Skyrim EP1: The Trial of Reginald Fluffbert

  By Shamus   Feb 6, 2014   232 comments


Link (YouTube)

Here is the Extra Credits episode where they discuss the opening of Skyrim, and here is the post I wrote about the same section.

I think Extra Credits makes a stronger case, but I’ll defend my position a bit by saying that I was coming in with a lot of Oblivion-esqe expectations. I expected to end up stuck in a linear corridor section punctuated by camera-lock closeups on emotionless plastic faces while a series of NPCs info dumped on me and my only dialog options would be variants of “Tell me more about that.”

So I guess the takeaway here is that the intro is outstanding compared to Oblivion, but terrible compared to Call of Duty?

Protip: Probably best to let the Empire vs. Stormcloak debate wait a bit. We’ll get into it in more detail later. But, you know. Do what you like.

Official Spoiler Warning Skyrim Drinking Game of Fun and Alcohol Poisoning

OFFICIAL RULES; DO NOT ATTEMPT

  1. We want to kill an NPC who is unkillable for no good reason.

  2. Bizarre and inexplicable glitch!
  3. Josh gains a point in a skill he never deliberately uses.
  4. We run into a massive annoyance fixed by a mod one of us is using.
  5. Merchant runs out of money in one set of transactions.
  6. An unarmed NPC pointlessly charges into a fight better left to the player or the guards.
  7. “This was better in Morrowind…”
  8. “This was better in Arena/Daggerfall…” 2 drinks.
  9. “This was better in Oblivion…” Finish your drink.
  10. Reginald dies: Pour one out in memory of your lost “friend”. (If you can’t pour it out, just drink it.)

A Hundred!A Hundred!2012232 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. Rutskarn says:

    THIS WEEK’S RUTS-RIDDLE:

    What’s an Argonian’s favorite subject?

  2. Nyctef says:

    So much looking forward to this

  3. noahpocalypse says:

    Wait Shamus, you’re telling me you’ve never heard of Robbaz or the Unarmed Badass?

    Warning: NSFW
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uhBiNx749Zw
    This guy has many videos of him going through the entire game as a melee character, but he picks out the choice segments to post online.

    And what an excellent start to the drinking game. Someone could get drunk from this episode alone…

    • Rutskarn says:

      Nothing against the build, but I’m going to go ahead and say I wish this guy didn’t refer to every kill against a female NPC as “rape that bitch.” I’m going to go so far as to call this “not okay.”

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Would “kill that dog” be better?

      • noahpocalypse says:

        I do fully agree, and NSFW definitely wasn’t a strong enough description, but he has since eliminated sexism in his videos if it helps. It was due to complaints, sadly. I mean, good that people complained, but bad that complaints had to be made.

        I think he was trying way too hard in this video to sound as supremely masculine and alpha male as possible. This is a fairly old video, and the videos before this didn’t have nearly so much sexism in them. He does seem a nice guy most of the time; this is a highly aggressive persona he has since dropped. I’ve never heard a sincere comment against women from him, but then again most sexist people aren’t obviously sexist.

        I’m not defending the sexism or him (well, kind of slightly defending him), just trying to provide context.

        • noahpocalypse says:

          So, sorry to anyone who clicked on that who didn’t already know what the video was about. Which is most likely everyone who clicked on the link.

        • Josh says:

          Yeah, I really didn’t like the older Robbaz stuff, but ever since he dropped the “serious business” hyper-masculine persona he’s become one of my favorite gaming youtube channels. Old Robbaz almost seems like a parody of the newer one; one that actually takes his slogan, “become a Viking today” seriously rather than for the joke it is.

          • Arumin says:

            “old” Robbaz was dealing with a lot of emotional things in his life back then so it might have affected him.
            He talked about it in one of his mailbox episodes where everyone could send in their question for him.

            His Kerbal episodes are some of the best there are on Youtube.

      • ENC says:

        To be fair, he says ‘rape that bitch’ to male NPCs as well (within the first minute), and even talks about shoving a fist up the bear’s bumhole.

  4. Bruno M. Torres says:

    Shamus, if you guys are really going for Unarmed, there’s this hilarious game breaker build you should use:

    Unarmed Badass, by Robbaz.

  5. Bubble181 says:

    Well, I only recently started playing Skyrim myself, and I’m going in with lots of Oblivion-expectancies…Though I hope it’s more Morrowind or, especially, Daggerfall, which is stil lthe best in series :P

    I may actually have to find time somehow to watch this season, but I never have that much time in a place/time where I can watch this sort of video with sound….*sigh*

    • Humanoid says:

      It’d probably be wisest to expect Fallout 3.

      • Speaking of which, I played Fallout 3 before I played Oblivion, and it wasn’t until Oblivion/Skyrim that I noticed how many art assets got recycled between the games.

        Caves is caves, I guess. The glowing mushrooms seem to be caused by radiation as well as excessive magic.

    • aldowyn says:

      Wow, an elder scrolls purist who thinks DAGGERFALL is the best.

      Usually even the self-professed ‘hard-core’ TES fans started with Morrowind :P

      (I JUST played Morrowind a few months ago, and haven’t played Arena or Daggerfall, so no comment on that from me)

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I really, really respect Daggerfall for the procedural generation, the sense of scale and the freedom. IMO in the whole series it succeeds the best as a “fantasy adventurer simulator”, no contest. I still prefer Morrowind overall for better atmoshpere and sense of direction, also, the extensive modding community.

      • Zukhramm says:

        I’m not an TES fan, I’m just a Morrowind fan.

      • Irridium says:

        Oh, Daggerfall. You’ve given me so many great memories when I was young…

        But now? Oh man, it has not aged well. At all. But don’t take my work for it, give it a download here and see for yourself.

        And here’s the address in-case I muck up the link:

        http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Daggerfall:Files

      • Bubble181 says:

        I do admit I probably couldn’t replay it now – the graphics are beyond horrible.

        But I sunk well over 1,000 hours into Daggerfall – maybe 4 or 500 in Morrowind, and maybe 200 or so in Oblivion. Partly because of the whole “growing up and having school/work to do instead of goofing around”, partly because the games didn’t actually get any bigger…

        I remember being completely blown away the first time I managed to become a vampire in Daggerfall. It was completely optional, very, very easy to miss, and there were 3 different complete storylines of the three different Houses (one of which was -only- present in a part of the world you didn’t have to go to, ever, for anything, and even there, were rare. Getting bitten by one of them was a challenge!).
        That was…Well, it was almost content worthy of a separate expansion pack, easily a “big” DLC nowadays. Of course, no internet at the time helped as well. These things you found out yourself, or you didn’t know at all (I learned about the “third” Vampire house through a written magazine months after I got the game. Imagine! The Olden Days! (and I’m still under 30…). Perhaps the lack of an internet where each and every bit of the game is analysed and picked apart, with a hundred different “builds” and “walkthroughs” helped make that game much more magical in my head…Nostalgia glasses do exist, after all.

  6. Judy says:

    Awwww yeah! Glad to have you guys back! Really excited to see you guys doing Skyrim. I can already tell the lockpicking is going to be fun, haha. I got my stormy night drink with me ready to go for the drinking game!

    Anyway, I have to agree with Mumbles on the intro. I’ve never played an Elder Scrolls game before Skyrim and I believed the whole Stormcloaks = good, Empire = bad thing in the beginning. On my first playthrough, I really liked the intro, but on consecutive playthroughs I really really got bored and wished I could just skip the intro scene and go raid the town haha.

    Also, WHO YA GONNA MARRY HUH????

  7. hborrgg says:

    As someone for whom this actually was my first Elder Scrolls game (Indeed the very first game I’d played of this sort), I’d say that the opening did indeed set up the universe for me pretty well. The stilted dialog in the opening I never even noticed until a couple of playthroughs after, the big words and lore that they dump on you initially are mixed in with common english such as “empire, rebellion, divines, etc.” that made them fairly easy to follow (and the parts I didn’t get initially, such as the Stormcloak being angry at the priest who says “8 divines”, eventually became cool “oooooohhhhhh!” moments once all the pieces finally clicked into place.), and I found that it did the standard tutorial “drip-feed you mechanics and freedoms” pretty well in away that kept the action flowing.

