PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Super Skyrim Bros mod turns Elder Scrolls into Marioland">24709-5-1348808587







Mario on PC Gamer? Mario on PC Gamer?! But wait - before your temporal artery explodes from the side of your face in sheer exasperation at this tainting of our pure PC space, let it be known that this is a Skyrim mod and thus legitimate PC news. Honest!



In fact the mod itself avoids crossing the streams too much - you can install it without affecting your Skyrim game. Instead of replacing anything in the icy lands of the Nords, Super Skyrim Bros introduces a separate kingdom, accessible via a bed in an abandoned house. It's all a dream, you see, so the Skyrim lore is preserved - phew!



It's a dream that involves kidnapped princesses, fire flower staves, collectible coins, talking toadstools and all the other trappings that make the Mario games an oddly narcotic experience. There's even a sidescrolling platforming section.



It does depart in some ways, however - you have to kill Goombas as you would any Skyrim beastie, rather than simply bouncing on their heads, and you won't grow in size when you eat a mushroom. Still, there's five worlds and between one and three hours of play. It's recommended you are at least level 20 before entering.







For more awesome Skyrim mods, you should have a look at our 25 best Skyrim mods feature.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Skyrim’s Hearthfire expansion out now, child-snatching property magnates rejoice">hearthfire







Adventuring ain't for everyone. Why bother smashing dragons to bits with a mace possessed by a malevolent Daedric Prince when you can farm turnips from a frigid field? Now the Skyrim Hearthfire DLC has launched on Steam, the domestically-inclined Dovahkiin can do that and more with a massively expanded range of home-making mechanics.



For the sum of £3.49/$5, the DLC allows you to buy land within the game, plan and build a house with arduously-quarried stone and settle there for the rest of your days. Buildings can be as simple as single room cottages or sprawling mansion complexes, to which you can add armouries, alchemy towers, trophy rooms, greenhouses, fish hatcheries and more. But some will look upon your creation with lusty eyes! You may find yourself having to defend your property from home invasion by bandits, kidnappers and even swarms of skeevers.



You can even fill your property empire with a horde of adopted children, which is definitely in no way sinister.



Wherever I lay my horned hat is my home, I say.











PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Skyrim’s Hearthfire expansion out now, property magnates rejoice">hearthfire







Adventuring ain't for everyone. Why bother smashing dragons to bits with a mace possessed by a malevolent Daedric Prince when you can farm turnips from a frigid field? Now the Skyrim Hearthfire DLC has launched on Steam, the domestically-inclined Dovahkiin can do that and more with a massively expanded range of home-making mechanics.



For the sum of £3.49/$5, the DLC allows you to buy land within the game, plan and build a house with arduously-quarried stone and settle there for the rest of your days. Buildings can be as simple as single room cottages or sprawling mansion complexes, to which you can add armouries, alchemy towers, trophy rooms, greenhouses, fish hatcheries and more. But some will look upon your creation with lusty eyes! You may find yourself having to defend your property from home invasion by bandits, kidnappers and even swarms of skeevers.



You can even fill your property empire with a horde of adopted children, which is definitely in no way sinister.



Wherever I lay my horned hat is my home, I say.











PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 8: the Pale Lady">Skyrim Diary 8 - Wolf







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.



I'm seriously low on health, completely out of mana, and trapped in an awkward corner with a lightning mage bearing down on me.



And at that point, the ghost of an angry wolf leaps at her. What the hell is happening? While she deals with it, Belrand runs up and crushes her with a dramatic swing of his axe.



Once both the mages are dead, the ghost wolf trots to Belrand's side, then collapses in a heap of ash. Oh, OK, I guess that's a thing he can do. That's fine, Belrand. You got your own thing going on there. I guess it's cool if you're going for that 'actually useful' theme. Personally I prefer more of an 'impotent cowardice' motif, but horses for courses if that's what that phrase means.



A passageway leads to Frostmere Depths. Sounds nice.







