Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (RPS)

Black Friday 2016 is finally here, and it’s of course the biggest day for deals yet. We’ve rounded up the best below, so if you’re looking for great games or PC hardware, step inside.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Skyrim turns five years old today, and what better way to celebrate its anniversary than by talking about its predecessor, the ten-year-old Oblivion, and why it s a better game. This isn t meant as some big diss on Skyrim, which is a great RPG I ve spent over 200 hours playing. But Oblivion is still better, and here s why:

The guild questlines

The guild storylines in Skyrim had strong stories and enjoyable adventures, but they absolutely pale in comparison to Oblivion s. Oblivion had the Fighter s Guild questline and its gut-wrenching reveal after you wipe out a group of goblins, the Mage s Guild story filled with intrigue, necromancers, and a surprising amount of destruction, and the Thieves Guild quests which culminate in the thrilling theft of an Elder Scroll from deep within the Imperial Palace.

The best, of course, was the Dark Brotherhood questline (spoilers to follow). Taking a nap after killing someone who perhaps didn t deserve it resulted in a recruitment pitch from a member of the Dark Brotherhood, Lucien Lachance. Join the guild and you ll be dispatched to eliminate a series of targets as you work your way up the Brotherhood s ladder.

The story includes an amazing mission to visit a party where you re assigned to kill everyone in attendance, with a bonus goal of making sure no one ever knows you re the killer. You can talk to your targets, discover the best ways to isolate them from the rest of the guests, and bump them off one-by-one, always deflecting the suspicions elsewhere. You can even convince one of the two remaining guests to kill the other, making your job that much easier. Brilliant, bloody fun.

And there s a fantastic twist to the Brotherhood questline. Midway through a series of dead drop assassination missions, Lucien suddenly appears to ask just what the hell you ve been doing. It turns out the dead drops you ve been receiving orders from have been compromised, your instructions have been replaced by an interloper, and you ve actually spent the past few missions murdering members of the Dark Brotherhood s inner circle! Ahh delicious.

Lucius winds up being blamed for the mis-killings, tortured, hung like a side of beef, and even partially eaten. It s a truly shocking and dispiriting moment to see him strung up naked, dead, and mutilated. Lucien was the slickest and coolest dude in the game, someone far too cool to wind up dangling upside down with half his face gone. That kind of thing doesn t happen to cool people, does it? In Oblivion, it does. Man. What a fantastic story.


Perhaps as a way to streamline Skyrim a bit to appeal to more players, some of the complexities of Oblivion were left behind. In particular, the ability to craft spells. Using an Altar of Spellmaking opened a pane where you could select the magical effects you had learned and were able to cast, and use them to create custom spells. You could set the range of the spell, the area of effect, and the duration, the parameters of which were determined by the Magicka cost and your skill level. You could mix, match, and combine effects, stack spells, and even name them. It was a fantastic feature, and its absence from Skyrim feels especially odd now, since crafting has become such a big element in games the past few years.

Daedra are better than dragons

I ll admit the main storyline of Oblivion isn t especially great. Closing those damn Oblivion gates, one after another after another, becomes a real slog. But if you ask me, battling the Daedra in Oblivion is still better than battling Skyrim s unending and frankly boring parade of dragons.

The first time you see a dragon in Skyrim, it s very cool. The first time you fight one, it s extremely exciting. Then you fight another. Then another. Eventually it becomes dull, and then simply a nuisance, something that makes you wearily climb off your horse for a minute or two. Now, I just let out a sigh when one appears circling overhead, and many times I ve killed it and stripped it for parts so quickly that I m already selling its bones to an unimpressed shopkeeper before I ve fully finished absorbing its soul.

I prefer the Daedra because they don t swoop down on me when I m hunting deer or walking through town or picking Nirnroot by a riverside. Plus, there s the added bonus of discovering Mythic Dawn agents in Oblivion, townsfolk who secretly worship the cult. In Skyrim, did you ever discover that a dragon was disguised as an average citizen? No. It would have been cool, though.

