PC Gamer

I love Oblivion, but not because it was perfect. That and the previous Elder Scrolls game Morrowind were great because they tried more than they could do flawlessly - that's what made them so liberating compared to a lot of other RPGs. Now that we know Skyrim is coming, though, it's time to take a harder look at what the Elder Scrolls games could be doing better. This is what we want from The Elder Scrolls V.

1. A better level up system
If I want to be a good swordsman in Oblivion, the last thing I should do is pick Blade as one of my specialty skills. If I avoid it completely, I can still get better with a sword through practise, and it won't raise my character level. I can become the greatest swordsman in the world for any given level.

Improving skills with practise is a cornerstone of the Elder Scrolls series, and it has potential. But TES V needs to find a smarter way to blend it with the intentionality of character customisation.

2. Content that doesn't scale
We need to feel like leveling up makes us more powerful. If the whole world levels up with us, that sense is lost. It also makes the game world too even: nowhere is particularly dangerous in Oblivion because everything is so politely level-appropriate. Morrowind had some level-scaling, but enough fixed danger to feel wild, and enough genuine progression to be compulsive.

3. Vicious combat

At level 1, hitting someone with a warhammer feels great. They just crumple. In the late game, though, you and your enemies have such a vast pool of hitpoints that every fight is a war of attrition, which makes each blow feel meaningless. It needs to be quick, vicious and deadly, whatever level you're at.

4. A bigger voice cast
Unless one of them is Billy West (Fry, Dr Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan, Richard Nixon, Abraham Lincoln, Leo Wong and Humorbot 5.0 in Futurama), you can't use the same few guys for a world with hundreds of characters. You don't have to stump up for big names like Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean again - their celebrity didn't make the game better. Spend that money on a dozen more decent, varied performances.

5. Better faces
Look what you did to Patrick Stewart:

6. No face zoom
Regardless of looks, it's not polite to get up in someone's grill to quite this extent. Particularly if it involves extending your neck more than three meters.

7. NPCs who know when to shut up
Hey guys, the player's here! Let's all make canned smalltalk at the same time! Make sure your reply doesn't quite relate to what I said, and it's one he's heard three times in the last two minutes! Good day!

8. A more exciting magic system

The Destruction school of magic I inderstand. Restoration: yes. Even Illusion - invisibility and whatnot, great. Then Alteration? Spells that alter things? Don't all spells alter things? And Mysticism - as opposed to scientific magic? Some of the spells are great, but the schools themselves are well overdue for an overhaul to make them more logical, distinct and exciting.

9. Weird places
Forests are great. I have no issues with hills. I love a good lake. But I hope Skyrim has some regions that are just a little off, a little alien, a little non-Tolkeinian. That's why there are hordes of Morrowind fans who never accepted Oblivion - that and:

10. A proper PC interface
Come on, nerdy stats and inventory lists are what the PC was made for. Let us at 'em. Oblivion's interface is capable of listing between THREE and SIX items at a time before you have to scroll. Same goes for the map - if Bethesda have any idea how important a really good map can be to the sense of being in a fantasy world, the size of the damn thing in Oblivion didn't show it. These aren't huge issues, but look: modders fixed them in a day or two. If you seriously don't have anyone who can do that before release, hire those modders.

I know every cross-platform developer loves to say "All three versions are identical," to wash their hands of the platform wars, but guys: they're not. One of them is played with a mouse and keyboard from two feet away. Notice this.

11. Varied dungeons

We know you can do this now - Fallout 3 is an object lesson in filling an open world with interestingly different locations. Fantasy equivalent of that, please.

12. A main quest without the padding
The Oblivion gates themselves were the least interesting thing in Oblivion, reducing a freeform game to straight combat. So please don't ask us to fight through six of them in a row - very few players realised that they were even optional. The main quest in TES V should be as long or short as the interestingly different content you can make for it.

13. A villain we hate

It's hard to really get worked up about demons bent on destroying the world. I'd rather they didn't, but I have nothing against them personally. In Mass Effect, no-one really hated the Reapers. The guy we couldn't wait to kill was Saren, because our beef was personal. You don't have to have them kill our father/mother/brother/son/girlfriend - in fact that rarely works. They just have to be a bastard, and one who's getting away with it.

14. Modding tools

Bethesda have always been good with this - The Elder Scrolls Construction Set is a modder's dream, and the 24,000 mods it's led to demonstrates that. Almost every other niggle with Oblivion in this list was eventually addressed by the community. Unless you have a secret formula for making TES V all things to all people, please keep giving people the tools to tinker.

15. Free horse armour
PC Gamer

This week brings a wealth of RPGs! We all knew Mass Effect 3 and The Elder Scrolls V were coming someday, but now that they're officially announced we can officially begin the speculation.

Also,  strategist/columnist/podcaster/PhD Troy Goodfellow joins us to give his detailed report on the updates for Civilization V and Elemental, in addition to Call of Duty: Black Ops and Fallout: New Vegas bug fixes.

