Skyrim

There’s a moment in Skyrim where it all just clicks into place and the disparate segments of the game become one glorious whole (behave children) but that point can be any amount of time away depending on how you play the game. For me it was just over twenty hours into the game that I finally understood how it all worked. This moment was followed with a sigh at a certain amount of wasted money. In other Elder Scrolls games you slowly get better armour options open to you as you discover new types of armour. I followed this philosophy in Skyrim but with a difference as I was able to smith my own armour. I did find myself short of a few bits and pieces needed to do so and bought those from the blacksmith but in the end I had a fine set of Elven armour quite early in the game. It was around then that I discovered that most light armours protect the same amount depending on your skill and that your Smithing skill can be used to upgrade armour to make it better (a new and welcome addition to the series). Lesson learned I “downgraded” my armour to a leather that suits my character concept of travelling spellsword better, upgraded that armour to Exquisite level, and threw my shiny elven crap at the nearest blacksmith. From then on I knew that this game was the Elder Scrolls series refined to its core and redesigned to keep you playing forever, no matter how you play.

I’ve spent twice the time on the game as Kim has and have only two levels on her due to the fact that I’m usually carrying a small town on my back and moving at a snail’s pace due to that. The fucking broom dungeon wont know what hit it.


A big part of that is the Radiant Quest System, which does its best to keep the world seeming alive and reactive. How this works is simple. If you’re in a town and there is a quest in the town or near it, then you’ll be directed to that in some way. If a den of bandits or necromancers needs clearing out then you’ll be told about that. Different people may direct you to these quests in different ways. You may find out about a nearby shipwreck from a passing guard making conversation while I may be sent there to pick up an heirloom lost by a villager. A tavern owner may have a bounty for the bandit leader in a nearby cave while a shop owner may want you to find a shipment stolen from him in there. The game determines the missions and events that are available and wraps them up in new ways for you, making the world seem a little more alive. If that were the extent of the system then it’d be enough, but they’ve done more work to make it even more tailored to you. Rewards and quest targets are also tailored to you by the system. If you have been raising your two-handed weapons skill and favour blades then the legendary weapon you’ve been offered in reward will likely be something you’ll find useful like a greatsword, while a mage may have a legendary staff given to them or a tome with a rare spell. Those that diversify a lot in their skills will find that the system can’t quite keep up with them, but those who play focussed characters are going to feel like the entire world was built to please them. In fact, the world doesn’t like it if you’ve not got a hell of a lot to do. The game keeps a record of the things you’ve been doing and uses that to find something you haven’t done recently, then finds a way to offer you a quest to do that thing. Been avoiding bears? Then you should expect to find someone soon who has a phobia of them and wants you to collect ten bear pelts to help cure it (or some other contrived reason that gets you out killing bears).

These little kill and collect quests could seem pretty shallow (and I’m sure that hundreds of hours of gameplay will make them seem so, but that still means hundreds of hours of play) but there are so many ways to be given these objectives and they mix in so well with all of the other quest types in the Radiant Quest System that they simply come across as another thing to do. In the example above about collecting bear pelts, you may simply travel from shop to shop buying them or go from home to home stealing them if you don’t fancy killing some nice, defenceless wall of muscle, fur and teeth that has no such problem with eating your face. The final part of the Radiant Quest System is the relationships system which allows for multiple people to give the same quest and reward you for them. Say you have to escort someone somewhere and the quest is completed but they somehow die before rewarding you. In most games the mission would count as failed, but in Skyrim you have more complexity added. People related to the recently deceased character may have the quest reward for you. Depending on how they feel about you they may also lower or raise the value of the reward, or even decline to pay and seek revenge for their deceased relative. The same applies if someone dies before they can give you a quest as the system moves that quest to their nearest relative, or even switches towns and gives it to someone with the same job. The clever part of the Radiant Quest System is that it all works behind the scenes and the player is never aware of any of the vast network of calculations going on in the background. All the player knows is that there is so much to do in the world and that people just keep mentioning things that either lead to quests or add places to the map. Guards mention nearby ruins and caves, traders and people in the street may mention trouble going on nearby, couriers come up with messages from people you’ve met that invariably lead to new missions and rewards, Jarls post bounties in the pubs, random travellers and prisoner convoys provide the opportunity for plenty of adventure, guilds have their own sets of repeatable quest types with the target randomly generated in the world and everyone has something for you to do. The Radiant Quest System works so well at making the story quests that little bit different for you and surrounding them with so many different things to keep you going that it ceases to be a recognisable game system at all for most players and will simply be another aspect of this living, breathing world.