    My personal impression of Skyrim was pretty darn positive in the end, although I can see why a lot of people had problems with it. I generally wasn’t one for story games when I first played and figured “oh, I’ll just put it on easy, ignore the story bits and then hit stuff with a giant viking sword while giggling”. But as I kept getting bombarded by lore and being surprised by all of the subverted expectations I ran into I couldn’t help but become more and more invested in the world until eventually my chivalrous, pro-imperial, Nord actually switched sides to help Ulfric soley due to RP purposes, that’s what I thought my character would actually do.

    So, 2 thumbs despite the many, many problems that SW will no doubt be pointing out.

    • Kamica says:

      The whole “8 divines” thing at the beginning, I’ve been playing the Elder Scrolls since not too long after Morrowind came out (Morrowind was the first elder scrolls game I played), and I totally missed that bit initially =P. On the other hand, I got absolutely ecstatic when I found a book from which I could trans-scribe the Dwemer Alphabet, and Calcemo’s wall, heh, don’t even get me started on that wonderful wonderful and frustrating thing =P.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think the main problem I, and many other TES longtimers, have is that both Oblivion and Skyrim fall really heavily on tried fantasy cliches. And even worse, relying on them without really expanding in any interesting direction. Sure, Morrowind did the “chosen one of prophecy” thing too, but it did things with it, as well as have a strange and alien land that didn’t feel like “generic fantasy kingdom #”.

      Of course some nostalgia glasses apply and there is still a lot that Skyrim does right, though most of it unrelated to the main (or TG) questline, and a most of what isn’t right can be fixed with mods (and like many other games on this engine it is an excellent modding platform).

  8. PlasmaPony says:

    At last, the long awaited Skyrim season. This game will be great for the cast. The free roam nature of the game means there’s plenty of shenanigans for the team to get into, which will mean many laughs for us. In addition, for every one thing the game does right it does two wrong, meaning this game will get torn apart before our eyes, leaving only the bones to nitpick. While I personally did not enjoy this game very much, and uninstalled after less than 30 hours split between 3 characters, I look forward to seeing what you guys think.

    • PlasmaPony says:

      In regards to the actual episode, I hated this intro. Yes, it was cool the first time, but all the problems you talked about became very apparent on repeat runs, which I did a few of since I couldn’t find a playstyle I liked and wanted to try a new character type. On top of that, it feels so LONG. It’s a good 20-30 minutes of being pulled along by the nose until you can actually play the damn game. That’s INSANE. This isn’t Dwarf Fortress, it’s Skyrim, an entry level RPG made so even one’s grandma could understand it. I don’t understand Bethesda’s need to ram an exposition heavy tutorial into your face that you cannot skip. New Vegas did it perfectly. Make your character, which takes like 5 minutes if you know what you are doing and don’t care what you look like, and BAM, out into the world, where there’s a tutorial if you want it. The setting came organically as you explored the game. By contrast, Skyrim crams the setting down your throat, and you have to sit there and take it. It’s obnoxious. Makes me miss the days of Deus Ex and the like, when if you wanted to learn to play, you clicked the Tutorial option. They didn’t force you to learn to walk every time you wanted to play again.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I’m okay with it, as soon as I can MOVE. It just takes forever to get to that point because Bethesda wanted their cool dragon sequence and exposition dump.

      • Hal says:

        Oh, I agree. Worse, I feel like I can’t get a character truly “started” until I’ve got the full Fus-Ro-Dah, and that’s probably 2 hours into the game.

        • Amnestic says:

          I somewhat agree but I’m not sure how they could’ve built up being the Dragonborn (rather than Prisoner Guy) and all that entails both lore-wise and mechanically without doing what they did. I thought the Greybeards did a great job of it the first time, but on repeat playthroughs it does very much feel like you’re being gated from the interesting fun part of the game (yelling at people) because you have to listen to a bunch of old men talk.

          Do any of the Live Another Life/Alternate Start mods start you off in High Hrothgarr with your Dragonborn quest started?

  9. Nyctef says:

    So I just checked /r/gaming and yep .. fourth post down is a Skyrim post. It’s everywhere!

  10. allfreight says:

    I can’t wait…

    You say that the empire are presented as evil (given only the intro section). But that is based on the fact that they are executing the player character. But we don’t know the PCs backstory. For all we know s/he deserved it. That said, it is pretty crazy to choose to follow the Imperial in this sequence given that they were just about to kill you…

    Also, glad to see there seems to be a mixture of opinions on the team. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    • Bubble181 says:

      I’m following the Imperials on my current – very first – play-through. I couldn’t see who was who properly and wasn’t quite sure who I was follwing :P

      • Aldowyn says:

        Most people I’ve talked to didn’t realize there was an option there, they just saw someone and followed, like someone (shamus?) said. (Same here)

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I saw the quest update say “Go with X or Y”.

          So I knew there was a choice, but went with the rebels for obvious reasons. And honestly, I means absolutely nothing in the long term.

          • Humanoid says:

            Regardless of what your character’s backstory is though, I think it’s established that the only reason for your execution is an illegal border crossing?

            Anyway, I also missed the who-to-go-with option first time here, but then, my first game was pretty short lived, and I took the alternate option to see what difference it made in the game that’d turn out to be my primary one. (And by primary, I mean the only time I got, oh, slightly more than halfway through)

            From a metagaming perspective there are specific advantages to each. Going with the Imperial guy lets you freely take all his brother/uncle/whatever’s stuff without it being considered stealing, which includes such useful stuff as blacksmithing materials, whereas the Stormcloak’s sister has barely anything worth taking. Going with the Stormcloak does, however, allow you to murder Captain McJerkface who tried to get you executed. And I think the loot from the Imperial soldiers you murder is worth more than the converse.

            Aside, for all the various valid complaints about the intro sequence (and also the spider which was frequently modded into being a bear), the one that felt most out of place was the moment you step out of the cave, and the NPC tells you it’s time to split up when it’s plainly obvious the game actually expects you to stay together until you reach town.

            • allfreight says:

              Hmm, I didn’t pick up on the “illegal border crossing”. I thought that it was left intentionally vague. But it could be I have forgotten/wasn’t paying attention.

              Still, since almost all characters are about to become mass murderers it’s unfair to hold a grudge against the Imperials for one attempted beheading. :)

          • swenson says:

            Yeah, same here. I noticed the choice, but saw literally no reason why I should go with the Imperials. At that point, they just tried to cut off your head, why would you expect them to not try it again? So it’s always seemed odd to me that anybody would follow Hadvar for reasons other than A) an accident or B) they knew about the story/civil war from external sources.

            • Hitchmeister says:

              Well, the Imperial you follow (if you choose that route) is Hadvar who had been about to argue that you weren’t on the list so you probably shouldn’t be executed until Ivanova shouted him down. So there is that.

              • Sleeping Dragon says:

                Which really doesn’t improve my motivation to go with him a whole lot. I mean, I’d probably extend a hand to help him personally but I’d rather not go with him since I wouldn’t trust myself to be safe in the longer run. Say we get out but get stopped by some imperial force arriving to help/investigate, or even a patrol returning. He does sound like a guy who’d speak in my favour but if he was overruled again would maybe write a stern letter.

                The only reason I could see to follow with the Imperials (at this point), other than missing the choice, would be roleplaying beyond the information provided in the game. Say, if your character was really a stranger to Skyrim and thought Nords were these violent brutes and it was all just a big misunderstanding and he really wanted nothing to do with that bearded rebel. Though on your first playthrough you probably don’t know enough about the situation for something like that.

          • Daimbert says:

            Both times I’ve started the game — and not gotten that far in it — I’ve noticed that I had a choice, but since I am constantly getting my characters lost — seriously, in TOR they get lost in their own ship — I always end up wandering around until I run into the Imperial and manage to advance the game. To be honest, it’s probably more realistic that way; my character’s not going to be thinking about which political side they favour when fleeing from a dragon [grin].

