Wot I Think: Skyrim, Addendum #2

By Alec Meer on November 17th, 2011 at 5:27 pm.

GIVE ME YOUR BONES.

Aka ‘Dragonbotherer’ aka, ‘Biff the magic dragon (in the face)’.

I feel that I achieved an awful lot in the three and half days I had to review Skyrim (as documented here and here, but at the same time there was far more I just didn’t have the time see/fight. Foremost of those was the main plot, with my long and happy experience with earlier Elder Scroll games having me convinced that the best course of action to get an accurate sense of the game was to immediately go off-piste and do my own thing. That is, I maintain, the real reason people take to Elder Scrollses, and particularly why they end up playing them for hundreds of hours, until their wives leave them, their abandoned children miserably grow into psychopathic adults and their pets die of love-starvation.

While it was always my intention to tackle the whole dragonborn thing afterwards, there has been… let’s call it ‘debate’ within the towering obsidian walls of Castle Shotgun about whether I’d done the right thing or not. Well, now I’m a decent way through the campaign, my game-world is littered with sky-lizards and everything that crosses me is getting a good old shouting at: so, is this the one true Skyrim experience?

Short answer: no, not really. It’s a narrative-led Skyrim experience, in the same way the Thieves’ Guild or the Companions or the Dark Brotherhood or the College of Mages is a narrative-led Skyrim experience, but I don’t feel it’s the core of the game any more than those are. If you like your roleplaying to have you as dramatic Hero of the Ages and destiny and climactic fights and all that jazz then the main quest is certainly where you’ll want to go pronto, but I still incline towards slowly carving out my own place in the world. Primarily by nicking everything that isn’t nailed down. Everyone’s going to have a different Skyrim experience, and for an awful lot of them that won’t include too much dragon-bothering.

Anyway, details. A very important point to make is that dragons won’t appear in your game unless you complete the first few storyline-based quests. There a couple of ways to get going on that strand, but they result in your first fight against a dragon a couple of hours later. Until you have fought that dragon, and devoured its soul, you’re not going to see any more dragons, or be able to use Shouts. So it was that my initial 50-odd hours with the game were dragon and Shout-free, which did bewilder me slightly. I found a couple of Shouts in my adventuring, but couldn’t use them as they require dragon souls to unlock. I kept expecting to at least stumble into an errant dragon, but no.

To be honest, I sort of miss that world I had, the one without dragons. This is not to demean the game’s dragons or the Shouts, but simply that without the regular, widescreen fights with huge creatures swooping in from the sky, the game felt more like a roleplaying game and less like an action game. Riding across a quiet winter wonderland, occasionally dismounting to beat up a wolf and steal its skin, suited me down to the ground. Now, everytime I start climbing up a hill there’s a reasonable chance the sky will darken and one of those big scaley bastards will descend on me: so it becomes all about the action and not about soaking up this beautiful world.

Nonetheless, they are very good fights as Skyrim’s go, requiring a variety of tactics (to fight ‘em on the ground and in the skies), a lot of movement and plenty of use of the wide-open world, as opposed to the relatively claustrophobic dungeon fights. They’re exciting, and the thought that you really can take down one of those huge things when they appear on the horizon is impossible to resist. The Shouts I’m not quite so sure about: it’s often a joy to unleash one and see the heightened effects they have on a dragon, but in some ways it feels like an unnecessary additional layer of magic complexity.

Plus, if you’ve worked hard on making a Mage Character, Shouts sort of seem like a gimme that anyone can use. ‘Yeah mate, I’m just a thug innit, but I can turn intangible and breathe flames and shit. Mana? Nah, I ain’t got no mana, mate. I shout at stuff, see, then all I have to do is wait a few seconds and I can shout at it again. What, you trained and bought spellbooks? Fookin’ nerd, aintcha?’ But: fun. The starting Shout, Unrelenting Force, especially, due to its rich scope for trouble-making. Try bellowing at someone standing on a high balcony and see what happens.

What I do like is the additional layer of sub-questing to find new Shouts and Shout upgrades, which tend to show off Skyrim’s dungeon design at its most elaborate. There’s no shortage of these mini-adventures in the game, for all sorts of purposes, but knowing there’s a Shout and usually a bossfight at the end lends them a little more internal narrative and tantalising goal. Also, the hat I got the end of one of them had a sort of screaming robot face and lets me breathe underwater, so I’m pretty happy about that.

Another reason I’d avoid the main arc was because of how turgid Oblivion’s was. I was afraid of being shacked up with some cheerless Brother Jauffre character again, and of playing courier for some guy who was the real hero of the piece with me relegated to Royal Dogsbody. I suppose Oblivion was in one way narratively bold to make the player an enabler rather than the subject of its grand prophecy, but playing nursemaid to Sad Sean Bean felt a bit limp.

I’m delighted to discover that it’s so much better this time around: you’re John Lennon, not Ringo Starr here. The key NPCs are better-realised than the Bethesda norm too, especially the half-mad, half Basil Exposition character played by Max von Sydow, and there’s a definite sense of unravelling a mystery. There’s also a fine variety of missions, including one where you play dress-up to smuggle yourself into a party, then rather more noisily make your way out of it. They’ve done well, and I’m keen to see the rest of the story in a way I really wasn’t in Oblivion or Fallout 3. Also, it has you climbing all the best mountains. It’s Bethesda’s best main arc yet, I’d say, and a huge step on from their last two games in terms of plotting, variety and acting.

But is it Skyrim, the true game underneath this healthy banquet of possibility? No. It doesn’t feel any more important or rich or compulsive than, say, the Thieves’ Guild line did, but it is on a par with them. Skyrim at its best is getting out there and seeing what trouble you can cause, so don’t feel you have to do the main arc until you’re good and ready to; dragon fights are a party of a time, but they’re icing on a very big cake rather than part of the sponge mix.

One thing I will observe, however, is that by the time I was far enough into the main quest to be running into sky-lizards on a regular basis, I was level 35 or so with the best glass armour and weapons 100 Smithing skill points could make, and thus the majority of them don’t present too much of a challenge. Certain dragon types – the Ancient is a good example – are pretty good at blasting away most of my HP if I don’t keep a fast eye on things, but the common or garden Blood Dragons, for instance, fall over after I’ve chopped them with my mighty one-handed glass sword Chillblain about half a dozen times. Levelling above the game-world has been a long-term problem for Elder Scrollses, and it’s a shame the dragons don’t really seem to have escaped that. So, if you want titanic, life-or-death fights with the big fellows, get going on the main quest earlier rather than later. Or start a new character, I guess.

(And something I’m still not in a position to comment on is John’s favourite NPC Lydia. I recruited her ages back, but I can’t abide the way Companion characters manage to block every damned doorway and foul up stealthing, so I’ve left her at home wearing my spare armour. Sorry, Lydia. If you weren’t so incredibly stupid I’d let yet out the house. And let’s not even talk about the dog, which I shed no tears for when it got killed by walking on the sixth consecutive arrow trap.)

Upshot of all this dragon-bothering, then? Skyrim remains my favourite game of the year, but the dragon stuff hasn’t altered my ardour for it one way or another. It’s just one more drink on offer at its mighty, if glitchy and sloppily-converted bar.

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170 Comments »

  1. Unaco says:

    My first two Dragon battles have been absolutely amazing, epic encounters. Some of the best gaming I’ve had in my life. I’m about to have my 3rd just now.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I’ve had four dragon battles. The first was a fairly exciting affair, with NPCs running about and dying as dragonfire lit up the night. The rest were…not so spectacular.

