The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Tourism continues to be one of Skyrim's biggest industries, with people visiting the chilly province to enjoy its many towering mountains, primeval forests and dragons that look like wrestlers. The one downside of being a tourist is all that walking. Skyrim's big and you wouldn't want to miss anything by teleporting everywhere. PhysicsFish's SkyTrek mod has the solution. 

SkyTrek is a new autopilot mod that lets you set a destination and automatically walk, ride or fly there. Just hop on your dragon or horse and you can enjoy the view while your mount does all the work. You can also open doors, so you won't get stuck when faced with a gate, and you can get into fights, so don't worry about getting murdered by the first wolf that crosses your path. 

Your speed is customisable, within limits, so you can take a leisurely stroll to Whiterun or get your cardio done for the day by jogging up a mountain. It's possible to target NPCs and follow them, too, in case you're looking for company. You'll be able to follow them indoors, as well, so there's no escape. 

If you want, you can even become an NPC yourself. The Life mode will make you behave like an NPC with its own schedule, letting you plonk yourself down in a tavern or somewhere else and take a break from the hardships of the road. You deserve it. 

SkyTrek is thankfully compatible with several other mount mods, including Immersive Horses, Convenient Horses, Gypsy Eyes Caravan, Dragonkiller Cart and Audiobooks of Skyrim. The latter is to give you something to listen to while you're travelling to your destination.

It sounds perfect for roleplaying and making videos, or maybe you just fancy a wander. Despite Skyrim being nearly eight years old, I still find myself popping back into muck around with mods and do some sightseeing, even if it's somewhere I've visited a dozen times before. 

If you're using Skyrim Special Edition, you can download SkyTrek here, while Oldrim users should grab this one. And you can hunt down more mods in our best Skyrim mods list. 

Cheers, PCGamesN

QUAKE

This year's QuakeCon will go heavy on the Doom, the famed FPS that preceded the big bring-your-own-computer show's namesake. The reason is that 2019 is, somewhat loosely, the 25th anniversary of the original Doom—it was released in December 1993—and Bethesda isn't going let the "Year of Doom" go uncelebrated.

QuakeCon 2019 "will include all-new Doom-inspired activities, events, exclusives, developer panels, hands-on demos, new information about Doom Eternal, and a few surprises we aren’t quite ready to talk about," Bethesda said. "All while continuing to feature everything you already love about QuakeCon." 

The centerpiece will once again be the huge BYOC LAN party, but registration is being handled slightly differently this year: Instead of picking a seat when you sign up, BYOC seat selection will take place at a later, unannounced date. As always, the show will also include panels, hands-on with various Bethesda games—maybe Wolfenstein: Youngblood will make an appearance?—redonkulous case mods, swag, and other stuff.

QuakeCon 2019 will run July 25-28 in Dallas, Texas. Registration for the BYOC action or the new "QuakeCon Done Quick" pass with priority entry to all Main Stage events and early access to the exhibit hall on Saturday, will open at 10 am ET on April 11, while general admission entry is free.

QUAKE

Great moments in PC gaming are short, bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.  

The first-person shooters of the 1990s were fast-paced, but Quake seemed faster than anything before it. Truly 3D levels, mouselook, a bouncy regular jump even if you weren't abusing rocket-jumps—it added up to a zippiness that felt powerful and new. 

Clever level design solved the Sonic problem of having areas full of secrets but a character who only feels good at top speed. There's often one particular key or something you need but there's also a convenient loop back through a section of the level so you can barrel around looking for things you missed, shooting suspicious patches of wall texture or swimming under bridges, during which you naturally find a secret or two before discovering that gold key or whatever.

When you hit a boss fight it still doesn't slow down. Chthon emerges from the lava and instead of standing in one spot shooting away at his health bar you keep moving, racing his fireballs to flip switches just like you do when looping through an ordinary level, only now you're lowering pylons into position then electrocuting the big jerkbag of an elder god.

There are plenty of other things about Quake to celebrate, like the soundtrack and the multiplayer and the mods, but let's not forget Chthon. Fighting him sets you up for the finale, which is another puzzle boss who can't be shot, and it's also a great capstone for the playstyle it's taught you.