    • Dragmire says:

      Based on my character, the Empire were definitely the good guys. My character roamed the countryside flinging lightening bolts at people to see how far he could make them fly.

      On a different note, I hope they use some frost magic on dragon bones. It’s funny seeing the skeleton flip out.

    • I sided with the rebels, but since the NPCs are so unlikable anyway (odd how questgivers often become a target of player ire, ain’t it?), I could see playing on the Imperial side just to help possibly subjugate a realm of annoying idiots.

      …though I’d be doing it for other annoying idiots. Which makes me wish there was a Hoover Dam to blow up or something.

      • aldowyn says:

        You CAN just, not do the civil war questline.

        • Disc says:

          The problem is, you can’t really make it go away. You’ll still run into random Stormcloak and Imperial soldiers who’ll keep nagging you about joining up. It’s the same problem with most of the bigger questlines. The only, real way out is by finishing the quest properly. The Dark Brotherhood questline at least gave you the option to wipe them out at the start, but if you let yourself be recruited, then you’re stuck with it until you’ve murdered all the cool people in the game.

        • Very true, but you can’t say you aren’t looking forward to Reginald Catbert trying to hold a peace conference.

  11. djshire says:

    But with mods, you get neat stuff like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efnJ2OidSc0

  12. Tizzy says:

    I thought the Skyrim intro was perfectly adequate. Yes, “the create the character about to be beheaded” part is weird, and trying to figure out who was talking in the cart was challenging. But criticizing the voice acting is below the belt. ALL of the voice acting is Skyrim is terrible, and all dialogue is nonsense. So how could they possibly have used the intro as more of a showcase than it was?

    • See the beginning of Half Life 2. Less telling, more showing. Less blatant, more subtle.

      To be honest, the prisoner aspect is completely unneeded. All that was required was a location with other NPCs, evidence that the Imperials and rebels exist, then a dragon attack. They put a whole lot of effort into making that fairly wide-open set of requirements difficult to sit through repeatedly.

      • aldowyn says:

        I’m pretty sure the whole being-a-prisoner thing is just a tradition that’s kept on through inertia at this point.

        • True, though this time the most expensive voice actor in the game didn’t show up just to die. That is, unless Sir Patrick Stewart was secretly voicing the dude who gets arrowed.

        • MadHiro says:

          Calling it a ‘tradition’ understates its importance somewhat; it isn’t just a coincidence that has happened to build up, it has layers of intention to it. The Prisoner is one of the more potent mythic figures in the lore of The Elder Scrolls games. Born under an uncertain sign, the Prisoner is free to make its own destiny in a world otherwise shaped by poeiomythic forces. The Prisoner concept is often associated with The Tower, from which Enlightenment/CHIM/Godhood is derived, either because the Prisoner is assumed to be kept in the Tower, or because of the Prisoner’s obvious connection to the Thief whom breaks in to the Tower.

          What is a coincidence is the fact that Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim all begin in the month of Last Seed (August).

          • Felblood says:

            Actually not a coincedence, at least not anymore.

            They are clearly playing the end of autumn as an “End of an Age” metaphor, and also an excuse to mix snowy and sunny climates.

            • MadHiro says:

              I haven’t seen any of the writer’s explicitly call out the importance of Last Seed, yet. Not to say that its not there, or that they aren’t thinking it secretly to themselves. I just haven’t seen anything that makes me think,” Not a coincidence,” the way that the mythic structures of the Prisoner do for the criminal game starts.

  13. Aldowyn says:

    I haven’t been this excited about a Spoiler Warning season in YEARS, if ever. I love talking about Skyrim :D (obviously Rutskarn does too)

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What,no drinking for every arrow in the knee?

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,could you please play in 3rd person?The jumps from 1st to 3rd are pretty jarring,and I suspect they will get extremely annoying by the…..err,wait,this is Josh Im pleading to….Ahem,Josh,could you please play in 3rd person because its so annoying watching that tail wiggle around like that.

  16. Amnestic says:

    On the “Choosing Hadvar vs. Ralof” choice at the start, I actually focused on the pragmatic approach. From what we’ve seen, the Empire is powerful and the Rebels aren’t doing too great. They very nearly executed the rebel leader right in front of you, after all.

    My character – not a Nord – had been caught up in their troubles. If I follow Hadvar and help him out, it gets me in good with the Empire who are the most powerful force in Skyrim right now (at least from what we’ve seen thus far).

    • Tizzy says:

      I wonder how many people were like me and never even realized that there was a choice to be made between two guys… I was so disoriented…

      I’m not even sure what purpose is served with this choice, btw. It’s absolutely not binding later (just as well!), so why not have a neutral third party instead?

      • aldowyn says:

        It lets you make a ‘soft’ decision, and you get a more personal view of one side of the conflict.

        Plus, something I’m surprised no one’s mentioned, is that it was to emphasize the war as a CIVIL war, with brothers fighting against brothers (Hadvar and Ralof aren’t brothers, so far as I know, but they definitely knew each other).

  17. Cat Skyfire says:

    I play Skyrim on the PS3 (thus, no mods). Having played it numerous times, I’ve finally decided why I prefer to play for the Empire than for the Stormcloaks. Ulfric Stormcloak likes to make speeches you can’t skip past. Tullius is more ‘good job. here’s a prize.” Ulfric yammers, then gives you crap as a prize.

  18. guy says:

    The intro is so annoyingly time-consuming to play through, even with the autosave at the character creation screen. Personally, I think I vaguely noticed that there were two people to follow but was too busy running to bother decided which one to follow indoors.

  19. newdarkcloud says:

    This is going to be a fun season. One question though: Do you guys plan on doing the guild quests? Or at least some of them?

    I understand that this will be a long season regardless, but I just want to know what exactly I should look forward too. Funs times will be had regardless.

    • Amnestic says:

      I hope they do the Thieves Guild.

      Leading on from that, I know you guys mentioned no mods but have you decided on whether or not you’ll do the DLC?

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I’m hoping that do that and Dark Brotherhood.

        I don’t have any complaints with the Companions except that it was kinda boring. And the Mage College is dumb primarily for gameplay reasons.

        • Hitchmeister says:

          My two favorite things about the Mage College are you can’t get in without demonstrating a magic spell and shouting a dragon to death does not count, and once you get in you can become Archmage with less than 25 points in any school of magic. Surprisingly tough entrance requirements considering how little it takes to graduate.

          • Humanoid says:

            I don’t know, isn’t the stereotypical portrayal of college kids in movies like this?

            • The college only wants the tuition, so if you suck at magic, you’ll stay longer and pay more, right? :)

              That said, there’s NOTHING the college does that isn’t a good reason for just tipping the remaining buildings into the ocean. Everything that happens there causes death on a significant scale if it doesn’t downright threaten the entire map.

              Someday RPGs need to figure out a magic system that isn’t 99% combat-related, designed to buff combat, or made to repair damage from combat.

              • Sleeping Dragon says:

                While still largely combat focused the earlier TES games had more robust magic systems with many spells dedicated to non-combat actions. The (lampshaded) lack of levitation spells in Oblivion was a serious blow for many players and I think the limitation comes from the irrational fear of players “cheesing” the magic system or “abusing” it to bypass content from the devs.

                Just as an example, in Morrowind (drink?) it was perfectly possible to grab an early levitation spell, fly your way to the red mountain crater and say hi to the boss there. It was risky because of the mobs in the area, it didn’t let you skip the game because you didn’t go through all the hoops of the prophecy (though the game acknowledged that and the boss had lines to that effect) but it was possible, and the very possibility was fun.

          • Gabriel Mobius says:

            Not… quite. You can make it in by just being the Dragonborn if you follow the main quest to the point where they require you to find an Elder Scoll. That opens up the option to go ‘wouldn’t you let the Dragonborn in?’ and you can Fus the entry lady to get in. Easy.

        • Amnestic says:

          My main issue with the Companions stemmed with the “tipping point” in which you were forced to go Werewolf in order to continue. Royally messed me up if I’d already down my Dawnguard and gone Vampire Lord.

