Tag Archives: Skyrim

Being nice in Skyrim means even to Daedric princes

[This post contains spoilers about the quest called The House of Horrors. You’ve been warned.]

Last night, I did something horrible in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, something completely out of character, and for it I was rewarded a crazy new enchanted weapon and the boost to cross over to level 15. Part of me feels bad for the role I played, Lohgahn’s polar opposite of being righteous and nice to everyone, but part of me understands that this is another’s life, a fantasy at that, and living a life is never predictable. I’m rolling with it, and so I’m Lohgahn, Dragonborn and overall nice guy who sometimes steals cheese wheels and does the bidding of a Daedric demon prince. I didn’t want to beat that priest to death; see, the voice above told to me.

Normally, with RPGs that let you be anyone from everyone, I’m one style through and through, with my first playthrough usually devoted to the role of a hero, a smiling lad (with a beard) willing to help out those in trouble, who would do every quest for no money simply because saving the world is truly what matters. My second playthrough is saved for being a jerk, stealing blindly from stores and murdering those that don’t like it. I try not to mix and match, but with that said, I also dislike reloading old saves if things don’t go as perfectly planned–the only time I do that is if I accidentally steal an item by pressing the button too soon before the cursor can hover over the person I want to speak with. That’s not my fault nor my intentions, but if a quest spins me on my head…that’s fine. Just let me know when it’s safe to get off.

I stumbled upon the quest The House of Horrors unknowingly, and after the first bits of it passed by I had a choice. Back away and pretend I never got involved, or follow through, with maybe a hope of turning the tide come the end. With this quest, the Dragonborn is tasked with finding a priest after discovering a Daedric demon haunting a house in Markarth. Molag Bal is all voice and no body, but what a voice he has–this is what drew me into the quest and, alas, kept me there. Mesmerized by his masochistically libidinous tone, I agreed to do his bidding. Anyways, you eventually lure this priest back to the house to pay for his crimes of tainting Molag Bal’s altar, and are then demanded to beat him to death. There were no other options. Beat him. Here, use this rusty mace. Beat him some more. Make him regret life. I did, but I didn’t like it. My reward felt somewhat sickening:

Daedric Influence (10G): Acquire a Daedric Artifact

It’s the unexpected like this that really make Skyrim shine. I mean, what does this mean for Lohgahn now? Is he going to slowly trickle down into darkness? Or is he only going to work harder to be a great dude to make amends? For my time in Skyrim so far, he’s been nothing but upstanding, taking down dragons (four in total), retrieving lost family heirlooms from bandits, and putting little ghost girls to rest. His only crimes so far have been small and unintentional, accidentally setting some guards on fire during a crazy chaotic dragon fight outside Whiterun. He’s not a servant of some cruel Daedric prince. He’s not.


I don’t really know, but I’m ready to find out.

Achievements of the Week – The Blessed Unbound Master Edition

It has arrived. The day is 11/11/11, and it is so much more than a Spinal Tap reference or a day to honor Veterans everywhere–it’s the day dragons awoke, the day I became a bearded man of import. Getting there wasn’t hard; Tara and I went to my local GameStop around 10ish, paid for my copies of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 (which I won’t be able to pick up until early next week) and then hung out on the store’s floor for a bit. We gamed on our DSes for a bit, but eventually had to line up outside in the cold as we drew nearer to midnight. Once the time chimed high, we were sent into the store in groups of six or seven, given our copies, and ushered out. The drive home seemed to take forever.

Got home, made my character–his name is Lohgahn, and he’s rocking some killer Wolverine-esque sideburns–and played until the intro tutorial part was completed. Then I saved my game as I was a truly sleepy bear, but woke up early this morning to continue bounding onwards. Have only taken a break to make/eat lunch and type up this Grinding Down blog post.

I’ve never waited for a midnight release of anything before, and it was a little interesting seeing what type of people came out for this event. Mostly young teenagers or kids just getting into college by the look of ’em. There was a group attempting to sing–to everyone’s horror–Queen. And then listening to them spew words about how dumb Batman ultimately is and what Final Fantasy is the best had me cringing a bit–is that what I sound like, just not out loud? Ugh…

Well, maybe more on that later. For now, here’s a rundown of this week’s Achievements. They all come from a single franchise.

From The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion…

Blah blah blah, who cares now. All hail Skyrim Achievements!

From The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim…

Unbound (10G): Complete “Unbound”

Blessed (10G): Select a Standing Stone blessing

These are probably the first two Achievements the majority of gamers will unlocked. The first one is basically tied to Skyrim‘s tutorial/intro level, and the second is obtainable by following your companion right down the main path a little ways. Can’t miss it. Unless, upon the game truly opening up for you, you headed left or right with such ferocity that you never found the easiest Standing Stone possible. Bummer to you.

