Skyrim EP42: You! Leveled! Up!

By Shamus
on Jun 6, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

We’re not going to do the Quests for the Winterhold Community College, so let’s talk about that. How bad are the WCC quests? Twice I’ve tried to give them a write-up like I did for the Thug’s Guild. But the whole thing is SO. BORING. that I just couldn’t make it happen. I usually play through content multiple times, and the WCC quest is like some sort of Man vs. Coma endurance challenge.

The dialog is all generic obtuse wizard-speak: A shallow and obvious villain with vague goals tries to steal a mystical orb with vague utility and you, aided by a secret order with vague goals attempt to stop a vague prophesy from doing… something. There’s no stakes. No interesting characters. And there are lots of scenes where you just have to stand there while people ram exposition into your face. Some of it is even unskippable. And of course that stuff is delivered in an Overly! Dramatic! Voice… that… takes FOREVER! to get. to. the. damn. POINT!

It’s a chore. It’s awful, even by Skyrim standards of flavorless storytelling.

But that mage librarian? He’s cool. I like that guy.

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A Hundred!20827 comments. Suck it, base ten!

From the Archives:

  1. hborrgg says:

    Can you join the greybeards if your beard turns white?

  2. Isaac says:

    Even after all these years, the fact that you can become the Archmage while knowing little to no magic is not only hilarious but really highlights one of the downsides of Bethesda’s “We have to let the player see everything on their 1st playthrough!” design philosophy.

    • guy says:

      Honestly, that’s a pretty tricky thing to get right. It feels pretty unfufilling to realize that you can do everything regardless of character type, but actually running into something you want to do but can’t can be infuriating.

      Hilariously and irritatingly, I actually bumped into one of the few instances where you can’t necessarily do something. See, when playing Oblivion I noticed that being a vampire gave more power the less you fed, so I came up with the idea of playing as a vampire-hunting vampire who starved themselves and then came out at night to overwhelm more predatory vampires. Only, the Dawnguard won’t let you work with them if you’re a vampire. Which, actually, is kind of stupid when they let a Daughter Of Coldharbor hang out with them.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Isran only agrees to her presence because you insist and because she has specific knowledge and one of the Elder Scrolls and she’s clearly at the center of this thing. She is indispensable much to Isran’s chagrin. You, while being a very capable adventurer, don’t have anything like that going for you as far as Isran would be concerned. He’s not a dragonslayer after all.

        Besides, unless you actually join the Volkihar clan (which you are essentially doing if you accept Harkon’s gift), all he asks you to do is go get cured if you ever show up as a vampire. He’s very pragmatic like that and realizes that contracting vampirism is an occupational hazard for vampire hunters.

        As for the poster above, if they wanted to make sure you could see everything on the first playthrough, they wouldn’t give you the Stormcloaks vs Imperial vs Peace Summit option, the Blades vs Greybeard option, the Dawnguard vs Volkihar option, the Destroy vs Join option for the Dark Brotherhood.

        Besides, even if they imposed skill requirements as they did in Morrowind, you can attain max ranks in all skills so it wouldn’t make anything mutually exclusive. So no, that was not their motivation behind doing it this way.

        • Raygereio says:

          As for the poster above, if they wanted to make sure you could see everything on the first playthrough, they wouldn’t give you the Stormcloaks vs Imperial vs Peace Summit option, the Blades vs Greybeard option, the Dawnguard vs Volkihar option, the Destroy vs Join option for the Dark Brotherhood.

          That’s not the same. No matter your character’s build, or what you did elsewhere in the game, or whatever, you always have access to the content of the Civil War, Dark Brotherhood, Dawnguard or anyother questline.
          You have to pick one of two paths certainly, but at no point does the game go “Nope, this content is not for you”.

          Besides, even if they imposed skill requirements as they did in Morrowind, you can attain max ranks in all skills so it wouldn’t make anything mutually exclusive.

          Who says the various guild questlines needed to be mutually exclusive? The point Isaac brought up is that becomming the Archmage doesn’t require you actually being a mage. Similar to how you can become master of the Thieves Guild while being hilariously incompetent in every sneak & stealing related skill.
          If the player wants to max out all skills and become master of all the guilds, that’s fine. They should be able to do that. But recieving the title of Badass-of-Magic ought to require you actually being a badass at magic.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            The point I was responding too was the charge that Bethesda is obsessed with making sure you see every piece of content in the first playthrough (That is something said in that post). This is demonstrably not true and that was the thrust of my post.

          • Rack says:

            Even if they don’t want to deny you terrible content there’s just no good reason to make you Archmage so easily. They just have to give you a different reward at the end of this questline, assign a temporary protector and then appoint you archmage when you’ve completed 2 of the ritual quests.

        • Isaac says:

          The CW questline is basically two sides of the same coin and Peace summit hardly matters since all it really changes is which army takes what province. DB is the only guild that you can to destroy (unfortunately) and I dunno anything about Dawnguard.

          Blades/Greybeards doesn’t matter either: All that happens is that one side will get mad at you and tell you to leave their hideouts. You can also rebuild the Blades (if you side with Delphine) but it doesn’t affect anything so who cares?

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            The Blades/Greybeards decision affects your access to their radiant quests and depending on how you do it, can also affect the “ending” you get.

            “Two sides of the same coin” Only if you refuse to care. If you want to be contrarian as several people here are, you can reduce this or any game to nothing. For me, the differences were quite meaningful.

            “It doesn’t matter what game I play, I’m just going to be tapping keys on the same keyboard while the same set of pixels continuously change color in front of me.”

            Not every choice is going to have KOTOR1 endgame levels of variation.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              No, it’s not that. It’s the the content of the Civil War quest is literally the exact same regardless of what side you choose. You undergo the same missions and accomplish the same objective.

              Heck, a comment thread on an earlier SW episode inspired me to write about it: http://pressstarttodiscuss.blogspot.com/2014/05/70-factions-in-video-games-skyrim-vs.html

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                You’re right, I must have hallucinated that part where you go after the Ice Wraiths instead of taking another fort. Or the part where Legate Rikke has to try to convince General Tullius of the symbolic value the Jagged Crown has while Ulfric immediately embraces it. Or the pragmatic demeanor of Tullius vs the impassioned romanticism of Jarl Ulfric. Or the proper military ranks vs the informal almost tribal titles you get as a Stormcloak. Or the way you can casually murder the Thalmor agents if the Stormcloaks win (or for that matter, how much easier it is to do the Solitude portion of the Dark Brotherhood quest when the guards want your target dead as much as you do.) Or defending Whiterun versus invading it.