And then at the end of the level when it's tallying your score and number of secrets you get to see Chthon's gibs squirting all over the screen. Quake knew what we wanted and it delivered. 

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind® Game of the Year Edition

Update: Some users were apparently having issues with logging into the website and/or redeeming the free Morrowind code. Those problems appear to have been resolved, and Bethesda has extended the free offer through the weekend.

Orginal story:

The Elder Scrolls: Arena is 25 years old today, and to celebrate the big birthday Bethesda is giving away The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind. Just pop over to bethesda.net, log in to the site (or sign up if you need to) and then—wait!—do not hit the "Redeem Now" button yet!

I know, that seems like the obvious thing to do but first you want to take note of, or perhaps even select and copy, the "TES25TH-MORROWIND" code, without the quotes. Now hit the redemption button, put the code into the field, click where you're told, and the game will be added to your account, accessible through the Bethesda launcher.   

The previous Elder Scrolls games, Arena and Daggerfall, are also free (and have been for awhile now), but Morrowind is the one that put the series, and Bethesda, on the map. It's big, bold, and beautiful, unconstrained by the bug-ridden wonkery of the games that came before it or the comfortable conventions of the ones that followed, and it is free. Today only, though, so get on with it. 

This is not the only thing Bethesda is doing to mark the 25th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls: There's also a free-play event coming this weekend to The Elder Scrolls Online, some anniversary loot in The Elder Scrolls Legends card game, and new in-game content for The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. 

QUAKE II

When it released in January, Q2VKPT offered a real-time ray traced version of Quake 2, demonstrating how a broad range of associated techniques could improve a 22-year-old game. Created by Christoph Schied, it used an RTX technique known as Path Tracing in order to create more lifelike lighting effects, and the results are impressive (there's a video at the bottom of the page).

Nvidia has been paying close attention, announcing today a collaboration with Schied (himself a former Nvidia intern) on Quake 2 RTX—a "purely ray-traced game". In other words, it rips out all traditional effects and replaces them with ray-traced lighting, reflections, shadows and VFX. 

According to Nvidia, that means "real-time, controllable time of day lighting, with accurate sunlight and indirect illumination; refraction on water and glass; emissive, reflective and transparent surfaces; normal and roughness maps for added surface detail; particle and laser effects for weapons; procedural environment maps featuring mountains, sky and clouds, which are updated when the time of day is changed; a flare gun for illuminating dark corners where enemies lurk; an improved denoiser; SLI support (hands-up if you rolled with Voodoo 2 SLI back in the day); Quake 2 XP high-detail weapons, models and textures; optional NVIDIA Flow fire, smoke and particle effects, and much more!"

The full run-down, including before-and-after shots, is on the Nvidia site, and a video will follow eventually. More than likely after the associated GDC 2019 panel on March 21. In the meantime, here's the original Q2VKPT in action:

QUAKE

This is Quake, by the way, not whatever it is that 3D Realms is teasing now.

3D Realms, best known as the last company able to do something good with Duke Nukem, currently has a Build engine-powered shooter called Ion Maiden on Steam Early Access. By all reports it's really good—user reviews on Steam are "overwhelmingly positive"—but what makes it interesting is the use of the Build engine, which is true retro-tech: It was used for Duke Nukem 3D and the original Shadow Warrior way back in the mid-90s, and Ion Maiden is the first game to make use of it in nearly two decades. 

3D Realms is also working on a new game based on the Quake engine in partnership with 1C Company, and yes, that would be the original Quake from 1996—a Build engine contemporary. That little factoid was revealed last fall, along with absolutely no other information: No name, no release target, no platform information, no nothing. But that will soon change. 

Is that logo ringing any bells? That's not a hint that I know what's up, by the way: I think it looks very vaguely Quake-like but I can't see Bethesda green-lighting a remake by anyone but id Software. But games like Ion Maiden and Dusk have proven that shooters don't need to be built on bleeding-edge tech to be great, and I'm excited to finally find out what 3DR has cooking. We'll let you know when we know.