          Which really leads into my main issue with Skyrim in general: The One Solution quests. This is especially bad in the ‘big guild’ chains, in which your only option to continue the story of the chain is to simply do the quest provided, with no alternative options. There are few exceptions in Skyrim, and they’re generally not explored terribly well (Dark Brotherhood). The Civil War – which I know we’re meant to be touching on later – is a two solution chain, when it really should be at least four. Empire, Stormcloaks, High King/Queen Dragonborn, High Queen Elisif with no Empire.

          I’m not sure why it’s this way either. Sure, it’d take extra work, but…it’s a game about personal choice and exploration, but almost every single important quest lacks any personal choice beyond “complete it or choose not to do it at all and let it languish in your quest log forever”.

          • Humanoid says:

            Even just a way to satisfyingly say “hell no” and end the quest chain then and there would be a start. From memory I think for the Companions you can say something non-committal and the NPCs will just stand there in the cave for the rest of the game. And the Thieves’ Guild equivalent hasn’t even got that, you have to tab out of the conversation to get out of that situation.

            The tab out of conversation feature is great though. Every game needs that feature, or indeed an enhanced version where NPCs realistically respond to your “talk to the hand” snub.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            I will say this. In general, Skyrim’s quest design sucks. There’s absolutely no thought in it. It’s almost always just “Go to X and find/kill Y”.

            Even in Oblivion (which is my favorite TES game, despite the fact that I know people will be mad at me for that) had some good non-combat quests. Two that come to find are the one where the Countess has a painting of her husband stolen and tasks you to investigate and the Dark Brotherhood quest where you pose as a guest at a mansion.

            You’ll find few such non-dungeon, non-combat quests in Skyrim.

          • Ithilanor says:

            New Vegas seemed to do this very well, by contrast; four main quest options, each of which had some number of secondary choices, with one path being a blank slate if you want to go completely off the rails.

        • Ciennas says:

          My problem with the College quests is simple: The villain is there from the start, and he’s OBVIOUS. Yet you can’t say, light him on fire by the end of sneering remark two or demolish his plans before he threatens to destroy the world. Also, why should I trust mr prophety mc timestoppeypants and his drinking buddies with a superpowerful nuclear bomb? I’m grateful for the assistance rendered, but that gratitude stops at ‘nick the ultimate tool of destruction if handled improperly.’ Also, why couldn’t they have just hijacked it before the College began studying the bloody thing?

          Damn. mild story collapse. And I rather liked the game.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            I was really hoping they wouldn’t do the obvious thing and make him a villain. I was kinda hoping the twist would be that he looks evil, but truthfully the college is the real evil or something. But no, it was predicable.

            In general, the Aldmeri Dominion seemed like card-carrying supervillains out of a comic book. Hell, their actual plan is, no joke, to destroy the world by reducing Talos’s power (through non-belief). If Talos loses his power, he can no longer protect the world, and it will be made vulnerable.

            • Nordicus says:

              My first character, a High Elf with love for illusion, assassination and his favorite set of torture tools, quite frankly embraced their supervillainy.

              I actually wished there was an option to join them. Would have been a fun “Chaotic Evil” thing to do.

      • aldowyn says:

        I’d rather they NOT do the thieves’ guild, actually. I think Shamus covered it well enough in that series he wrote a while back.

        • A challenge!

          Shamus can’t say anything negative about the Thieves’ Guild while Josh is doing the quest!

          He can give up trying to not rail on it after the third trip to the ER for brain aneurisms.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Just to put a vote in the other column: I’ve enjoyed the written Thieves’ Guild series each of the five times I’ve read it, and would like to see the whole squad have a bash at it.

          (That said, if it were ever a straight either/or choice between the TG quest and one which hasn’t yet been covered here, then it would certainly make sense to pick the other one.)

  20. Mormegil says:

    If that’s the drinking game then don’t do Dawnguard. Blood (or horribly alcohol poisoned corpses) will be on your hands.

    • Grudgeal says:

      I think they’ve already confirmed they won’t do Dawnguard.

      Then again, they weren’t supposed to do Honest Hearts either (though Honest Hearts is at least well-written. Comparatively.)

  21. Raygereio says:

    Oh boy, that interface. A lot of the PC crowd blame the consoles for this. But while I haven’t played any of the console versions, I’ve heard nothing but grumbling and complaining about the interface from the console crowd as well.
    The whole thing – the perk menu and map especially – is a classic example of something that’s made to look kinda nice (which Skyrim’s interface admittedly does so long as you’re not trying to use it) without any regard for function.

    Obligatory mod chat: Replaces all dialogue options with Khajiit-based responses. This is a good mod, yes? Khajiit highly recommends this mod..

    • Rutskarn says:

      I’ll be touching on this in my upcoming (seriously) TES retrospective, but the actual dialogue options you choose have always been a weak point of the Elder Scrolls franchise.

    • aldowyn says:

      I kinda liked the perk menu, actually. It DOES look cool, and not harderto use than the rest of that terrible menu. The inventory and getting from the inventory to the magic system was awful, though.

      The map also looks cool, but I WISH it had roads on it. (yes I know there’sa mod for that)

      But then again, I wouldn’t get lost, and if I didn’t get lost, I wouldn’t explore nearly so much.

      • MadHiro says:

        The number of times I’ve tried to select a perk that is at an angle and gone to the perk above or to the right instead is extremely non-zero. I don’t like the perk menu very much.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          I couldn’t stand all the fiddling I had to do in order to get to the perks I really wanted.

          The weapon and magic menu seemed to worked decently on the console if you only favorited the things you absolutely use all the time.

          Also, I played for a few hours on the PC… did any else change the key bindings so that left click did the left hand and right click did the right hand?

          • MadHiro says:

            “Also, I played for a few hours on the PC… did any else change the key bindings so that left click did the left hand and right click did the right hand?”

            So much so, that when I re-installed it recently I had forgotten that it wasn’t the default setup and spent the first minute or so in the tutorial dungeon being a complete spaz.

          • Aerik says:

            Yes! Yes, I did! I thought I was the only one. :)

    • Cuthalion says:

      I know this is two weeks late to the party, but that mod: :O!!!!!

  22. Ryan says:

    I think the sufficiently Reginaldish thing to do would be to support the Empire, and join the Dark Brotherhood.

  23. hborrgg says:

    I think the main problem with the hadvaar/raloaf (sp?) choice isn’t that you aren’t given much context about the sides beforehand it’s that it sets up the impression that you are stuck with that decision.

    A. once you’ve murdered 10 or 20 guys on the other side you are going to feel pretty invested in whoever you chose already.
    B. after the section your “friend” immediately suggests that you join his side and since you still don’t really know what’s going on at that point you’ll probably just say “sure” and do it without thinking.
    C. Once you’ve joined a side there is literally only one opportunity to switch if you change your mind and it is not even remotely advertised as an option. After that all you can really do is either bite the bullet or re-roll your character.

    • Tizzy says:

      I really thought it was weird the way a quest notification would pop up automatically to join whichever side you ended up exiting with, after just a short chat with your rescuer. I thought it was a bit clumsy.

      But I think the dialogue itself made it pretty clear that throwing your lot with either side was very much optional.

  24. hborrgg says:

    Don’t forget about the Season Unending option for the civil war questline, don’t know if you want to show that off or not.

  25. Janus says:

    This season had to be. I’m really looking forward to all the insanity, hate and severe, drinking game induced liver failures.
    And the intro was kinda lackluster – like so many things in Skyrim it works at first glance, but the more time you spent with the game, the more it falls apart.
    I’m completely with Mumbles on the empire/stormcloak-issue. Although playing a Khajit (or elf/argonian)ruins the whole racism-angle of the game, since you as the player are automatically accepted anywhere.
    Also: Go for the catdog please… Khajit-Werewolves are just too silly to leave out.

    • IFS says:

      PLUS Khajiit make the best werewolves technically, as their unarmed damage bonus applies to werewolf claw attacks. Plus it makes it just bizarre when people randomly point out how hairy you are, since you’re a catman who was covered in fur long before wolfing it up.