      The second flew about over a river, flaming Lydia as I riddled it with arrows. It fell dead about 5 minutes later. The third flew around flaming me, refusing to land, as I riddled it with arrows and drank potions. It fell dead about 5 minutes later. The fourth landed right next to me as I approached a city. It stood to its right hand side and smacked it a bit as it stomped about impotently. It fell dead about 30 seconds later.

      I’m afraid that Skyrim has made dragon slaying routine.

    • GenBanks says:

      No infinite dragons without infinite dragon slaying… no infinite dragon slaying without dragon slaying fatigue I guess

    • El_MUERkO says:

      I’ve killed five now, every one of them an epic battle largely because of the ancillary carnage of decimated village populations, flaming Mammoths and assorted nasty’s joining in the fight., it may get old, but it hasn’t yet :D

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      My first non plot dragon-biffery involved the dragon in question being stamped to death by mammoths, with me a swift second casualty.

      I managed to to quicksave at the very moment of death as well which led to an immediate infinite reloading loop. <3 you Bethesda.

    • Apples says:

      Dragons keep attacking me at the Mages College (cluttering up the main plaza with their skeletons) and I agree with Snidesworth so far – it becomes boring. It also makes the main plot pretty nonsensical up to this point, because I can stand back and watch a couple of College students destroy a dragon in about ten seconds, yet everyone keeps banging on about how dangerous and fearsome these dragons are. Yeah right. No wonder they got wiped out by cliffracers.

    • Maldomel says:

      The problem with dragons, as said in the article above, is that it tends to become less and less hard. The epic side stays, but having dragons leveling up on par with your character would have been great.

    • Wulf says:

      My first dragon encounter was… confusing.

      My attitude was oh screw it, I can’t fight a dragon. So I walked away for a little bit, shifted to werewolf form, and started sniffing some flowers. I did this to a backdrop of a very bored dragon who didn’t do a lot, and a lot of angry Whiterun nords whom were apparently angry at it for not doing a lot. I was unperturbed, I continued to sniff my flowers.

      I wandered a little ways away, in pursuit of better flowers, and I was attacked by a group of bandits. Is that ever wise? Really? Attacking a peaceful, flower-sniffing, and entirely passive friggin’ werewolf? Right. So, I sent those guys running with a roar, and I went back to sniffing flowers. After a while, I shifted back, and I chased after them and knocked them out with punching. Lots of punching. I’m actually quite good at that. I’ve managed to knock out a giant.

      So I decided to make my way back to the fort. Apparently the nords had managed to take down the dragon in my absence. (Boo!) But here’s where it gets confusing. Everyone starts screaming about me being a hero! And I’m like, “Eh? …b-but! I was over there, sniffing flowers, way over there! I punched some bandits too, but I didn’t do anything else!”

      And they continue to follow me around and praise me. They ask me to shout a bit, so, still confused, I give them a good yell, and this thrills them even more. So there I am, a very confused Khajiit, scratching the back of his head and trying to figure out imponderable nord ways. Was this all some sort of bizarre nordic initiation ritual that I’d gotten dragged into? Will they now drag me off to a bar and try and marry me off to that brusque, punchy lady in the bar?

      So I head back to Whiterun and the Jarl congratulates me for my help. Apparently my sniffing of flowers was very helpful. So I nod my head and promise to sniff flowers better in the future.

      I was a bit disappointed, though. I’d hope they’d be a little irritated about me running off, but no.

    • Maltose says:

      Well, you are supposed to be (SPOILER-ish) a badass dragonslayer (apparently, dragonborn are born to kick dragon ass), so I like that dragons get a bit easier as I level up. Of course, even at level 38, the dragons can be tough if you’re not kitted out for pure combat and you aren’t quaffing potions like it’s going out of style. Dragons are a lot more brutal when the only healing you’ve got comes from your rapidly diminishing magicka pool.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      If you’ve played any Monster Hunter game, you’ve played better dragon fights. Having said that, Monster Hunter is almost exclusively about fighting giant monsters, so Skyrim getting second place in the giant monster fight competition while also having an enormous, open world to explore and a reasonably robust character progression system isn’t too shabby.

    • Zyrxil says:

      Which is a problem that should’ve been obvious to Bethesda. I don’t think they ever think that far ahead though.

    • zind says:

      I’m up to about a dozen dragon kills at this point, and I have to say that I’m still enjoying almost every single one. If you want them to remain a challenge though, don’t get Shadowmere. That horse kicks so much dragon (and everything else) ass that I barely have time to. I rarely ever take damage during a dragon fight because my horse is scarier than I am, and thus the focus of all the angry dragon yelling.

      My biggest irritation has been with dragons respawning at their roosts after I have killed them once. I don’t seem to be able to eat their soul a second time, so when I am trying to use their roost as a convenient fast-travel location to get somewhere I haven’t been yet, I end up having to take a moment to kill them again, for no reward beyond some bones and scales (which would be nicer if I wasn’t already sitting on like 40k gold and an already-considerable stock of bones and scales). THEN, the bones are heavy so I am detoured further by the need to go back to my house and add them to my hoard.

      None of that matters though, as long as they never take away my ability to scream-blast bears off of cliffs.

    • Wulf says:

      I like how werewolf roaring sends almost everything nearby into a blind panic. One of the first things I plan on modding when the CK comes out is related to the werewolf. The damn roar should affect everything, because that would be hilarious! I mean, herding a bunch of giants and mammoths? That would be funny. Also, that 1,000 gold fine if an Imperial sees me shift (when I’m sided with the Stormcloaks) is just silly. I’ll fix that by removing the fine once the player is Dragonborn (they should expect the Dragonborn to have unusual abilities). Oh, and I need to fix it so that my werewolf pack doesn’t attack me when I shift to werewolf form.

      This is one of the things with Bethesda games. When I first play it, I can’t stop thinking of how much I want to change/fix/improve.

      (And no, I wouldn’t herd things off cliffs. I’m not nasty like that. But it is funny making everyone run.)

    • Mctittles says:

      I find it completely amazing how well they marketed the oldest of programming shortcuts in games:
      “Respawning Enemies”

      Instead they call it “Infinite Dragons”; so unlike being annoyed with say Farcry 2′s “Infinite men” people are now seeing it as something special they did.

      Enemies have been re-spawning randomly since the days of arcade machines. It’s not good programming, it’s lazy programming.

    • Nick says:

      “It’s not good programming, it’s lazy programming.”

      Subsitute programming with design and you sum up Skyrim.

      Still fun though.

    • krankyboy says:

      If Sykrim has made dragon slaying routine, play on a harder setting. I am playing on Expert as a mage and I get one-hit-killed all the time (as I should). This makes it terribly hard and terribly awesome and nerve racking. I love it…

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @McTittles:

      I don’t think they’ve fooled anyone into praising lazy programming. What they’ve sold is the idea that dragons are dynamic–they aren’t pre-scripted boss fights that occur under very specific circumstances, they can appear just about anywhere and provide big, dramatic encounters that may or may not take place in the same place more than once. No one has said or believes that they aren’t simply respawns; the takeaway point is that they are unusually ambitious and pretty successful respawns.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, they have fooled everyone into et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

      Skyrim is Megaman with better graphics in some respects. There is a hell of a lot of respawning. The funniest instance of this though is where someone died in a quest line, and then I met them later, back from the dead with no explanation whatsoever.

