I tend to keep Ice Storm hotkeyed because even at higher levels it's AoE and damage are quite good, and can tear through whole groups of enemies, assuming they aren't Ice Resistant.
Storm Atronachs seem to be stronger, or at least I notice them dying less frequently. They also have ranged attacks, whereas the Frost Atronachs seem to be limited to melee (or at least I've never noticed them performing ranged attacks). And, as I've said, Frost is the most-resisted element, making the Storm Atronach more consistent in damage output. I can't say how they perform if you have the enhance-atronach perk, but the Frost Atronach could make a better tank due to it slowing enemies who engage it in melee (I believe that the other Atronachs also have innate elemental cloaks).
And as far as I can tell, the "extra damage" from Fire is just a very mild damage over time effect and not, as it implies, an increase in damage dealt to the target. It means that all of the Fire spells could have been made slightly more powerful and not have affected balance in the slightest.
Here's a question regarding the constellations: do they light up in the night sky as you upgrade a skill? I seem to recall hearing that this was the case, but I can't see any difference.
I have been loving going the stealth assassin route. It was a major pain getting started, but now that I have a respectable level of archery and sneak I can go all "Solid Snake" on unsuspecting bandits. Last night as I was raiding a cavern system and stumbled upon a room with three unsuspecting victims. I lined up a stealth shot with my ebony bow, that unfortunately missed, alerting all three bandits of my location. Quickly, I scrambled for cover and switched to my knife. As they gave up the search, I silently sprinted forward and slit the throats of each bandit as they walked back to their posts. All in all, very satisfying.
Played a one hand weapon, shield/destrucion fire magic in the other hand, bow when needed, restoration spells after fights, potions while in a fight, smithed Ebony/Daedric /Dragon armors. Upgraded armor and weapons with Legendary on the workbench and the wheel (bonus of about 70-90% of damage, armor).
At level 40+ invested mostly in One handed weapons, smithing, block, heavy armor, some in alchemy, destruction and restoration magic now at the end going for enchanting in order to make Dragon/Daedric armor with 2 enchantments per armor piece.
Right now I have, with a shield equipped and only half of the perks from heavy armor taken, 680+ armor (combo of Daedric , Dragon, Steal armor) and a Ebony, not enchanted, one had sword, upgraded on the wheel(Legendary) up to 81 damage.
With about 3 diferant sets of shields and boots each with 40-50-60% of resistance to Frost, Fire, Shock lets just say Dragons tremble in my presence, I have even stooped drinking health potions when killing them. 350 Hp on the one before last difficulty setting.
I've actually been hoping for a Nights of the Nine type faction via DLC (the Vigilant of Stendarr seem an obvious hook) as I want to try playing an Imperial Paladin: One Handed, Block, Heavy Armor, Restoration, and maybe Speech. I want to see how the game holds up if you specifically avoid crafting and rely upon purchasing and finding your equipment. There's certainly a better selection to be had from dungeons, and at low-to-mid enchantment levels I regularly find better stuff (and oh, the agony of trying to decide if destroying that awesome item to get the enchantment and XP is the best decision). EDIT: Shops also have a better inventory, and if you've got the cash you can buy some really nice stuff. Radiant Raiment in particular seems to stock some gobsmacking jewelry for your level.
Anyone have thoughts on this?
I am a long ways off from the end game stage, but right now my character is level 27 playing largely under the scenario you described. Only recently have I started smithing items, and it will be a while before I can craft much that is useful yet. Furthermore, my enchantments are weak enough to be depressing. So far the choice of disenchanting items is easy enough for my player since I only seem to find heavy armor, which doesn't fit my thief build. The game is sufficiently challenging on the second highest difficulty, and there have been several dungeons that I have set aside for a better day. Relying on the discovered items adds a lot of excitement to the game, there is no logical reason for me to be so excited to find my prized dwarf knife, and ebony bow.
LoL, no I get WAY more damage when I was at 350+ armor then now at 700+. Now I get shot by 3 archers at the same time, and I go from 370 HP to 350HP after 5 or so arrows from each enemy. (Those where Thalmor archers from the quest to free one of the Nords that was in their prison )
Well when your at 370 HP and have the resistance at 80%, you prity much cant even notice that your being damaged by that type of magic attack.
I did kinda got my smiting up to 100 at level 30 or so, but found the first ebony armor when I got up to 38 or so, and the first EVER Daedric weapon at level 42, while first part of the Dragon armor (Which is kinda strange that you can find Dragon armor in the game, I was under the impression that you could only make it since Dragons haven't been around since 1000 years ago) at level 47.
The thing is that now I am a Demigod, BUT when I get attacked by Shock magic from high level enemy they can kill me in 3-4 strikes even with my 370HP. Armor with resistance to magic or at least potions with resistance are a Must.
The problem is right now I am playing the game as I have each Bethesda game after Morrowind, with the weight set to 9000, so I can have all the items I want or need with me at all times, but I am going to play the game again without it and I have a feeling that its going to get MUCH harder when I become a mage/archer/sneak attacker that can carry only 300-400 weight.