      • aldowyn says:

        Would it have been so hard to make a !is_khajiit query along with the is_werewolf query? Jeeze.

        Also, what’s up with people talking about you joining guilds after you’ve done the whole questline?

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I have to wonder if Khajit also get the “Is that… fur… coming out your ears?” line from guards.

      Because if yes, that’d be pretty goofy.

  26. Bropocalypse says:

    I don’t think that Bethesda was necessarily trying to frame the Empire as evil per se, but the intro was their only opportunity to try and make the two sides seem equally bad. When it comes down to it, the Stormcloaks are a pretty fascist(and short-sighted) organization. The Empire, on the other hand, has been open in the past to all sorts of races and beliefs, even in the backstory of just this game.

    But if that WAS their intention, it was poorly done.

    • Humanoid says:

      I wonder in what order the various Stormcloak plot points were written in. It does seem at times that the intro was written in a block either after or before the rest of the subplot and sidequest series. The intro tries to at least partly justify an honest-to-god revolution, but a lot of the side writing is of the “what have the Empire ever done for us?” variety of revolution.

  27. TheMich says:

    YES!!! FINALLY!!!

  28. Yay! I just started playing this myself, so I look forward to the comments. So far I’ve gotten lost and cursed the map. Are there roads on the damn thing and I’m just not seeing them? Is there a mod to add the damn roads? It’s a bit hard to do my normal open-world gaming strategy of “pick a road and follow till I find cool things” when the only road I can find leads to a cemetery city.
    Also, I did the same thing Shamus did, with a side order of “let’s go follow the guy who wasn’t going to kill me”. Not that it matters, there’s flowers to pick, insects to catch, and bandits to randomly spawn and kill after I’ve looted their camps.

    • Humanoid says:

      Yes, one of the most popular and oldest mods available is a better world map with configurable roads and such. Prozaically named “A Quality World Map” I believe.

  29. Humanoid says:

    My own experience of Skyrim is that I played a lot of it in a couple of months – it’s one of the rare titles in my Steam library with over 100 hours (and yes, I know 100 hours on one title is nothing to a lot of you, but most of my most-played games aren’t Steamworks). But I burnt myself out pretty quickly with the repetitive MMO-ish profession system and the optional dungeons and got maybe halfway through plotwise.

    Since then, almost a couple years ago now, I’ve tried a few times to restart the game as a different character and approach the game in a minimalist way. No grinding professions, no dungeon-delving unless absolutely required (and sidequests don’t count as absolutely required). But when I mean I try to restart, I mean I create my character, step out into the world, and then end up thinking of all the same old faces, the same old things. And I quit and try again in a few months. I’ve used the alternate start mod to try combat this, but it really made no meaningful difference.

    It doesn’t help that I felt pretty restricted in my character design, I’d be going for a pretty typical fighter. My previous character was a daggers assassin who almost never engaged in face-to-face combat (I played it like a DXHR ghost run, essentially) – fun, but I paid for it with fragility in scripted battles. I tried magic once, and it was horrible. I’d tried going with the extremely popular sneak archer style – boring, and broken not in a way I found entertaining for long. But now that this video has illuminated me on the possibilities of claw-to-hand combat, I may try to make a fist of this yet. So thanks for that, SW!

    • Judy says:

      I did the same thing I think. In my first playthrough I explored towns and dungeons and did nearly half of the main plot. Or what I think was half, I’m not sure because I never completed it…

      Afterwards, I stopped playing and would come back every now and then with a new character, vowing to complete the main plot, but finding it too painful to proceed, haha. Especially as a console player, nothing felt new after the first 10 hours of the game. I didn’t have mods to spice things up :(

  30. Coblen says:

    One of my longest run characters was a unarmed character. You can get the damage up pretty high, but it caps really early on in the game.

    I was a master armorer, enchanter, and alchemist. I ended up being less good at killing things and more good at never dieing. I think this is what really made me hate dragons. Killing one took forever, and they just never stop following you.

    The funny thing was that I got an cohort, and used all my crafting skills to make them super equipment. I then tried to fight him, and I couldn’t win. He was just as tough as me, but worlds ahead in damage. Agroing a town and watching him murder the whole city was satisfying though. Somehow I enjoyed making the ultimate npc more then making the ultimate character.

  31. Thomas says:

    Are there even 65535 living creatures in Skyrim?

  32. Ithilanor says:

    Been a while since we had an Official Spoiler Warning Drinking Game ™; I’m looking forward to it. Who wrote that awesome Google Docs spreadsheet for the Fallout 3 season? I’d like to see how many hypothetical people this season of craziness would kill from alcohol poisoning.

    (More comments to follow once I’ve actually watched the video)

    • Ithilanor says:

      New season’s off to a good start. Interesting commentary, plenty of humor, Josh’s patented brand of buggy insanity. This should be a great season.

      My one comment on the game itself – trying to establish dragons as this legendary, mythical thing feels very odd, given how the intro plays out. Even setting aside out-of-universe knowledge, having seen dragons all over the marketing and what not, we very blatantly see the dragon early on. It ends up feeling like “Oh hey, there’s a dragon around” when they were going for “A dragon?! What a rare, unusual thing! Surely you can’t be serious?”* What might have worked better is something like the first Hobbit movie’s treatment of Smaug – we see the dragon’s effects, plenty of smoke and flame, but only catching glimpses of the dragon itself.

      * I am, and don’t call me Shirley.

  33. The Rocketeer says:

    Oh God! The cart physics object! It reminded me of a ridiculous thing that happened to me.

    Off on the east/central part of the map somewhere is a series of high waterfalls separated about halfway down by a basin. I was exploring this basin when I see a cart come sailing down from the upper falls. I have no idea where it came from, and I had never realized carts were physics objects before. So I did the only thing I could think of: I jumped into the basin, swam up to the cart, and rode it over the edge of the falls, while using the Call Storm power. It was one of the defining moments of my main Skyrim playthough.

  34. Gruhunchously says:

    I’m quite disappointed that Reginald Catbert couldn’t retain his predecessor’s mutton-stache.

  35. anaphysik says:

    “We want to kill an NPC who is unkillable for no good reason.”

    You want to kill them for no good reason, or they’re unkillable for no good reason?

    Ha, that’s a joke. NPCs have it coming to them, we all know that.

    • Humanoid says:

      Being unkillable is generally the reason to want to kill them, yes.

      I remember there was actually a pretty good mod that struck a compromise between NPCs being immutable signposts and them dropping like fleas upon the first dragon attack. “Killing” them the first time would have them enter a halfway sort of status where they’d sort of be knocked out. In this state, attacking them again would cause proper death, but the idea I think was that other NPCs wouldn’t do so.

      • Hitchmeister says:

        Bethesda NPCs are unkillable because Bethesda has no idea how to handle later quests that might need that NPC. That’s one of my favorite features of the much older Baldur’s Gate. If you kill an NPC who’s important to a later quest in Baldur’s Gate when you finally get to that quest “Biff the Understudy” shows up. Sometimes with hilarious dialog about not being sure why he’s even there.

        • Humanoid says:

          Not so much that they don’t know *how* to, but more, as Ruts so eloquently points out during the intro, they want to you see all the “cool” stuff they made. It’s some sort of misplaced developer pride/ego.

          A somewhat random anecdote comes to mind: Back when I was playing I remember a WoW developer for example when quizzed why the game wouldn’t let the player skip such-and-such a thing, even if it was inconsequential and not unbalancing or otherwise gamebreaking (I have no memory of what specifically). The response was that it was because they felt they had put a lot of time and effort into developing this cool thing and really wanted the players to see it. An honest answer I guess, but games are made for whose entertainment exactly?

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Although a lot of it is stating the obvious, I had a few thoughts about unkillable NPCs a while back.

          http://pressstarttodiscuss.blogspot.com/2013/03/59-essential-problem-with-skyrim.html

        • And Bethesda has shown they’re capable of doing that. Three Dog will get a replacement on-air if you kill him (not much of one, but it’s more there just to make you relish/feel guilty about his death). Obsidian did it more in Fallout New Vegas, as there are several NPCs that have replacements ready (mostly in the NCR and Caesar’s Legion) in case you off the principal actor in question.