The first few hours of my game have gone well, and I certainly didn’t see any crazy horse-on-carts antics, but knowing it’s a Bethesda game means it’s only a matter of time until the glitches start popping up. I did stumble upon one oddity. I was speaking to a woman inside her own home in Whiterun, and she was ready to give me a quest, but said it’d be better to talk to her in her home in case anyone was eavesdropping. We…uh, were in her home. Speaking to her a second time triggered the correct dialogue, but it was still pretty amusing.

And with that, I go back to make Lohgahn a better archer, a better necromancer, and a better thief. To arms!

Achievements of the Week – The Highly Trained Old School Gamer Edition

Honestly, I didn’t expect much in terms of Achievements this week considering I was without my Xbox 360 for three-fourths of it thanks to that crazy October snowstorm. In case you didn’t know, power outages and console gaming don’t get along. I only just got to sit down and game a bit last night, giving Mass Effect 2 some solid minutes, and that game is starting to sink its narrative hooks into me, even if it is severely less of an RPG than before. I don’t even bother looking at stats or skills after enough experience has been earned, simply hitting “auto level up” and then going about my day.

That topic’s probably for another post. Today, however, is all about the Achievements! See ’em below.

From The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion…

I moved up the Fighters Guild’s rank ladder pretty fast, going from Journeyman to Defender after a handful of mediocre quests. You can read all about that here, and I’m still planning to hit the top rank of Master in at least one guild before Skyrim takes over my life. That’s in seven days, people. Seven freakin’ days.

From Mass Effect 2…

Exploring more of the Normandy, I stumbled across several Achievements just sitting there, waiting to be unlocked. I hadn’t played Mass Effect 2 since the first main mission of rescuing the salarian scientist Mordin Solus, but had an itch for some dialogue trees and Paragon actions. This spurt of playing included running around the ship like a kid on Christmas morning, getting drunk with the onboard doctor, and rescuing an old friend by the code-name of Archangel. A nice mix of things to do really.

Scientist (10G): Complete any research project in the Normandy’s laboratory

Highly Trained (15G): View all advanced combat training videos at Shepard’s private terminal.

Scholar (15G): Unlock 15 new Mass Effect 2 codex entries

Prospector (5G): Retrieve mineral resources by scanning and probing a planet in the galaxy map

Not exactly sure what to do next or who to go after so I headed for the Citadel to see what’s new with that place since Shepard last saw it. I’ve only just gotten inside thanks to Michael Hogan. Hope fast travel is readily available and that I can remember what is where. Shepard’s planning to do the old “pop in” on the Council, something I’m sure they won’t like, especially considering many still believe him to be dead. Can’t wait to see their faces.

From Deus Ex: Human Revolution…

Old School Gamer (10G): You found all the hidden story items in Megan’s office. Point and Click much?

Not enough, to be honest. Need more point-and-click games now that I’ve wrapped up Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Anyways, I started a new game just to get this Achievement, but don’t know if I’ll play again. I’d love to see more of the side missions, but I’ve turned bitter towards the game, and even going into it all guns blazing seems unappealing. There’s fun in sneaking through a room successfully, little fun in hiding behind a crate and firing a gun until all is motionless. I dunno. There are parts of this game that I love, and parts I loathe. A full review is coming soon to The First Hour.

Proud of a certain Achievement this week? Tell us about it below in the comments, even if it’s from a Kinect game.

One-goal Molly wants to be Master of the Fighters Guild in Oblivion

A long ways back, like in April 2011, on that infamous day where everyone gets hiiiiigh, I talked about diving back into The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and giving some it another go, this time trying to play a little differently, as well as finishing up all the major guild quests. Well, that plan quickly fizzled out as that was actually the last time I played the game until this very weekend. I think my gaming ADD hit me hard, and I was off on some other adventure, one that was probably immediately followed by another adventure. And so and so on. Such is the life of a gamer…

But then, as the world outside went snow crazy, I started Oblivion all over again, giving Hodor the heave-ho and creating a creepy looking Night Elf woman witchhunter with bleach blonde hair named…Molly. She focuses on a little bit of magic and a little bit of bow and arrow action. Not bad, truly, and I was able to rush through the majority of the opening quests for the Fighters Guild, finally breaking into new territory, advancing not once, but many, many times. Oh, just look:

