PC Gamer

If video games need anything, it's guns! Forgive me!

The following is an excerpt from The Most Dangerous Fantasy Game, a staple in the imaginary short story canon:

For a moment the general did not reply; he was smiling his curious red-lipped smile. Then he said slowly, "No. You are wrong, sir. The Giant Mudcrab is not the most dangerous big game." He sipped his mead. "Here in my preserve on this island," he said in the same slow tone, "I hunt more dangerous game."

Oh, so dragons.

Yes! Dragons! I was going to fake you out and say 'Man' but you caught on. Well done. Weird.

The dragon in the mirror

Short fiction in the Elder Scrolls universe would likely reflect less of man s existential concern with the self, and more of man s existential concern with being incinerated by an ancient, winged lizard-beast.

Through hours and hours of leveling up, finding gear, and building relationships, you can even the odds, somewhat. But, gosh dang, I am sick of dragons. They re always getting into my garden, pulverizing my cabbages (and also my house). It s time for an open season.

So, let s go dragon hunting! First, though, you ll need a gun. Spells and arrows won t do here.

Lock and load

Check out Project Flintlock, a mod that adds a few guns to Skyrim. Install is fairly simple. Just extract the meshes, textures, and sound folders, plus the Project Flintlock.esp file to your Skyrim/data install directory. After that, you just need to make sure the mod is checked in the Skyrim launcher under Data Files.

The total feature set includes:

  • authentic flintlock rifle, blunderbuss, and grenade launcher, animated and rigid
  • ammo with different damage values
  • three different bayonets (short, long, sword) for the flintlock rifle
  • new location with new models and items
  • custom sounds and new effects for each weapon type
  • the weapons are craftable, enchantable, upgradeable, follower friendly
  • an optional ammo add-on with 15 new bullet types

The animations aren t perfect, and it becomes fairly obvious that they re just reskinned, stat-modified bows and arrows, but I m willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of dragon population control. Here s a quick look at all three:

The weapons are assigned bullets just like arrows, so be sure to match the correct ammo with whatever gun is equipped. It's important to maintain realism in a fantasy setting.
The weapons are assigned bullets just like arrows, so be sure to match the correct ammo with whatever gun is equipped. It's important to maintain realism in a fantasy setting.

Dragons for dinner

Alright, it's time to head out. Bring your jacket? License? Good, good. First, we ll need to find some kind of evidence that a dragon has been nearby. You see, the key to dragon hunting is—

Juked!
Juked!

Never mind! 

Let s see how it takes to the musket.

Looks straight out of a gum commercial.
Looks straight out of a gum commercial.

Well, shoot, for lack of a better term. That's not much damage at all. The big dog hardly flinched. And I got breathed on by cold stuff! And it smelled really bad, not like those gum commercials would make you think. Caught a whiff of dead goat, corrupt jarl, and—what's that? Cabbages! It's time to end this.

Let's not waste any more time. 

Inching the damage up just a smidge.
Inching the damage up just a smidge.

Oh god. What have I done?

I guess they're not so bad when they're not flying around, breathing smelly cold stuff on you.
I guess they're not so bad when they're not flying around, breathing smelly cold stuff on you.

Save the dragons

Ah, dang. I'm reflecting on my actions, feeling consequence, guilt, and all that jazz. I thought this was about extrinsic danger, but now I m all worried about who I am and becoming a monster . I mean, the dragons are sentient, yeah? And when I was just using the powers and gear I earned, we were sort of duking it out on fair terms. Turns out Skyrim might also have its fair share of folks thinking about how messed up humanity might be, looking in the mirror, gaunt-eyed, crying and whatnot. Going to liberal arts schools. Can t escape short fiction in Skyrim. So, without further adieu, the revelation:

Maybe dragons aren t the most dangerous game.

Maybe, we re the most dangerous game.

Or maybe, Project Flintlock is just dumb fun, especially in a game that you might have already explored, head to toe.