                Its all about what means something to you. The ten ranks every Morrowind faction had didn’t mean much to me apart from the “You’re a member” rank and the “You’re the head honcho” rank. And this is coming from a guy who likes titles. Maybe there was a mechanical difference between all of those different titles, but I didn’t notice. I guess the differences between Jarls and philosophies and all that doesn’t mean much to you.

                • Isaac says:

                  But all those differences you named are completely cosmetic. I mean they are differences but in a very technical sense.

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Its all story and flavor differences. It may not affect the specific types of tasks you are performing (minus the invading vs defending in Whiterun) but they reflect differences in what is going on in the world beyond you and what kind of future you’re supporting for Skyrim.

                    If you like to reflect on that stuff, as I do, and think about the meaning behind your actions in the context of the world, its good stuff. If all you care about is which tasks you’re going to perform, then I guess it is just cosmetic.

                    I know not every choice is affected. I still smirk whenever Vilkas claims to have never heard of the guy who trapped a dragon in the castle right next door then flew out of that same castle on dragonback, the guy all of whiterun heard the Greybeards calling for. But they do make an effort.

                    • I think what’s being complained about is that there are no major quest chains that are kept from a player based on either their build, race, or choices. The Civil War is just cosmetic change, as you’re just fightin’ dudes in different locations.

                      Radiant quests are also interchangable and even less meaningful. Look at, say, the Dark Brotherhood’s radiant quests: one table of 10 random contacts that pick from another table of 10 random targets. It’s a vending machine, not a narratively meaningful quest chain.

                      There’s no guild quest, Daedric quest, or visit to a unique location that is in any way denied to you related to your character and past/future actions. You may be able to fail a quest somewhere, but that failure happens after you take the quest and you decide to actively fail it. Even then, it’s often meaningless. Take a look a the thieves guild. You get a starting quest to plant a ring on someone. Even if you fail, you proceed. This reinforces the kind of “we can’t deny the players first-playthrough content” mindset we’re talking about.

                    • Isaac says:

                      But if there are no consequences for my choices (such as siding with the Stormcloaks) that will drastically change the game world than why should I care about Skyrim? I didn’t care about any of the characters as much as you do so I didn’t really care if any of them had any special dialogue for the things you’ve done.

                    • Additional: It’s not just wanting to withhold content for withholding content, it’s presenting the player with choices and situations where they just can’t do some things because it wouldn’t make sense.

                      Remove Skyrim from a fantasy setting for a second. Say it’s in the modern day and instead of dragons, the enemy is a shadowy organization called COBRUH. There’s a police station available as a location, but unless you took the Detective or CIA Agent class, you can only report crimes and talk to the front desk guy (and do his quests). You CAN’T go into the crime lab, holding cells, or get the Cop of the Year prestige class. Then again, if you chose Corporate Fixer, you could instead go use the resources of MegaCorp, do their quests, and get the prestige title of Mr. CEO.

                      Each class in the above hypothetical gives you the tools/skills/power you need to advance, but it doesn’t let one person somehow get so good at everything they’re the best ninja, businessperson, police officer, and pizza delivery driver all at the same time. It lets you craft a character that has a raison d’etre as opposed to being a Mary Sue/Marty Stu who has all the distinct personality as a D&D character sheet with all the stats maxed to 18.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Except that you get good at your skills in this game only by using them. In D&D, you get good at your skills mostly by killing monsters (and looting treasure in earlier editions) that is what makes that abstraction necessary for that type of game.

                      But here, if you want maxed skills in everything, you can obtain those stills by earning them, by practicing all of them.

                    • But it’s not just skills we’re talking about, here. A cop wouldn’t be allowed to do quests for a drug dealer. A devil-worshipper wouldn’t be allowed to do quests for a church. No IT department would give someone who can’t even boot up a computer an “honorary geek” medal along with a corner office.

                      If this is supposed to be a role-playing game, it doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about your chosen “role” or if what you’re doing makes any sense. It’s the questing version of the fact that nobody in this game seems to notice you have glowing hands, armor that can stop a nuke, and horribly powerful weapons from supernatural entities in your arsenal when they boneheadedly decide to attack you: The game just doesn’t care what you’ve done or become.

                      To put it in fantasy terms: A paladin shouldn’t even be allowed in the thieves’ guild. This has nothing to do with whether or not said paladin has been practicing lockpicking as a hobby and can walk through a locked door as if he had the key. If they’re a hero of the realm with no reputation of even a slightly shady nature, they should be the last person the guild would allow through its doors. Otherwise, it just makes no flipping sense why they’d do that. It’s like letting Officer O’Mally into your disused warehouse to show him the ropes about stealing car stereos.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      The only scenarios that equate to your Paladin/Thief scenario are already mutually exclusive. Blades vs Greybeards once Paarthurnax is discovered and Imperials vs Stormcloaks (Also, Dawnguard vs Volkihar if you have that DLC).

                      If you think any of the Guild factions are mutually exclusive, thats just laughable. The Thieves Guild has informal relationships with both the Dark Brotherhood and College of Winterhold which only makes sense. The DB and College don’t interact because they have no reason to. The Thieves Guild may say they’re against violence but on the quest line there are times when you use it. Clearly they’re only against violence when you do Guild jobs.

                      So that leaves the Companions. But for all their protestations of honor and glory, they’re mercenaries who kill for money (and don’t generally adopt causes) and they’re not above murder for vengeance. They say they’re not into sneaky stuff but they venerate Hircine, lord of the hunt. Whats the difference between stalking and sneaking? Plus, they differ greatly on key issues even among themselves and have no real formal structure. And besides, how are the companions going to know about you being in the DB or Thieves Guild anyway unless you’re stupid enough to drag one of them along? And if you’re a great warrior, why should they care if you have other talents?

                      And the main rule the College of Winterhold seems to have is “Don’t get caught doing anything dangerous with your magic” They’re mainly worried about public relations but aside from that, all bets are off in their research.

                      None of these factions are pure idealists. There are a number of ways this is reflected in Skyrim such as their marriage system. They don’t have time to date around. Life is quick and brutal so they hook up and comfort each other for the short time they have.

                      Skyrim generally doesn’t needlessly lock you into a role whenever possible. If your character wouldn’t join certain guilds, then don’t join them. But these is no reason these guilds would stop you.

                    • Felblood says:

                      Look, I love playing games as different factions and finding there’s different flavor text for each faction, but there’s also an expectation that the actual gameplay will be different, so it doesn’t have to feel like a slog getting to those different flavor areas.

                      If you don’t have both, it can feel like you are punishing someone for wanting one, when you fail to provide the other.

                      See also: Dawn of War II single player– except don’t, because it’s campaign is super short, and all 8 races share it, except for the dialogues and certain cutscenes.