And in the spirit of getting things done before the year is over, give us a call toll free: 877-404-1337 ext 724 and leave us a question for the next show!

PC Gamer US Podcast - 252 Three Monitors Ahead

Mass Effect 3 trailer

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Trailer

The Humble Indie Bundle 2

MLG's Top 20 StarCraft II replays
PC Gamer

Welcome to day two of the Christmas bonanza. We sent some interns into the PC Gamer catacombs to have a rummage through our pile o' loot and, surprisingly, one them came back, clutching a big, boxy, radioactive prize. Today you have a chance to win the Fallout: New Vegas Collector's Edition. It comes with some amazing limited edition box art and a copy of the game's gigantic guide. Read on to find out how to win.

The Fallout: New Vegas Collector's Edition has everything you need to become the ultimate wasteland casino crawler. As well as the game itself you get seven poker chips, one from each of New Vegas' gambling joints. Not even these can stack up to the royal flush of post-apocalyptic poker spoils, the "Lucky 38" platinum poker chip. It's not actually made of platinum, but it is extremely shiny. The box also comes with a deck of cards, a making-of DVD and a hardback graphic novel. We also have a limited edition comic cover, which you can see below. Click on the image to see it full size.

Then there's the Fallout: New Vegas strategy guide, which contains everything you need to know about the wastelands of Fallout: New Vegas. By everything, we really do mean everything. The guide is bigger than War and Peace, and includes information on every single foe you'll face in the game. Every inch of the wasteland is mapped, so you'll never get lost again. It's also hefty enough to double up as an excellent Radroach squasher.

Here in the British Isles we can't really claim to have anything as glitzy or manic as Las Vegas, but we do have Blackpool. Your challenge is to come up with a perk to survive the dangers of a post-apocalyptic Blackpool. Post in the comments below with your idea, and remember that you have to live in the UK to enter. All entries will be fed into the PC Gamer Gigglebot. The entry responsible for the highest giggles per second ratio will win the prize. We'll announce the winner tomorrow at midday.

Come back tomorrow for another giveaway, a massive amount of Gamers Gate games. We'll be holding one every day until Christmas day.

WINNER: Congrats to Flargana, for his Mysterious Donkey perk! We'll be in touch via pm to arrange delivery. Don't forget, we can only accept UK entries. And Irish, to answer JaxDasher's question.
PC Gamer

Last week we mentioned that a comprehensive Fallout: New Vegas patch was on the way, promising a huge number of fixes for many of the quests in the game. That patch has finally arrived. Read on for the full list of updates, it's a big one.

The patch will be applied automatically when you restart Steam. Here's the list of fixes.

Top fixes:

Companions now show up as waypoints on the map
Companions will always fast travel with you, unless told to wait or sent away
Fix: DLC error/save corruption
Fix: Entering the strip after Debt Collector causes crash and autosave corruption
Fix: Using Mojave Express dropbox can cause DLC warnings
Crafting menu now filters valid (bright) recipes to the top of the list
Weathered pistol no longer glitches when applying mods

In addition, this patch addresses issues with the following areas:

Pip-Boy Interface
Pre-Order DLC Items
Reputation System
Radio Stations
Companion fixes
Companion Quests
Repair Menu
Weapons and Weapon Mods
Hardcore Mode
Crafting Recipes
Crafting Menu
Mojave Express

And fixes for the following quests:

Ain’t That a Kick in the Head
By a Campfire on The Trail
They Went That-a-Way
My Kind of Town
Boulder City Showdown
Ring a Ding Ding!
King’s Gambit
For The Republic, Part 2
Render Unto Caesar
Et Tumor, Brute?
The House Always Wins
Wild Card
Beyond the Beef
GI Blues
How Little We Know
Oh My Papa
Still In The Dark
You’ll Know It When It Happens
Arizona Killer
Veni, Vidi, Vici
All or Nothing
No Gods, No Masters
Birds of a Feather
I Put A Spell On you
Come Fly With Me
That Lucky Old Sun
Don’t Make a Beggar of Me
The White Wash
Ghost Town Gunfight
Restoring Hope
Bleed Me Dry
Aba Daba Honeymoon
Tend To Your Business
Wang Dang Atomic Tango
Flags of Our Foul-Ups
Debt Collector
Talent Pool
Left My Heart
Someone To Watch Over Me
Hard Luck Blues

If you were hesitant about picking up New Vegas because of all the bugs, now might be the time to take another look. For more, take a look at our Fallout: New Vegas review, and our round-up of the 25 best mods. Are you playing Fallout: New Vegas now? Has the patch fixed any problems you've been having?
PC Gamer

Bethesda Softworks community manager Nick Breckon has confirmed that the next Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, will use an all new engine. This is contrary to a recent rumour that Bethesda's next game would still use the Gamebryo engine that powered The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3.