QUAKE II

This article was originally published in issue 184 of Retro Gamer. Subscribe here for more features like this every month.

Few western developers had higher profiles during the '90s than id Software cofounder John Romero, and fewer still had a rockstar image to go with their fame. But after helping id to make the FPS mainstream with instant classics such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, John parted ways with the small firm, and its remaining developers made the decision to take their next project in a new direction, as Quake II level designer Tim Willits remembers.

“Romero was let go, and we took a different approach to the next Quake game,” he tells us. “Kevin Cloud stepped up to lead the project and refocus us on something that was more story-based and set in a different universe. Kevin had this great idea where he said: ‘Guns Of Navarone.’ That was the inspiration for Quake II, and it made sense because in the movie the Allies had to knock out the big guns that the Germans had before they could assault. So in Quake II, your job would be to knock out the big guns before the big dropships could come in. That’s why you were by yourself, because the human forces had sent individual pods out since everything else was too big and would get hit by the big guns.”

Of course, since id’s latest project was taking its lead from the Guns Of Navarone it would need an army as dark as the movie’s Nazi antagonists, which Quake II artist Kevin Cloud delivered in the form of a race of macabre aliens called the Strogg. “With the Strogg, Kevin wanted to create an enemy force that was unified but terrifying,” Tim explains. “So the Strogg were part-alien, part-vampire; they weren’t like vampires, but they were vampiric. Like the Borg [in Star Trek], their plan was that they would take over planets, and then use body parts—living tissue and organs—in reconstructing themselves and keeping themselves alive. Because they attacked different planets with different creatures, each Strogg was different, but the Strogg were also very unified because they were all part of a Strogg collective.”

But as horrific as Kevin’s vision for the Strogg was, the nightmarish aliens’ sci-fi backstory was clearly at odds with the Gothic horror narrative of id’s previous Quake title, which as Tim points out makes sense since Quake’s follow-up almost became a standalone project that would likely have kickstarted an entirely new id franchise. “We wanted to do something different with the next game, and we did consider not calling it Quake II,” Tim muses. “One of the names Paul Steed came up with, which I always really liked, was ‘Wor,’ but it was hard coming up with a name that everyone liked, so we just stuck a ‘II’ on the end of Quake. But it did hold true to that Quake DNA, where it was hardcore: there were big beefy weapons, there was over-the-top action and you were the hero saving the world.”

But while id strived to instil Quake II with the key tenants of Quake’s core gameplay, rather than reworking the sequel as a dark fantasy it decided to retain the project’s decidedly sci-fi -themed narrative. “We were a bunch of sci-fi nuts!” Tim reasons. “And it was refreshing for us to do something new but kind of familiar. With a sci-fi universe there was the opportunity to have super-cool weapons and we could have new types of creatures, so it really gave a nice palette to create a wonderful game.”

As well as favouring an alternate genre, Quake II would also differ from its predecessor by having a cohesive backstory, which instructed and informed the design of the project’s full-motion video introduction and the look and animation of its biomechanical alien opponents. “Quake was kind of a mess,” Tim concedes, “although it was awesome. But the Quake II team rallied behind one art style, one art direction and story. We had better design, and we were focused. Paul Steed came up with our cinematic intro, which was really cool. He had worked on the Wing Commander series, and so he brought experience of story-based sci-fi action games. Adrian Carmack did amazing concept work on the Strogg creatures, and then Paul added personality to the animations.”

The follow-up to Quake was further differentiated from the original game thanks to enhancements that id’s lead coder John Carmack made to his Quake engine that allowed it to render brighter and far more colourful-looking levels. “We had a supercomputer that was literally the size of a refrigerator to process the lighting for the maps—it was so cool!“ Tim enthuses. “No game had had coloured lighting before Quake II. So we were like kids with new toys; we went all crazy. I know there are some levels that look a little oddly-coloured, but it did give it a more colourful look. At the time it was like: ‘This is awesome! Green and blue lights!’ We also had light bouncing—simulated radiosity—so every corner of the world had some lighting.”