      And I shrugged.

      “Eh, it works for the dragons. This is a comic book Universe I guess. No one actually dies. People just get put on the sidelines for a bit.”

      Seriously, everything and everyone respawns eventually, even dead NPCs.

      Though I won’t lie… I was glad to see Skjor back from the dead, even if it is confusing and slightly scary.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      I managed to let a massive dragon completely sneak up on me unawares by it staying perfectly still and me walking up not seeing it.

      I’m good at this, me.

      Wanna play an Argonian who befriends the dragons and murders all the warm-bloods. Mod-people, make it so.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Half the time, dragons have been completely ignoring me. And when I did battle with one, it was really just a case of pummel with arrows and the odd spell until it drops. Also hoping that it’ll fly around a town so that a few other archers can assist, otherwise you’re there forever.

      They’re striking, certainly, and go some ways to punctuate the gameplay.

      But god, Bethesda, while your dungeon designers might have been working with better assets, they still can’t design something that ISN’T LINEAR. :(

      Oh, and floating markers are INSULTING. Come on Bethesda, did you really have to pander to console players that much?

    • Chibithor says:

      My fourth or so dragon encounter was already pretty boring. They’re easier than bandit chiefs and can get tedious if they don’t feel like landing. Plus on one save for some reason dragons were a commodity and I was stacking souls like no tomorrow. As much as I loved the theme song it got old really fast.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Ehh, dragons are one of the major anticlimaxes of this game to be honest. The only time I’ve managed anything I could call an ‘epic’ dragon fight was the time I summoned half a dozen ancient dragons at once in one of the non-instanced towns. Holy cow that was fun, it actually does seem borderline apocalyptic when the screen is regularly shaking from dragon flybys and almost nowhere is safe from the breath of one dragon or another.

      One dragon on the other hand, feh, boring. On the other hand, I am playing an archer, which is brokenly overpowered. (350+ damage on a bow, plus 150-odd from poison, plus another 60-odd from enchantment, plus treble damage sneak attack, yeah, broken). I suspect if I had to biff a dragon in the face personally It’d be a bit harder.

    • xl 4ndre lx says:

      @Casimir’s Blake
      you know you can turn off floating quest markers in the .ini file, right?

      skyrimprefs.ini
      [GamePlay]
      bShowFloatingQuestMarkers=0
      bShowQuestMarkers=0

      makes it way better you actually have to focus on the quest to do anything.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Actually you can turn the markers off in the in-game options.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      You can turn off floating map markers in the MENU.

      Come on people, it was one of the first things I did. Saw the map marker, went into the gameplay section of the menu, turned off floating map markers. Not really something worth complaining about. It’s there for people who want/need it, and it makes sense to be the default option, because the people that want/need extra help aren’t going to be the people searching through the menu for options to enable that.

      Also, if you don’t want quest markers on your compass at all, it’s easy as pie to go into your journal and unselect all your quests. The system in place for quest guidance actually seems like one of the better compromises between people that want to make their own way, and people that want a guided experience, that I can think of.

      Also it seems really bizarre to rail against Skyrim, or Elder Scrolls games in general for being linear. I get what you’re saying, certain experiences, like going into a dungeon, can be pretty linear. There is a start and an end, and not a whole lot of deviation from that path. But that dungeon was one of hundreds you could have gone or not gone into situated in the big open square shaped sandbox. It’s just getting to the point of ridiculous when you start complaining about fights being linear because it follows a strict progression of you kill it, then it’s dead.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Maybe it’s just the Dark Souls talking, but fighting dragons in Skyrim just felt like biffing an overgrown Argonian wizards to me.

    • phuzz says:

      Floating quest markers are handy when you have to talk to a particular npc in a bar surrounded by other npcs and you have no idea which is which.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Four dragon bashings delivered. My favourite being the last in which the dragon descended on me as I was off on a quest to steal a horse. After shooting and slashing (and lots of healing spells) I got it down to half health and it started flying off. Aha! I thought. But then realised it was landing IN the stables I was meant to steal the horse from. Shit! The horse! So I ran up the hill to sure enough find the dragon and the quest-specific horse duelling it out in the middle of a burning stables littered with horse and human corpses.

      I killed the dragon but not before a Quest Failed marker informed me the horse was dead. It gave the dragon a good run for it’s money though, and I have to say probably saved my life.

    • Phantoon says:

      Wow, I’m a super nerd. I’ve killed like… 25 of the buggers.

      Though I’ve been hunting them down for more shouts, but still.

    • krick3t says:

      well idk about all that

    • cafe says:

      Too many dragon fights? C’mon people… this game is about being a dragon SLAYER. You have to kill hundreds of the beasts to be recognised as one!

    • Tuco says:

      Yeash sure, you can turn off quest marks… Except the quest log is anything but sufficient to identify many quest targets.
      it lacks details.

  2. GenBanks says:

    “If you like your roleplaying to have you as dramatic Hero of the Ages and destiny and climactic fights and all that jazz then the main quest is certainly where you’ll want to go pronto”

    … although having just done a lot of very epic/climactic etc stuff just within the city of Markarth, even that statement isn’t entirely true :)

    Great articles btw, as usual the RPS approach to reviews is way better than the ‘one article and one score’ policy

  3. Njordsk says:

    You think a lot about skyrim. I like that.

    Though I’m not going to read, I dont’ want to get spoiled, not even a single event, location or story. This game is such a fantastic piece I want to enjoy it entierly

  4. Sheng-ji says:

    “And let’s not even talk about the dog, which I shed no tears for when it got killed by walking on the sixth consecutive arrow trap.”

    Another little tribute to Minecraft maybe along with the notched pickaxe?

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Ah, I think Bethesda and many other game devs were doing arrow traps before Minecraft. Tomb Raider?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      The notched pickaxe is fairly grasping… thinking arrow-traps are a reference to Minecraft is nonsensical. You might as well claim diamonds are a reference to minecraft.

    • Shadram says:

      Diamonds are obviously a reference to Minecraft. Obviously. And so is Iron Armour. And Skeletons and giant spiders.

    • Jarenth says:

      And sleeping.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Actually, now you mention it, I think the way the spiders arrive from the ceiling in a wierd stilted bouncy way possibly is a Minecraft reference.

  5. Jockie says:

    The Dragons are spectacular to look at and when they’re fighting something else they look great, huge spouts of flame burning wildlife to a crisp, but they’re pathetically weak in battle, at least on the default difficulty.

    However, shove it on to master and at least in the early part of the game, they’re a different beast, with their breath becoming quite deadly, with even the groundpounding tremor attacks that I didn’t even notice my on first play-through shaving off a substansial portion of health.

    The worry is, because enemies are much harder on Master, you’ll end up levelling even more quickly and they’ll be relegated to great to look at, boring to fight again pretty soon.

  6. jealouspirate says:

    I went about 20 hours without dragons, then I figured I’d let them start roaming and see what all the fuss what about.

    Unlike Alec though, I generally find the dragons enhance my exploration instead of taking away from it. I’m off, lazily riding my horse down the road and I every now and then I’ll hear a sound off in the distance. Is that thunder? My eyes start scanning the sky. It’s a dragon, but far far away, terrorizing somewhere else. I decide to either approach and fight it or move it. I find it actually enhances the atmosphere quite a bit. They kind of become part of the backdrop and landscape itself.