Whoa. There's a forest in here, an actual coniferous forest. The cave also seems to contain a whole cloud - I can barely see a thing. Little balls of light swerve through the mist with an eerie scraping noise, and somewhere below the earth groans. I wonder if I can somehow buy this place.



There's an altar in the center of this cavern, and a bandit standing at it. As we approach, there's a blast and the Pale Lady appears. It is not Anne Hathaway at all.



The Pale Lady fires Things That Hurt at me, so I run. Belrand charges in, with endearing lack of self-preservation. But the balls of light follow me, and now they hurt too. Screw you, balls of light! I cast Fury at one. It seems to stop hurting me, and I hope it's hurting one of the other balls of light but I can't really tell. God it's been a weird day.



When I heal up and get back to Belrand, he's on his knees and the Pale Lady is barely hurt. My spells don't work on her, but they do work on Belrand. Courage, Belrand! Literally, here's a ball of Courage that forces you to get up and keep hitting her. I'm going to run away again now, catch you later!







I hide in another corner while he does all the hard work, and discover a treasure chest nestled among the ferns. Sweet! While grunts of pain and fleshy impact noises echo through the cave, I set to work picking the lock. Ooh, there's some gems in here! Maybe I can buy a new dress.



I'm attacked by light-balls again, but this time take the wiser course of Calming them until they float off. I don't come out of my hiding place until a message pops up announcing that I have completed the "Vanquish the Pale Lady" quest. Belrand and his ghost dog are standing over a pile of glowing dust. The sword is on the altar, so I nab it. It's not very good. I'll sell it later.



As we leave, I can't help reflecting on the ethics of this quest. A bandit stole this sword back from the other bandits, to bring it to its rightful owner and put the Pale Lady's spirit to rest. We just showed up, killed her and took it. Shame on you, Belrand.



Next Thursday: Real Warriors
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Skyrim Crimes Against Nature mod is amusing and horrifying. Mostly horrifying">The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - cat in da hood







"This began as an attempt to convert skyrim's dog head to a working headmesh," writes modder, FancyPants, on the Crimes Against Nature Steam Workshop page, spotted by Kotaku. "It evolved into something arguably worse."



In FancyPant's defence, the dog heads work surprisingly well. Tamriel has a cat race, why not a canine version? It's not canon, but it's sort of close, which is more than can be said for the kitten piloting a mechanical man model, the my little pony head and the horrifying spectre of what seems to be the Randy Savage Dragon skin wrapped around Skyrim's horse model. I'm trying to think of words to describe it but all I get is "nnneeaaurrrgh." Just see for yourself.























PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Morrowind Overhaul 3.0 mod out now">Morrowind Overhaul mod







The Skywind project, which plans to port Morrowind into the Skyrim engine, is still some way off. But perhaps you have the terrible urge to play a glorious, updated Morrowind right now. There are two options. You can go to your nearest park, carve out a hole, stuff some hay in and then hibernate until Skywind is out (not recommended) OR you can install the latest version of the splendid Morrowind Overhaul mod (recommended!). It's just been updated to version 3.0, which means its slimmer, less buggy and easier to install than ever.



The Morrowind Overhaul is devoted to making Morrowind look and sound beautiful. The torrent link from the Ornitocopter front page is the easiest way to get hold of the mod at the moment, though there is a direct download option if you're lucky enough to catch their server during a lull.



You'll need a fresh install of Morrowind to get this working. Here's a helpful video tutorial if the automatic installer doesn't work. You can feast your eyes on the mod's overhauled Morrowind environments in this trailer. The update was spotted by Redditor, FruitLoops.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam “Top Sellers” list now counts to 100, read our feeble attempt at deconstructing the data">steam top sellers





Valve did a sneaky, small-but-significant thing recently: it expanded its "Top Sellers" list on Steam to include one hundred games. The sales leaderboard doesn't tell us exactly how many copies a game sold, but it gives us a vague idea of how well certain games are doing on Steam in a given moment.



It's an inherently misleading metric—take that as a disclaimer. Still, as we sit in the shadow of some of 2012's biggest releases, I'd like to take a crack at gleaning what we can from this moment in time.