The controversy around Gamebryo can be summarised as: good at trees, crap at faces. It made Oblivion's landscapes gorgeous, but led to some ugly people and odd behaviour. The way it transitioned between low and high detail scenery as you moved through the world also caused some blurry textures and suddenly appearing objects on some machines.

Since Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax now owns id Software, the second most popular theory was that Skyrim might use id Tech 5, the engine developed for their next game Rage. Apparently not - "all new" suggests this is one developed specifically for Skyrim, or at least not seen in other games yet. Here's Nick's Tweet.
PC Gamer

There's a new Elder Scrolls V trailer, oh yeah and the Elder Scrolls V was announced. The release date is 11th of November next year, it's set in the snowy province of Skyrim, it's called Skyrim, and oh my god:

Well, I think I know what I'll be watching on a loop for the next eleven months.
PC Gamer

Obsidian have announced that the massive Fallout: New Vegas patch they've been working on since launch is almost here. There have been a few incremental updates to the game in the last couple of months, but this larger update should squash the remaining bugs and finally bring the game up to par.

Bethesda made the announcement on Facebook, saying: "We’ve wrapped up work on the Fallout: New Vegas patch and submitted it. Will let you know when it’s up on PS3, 360, and Steam."

Previous updates have improved the performance of the game, fixing much of the hitching and stuttering framerates that players experienced after the game's release. The new patch should hopefully clean up the rest of the problems, and bring the game up to the state it should have been in at launch.

If you can't wait for the official patch, check out the list of fan made fixes and improvements in our pick of the top 25 Fallout: New Vegas mods, or if you feel like celebrating, you can go dancing instead.

PC Gamer

"Doo-bee-ddooo-gonna-be-okay-just dance."

Dammit, we've got Lady Gaga going round our brains right now. That's thanks to this lovely New Vegas mod and associated music video. The mod adds dozens of  motion-capped dances to Fallout: New Vegas. With a quick console command it's possible to force everyone on-screen to bust a move. The video gives them a soundtrack. Links to both are below.

There's an impressive array of dances contained in the mod. The Ceaser's Legion soldiers in particular can rock the floor. You can download the dance mod from Fallout: New Vegas Nexus. For Fallout: New Vegas modding goodness, check out our pick of the 25 best Fallout: New Vegas mods.

PC Gamer

It looks as though Bethesda are indeed hard at work on the next Elder Scrolls game, with reports saying that it will be a direct sequel to Oblivion, and that voice recording for the game is already underway.
Eurogamer Denmark spilled the beans on the sequel after speaking to someone involved on the game's development. Eurogamer have translated the Danish news report, and it reads like this:

"This source not only confirmed that the game is in current production, but also spoke briefly about the content - with fantasy-sounding phrases like Dragon Lord, something with The Blades - and that voice acting for the characters in the game is currently happening in the weeks to follow.

The same source confirmed, with official game documents in hand, that this will be the chronological sequel to what happened in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which is the latest game in the now 16-years-old Elder Scrolls saga and by itself one of the better RPGs for PC and consoles."

Oblivion was released all the way back in 2006, and there has since been little word of a sequel, it might finally be time to get excited.

Update: if the information is accurate, the term 'chronological sequel' may simply mean that the game is set later than Oblivion. So far each of the four Elder Scrolls games have been set later than the last, but none have been direct sequels in the ordinary sense: very few characters appear in more than one game, the hero is always a new character, and the plots don't connect. That may still be true of The Elder Scrolls V.

PC Gamer

Fallout: New Vegas has just received a massive patch, hopefully fixing many of the problems players have been having with the game since launch. Most notable among the changes are improvements to the game's performance and fixes for save game corruption. Read on for the full patch notes.

The patch notes hit Steam News yesterday. Here they are in full.

Companions now show up as waypoints on the map
Companions will always fast travel with you, unless told to wait or sent away
Fix: DLC error/save corruption
Fix: Stuttering with water effects
Fix: Severe performance issues with DirectX.
Fix: Controls temporarily disabled after reloading Cowboy Repeater while crouched
Fixed crash using the Euclid C-Finder while having the Heave Ho perk
Fix: Entering the strip after Debt Collector causes crash and autosave corruption
Fix: Using Mojave Express dropbox can cause DLC warnings
Fixed crash when buying duplicate caravan cards from a vendor in a single transaction
Crafting menu should filter valid (bright) recipes to the top of the list
Fix: Sitting down while looking down a weapon's ironsights leaves player control locked
Fix: If a companion is knocked unconscious with broken limbs they stay broken on respawn
Fix for varmint night scope effect persisting in kill cam
Fix for giving companions armor that adds STR does not increase their carry weight
Fix NPC Repair menu displays DAM as DPS
Having NPC repair service rifle with forged receiver decreases CND

NPC's with broken limbs were respawning with still broken limbs? That sounds like a pretty alarming bug. Aside from the control lock up bugs, the performance and stuttering issues will likely represent the most popular change. The changes should apply the next time you boot up Fallout: New Vegas in Steam.


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