    On the other hand, I don’t like the fact that now a dragon seems to spawn at every “shout discovery” location. Like Bethesda is saying “Oh here, have a dragon soul to unlock this shout you found”.

    • Jumwa says:

      Right there with you on that.

      I purposely got just far enough in the main quest to trigger dragon spawning. It adds an interesting new dimension. There’s something satisfying about emerging from my quarters at the College, then a large dragon swoops down. Students and instructors racing about in a panic as we move to handle the invader. But no! It stays up in the air, or perched upon the walls of the academy! So I run inside and race up the stairway! Must get to the top of the tower to meet the foul beast head on!

      Then upon the towering wall it’s a battle of dragons breath versus spell fury at point-blank-range!

      The many random dragon encounters add something special for me.

    • Maldomel says:

      Totally, to me they are a part of the landscape, and they bring a really fresh side to things (specially when one decides to bother me when I’m lost in the wild, or already fighting something).

      As for shouts location, I’ve seen many without dragons to guard them, but I’m not that far in the main story line so I guess they are more dragons after a while.

    • Wulf says:

      I just run from the dragons.

      I’m a werewolf. I have caves to explore and flowers to sniff. Oh, and I might help with that rebellion thing because the Gray-Manes are related to the werewolves, so I have at least some motivation there. Generally though, I just want to poke caves and find flowers.

    • 2late2die says:

      @Wulf You’re a terrible werewolf! Sniffing flowers?!? What happened to terrorizing villages and ripping out throats! Shame on you. Bad dog! :D

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Wulf, does the thick vein of racism and xenophobia that pumps through the Stormcloaks heart not bother your character, especially as a Khajiit, who aren’t even allowed into the cities? That was something that I’m liking about Skyrim; the Imperials are clearly not in the right with their religious persecution, but the Stormcloaks aren’t exactly saints either, it’s hard to back either of them wholeheartedly.

    • n0s says:

      @Hidden_7

      It becomes a lot easier to support the Nords when you are a real life Nord(ic) :)

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Perhaps. I originally started the game thinking I’d go with the rebels, because rebels are usually right. But then I started reading up on the Stormcloaks, and I visited Windhelm. The Skyrim for the Nords rhetoric rubs me the wrong way. Add to it the condition of Windhelm, the Stormcloak bastion, with the Dark Elves (refugees, mind, from an environmental disaster) are ghettoized, and the beast races aren’t even allowed to live inside the city, and it turned me right over to an Imperial loyalist.

      I’ve learned that in my hierarchy of enormities, religious persecution ranks lower than racial prejudice, which is an interesting thing to learn about myself, and a testament to what I feel is Skyrim’s much improved writing over its predecessor.

    • AyeGill says:

      @n0s: Amen to that.

  7. abremms says:

    Yesterday, I snuck up on a sleeping dragon from a rock ledge above it, jumped onto the dragon’s back and stabbed it in the back of the head.

    It was the single greatest gaming moment I have ever experienced.

    unfortunately, my 15X damage backstab really just made the dragon Very Very Angry.

  8. bluebogle says:

    I like to regularly adjust the difficulty levels in Bethesda RPGs to accommodate the odd character/monster leveling. When things get too easy, turn up the difficulty, too hard… well, you get the picture.

  9. Clavus says:

    The dragon fights just don’t seem to lose their charm. I’ve had over a dozen by now, and each one remains a surprise and a fight to the death (although dragons aren’t the hardest opponents in the game).

    • bluebogle says:

      Freakin’ giants…

    • zergrush says:

      I was quite surprised by how fucking hard it was to kill some chaurus. Specially after I’d easily spanked a dragon.

    • Wulf says:

      What’s the big deal about giants? They go down in a few punches so long as you don’t let them hit you with the club, you just have to be clever with your dashing. And if you’re a werewolf? You have that dash-leap thing which can knock anything over, even giants. The werewolf dash-leap can two-shot a giant pretty easily. Giants? No big deal. Though generally I just leave them be so long as they don’t get stupid about charging me for no good reason. I like running alongside them when they do leave me be.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Yeah, but you know the giants can bounce you off the face of the world with one hit of their clubs.

  10. FetusGrinder420 says:

    The dragons look great and their animations and accompanying sounds are very well done, but my problem with them is that they are laughably easy and the fights are anything but “epic”. I’ve killed about 8 so far in my game, and every battle consists of me standing in one spot and dual-casting flame on the thing until it keels over. They have so far never required any tactics other than having to drink a few potions if it didn’t die right away.

    • mjig says:

      Yeah I am very disappointed in the dragon fights. Aside from the fact that the animations often look very buggy when the dragon is turning in combat, and there are clipping issues (although the dragon looks amazing when it’s circling a mountain in the distance), the fights themselves are very boring once you get past level 10 or so.

      I am playing on the default difficulty, and all I have to do is wait for the dragon to land and start pumping arrows into him. Even 2 blood dragons at once isn’t a big deal. Giants are more difficult.

      Plus, now that I am almost 30 thanks to Smithing, the Draugr I encounter tend to take way more shots to kill, and it’s very tedious. I’ll probably look for a mod to change level scaling for my second playthrough. Still ,despite the complaints I am having tons of fun with the game and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. A Night to Remember was probably my favorite quest in Elder Scrolls history, even though it ended a bit abruptly.

    • zergrush says:

      I’m also level 30 due to Smithing and Sneaking training ( Iron Daggers and idle auto-sneak behind vendors ftw ) and don’t really have much trouble killing stuff, probably because of the strong and well enchanted armor and weapons.

      The only really hard time I had was killing a couple chaurus that seemed to take little to no damage from my mace / bow on one of the first dungeons.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      The dragons seem to be broken into distinct categories (I’ve seen Dragon->Blood Dragon->Frost Dragon so far) with pre-set stats rather than a gradient. Each category becomes progressively easier as you level until you hit the next, at which point there’s a considerable boost to their threat level. I do think that the basic Dragon is far too weak (at least for a dedicated mage who can have Heal in one hand and Staff of Fireball in the other).

    • mike2R says:

      Yeah, just saw my first blood dragon, which was something of a challenge I’ll admit. So dragons don’t level within their categories at all?

    • Wulf says:

      This is one reason I run from them. Everything I understand about the dragons thus far is that we’re essentially picking on them because they’re so crap at fighting. I just kind of feel sorry for them, so I just leave them be. So long as they don’t chase me across the length and breadth of the land (which they don’t seem to, unlike giants), I’ll just leave them be.

      I’m sure those WE! ARE! NORDS! people can handle it, or those ELVEN SUPREMACY IS THE ONLY TRUTH! sorts can if it’s one of their installations. I just let them have at it. Silly dragons. Silly nords. That one bard in Whiterun has the right of it. Everyone is so simple-minded and obsessed with death. Me? I’ll just explore and sniff the flowers. And when I have to fight, it’ll be a fistfight, which I see as non-lethal.

  11. Brun says:

    “Levelling above the game-world has been a long-term problem for Elder Scrollses, and it’s a shame the dragons don’t really seem to have escaped that.”

    Really? I’d argue the exact opposite. NOT leveling above the game world was one of the biggest complaints about the leveling system in Morrowind/Oblivion. I think what you’re describing is outleveling the main quest, which does happen and has happened in every unmodded Elder Scrolls game.

