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…)

Announcement - Valve
Save up to 75% on new Week Long Deals on Steam, available now until June 17th at 10AM Pacific time!

PC Gamer
Fallout: New Vegas Endless Warfare Mod

Ever since I saw an Imp attack a Zombieman in the original Doom, I've been fascinated with NPCs fighting each other in games. (My recent attempt to review a Doom mod, which devolved into hours spent making Half-Life 2 and Doom entities fight each other, is a good example.) The Endless Warfare mod for Fallout: New Vegas allows you to easily spawn as many monsters and NPCs as your computer can handle, and watch them engage in pitched battles with each other in the Mojave Wasteland. If you feel like joining in, you can also spawn dozens of different companions to help you out. War never changes? Clearly you haven't met my army of loyal prostitutes.

Once installed, Endless Warfare adds two new tools to your Pip-Boy, the Spawn Controller and the Companion Controller. You'll find them in the Aid section of your Pip-Boy's display (at the very bottom of the list). Just click on the one you want to use, exit your Pip-Boy, and you'll be greeted with the menu for the controller.

Have you ever wanted to order everything off the dessert menu? Now you can.

First things first: I've only got the sullen Boone and a buzzing Eye-Bot as followers, and with the amount of monsters I'm planning to spawn I'll definitely need some new followers to help protect me. I bring up the Companion Controller and flip through the menu, picking anyone who looks interesting. A Securitron robot? I'll take one. Giant Radroach? Sure! A Legion Vexillarius? Semper fi! A supermutant? ME WANT! A Radscorpion? No. Wait, yes! Twelve hookers? I don't see why not!

Bartender? My robot, supermutant, prostitute, radscorpion, giant roach, and I would like a drink.

Of course, suddenly being surrounded by friendly mutants, robots, and prostitutes, it's a little tough trying to walk around indoors without bumping into someone. I'm also a little afraid that once the fighting starts, I'll get confused about who are my allies and who are my enemies, so I decide to cut some of my team from the roster. It's easy to delete companions: simply talk to them, and the option to remove them appears (you can also erase all your companions at once with the Controller.) I get rid of the bots and monsters, and just spawn a crowd of prostitutes. They're pretty easy to recognize.

"Okay, team! I'm not big on inspirational speeches. Also, you're all dressed very silly, which isn't helping."

Now that I've got a deep bench of heavily armed sex-workers willing to go to bat for me, I'm ready to start spawning some monsters. The Spawn Controller works a little differently than the Companion Controller, however. If you spawn a monster, it doesn't just appear behind you like your companions do. Instead, the mod has added a number of new spawn points to the map, and the monsters will spawn there instead of directly at your location.

I figure the best way to find one of the new spawn points (the mod adds 3,000 of them, so I figure it won't take long), is to spawn some NPCs that will automatically fight each other, and then just stand outside and listen for the sound of combat. I spawn a few NCR soldiers, as well as a couple ghouls, then close the menu and wait, my ears perked for any sounds of nearby violence. A few seconds pass, and I hear nothing. Then: the distant popping of gunfire.

By the time I reach the NCR soldiers on a nearby hilltop, they've already won, but at least I know I'm near a spawn point. I bring up the menu again, and choose to spawn a few Legion soldiers, figuring I'll be able to watch the remaining NCR grunts fight them while I take pictures. Some Legion of varying ranks appear a few yards away. A few more appear in another spot, and a few more in another.

See, the mod doesn't just drop the selected entities at a single point, but at all the spawn points in your vicinity, meaning that rather than just one collection of combatants, you get several, hence the title of the mod. I seem to be standing quite close to several spawn points, so I've summoned a large crowd of uptight Legion soldiers all looking for something to kill. Thank goodness I have a dozen armed hookers following me around or I might be in trouble.

Prudes vs. Lewds. Go!

Within moments, it's over. The Legion dudes are dead, and my prostitutes stand triumphant. I'm proud of  them! They did great, and didn't sustain even a single casualty. I'm a little suspicious, though: I recall Legion solders being pretty tough, and I also recall that depending on the game's difficulty level, companions may never actually die. Well, I'd hate to think I'm cheating the game by leading around a massive army of invulnerable hookers, so I decide to test my prostitutes against something truly deadly: a Deathclaw.

Nope. Not invulnerable.

With my army (quickly) wiped out, I decide to eschew companions for a while and just whip up some entertaining fights that won't leave me staring aghast at a pile of dead prostitutes. Back to spawning monsters, robots, and a handful of human factions, which all appear in clumps around the map, take a moment to look around, and then start brutalizing the hell out of each other.

Mutants and mechs, ghouls and gangs, and a flying bug for good measure.

The nice thing about monsters cropping up at multiple spawn points is that even if the battle happening in front of you finishes, you only have to look around for a few moments to find another one taking place elsewhere on the map. Plus, if the spawn points are close together, the fights will bleed into one another.

And, if you want to wrap things up, just introduce a pack of Deathclaws. Game over.

There are all sorts of options available in your Spawn Controller. You can choose how many entities you'd like to appear, how often you'd like them to respawn, and even let random chance decide who will spawn by adjusting the spawn percentage chance in the settings. With some tinkering, you can fill the empty wasteland with massive constant battles or just pepper it with a few additional random skirmishes.

There's also a setting for allowing spawns to take place inside interior spaces. If, like me, you found  Gamorrah's casino a bit dull and underpopulated, now you can really bring the excitement of Vegas to life.

I hate when there's a line at the cashier cage.

The mod actually works better indoors, I found. Spawning too many baddies outdoors tends to slow the game down quite a bit (and crash it, in one instance), but even when I turned the casino into a warzone, everything chugged along smoothly.

This guy isn't running from the fight, he just knows the buffet just opened.

