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Product Release - Valve
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn is Now Available for Pre-Purchase on Steam!

With this official add-on for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, journey off the coast of Morrowind, to the island of Solstheim. Encounter new towns, dungeons, and quests, as you traverse the ash wastes and glacial valleys of this new land. Become more powerful with shouts that bend the will of your enemies and even tame dragons. Your fate, and the fate of Solstheim, hangs in the balance as you face off against your deadliest adversary – the first Dragonborn.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Looks a bit like Robyn?

SWTOR got it wrong – oh so very wrong – but here we are once again, looking at a mega-bucks MMO that could> make World of Warcraft wriggle around uncomfortably, like it’s wearing underwear a size too small. Like it or not, Skyrim is a game which crossed to The Other Side, that strange and terrifying world of people who play games but don’t follow gaming. Y’know, Normals. As such, Bethesda’s upcoming massively multiplayer monster-stabber The Elder Scrolls Online has at least a chance at a very big audience, not purely the MMO-educated. We shall see!

Today’s big news, though, is that Bethesda have opened up beta sign-ups for TESO, and they have a fancy-pants new trailer too. Guess where I’ve put that? (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The Elder Scrolls Online now taking beta sign-ups, new trailer to celebrate">Elder Scrolls Online trailer thumb



Bethesda Softworks are today taking beta sign-ups for their upcoming MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online. Those interested in participating must perform a dark and ancient blood pact, binding their soul to the corrupted realm of Oblivion... no, wait, you have to register at ElderScrollsOnline.com. That's much simpler.

No time frame has been given for the beta period, but successful applicants will be informed of the test schedule at a later date. In the meantime, Bethesda have unleashed an action-packed cinematic trailer, showing off the game's three factions. And some werewolves.



That's some mighty impressive CGI, but I can't imagine you'll be assaulting a castle like that in the game. To see what ESO actually looks like, take a look at this video. Or, for a rundown of the story behind the game's three factions, check out this development diary from Bethesda's Head Mage/Lead Loremaster. Want more? By Talos, you're insatiable. Luckily, you can read Tom's impressions here.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Real life human wizard lays down the lore in The Elder Scrolls Online dev diary">The Elder Scrolls Online - lead loremaster



Do you have to look like a wizard to become a lead loremaster, or do you gradually transform into one once you've accepted the position? I'd ask Elder Scrolls Online lead loremaster and wizard, Lawrence Schick, but he's too busy discussing the delicate socio-political situation in Tamriel. There's a power vacuum in Cyrodiil and challengers to the throne are popping up in every other town. Sit back, take a sip of mead and hear a grand story of kings, necromancers and armoured lizards courtesy of the latest Elder Scrolls Online developer diary.



That was a lot of concept art, wasn't it? Here's what the game will actually look like:

Kotaku

Skyrim's DLC Is Coming To PS3 Next Month



Finally! Skyrim's downloadable content, until now exclusive to Xbox 360 and PC, is making its way to the PlayStation 3.



Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn will all be on the PlayStation Network in February. They'll all be 50% off during their launch week.



In case you're a PS3 player and you haven't been paying attention, here are some links to our coverage for the vampire-filled Dawnguard pack (not great), the home-making Hearthfire pack (lovely for fans of domestic activity), and Dragonborn, the best of the three.



So what took so long? Dunno. Last August, Bethesda said bringing Skyrim's DLC to PS3 was a complicated issue.



Dragonborn will also hit PC on February 5, Bethesda's Pete Hines announced today.


PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to An Illusionist in Skyrim, final entry: Solitude">Skyrim Diary 16 - Main



This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

My attempts to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic have driven me to intentionally contract vampirism, for the sweet illusion powers it will provide. The disease takes three days to take hold, and I've spent them messing with the Stormcloak rebels for the Imperial Legion. My mission is to deliver some forged orders to a Stormcloak commander in Dawnstar, and on my first morning in town, it happens.

"Your blood boils as your vampiric powers awaken." The screen burns red, then my vision clears. I look around. No-one is staring at me. I switch to third person view to examine my face: it's grim, steely, shadowed, haunted - so no change that I can see. I also don't have the invisibility spell I was hoping for - I guess that, and the face stuff, come later.