Beyond aesthetics, the stages in Quake II also stood out from their Quake equivalents thanks to their more wide open and less linear nature, which Tim puts down to accumulated knowledge, a story-led approach to level design and the knowledge that PC gamers were continually upgrading their PCs with the latest tech. “We had more experience making levels, and we were trying to tell more of a story. Like there was the jail, there was the hanger and the processing facility, so we tried to give more identifiable locations to the areas. Plus computers were running faster. It was just a combination of all that, really.”

The railgun in Quake II was inspired by Eraser the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Tim Willits

Additionally, Quake II’s levels would be mission-based, and unlike Quake its sequel would require players to make use of innovative ‘hub’ areas to jump from one stage to another and back again. “I can’t remember if it was something that we had consciously planned for or if it just evolved,” Tim ponders, “but you had these missions, and you would get radio alerts, because we just wanted to tell a better story and give a better experience, and the hubs were a byproduct of that. The hubs made the environments richer, so the world felt like a real place that you were infiltrating. They gave us the freedom to reuse areas and make players feel like they were in real space.”

One innovation that proved a step too far, however, was the option of rescuing traumatised marines being loaded into meat processing machines in one of Quake II’s more gruesome missions, the processing plant. “We had that one mission with the processing plant,” Tim recalls, “and you could just turn off the machines. I think it was the limits of the gameplay scripting, where what do you do with the marines when they’re out? We didn’t have AI, so they wouldn’t follow you around. Plus those poor souls, they were already damaged beyond repair from the Strogg experiments.”

Aside from making decisions on level design mechanics, new weapons were being designed for Quake II, although these were complemented by a selection of existing designs made popular by earlier id FPS. “There were some tried-and-true weapons—the lightning gun and the rocket launcher were from Quake,” Tim acknowledges, “plus we had machine guns and the BFG from Doom, but Quake II was sci-fi, so we also had hyper blasters. We tried to make the new Quake II weapons exciting and interesting, but yet remember that they always fulfilled a purpose in a situation. At id, we’ve always believed in situational weapons. So if a guy is close-up you use a shotgun, if a guy’s far away you use your machine gun. You’ve got projectiles, explosives to get that instant hit. Each of these weapons actually fits a purpose of the gameplay. So we would find a situation that we wanted to engage an additional weapon for and then come up with a weapon.”

Arguably the most memorable of the weapons to make its debut in Quake II was the now-legendary railgun, which Tim credits to company research on arguably the most memorable big-screen action hero of the '90s. “The railgun in Quake II was inspired by Eraser—the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie,” Tim reveals. “I went to see it with the guys, and the next day I went to John Cash. I told John: ‘It’s like a rocket, but it’s an instant hit—it’s called a railgun!’”

Perhaps reasonably, given the destructive power of Quake II’s railgun—not to mention its other deadly armaments—the game’s sole animator Paul Steed decided that the focus of these lethal weapons, the Strogg, should be dangerous even in their death throes. “Paul wanted to bring more personality to the creatures,” Tim recollects, “so the marines could shoot their heads off, but they could still shoot back before they died. He thought it added more meat to the gameplay, so he drove that thought and inspired us to do that. Paul was our only animator, and he did model, too, so you could see his personality in some of the characters in Quake II.”

But far from merely injecting their personalities into Quake II, those working on the title put everything they had into its development. Tim believes that youthful exuberance ultimately got the game over the finishing line, but he admits to cutting things a bit fine when it came to putting together the last remaining stage. “We put some crazy hours in, but we were all young. We made the hangar mission—which is not the greatest mission in the world—in the weeks before we shipped. It definitely came in hot!”

As well as a major shareholder in id Software, Activision was also Quake II’s publisher, and although the firm trusted id to deliver on time, it did have issues with the fact that the game required a fast PC that was preferably equipped with top-end graphics hardware. “Activision was concerned that you needed to have a graphics card,” Tim accepts, “that it was required for Quake II. But you know what? By the time Quake II came out everyone was pretty hot for the new graphics cards and CPUs. It was kind of the norm. Quake II was not the only game that you needed to buy the new cards for. The Epic guys were making great stuff, and there were lots of games companies who were making cutting-edge games, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal.”

