PC Gamer
Falskaar


We love Skyrim mods. A new, noteworthy one for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Falskaar, was released over the weekend, and it is quite a doozy. Falskaar adds almost 25 hours of content, a land mass a third the size of the original game, new characters, new voices, and dozens of quests. As impressive as it is, though, it’s nowhere near as impressive as the creative force behind it: Alexander J. Velicky, a 19-year-old gunning for a job with Bethesda with his first try at modding Skyrim.

“I organized everyone involved, but the voice actors themselves recorded all the dialogue and submitted it to me,” Velicky told me. Though over 100 people contributed in some way, including composing an original soundtrack, Velicky took their contributions and plugged them into Falskaar himself. “I had some people help me out with a few models and textures, someone wrote a book or two for me... But otherwise all content was implemented, written and developed by me.”

So how does a 19-year-old take the helm of a creative project of this size? Velicky wants a job. He graduated from high school over a year ago, and instead of finding a design school, he turned Bethesda’s Creation Kit into his classroom, spending 2,000 hours over the last year building Falskaar.



“ was incredibly supportive and allowed me to live here, paying for living expenses and charging no rent,” Velicky says. “I was able to not go to school and not have a day job. Meaning, more or less, that Falskaar was my day job.”

The mod is fully voice-acted by 29 voice actors playing 54 characters (Velicky held auditions), and the quality is much higher than most community-made content. “I'm still kind of shocked at some of the talent I got on the project... and every single one of them surpassed my expectations by leaps and bounds.”

A massive dungeon, “Watervine Chasm,” may be Falskaar’s crowning achievement. It took Velicky three weeks to build and players report it takes an hour or two to complete. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Falskaar isn't perfect,” Velicky says. “I'm not an expert who's been crafting game experiences for the last 20 years, so I certainly still have a lot to learn, and I always will. I'm always looking to learn and improve, and Falskaar was a huge chance for me to do this.”



According to Velicky, Bethesda is aware that he’s out there, and he isn’t shy about putting his goals right out on the table. “The best way to show Bethesda Game Studios that I want a job there and should be hired is to create content that meets the standards of their incredible development team.”

Falskaar is available now on Skyrim Nexus, and I encourage you to check it out. Have a gander at our list of the 25 Best Skyrim Mods, too.
PC Gamer
Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls fans are getting really worried about next year’s Elder Scrolls Online, for fear that it will simply be a World of Warcraft clone with a thin flavor of Tamriel sprinkled on top. A blog post on ESO’s website describes the innerworkings of the game’s instanced group-based dungeons, and what it reveals plays a little bit to each side of that argument.
In the post, developers explain that enemies in the same room will operate on a “pack mentality” basis, where an attack on any one of them alerts all of the others. Tanking members of a dungeon group will base their strategy off the knowledge that “By default, a pack of monsters spreads out, and each enemy chooses a target,” as the post explains. “Player actions can change their targets to some extent. For example, taunt abilities force an enemy to attack you for a fixed duration.”
This is worryingly standard MMO construction, as are the enumerated differences between the three members of the Tank/Healer/DPS holy trinity. The tank needs to control the fight by keeping enemies focused on him; the DPS needs to cause damage without bringing too many enemies into the scrap at once; the healer needs to keep an eye on everyone’s health bars. So far, so 2005.
But lo! A ray of hopeful sunshine appears! ESO has always promised the open-ended, multiclass play that we love, where an Orc with a penchant for dual-wielding battle axes can also deploy the gentle caress of healing magic. In ESO, skill bars will change depending on the weapons equipped, allowing a single character to switch between various roles depending on their current equipment.
“Let’s say your group’s healer goes down during a boss battle... You swap your two-handed sword out right in the middle of  combat for a restoration staff, which activates your second hotbar (where you’ve cleverly slotted some healing abilities). Now, you can keep the party going.”
Is this enough to dramatically mix up the rote MMO formula? Is this twist just enough to claim that their game is different, but without actually changing the fundamentals? I suspect that fans on either side of the debate will find evidence for their side.
Elder Scrolls Online is slated for a 2014 release.
PC Gamer
Helgen Reborn for Skyrim


Welcome back to the town of Helgen! Last seen at the beginning of Skyrim being curb-stomped into splinters by the Nordic God of Destruction, Helgen has since remained a shattered ruin filled with bandit jerks... until now. Helgen Reborn invites you to play a key role in transforming Helgen into a functioning town once more. You'll crisscross Skyrim on a sprawling adventure that includes recruiting a team of oddball soldiers, busting up a human-trafficking ring, fighting to the death in a gladiator pit, and moving into a new home with perhaps the coolest basement you've ever seen.