          • Humanoid says:

            It even happens sometimes in this game – they’re just irrationally economical with it. If you (or anyone) murders the innkeep in Whiterun, then another woman who had previously mentioned running it in the future ends up operating it.

        • MelTorefas says:

          So THAT is what Biff was for? I didn’t get too far in the original Baldur’s Gate, so the only time I saw him was when I attempted to use the console to spawn Montaron without Xar (in the hopes of only using one party slot). Biff spawned automatically in place of Xar, did all of Xar’s dialogue with Montaron for your initial meeting of them, and then joined my party with Montaron. And then the game promptly crashed.

      • It was the imperial commanders at these outposts I was sent to murder that got me as being annoyingly plot-armored. I could wipe out their whole contingent of troops, but these commander dudes would just fall over and get up a few seconds later for no apparent reason.

  36. wheals says:

    The question is, how much do we drink when someone makes a comparison to Fallout 3?

    • Hitchmeister says:

      I don’t know about Fallout 3, but you have to finish your drink when it dawns on you that you were about to be executed by the same guy who patched you up at the beginning of Fallout New Vegas.

      • Rutskarn says:

        I knew I liked Tullius for a reason.

      • How cool would it be if Bethesda had coded a little line or two of zeroes and ones that peeked to see if you’d played Fallout New Vegas and maybe some details about your save, and had some chat dialog that said something along the lines of “Say hi to Victor for me.”

        Even better, it’d say it only once, making you question if you weren’t losing your mind…

      • Humanoid says:

        I, uh, I never noticed that Tullius was there at the execution. I thought it was just some random unnamed legionary.

        • Hitchmeister says:

          Yes, Tullius is there. For the longest time I thought Legate Rikke, his number one aide, was there as well. The first time I played I went with the Imperial and killed Stormcloaks in the tunnels. Then when I went with the Stormcloak and killed Imperials, I was like “Wait a minute, isn’t she important?” But she’s just some random Captain… who’s just coincidentally voiced by the same actress as Legate Rikke.

    • qwksndmonster says:

      I drank two whiskey shots and a beer for the first episode of the season. Happy Spoiler Warning! *vomit*

  37. MichaelGC says:

    I think Twenty Sided makes much the stronger case about the introduction, simply because of the approach taken on perspective. Shamus’ article reports ‘this is what I experienced’ whilst EC, as is their wont, is more ‘this is what the player experiences.’ The latter makes a much grander claim, whilst the former is basically inarguable on its face.

    Also (if this were an actual debate between the two perspectives, which it obviously isn’t: so why am I dissecting it?; no idea…), the fact the EC vid barely mentions the sodding great dragon showing up & setting fire to everything could be seen as somewhat disingenuous…

  38. Nick Powell says:

    You guys talk over each other way too much.

  39. Abnaxis says:

    So…we’ll probably talk more about this on the first level-up, but did anyone else hate the character system in Skyrim?

    It always annoyed me because player choice mattered virtually 0% as far as your character capabilities are concerned. If you are playing a high elf mage and want to swing swords for a bit, there is little compelling reason to restart and specialize–just pick up a pointy stick and start swinging, because you’re just as good as any other cookie-cutter toon would be.

    • Humanoid says:

      I neither love nor hate it, but it’s better than any previous TES game I’ve played. I’m not sure how it could be said that it nullfies player choice, because if anything it allows you to choose whatever you like. Indeed I’d go so far as to say I’m a fan of that approach in terms of its value in enhancing the sense of character ownership.

      There are arguments against it based on game balance, sure, but even then it’s only because the of the lack of a level cap – a very gamey concept in the first place. Indeed in Skyrim specifically, it’s probably actually a counterproductive move since you’ve only increased your own effectiveness marginally, likely at a lesser rate than the power granted to your enemies through the level scaling. But yeah, from a roleplaying perspective, eh, it works fine in my eyes. You embark on a new career like any other person who picks up a new hobby, or who switches career mid-life. It may be a pragmatic decision to expand their skillset, or it may be simple boredom, there are plenty of reasonable motives.

      I’ve been playing Might and Magic 10 lately, and one very prominent thing the game has brought to mind is the endless series of restrictions and limitations that exist purely for convention’s sake. You spread your skill points out a bit, or lose interest in the current direction you’re taking your character? Well you might as well restart the game, because any attempt to go further down that path is lined with purest mediocrity. Want to be a sword-wielding orc? Well be prepared to do half the damage of a sword-wielding human, because you only can put half the skill points into the sword skill.

      Restrictions work in an RPG if they make logical sense. I don’t mind that Khajiit are the only ones who might make a viable unarmed character because it’s physiologically justified. One of the things I despise about ‘classical’ RPG systems are arbitrary skill restrictions based on class, or indeed class restrictions based on race, and so forth. It’s not good design now and it wasn’t good design then.

      Apologies for wandering way off topic there, just a pet peeve of mine.

      • MelTorefas says:

        “It’s not good design now and it wasn’t good design then.”

        Strongly disagree. I massively prefer class-based design to the open skill design Skyrim uses. For example, I love the classes in Final Fantasy 4 and Final Fantasy Tactics, but I find the lack of classes in later Final Fantasy games disappointing. I would much rather play a game that lets me pick a class and then customize options within that class, than a game that lets me level whatever skill I want.

        Maybe that makes me weird, but, yeah. There’s definitely another viewpoint here.

        • Humanoid says:

          I’m not framing it as a class vs classless system. At times I might profess a marginal preference, but either option works. But the restrictions of that class ought to make sense. What possible value would preventing a Paladin from using an axe be other than tradition for tradition’s sake?

          An open system doesn’t need to be like Skyrim’s completely unfettered system. Indeed it’s not particularly desirable without messing extensively with level scaling shenanigans. You could express it like D&D 3E+ multiclassing, or VtM’s allocation of skill points by category. Maybe a character’s attempts to learn melee combat are somewhat curtailed by their unsuitable stats: i.e. you can have all the technical proficiency you like, but you have an almost insurmountable gap in raw strength compared to someone who created their character with high strength from the outset. This is all a reflection of the customisation you desire. Without it, you have situations like in WoW where one’s level 90 mage is functionally identical to any other level 90 mage after a 30 second trip to the trainer to reset the talent points.

          Class-based systems are fine. Having a generalised direction in which said classes are encouraged to develop along is fine. Just don’t have a game tell me “You use a staff. You can only use a staff. You can only ever use a staff.”

      • Abnaxis says:

        To be clear, I’m not talking about a classless system. I just want a system where I can start one character, get bored with it, then start another character and have the two starts actually be unique. When I get the itch to stealth, I want there to be a compelling mechanical reason to reroll a Khajit instead of just having my orc drop his heavy armor and crouchwalk around just as well as any other character.

        Classes are one way to accomplish this. Another is to bring back attributes. Let orcs and khajit both sneak, but khajit (who are supposed to be naturally agile and fast, thoudh it never feels like that in game) will naturally have a slighter edge.

        Of course, it would need to be overhauled to actually make sense–the way the attributes and levels were implemented in Oblivion and previous games was pretty unintuitive–but that’s really not hard to do. My favorite mod for Oblivion got rid of the level-up screen, automatically calculating your attributed from your total acquired skill points (so more destruction=more willpower, more acrobatics=more speed, etc). It made the game so much more fun and interesting, and when I first played Skyrim I was really excited because it looked the same on the surface, until I realized ever single character plays exactly the same as the next one, killing replayability for me.

      • Abnaxis says:

        To be clear, I’m not talking about classless vs. class-based systems. I just want two starting characters to feel unique to play. As it is, I have no compelling reason to roll a khajit when I’m tired of bashing heads with my orc and I want to sneak around, I just have the orc switch his gear and start crouch-walking–he’s not going to be any worse at it than the snubbed cat-person.

        Classes are one solution. Another is to actually give the races different qualities that actually mean something to gameplay–if the skill bonuses each race starts with was actually a buff to the skill instead of just a higher starting point, that would help immensely. My favorite option would be to bring back attributes (though do it in a way that isn’t an unintuitive mess).