(Slightly) Better expansions

This is almost a tie, but I give the edge to Oblivion. Skyrim s expansions were a mixed bag: Dawnguard gave you the chance to become a vampire lord, but didn t provide a heck of a lot of adventure, and Hearthfire let you build a house perhaps serving as a precursor to what would eventually become Fallout 4 s settlement building feature but it wasn t much fun. Dragonborn was very good, though the selling point, dragon-riding, was a big disappointment.

Oblivion s expansions were Knights of the Nine, which wasn t exactly sprawling but had a great main quest, and Shivering Isles, which provided a couple dozen hours of exciting and bizarre adventures as you meet the Daedric Prince of Madness, become his champion, and eventually wear his crown. Most of the rest of Oblivion s DLC was forgettable (except for the Horse Armor Pack, which no one will ever forget), giving the player a couple of quests to claim new headquarters, but Mehrune s Razor stood out by providing a surprisingly large underground area to sneak and stab your way through if you happen to be an assassin (which I was at the time). Good stuff.

Enemy scaling

I know a lot of players didn t care for the fact that the enemies in Oblivion scale alongside them as they played, and I can see the downsides of it myself. There s a certain satisfaction in evolving into an immensely powerful being who can easily wipe out scores of enemies, the same enemies that gave them trouble when they were low-level. It s a reward for progress: those skeletons you had trouble fighting as a beginner now shatter with one fearsome swing, and it feels good.

Oblivion didn t work that way, and I admit it was a bit weird. At low levels, you might face a desperate highwayman wearing rags, or be attacked by a couple of wolves. Once you ve gained some levels, you ll notice the highwayman is wearing better gear and the wolves have been replaced by much meaner boars. Gain more levels and the robber will be decked out in expensive glass armor and the boars are now fearsome mountain lions. You never get a chance to mow down those simple skeletons when you come back as a high-level character, because those skeletons are gone, having become high-level wraiths and liches. It doesn t make a whole lot of sense.

There is an upside, though, a big one, and it s found in the immense freedom the game gives you the moment you finish the tutorial. You can wander anywhere on the map, absolutely anywhere, and find an appropriate challenge. You don t have to worry about being gutted in a heartbeat just because you re level 2 and you wandered into an area with level 20 monsters. The world is yours to explore, every inch of it, right from the start. Less realistic? Less immersive? Yeah, I would say so. But you get so much more freedom, and each time you begin a new game you can start anywhere you like.

Bonus sixth reason

The Adoring Fan. You pretend to hate him, but you love him and miss him. Go on back and play Oblivion. He ll be waiting.

PC Gamer

Update: Bethesda put out the word on Twitter today that the 1.2 update is now fully live. Fingers crossed that it works out better than the 1.1 patch.

Original story:

The Skyrim Special Edition 1.1 update went live yesterday, with a promise to fix some bugs and at least partially correct the audio issues that left the game sounding noticeably worse than its non-special predecessor. Unfortunately, it has apparently caused more problems than it fixed, and so another update is now available on Steam.

The 1.2 patch notes:

  • General stability and performance improvements
  • Fixed issue related to using alt-tab while playing the game (PC)
  • Fixed issue with water flow not rendering properly
  • Fixed crash related to changing from werewolf back to human form
  • Fixed crash related to reloading after changing Load Order of mods
  • General bug fixing and improvements with browsing Mods

For now, the update is still in beta, so if the game is working well for you in its current state, you should just let it go. If you are experiencing trouble, you can get it by right-clicking the Skyrim SE entry in your Steam library, then selecting Properties, then the Betas tab, and then "Beta" from the drop-down menu. After that, click on "Okay," and then stand clear while your game updates. When it's finished, it should appear as "Skyrim Special Edition [Beta]" in your library. Bethesda is taking feedback on the new update, for good or ill, on its forum.

PC Gamer

The Skyrim Special Edition patch that Bethesda said it was working on a couple weeks ago is now out of beta and fully live on Steam. The update promises unspecified optimizations and bug fixes, but the biggest bang is that it eliminates the compression in "some" sound files that led to complaints about the SE's downgraded audio quality.