  12. Grinnbarr says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand why glass is considered so amazing in TES series. I remember stealing a set of glass armour in Oblivion from a fighter’s guild that was in a very hard display case, which turned out to be ‘ceremonial’ and therefore useless, which I could understand. But then finding out the real glass armour was actually worth wearing and was still made of fucking glass just boggles the mind. Is this explained at all?

    • Faldrath says:

      Most things in TES are explained in the books you find in the game. There’s one on types of light armor.

    • abremms says:

      think of it more as ceramic glass, not window glass. glass can actualy be very hard stuff. the main ingredient in crafting it is malachite, its definately not glass like we generaly think of it in our world. I figure once you make that jump, and then another jump by figuring that the world with glass armor also has wizards and dragons, its not a big deal to accept that armor is made of some kind of light, hard glass material.

    • tetracycloide says:

      Glass bugs you but you’re ok with the second best heavy armor being made of wood? It’s just a game, you should really just relax :P

    • Soon says:

      Much like the real world, manufactured glass is different from natural glass which can even have the green hue. Unlikely to see it applied in protective armour, but it does make one of the sharpest edges we can produce. Obsidian scalpel blades are far sharper than steel ones, for example.

      Also, as we know from Snow Crash, native Americans sometimes used glass (obsidian) blades.

    • Wizardry says:

      I’m not sure where the idea of glass equipment originated but I can tell you that the Ultima series had glass swords from Ultima V in 1988. They were extremely powerful weapons that could kill any create in a single strike before shattering into uselessness. It’s not, therefore, a TES creation.

      Here is a quote about them from the Ultima V cluebook:

      It is known that blades of purest crystal may be found in the mountains of the Serpent’s Spine. Such was the magic in their forging that they will not fail to strike any foe, and no mortal being will survive their wrath. Then will the Sword shatter into a thousand harmless shards, never to fight for its wielder again.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      The glass equipment in Skyrim also seems to be composed of more metal than in Oblivion (can’t speak to other TES titles), which always seemed to be made of huge chunks of glass. In Skyrim it seems to be metal reinforced/edged with glass. It at least looks kind of cool instead of garish and stupid.

    • Wulf says:

      My favourite armour is still the wolf armour. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep upgrading that to the point where it renders other armour irrelevant. I’ve already rendered dwarven armour irrelevant with my mastery of smithing, so that’s okay. But I hate being given something that actually does look nice, and then being forced to swap it out for something that looks garish and/or ‘l33t’ just because it’s higher-end stuff.

      The dwarven armour, for example, looks utterly ludicrous. I am not wearing that. I am so never wearing it. Ever. My wolf armour appeals to me and I’ll stick with that for as long as I can. I think it appeals to me most because it has a kilt, really, and that just amuses me. But yes, I have noticed with some of the armours I’ve seen that Skyrim has been struck with l33titis. Which is unfortunate. Though I suppose that appeals to people.

      What makes me sad though is the lack of the notion that you can make something colourful, stylish, and give it an identity without leaving it stricken with l33titis. I mean, the Dragonscale armour, oh my gosh… avoiding that if I can, too. I’d feel like a total mook.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Wulf says:
      My favourite armour is still the wolf armour.

      I am shocked, shocked by this revelation, good sir!

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Possibly not the most relevant of comments…but it’s worth bearing in mind that advanced tank/vehicle armour out in the real world uses ceramic layers. Some anti-ballistic body armour, too, I think. Probably this is where the glass idea came from.

  13. tetracycloide says:

    So how viable is a pure Mage vs the hardet max level scaled dragons? I assume some are immune or close to immune to at least one element. Do they pull and Diabli II shenanigans and toss some tri-immunes in too?

  14. ALJA says:

    I wanted to not do the main quest at all and just do the imperial legion vs stormcloaks deal, but unfortunately, at least on the imperial side you have to have done the dragon bit to progress further than the very start of the storyline.

    • Wulf says:

      Same for the Stormcloaks, sadly. Though I had predicted it would be the case, knowing Bethesda, it was still disappointing. If I’d been able to deal with the more political side of things without having to fight the dragons, and if the political decisions actually MATTERED, then I’d have a much higher opinion of Skyrim.

      Thus far, it’s: Eh, it’s okay. Quite good if you’re a werewolf in a dungeon. But otherwise? Eh, it’s okay. It’s not New Vegas, though.

      That’s going to have some people flip a shit, of course, but haters are always going to hate opipnions that don’t fit in with the common, popular one.

      Really though, that whole Stormcloak vs. Imperials thing… I wish I could have been there, at their headquarters, to slap them upside the head regarding some of the decisions they made. It could have been so much better. You can see that there were clearly good ideas behind it, but the execution of it is just… pedestrian. It’s boring. Bethesda don’t have the balls to really change the world.

      I mean, siding with the Stormcloaks should result in Whiterun being almost destroyed. But it’s fine, of course! Whiterun is completely fine. Everyone is fine. Everything is okay in Whiterun. Everyone is happy. It’s just… typical of Bethesda. Nothing changes. There is no consequence.

      This is why I’ve relegated myself to dungeon delving. I can ignore the unchanging world above, that way.

    • Brun says:

      *SPOILER*

      I thought siding with the Stormcloaks results in Solitude getting destroyed…is that not a consequence?

    • Tyshalle says:

      I agree. It’s incredibly pedestrian. The dragons are pedestrian. The quests are pedestrian. The dogs are pedestrian. The pedestrians are pedestrian. This is not what I signed up for. I wanted the invisible walls of New Vegas that prevented me from climbing over cliffs and mountains. The ability to scale every mountain you can see in the game is so obvious; so… so pedestrian. And if I wanted a wide assortment of colors in my gameplay experience I’d go play Halo. If they really wanted to impress me they’d give me the maroons, browns, and grays of the perfect Morrowind. There is far too much blue and green and white in this game, like all the rest of those pedestrian games filled with pedestrian ideas of what fun is. Don’t they know that what is most fun is ignoring everything the game in favor of smelling flowers?

  15. zergrush says:

    Skyrim’s my game of the year too.

    I’ve played for about 30 hours or so and just finished all of the Whiterun quests. I’m focused on leveling smithing, currently crafting iron daggers like a madman to finally be able to make something with the dragonparts I’ve gathered. After the third dragon the fights lost a bit of the novelty, and I haven’t started the main quest so I only have three shouts, but I’ll probably go for it soon because the unused dragon souls are starting to pile up.

    One little thing that I really liked is the interaction between enemies. It’s quite awesome to see a wild bear picking a fight with a dragon, or some mammoths cleaning up a bandit camp.

    • mjig says:

      Yesterday I was in sneak sitting on a ledge after I had just come out of a dungeon. I saw 4 bandits walking around a hill that they did not know had 2 giants behind it. Watching them get smacked into the wait and falling back down several seconds later was hilarious. It’s so nice that there is always something around the corner, whether it is wildlife interaction, an encounter on the road, an enemy, or just a beautiful scene. One of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve had was getting on my horse, hitting caps lock, and just walking from Whiterun to High Hrothgar.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, I’ll admit, I like this, too.

      One of the bits of Skyrim that did surprise me was one NPC fight that involved me. I saw a bandit running, screaming from an angry Breton, he hands me something and tells me to hang onto it, that he’ll be back later, and that if I snitch, I’m dead. Another guy comes up to me and asks me if I saw a bandit running through, so I give him his axe, which the guy had given me, and I’m on my way.