You know what? We did a lot of fun things, and it was a good time to be in the industry; it was a good time for id Software.

Tim Willits

On Quake II’s release, it became clear that Tim’s assessment of the wider gaming market had been correct and that Activision’s anxieties had been unfounded. The game sold nearly a quarter of a million copies in its first few months on sale alone and garnered unanimous praise from the press, praise that still endures to this day, although Tim’s memories of the critical and commercial response to Quake II have faded over time. “I don’t remember. Did Quake II get good reviews?” Tim asks us. “I always tried to focus on the game. I really loved working on Quake II, and I felt personally that I had grown a lot as a designer. We had such fun making that game, and there was so much talent. We were more focused, we were more design-driven and we all liked each other. So it really showed in the product, you know. Quake II was a labour of love that I was very proud of.”

In the years that followed, id licensed the engine that had powered Quake II for use in a number of popular third-party titles, each of which Tim viewed with pride. “They were all great,” Tim exclaims. “I loved all of the Quake II engine games. We were blessed to work with teams like Raven, Ritual and Activision that took the Quake II engine and did amazing things with it. And look at Half-Life, which changed the industry, I mean, it was awesome. They felt like id games. I always brag about the origins of those games and how they were based on id Software technology. We were always a small company, so we had a small foot. But we had a giant footprint, and that was the software—that was always a point of pride.”

When looking back at Quake II, Tim offers an equally enthusiastic appraisal, with his one caveat being his conviction that the much-loved id FPS should’ve had a different name and should’ve been the first chapter in a new franchise. “Well it’s still fun,” Tim notes, “there’s still a ton of people that really love it. We made the rockets slower than Quake, and some people are sad about that. Some people love Quake II’s speed, some people prefer Quake’s speed; it just depends on which Quake you played first. Quake II should have been called something different in my personal opinion—I will say that. But you know what? We did a lot of fun things, and it was a good time to be in the industry; it was a good time for id Software. And then, of course, the greatest gun ever was the railgun. Quake II was the culmination of the people that worked on it, because everyone was pretty unique and different in the team, and we really tried to be pretty flat in our design structure. So it was fun to work on the game.”

How Quake II compares on other systems

Mac3D graphics cards for Macs didn’t become common until the late-Nineties, so it’s unsurprising that the Mac Quake II arrived two years after the PC release. The wait was worth it, though, as the Mac version is all but identical to the original. So much so that Mac and PC Quake II owners can face off in online deathmatches.

N64Essentially a reworking of the PC original designed to better suit the N64’s reliance on cartridge-based storage, Quake II on Nintendo’s system features stripped-back levels coupled with simplified systems. N64 Quake II does feel like the original, however, as it shares its aesthetics and game design.

PlayStationSlightly less impressive than the N64 version in terms of speed and visuals, the PlayStation Quake II does convert levels from the Nintendo iteration nicely. Like the N64 port, the PlayStation Quake II has splitscreen multiplayer, it also adapts stages from the original game and boasts two exclusive Strogg opponents.

AmigaBy 2002, the five-year-old Quake II was looking a little long in the tooth compared to cutting-edge FPS titles, but id’s release of its source code the year prior convinced Hyperion Entertainment to release an Amiga version. The end result is close to the original, but it requires a fast CPU and accelerated graphics card.

Quake II's best stages

Processing PlantBuilt to render down captured marines into a disgusting slime that the Strogg feed on, the processing plant houses seven macabre machines sited on a circular route. Besides one tank commander, your mission to disable the machines is met with low-level opposition, although surprise attacks are common, so stealth tactics are advised.

Big GunThe big gun mission’s solid middle section pales in comparison to the epic boss fight at its start and the heart-stopping race to safety at its finale. The mission’s airborne boss—the Hornet—requires you to pepper it with heavy gunfire followed by taking cover when it returns fire, while the mission’s end-of-level escape leaves no margin for error.