The mod begins in Whiterun where I meet a grubby fellow named Patsy, who actually looks quite a bit like Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (the first of several movie references in the mod). Patsy sends me to find Marcus, a former Imperial soldier, who sends me to find Val, his former comrade in arms, who is holed up in the remains of Helgen pretending to be part of a bandit crew. As Dragonborn, savior of Skyrim, prophesied and sung of in songs, I find it a little rude for these guys to assume I have nothing better to do with my time than play postman, carrying messages between them all day. (Actually, I do have nothing better to do with my time, but these guys don't know that.)

Oh, you are NOT getting your security deposit back.

Eventually, the two former old chums reunite at Helgen and start making plans for the future. Val is looking for revenge against the people who killed his family, and Marcus wants to rebuild Helgen, a town he visited often in his youth and thus has fond feelsies for. I get straight to work for the both of them.

First up, Val needs me to spring one of his men, who is being held in a Thalmor prison. I come up with a great plan: kill all the Thalmor with an axe. But wait! Val has an even better plan: dress me up as an Imperial and send me in with a forged prison transfer order. YES! This is just like 90% of World War II movies, where someone G.I. has to dress up in a Nazi uniform to bluff his way into a compound behind enemy lines. Those plans always go well, right?

Me am Imperial. Not famous Dragonborn Orc. Me... not lie about thing like that.

My Imperial uniform gets me in the door, but Val's plan hits a slight snag because my Orc, who mainly communicates with others via two-handed axe blows, has not really bothered putting skill points into Speechcraft at any point ever in his entire life. After just a few words with the Thalmor officers, they shrewdly decide this hulking brute in front of them is not actually part of an Imperial envoy transferring a prisoner to the embassy. The ruse fails, and I have to go with my original plan of AXE AXE AXE.

Guten tag. Zigaretten? Oh, screw it. YAGGGGGGH

Having messily rescued Val's scout, I turn to Marcus and the issue of restoring Helgen. The first thing he needs are guards to protect the town from bandits and other threats while it's being rebuilt, and he gives me the choice of asking the Stormcloaks for help, or assembling a patchwork force of various loners and oddballs from all over Skyrim. Well, that's a hell of an easy choice. Finding a ragtag crew of misfits and shaping them into an effective team? That's an 80's movie just waiting for some montage music.

I scour the map, visiting taverns all over Skyrim to put together Helgen's new town watch. I recruit a shrimpy Nord who wants to prove himself, a somber Khajiit who is mourning the death of his dog, a dope named Kindrick whose only combat experience was once seeing (and steering clear of) a single mudcrab, an Argonian who... actually, I can't remember what his deal was. There's also a brother and sister who are not that interesting because they seem like they'd be excellent choices, and I'm more about the weirdos.

We've got till the end of summer to turn this motley crew of goofballs into a winning softball team.

One by one, I take them out on minor quests to test their nerve and their steel, or at least to let them watch while I rush through caves ahead of them and kill everything as fast as I can. Eventually, they all prove their worth, or at least they don't die. Back in town, they all get matching uniforms and shields bearing the new, independent crest of Helgen. I gotta say, seeing my collection of misfits lined up in spiffy matching armor is a pretty cool moment.

Now those stuck-up rich kids from the Thalmor camp don't stand a chance!

Marcus, grateful for my help, gives me a tower in Helgen. From the outside, it doesn't look like much, but the inside is nicely furnished. There's a massive lower level with all the crafting and enchanting accoutrements, not to mention a sprawling area with mannequins for armor and display cases for weaponry. But that ain't NOTHIN'. The coolest feature of this new home, by far, is the spacious cavern under the tower. Patsy, it seems, has a talent for taxidermy. In related news, I kill a lot of monsters and take pieces of their corpses. Do you see what I'm getting at? Forget hanging up a couple axes on a rack or putting armor on a dummy: the cavern is where you can display your REAL trophies.

This is my basement. Correction: this is one CORNER of my basement. Seriously, get this mod.

Aside from being able to stock your basement with stuffed, posed monsters like dragons, giants, and mammoths, there are other displays that appear based on your progress in Skyrim itself. For instance, I have a werewolf statue down there, because I became a werewolf during one of Skyrim's quests, and there are all sorts of other trophies and treasures in the cavern based on what I've accomplished. I think this is the coolest home I've seen in a Skyrim mod yet.