The patch notes in full:

  • General performance and optimization improvements
  • Fixed rare issue with NPCs not appearing in proper locations
  • Fixed an issue with interface elements not appearing correctly on certain displays (Xbox One and PS4)
  • Fixed issue with saves erroneously being marked as Modded, even though no mods are active
  • Updated some sound files to not use compression

Not a lot of detail there, and no indication of precisely which sound files have been fixed, which is unfortunate. The follow-up comments aren't entirely filled with praise either, although given the current player count the Skyrim SE currently holds the ninth spot on the Steam Top Ten, just a few thousand players ahead of the original Skyrim in fact the number of complaints is probably not unreasonable.

The Skyrim SE update should apply automatically, but if for some reason it doesn't, restart Steam and you'll be off to the races.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (John Walker)

With Skyrim s Special Edition managing to feel not that special, it s put me to thinking about what it is I want from the next Elder Scrolls game. What are the features I would love to see in The Elder Scrolls VI: Hammerfell? What are the series’ tropes that could use a tweak? I’ve expounded on this below. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alec Meer)

It has been an odyssey.> My most recent Skyrim save is three years old. I cannot in good conscience pretend to recall what my motivations were the last time I played it – what quests I cared about, what guild or weapon or house I was pursuing. But, for reasons that are part bloody-mindedness and part wincing at the prospect of having to redo so much armour crafting from the start, I have been absolutely determined to get my old saves and characters working in last week’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition [official site].

It has been a long and tiresome job, but I have achieved it. Here’s how you can do it too. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

This week on the Mod Roundup, I have perhaps predictably rounded up some mods for you. For Skyrim, a mod adds a monster-hunting contract system inspired by The Witcher 3. A mod for Stellaris lets you board enemy ships, capture them, repair them, and add them to your fleet. Finally, a mod for Fallout 4 adds real shrapnel to frag grenades and other explosives.

Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.

Monster Contracts, for Skyrim

Nexus Mods link

Inspired by The Witcher 3's monster-hunting contracts, this mod brings a similar system into Skyrim. Head to Solitude and join The Protectors, a faction of monster-stalking badasses, and your career as a contracted creature hunter will begin. The mod is recommended for players above level 20, and while there are only a handful of contracts at the moment, there are more planned for the future.

Currently, this mod is only available for the original version of Skyrim, not the special edition. If that changes, we'll let you know.

Board That Ship! for Stellaris

Steam Workshop link

Sometimes destroying your enemies isn't enough. Sometimes you want to take their stuff and make it yours. This mod for Stellaris gives you the opportunity to board and capture some enemy ships once you've weakened them enough during battle. You'll have to repair the damage, naturally, but once you do, you can add them to your fleet.

True Frags, for Fallout 4

Nexus Mods link

We all love using explosives in Fallout 4. We'd love them more if the ones that were supposed to hurl shrapnel around actually did. Thanks to this mod, now shrapnel-based explosive weapons really work as they're supposed to. Instead of just an explosion, your frag grenades and frag mines, MIRV grenades, bottlecap mines, and baseball grenades will send a cloud of projectiles through the air, shredding the hell out of anyone within range. Duck and cover.

Looking for more mods? Check out our list of the best mods for Terraria and the best total conversion mods.

PC Gamer

Yesterday we reported on the fact that Skyrim: Special Edition's audio is a significant downgrade from the vanilla version of Bethesda's RPG. Now, a Bethesda staffer has responded on Reddit that the developer is on the case (via Kotaku).

"We're currently testing a fix and hope to have an update out next week," Reddit user Gstaff wrote. Gstaff claims to work for Bethesda, having spoken for the developer in the past. We've contacted Bethesda for an official statement on the issue and will update this article as we receive more information.

The audio issue was originally explained by Reddit user LasurArkinshade, who said the Special Edition's sound assets were "very aggressively compressed."

"The vanilla game has sound assets (other than music and voiceover) in uncompressed .wav format," the post states. "The Special Edition has the sound assets all in (very aggressively compressed) .xwm format, which is a compressed sound format designed for games. This isn't so bad, necessarily it's possible to compress audio to .xwm without significant quality degradation unless you crank the compression way up to insane levels."

Bethesda did exactly that, the post stated. LasurArkinshade compared the original game's audio with the Special Edition, and the difference is quite noticeable through good speakers or headphones. Listen for yourself below.