      Dead, my arse. I’m a werewolf. And I’m an honest one to boot.

      So I did like that.

    • Josh W says:

      That happened to me and my freind too, but we were in the mountains, so we just wandered over to the other guy, told him there was a thief behind those rocks, and watched and waited for one to kill the other.

      For some strange AI reasons they continued to sneak around the same set of rocks for ages, never closing on each other, so we killed the thief. The other guy thanked us for our help and we just walked off with what he’d lost…

  16. Rusty says:

    “What I do like is the additional layer of sub-questing to find new Shouts and Shout upgrades, which tend to show off Skyrim’s dungeon design at its most elaborate.”

    I agree. The design work on some of the dungeons and caves is really quite spectacular. There are parts that remind me strongly of the Lost City from the Thief series, in the color palette and creepy atmosphere.

    Also, and this may be a function of serendipity or the configuration of my particular machine, but Skyrim has been rock-solid so far for me – not a crash-to-desktop in sight. Having made snide remarks in these forums pre-release, I think I need to tip my hat to Bethesda.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Can I just say that the game has a nice Legend of Zelda quality to it? Between the Shouts and the dynamic quests, the game is always giving you a reason to delve into ruins and caves. Now that the dungeons are better designed and often feature interesting or unique features–Skryim should really be called the Land of the Doomed Expedition–and have rewards beyond randomized loot that can’t match up to what you can make yourself (unless you’ve got a really high Enchantment skill), I’ve found myself actually enjoying the dungeon-crawling.

      Good stuff.

  17. Sigvatr says:

    It’s quite silly when you stand in public having a conversation with someone, and every man, woman and child who passes you by has to stop and interrupt to tell you their life story. When the Jarl’s housecarl was giving a rousing speech to inspire her fellow soldiers and I to confront a dragon, literally three people walked up to me and started telling me about how they hated everyone in town and I couldn’t comprehend a word of what the housecarl said.

    • Jeremy says:

      Not to mention the level of openness to complete strangers…

      “Hi, I’m a Thane in Whiterun”

      Response: “My parents were murdered by bandits and I grew up in an orphanage where I was abused”

      “So, what are you selling?”

  18. Silver says:

    Alec – on which difficulty you played?

    Medium one – Adept I guess, is actually quite easy.
    Expert is far more enjoyable, can be pain at times.
    Master is really really “use your brains” type.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      I massively agree, master difficullty is the only way to play. If you don’t get worried when you see a group of tough looking bad guys then your not as immersed. Violence is meant to be tense and scarey, dark souls has taught me that recently.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, its great fun doing a tiny sliver of health damage to an enemy and them killing you in one or two hits.

      Oh wait, not fun, boring as hell.

    • Berzee says:

      To those who say Master is the best and most immersive — when you’re playing on that level, do you often have to resort to chugging potions mid-battle? If that were necessary I think it would be more immersion-breaking than having easier but menu-optional fights.

    • rhizo says:

      I can’t imagine enjoying the game at the master level when on expert I, a hearty warrior type, get slain by a two bit scumbag in 4 swoops of a mediocre one-handed axe while wearing a fully upgraded elven armor set, when I have to land 8 or 9 heavy strikes with my greatsword to fell the bugger. Dying without even having the chance to engage properly is something that drops me right out of whatever immersion I had managed to gather along the way. I suppose I’ll need to switch to adept to actually get some sense in the damage model, certainly the difficulty level -based player handicaps suck the fun out of the combat in this game.

  19. Neurook says:

    I go pretty full on Mage and dragons are no problem. Why just last night I came across a “shout-stone” with a dragon perching on top of it. After finishing it off I merrily approached the stone thinking the obligatory “shout-stone” boss-fight was done. Not so, as I approach some weird ghost thing appears and tears my character to pieces with its ghostly powers.

    It would seem that Bethesda are experimenting with adding some actual enemy difficultty variety like there was in New Vegas rather than the oh so bland level scaled creatures of Oblivion.

    On a different note: Am I the only one who finds it annoying that Robert Picardo (Hologram Doctor from Star Trek) voices a good third of the characters in this game?

    • abremms says:

      this right here, a lot of the shout stones have guardians in addition to dragons, and they tend to make for very interesting fights.

      and very interesting loot! I’m a big fan of the masks. I’v got a nice collection going!

    • tetracycloide says:

      I like the sound of that. I fought a really tough dragur spell caster at a shout stone for about 20 mins as a Mage (I think it’s name was Knosis or something and I was playing on Master difficulty) and I was worried activating dragons would litter every inch of the world with fights like that. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good hard fight, but sometimes I just want to get where I’m going and do what I went there to do. I’ve got enough trouble with unfinished quests as it is…

    • abremms says:

      think i know what you are talking about. that was a tough fight. my finaly winning strategy involved about 5 invisibility potions so I could make as many backstabs to get him down.

      fun fight :D

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Abremms:

      Without getting into spoilers (and I honestly don’t know what the ultimate reward is anyway) go poke around the ruins of Labyrinthian.

    • StenL says:

      The dragon priests are probably the hardest enemies in the game. Their masks are pretty awesome though.

    • Trigunvts says:

      I managed to run into that undead guy while I was fighting the dragon. Actually made things interesting for me. What ended up happening was My horse (thats right my horse!) tanked the dragon while I dealt with captain spellslingy then I delt with the dragon. That guy drops I pretty nice helmet btw and it looks cool too.

    • quintesse says:

      Ah yes, I remember that one, it was snowing heavily and I was like “that’s a cool dragon statue!” and just walked right up, scared the shit out of me when it started moving!

  20. Juan Carlo says:

    Kind of blows my mind that Max von Sydow is in an Elder Scrolls game. Dude was in “Seventh Seal,” for Christ’s sake. And the Exorcist.

  21. lasikbear says:

    Currently I have fought 3 or 4 dragons, but now they seem content to ignore me and I am too poor at aiming at them when they are flying to get their attention. Recently I ran into two in the mountains but they just flew about and refused to acknowledge me at all.

    I first encountered one in the wide open without much to hide behind and when I was far to weak to take it on. Knowing I would probably die I ran back to a giant camp to see if I could get the dragon to pay attention to something else instead. Turns out dragons are no match for mammoths in the slightest.

    • Jesse L says:

      Paving the way for the ‘Mammoth-born’ DLC. Equip an array of different magical tusks! Ice tusks, lava tusks, dragon tusks, etc.

    • AyeGill says:

      Mammoths and giants are way more badass than dragons. They’re the actual boss monsters of this game. Or the Dragon Priests, if you prefer. Although my fights with the dragon priests have not been nearly as epic as some of my dragon fights, they consist mostly of me hiding behind pillars and waiting for my stamina/magicka to recharge, then rushing in to take a few swings, then going back to the pillar. The dying and restarting a few hundred times.

  22. Danarchist says:

    I managed to save enough for the house last night and ran back to the mages college to pull all my saved bars/leather etc out of my storage locker there. As I exited the building I was greeted by a very pissed off dark elf arch mage firing the coolest lightning spell I have yet seen straight up into the air. Yep, dragon attack on the college. At first I thought I had tripped some scripted even somehow but it was just named “Dragon”.
    I will tell you it is worth a reload to see some of the spells the mages at the college throw when there pissed. I am pretty sure I saw a green atrioch!
    It was also fun running up the stairs to the wall and trying to jump onto the back of the dragon as it swooped down. Doesn’t work btw, save yourself a reload

    • caddyB says:

      I think there is a bug with that, %50 of the time I go to the college, I get attacked by a dragon on the courtyard.