Inner HangarThe objective of storming the inner hangar is to close its doors and ground the Stroggs’ spacecrafts. As the hanger is heavily guarded a slow, steady approach is recommended, particularly when negotiating its floating blocks and giant cogs. The Hornet guarding the hanger entrance is best tackled from a high vantage point.

OutlandsBar for a gun emplacement near its start, whose operator can be taken out with a ranged weapon, the outlands mission is a high-tempo test of marksmanship. Following a hill pass, you cut across bridges and through caves while avoiding barracudas. Finally, you activate the air strike marker, take cover and then make your way to the exit.

Outer CourtsDeep within the outer courts there’s a data spinner that’s required to shut down a Strogg communication system. The route to your target begins with a dangerous, stomach churning cliff-edge walk, after which the going gets tough, so have your biggest guns ready. The spinner itself is located after a disorienting underwater section.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Update: The Skyrim Together team has used its March 2019 report to apologise for using code from the Skyrim Script Extender, clarify how it happened and detail what it's done to fix the issue. It's an unusually comprehensive, formal apology that's been split up into different sections. It could be given as a presentation. There are probably slides. 

Like the original developer response on March 1, this one confirms that SKSE was used previously, but after a falling out between the teams, it was removed. Some of the code could have remained, however, and further investigation by the Skyrim Together team, along with assistance from SKSE's creator, showed that it was using a loader similar to an older version of the SKSE loader, which the team claims was grandfathered in from the Skyrim Online mod. 

"There is no excuse as to why this code has remained in the codebase for this long and was distributed without credit or acknowledgement," the apology reads. "Going forward we will do our utmost best to respect the SKSE team and their work and ensure the license request is maintained in the long run."

All "dependencies, associated content or related code" have been removed from Skyrim Together, the report claims, and SKSE's creator has been invited to confirm this when next update is ready. 

Original story: The Skyrim Together mod, which allows up to eight players to play Skyrim in co-op mode, has been in the works for years, and it recently inched a bit closer to the finish line with a playable closed beta. This week, however, drama erupted as the developers of Skyrim Script Extender accused the makers of Skyrim Together of using SKSE code without permission or attribution.

"Skyrim Together is stealing [Skyrim Script Extender] code, uncredited, without permission, with an explicit term in the license restricting one of the authors from having anything to do with the code," a SKSE developer posted on Reddit. "The proof is pretty clear when you look at the loader and dll in a disassembler. They're using a hacked-up version of 1.7.3 classic presumably with some preprocessor macros to switch structure types around as needed between the x64 and x86 versions."

The SKSE developer also points to a Reddit message from a Skyrim Together dev a year ago, which states: "We aren't using SKSE at all but the mod will be able to be loaded by SKSE's loader." 

The Skyrim Script Extender , if you're not familiar with it, is an important and highly regarded mod in the Skyrim modding community as it expands Skyrim's scripting capabilities and allows for more complexity from other Skyrim mods that use the SKSE.

A Skyrim Together developer posted a response yesterday, admitting that SKSE code was in fact used earlier in Skyrim Together's development, and that there may be leftover code that wasn't entirely removed:

"We have had disagreements with the SKSE folks in the past, I have tried to communicate with them but they have never replied, so we stopped using their code. There might be some leftover code from them in there that was overlooked when we removed it, it isn't as simple as just deleting a folder, mainly our fault because we rushed some parts of the code. Anyway we are going to make sure to remove what might have slipped through the cracks for the next patch."

Mod controversies get murkier and more heated when there's money involved, and there's quite a bit of money involved in Skyrim Together. The Skyrim Together team has a Patreon, and the closed beta of Skyrim Together required a contribution of at least $1 to access it. A buck to beta test a mod doesn't sound unreasonable—any number of modders have Patreons and some, like GTA modder JulioNIB, give supporters early access to the mods they create

The Skyrim Together Patreon, however, is massive, with over 28,000 subscribers contributing over $33,000 a month for the Skyrim Together modders. This leads some in the community to consider it a 'paid mod.' It's not entirely inaccurate: the only way to get into the Skyrim Together closed beta was by subscribing for at least one dollar. But, as the Skyrim Together modders point out, the mod, when it is completed, will be free to use for everyone.