2K's having a great end of the year.

The $50 pre-sale of XCOM is outselling everything but Borderlands 2 on Steam. We might be able to chalk that up to fairly generous pre-purchase incentives (which could include a free copy of Civ 5 if enough people pre-buy it). It might be mild evidence that demos still work, too. Borderlands 2's high concurrent user count over the past few days (reaching 123,758 last weekend) is also evidence that 2K will win the weeks connecting September and October on Steam.



Digital pre-orders are a thing.

XCOM isn't the only thing-you-can-buy-but-can't-play-yet doing well. Joining the unreleased are Dishonored at #7, War of the Roses at #12, Football Manager 2013 at #17, Company of Heroes 2 at #29, and Hitman Absolution at #51. Even though there's no chance of a game going out of stock, Steam users don't seem to mind putting money down in advance, especially if they're rewarded with bonus content or a small discount for doing so.



Where are the MMOs? Oh, right.

Zero MMOs appear in today's top 100. I might consider that unsurprising—we wouldn't expect too many people to be picking up competitors while Guild Wars 2 and Pandaria are drawing the attention, and neither are available on Steam. Still, it's a little surprising not to see RIFT ($10) or EVE Online: Inferno ($20) popping up anywhere.



Call of Duty remains a PC fixture.

The sense that Call of Duty remains a fixture for PC gamers is supported by SteamGraph data. Some form of Call of Duty make up 10 whole entries of the Steam's top 100. Many of those are map packs, but the performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition (#41) is interesting to me. It released yesterday, September 27, and it's outperforming stuff like Civ V: GOTY and Natural Selection 2. Modern Warfare 3 is 50% off until October 1, and it's sitting comfortably at #5.



DayZ continues to have a long tail.

I don't think Arma 2: Combined Operations (what you need to play DayZ) has left the top ten of Steam's Top Sellers since it caught on in May and June. It seems to be outperforming other games that released in May and June like Sins: Rebellion (#56), Max Payne 3 (#76), Civ 5: Gods & Kings (#20), and Spec Ops: The Line (unlisted).







Below: the data, captured at 6:05 PM PDT. Ctrl + Fing encouraged.







Top Ten

Borderlands 2

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Total War Master Collection

Torchlight II

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission

Dishonored

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Arma 2: Combined Operations

Empire: Total War







#11-25

Castle Crashers

War of the Roses

Borderlands 2 Season Pass

FTL: Faster Than Light

Cortex Command

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Football Manager 2013

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard

Garry's Mod

Sid Meier's Civilization V - Gods 'n Kings

Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition

The Binding of Isaac

Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy

Left 4 Dead 2

Hell Year! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit







#26-50

F1 2012

Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour

Rome: Total War - Gold

Company of Heroes 2

Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai

Sid Meier's Civilization V

Counter-Strike: Source

Borderlands: Game of the Year

Worms Revolution

Total War Mega Pack

Terraria

The Walking Dead

Rocksmith

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 3: Chaos Pack

Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition

Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb

Portal 2

McPixel

Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year

Total War: SHOGUN 2

The Sims 3

Counter-Strike Complete

Hearts of Iron 3 Collection

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition







#51-100

Hitman: Absolution

Borderlands

Train Simulator 2013

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

Medieval II Gold

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

Orcs Must Die! 2 - Family Ties Booster Pack

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

The Amazing Spider-Man

Orcs Must Die! 2

Saints Row: The Third

Dead Island: GOTY

Natural Selection 2

Orcs Must Die! 2 - Complete Pack

Half-Life 2

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Rome: Total War - Complete

The Orange Box

Borderlands 2 + Official Brady Guide

Batman: Arkham City GOTY

Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead

Grand Theft Auto IV

Endless Space

Killing Floor

Call of Duty: World at War

Max Payne 3

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

SPORE

I Am Alive

Fallout 3: GOTY

Fallen Enchantress

Valve Complete Pack

Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition

Mount & Blade: Warband

New Star Soccer 5

Portal Bundle

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 2

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion

Counter-Strike

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 3 Collection 1

Arma 2

Might & Magic Heroes VI - Danse Macabre Adventure Pack

Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD

STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Planets Under Attack

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Age of Empires III: Complete Collection