After looking left and right suspiciously, I find the Stormcloak commander and give him the fake orders. He's fine with just taking his orders from whoever runs up to him and gives him some, which is a policy we share.

Back at camp, the plot is starting to take shape. The orders we intercepted revealed the Stormcloaks need reinforcements at fort Dunstad. We changed those orders to say they didn't. So now, we're going to attack Fort Dunstad, and retake the Pale. Again, The Pale seems to be some kind of place with some kind of importance. I am ready to die for it.

It's going to be a huge battle, the decisive one for this whole chunk of Skyrim. So I want to up my game a little. In practical terms, this means lying down on a bedroll and going to sleep for 57 hours - two days to allow my vampiric powers to grow, and 9 more hours to skip to early evening, so that it'll be night by the time we attack.

I awake with a whole host of new powers - no invisibility yet, but one big improvement for a pure Illusionist: a universal 25% boost to the power of all Illusions. I set off.



Fort Dunstad

The men are gathering outside the fort as I arrive. It's dark, a furious blizzard makes visibility even worse, and the fort is surrounded by spiked barricades. We charge.

Rather than just buffing our own troops with Courage, I decide to take a more aggressive role for this final conflict. I use Fear. Anyone I hit with it runs from the battle, but unlike Calm, it doesn't stop our own troops from hacking them to pieces. I neutralise three archers with it before I have to wait for my magicka to recharge, and I bide the time by chasing my last victim, magicky hands waving.

"I yield!" he yells, sprinting away from me in search of some cover. I keep chasing, despite having no way of harming him. Look at my sparkly hands, soldier! Fear them!

"Victory is yours!" He cowers in a corner, hands over his head, terrified of the unarmed elf woman in a dress.

Meanwhile, the troops have smashed down several of the barricades and are flooding hte fort, clashing with the Stormcloaks in the courtyard and on the battlements. Belrand storms through them, stopping to dispatch enemies with devastating sweeps of his jagged axe. His ghost wolf is out and equally savage - I see him kill an archer and a berserker.

I get back to my Fearsome work, sending the enemy troops packing just long enough for ours to kill them in small, manageable batches. It takes a long time, and I burn through all of my health potions to survive the hail of enemy arrows, but at last the fort is ours.

It seems wise to heal up before the journey back, and with no health potions, that means sleeping.

Three days as a vampire.



The turn

When I wake up, everything's normal for about a second - just long enough for me to read that "As a fully developed vampire, you are hated and feared." Then the entire Imperial Legion turns on me. Ah. This is going to be a problem.

Belrand, to his enormous credit, is still on my side. He summons his wolf, draws his axe, and ploughs into the entire imperial legion.

I run - I still have no health potions, and this is an even higher tonnage of incoming arrows than last night. I zig-zag through the fort to dodge more arrows, and come against against two squads of my former brothers in arms. I hit each one with a ball of Frenzy, and the enormous splash radius catches every one of them with an urge to kill each other. I keep running. I want to help Belrand, but the fight is just too hectic right now. I hop onto a Legion horse and gallop away under a rain of fire.

Once I'm out of range, I veer round and skirt the fort. The sounds of shouts and butchery are still coming from inside, but I don't see anyone on the battlements now, so I cautiously canter back in. Belrand's doubled over on his knees in the center of the courtyard, two Legion soldiers bearing down on him. I fling a Rally spell at him, summoning him back to his feet in a ball of green light, and making him stronger and tougher.

Belrand cuts down two more troops, then jumps into the air and brings his axe down crushingly hard on the last of them. The body flops awkwardly on the snowy stone, Belrand holsters his weapon and looks up at me with a wordless look of, "Well, I guess this is what I do now."



The problem

We're in trouble. I mean, aside from the 18 murders and 1 horse theft we just committed. I knew my vampirism would be 'controversial', but I hadn't quite accounted for the fact that my own employers would attack me on sight, forever.