"If you don't think we deserve your money we are not forcing you at all, you are free not to use our mod while in closed beta or even when it's released," the modder posted. "I have been working on this for 8 years, and we are 10 people working on it right now, 35k after taxes for 10 people and years of work is less than minimum wage."

On the other hand, if Skyrim Together is indeed using code lifted without permission from SKSE, and then earning thousands of dollars per month, they'd be profiting from the work of the SKSE developers without permission or attribution.

I've contacted the developers of Skyrim Together and the Skyrim Script Extender for any comments they'd like to give beyond what has been posted publicly, and will update this article if I receive a reply.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Photography by Silavon.

Remember Mjoll the Lioness? If you spent much time in Riften, you'll have heard her railing against the Thieves Guild and the corrupt Black-Briar family, and you might have found out she lost a magic sword called Grimsever, leading to a sidequest to recover it from a dwemer ruin.

Kirie Cosplay, who estimates she spent two months of her spare time working on the armor, wig, and makeup for her impressive Mjoll the Lioness outfit, didn't have a convenient Dragonborn around to search for Grimsever and had to craft that herself as well. 

"My Grimsever is all made from EVA foam," she explains. "I drew out all the detailing and used a Dremel tool to create the curves and ridges, and placing layers of foam where larger details were needed. The blade has been coated in a gloss and even with a glow in the dark coat!" As cool as the finished result looks, there's one downside to owning a glow-in-the-dark sword. "I keep it in a wardrobe so it doesn’t spook me too much at night," she says.

In a game where NPCs can sometimes blur together, Mjoll's a memorable standout, which explains why Kirie's still cosplaying her years after Skyrim's release. "Mjoll the Lioness is a unique character," she says. "She has strong features, while also having face markings which makes her appearance very appealing to me as I love to play with makeup."

How will you make this fabric look like it survives running through caves, snowstorms, even dragon fire?

Mjoll's practical armor, complete with fur lining, turned out to be a challenge not just to make but to hold together. "I think the hardest part of this costume was to create attachments for the armor pieces," Kirie says. "A few of them sit fine with just some strapping but I had to come up with ways for the hips and shoulders. The leather straps are slid up under the shoulder armour to meet the velcro pieces inside them. The curve along the top of the shoulder also has velcro to have it sitting just right."

Like the sword, the armor is mostly made from EVA foam, with some foam clay from Lumins Workshop. "I used contact adhesive for the foam pieces and super glue for all the tiny fiddly bits. It was fun to make the foam pieces look metal and rusted! Other pieces used fabric and fake fur. I dirtied up the fur as well to make it look not so shiny new."

That's a big part of the appeal of making a Skyrim-themed cosplay for Kirie. Being a Nord means getting to look like you've been through the wars, or at least knocked down by dwemer automatons a few times. "Making Skyrim cosplays is exciting because of how creative you can be," she says. "Almost every piece will need weathering or dirtying. How will you make this fabric look like it survives running through caves, snowstorms, even dragon fire? I would say never do a costume from this kind of environment and have it look like it's just come off the shop rack!"

You can find @KirieCos on Instagram, where she's uploaded a story showing the process of creating this cosplay step by step.

Photography by Snap Happy Ian.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim’s NPC companions aren’t very useful, but if you still want company on your mountain hikes and dragon-slaying adventures, Skyrim Together might scratch the itch. Following the announcement earlier this month, a closed beta is now available for Patreon backers. It’s expected to run for a week or two, building up to an open beta. 

In the closed beta, players will be able to invite friends into their game and start private sessions, fight each other, travel wherever they want—separately or together—and join each other in quests. You can read the list of features on the subreddit. And here's a list of planned features.

Bethesda’s official multiplayer spin-offs have left a lot to be desired. The Elder Scrolls Online has grown into a solid if slightly bland MMO, but it was a complete mess at launch, while Fallout 76 has been a bit of a disaster. Hopefully the mod will fare better. 

A separate launcher is required to use the mod, as well as an account on the Skyrim Together site and a linked Patreon account. It’s out now for Patreon backers.

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