  23. caddyB says:

    SPOILERS:

    I’ve killed three Dragon High Priests with Mehrunes’ Razor, in a few hits. It was awesome and anticlimatic.

    One shotted a dragon as well.

    heh heh.

    • Trigunvts says:

      Mehrunes razor is in 5 too …oh boy i gotta start looking for that, on that note you don’t even need the razor to 1 shot a dragon. I did it with a smithed up elven dagger and my dark brotherhood gloves of backstabbing with the dagger talent from stealth tree thats x30 dmg

  24. Carra says:

    Lydia, the useless champion didn’t exactly show Johns love for her :)

  25. Enef says:

    I’m level 10 now, but i find the random dragons a much more difficult time to deal with than the scripted ones, i tend to just avoid them if possible and run the opposite direction due to not wanting to die.

  26. Roaring Panda says:

    I don’t know why but i keep being swamped by Dragons, already had the absorb 20 dragon souls achievement. It seems every time I set outside the city a dragon flies along all like “LOL WUT AR YOO DOIN DOOD” Thank god for my Epic Ebony Battleaxe!

  27. Jesse L says:

    The second to last screenshot is clearly Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe.

    GOTY.

  28. sinister agent says:

    (Ymelda and Intro Guy exit the cave. A dragon soars overhead, roaring triumphantly. They look up as it flies away, then at each other.)

    Intro Guy: “Hey, thanks, I would never have survived without your he…. hello? Hey!”

    (Ymelda drops everything but clothes, food, and a dagger, and runs off alone into the wilderness.)

    (Beat)

    Ymelda: (off) “Ooh! Butterflies!”

    • Wulf says:

      Hahaha. This reminds me of my character. Big old werewolf who spends most of his time just exploring, sniffing flowers, and leaving stuff be unless it just won’t leave him be.

  29. Maltose says:

    I didn’t know something could be turgid AND limp. I swear, this is the first time it’s happened!

  30. Syra says:

    I have killed fifty dragons (yes I’m being serious), and I am genuinely bored of the low lvl ones that fly around for ages and make me hope my followers can hit them with an arrow so they land (because I sure as hell cant target a moving dragon with a bow) and I can finally kill them in two hits with my legendary (and upgraded with 100 smithing) sword. The anicent/elder and frost varieties as well as a few named ones are still a thrill though, and as you reach max level you get more and more multiple dragon fights in heavily enemy populated areas which just breathe so much life into the game all over again.

    Running around on an overlook ruin surrounded by skeletons and draugr which I’m cleaving out of the way in one hit making them explode and bowling over their friends with Dawnbreaker whilst trying to reach a quest dragon, only to have a frost dragon land ontop me as I finally cut down the pair of blood dragons which randomly spawned was the highlight of the games battles so far for me. I actually enjoy combat a lot even though I’ve effectively out levelled it.. there are just so many fun micro stories in the dungeons.

    With an unhealthy number of hours put into the game already, I can happily give it my seal of approval. My quest counter says I’ve done 5 mainquests, 5 sidequests and over a hundred miscellaneous objectives, and I literally feel like I’m just scratching the surface in terms of content, though I’m worried that I’ll hit a level cap soon =(.

    • Rob Maguire says:

      If I recall correctly, the level cap is 50, but that’s just the end of increasing mana/health/fatigue. You can keep gaining perks at a much slower rate, as in Guild Wars.

      Not that I’ll ever find out, since I’ve re-rolled six times (no character has reached level 20).

    • Azradesh says:

      The mathematical cap is 75 but they said most people will finish around 50. To level past the 50s you’ll need to level up all those skill that you don’t use at all because all the ones you do use will be maxed out.

  31. GTRichey says:

    The dragons seemed really awesome/fun at first… then I took on a giant :(

    Not that the giants are too difficult or the dragons too easy, but it just feels wrong to take down a dragon only to have a giant take you out in a couple hits moments later. Maybe it’s because they needed to make the main quest more accessible and since (at least to the stage I am) giants don’t come into it they felt they could make them more difficult (this seems most likely). Either way taking down the first dragon was a “yeah that’s kind of cool” experience where taking down my first giant (probably the third or so that I fought) felt far more epic.

    • Metonymy says:

      My giants must have glitched on me, I took down two of them with bow+walk backwards, and most of my levels were from pickpocketing. I guess their never got into range properly.

    • Wulf says:

      I can take down giants with some clever sprinting and punching. I can two-shot the silly buggers with my werewolf form, too.

      Though generally I just prefer to leave them be unless they charge me and won’t stop charging me.

    • Trigunvts says:

      giants may only be tougher because they don’t fly off and give you and chance to recover. I got caugth by a dragon in the open plains a couple of times at lower levels and got facerolled cause I couldnt get away from its breath.

  32. Bluerps says:

    I decided to follow the main quest until I activated dragons, and then leave it. I’ll finish the main quest when I have seen enough of the world, but until then I will have plenty of dragons to fight.

  33. eroticfishcake says:

    You can get around the whole companion blocking the door way problem by using the “Use Command” (or whatever it’s called). Just press and hold the use key while facing them and then just point to whatever it is you want them to use/wait at.

    You need to talk to them again to make them follow you though. It’s not the most elegant solution but for the most part, companions (read: Lydia) are great tanks/pack mules.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m fond of Farkas, myself. He’s the only character I’ve come half way to liking. This might be because he’s a werewolf though and thus I’m terribly biased, but he’s also harmlessly stupid and kind-hearted, so I find him terribly endearing. He’s like a big, hairy puppy.

      Though I do want to fix the bug that gets him confused if I shift into werewolf form, since that makes him attack me, despite me being a werewolf too.

      So many bugs I want to fix.

      Sigh.

  34. Hypernetic says:

    By the time I got around to finishing the main story arc I had killed so many dragons that I had enough dragon bones and scales to outfit the entire Imperial army in the nightstand of my bedroom.

  35. chabuhi says:

    I’ve got a question (and apologies if it’s been answered elsewhere on RPS):

    Regarding the slow-motion “FATALITY” kills in the game … are they a) random window dressing, or is something I’m doing invoking them? and 2) can they be in any way disabled?

    I fear at some point I’m going to be watching Jean Claude van Damme triple-angle slo-mo kill shots in Skyrim.

    • Brun says:

      It seems to be completely random, but based on a few factors. The biggest limiter seems to be space available for your character to actually carry out the animation.

      It definitely has nothing to do with the amount of damage caused either, as I’ve had a fatality instantly kill an enemy when my normal 15x dagger attack would have brought him to half health normally.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Yeah, I found them off-putting during the tutorial mission, but I went full-mage once I started playing around with the magic system, so I can’t say whether they would be tolerable long-term.

      I will say that it’s kind of fun that the system also applies to your character. I’ve been killed in some pretty entertaining ways.

    • Brun says:

      They don’t seem to happen *that* often, although my character is primarily a bowsniper and I only resort to backstabbing when the opportunity presents itself.

    • zergrush says:

      I usually find those killing animations quite annoying, too, but I won’t turn them off because there was a particular one when I killed a dragon with a mace that was just so fucking epic.