PC Gamer

My big hope for The Elder Scrolls VI: Elsweyr (I also hope that it's called that, and it's set in cat-people land Elsweyr) is that it's more systemic, more reactive and even more sandboxy than previous games in the series. Bethesda could start by re-introducing hauntings and NPC mourning, two features that, as it turns out, were cut from Skyrim. Modder vagonumero12 has dug through the game files, discovered the relevant code, and modded them back into the game.

Here's how haunting and mourning were supposed to work, according to the modder, before Bethesda scrapped the embryonic features.

"Haunting: when a unique NPC with family dies, there will be a random chance that it will—after some time—"resurrect" as a ghost that will follow a relative for the rest of the game. Only NPCs with generic voice files (don't expect to see Ulfric as a ghost), and only a single NPC in the whole save. You won't be able to fill Skyrim with ghosts (it was left like that by Bethesda).

Mourning: when a unique NPC with family or friends dies, their relatives/friends will do some comment about their loss to you on their hello dialogues."

The features don't appear to have been developed very much before they were cut, but Bethesda did get their voice actors to record some of that "my relative died, I'm well sad" dialogue. All of the 'random NPC' voice actors appear to have been asked to record these lines, including, weirdly, the ones that supplied the voices for Skyrim's children. Hear some kids lament the loss of their husbands and daughters here.

You can download vagonumero12's Haunting and Mourning mod here. (Thanks, Kotaku.)

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

Got an hour to kill and a hankering to do some sightseeing in Cyrodiil? If you find yourself in that rather odd situation, then I recommend you have a look at the new Skyblivion gameplay trailer.

Skyblivion, as the name suggests, is a remake of the 2006 Elder Scrolls RPG Oblivion in the more up-to-date and visually impressive Creation engine that powered the 2011 Elder Scrolls RPG Skyrim. It's very much akin to Skywind, a similar resurrection of the 2002 Elder Scrolls RPG Morrowind, which I think generally gets more attention because it's so much older and thus in more dire need of a facelift.

The Skyblivion world looks quite a bit emptier than I recall the Imperial Province being, although it has been an awfully long time since I was last there. It's also very early in the development process: The YouTube description says the video is taken from version 0.2 of the mod, which among other things lacks a "navmesh" that guides NPCs and keeps them from wandering into places they're not supposed to go. "Navmesh needs to be done if this is ever going to be in a playable state with quests," the mod makers said in a comment. "This is a huge task considering it has to be done by hand and Cyrodiil is huge."

The mod is apparently progressing toward a public release of version 0.3, but there's no indication as to when it might be ready. For now, enjoy the view—and if you want to find out more about what's going on, or even chip in to help (Skyblivion, as Destructoid notes, is being created entirely by volunteers) you may do so at The Elder Scrolls Renewal Project.

PC Gamer

Skyrim mods are a varied and numerous bunch. Some add new weapons and spells; others fix and tweak systems; the vast majority give Lydia new hairstyles. Occasionally, there's another type: an unbelievably detailed and complex quest chain, complete with new locations, quests and dialogue. The Forgotten City is from this latter category, and it's shaping up to be a fully-fledged expansion to Bethesda's four-year-old RPG.

"The Forgotten City is a lore-friendly expansion to Skyrim with a dark, non-linear story in which you'll discover and explore an ancient underground city," explains its creator. It's designed as a murder mystery, in which players must search for clues, interrogate suspects and fight monsters. And also travel through time.

The mod will boast 1,200 lines of dialogue, 30 new characters and a moral choices that can lead to multiple different endings. It's an undeniably impressive undertaking.

For more on the mod, head over to its ModDB page. The Forgotten City is due out in October.

PC Gamer

Skyrim's got NPCs like a dragon's got scales. Which is to say: it has many. Spend a bit of time with them, however, and you'll start to realize that Skyrim's NPCs are a bit dumb. They're not strategic masterminds, they're often foolhardy, and they don't really do much with their spare time. The Immersive Citizens mod is here in an attempt to give their brains a bit of an overhaul in everything from fighting, to choosing not to fight, to everyday activities.