And what a world it is. The cold mountains frequently experience snowstorms, the rivers and waterfalls have a thin mist surrounding them as the water is usually hotter than the air surrounding it. The ingredients system from previous games returns, but has been expanded beyond plants and animal parts. Bugs can be plucked out of the air and fish out of the rivers and seas. If you happen to see salmon jumping up a waterfall (something I wasn’t expecting in a videogame) then see if you can grab one while it’s out of the water. This attention to detail permeates the entire world and contributes to making it feel like a living place. Alongside the Radiant Quest System this leaves Skyrim as one of the most reactive landscapes in videogame history, but this makes the little bugs and annoyances all the more prevalent.

The tactical additions to companions allows you to tell them to go somewhere.
You will only ever use this to get them out of the way when they stubbornly refuse to move out of a doorway.


The addition of dragons to the Elder Scrolls series had me groaning at first as it’s such a done thing in fantasy games. I don’t know whether it’s the Norselands inspired setting that makes it any different but Skyrim pulls off dragons magnificently. These beasts can appear anywhere, and frequently do, sometimes landing in the middle of villages perching on the buildings and breathing frost and fire down on the populace. These battles, while far from being the most difficult things you’ll face in the game, are always intense and tactical as you swap to bows and spells to ground the dragon then on to melee to take it on when it lands. There’s nothing better than being in a pitched battle with a group of enemies when a dragon lands. Old grudges are put aside and allegiances change as everyone joins forces to take down the perceived greater threat. Use this distraction to slaughter them from behind…

The dragons are built into the game in every conceivable way. The land is covered in ancient dragon burial sites and some ruins contain walls with the ancient dragon language carved into it. These walls dim the lights as you get near and a single word shines brightly on it, burning itself into your mind and allowing you to use the magic of the dragons which is generally so much more powerful than the magic of humans. It is said in books and by scholars that this language is how dragons communicate with each other and that a dragon battle where they spew fire and frost at each other is merely a heated discussion, a debate in that mystical and powerful language. In short, the dragons feel as mystical and powerful as they did when you first heard about them as a child. By keeping their abilities the same but changing the lore surrounding those abilities, Skyrim manages to make even a concept as done to death as dragons have been feel fresh and new as well as part of the existing world that has been set up over the past few games.

I was a fan of the Elder Scrolls from the time the series began and counted Morrowind (which I famously spent 440 hours on before I was done with it) as one of the greatest RPGs ever created. When Oblivion came at the start of this generation I eagerly bought it (we actually bought the game a month or so before the console to make sure we’d get a copy) and was bitterly disappointed. All of the improvements they’d made came at such a cost to the game that they were actually detrimental to the overall game. Yes, there were many more dungeons in the game than ever before but they all used one of five tilesets and had nothing to set them apart from others that used the same set. Yes, there was full voice acting, but there were only six people providing the voices and they went from talking about vast political machinations to single lines repeated ad infinitum. Every improvement came with a price that simply wasn’t worth paying and the game suffered vastly for it. For many it was still a great game but too much had been lost for me to enjoy it as all I was surrounded by were cases of the could-have-beens. Skyrim on the other hand is a glorious return to form and an evolution of everything that came before. The voice cast hit seventy people and they have so many things to say (in part aided by the wonderful Radiant Quest System) this time around that they rarely repeat, except for the guards who all used to be adventurers until they got shot in the knee making me think that someone out there is ending careers by shooting peoples knees (I’m keeping my eyes open just in case). Almost every dungeon has its own twist. There are still repeated tilesets but these have some secret or mini puzzle that sets them apart from other similar dungeons. The world has a depth to it that was missing in Oblivion and so many layers that keep you coming back and doing different things. The new perks system allows you to customise your character as never before and actively encourages different play styles from those who inevitably end up playing the same type of character each time. In all, this is the redemption of the Elder Scrolls series and a solid contender for the RPG of the generation.

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52 thoughts on “Skyrim

  1. 🙂 I've only heard positive things about Skyrim so far… good thin I've decided to buy it tomorrow together with my brother :)And I think I'm glad that I didn't play Morrowing… since according to this text, it might have ruined Oblivion for me :PAnd this "radiant quest" system sounds very interesting, I suppose that it makes sure you will never run out of quests :DAnd thanks for the tip about the salmon, I will certainly stand next to a river now just to wait for a salmon to jump out so I can catch it ;)P.S. I'm slightly dissapointed that this cartoon wasn't in ithttp://www.dorkly.com/comic/27206/how-to-conquer-a-dragon-in-skyrim😉