                • Jeff says:

                  As a habitual one-playthrough completionist who will actively look up what content remains, most of those differences you mentioned are not in any way inherently meaningful.

                  Consider: “Legate Rikke has to try to convince General Tullius of the symbolic value the Jagged Crown has while Ulfric immediately embraces it. Or the pragmatic demeanor of Tullius vs the impassioned romanticism of Jarl Ulfric. Or the proper military ranks vs the informal almost tribal titles you get as a Stormcloak.”

                  Slightly different different window dressings over slightly different objectives. I spent 200 hours on one playthrough, and there’s nothing worth redoing from “the other perspective” because it’s virtually identical. You make no meaningful choices.

                  Contrast it with Witcher 2, where Act 2 is completely different, and Act 3 where the story from both paths converge still has more meaningful changes. Fallout New Vegas has better player agency as well. Morrowind, you could at least murder Vivec and win the game in a rather round-about way, and I recall each Great House being mutually exclusive with notably different content.

            • Indy says:

              You’re right that accessing all of the content in the game requires more than one playthrough. And you’re right that no matter how samey the sides of the Civil War are, they are still different paths.

              While I can’t say if it’s true for Isaac or any other commenters, I do think there’s a difference between content locked by an ingame choice (such as the CW) and content locked behind skill requirements (like every Morrowind guild rank). Given the absence of classes in Skyrim, every character can become a mage and level up from it but that shouldn’t mean characters who are novice rank in every magic type can become the Arch-mage.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                See, to me, the rank locked stuff in Morrowind didn’t mean anything. Only two ranks matter, the membership rank and the top dog rank. For everything in between you’re just running errands. Ok, the Telvanni had a couple of meaningful transition, such as finding a Mouth for when you become a Councilor. But certainly most of the ten ranks in most of the factions I joined didn’t make a difference.

                “Whee, I’m picking flowers to help a stuck up unappreciative filthy cat girl finish her term paper. This is so much more fun than plumbing the depths of Blackreach in search of treasure. Thanks Morrowind.”

                • Indy says:

                  I was focusing more on the locked content than the actual ranks themselves but you’re right that the ranks aren’t incredibly diverse.

                  All that said, it’s unlikely Bethesda’s gonna make the push towards skill-locks again.

                  And taking your clothes off for Cassius Curio is really disturbing.

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Agreed. Not saying Morrowind doesn’t have its moments. I enjoyed killing him when the main quest was over.

                    But I reacted even more to Divath Fyr who actually says he wants me to go down into the basement because he wants to rub it in my face what a horrible freak I’m going to become if his cure doesn’t work. Corprus is a combination of basically every disease that scares me in real life and I don’t enjoy living in that fear for even a moment the way you might with a scary movie. Just writing this paragraph makes me wish I could have done more to hurt Divath before killing him. I kind of want to feel his neck with my real hands.

                    This is why I don’t play post apocalypse games. Who wants to live in that kind of misery? How is fantasizing about radiation poisoning fun at the end of a day in the office?

                    Morrowind is filled with horrible horrible people.

                    • drkeiscool says:

                      Divayth Fyr, who is trying to cure Corprus, is a horrible, horrible person?

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      He is incredibly detached about it, as though it was an academic curiosity. In fact he says as much. This is a “hobby” for him.

                      That combined with his reasons for sending you to the Corprusarium mark him as a horrible person.

                    • drkeiscool says:

                      But he’s trying to cure a terrible disease; his intentions may not be altruistic, but his actions are. Yes, just sending you down through the Corprusarium to fetch a pair of boots is a jerkish thing to do, but that doesn’t make him a horrible person who needs to die.

                    • syal says:

                      Divayth Fyr is a Telvanni who lives on the second floor of a tower with no stairs.

                      QED.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      drkeiscool,

                      Maybe but Morrowind tends to be cruel and cutthroat anyway. And I wanted his armor and he gave me just enough reason to believe he was like everyone else. He has a casual disregard for life not just for the way he toys with the Corprus but also the fact that he grew opposite sex clones of himself for “companionship”. And I’m pretty sure he owned slaves just like the rest of House Telvanni.

            • Isaac says:

              “Contrarian”? Chillax dude, it’s a video game.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                TO paraphrase Shamus “Chill dude, its just a comment.”

                • Isaac says:

                  But I’m not the one accusing people of being contrarian simply for disagreeing, am I?

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Not for disagreeing, but for reducing the efforts of this team to meaningless. My point is that the game provides enough for those who want to be invested in it and that no game will ever be enough for those who don’t.

                    • Ciennas says:

                      Actually, having built three characters and played through nearly everything in the base game….

                      I can say that the game started to reveal problems. Glaringly irritating ones, too.

                      I don’t care how invested you get- the dev team blocking player agency when they really want it at every turn makes the game bland and unfun. It’s competently executed for the most part, but it just starts to get samey- all they let you choose in the end is how to murder dudes. At all other times, the writing crew and programmers are having fun at your expense.

                      Maven Black-Briar being the supreme example for this game, but there was also the College of Winterholds villain, who was bleeding OBVIOUS before the end of his first conversation, yet you’re not allowed to be preemptive, or to break the story- rather than coding a spare villain or backup resolution, they force you to take the ride they determined, whereas back in the day they did include back doors and sidesteps that were available to the clever or forewarned.

                      We chafe at all of is so much because the games primary selling point is player agency and freedom- the things that are denied when the player wishes it the most.

                      And yes, in the lore, they go to a great deal of effort to render your choices meaningless.

                      The Dragonbreak. The annihilation of Morrowind Province and the colony of Raven’s Rock. The sundering of the Empire, and the dissolution of the Blades.

                      The biggest in-game freedom they allow is the Dark Brotherhood, and that choice conveniently prevents you from actually destroying them once and for all if you so choose (Babette, Cicero, and the Night Mother all survive.)

                      I get the why’s of this, certainly. It’s hard to code and write two branching plots, and player freedoms mean a headache for all sequels to have to write around. That does not make it any less frustrating however.

                      ….

                      Ya know, I had a lot of fun with Skyrim for a while, too. I came to these conclusions independent of Shamus and company, however. This game series is a lot like DM of The Rings- an iron fisted DM punishes players for breaking his story more and more as time goes by.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      I wish the game allowed more choices too. Destroying the Thieves Guild, killing the Black Briars. Telling Karliah where to stick it (or resisting/avoiding her arrow which can apparently an ethereal invisible super sprinting (or time accelerated) Dragonborn who is a Vampire and thus immune to poison (She couldn’t possibly have crafted that arrow with my unique talents in mind, and whats more, if you toggle clipping trigger the event and restore your mobility through console, you’ll see she only materializes in the room after you’re hit).