First off, the survival instincts of NPCs has improved, in as much as they now actually have some interest in not dying. If you've ever gotten into a skirmish in a city, you know what I'm talking about. Not only do guards come running, but regular unarmored citizens foolishly brandish weak-ass daggers in a misguided effort to take down the famous and ultra-powerful Dragonborn. What are they thinking?

They're not thinking, of course, but now they'll at least make a little logic check before going toe-to-toe with you. They'll compare their level against yours, check the status of their health and determine their resistance to physical damage. If the odds are stacked against them, they may choose to flee, and even try to hide in a random location like a nearby house, mine, or tower. 

I stirred up some trouble in Whiterun to try it out. Even though the guards swarmed me, none of the townies did, even a couple who had real weapons. And why would they? I'm famous because of all the dragons I've killed. You don't fight me unless you have to (or you're paid to).

Don't worry, this doesn't apply to all NPCs, so not everyone will run simply because you're a high-level character. Most NPCs have been assigned ranks and personalities by the mod. While some will flee when they sense they're overmatched, others will still try to fight you to the death no matter what, and some will try to improve their odds by retreating from a fight to allow themselves to heal, then returning to continue the skirmish.

Some NPC combat styles have been tweaked as well, particularly among those who attack at range like archers and mages. Rather than simply giving up their ranged attacks when you get close, they'll work harder to keep you at a distance and use cover if there is any.

 I tried this out on some bandit jerk and he was definitely making an effort to keep me away from him, backpedaling a lot and edging out in and out of the doorway to the fort we were fighting in. Good for him! Also, he's dead now.

When you're done killing NPCs, head to the nearest town, where you may notice the citizens have gotten a little more interesting. Local hunters will actually loot the animals they kill, priests will spend time praying, and citizens will actually leave their towns for errands or pleasure, even choosing to ride horses if they're planning to travel a good distance. If it starts raining they'll move indoors, they'll have more frequent conversations with each other, and they'll even shop in stores, so for once you won't be the only customer in all of Skyrim.

There's a really massive list of tweaks and changes on the mod page. The mod is a work in progress, and there are some more changes on the way. I've played with it a bit, and a lot the changes are very subtle, but I have witnessed some of this enhanced behavior and it does make a difference.

The mod requires Dawnguard and Dragonborn DLC to run.

PC Gamer

Bethesda was the first—and, as it turned out, the only—developer to take part in Valve's blink-and-you-missed-it experiment with paid mods on Steam. Given how it defended the practice, it's not unreasonable to expect it'll be at the head of the line again, if and when Valve ever decides to give it another shot, and that the next opportunity could well come in the form of Fallout 4.

But for now, that's not in the cards. "How long was the online payment system? 24 Hours? I can only speak for the present time, but currently there are no plans for a payment system," Game Director Todd Howard told German site Spiegel Online. The interview was Google translated from the original German and is thus a little rough, but the sentiment seems fairly straightforward, and Kotaku says it checks out.

It isn't terribly surprising that Bethesda isn't looking to get back on that particular horse, at least right away. As the studio pointed out in April, paid mod sales made up a tiny percentage of its total Steam revenues, even over a weekend during which Skyrim was free. More to the point, Fallout 4 is only five months away; that's exciting—just 145 sleeps until Fallout day!—but also still pretty close to the first failed attempt. Why saddle yourself with that kind of baggage if you don't have to?

PC Gamer

Bethesda Softworks and Titan Books released the first volume of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tales of Tamriel earlier this year, and it must have been a reasonably decent success, because The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is about to get the same treatment. The Skyrim Library, Volume 1: The Histories, the first of three planned books in a "lavishly illustrated and produced" set, will be out later this month.