  2. Morrowind is an acquired taste. Going to it from this generation of games presents you with a brown landscape and people who have loads to say but no voices. Many people couldn't cope with that and would miss the evolutions of other games in the series, but at the time it was the ultimate RPG, and even without the expansions has so much more to it than Oblivion plus all of the DLC.The Radiant Quest system is actually a collection of loads of tiny little systems that ensure you keep having things to do, whether they're generated quests or scripted ones, and adds a degree of generation to scripted quests. You may visit a dungeon before me and therefore have a quest take place in an entirely different dungeon thanks to it. When playing it's not something you notice or even think about, but it does add so much to the game and the differences can be seen mostly when you compare your game with someone else's. As I'm playing alternately with the wifeling I'm getting to see the changes a bit more than most would. These systems work on top of other ones such as the guilds having people that can generate quests for you to do when you ask for work. In short, this game doesn't just have infinite quests but they're varied enough in their composition and rewards that you wont mind playing around with them.Remember all those requests I made on the Fable boards? A hell of a lot of those made it into this game and show how right I was to request features like that in such detail there as they do nothing but add to this game. Kind of upset that they didn't make it into my favourite series, but having given away all my Fable games now it doesn't make that much difference to me anymore.

  3. Shields? Where we're going we don't need shields (unless we want to level our block skill up).The Elder Scrolls have always been a bit more about having a unique experience than they have been about having fun. This latest game seems to have been designed by someone who has read my Out Of The Pit article or who feels the same way at the very least. Their main aim has been to create a living world and they've succeeded magnificently. Sure, there are a few bugs, glitches and oversights (the ability to pay someone for training then hire them as a follower, access their inventory and take the cash back for example) but overall the game is a living fantasy novel.

  4. Never heard of Elder Scrolls before, since I'm not into fantasy. However, this games seems interesting enough for me to make an exception. I got tired of the fantasy theme some ten years ago when I was playing Hexen (PC version). It took me forever. I am too a fan of open world games, and if you have tried one, playing a conventional linear game might seem dull and predictable. I simply love GTA, perhaps because I have played that game since the first arcade version many many years ago. And I still put Red Dead Redemption on from time to another just for a little Wild West romance.Skyrim might become a piece of my games collection. It's been ages since last time I actually bought a game. I usually borrow my stepson's.

  5. I played some at my friends house. We had the most nonchalant drinking game, ever! Then my character somehow passed out and trashed a church.

  6. Ha, yeah I've had that mission. It gets worse/better as it goes on. That's one of the more interesting missions in the game as it happens.I'm currently the plague lord of ruel at the moment as every possible disease in the game seems to target me with unerring accuracy. Didn't stop me getting married though. Having said that, the wife did flee the church before the priest had even finished talking and it took me a good week to find her and tell her where we'll be living from now on.

  7. Can't believe the scores that is getting. I refuse outright to get myself ANOTHER BLOODY WII, but I'd love to give that a go.

  8. My games list is getting packed – only just finished Mass Effect 2 and started Deus Ex, with Arkham City and Portal 2 waiting along with all the New Vegas DLC. Skyrim and Skyward Sword will be in the mix as soon as the price drops under £20 which is about my upper limit for a game. There's enough there to last me a year 😀 And then Christmas will appear again with Mass Effect 3 on sale 😉 I always preferred Oblivion to Morrowind although Oblivion's main quest was repetitive crap. I think the Fallouts (1, 2, 3 and New Vegas) are all better than those two, although it sounds like Skyrim might finally steal the crown 😀

  9. Originally posted by theoddbod:

    only just finished Mass Effect 2

    You finally got patched? :hat:Originally posted by theoddbod:

    Deus Ex

    Don't neglect the typhoon. The bosses, despite being the worst thing to ever happen to an otherwise great game, are bitches without it and pussies with it.Originally posted by theoddbod:

    Arkham City

    Arkham City gets my glitch of the year award for Bat's psychological breakdown. It's the only one I've found in the game and is actually entertaining and explainable.

  10. Patched? Er…no, I ended up replacing my oldish ATI/AMD graphics card with a spanking new NVIDIA one in September 😀 After that, I could play Mass Effect 1&2, plus Arkham Asylum, without any glitches at all :hat: Plus this one has DX11 stuff so I have even more options to enable in newer games 😀 *PC nerd mode on* It's been a while since I upgraded my PC – always feels good :nerd:I've only done one mission in Deus Ex so far – snuck around the whole level knocking people out silently with my tranquiliser rifle, dragging them out of sight and stealing their possessions. Just felt like sneakiness for a change – not done that since the Thief games (Batman being a little different) 😀 Normal service next mission, though :devil:Still got The Witcher 2 on the list as well, and maybe Dragon Age 2 although the reviews weren't great. Lots to play :eyes: At least GTA IV was pretty bad so I don't feel the need for GTA V :p