                      I want to be able to turn down becoming a Werewolf (thankfully with Dawnguard you can just have Serana immediately turn you into a vampire then get cured of that meaning you don’t have to be a furry for more than two minutes.) I want to be able to side with Astrid instead of the Night Mother.

                      I want to be able to adopt more than two children. After all, I built an extra bedroom wing and I have plenty of servants to look after them. And there are just too many pitiable children.

                      Like you, I want to be able to kill Cicero (Babette is another story, I don’t care how old she really is, I’m glad she wasn’t there and I understand why Bethesda didn’t put her in that scene. Besides, the DB does do jobs. Even if you purge the hq, there are bound to be a few out on assignment.)

                      And I wish the Forsworn Markarth Quest let me take it a step further and get rid of the Silver Bloods.

                      So yeah, there are options that are sadly cut (I know they were planning on allowing you to kill Maven and the Thieves Guild but didn’t have time). But I still felt like there was enough to do and that I could be who I wanted to be in the game most of the time. A lot more than any other game I’ve played (including prior ES installments).

                    • Ciennas says:

                      Oh no, agreed. Killing Babette would have been creepy and unclean. I’m glad she’s not present in that version of the quest. As she is a three hundred year old murderess in the Brotherhood’s employ, however, it means that she gets counted in the survivor list.

                    • That does bring up another thing: The canonical ending vs. your game’s ending.

                      I’m fine if what I did isn’t considered canonical for the sequels. The Fallout series has done fairly well with this, and since they let me see the results of what I do in the game itself, that’s satisfying enough for me. The next game’s lore can have Hoover Dam be a smoldering pile of rubble with the Colorado River flowing through the debris, so long as in New Vegas I can take it for myself, give it to my faction of choice, or blow it up.

                      Are the Elder Scrolls writers/devs trying to make sure that no matter what you do, the basic elements are all still present for whatever sequel they might make? I’m not sure that makes for a better experience.

                    • syal says:

                      I’m still waiting for a game with multiple endings in which the canonical ending is the protagonist losing a boss fight and dying halfway through the game.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Thanks to time travel involved in Ocarina of Time, there is a timeline where Link succeeded and one where he failed to defeat Ganon. The first game in the Fallen Hero chronology is A Link To the Past (yeah, these games are released out of order in fact, the first NES Zelda game is the fourth game in the Fallen Hero chronology, the first game chronologically from the perspective of any timeline is Skyward Sword).

                      Of course there is also the events that follow from the Adult Link’s victory in Ocarina of Time which carry on after Adult Link leaves to return to the past (so this timeline has kid link disappear for seven years, show up briefly as Adult link to defeat Ganon, then disappear again.) Wind Waker is the first game along this fork.

                      Then there is the timeline that follows from Kid Link’s arrival back in his own time. A hero armed with knowledge of the future who is able to stop Ganondorf before he gets started. Majora’s Mask is the first game in this split.

                    • syal says:

                      …I refuse to believe the Legend of Zelda has any canon at all. It’s like having a timeline for all of Final Fantasy.

                      But Majora was the last one I played; maybe they’ve gotten super invested in the story arcs now.

                      Like Final Fantasy.

                    • Trix2000 says:

                      It definitely does, but there is a degree to which it doesn’t matter much or affect the individual games – mostly because it’s kind-of assumed there’s a LOT of time between installments. About the only things that seem to pass down are the hero legends and Ganon.

                      They released an official timeline too. Surprised a bunch of people who’d already deduced two timelines (young and old link) but never expected the ‘hero fails’ one.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Agreed Syal. Ocarina of Time was sadly my last Zelda game and I hadn’t even thought to consider these having continuity. When I heard fans talking about “Zelda canon” later on I laughed. Its such a silly thing to care about. Blatant fanboyism.

                      That said, the concepts surrounding the split timeline are kind of neat even if they don’t matter.

                    • syal says:

                      I do like the idea of split timelines. I think Drakengard did that as well; Drakengard 2 assumed one of the 5 endings and Nier assumed another. (Source: The Dark Id Lets Plays)

                      @Trix: if Square released an official timeline for all the Final Fantasies I would mock that as well. Even if it made sense. Because it’s after the fact, and the fact is, it was originally a reset.

                      (…I kind of want to write a Final Fantasy timeline now. It seems doable.)

    • hborrgg says:

      I don’t even think that’s the problem. This game doesn’t exactly force specialization, so they could probably have just as easily allowed a lvl 50 warrior to join the mage’s college and then had them grind up their magic skills for a little while to progress, just like the game would do with a lvl 1 wizard who joined.

      • That always makes me think of the Order of the Stick cartoon where Elan the Bard thinks about taking a level of wizard, even though he’s never studied magic. This drives the party’s mage, who studied for a century before casting his 1st level spells, crazy-go-nuts, of course. A lot of games (tabletop and computer) do this stuff, which makes you think that the whole institutionalized learning of magic is kind of a sham. :)

    • Darren says:

      There’s one big, glaring exception in Skyrim, and that’s the Dark Brotherhood. I was so conditioned by other Bethesda games that I didn’t think that it would be possible to kill the woman who recruits you. But doing so not only is possible, it kicks off a quest that sees you wiping out the Dark Brotherhood!

      I wish every guild was like that: you can join, but the game presents you with a choice and doesn’t pressure you one way or the other. Maybe they make you demonstrate some basic magic to enter the College, but they don’t actively force you to join (“You may enter the grounds, but know that you are not a student and will not have full access to our services. If you wish to enroll, speak with Tolfdir.”) Maybe the Thieves Guild quest only starts if you have a stolen item in your inventory–I downloaded a mod that requires a sneak of X and a pickpocket of Y, and it makes it much better; plus you can buy the snakeoil he’s selling and get one free boost to Barter for the “learning experience.”

  3. guy says:

    What got me with the questline was that, for all that they couldn’t shut up the characters were pretty bad about actually telling you anything. I have outlandishly high tolerance for gigantic infodumps, but neither of the all-knowing guys who showed up to ramble at you could be bothered to tell you what was going on.

    • Abnaxis says:

      YES.

      I understand the cast is tired of the game, so they’re reigning in Josh’s little side trips, but HOLY CRAP 75% OF EVERY EPISODE IS STARING AT AN NPC, LISTENING TO POORLY EMOTED EXPO DUMPS NOW.

      EDIT: Scratch that, it’s only, like, 50% boring exposition. The rest is hiking, and entirely too little chaos.

      • It’s hard to have loads of fun chaos when the NPCs don’t react to what you do (apart from stealing), the most annoying ones can’t be killed, and your decisions don’t really matter.