While Bethesda works on a fix, Reddit user TI36X posted about a solution that could work in the meantime.

"I extracted my original Skyrim Sounds.bsa, packed it with 7zip and installed it with NMM in SSE. Seems to work fine," they wrote. "There are two folders in the bsa. Sound and Music. Just pack them into a archive and install by NMM [Nexus Mod Manager]. Someone just uploaded a bsa extractor on the SSE nexus that works for this."

We haven't tested the bsa extractor ourselves, so practice caution if you try it out.

PC Gamer

With the release of Skyrim Special Edition, we expect some PC gamers may be playing Bethesda's fantasy RPG for the very first time, while others may feel compelled to revisit it after an extended break. Either way, it's a good time to remind everyone that Skyrim's console allows for all sorts of different cheats, some minor, some major, and some utterly game-breaking.

To enable the console, just hit the tilde (`) key and enter the appropriate codes, which are listed below. You can turn on more than one at once, too, so you can become invincible, fly, and teleport all at the same time.

Some of these commands require additional codes, and we've compiled lists of those too. Just grab the desired number from our Skyrim item codes or Skyrim NPC codes posts.

Be warned, some of these console commands may cause glitches, problems, or crashes, so it's definitely worth saving your game first and using the codes with a separate save. You don't want to make some change and get stuck with it.

Console Commands


Good ol' God Mode means you're completely invulnerable to everything, and pretty damn god-like.


No clipping lets you walk through walls, ceilings, and mountains like some sort of ghost. Use the code again to return to normal.


Can't find that vital key? Lockpicking skill too low? Open the console, click on the door or chest you want to unlock, and type "unlock" into the console. If only this worked in real life.


Every single spell in Skyrim is now yours! It's like graduating magic school in under a second.


Automatically gain one level.


Automatically complete all the stages of your primary quest. Perfect if you hate playing games.


Unhappy with your blind, inbred-looking Bosmer chap? You can adjust the way your character looks just like you did at the start of Skyrim but this will reset your level and skills.

player.modav skill X

Where "skill" is the skill you want to modify, and X is the amount you want to modify it by. Skills are inputted via their in-game names without spaces, apart from Archery which is "Marksman", and Speech, which is known as "Speechcraft".

player.additem ITEM ###

Every single item in Skyrim has a code, a bit like an Argos catalogue of fantasy objects. You'll find them in our list of Skyrim item codes. Replace "ITEM" with the item's code, and "###" with the number of items you want. Now your dreams of owning 47 cabbage potato soups can come true.

player.additem 0000000f ###

A simple way to get some free gold. Any number between 001 and 999 will do.

player.additem 0000000a ###

Running low on lockpicks? Enter the number you require here and they'll magically appear.


Combine with the codes on this Wikia page to add your selected shout.


Toggles all in-game menus, perfect if you want to take some screenshots to convince elderly relatives that Skyrim is where you went on your holidays. Note that this also hides the console commands menu, meaning you'll have to type it again without being able to see the console.


Followed by 0 or 1 turns all map markers on or off.


Not Team Fortress Classic, unfortunately. However, you will be able to access the flycam, essentially leaving your host body behind and sailing through the air. Great for screenshots.


Toggles AI on and off, which means NPCs won't interact with you, or do anything at all.


Turns combat AI on or off, turning dragons into placid beasts who act like you aren't there. A bit like cats.


This one lets you behave like a little rapscallion, as it turns naughty business detection (stealing, murdering, doing a poo in the woods etc) on or off. You'll still get caught if you try pickpocketing, though.

player.setcrimegold ###

Adjust your wanted level with this handy command - setting it to zero resets removes your wanted level completely.

player.setlevel ##

Up or down your player level as you see fit.

player.setav speedmult ###

Want to run like The Flash? Set this number to anything more than 100 to speed up movement.


Go straight to your quest target.


Look at the thing you want to kill, open the console, click on the target, and type this command. They'll fall over in a very dead manner.


Lists every single console command. We've put this further down the list because we want you to actually read this article.