        My favorite mod for Oblivion–nGCD–overhauled the leveling system so that the attributes of each character were calculated based on their skills and race automatically. Characters with high destruction had high willpower, high blunt = high strength, etc. Moreover, class skill choice made a huge difference, because it infuenced starting attributes as well as which attributes would be easy to gain.

        At first I was enthusiastic about Skyrim’s skill system for it’s similarity to nGCD, until I realized it completely gutted everything that made playing two character feel unique. Since 90% of replayability for me comes from experimenting with different builds and playstyles, I lost interest quickly. Worse, I’ve found no mod that really fixes this…

    • Ithilanor says:

      This has come up before in Spoiler Warning – the crew’s talked about this before in the DX:HR and Dishonored seasons. Without having played Skyrim, I dislike the concept a priori. In general, I dislike systems like this that lead to homogeneous characters; I only feel variety early on; by the time I get to later, possibly more interesting quests, the gameplay ends up feeling similar no matter what my build is.

      • I think it comes down to “math is hard.”

        You could have a need to specialize if they did a little more number-crunching on their games. For example, make the buy-in on magical skills not only get more attractive the more points you spend, but make starting other skill trees even more expensive if you’re deciding to multiclass after 10 levels working out how to conjure monsters and toss fireballs.

        Another method would be to make it impossible to earn enough points to munchkin yourself into godhood. This would require figuring out what the likely upper end of XP would be and adjusting skill points accordingly.

        There’s always the old stand-by of just making some skills class-based, but then one has to ask if one can learn magic, why can’t one learn how to pick locks? Also, since the previous games have gone with this classless format, it’d be hard to alter it now, not to mention it seems like they’re trying to come up with their own kind of GURPS system. That kind of RPG setup really doesn’t lend itself to classes by design. Maybe the solution is a little bit o’ math and some scenarios where doing one thing to gain a prestigious set of weapons/abilities/perks closes off another potential set? That would mean (if you work for Bethesda, try to remain calm) walling off potential content unless the player makes a different character! Crazy, I know…

      • Humanoid says:

        Those games had relatively shallow skill trees compared to Skyrim though. For the most part my experience was that there was plenty of room to feel like a unique character – I think I was level 50-odd when I gave up on the game, but I don’t expect many other level 50s to look like mine. Notably, being a pure stealth character, my armour skill was something like 30 while stealth and daggers were at 100. If I wanted to raise my armour skill in any meaningful way, I’d probably have to metagame hard, finding a relatively harmless enemy and letting them chew on my leg for a few hours. If someone wanted to do that, well, good luck to them, but playing ‘properly’ I don’t think my character would have finished the game as an all-action invincible tank or anything like that.

        So yeah, I’d say the homogeneity isn’t an inherent problem with the system at all, given sufficiently diverse options of reasonable depth.

  40. Phantos says:

    I can’t think of any reason why anyone would go with the Empire dude at this part.

    In the long run I can understand, after you’ve played the game and gotten to know both sides of the conflict better. But when the player doesn’t have access to that information, and they’re just being executed without a trial, because… reasons? What kind of character would go through that and not be the slightest bit resentful at almost being decapitated?

    I don’t think the intro is as clumsy as Extra Credits and the rest of the internet seems to agree it is, but this one part did feel poorly planned. They wanted the spectacle of the dragon showing up but didn’t consider the cost it would have to the game or the rest of the plot.

    Maybe if there were some way for players to convince them not to execute you? Maybe if there were an actual mock trial that the player could win? And then the dragon stuff could happen.

  41. Thomas says:

    For me this is literally, non-hyperbolically the worst intro I have ever experienced. I actually never played the rest of the game because of it, and that’s never happened to me.

    First your stuck in a cart where people really awkwardly info dump exposition on you with absolutely no context at all. The scenery is possibly good looking but you can’t even look round that much. Then a bunch of linear corridor shooter stuff happens except without any of the cohesiveness or excitement of a linear corridor shooter.

    Then you walk through a door and get told you made a choice. Then you crawl through some uninteresting tunnels with some very uninteresting NPC fights.

    And then eventually you just get dumped in some town. They completely took away any control from the player _and_ failed to give them any sort of useful information or direction. And everything that happens is the antithesis of what a Skyrim experience is meant to feel like.

    At first I thought it was because open-sandbox games just weren’t for me. But no, you play New Vegas and almost instantly they give you absolute freedom whilst at the same time setting up a clear and interesting sidequest and an obvious direction for where you could go next. And the tutorials were fairly fun because it still allowed a lot of player freedom

    • Humanoid says:

      Despite the various complaints – all valid mind – the worst part of the intro sequence in my mind are the tunnels, which seem to exist because RPG. There’s no justification for a tunnel filled with monsters conveniently opening out to a handily safe area in any remotely sensible gameworld.

      After that though – well, in my only meaningful attempt to play the game, I actually did wander off at the end of the tunnels section and headed the opposite direction from Riverwood. I ended up entering a random small house by the road, which turned out to be the access point to a fairly large underground bandit hideout. Then I ended up in Falkreath and did stuff there.

      P.S. I struggle to come up with a worse intro to a game than Might and Magic 10 which I’m playing, because it’s an info dump *for the wrong game*. It tells you a bunch of stuff about Heroes 6 and its crappy setting, of which none of the detail is relevant to the game you just started. Yeah….

      • I think the beginning was not only a ham-fisted tutorial, but it drew from common D&D dungeon tropes. Generally, keeps and castles and so on had tunnels leading into them that were used as sewers or places to dump trash/bodies/whatever. Then, or so goes the logic, this refuse would attract scavengers with lower HP and some meager treasure. Maybe in this tunnel complex was a larger monster who preyed on the scavengers and provided a tolerable guardian for those living above so nothing nasty could get past it and break into the keep.

        It’s dumb, but it’s traditional so you don’t have an XP gap or a total party wipe.

  42. Skuvnar says:

    Complaining about the cold? Come live in Scotland. Seriously.

  43. Vermander says:

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I’ve never liked Khajits and Argonians as playable characters in Elder Scrolls games. The talking cat and lizard men just seems so outlandish to me that it kind of breaks immersion. This is especially true in Skyrim, which has a somewhat “realistic Early Middle Ages” vibe, at least compared to the bizarre alien landscapes in Morrowind.

    The various types of elves and even the Orcs I could accept as different races of humans, but the for me the two “animal” races just seem out of place. How do they wear the same armor and clothes as everyone else with those tails, headspikes and cat ears? How do they speak in human dialects with fangs and snouts? How do (presumably) cold blooded creatures survive in places like Windhelm?

    • Humanoid says:

      If challenged I still don’t think I could come up with a plausible alien race that’s viable as an alternative player character which goes beyond the standard: a) pasting an animal head on top of a generic bipedal body; b) attaching lumps of plasticine onto a human face; or c) painting a human a non-naturally occuring skin colour. Y’know, a properly alien alien. I mean it’s rather telling that none of Mass Effect’s (I know, I know) more exotic aliens like the Elcor or Hanar were ever considered even as party members.

      But yeah, i1f they had their time again I’d imagine the original developers might have excised the options – I don’t think any TES or spinoff games have ever meaningfully developed them? But ultimately the problem is that the TES universe itself never really developed a consistent aesthetic, such that the various games really may as well have been set in completely different universes.

      P.S. Death to elves!

      P.P.S. Cats may act like cold-blooded killers, but…

      P.P.P.S. If you consider Argonians as dinosaurs and not lizards, they might be warm-blooded too.

    • MadHiro says:

      Just remember that the “realistic Early Middle Ages” that you’re seeing is actually the hallucinatory fever dream of an infinite godhead sundered by an intractable internal division of intent, perceived and performed by an infinite array of unaware sub-gradients of said godhead, and things don’t need to make quite as much literal sense. Also, Khajit are just elves that got magicked up by something; all of the races on Nirn are essentially just elves (Ehlnofey if you want to be precise) that changed or evolved in some manner. Here’s a rad image that shows how.