        My favorite episode this season still has to be where Catbert cast Rage at the execution. That was awesome.

  4. Hal says:

    Library orc is cool, but my favorite orc is from Oblivion: Lord Rugdumph gro-Shurgak. He’s absolutely hilarious.

    Also, Septimus Signus’s “wizened old man” voice is one of the few character voices I can do effectively for D&D, but it is exhausting.

    • Eric says:

      It’s a voice I’ve been practicing ever since I first heard it as Pepin the Healer.

      Paul Eiding does such cool voices.

    • The Rocketeer says:

      Here’s the thing about the Orc librarian: he’s the Orcest Orc to ever Orc the Orc.

      Being an Orc, and a follower of Trinimac, goes hand in hand with being marginalized and outcast. So here we have an Orsimer, likely subject to all the same prejudices that all of his kind are subject too, except he’s also the only Orc in this entire college, and probably wouldn’t be respected by many of his own kind either due to being a sedentary intellectual. The college itself, is also a place the people of Skyrim regard with suspicion and resentment, as well as everyone within. As an Orc, it’s likely he isn’t even very good at magic, setting him apart from and likely lowering him in the eyes of even the mages around him, and his day job is to manage a library that NO. ONE. ever uses, because it’s curated by a scary Orc.

      And you know what? He STILL manages to be totally awesome in spite of all of that. If this guy doesn’t hold a very special place in Orkey’s heart, then I don’t get Daedra at all.

    • Jokerman says:

      He is actually the only member of the whole guild i remember…. “Don’t touch them books!”

  5. Thearpox says:

    When I hear the music, it often reminds me of Neverwinter Nights. That actually made me really confused several times earlier in the season, where I thought I had it running in the background.

  6. guy says:

    This was the Daedric quest where you need Dwemer blood, only there isn’t any of that left, so instead you murder members of each Mer race and use their blood. It gives you ranks in a bunch of skills.

    • Jacob Albano says:

      I think that’s this quest, isn’t it? I definitely remember the crazy guy giving you the blood device.

      • Corpital says:

        I’m a bit concerned that the daedric quest for Oghma in both games is to collect blood samples from all (mer) races.

        • modus0 says:

          Almost, the Oblivion one is to collect the souls of each of the races.

          Maybe he’s trying to set up his own eugenics program, and needs various components of the various races to do so without abducting a bunch of people.

          And maybe in The Elder Scrolls VI he’ll send us on a quest to gather skins from each of the various races.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Yeah. This is the Daedric Quest for the Magic Book of Glitches that you can use to get your character to 100 in all skills.

      This has since been patched out. However, if anyone says that legit got to max all skills in another way, I will call them a liar.

      • IFS says:

        I really hate the quest if only because of how it ends, even if you refuse to do Mora’s bidding he just kills the guy himself and goes ‘haha exactly as planned, now you’re my champion’. I get that they’re trying to make him this all knowing chessmaster but that was just so dumb and it made me feel like the whole ‘champion of whatever Daedra’ is pretty meaningless since Mora at least just claims you regardless of if you work for him or not.

        • Isaac says:

          One of my favorite Daedra moments from Skyrim is when I killed all of Boethiah’s cultists at her shrine with my Deadra-hating sword and board Redguard. Just as I was leaving, she came down and told me that I had to do her bidding as punishment for killing all her cultists. I refused just to see what would happen andddddd yup she didn’t do shit except for threaten me. Then she disappeared.

          This is Skyrim’s biggest flaw: its choices and consequences are very weak and makes interactions like this one feel empty and meaningless.

          • IFS says:

            Yeah, compare that to say pissing off the Legion or NCR in New Vegas where you get fairly tough squads sent after you from time to time as their way of following through on their threats and trying to deal with your transgression. It wouldn’t even be hard to code in some random encounters like that in Skyrim, just have some powerful cultists attack from time to time or perhaps some subtler revenge depending on the Daedra crossed. Mephala (I think Mephala is the webspinner one at least) for example might start turning friends against you or something like that if you pissed her off, etc. Even if it was just the occasional cultist death squad it would be a lot better than what we got.

            • Oooh. Combining that with mortal NPCs would’ve been a great mechanic. Usually everyone has favorite NPCs, and if a villain could put the whammy on them so they suddenly went hostile, that could be an interesting challenge. Off the top of my head, I’d have it so your only avenues were flee, kill them, or use some rare macguffin/magic to return them to normal… that would be kind of cool.

              It would also invest you in a revenge-quest against said villain.

              • IFS says:

                If I’m remembering right Mephala’s artifact, the Ebony Blade, gets more powerful when you kill people who like you with it so it could even tie into that as her simultaneously trying to get revenge and sway you to her side.

                It would also give more uses for illusion magic as charm might be able to calm them down, if only temporarily, or perhaps add in some sort of nonlethal damage/weapons to knock them out and look for a cure.

            • Trix2000 says:

              The sad thing is, I believe the game already has similiar capability – people you steal from can sometimes send thugs after you IIRC.

  7. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I’m 100% with the SW crew about the Archmage Robes. Man did they suck. They should have built on the design principles of the Master Wizard robes which at least have color to them.

    • Cinebeast says:

      Most infuriating for me was that the Archmage Robes come with a hood that you can’t remove. Fortunately, once you become Archmage you gain access to some higher-tier mage robes and hoods, so you don’t need to wear the terrible thing for very long.

      • ET says:

        Maybe that’s their incentive to level up? Get rid of the horrible robes. :P

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Statistically better robes and hoods? Where?

        • Cinebeast says:

          I’m merely referring to wearing Master Robes in conjunction with an Adept Hood. The Archmage Robes only supply 100% and 15% bonuses to magicka regen and all spell schools, respectively, while the Master Robes offer a 150% bonus to magicka regen, and a 20% bonus to any one spell school.

          Granted, if you don’t favor one spell school over the others then the Archmage Robes might suit you better, but still — 150%!

          Plus they just look better than the Arch-hobo Robes.

      • Tizzy says:

        I think part of the problem is that you cannot make your own robes and hoods. By putting in the necessary effort, you can turn our armor and weapons that outclass anything you may expect to run across in chests or merchants inventory. With the added advantage that you can fine tune the items to your precise playstyle.

        But you can’t do that with robes, or staffs. Once again proof of the devs throwing hurdles in the way of players who want to exclusively use magic.

        • Microwaviblerabbit says:

          You can enchant various robes and hoods, but they are all ‘low tier’ looking items like generic monk robes or necromancer robes. I agree it is much worse than with armor and weapons, since you cannot make clothing and there is only one avenue of improvement (enchanting). Staffs suck in general, and always seemed self defeating to me like a magic crutch. While the charge is affected by magic skill, the damage is not, and they do not improve magic skills.