  11. The police station is amazing for the stealth opportunities. My record is fifteen knocked out police officers in the same vent and the challenge has yet to be met. ;)Dragon Age II is an improvement in every respect on the original games. The combat is faster and more action based. The inventory has been streamlined and the party management is more of a feature. A pity that so many of the things it improves on are actually things that you miss (picking up junk or things you can use to create other things) or half-assed replacements (party members only need accessories and weapons due to having their own armour, all dungeons use the same basic map with different entrance and exit points).Thief 4 and Witcher 2 (console edition) are on my lists. I feel exactly the same about GTA. Never finished GTA IV, just spent the time in cabs listening to the radio and checking out the beautiful city.

  12. I'm with you about GTA IV. I simply have no sympathy with the main character. The stereotypical East European theme is taken over the edge, I think. I like the expansion pack, though. Especially The Ballad of Gay Tony. It brings back the humour of earlier episodes.

  13. Dragon Age II certainly seems to get more hate than love when I start reading reviews. I'll get it once I've finished all the others mentioned :pGTA IV just never became fun, it felt like a chore. Too fiddly, too grey. I don't know if it had lots of countryside like San Andreas (I loved riding around on a Harley in San Andreas' countryside, dodging traffic while the music played) – never got far enough to see anything that wasn't dreary. I'm not sure Gay Tony can rescue it for me.

  14. No, the spiders are over here and on my blog. :p .I need to get a game or two soon. :left: .SuperTuxKart is getting boring and network mode hasn't been added yet. :awww: .

  15. Forgot everything about this game until this wedensday when I saw it on display at my local store, pre-played, dead cheap. What happened was that I spend the entire night between wedensday and thursday AND most of thursday playing. First time in years this has happened to me with any game. It's addictive. I like the sort-of Norse theme, though the Scandinavian accent of the carachters is a bit funny. Scandinavians do not have a German accent, and not all Scandinavian men have dark voices. But hey, this is Skyrim, not Scandinavia, right?So, my stepson bought it too, but he became interested in the mythos and purchased Oblivion as well. It's like two different games, really. They don't compare.Thanks for the tip!

  16. Enjoy. There's an expansion due out in the summer. I've been letting this one sit for a while, playing other things and will go back when the expansion is out. Got a few characters with about forty or fifty hours each and one coming close to two hundred hours.

  17. I still haven't played! 🙄 .I'll have to get an X-Box because I just can't manage using a keyboard to play! :awww: .

  18. Originally posted by Aqualion:

    You could get a gamepad controller for your PC

    I have one, but these games demand an X-box controller! And a loose X-box controller is two thirds of the price of a full X-box that includes the controller! :faint: .:sst: I suspect that the games detect the vendor and product codes of non-X-box game pads and joysticks as they all use the same generic hid protocols! 🙄 .

  19. You could get a gamepad controller for your PC. Most of them only require a USB port, including the wireless types. Almost exactly like the console controllers.

  20. Bummer. It's been ages since I've played a decent PC game, so I am not exactly updated on the hardware acquirements. I would, however, recommend you purchase a console, because Skyrim is just as spectacular as everybody will tell you. I would consider it a game for grown-ups (who have not forgotten to play, that is). Not that children wouldn't be able to play it, but you will get in situations where your real life skills will come in handy. One of the three characters I have going has developed his skills of speech (handy when pursuading or intimidating opponents and very handy when bartering) by coincidence, simply because I myself have good skills in this area. I was not aspiring to develop this particular skill, it just happened, because it's a big part of my personality to obtain information, and I just naturally let my character talk to people, read random books and such to get info. In Skyrim, this will develop the characters skills of speech. I first discovered this when the game let me to the Bards College, and it made me smile a lot, because if I was in the World of Skyrim, I would probably have been a bard. Bethesada really have done a good job combining The Elder Scrolls Legend with a massive open world set-up, and the millions of quests and sub-quests available makes this game worth all the money you may spend. As our host suggests in the above, a hundred hours of gametime will only bring you a short way to whatever goal you set yourself. My hopes are that Skyrim will set standards for other game developers and we will see more of this.PS: The stay off the mammoths thing is right enough. If you absolutely need a tusk (and you will) take it from a carcass on the roadside. Don't try kill one yourself. You'll need an entire army of followers to get you out of that mess. First time I tried I had one follower and a dog. And even though we took on some hefty opponents together (do not underestimate the dog) the mammoths and especially their guardians are not to be messed with.