Installation: I didn't see any instructions for a manual install, so it's best to have the Nexus Mod Manager up and running, in which case you only need to download the latest version of Endless Warfare (using the manager option) and activate it in NMM.
PC Gamer

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.


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.


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.


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.

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 66% on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition!

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time
PC Gamer

So, you've played Dishonored a few times. You had a mostly (or entirely) non-lethal run, followed by a decidedly more lethal run (to see the game's bummer ending), and maybe, for good measure, a combat run where you just got into deliberate, chaotic sword fights the whole time. Well, unfold your sword and clutch your weird mechanical heart, because it's time for another trip through Dunwall with the Ultimate Difficulty Mod. The mod presents you with some new challenges by shaving down your leaning ability to a sliver and by vastly improving your enemies' perceptions and combat prowess.

Let's begin with the Dunwall Lean, the stealth move invented by Corvo Attano. No matter what difficulty setting you're using, Corvo's lean always feels a bit like cheating. You're behind cover and you want to have a quick look around, so you essentially shove your head, shoulders, and upper torso out of cover to survey your surroundings. The game still considers you hidden, meaning you can have a long, safe gander without standing up. You can even poke both your arms out and use magic or a weapon, and if a guard is facing you, you can stare right into his stupid face without him ever noticing you.


With Ultimate Difficulty, Corvo's Mean Lean is now more of a Sneak Peek, limited to what feels like about a 10-degree angle, meaning you slyly peep around corners instead of using the upper half of your body like a submarine periscope.

You can barely tell, but this is the most leaningest lean there is in the mod.

It takes a bit of getting used to, and I found myself having to constantly shuffle closer and closer to the edge of cover to get a decent look, putting myself more at risk of being seen by patrols. It feels far more fair to the whiskey and cigar enthusiasts you're stalking, though, and makes stealth quite a bit more challenging. Once you've got your Dark Vision, it becomes less of an issue, but it still goes a long way toward making ghost runs tougher.

Guards hear you, and come running, from much further away.

Speaking of tougher, let's talk enemies. They're considerably more difficult to deal with than they are on the Very Hard setting. Improvements begin with their hearing, which is twice as keen as in the vanilla version. This means they will hear the noises you make from twice as far away. Fire your gun, slip off a ledge, throw something, or simply take a few un-crouched footsteps anywhere in their vicinity, and their little head-based lightning bolts will trigger.

Since they can hear you from twice the distance, they will also come running from twice the distance, meaning that a careless or clumsy Corvo will draw the attention of guards from blocks distant. A noise that used to bring three or four guards stomping in your direction may draw twice that many now. Almost every fight I got into wound up being a massive brawl, and when an alarm is sounded, it feels like the entire city watch pours in to your location. Of course, Corvo is no slouch at taking down a crowd of soldiers, but you'll quickly notice that the mod has made the soldiers a lot more formidable at fighting.

Enemies are tougher, but not in regard to hit points. They still die real good when you shoot 'em.

It's not that they've been inflated with extra hit points, or that they've learned any new tricks, they just perform their old tricks with a great deal more speed. They're quicker to block your attacks, and if you do stagger them, they're quicker to recover. There's less of a pause between sword swings and they fire their guns more often. They're now twice as quick to throw cobblestones and grenades if you're perching out of reach, and they're faster to do the little sidestep or backwards hop they sometimes do during sword fights. While fighting with my health low, I was kicked to death more than once, something that never happened to me while playing the vanilla version of the game.

On the other hand, they're still pretty easy to befuddle if you blink away, and they still haven't learned the value of looking up on a regular basis, so it's still not terribly hard to elude them if you get overwhelmed. However, they do take much longer to give up looking for you once they know you're around. Their new persistence and improved perception makes good stealth work more or less essential, and their improved fighting ability means you can't just race through the streets hack-and-slashing with relative ease anymore.

Mo' bodies, mo' problems. Wait, no. Less problems. Far less.

Another nice touch is that bodies no longer just vanish, which tends to happen in Dishonored if you've got more than a handful lying around. Up to fifty bodies will now remain in perpetuity unless a swarm of rats shows up, and if you're playing the type of game in which you're accumulating scores of dead bodies, you'd better believe swarms of rats will show up. I'm not sure what purpose this serves. Maybe the extra bodies lying around makes it more likely that your killing spree will be noticed, but if you're killing dozens of people you're probably not keeping a particularly low profile anyway. Still, it's cool because after an awesome fight you can get a real picture of how many people you've killed and how many wives will weep and how many children will grow up without their fathers. Good job!

Impressively, all of these changes are due to tweaks to a handful of .ini files, and the modder considerately lists them all in a text file included with the mod, if you're curious to what's being changed (or if you want to tweak some of them yourself). Version .02 of the mod is compatible with The Knife of Dunwall DLC as well.

Even Daud can enjoy a tougher experience. Yay?

The mod is still a work in progress, and the modder is still looking for ways to make things even tougher by raising prices in stores, making spells drain more mana, and other tweaks to give you a more challenging experience in Dunwall. If you're looking for an excuse to play through the game a fourth time, this is your ticket.

Because you can't have an article about Dishonored without a screenie of some fancy-pants getting neck-stabbed.

Installation: It's super easy, but you'll need to be as cautious as Corvo at an Overseer Convention when installing this mod, because you're going to be overwriting a few game files. First, find your Dishonored folder (probably in My Documents, My Games, Dishonored, Dishonored Game, Config). Make a copy of the entire Config folder, and store it somewhere safe -- you'll need it if you decide to remove the mod. Then download the mod file (this page gives you a couple options), extract the handful of new ini files into Config, overwriting the originals. Make sure the new files are set to read only, and you're done!
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 66% on The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind® Game of the Year Edition!

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time

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