Reiterating: We don't know what formula or data drives Steam's Top Sellers rankings. It's probably safest to consider them a representation of what games are selling well in one moment of time on Steam.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Far Cry 3 takes “huge inspiration” from The Elder Scrolls">Far Cry 3 screenshots 01







Shooters traditionally espouse linearity in their design, favoring tightly controlled sequences of lulls and action as players progress to the next room/ruined room/room-like battle. Open world shooters such as Far Cry 3 dispense direction for player freedom, but skirting boredom or uber-tough enemies still presents a challenge. At the Eurogamer Expo, Far Cry 3 lead designer Jamie Keen said his team took "huge inspiration" from open world successes such as the Elder Scrolls series for keeping interest levels high.



"We've had to take a little bit of a different approach to most shooters," Keen said. "In order to keep a player engaged over a period of time, there are certain other genres we have to look into to keep that engagement. So we've been looking at things like MMOs and other open world titles. The Elder Scrolls series is a huge inspiration for us along with games like Red Dead and other Rockstar games."



Keen also revealed over 250 "encounter types" exist in Far Cry 3 as players explore. Encounters won't constantly recycle either, as Keen said the game tracks your experiences and attempts to throw some new island madness your way whenever possible.



"We don't want you to feel like, 'Oh, it's this encounter again. I've seen this one'," Keen added. "You know, 'Arrow to the knee,' for example. While it's actually quite cool, we don't necessarily want that. You end up with this real feeling of diversity of things going on. And you will see the same encounter again, but hopefully there's enough of them that you won't remember it, probably."
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 7: the Pale Blade">Skyrim Diary 7 - Cover







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.



I'm in: I passed my initiation, got my official armour, sold my official armour, and am now an enlisted soldier of the Imperial Legion. In a dress.



More importantly, I still haven't broken my rule: no direct violence, only illusion spells. Hiring a lackey has solved the one problem I couldn't work around: killing quest-critical targets when there's no-one left to turn against them.



My next assignment is to retrieve an artifact called the Jagged Crown, and my commanding officer Legate Rikke is going to meet me at the fort with a team. Before I head out, I visit Solitude's court wizard to buy some spells: Courage, to buff and revive my allies; Calm, because people need to chill the hell out; and Muffle, not because my footsteps need muffling, but because I want something to repeatedly cast on myself to level up my Illusion skill.



The Nord tomb of *clears throat* Korvanjund is on the other side of the country, but I'm not using fast travel. That's basically teleporting, and teleportation is not Illusion.



The natural first stop is the stables just outside Solitude. But after a lot of awkwardly jostling amongst their horses, I can't seem to find a safe spot to steal one. And I certainly can't afford to buy. So we walk - while I repeatedly Muffle my feet.







Shortly after we emerge from the swamp outside Solitude, we see some steps leading up to a mountain temple, and a gang of people fighting on them. It seems like three bandits are all attacking one woman, so I try Calming them to even the odds. The two I hit immediately holster their weapons and amble about while the woman kills their friend. One by one, she kills them too. Hurray, my arbitrarily chosen side won!



The woman explains that her friend stole a sword from those bandits, and the bandits blamed her. My game-character brain interprets this as a quest: find the sword! Kill the bandits! Break some kind of curse? Rescue a guy maybe? Whatever, it's a dungeon, just go in.



Inside, inevitably, the bandits attack.



"You'll never leave Skyrim aliiiiive!" the first one screams, just before my Calm spell hits him. He stops mid-swing and looks at me, offended. "Hey! There's no need to use magic on me!" He walks off.