The Skyrim Library will tell you all there is to know about the Nordic land of Skyrim, including its history, cultures, creatures, and myths. The books will be feature text taken from the game on factions, heroes, creatures, dragons, and more, and punch things up with original lore and official art as well.

Not everyone is going to get wound up about lore books, naturally, not even a set as nice as this. But die-hard fans of The Elder Scrolls, and Skyrim in particular, are probably going to be at least a little bit tempted by it. The hardbound, 232-page volume will set you back $35, and is expected to start shipping on June 23. Preorders, if you are so inclined, may be placed at the Bethesda Store.

PC Gamer

In this, the next leg of Skywind's tour of a remade Morrowind, we see Seyda Neen—the town our protagonist arrives in, fresh off the prison boat, at the start of the game. "Our 3D artists have recreated and re-imagined this iconic town with updated buildings and clutter," explains the trailer's description.

Skywind is a remake of Morrowind, for Skyrim—reimagining the locations, enemies and quests and placing them in the most recent Elder Scrolls game. This is just latest in a number of environmen previews for the Skyrim mod. Head to our Skywind tag page to see more.

PC Gamer

For the past few Junes, right before one of the busiest gaming weeks of the year, we ve taken a moment to imagine the E3 press conference that PC Gamers deserve. It s become one of our tiny traditions (along with Chris questionable behavior in survival games). Mostly it s an excuse for us to publish something entirely detached from reality before we fly to Los Angeles and publish every scrap of gaming news and opinion that our bodies will allow. It s therapeutic to daydream about Gabe Newell materializing atop a unicorn through a fog of theater-grade dry ice to announce Half-Life 3.

We get valuable stories, videos, and interviews out of E3—you can imagine how handy it is to have almost every game-maker gathered under one roof for a few days. But it s no secret that the PC doesn t have a formal, organized presence during E3. Generally speaking it s the time of year when Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo jostle for position about who can create the most buzz. Despite being a mostly exciting few days of announcements, E3 has never given the biggest gaming platform in the world an equal place at the table.

That s our collective fault, not E3 s. One of our hobby s greatest strengths is the fact that there isn t a single owner. The PC has no marketing arm, no legal department, no CEO to dictate what should be announced or advertised. And thank Zeus for that. The fundamentally open nature of our hobby is what allows for GOG, Origin, Steam, and others to compete for our benefit, for the variety of technologies and experiences we have access to—everything from netbook gaming to 8K flight simulation to VR.

Everyone involved in PC gaming has shared ownership over its identity. One of the few downsides of that, though, is that there isn t really a single time and place for PC gaming to get together and hang out. We love BlizzCon, QuakeCon, DreamHack, Extra Life, The International, and the ever-increasing number of PAXes. But there s something special about the pageantry of E3 week, its over-the-top showmanship, its surprises, its proximity to Hollywood. And each June, even as we ve jokingly painted a picture of PC game developers locking arms in a musical number, we ve wanted something wholly by, for, and about PC gaming.

Well, hell, let s do it.

For the past few months we ve been organizing the first ever live event for PC gaming during E3, The PC Gaming Show. Tune into our Twitch channel on Tuesday, June 16 on 5 PM and you ll see a spectrum of PC gaming represented on stage: a showcase of conversations, announcements, hardware, trailers, and other stuff that makes PC gaming great. We ve been talking to everyone we know, big and small—if there s a game or developer you want to see—tell us! So far, Blizzard, AMD, Bohemia Interactive, Boss Key Productions, Paradox, Dean Hall, Tripwire, and more have signed up to be a part of this inaugural PC gaming potluck (Paradox has promised to bring nachos), and we ll be announcing more participants as we lead up to June 16. And hey, the endlessly friendly Day[9] is hosting. We love that guy.

We re sincerely, stupidly excited about this. The PC gaming renaissance we re all living in deserves a moment of recognition during the biggest gaming expo of the year—it s about time! Listen in on Twitter and on our Facebook page as we share more details leading up to June.

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