          Plus other than stoneskin spells and the related perk, wearing armor does not change magic effectiveness, unlike in Oblivion. For mage characters I tend to use abuse the circlet/dragon priest mask and Penitus Oculatus helmet glitch since that gives me a decent looking mage helmet (with dragonscale armor). I do wish you could get dragon priest robes. Especially since you can get draugr armor.

      • Disc says:

        There’s a hoodless version in the game files but you can only get it through the console. It doesn’t have the +50 magicka enchant, but it’s otherwise the same. There’s also a bunch of mods that restore the item and I think there was one that lets you change between the two versions and keep the hooded stats.

  8. Entropy says:

    Mumbles wanted to speak to a ghost of the Dwemer or something? Well, Morrowind has the closest thing I think we’ll ever get:

    http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:Yagrum_Bagarn

    Yagrum Bagarn, the Last of the Dwemer.

  9. Phantos says:

    What Josh talked about, about how cool it would have been if the Thalmor dude was just a red herring was such an obvious twist to do, I’m baffled that Bethesda didn’t go with it.

    The people at Bethesda have way too much confidence in their writing abilities.

    • Corpital says:

      But at least nobody cares, if you punch him. Once clawed at his face for several minutes, without anybody reacting to it.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        As with all the Thalmor, Ancano is SO much fun to kill. But thanks to his quest immortality, he ends up being even more fun to just whale on. An arrogant Nazi elf who can’t die and you can just beat up forever? Its Christmas.

        • Ciennas says:

          Yeah. I set him on fire after the expedition to the first city of Men. Didn’t even react, just fell over, stared at me for a second, and then just walked off.

          At least his decent into villainy felt more justified in that playthrough.

  10. Hector says:

    One nicer thing about the Mage quests, at least, is that they do thematically fit with what they’re going for. You joint he college, you learn some spells and even take part in a minimal class once. You go exploring a musty dungeon – but not actually looking for treasuring as trying to solve archeological mysteries. And the writing, while not exactly *good*, is at least not worse than usual in Skyrim.

    Really, the biggest problem with it is that most of the good content is basically off in the sidequests and almost irrelevant to your progress.
    You never need, and may not have a reason to want, anything you can get/accomplish there. And without those sidequests, the College is a rather stubby questline.

    One nice thing: I was rather amused by the fact that everybody explicitly disliked and disrespected the Thalmor agent, who was trying (and failing) to manipulate the situation. Everybody knew outright he was a blatant villain, and simply intended to humor him until he went away. There’s actually a nice contrast between him the Psijics, who have respect without earning and make no demands. It’s a small thing, but it’s a nice touch and gave the world some color. Here are people that, while not outright enemies are definitely not friends, trying to figure out how to get along and assert their interests, plus other factions pushing events along.

    The entire Augur quest was obscure and rather absurd, however. I don’t think they ever clearly explained what the hell that was about, nor why the weird under-dungeon was there at all. And the town around the College was a huge wasted opportunity. I’m stunned that Bethesda never thinks to develop some additional DLC with maybe a dozen good quests to flesh out the world like that – it wouldn’t be too hard to develop, would add a lot of flavor and fun, while not really interrupting the basic flow of the game. Of all the companies in the business, they’re almost the only one for whom the “lots of bite-size DLC packs” concept would really favor.

    • Hector says:

      Without editing, I’m going to expand a bit on what I just wrote.

      The College makes sense – a *lot* of sense – if you go there very early and perhaps ignore the main quest. However, it feels outright *wrong* if you’re taking an experienced character there.

      I’d argue the Companions are the best-integrated questline despite its own shortcomings, and that’s because they fit into what Skyrim is about at its most basic level: proud Vikings who kick butt. And no matter whom you really are, the Companions make sense. They have to do some work to earn their keep, but overall they’re just brave warriors. They’ve got a long line of famous heroes and probably don’t care if you’re Famous McAwesomeName or Nobody VonNoWhere. No matter what you’ve done, joining the Companions is a prestigious thing, and they aren’t going to be impressed – plus they’ve got good reasons for limiting newcomers.

      The Mages… not so much. They don’t really acknowledge your deeds, which doesn’t make much sense, and they offer very few advantages to you. They might well want to study the Dragonborn, or pay off the Thieves’ Guild to arrange for protection or get back stolen goods. It would make *sense* if the College really delved into the relationships somewhere, but they don’t. It doesn’t matter if you join as a Master of Destruction or have the learning of a particularly dim mule.

      Likewise, while I like the interaction with the Psijics, it would be really interesting to have a quest or something focusing on the difference between Psijics and the Mages. The Psijics are mystics; the College, more like the Mages Guild in other games, view it as a science or engineering discipline with little moral meaning and would generally roll their eyes at mysticism. The Psijics take only very few, while the College is there for anyone to learn. (And it would be interesting to perhaps see some students with little or no magical power who are learning theory, history, and alchemy instead).

      Just some small acknowledgement, or some alternative ways to hear about the college would go a long way to making this better. perhaps it might be: Advancing as a spellcaster but haven’t joined yet? The college actually sends you a letter inviting you, which could then lead to a special conversation instead of the normal one, and a few different dialogues later. Or, if you’re an especially infamous spellcaster, they might send a mage not to attack, but you invite you to share at the college and urge you to consider the public image of spellcasters in Skyrim. And continuing to rack up crimes by violent magic might then lead to another encounter with angry College mages backing up guards trying to bring you in.

      But mostly, yeah, the quests don’t have *any* emotional payoff. There’s not a lot going on and you basically just follow the breadcrumbs. By the end of it, you just feel that stuff happened to you, without you ever really driving events. Which is a damn shame.

      • Kalil says:

        Re: the Psijics,
        I very much felt like that the point of the whole Winterhold questline was “The Psijics are still out there, and are going to be in TESVI!”
        Um, yah, that’ll only happen if there’s continuity in the writing staff. That’s never happened before, and given the steady degradation the writing in the series has undergone, I hope it doesn’t happen here.

    • Tizzy says:

      My feelings exactly. The quest line was not necessarily the most fascinating (a *lot* of dungeon delving compared to Thieves and Dark Brotherhood that mix it up more). But the various characters and motivations made sense, more or less. And even the dungeon delving had a couple of nice story touches put into it, so that for once even the way you get to unlock the quest-locked dungeons makes perfect sense.

      A few reservations. Not too convinced about the need for the Psijic stuff, but that’s mere weak writing, not nonsensical. Also, I dislike the archmage outcome. I’d rather you make me Honorary Troubleshooter, or something, rather than absentee CEO…

  11. Kyte says:

    FYI a lot of tracks in Skyrim are lifted straight from Morrowind. For example, the generic combat track is Morrowind. This made for quite a nostalgia trip when I first loaded up Skyrim.