Target the thing you want to bring back to life, and they'll get up in a very alive manner.

player.modav carryweight #

Tired of getting tired? Up your carryweight and you'll be able to transport more goodies. Toggling god mode (tgm) also lets you carry as much as you like.

player.setav health #

Up your health here.

coc qasmoke

Bethesda's handily included a room with every single in-game item in it type this command to go straight there. It might take a while to load: there are thousands of items here. Type " coc Riverwood " to return to the game.


Quit the game without having to go through any of those pesky menus.


Target a character and type this and you'll get all their items including their clothes. Note: does not work in real life.


Change your character's gender.

set timescale to #

This defaults at 20. Up it to experience crazy timelapse-style Skyrim.

Go to page two for NPC spawning, making people fight and becoming a giant.


Use this to spawn NPCs and monsters at your location. Just replace actor/object ID with a Base ID (not a Ref ID) from our list of Skyrim NPC codes. This is the command we used to crank out a horde of dragons around Whiterun. Note that this command spawns new creatures, rather than moving old ones, so if you use it on an NPC, you'll clone them.


Use this to move yourself next to an NPC, useful for Kharjo, the nomadic Khajit, who can be hard to find as he follows the caravans around Skyrim. In this case you replace the words 'actor ID' with the Ref ID (not the Base ID), the opposite of placeatme. You can find the ID in our list of Skyrim NPC codes.


Select two NPCs and set the relationship between them, the values range from 4 (lover) to -4 (archnemesis). Use it to make NPCs fight or do other er... more worrying things.


Click on an NPC and use this command to add them to a faction. It's not just about Stormcloaks and Imperials though. Using 0005C84D will add a character to the follower faction, giving them the necessary dialogue to join you, while 00019809 will add them to the 'potential spouse' faction, allowing you to marry them. This won't work on NPCs with unique voices however, so you won't be able to wed Esbern or General Tullius any time soon.


Also known as the 'I have no mouth and I must scream' command. Disable banishes the selected NPC to some sort of weird coding limbo. They become invisible, have no collisions and AI won't interact with them, but they're still technically there. Horrifying.


Undoes the effects of the Disable command. Disabling and then Enabling your follower will reset them to your current level, which is a handy way of making sure they stay useful in a fight.


It might be fun putting on god mode and becoming immortal, but don't you get a little lonely knowing that one day all the other characters you love will die? I know I do. Thankfully there's a solution: simply use this console command with a 1 to set characters to 'essential', which means they'll take damage until they fall on their knees, but then get up again. Using it with a 0 will turn essential characters mortal, but be careful with that, Bethesda probably made them immortal for a reason.


This command sets you as the owner of the targeted item, removing all those annoying 'stolen' tags from your ill gotten gains.


This allows you to move the quests you're playing back to a prior stage or forward to a new one. Useful if you've somehow broken it by murdering the wrong NPC. Skyrim wiki has a useful list of quests, along with IDs and stages.


Changes the size of the player or NPC. You start out at level one, which is normal sized, while zero is small. It goes all the way up to an absurdly huge ten.


Click on an NPC and type this to force them to put the item they're holding away. Useful if they're holding a sword you want.


Sets your field of view.


Turns off the fog of war on your local map, filling it in completely.


Forces the player to drop items, even usually undroppable quest items. Try just 'drop' to drop absolutely everything you're carrying.


Unsurprisingly, dispells all spells on the target NPC. This won't work on werewolves, as they technically become a different NPC when they transform.


Marking an item for deletion sends a contract to the Dark Brotherhood, ensuring it will never been seen or heard from again. It will be removed from the world the next time you load an area. A useful way to get rid of annoying things like ash piles that never seem to go away.

setgs fJumpHeightMin

Sets the player's jump height. A high value means enormous moon hops.

PC Gamer

I'm just about to place my head on the chopping block when, all of a sudden, I hear a noise. "You say you don't know where the Macho Man is coming from," it sounds like. My captors ignore it, ordering me to place myself mere inches from the severed heads of those who went before me. That's when I see it. Introduced by a "Macho madness, sky's the limit," the cowboy-hat-and-sunglasses-wearing dragon lands on a nearby tower, sending everyone into a frenzy with a triumphant, "Yeah!" before wreaking havoc on the village of Helgen.