With my awesome new home (that I never want to leave), Helgen's spiffy new armed guards, and the town now noisy with the hustle and bustle of workers and new citizens, it would seem like your job here is done. But this is Skyrim, an odd and violent land, so issues with a late lumber delivery naturally wind up with me fighting to the death under the name "Skull Crusher" in a gladiator pit called Fight Cave while onlookers chant "Two warriors enter! One warrior leaves!" It's Skyrim, man. You never know where your day is going to take you.

Welcome to Fight Cave. You are not how many septims you have in the bank. You are not your enchanted ebony armor.

Fight Cave is reminiscent of the Imperial City Arena in Oblivion. You work your way up in a series of bouts against tougher and tougher opponents, while gamblers watch and (sort of) cheer. Once you've become champion, which somehow solves the delay in the lumber delivery, you're back to helping Val with his deal, which turns out to be busting up a human-trafficking ring. Of course!

Using my dragon to punish slavers. Wonder where I got that idea from?

Despite the mod's guide urging you to SAVE SAVE SAVE YOUR GAME, I only had one crash, and one issue with a quest that required me to reload my most recent autosave. So, it's actually pretty darn stable, all things considered. Also, it's pretty great. There's a bunch of lore related to the mod in the form of books and conversations. There is an impressive amount of original voice work, and nearly all of it is very well done, with the exception for the guy who sounds like someone doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression (on the plus side, it's a very good impression).

If we don't rebuild, then the dragons have won.

Plus, when you're done, you'll get to witness Helgen being rebuilt into a real town with an inn, shops, and all sorts of original characters walking around. My guess is that this mod took me about five or six hours to play, and apart from one embarrassingly regrettable scene with a moaning prostitute (though at least it contains a reference to Blazing Saddles), is really well thought out and impressively put together.

Installation: You can easily download and install the mod using the Nexus Mod Manager (I didn't see it on Steam Workshop, unfortunately), though check the mod's FAQ for conflicts with other mods (there seem to be a lot). I didn't see instructions for a manual install, but there's just single .bsa file and a single .esp file in the download, so I'm guessing you just drop them in your Skyrim Data folder, and tick the Data Files checkbox when you launch the game.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

Ees Beautiool. Time to keel dragon.I rarely role-play in games. I’d like to believe it’s because I have such a well-defined personality that I simply can’t accept not being myself, but the real reason is that I’m rubbish. I only ever have one well-defined notion of what I want to be: Garrett. Every opportunity to create a character in a game for me means loading up on stealth options, and when I do I don’t really feel the character. I’m just a dude in the dark. But my last Skyrim character was lost to the great platter splatter* of October 2012, and I’m keen to go back the Fus Ro Dah. The question of whether or not I replay as a Garrett lookalike or roll something more adventurous has been answered with this mod that puts Team Fortress 2′s heavy into the dragon’s lair. I can tell I’m not going to be loading up on stealth options with this one. (more…)

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

John Hurt (maybe) earlier, Michael Gambon now… It’s only a matter of time before we get Derek Jacobi narrating a trailer for FIFA 2014, or Simon Callow talking about Call of Duty. Gammbers, the Singing Detective and Dumbledore himself, is here today to talk to us about The Elder Scrolls Online, Bethesda’s MMO adaptation of their until now distintively singleplayer Tamriel-set RPGs. (more…)

PC Gamer
Skyrim


If you're one of the few who hasn't had a chance to log some 100+ hours of playing time in Skyrim, here's your chance to catch up on the sprawling, dragon-ridden RPG. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition is now available in stores across North America, balling all of the updates and DLC into one convenient package.

You'll get the base game and the three DLCs—Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn—as well as recently added features like mounted combat. New to this edition, however, is the addition of Legendary Things. Namely, a "legendary" difficulty setting for those who found it too easy to slay dragons fifteen times your size the first time around, and "legendary" skills, which enable you to master every perk and level up those skills infinitely.

The bundle's already available for $60 through various retailers listed on the Skyrim site. But if you think you can be patient, try holding out for the Steam version—it's not out till this Friday, but it's pre-orderable for $10 less. There's admittedly not much here for dedicated players who have already given their late nights to Skyrim and bought each of the DLCs upon the release, but for those players who've had "real lives" keeping them from Skyrim till now, it's definitely worth taking a look at this brilliant, lifesucking thing.
Product Release - Valve
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Legendary Edition is Now Available on Steam*.