  12. djshire says:

    Now Daemian Lucifer, the game is unbearable.

  13. newdarkcloud says:

    “And you need the College to get the great Master-level spells.”

    CONTRADICTION! There are no great Master-level spells. They all suck for various reasons.

    Also, I miss spellcrafting.

    • Corpital says:

      Weeeell…-100% Destruction cost and then shooting your magical lightning laser for as long as you like was pretty awesome for the first few bandit camps.

    • Viktor says:

      Conjuration has Dead Thrall, which lets you have Ulfric Stormcloak as your perpetual shouting zombie minion/pack mule. Illusion has AOE calm/frenzy, which can eliminate all the stupid little fights in dungeons so you only have to face the boss.

      Basically, as with everything else, it’s only Destruction, Alteration, and Restoration which suck.

      • Tizzy says:

        Illusion master spells are pretty sweet, except for messing up object arrangements. And it sometimes painful to see how inefficient and slow these draugr are at killing each other…

        It’s too bad, I stayed away from Illusion in my firs playthrough because I was (and still am) put off by the level caps on he spells.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          I especially love the area calm effect. No matter how bad a crime I commit, I can area calm and then pay my fines with a guard. Which is a great way to get out of trouble after using the area frenzy spell to start a bar fight.

  14. WaysideMaze says:

    I like to imagine the ice in that cave was just really slippy, and Jenessa was just trying not to fall over. Like those old cartoons where a character tries to run on a floor full of marbles.

  15. Corpital says:

    What really makes me mad is not how awful everything involving Winterhold is, but how much opportunity was missed. It’s like the tendency of many modern games to give you a gimmick, maybe even a cool one, then force a tutorial upon you and never mention or even use it again afterwards.

    After the first lesson with the shield spell and the exploration, I was rather impressed. What other spells are we going to learn? What spells will I be able to create? And what revelations about the orb will we uncover(after, admittedly, doing some fetch quests or killing a dungeon full of draugr)? Nothing. Even finding the master spells was somewhat tricky, because they screwed the translation up somwhere.

    Now my eyes are probably clouded by nostalgia and the slightly malfunctioning RAM in my head, but wasn’t this something Morrowind excelled at? Sometimes at least?
    All the stories with the same gist, but different details or stories which each only tell a part of whatever happened and you can extrapolate what happened. Sometimes a few fragments of lore is all you get, but most times it is enough to keep it mysterious and interesing.
    But here? There is just nothing to know about the Eye of Magnum. The humans found it, the elves killed them for it and then just let it sit there, while the survivors sailed back home to Atmora and returned with their famous 500. Oh and you need the Staff of Maguuma to do anything with the orb, except if you are a Psijics or the Thalmor. And the Augur could have been so interesting, but no, his thirst for knowledge was too great and now he is too cool to tell you anything useful. They didn’t even make a half-assed moral lesson out of him.

    Same applies for the dwemer. After, by pure chance, finding my way into the Blackreach, I was *shocked* to not find anything about it written down except There Be Falmer and through which ruins it can be reached. This was the place, where my first dragonborn died, because I just couldn’t keep playing after that disappointment.

  16. Bropocalypse says:

    Wizards were never cool anyway. A mundane person overcoming the powers of the otherworldly through sheer grit and cunning alone? Now THAT’s badass.

  17. IFS says:

    I liked the mages college questline, if only because it sent me to a bunch of Dwemer ruins and I loved exploring those. Of course I expected them to do a twist where the Thalmor wasn’t the big villain but no, that was both too obvious and too clever a twist for Bethesda to attempt.

    Also the number of pointless battles Josh had while running from place to place makes me wonder if Skyrim would be more interesting if there was less combat while roaming. It seems sometimes like the game is afraid of letting you have some quiet time to explore so it shoves pointless boring fights in your face. Like some places I can understand being super dangerous, dungeons, bandit camps, maybe bandit encounters on roads, the occasional dragon attack and certain remote areas where the wildlife is hostile (it still annoys me how often wolves are a go to enemy in games considering that wolves normally only attack humans when sick/starving). Less combat would let you have more freedom to roam, make the combat that is there more exciting, and make it take longer for you to get bored of skyrim’s boring combat system.

  18. Commissar Moose says:

    When you were talking about the Thalmor, I realized that they’re a heck of a lot more interesting if you read into some of the lore behind them. Presumably, their view is that existence itself was a mistake brought on by the trickster god Lorkhan, and they wish to undo existence itself or at least end the mortal world so that they can return to being wandering spirits or something like that. One of Bethesda’s writers, Michael Kirkbride, suggested that the Thalmor are going to win, which raises some interesting questions about the future direction of the Elder Scrolls series.

    • Raygereio says:

      Michael Kirkbride used to be a designer at Bethesda. He’s still very active in the TES lore community, but he does not any creative control over the setting.
      Which is probably for the best since some the stuff he writes is really interesting metaphysical stuff, but a lot of it just weird and silly.

      • Commissar Moose says:

        He still writes content for Bethesda, but on a contractual basis. For example, Paarthurnax references kalpas, or cycles, which is something that Kirkbride wrote about maybe a year or two before Skyrim came out, so some of his writing is being used by Bethesda, at least as an inspiration for general lore ideas. He has some really weird and interesting ideas, so I would at least hope that Bethesda takes some of it into consideration, since all the crazy and weird stuff is what makes their setting interesting.

        • The Rocketeer says:

          Kalpas feature into the Yokudan creation myth, as well. The Yokudan creation story is fairly different from most of the others, and its interesting that a dragon would seemingly give credence to its concepts.

  19. MadTinkerer says:

    “No interesting characters.”

    How dare you sir. Sure, none of them are interesting until you are done the main college quest, but they’re not all bad. Colette and Enthir are hilarious (to me at least), Tolfdir is senile but good-natured and usually helpful, the students all have interesting back-stories and make decent companions, but my favorite is Nirya.

    One of Nirya’s most repeated lines post-College-quest is something like “I do hope you’ve been keeping track of who has been the most useful, Arch-mage”. I love this because she is literally the least useful character at the college. Even the characters that die as part of quests at least have that purpose. For some reason, it just amuses me to no end that she thinks she’s one of the most important characters there while actually being absolutely the most useless. Maybe it’s because I know a bunch of people like that in real life.

    But you’re 100% right about the main college quest being nonsensical awfulness. It’s less ridiculous if you don’t complete it right away, and just atrocious if you finish as soon as you can, because at the end they decide you’re the most qualified to be Arch-mage because you zapped a magic ball with a magic staff when literally everyone else there is more qualified than you in terms of running a college.

