BioShock™ - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

Buh! Buh! baa-dddaaah!

The game trailer is a sly creature. It wants to entertain you, to excite you, to embolden you with curiousity. But it also wants to sell you a bunch of code wrapped up in some 3D shapes. Some trailers turn out to be more artful than the game they re hawking, others plant sneaky emotions in your head with music. However, some are better than others. Here are the best conflagrations of light and noise in PC gaming.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Despite the mountain of incredible 2017 games I still need to play, I am once again back on my Skyrim nonsense. I reinstalled it over the weekend and I’m still in the process of adding all 10,000 mods that I simply cannot live without, including many featured in our best Skyrim mods list. I might need to add another, however, at least when the gargantuan Lordbound mod launches later this year. 

The Lordbound team is aiming to make an expansion-sized mod with around 30 hours of new adventures, including fancy dungeons, three non-linear faction storylines and an entirely new region of Skyrim, Druadach Valley, located near High Rock, which is also where Daggerfall took place. 

When it launches this year, the mod will throw players into a conflict between Orcs and the Imperial Legion as they fight over who gets to stick their flag in the area. The latest trailer showcases some of the mod’s environments, including some striking magical ruins and weird Dwemer caverns. 

I used to avoid the massive mods that added whole new areas to the game because it can be a bit of a hassle trying to figure out what mods they’re going to conflict with, but after playing Beyond Skyrim’s surprisingly polished Bruma mod, which introduces the northern Cyrodiil town to the game, I’ve been won over. Thank goodness for kind souls making compatibility patches. 

Cheers, Kotaku

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

SGDQ 2017

The Games Done Quick events are among my favourite parts of the gaming calendar. Showmanship, absurd levels of skill and a mountain of cash raised for good charitable causes for a week straight, twice a year. The winter event – Awesome Games Done Quick – starts this afternoon at 4:30 GMT and if you’ve never tuned in to watch one of these live on Twitch (or recorded on YouTube), then you’re missing out

While traditionally console-centric, recent years have seen a far higher percentage of PC titles (especially smaller indie games) demolished live, and the schedule for this coming week’s event looks to be continuing that trend.

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Left 4 Dead 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Another year over, a new one just begun, which means, impossibly, even more games.> But what about last year? Which were the games that most people were buying and, more importantly, playing? As is now something of a tradition, Valve have let slip a big ol’ breakdown of the most successful titles released on Steam over the past twelve months.

Below is the full, hundred-strong roster, complete with links to our coverage if you want to find out more about any of the games, or simply to marvel at how much seemed to happen in the space of 52 short weeks.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

It's been six months since E3 2017, when Bethesda announced its intention to add a Creation Club to Skyrim and Fallout 4, their massively-successful mega-RPGs known for their breadth of content and emphasis on player freedom. This club would task third-party developers with producing new pieces for the publisher's two marquee games, which players could then buy from an online storefront with real money. While some decried the service as yet another attempt to introduce paid mods to the single-player gaming ecosystem, Bethesda insisted the market for free fan-made content would remain unaffected. "We won't allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club," reads the FAQ. "It must all be original content."

Following this, in late August Bethesda revealed the initial line-up for Creation Club, which included the Hellfire Power Armour and the Chinese Stealth Suit, both priced at $5 and inspired by similar items introduced in the various expansions for Fallout 3. There was just one little problem - if you searched the Nexus, the massively-populated home of free mods for Bethesda's games, among others, you'd find both the Hellfire Power Armour and the Chinese Stealth Suit already on offer for the low, low price of nothing.

A mild furore erupted. Press pounced on the revelation, which fed the already-boiling fan frenzy over what were considered outrageous prices for sub-par content. Paying $5 for a piece of armour was bad enough, but when the free alternative is superior, the bad deal starts to seem like an out-and-out ripoff. For Road to Liberty, the mod team behind the two projects, it was a confusing development, and one they worked with Bethesda to try to avoid.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim's dirty little secret is that it isn't that large. Oh, it remains fairly gigantic by the standards of other virtual landscapes, even next to its youthful imitator and usurper, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But set against what it pretends to be - a kingdom stretching from arctic wastes to the temperate south, racked by dynastic squabbles and laced with the treasures and detritus of millennia - it's actually pretty dang tiddly, a little over 14 square miles in scope.

14 square miles? That's no bygone, mystery-shadowed dominion rearing its shrines and watchtowers amid sunflashed snow. That's a jumped-up theme park, a country music festival. More to the point, that's approximately the same size as The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, a game which has become something of a punching bag for Elder Scrolls aficionados in hindsight - neither as grand as its swaggering barbarian brother, nor as memorably odd as burned-out hippy uncle Morrowind. Steer clear of distractions like temperamental mammoth herds and you can walk from one side of Skyrim to the other in half an hour.

I'm being quite obtuse, of course. If open world games were required to be as large as their inspirations or narrative aspirations they'd never get finished, and in any case, who would have the time to play them? The fascinating thing about open world design is that it's not really about size at all. It's more the art of the deceptive miniature - of making the poky or digestible seem enormous to the point of exhausting, even as distant cities reveal themselves for neighbouring hamlets, fearsome mountains for mere well-appointed foothills. Skyrim is extremely good at this, to a degree I'm not sure any game environment can rival save the corkscrew terrain of the original Dark Souls. It launches on Switch this week, glory of glories, and I've spent a few hours with the remastered PC version to remind myself of its achievements.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Daggerfall Unity

My earliest memories of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall were of fear and excitement at the boundless possibilities of a true fantasy sandbox. Of amazement at the most comprehensive character creation screen I’d ever seen, and of deep annoyance when I managed to fall through the floor and into an endless void in the first minute of the game.

I’ve spent over twenty years waiting for someone to fix Daggerfall, and that dream seems tantalisingly close to being realised. Daggerfall Unity (Daggerfall ported to the Unity engine, shockingly, and something we’d briefly covered years ago) can now be played to completion, and with greatly reduced risk of falling through a crack in the world.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Bethesda’s new ‘Creation Club’ DLC microtransaction store has launched for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition [official site], following a beta last week and its debut in Fallout 4 in August. It stocks mostly packs of weapons, armour, and bits for a couple of quid each – nothing exciting. Perhaps the biggest bit is Survival Mode, which adds hunger and cold and all those survival things you find in survival mods. To lure people into the Creation Club, Survival Mode is free if you grab it right now. (more…)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Skyrim Survival

After a less-than-successful initial foray into the realm of monetising Skyrim mods, Bethesda are presently rolling out a public beta of their Creation Club – their DLC-esque, more corporate alternative – to the revamped Skyrim Special Edition [official site]. To sweeten the pot, they’re offering early adopters the option to claim a free copy of Survival Mode, a major gameplay modification adding the management of simulated hunger, tiredness and cold to the already-hazardous environment.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

fallout-4-vr-pc

A couple of weeks back – when I also went hands-on with both Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and The Evil Within 2 – I goggled up and gave the upcoming VR version of 2016’s Doom a spin, as well as bearing witness to other folks’ flailing and giggling in Skyrim VR and Fallout VR. Bethesda’s triptych of 3D ultravision spin-offs are due before the year is out, with Skyrim only available on PSVR at least initially and Fallout and Doom only officially> supporting HTC Vive, for obvious reasons. Their arrival is a pretty big event for a technology that so far has leaned far more heavily on brand new things rather than established names.

Curious about what this means for the technology and for Doom, Skyrim and Fallout, I picked Bethesda VP Pete Hine’s brains about the whys and wherefores, and what it might imply for the future of their own VR efforts. Also below: my own quick impressions of Doom VFR [official site].

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