Belrand bashes the other bandit's head in, then stops. Out of politeness, I guess, he won't attack a Calm enemy. The three of us stand there awkwardly for a while, as the dead bandit's corpse slides slowly down some steps. Then the spell breaks, the calm bandit becomes enraged, and Belrand brings his mace down on him.







In the first chamber of this crypt, I find a note from the sword-thief explaining that he was trying to return it to the tomb: taking it had angered the Pale Lady. Anne Hathaway? Weird.



I also find an enormous battleaxe and give it to Belrand. He equips it eagrely.



The next group of bandits is a big one. I Calm any that come near me, and admire Belrand's style. He switches back to mace and shield to block an archer's arrows as he charges her and beats her to death, then brings out the axe to take on a swordsman. The guy blocks his swings again and again, but it's not enough: the sheer weight of the weapon just crumples him.



That's when the mages come in. Two of them come at us, lightning crackling from their hands. I try to Calm them down, but nothing happens - I'm unexpectedly out of juice. Shit! Lightning drains mana! I can't really do anything without mana.







I'm seriously low on health, completely out of mana, and trapped in an awkward corner with the lightning bandit bearing down on me. And then something weird happens.



Next Thursday: The Pale Lady
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard review">Dawnguard review thumb







You there! How would you like to transform into a vampire lord? You get this fine set of flightless leathery wings, you can throw balls of red magic at people to leech some of their life, and you can summon a pet gargoyle! All for the low low price of I bite you in the neck and it gets kinda weird for a while but then I stop again.



The alternative, in Dawnguard, is to join the Dawnguard, who hunt vampires with crossbows and tame trolls. The vampiric option is a bit more exotic, but both sides seem pretty exciting, don’t they? And it’s Skyrim! It’s already amazing! About the only way this could be a let down is if both questlines steered you awkwardly into the same brain-numbingly dry prophecy guff and it crashed constantly!



So, er, the bad news first: that. Despite being presented with a choice between two factions with literally opposite objectives, both routes end up sending you on mostly the same errands, to achieve the same thing, and stop the same enemy. Which wouldn’t be so disappointing if it was a twisty, juicy, interesting plot. When it’s visiting a series of shrines to fill an urn with sacred water – as a floating genocidal vampire lord – it’s tough to enjoy







It’s also unbelievably shoddy. The very first quest marker you get is completely wrong, leading to tedious minutes trying to climb a mountain that has nothing at the top. Half the characters keep repeating their greetings on a maddening loop, then cut their plot-critical lines short after a few words, omitting essential information. When I first got the ability to turn into a vampire lord, actually doing so caused every vampire in the vampire mansion to attack me for being a vampire. The worst kind of racists.



Vampire Lord mode, while an excellent phrase, is generally problematic. Entering it disables essential functions like the map, first-person mode, the ability to interact with quest-critical objects, and even the ability to bring up the magic menu to select the ‘turn back into a human’ option. Instead you have to fumble around to discover your favourites menu has secretly been replaced with a new one, and it’s one of the skills on there.



I’m playing with no mods installed, and Dawnguard regularly crashes to desktop. On one PC that runs Skyrimperfectly, it crashes consistently at the same point in Dawnguard, rendering it uncompletable. Even after a patch, it’s still buggy.







It’s tough, because Dawnguard takes you to some beautiful places. They have all the visual drama of Skyrim’s most spectacular views: a lonely rope bridge over a heart-stopping ice chasm, a secret glade filled with amber light, a winding path leading out of an underground mushroom forest and into the blinding white cloud of a mountaintop. Exploring these has a real sense of adventure, and that’s Dawnguard’s biggest strength.



But because they’re sprinkled across disconnected islands, caves and alternate realms, you never get the sense of a whole new land to explore. The Elder Scrolls community is already churning out gorgeous new places like this, not to mention new abilities.



The things Bethesda can potentially do better are story and quality assurance, both of which they bungle spectacularly here. There’s fun stuff in Dawnguard, but £14 ought to buy you something a hell of a lot more polished.



When originally published this review carried a score of 69, instead of the 59 that appeared in the magazine. This was an error and has since been corrected.
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