If this sounds familiar, then you've likely seen or used the Macho Dragon mod, which turns all of Skyrim's dragons into a monstrous recreation of late WWE wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage. The YouTube video has accrued over four million views, and it's often one of the first things brought up whenever a conversation about video game mods strikes. Its creator, who goes by the alias FancyPants, got his start with mods by turning Will Smith's character from Men in Black: The Game into Ronald McDonald, and he says that he built the Macho Dragon mod simply because it made himself laugh.

"Originally, I was testing some of the tools that had been released for Blender," FancyPants said. "I was doing it just to see if I could get the model exporters to work properly. And in fact, originally, it wasn't going to be Macho Man; it was going to be Tommy Wiseau [from The Room]. But I had the cowboy hat and I thought, 'You know, it would be funny to put in Macho Man's audio and see how that works.' I tried it in game, laughed my ass off, and put it out there... and it kinda blew up.

"It was just a test that kinda spun outta control."

With the popularity of Macho Dragon, he added a similar mod to Fallout 4, which replaced a Death Claw with something that looks a little bit more like Savage. If it wasn't already obvious, FancyPants doesn't need more than a laugh to publish a mod on the internet. He told me that most of the stuff he works on comes from him testing something, thinking it's funny, and uploading it.

"It's really just one long train of thought of weird ideas," he said. "There's nothing particularly serious, to be honest."

Despite his inclination for the wildly goofy, FancyPants has found himself pushed by the community to create mods that are more serious or, at the very least, they can use. He did this with his Crimes Against Nature Skyrim mod, which he says is the project he's spent the most time on. It started out as an assortment of bizarre head parts and outlandish models one of these being a Wiseau horse created only to make himself laugh. But hopeful players encouraged him to turn these unconventional heads into proper playable races. He did just that, allowing people to play as races such as a chair, My Little Pony, or even the Space Core from Portal 2.

"It's goofy, it's obviously not 'lore-friendly,' but people pushed me to set it up a bit more properly, so I did," he said.

It's really just one long train of thought of weird ideas.


The talented modder found himself creating another "serious" mod when he took the faces of Fallout 4 and exaggerated them to ridiculous lengths. The mod, titled Immersive Facial Animations, caused the faces to ignore basic human anatomy, breaking the rules of everything you know about human expression and creating pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel.

"I went in there and started messing with the vanilla files and, you know, see if I could exaggerate it, if I could increase the intensity," he explained. "Once again, I found it hilarious and said, 'Okay, fine. I'll release that.' But afterwards some people were messaging me saying 'Hey, this is really funny, but it would be nice if you could increase the intensity slightly and release that as a serious mod.'"

What he came up with was three different versions of the mod, which turn the dull, sometimes lifeless faces of Fallout 4 into more enthusiastic ones that are full of expression. It's a different kind of project for FancyPants, but he's unlikely to stray too far from the ones that make him laugh, especially his most popular one. When asked if he was going to make sure Macho Dragon worked with Skyrim Special Edition, he surprised me by saying he was actually working on it at the time of our interview. However, he said it won't be exactly how you remember it.

"It's getting a bit of an overhaul," FancyPants said. "When it was first released, it was just a silly joke of the same model for every dragon. I'm hoping to differentiate them a little bit with little outfits.

"I'm looking into adding a crown and cape for Alduin, he'll be the Macho king," he continued. "I'm seeing if I can make Paarthurnax look like Hulk Hogan, but I'm not sure if I can get him to use separate Hulk Hogan audio."

Fan art by Martimakesthings

For someone as dedicated to his Skyrim mods as FancyPants, it's perhaps surprising that he still hasn't spent much time actually playing the game.

"It does look like an interesting game," he said. "I should take the time to play it someday."

Laughing, he says that he spends most of his time in Skyrim testing out mods, and by the time he's done, he doesn't want to play it. He tells me this isn't uncommon amongst modders, that it's a bit of a recurring problem in the community.

For what's in his future, FancyPants says he's looking at bringing Macho Man to other games. He briefly mentioned Dragon Ball Xenoverse during our conversation, but he can't commit to the idea of a Macho Man spirit bomb just yet. Nevertheless, he did provide one answer with a little more confidence.

"Whatever Bethesda game comes out next, I'll probably put him in that, too."


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