Normally, vampires pass as humans by drinking blood - it lessens their power, but returns their appearence to normal. But they don't sell that stuff in bottles, you have to drink it from a sleeping victim's neck. Whichever way you slice it, puncturing someone's jugular with your teeth and drinking their blood definitely counts as an attack. I can't do it. There's a cure for vampirism, but it involves soul-trapping, which again is against my rules.

The war for the Pale is won - or maybe a draw, now that we've wiped out the Legion forces too - but I can't complete the quest until I talk to General Tullius. And even if I could get past all of Solitude's guards and the entire Legion garrison at their headquarters in Castle Dour, Tullius himself would sooner kill me than talk to me.

I can't end this without closure. I need that check in my journal, the acknowledgement of my superiors, and to genuinely complete the mission I was given as a soldier of the Imperial Legion. So I keep thinking, and I think I have a plan. It's a plan of which the following clichés are true:


It's a long shot.

It's so crazy it might just work.

And it's something I have to do alone.


I've asked a lot of Belrand, and he's done it all unquestioningly - all the way up to slaughtering a whole Imperial army to defend me from persecution as a vampire. But I won't ask him to attack his home, Solitude. Not because he wouldn't, but because he probably would.

I could just tell him to 'Wait here', but I decide to be honest. I'm not coming back from this.
"It's time for us to part ways."
"OK, if you think that's best. If you ever need me again, you know where to find me."

I do. He sounds sad.

I hop back onto the black Legion horse I stole earlier and ride on into the night.



Solitude

I ride north, to the coast, and come at the city from across the mouth of the Carth river. There's a heavy fog on the water, and it's still dark - perfect for my approach. I slip off the stolen horse and let him stroll back to Fort Dunstad, while I swim quietly across the water towards the Solitude docks.

There are two guards patrolling the jetties, so I cast Muffle: it creates a blue mist around my feet that conceals my footsteps, so I can sneak as close as I like to the guards without them hearing me and turning around. That makes it easy to slip by one on the pier, and another on the winding path up to the city gates.

At the top, though, something incredibly awkward happens. Day breaks. The sun isn't strong enough to burn my skin, but vampires can't regenerate magicka when it's light, and I've cast Muffle again before I realise this. I'm low, and the sneaking only gets harder from here.

While I'm figuring out what I can and can't afford to cast, I spy the horse and cart guy up ahead - and he spies me. I'm rumbled. He jumps off his cart, the guards come running from all directions, and I bolt out of cover.

City guards are dramatically more powerful than Legion soldiers, and I know from hard experience that their arrows can kill me in a single hit if I'm not at full health. And I'm not. That's a problem, because as well as all the ones chasing me, there are two stationed at the gate itself. Gee, if only I was a monstrous vampire who could turn invisible at will.

Shadow's Embrace, the power I became a vampire for, makes me completely invisible and gives me night vision. It lasts for three minutes, but I'll have to reveal myself to open the city gates - you can't 'use' things or cast spells while invisible.

My pursuers still have a rough idea of where I probably am, but no further arrows come near me, and the guards at the gate have no clue I'm even there. I'm in.



Talking to Tullius

Now, it gets harder. The streets of Solitude are crawling with guards, and it's a long route through an open street to get to Castle Dour. I decide to break it up by stopping off at the pub for a drink.

The Winking Skeever is where I found Belrand, and it's restocked with health potions since I last ransacked it for health potions. I run in and steal all the health potions. The entire city guard follow me in, of course, but I barge past them on my way back out before they can really react. Before I go, though, I want to Frenzy them all - start a bar fight that'll keep them all busy in here while I run to Castle Dour. The only problem is, I don't have enough magicka.

I'm about to abandon the idea, then I remember something - I'm ready to level up. All I have to do is pick a stat to improve, and my health and magicka are fully restored. Level 11! Let's Frenzy!

I escape the bar room bloodbath I've just created and burst back out into the streets. I run zig-zag to stymie the annoyingly accurate guards still on the streets, and jump a wall to get up the ramp to the castle.