  21. Originally posted by Aqualion:

    PS: The stay off the mammoths thing is right enough. If you absolutely need a tusk (and you will) take it from a carcass on the roadside. Don't try kill one yourself. You'll need an entire army of followers to get you out of that mess. First time I tried I had one follower and a dog. And even though we took on some hefty opponents together (do not underestimate the dog) the mammoths and especially their guardians are not to be messed with.

    Thanks for the tip! 😆 .

  22. Originally posted by Furie:

    or controllers are ridiculously overpriced.

    …is my guess! :left: .I've just checked and they can be bought online for around US$20 Still expensive but around a tenth of the price I've seen them for in shops over here! :insane: .A standard gamepad sells for somewhere between ZAR100 and ZAR150 and works with all other games that I've tried them with. It's only these Steam games that seem to insist on a specific brand name! 🙄 .Which is a shame since that mean that you can't use any of the types designed for handicapped gamers either! :irked: .

  23. Either Xbox 360s are really cheap there or controllers are ridiculously overpriced. Hmmm, I'll look into that and see whether it's a viable Christmas present or something as they're pretty cheap here but sending it over may be expensive.PC really is the best way to play the game, especially with your choice of mods making the game better. I know of some people who've got a system hooked straight to the TV just for the Elder Scrolls games.

  24. If I ever buy a gaming PC, I'd never leave my room.. So much science to be done.
    The Skyrim mods are pretty neat too, I suppose.. Along with the entire Steam network. Apparently Steam could be on the WiiU. Fingers crossed, eh.

  25. The site feels a LOT slower since I was last here :ko: I see that DDOS attack seems to be into its 4th week :eyes:

  26. It takes a little time to get used to the menus of Skyrim (I'm on the PS3), but having to pause mid-battle to sort things out actually gives you a opportunity to regroup and consider your strategy. The girl in Aadil's video is obviously a PC gamer, otherwise she would have cracked the controller-code a long time ago. Having a million options in your favourites menu is just plain stupid. After a while you will know exactly what strategy works in the given situation, and exactly which setup of spell/weapon is optimal opposing the given enemy. I found out early in the game, that the best strategy (for me) is to clear the favourites menu before each task and create a new one, according to the obstacles you will meet. For example, if I venture into a dungeon I know that the enemy will be necromancers, undead and the occasional frost bite spider, so I design my favourtes menu according to this.The option of sorting your inventory is something I have missed a lot. On the other hand, I usually sell items I don't need, after fixing and improving them, of course.

  27. My favourites have torches and a couple of shouts in. Most of my characters don't need anything else, though my hunter build uses a bow as her (my chauvinism brings all the boys to the yard means I'm much more careful with my female characters) main weapon and has a quick swap set up with an axe for when trouble strikes. The latest patch adds mounted combat which is of most interest to that hunter build as I currently have to stop my horse to shoot anything and that can cause problems. I haven't played since before the first patch though as there have been other games and I want the full experience to be even more impressive.

  28. I keep getting mixed impressions of it. On the one hand it's a free-roaming, streaming world Monster Hunter on modern consoles, which sounds like my definition of a life stealer. On the other hand, they keep releasing videos of it that highlight the clunky controls and lack of focus in the game. I look at it and can tell you immediately that so much is wrong with it. I decided to get it at the £20 mark as any disappointment will be mitigated somewhat by the price and if I love it it'll be even more worth the money.

  29. I like messing around with the different spells – just for the fun of it. Getting followers – and there are several ways to get followers without actually hiring them or earning them – and conjuring a few monsters and let them do all the work for you is great fun. You can hide in the background (or spend your time looking for spell-books or gold) while your followers and summoned creatures do all your work. Even with the dragons. Great fun.

  30. Wait, £20 already? Where the hell from? I'm waiting to get it cheap so I can justify myself buying all the Capcom dlc. It already has '100 quest' dlc, and can pretty much guarantee something to do with Monster Hunter. For me, the highlight is the atmosphere, not the combat. Go out at night and cast a spell which illuminates the forrest. You'll see.

  31. Originally posted by JetPackBulbasaur:

    Wait, £20 already? Where the hell from?

    No, what he said is;Originally posted by Furie:

    I decided to get it at the £20 mark

    Which means he hasn't got it yet! :p .

  32. While you guys have been arguing over 20 quid I just destroyed two Skyrim Giants with the help of one Markarth wardog and a few arrows.

  33. If your playing Skyrim on a PC, you could use the horse combat to fight giants while riding on a giant wolf. I created a 'Mononoke' character.

  34. My main pen and paper RPG character rode a wolf back in the 80s, before it was cool. /D&D Hipster Moment…

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