that all of their problems are going to be fixed if the Empire leaves and Jarl Ulfric takes the reigns of Skyrim's politics.
No matter how I think of it, the Thalmor are the real enemies. Back in Oblivion, the province of Cyrodiil was not in a Civil War, and they were doing alright (besides the emperor getting assassinated thing and the demons invading the world thing, but who's counting?). I just can't shake the feeling that Skyrim would be better off in the future if it remained a part of the Empire and just left everything alone. There would be no fighting and stuff, and the Empire has done a pretty good job (mostly) with keeping the province in line thus far. I think everyone should have chilled out. This ain't Star Wars, and all empires are not controlled by evil, soul-sucking dudes who want to control the universe.