Swordsman, Fighters Guild (10G): Reached Swordsman rank in the Fighters Guild

Protector, Fighters Guild (10G): Reached Protector rank in the Fighters Guild

Defender, Fighters Guild (10G): Reached Defender rank in the Fighters Guild

Good job, Molly. You’ll be Master of the Fighters Guild soon enough. Four more ranks to go. That is if the power comes back on and I don’t yet have The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to eat up. See, on Saturday, as an October snow unseen of before descended over New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the power kept flickering on and off. And yeah, I continued to game, or tried to at least. The last straw was the power shutting down as I was exploring a cave for the quest Azani Blackheart; I hadn’t saved since I entered the cave and did not feel like doing it all over again, at least not just then. So, we’ll continue to advance in rank some other time. I promise, Molly.

What is helping this playthrough versus the one I started with Hodor is that I’m no longer worrying about all the little things, such as picking up every bit of gear to sell, collecting a thousand and seven ingredients for alchemy purposes, and always trying to level up this skill or that in hopes of reaching the next level. All that matters is the quest at hand, and as long as Molly has some potions and plenty of arrows, we’re good to go. The quests themselves are not terribly difficult; the difficulty lies with–and this is inherent in all open-world games, I guess–the player’s determination and not getting distracted by Everything Else. With blinders on, one can get through the guilds pretty fast, I’m assuming. After Fighters, I think we’ll tackle the Mages Guild since Molly does have a knack for summoning skeletons.

This spurt of Oblivion playing is also a great reminder of what worked in that game from 2005 and what’s going to be ten times more fantastic in like twelve days. Every time I speak to someone and the camera zooms in on their fugly faces, Tara makes a noise. A mixture of a gasp and utter disgust. Especially for khajiit women. It’s the best.

One month to go until The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Today is 10/11/11, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim comes out on 11/11/11. That’s a month away (31 days exact!), and that is absolutely crazy-talk. How did it pop up so fast? Weren’t we all just sitting mesmerized by the debut trailer and the hint of true epicness, whispering excitedly about a new engine and dragons? I also just realized that our day of reckoning is a Friday, meaning there goes an entire weekend for certain. Fine by me.

And yet with the game so close to being openly devoured by the public, it’s strange that there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Over the last few months, there’s been very few gameplay trailers, with maybe just one big guided play session by Todd “For the Nord” Howard, and a preview article here and there. That’s it. Only as recent as this week have more tidbits slipped, thanks to leaks about the game’s map and manual.

Story elements are minimal, and we’ve learned some of the menu workings, but I’m more curious as to the open-ended aspect; can you buy homes again and spend days stocking them with cool loot or a thousand and five watermelons? Can you join all the different guilds without one getting mad at you for joining another? How does crafting work? How will companions work, and can I befriend animals? And so on and so on. Granted, we’ll all know too much soon enough. I am pretty stoked to see what Bethesda has done.

By 11/11/11, I hope to be pretty done with all the major games I currently have in my possession–Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mafia II, and Fallout: New Vegas–as well as those select few titles I’ve yet to purchase. If not, they’ll all just eaten by a dragon. That’s the pox in the realm of Skyrim.

Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga and the curse of the Gamebryo engine

Thank every single star in the divine sky for things like free, downloadable demos. Without such treasures, I might have actually gone out and paid money for Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. Good thing I didn’t.

I’ve had a real hankering lately for a big RPG, especially a Western one. Something to really sink my teeth into and give up many hours on and grind until the day is done. That sort of experience, and unfortunately 11/11/11 is still far away, but it seemed like, from images and previews and even YouTube videos, that Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga could fit the bill. I mean, it’s a brand new release for the Xbox 360 at only $40.00 that promises over 80 hours worth of gaming in a fantasy land brimming with magic, dragons, and silver-eyed Slayers. Count me in, but I downloaded the demo because I wanted to make sure that there were no tiny text issues to deal with, which is a problem I had when trying out the Gothic IV demo earlier this year.

The good news is the text is perfectly readable for Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. The bad news? Well, the game seems to be pretty terrible, especially for a current gen roleplaying adventure. Where to start? Well, it opens up with a little cinematic of an armorered man on a flying ship looking down at a city. Then it cuts to another man in the woods, preparing to take on a dragon. After that excitement, we get to…create a character. Sort of. We’re limited to picking a name, a gender, a hair style, a beard style, and a voice: I made Pickles look as close to me as possible and gave him a soldier’s tone. Yes, that’s right. Pickles. The greatest Slayer in all of Rivellon.