The last obstacle before Castle Dour are the two Imperial Guards at its door. Running straight at them, I can't dodge both their arrows. I can't Calm them both, because that'd leave me completely out of magicka, and I'll need some once I get inside. Instead I calm the furthest guard, then run straight at the nearest one. Before he can fire, I'm in close combat range, so he puts away his bow and draws his sword. Before he can attack, I'm inside.

Tullius is directly in front of me, surrounded by soldiers. I run at him. He draws his sword. And for my next trick, I spend my last chunk of mana to hit him with my last ever Calm spell, and immediately strike up conversation.

Reporting for duty, sir!



As his men sink their blades into me from all directions, Tullius commends me on my work, and lectures me on the strategic importance of The Pale to the Empire's war effort. The notification pops up: Quest completed.

I quit out of the conversation, amazed to find I'm still alive, and push past the troops to a door to the castle battlements. I have no magicka, almost no health, and I'm stabbed and cut several more times even as I open it.

It's sunny out. My vampiric night vision makes the light dazzlingly white, and at the same time, my skin burns in the sun. The combined effects are so bright that, for a second, I don't realise I'm dead. When colour floods back into the world, I see my limp body slide down the castle door.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, you've been a wonderful audience!
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Skyrim Enhanced Terrain mod increases detail of distant textures">Skyrim HD Enhanced Terrain mod



Being Dragonborn hath its privileges. For one, you have tons of time for heroic gazes across Skyrim's arboreal vistas, a Nordic breeze whipping your victory braids while a Hans Zimmer track (optionally) plays in the background. Skyrim's stock textures, however, tend to get smudgy at extreme ranges, and that just won't do for a warrior destined to save everyone and everything. The HD Enhanced Terrain Mod, then, returns the ruggedness to far-off ground with high-resolution grass effects.

Modder Hritik Vaishnav updated ground textures with a 2048x2048 canvas of grass-like foliage noise, a definite upgrade from Skyrim's dive in terrain quality at distance. He offers two versions for download: a high-detail, high-noise variation and a slightly less-detailed alternative that ties more seamlessly into existing textures.

The simplicity of the mod and the ease of its installation makes it a worthy addition to your collection. Looking for more? Check out a bunch of other mods we've found.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

Slap yourself and wake up! It's all a dream. This doesn't really exist.... haha, I made you hit yourself They did. They absolutely, utterly, completely modded a new world into Skyrim that’s based on Super Mario. Super Skyrim Bros. adds a new instance into Skyrim, so you at least won’t be converting all of Bethesda’s chilly wastes to the blocky nightmare you see here. Just a corner of it. A nightmare of question mark blocks, coins, Goombas, Koopas, secrets, and even Bowser. Want to see it in action? You’ll need sunglasses and a quiet room to lie down in after. I’m about to hit my sofa and hide under some cushions. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Vireio Perception drivers for Oculus Rift add support for Skyrim, Mirror’s Edge, others">Vireio Perception Oculus Rift drivers



Contrary to popular belief, the anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset doesn't run on pixie dust and elf tears. Like all hardware, it needs software drivers. And while its 20-year-old creator, Palmer Luckey, focuses on manufacturing more developer kits to meet the exceedingly high demand, enthusiastic 3D fans are already planning homebrewed custom drivers. One such project is CyberReality's Vireio Perception which extends Rift 3D support to first-person greats such as Portal 2, Skyrim, Mirror's Edge, and Left 4 Dead.

As CyberReality describes it, Vireio (or Virtual Reality Input Output, but we like how the shorthand name sounds like an enemy boss) can "pre-warp the image to match the Oculus Rift optics, handle custom aspect-ratios (needed for the Rift's strange 8:10 screen), and utilize full 3D head-tracking." As we describe it: Whoa.

The drivers work with nine games so far: Left 4 Dead, Half-Life 2, Portal 2, Skyrim, Mirror's Edge, AaAaAA!!!, Unreal Tournament 3, Dear Esther, and DiRT 2. CyberReality plans to add additional games in the future after spending more time with the kit. If all goes well, the possibilities are enormous: Think of revisiting classics such as Thief or Deus Ex with full head-tracking vision. Oh, yes, this is exciting.

Thanks, PCGamesN.
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