    What really stood out to me the second time around is how the secret society dudes keep saying what happens is inevitable when it’s easily preventable at several opportunities, you’re just never given the dialogue options to stop it. The premise of you being Harry Potter isn’t a bad idea, the problem is that Voldemort keeps hanging around in plain sight and trying to steal a giant mystical orb and only you can stop him because you are the only one who believes he would try a plan that obvious. And even then it’s not because you discover the guy is evil, but because the Secret Dudes keep telling you that the guy’s Evil Plot is Inevitable and that you are Destined to stop him shortly after it is too late to warn anyone. Even though you totally could stop him far before it’s too late with one line of dialogue if the writers would let you try.

    EDIT: This is made even worse, now that I think about it, by a few other quests where the goal is to stop a killer or group of killers and you totally can save several of their victims by intervening in time; who would otherwise die if you don’t prevent it. Not to mention quests where all you have to do is tell someone “stay put, I’ll take care of this” or they’ll get themselves killed. But in the college quest, Everything is Pre-Scripted I Mean Destiny and you cannot tattle to the teachers about the obvious bad guy.

    EDIT 2: Being a mage is still awesome though. High Elf helps, but I was Breton the first time around. And getting the Arch-mage’s quarters is worth putting up with the plot holes.

    • Henson says:

      What kills me is that Tolfdir makes a unilateral decision on the spot and makes you Archmage. Is that it? How the hell is this decision process supposed to work, anyway? Apparantly, they don’t have a council of elders or a general vote or a trial by combat. If the college loses their archmage, the new one is chosen by whoever calls gives someone else the title first. Shotgun! No tagbacks!

    • Ciennas says:

      This actually came up earlier. Being a Mage was more awesome back in the prior titles of the series- this games combat system drastically favors melee combat over all else, with perks for magic damage not stacking anywhere near as far as melee weapons, especially when forging improved weapons comes into play.

      They seemed to have deliberately gone out of their way to nerf magic hard for this game.

      • syal says:

        I wonder if they did that just because the Nords aren’t super known for magic.

        Like, if the next one is in the Summerset Isles will melee get nerfed and magic be the only practical fighting method?

        • Ciennas says:

          No, they did it because clever game players broke the game with magic so hard that nobody was safe.

          Stackable weakness to magic plus magic damage- everything fell in four hits or less.

          Buuut… they pushed so hard against those guys that the Melee fighters got in on it instead.

          Instead of glitched magic, they had glitched potion brewing.

  20. The developers should have been more daring.
    Becomeing Archmage Thievs master Fighter Champion (+ champion for a bunch of demigods) Dragonborn Jarl seems awesome, but you never get to truly flex that status in my oppinion.

    It would have been interesting if becoming the champion of “whatever” that you would be closed of from going on the other champion paths.

    It would have given a lot of replayability that way as you would want to to play through and try for a mage or a fighter the next time around.

    This way you could become Dragonborn Archmage and Jarl of Whitrerun for example.
    In another you could become Dragonborn Fighter champion and Jarl of Riften.
    … and so on.

    And they could have made your Jarl position impact the side of the wear (for that town) heck, if you became a Jarl of Riften, shouldn’t you be the ruler of Riften then?

    And then if they where truly daring, they could unlock (after the first full playthrough maybe?) the possibility of becoming the Jarl of all towns, and make a beline for the Queen regent and maybe try to become King on top of it all?

    Games like Skyrim is all about re-playability, exploring things you didn’t notice the last time or a path that you did not or could not take.

    What I’m talking about is kind of hiding half the game behind a Game+ mode as some tend to call it.

    Something like that would probably make Shamus play through the game more than once :P

    • Vect says:

      But you don’t ever get to be a Jarl. You just end up as Thane, which is just means “You did the Jarl a solid”.

      Still, being Thane should have at least given you some options. Like being able to challenge Ulfric to a duel like he did with Torygg, with the conceit that you’re of some level of prestige and he’ll come off looking like a massive hypocrite if he refuses.

  21. Josh, funny you mentioned Jeremy Soule.
    Take a gander at this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Soule#Video_games

    A few highlights:
    Elder Scrolls (Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind)
    WoW: Mists of Pandaria
    Guild Wars (1 and 2 and more)
    Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic
    Dungeon Siege (1 and 2)
    Company of Heroes (series of games)
    Harry Potter (series of games)
    Neverwinter Nights 1 (and reused in NWN2)
    Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance
    Icewind Dale

    Just FIY, the music in KoTOR was awesome, same with NWN games ad Dungeon Siege.
    If you can get hold of the soundtracks for those games they make awesome background music when coding.

    EDIT:
    You can find some of his music here https://www.directsong.com/mobile/index.php?menuid=4

    The KoTOR soundtrack I’m not sure if it’s legally sold standalone (correct me if I’m wrong).
    However you can extract the music from the game itself http://soundtracks.mixnmojo.com/kotor1.htm

  22. Nick Powell says:

    I thought it would have been cool if, throughout the game, there were alternate quest lines where you could go and visit the orc librarian and ask him for information and books on artifacts that you need to find.

    It always bothered me that ‘we need to find more information on this artifact’ quests never even considered going to the biggest library in the country.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I’ll admit to being completely thrown by exactly that general approach when I first played Witcher 2. I wasn’t really focusing on the relevant quest, but I knew I needed information on harpies, and (as I was collecting books just for fun) I already had a book about harpies. Never even occurred to me that the one might have something to do with the other…

      Several facepalms later I realised I’d been waiting to encounter Harold Harper the Harpy Hunter one evening at the inn, or for some random stranger to suggest I visit the Harpy College in Harpyhold. Or something.

  23. Talk more about game music!
    Seriously, I love hearing about it (says the woman who owns the first two Halo soundtracks despite never having played Halo). I’d love to know what games have the best music in Spoiler Warning/Diecast humble opinions.
    Personally, I’d stick Oblivion and Lotro at the top, Oblivion works better as a orchestral CD sort of thing (same way you might listen to a symphony) and lotro has great zone mood music.

    • Ciennas says:

      I like the Halo soundtracks, too! I would recommend the ODST theme- it’s all neat and jazzy. The series as a whole has had great music though- you can sample it on Amazon.

  24. Cybron says:

    All I could think when the horse abandoned you was “That’s what you get for trusting Patches.”

  25. C0Mmander says:

    I seems Trusty wasn’t so trustworthy. Heh,Heh?

  26. spotmarkedx says:

    Josh should probably spend about 10 minutes at an alchemy lab – I’m willing to bet he has about 150+ encumberance tied up with alchemy components by this point.

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