A woman with silver eyes is speaking to me about a ritual to become a Slayer. Her mouth is far too large for her face, and it does not move in sync with the words she is saying; it’s beyond distracting and makes me want to set her on fire. Graphically, she’s ugly, and I can see all the jagged polygon edges of her character build. After our chat is over, I get to finally control Pickles, and from his very first step forward I knew our journey together was over. See, the camera hangs behind him just so that you can only see him really from the waist up, giving the impression that he is either surfing, skating, or sliding along the grass, giving those rabbits a run for their money. I found no solution to this camera problem. Inside the local town, I spoke with some more ugly people who pointed me towards a waterfall where I’d meet some kind of mage. I did, and she gave me the memories of dragons and silver eyes, which allowed me to see the ghostly demon monster she was chatting with before I arrived. After that, well…I walked around a bit, punched a rabbit, and quit to the Xbox 360 dashboard–I’d seen enough.

A shame, really. There’s a lot of neat stuff here, and from what I’ve read online, a lot of neat stuff yet to come. Our hero gets his very own battle tower to upgrade in the same fashion as the hero’s castles in the Suikoden series? Aww, man. But the Gamebryo engine has its limitations, and it’s just a little shocking to see an RPG using this engine fall below such titles as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion some five years later. The graphics felt subpar, the running and jumping animations are almost laughable, and the demo didn’t give me a lot to do but walk around in its stilted world. I will say that the voice acting was of good quality, but the constant talk of Slayers and Dragons and Dragon Knights and Dragon Slayers gets a little generic after a few minutes. Give me some detailed lore or get out.

New quest accepted! Delete this 1,9 gigs demo as soon as possible.

Does anyone know if Risen is any good? How about Two Worlds II? Don’t suggest Dragon Age II or Fable III as I know in my heart of hearts those games will just disappoint me greatly. I’m close to finishing up all those arcade games I bought some days ago and need a solid RPG to keep me busy.

Skyrim, the land of rare beards

Truthfully, I’m not a big fan of people that scan print magazine articles and then pass them around the Internet without a shred of guilt. I’ve spent a good number of years working in the print industry, and it’s sad to see such progress stolen and spread arrogantly. That said, the latest issue of Game Informer has hit the World Wide Web via scans, and if anyone wants to look at them, they can. I openly admit to glancing at them; they aren’t worth it in terms of getting a good read or strong take on how Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks and plays. For that, I’m gonna need to wait for video. And I can wait. I mean, screenshot-wise, the game looks to be using the Gamebryo engine when all reports say otherwise.

But with scans comes great responsibility write-ups. These have gone over various changes and plot details and skill system settings and so on. Some sounds good, some sounds extremely lame (::cough cough:: level scaling), and some sounds undecided. I’ll continue to wait for more details to emerge before digging deeper into Skyrim‘s plausibility to be a better game than Oblivion.

However, there’s one detail that has knocked me over like a great troll swinging a mallet. And it is this: beards. Skyrim is going to be sporting beards.


Now, shall I make Merlin, Gandalf, or Dumbledore as my first character come 11/11/11? You’re right. I’ll just make one super wizard named Merdalfdore and be done with it. Thanks!

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to arrive with a new engine

Will a lot of people be getting married on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11) or buying Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim? Well, I think I know my answer…

But yeah. This new entry in the Elder Scrolls series was just announced over the weekend at some videogame award thingy that I didn’t watch. However, many already speculated that a fifth game was in the works. I mean, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was a huge hit; how does one not follow up on it? I personally think it’s a good thing that it’s taken five years (Oblivion came out in 2006 for the Xbox 360) to come into the public view. A lot has changed in terms of gaming prowess, and a lot is seemingly going to change as Bethesda is reporting that Skyrim is not going to be running on its infamous Gamebyro engine. Instead, it’s using a brand new one, and let’s quote a dude here:

“We can now confirm that the TES V: Skyrim engine is all-new. And it looks fantastic.” – Nick Breckon, community manager at Bethesda

This is good. Very good. The Gamebyro engine, which fueled Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas, is definitely showing its age. It’s been showing its faults and glitches for many years, and the time for change is upon us. I can naturally only hope that this new engine is in the same vision of Gamebyro, but more beautiful, more capable, more durable. First-person RPGs are all about seeing the world all at once, and when that world is a fantasy world, a place lush with flowers and trees and rocky hills and blazing sunsets, it’s vital that the system can handle everything. I have to also wonder if the fighting/magic system will get an overhaul–I hope it does.

Nonetheless, we have a bit of a wait. So while we all consider how the skill system will work or how X will do Y to Z, we can check out the teaser trailer below:

Dragons! Take that, Dragon Age!