      And we probably shouldn’t talk about the Hist’s mathbombs, and their spacewars with timedragons.

      • Vermander says:

        I’ll admit that I’ve always found the extended lore of TES series kind of baffling and incomprehensible (I have no idea what a Hist is), so I’m probably ignorant of the in game justifications for the talking tiger and dinosaur people. I just feel like they seem a little out of place in this particular game, like they’re a relic from previous incarnations. Especially since they’ve varied in appearance so much in the different games. I believe they’ve tried to retcon the Morrowind Khajits as a different variety.

        I understand that some people liked playing as one in the previous games and want to do so again.

        • MadHiro says:

          The Hist are the thinking trees in Black Marsh that created the Argonians, and who are arguably the first inhabitants of Nirn.

        • Ciennas says:

          No retconning- in Morrowind, the books mentioned the ‘lunar lattice’, or how the phases of the moon affect how a Khajit grows up. In the first two games, that worked out to ‘Person with Cat ears’. The third game really shook it up as part of the alien landscape, by having them be more animal like, to the point where they were prohibited from using certain helms and almost all footwear.

          While interesting mechanically, I can see why Bethesda went with variety 3- still obviously not a human, but can use all equipment just the same. (One of the recurrent Morrowind mod themes was ‘make boots that are wearable for the beast races as well’. Sensing that it was unpopular, they switched it.)

          (What would be interesting would be to be able to choose between the three styles of Khajiit thus far, but that would be a real pain in the ass to code, I imagine. But it would add to population diversity. (I’d also like for them to acknowledge different body types, but that seems rather unlikely too, for similar reasons.)

  44. Bentusi16 says:

    My turn! Little late to the party due to college but: The empire is displayed as being this list “you were there, therefore you’re guilty’ group. I’m fairly sure it was supposed to be heavy handed, rather then being clumsily handled.

    Mister Young has commented previously on how Bethesda can write a good story without words, by showing and doing rather then saying. I think the post-block part of Helgen is an example of this.

    What happens when the dragons attack? During the Chaos, Ulfric and the other stormcloaks dash towards the guard tower. Ralof alone stops and shouts for you to follow him. They slam the door behind you, and what do you see? Just stormcloaks. No civilians. “Can the legends be true?” Ralof ask and Ulfric replies drily “Legends don’t burn down villages”.

    What about the Imperials? The dragon lands and people start shouting and screaming, but over all this you hear two lines, one from general Tullius, one from the imperial captain. The captain shouts “Archers, open fire!”. But Tullius shouts “Guards, get the civilians to safety.”

    There are no stormcloaks fighting the dragon. Ulfric and his retinue disappear, all except Ralof. The imperials, on the other hand, have formed a defensive formation around wounded civilians and are desperately trying to bring the dragon down. If you run up to General Tullius during the fighting, as Josh did, he’ll tell you to “Run, idiot!”, and one of his healers is desperately trying to stop the bleeding out of Vilod.

    This whole sequence subtly sets up how the civil war conflict is both raging and how its being treated by the two sides. Maybe I’m reading to much into it. But for me the whole sequence after I had time to analyze it became very brilliant.

    • Humanoid says:

      Another pro-Imperial touch was when one of the Stormcloaks, while on the cart, talks of fond memories of the town as being a good home in his youth despite it being firmly an Imperial holding. Which, again, colours the rebellion as being a bit of the old “what that the Imperials ever done for us?” folly.

    • Amnestic says:

      I’d also note that when the first Stormcloak gets beheaded, you hear the civilians shouting “Justice!” and “Death to the Stormcloaks!” implying that at least some of the civilians of Skyrim support the Empire. If it was really “all-evil”, then the civilians would either be silent or not watching at all or the like.

      I think the main problem is that it’s hard to notice all that your first time through, what with the dragon roaring and landing and breathing fire and everything. You don’t get much time to digest it and process it as it happens.

      Good points, though again most players take a little bit of issue with almost having their heads chopped off :P

    • noahpocalypse says:

      I like your points there, but remember that Uflric (and his retinue) were currently unarmed. I don’t see Ulfric as being altruistic enough to defend random citizens against a dragon even if he was armed, but he wouldn’t have done much good in that fight.

      Perhaps he could have used his Thu’um, but that would paint a target on him for the dragon. His choices were either stay and almost certainly die, since he’s unarmed and right next to empire goons, or flee and live to fight for his cause.

      I’m not pro-Stormcloak (despite the cool name) but I think you’re being a tad uncharitable to Ulfric.

  45. IronCore says:

    I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the eventual Empire vs Stormcloak discussion in the comments. I’m not sure if I can. I may have to just not read any comments for quite some time. My hope is that the community here will have something far more insightful than I’m used seeing to when the whole Empire vs Stormcloak thing comes up.

    • IronCore says:

      But unfortunately I already see some of the usual nonsense cropping up.

      • If it helps, I didn’t really get into the politics beyond “those dudes were going to execute me, and these dudes live here, so go team Stormcloak.”

        I didn’t care much for either side, to be honest, but I was more interested in finding new sidequests, tombs, etc. to worry about it too much to make it a thing.

        Oddly enough, the faction that bugged me the most was the Vigilants of Stendarr. For a time I was a werewolf and in another I was under the vampirism curse, yet these guys who supposedly hunt those sorts of creatures for a living couldn’t detect I was one of their dreaded quarry. After I started doing Daedric quests, I was almost certain they’d be hostile to me or at least refusing to heal any diseases I had, but no.

        I suppose adding the Dawnguard makes up for them, but they’re reduced to being an apparently militant club whose purpose is at odds with their abilities to pursue it effectively.

    • Mumbles is correct about the intro.

      And without spoiling anything (I hope) I’ll say that the Empire in Skyrim and the Stormcloacks in Skyrim actually behave like a empire and Rebels would act.

      Rebels oppose the regime, and a government try to enforce.
      Neither are inherently good nor evil.

      The key however is that a government/empire/whatever may or may not be evil, it does imply law and order, social services, resources, infrastructure.
      And rebels either directly or indirectly cause harm to those. Being a rebel is thus a double edged sword.

      The fact that the Stormcloacks are white/human racists/xenophobes is amusing, and the Empire is actually very tolerant and not really evil, which those that played Oblivion would understand. And there are instead certain folks pulling the strings in the background instead.

      I like the cart ride, it allows intro credits, exposition, provides some scenery and such.
      What I would have designed differently is character creation. (No idea if a mod exists/a mod could change it.)
      But the character creation should have been first as it is very charring and a tad annoying when you get off the cart, and there is no reason the creation could not have been at the “New game” part in a menu.
      This would make getting off the cart seamless and flow much better.

      It would also have allowed the developers to maybe let some of the characters in the cart comment on the player, or even allow the player some dialog options.
      So I have to agree with Rustskarn here, it’s a beautiful gold cart with a bunch of crap in it.

      Also, the “Nord” thing amuses me considering that I’m Norwegian and of pretty direct Viking ancestry myself.
      I’m pretty sure a few other Scandinavians (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Færoyene, and indirectly Greenland) will be equally amused this season of Spoiler Warning. :)

      And if any peeps got questions related to the Norse people I don’t mind answering, I’m too lazy to do research for you (there’s always wikipedia as a starting point), but if I know the answer I’ll answer. I’m sure others will be happy to do so as well.

      I can tell you one thing though, the Skyrim region “felt familiar” so the world builders did manage capture some of the feel of the Norse territories.
      The only thing missing was the really long fjords sadly or various costal islands/half islands. Then again Skyrim did not focus that much on the coastal area anyway.

  46. I’m just 1 minute in at the time of writing this but…the audio is better, nothing gets cut off (yet) and the quality seem better.

    So now I’m curious on Josh’s setup, what exactly did the whole setup end up using?

    And again guys, the sound quality of the commentary is just way better than previously, whatever you folks are doing it is working, and working great. The levels seems very well matched too, such that it is easy to forget you guys are chatting across the net rather than on a couch together.

  47. Paul Spooner says:

    Awww. I LIKED the sixteen-bit integer overflow joke! Obviously hyperbole though… a byte should be plenty.

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