Winner of more than 200 Game of the Year awards, experience the complete Skyrim collection with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® Legendary Edition. The Legendary Edition includes the original critically-acclaimed game, official add-ons – Dawnguard™, Hearthfire™, and Dragonborn™ – and added features like combat cameras, mounted combat, Legendary difficulty mode for hardcore players, and Legendary skills – enabling you to master every perk and level up your skills infinitely.

Key Features

Live Another Life, In Another World
Play any type of character you can imagine, and do whatever you want; the freedom of choice, storytelling, and adventure of The Elder Scrolls comes to life in one legendary experience complete with added weapons, armor, spells, and shouts from all three official add-ons.

Dawnguard

The Vampire Lord Harkon has returned to power. By using the Elder Scrolls, he seeks to do the unthinkable - to end the sun itself. Will you join the ancient order of the Dawnguard and stop him? Or will you become a Vampire Lord? In Dawnguard, the ultimate choice will be yours.

Hearthfire

Purchase land and build your own home from the ground up - from a simple one-room cottage to a sprawling compound complete with an armory, alchemy laboratory, and more. Use all-new tools like the drafting table and carpenter’s workbench to turn stone, clay, and sawn logs into structures and furnishings. Even transform your house into a home by adopting children.

Dragonborn

Journey off the coast of Morrowind, to the vast island of Solstheim.Traverse the ash wastes and glacial valleys of this new land as you 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.

*Will be available Worldwide on June 7th, 2013.

Product Update - Valve
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has just been updated.

This update includes the following:

- Russian language
- Czech language
- Polish language

to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire, and
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn on Steam.










PC Gamer
Obsidian_Project_Eternity


Obsidian's Feargus Urquhart recently spoke at a GDC Russia panel entitled "The decline of the gaming industry as we know it—is there a way out?" While he cast doubt on the notion that huge, console-focused, "AAA" titles are going anywhere, he declared them "not relevant for the development community as a whole." The inflated budgets and team sizes required to make such titles, he cautioned, can also be detrimental to the creative process.

"Trying to manage a team of 1,000 people, I think is just crazy... and it costs a ton of money," Urquhart said of the model used to produce games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. "The result of that is we get fewer games. And I just don't think that that's good. It means we're going to get less innovations... No one wants to try new things. Because if you're going to go spend $100 million, $200 million on a game, it has to make its money back."

Urquhart revealed that some games we think of as AAA actually cost significantly less—Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas were called out specifically—due to a different development philosophy. He also stressed that better tools allow high quality games to be made for less money, and that the big publisher model is ultimately something that will remain restricted to a very small percentage of studios going forward.

"I question the relevance of AAA," he said. "AAA is not relevant for the development community as a whole, unless you want to go work on a team of 300 people, 400 people, and you want to make five specific games."

You can check out the full video above (though it's mostly in Russian). Obsidian's own Project Eternity became one of the most successful Kickstarted games ever last year, bringing in well over $4 million. While impressive, it's only a small fraction of the budgets for titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was rumored to have cost as much as $300 million. This all seems to serve as an apt illustration of Urquhart's point: the games that get the most attention are often made by a very small percentage of studios working with wildly unusual development resources.
PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online remains a big question mark in the eyes of a lot of Elder Scrolls fans. How will the immersive, interactive world of Skyrim and Oblivion translate to an always-online multiplayer experience without losing their character?
After all, one of the great things about the Elder Scrolls games has always been the permanent consequences of your actions. Kill a named character and they (usually) stay dead; roll 5,000 sweet rolls down a cliff and they’ll just sit at the bottom.

The Elder Scrolls Online released a video today that answers some of these questions. In it, the player can be seen looting food and small items from crates on the dockside and risking the wrath of the gods by stealing bread straight off an altar. Have you no shame, player?



“It’s not just useless stuff,” Creative Director Paul Sage says in a voice over. “Right now you can take any one of these items that you find and it’s going to be part of a recipe. It’s going to be part of our crafting system. Yes, you’ll go out into the world and you’ll explore and you’ll find plants and many of the other things that you expect, but it all starts right in town.”

Like so many parts of the gameplay transition from single-player to MMO, the daedra will be in the details. If any crate can give crafting materials, how long until every crate in town has been picked clean by other players? If the items restock, doesn’t that bring players back to the feeling that they’re running on a treadmill?

The Elder Scrolls Online is currently in closed beta testing. It should be released sometime this year.
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