      Now I always finish the dragons off with my mace, but haven’t managed to repeat this specifically epic bludgeoning =(

    • Wulf says:

      From certain dark arts-based observational skills, I can tell you that they’re critical hit-based. That seems to be the case with the werewolf, anyway. Whenever I shred someone as the werewolf, it’s a critical hit. So instead of getting just a bigger number, you get an animation along with it.

    • Brun says:

      Do all attacks have a base chance to critically hit? My bow criticals result in a message saying “Critical Hit on ,” plus a sound effect. I don’t ever see that message using swords or daggers.

      Also, WTB VATS-style ranged (bow) fatalities.

    • Qazinsky says:

      Ok, these are just speculations based on my observations, but I believe the slow mo kills works like this:

      When you are on your last enemy nearby, the enemy is at low enough hp for you to kill in a power attack, you have enough stamina and you are close enough to them while holding forward and performing a powerattack (holding mousebutton rather than just clicking it), it will result in a slow mo kill. This is how I finish my fights with twohanded swords, other weapons might be using different directions, not sure about that.

      Personally, I love finding a new dungeon guarded by a single bandit that warns me to get any closer while I just jog up to him and RUN HIM THROUGH AND LIFT HIM INTO THE AIR with one single fluent motion, makes me feel like that guy from the Saints row 3 trailer :)

      Edit: This is the trailer I meant, if anyone cares:
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/06/01/saints-row-the-third-the-cg-trailer/

    • Trigunvts says:

      nothing to do with a power attack because Ive done them with normal swings before. I think only bethesda knows how the kill animation thing works. I havent gotten any slow moes on dragons …kinda sad =( though Ive killed more than half of them with a bow…guess im gonna have to start wading into melee on dragons.

  36. rapier17 says:

    I played the game for 57 hours across three characters before I finally went for the main quest – I got bored of that quite quickly, if I’m honest, so I loaded up a save I’d made before my attempt at the Dragonborn thing and went back to what I really enjoyed doing. Namely sneaking round dungeons backstabbing anything I can. Might muster up enthusiasm to have another bash at it in the future but I prefer my Skyrim to be dragon free.

  37. Zelius says:

    Sad Sean Bean? Is there any other kind?

  38. Groove says:

    “While it was always my intention to tackle the whole dragonborn thing afterwards, there has been… let’s call it ‘debate’ within the towering obsidian walls of Castle Shotgun about whether I’d done the right thing or not.”

    Alec, what were the other opinions? Will we see a communal review piece at some point? I’m the only person in the world that’s waiting to play it and it would be interesting to hear what everyone thinks about the main quest/dicking about as the best start.

    • Wulf says:

      I have the dragons spawned and I ignore them because they don’t chase me. I guess they know not to mess with a Dragonborn werewolf or whatnot. Best of all worlds, really. I just roar and make a run for it, usually they get distracted trying to battle someone else, and that’s just fine by me.

      Cue Jensen: I never asked for this.

      If Akatosh wants a Dragonborn fighting dragons, he’s going to have to get someone else to do it. Me? I’m just going to explore.

  39. Enso says:

    The most disappointing part for me was right near the end of the main story

    ***MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD******MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD******MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD***
    ***********************************************************************************************************
    ***********************************************************************************************************
    So a dragon turns to you and says “I will take you where you need to go. But be warned, once you experience this you will envy the dova even more” I’m thinking “It’s obviously going to completely screw me over with a loading screen.” And low and behold, I climb atop the dragon and faced with a loading screen instantly. I know the towns require a load but seriously? I didn’t fly over the expansive, loadscreenless map miles above it all, truly envying the dragons? Fuck you Bethesda. The final dungeon was just multiple dragons and oh so many more Draugr.

    A little less serious but almost equally disappointing was when the ancient heroes suggested we all use our shouts together. The least they could have done was to count down so we do it simultaneously. Nope, you press it, then they all do it one after the other which you have to do 3 tedious times.The ideal would have been a countdown and then they all combine into one larger shout. It’s easy to scale special effects like that. They could have just made it bigger, made the shout deeper, louder and added an echo. To top it off, when Alduin landed his model was dragged half way across the map. Absolute washout.
    ********************************************************************************************************
    ************************END OF SPOILERS**********************************************************

    Apart from that huge disappointment I really have had a great deal of fun with it.

    • Burning Man says:

      Yeah, considering they included that, the least they could have done was flesh it out. Well, at least now we know it’s possible (i.e. the player model fits up there and they have an animation for holding on). Now we wait for the inevitable mod to expand on it.

    • Enso says:

      Yeh, I will probably get that mod if it comes out too. But it will never have the same effect. The magic of it being promised to me has waned :(

  40. Enso says:

    Errogenous post. (get it?)

  41. Zealuu says:

    Let’s be honest, someone is going to make a “Dragon Fights Stay Epic” mod as soon as that Creation Kit is available.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      And I will download it the second they do. The game is screaming for it.

  42. DickSocrates says:

    If one person is bored of dragons, I’m sure a thousand are. There’ll be a mod to stop them randomly appearing so people will be able to murder innocent wild animals in peace. Just like in real life, put yourself at the top of the food chain by using artifical means.

  43. Jengaman says:

    I once fought two, but only got one soul.

    but i did get epic screen shots!

  44. boywithumbrella says:

    I have an unrelated question:
    the armor in the last-but-one screenshot: is it from the vanilla game, or a very early mod?
    Just tell me if it’s vanilla and if I get it for a quest or craft it myself. Please don’t give the name of the armor or the name of the quest – that would spoil the fun of finding it ^__^

    I’m asking, because it looks like a badass thief-styly light armor made of leather – exactly the thing I’m kinda missing being around lvl 30 (mainly) thief/archer. Leather armor (even with my smithing 80) is just way less protective than higher light armors – like Elven and Glass – but both of the latter don’t actually look like. I’d say they look very heavy and loud – definitely not something a sneaky archer-assassin would use.
    So if there’s something similar to the Thief Guild Armor in the way of looks, and more powerful, that’d be great news!

    • Hidden_7 says:

      It’s vanilla, it’s a quest reward. It’s better than leather or thieves guild, dunno how it compares to glass. None of my thief characters across the Elder Scrolls ever went past leatherish armour. The trick is to not be hit at all.

  45. stillwater says:

    Saying that the main quest is on the part with the other arcs, in that they’re basically all equally rich, is kinda the best compliment you could give an open-world game like this.

  46. sinelnic says:

    Well, for me and myself only, there’s something better than being able to go anywhere anytime: getting everywhere *at the right time*. The main quest is the way the game has to introduce you to the world and, given that the guide is the world creator, I feel it’s a tour worth taking.
    So my approach is to slowly discover the world as the main quest goes introducing me to it, and then from the newly discovered locations, explore its surroundings, get familiar with the area and characters through us quests, etc. I had never played such a RPGey RPG, and I’m having one of the best gaming experiences of my life.

  47. Nesetalis says:

    i want to marry a dragon ;.;

  48. pantognost says:

    anyone knows if you can keep playing after you have finished the main quest? I mean can you just keep leveling and completing other stories?

    • Hidden_7 says:

      If you couldn’t then it would be an exception to the Elder Scrolls formula. But I don’t know for certain.

  49. pantognost says:

    this may be douple post, but…
    Anyone knows if I can continue playing after finishing the main story?

  50. Dirksolomon says: