PC Gamer
The Elder Strolls
In the last entry, Nordrick was faced with a question we've all struggled with at one point in our lives: "Should I marry a filthy homeless man?" After a great amount of heated internal debate, hours upon hours of soul-searching, and the thoughtful splitting of many cords of wood, I have finally reached a decision. I'm not going to marry Angrenor Once-Honored.

It all boils down to this: deep inside his thick, ugly head, Nordrick has a dream: a place to call home. Angrenor Once-Honored can give me a lot: companionship, happiness, comfort, a variety of social diseases brought on by unprotected hobosex in an unsanitary public thoroughfare... but he can't give me a home. And so, I have to turn my back on the one man to ever love me. I'm off to Whiterun.

Before I leave, though, I feel like I should try to do something for poor Angrenor, who walks endlessly through the frigid, snowy streets of Windhelm without a penny to his name or a pair of sleeves to his, uh, arms. I buy some fine clothes and boots at the general store, and drop them in his path, hoping he'll pick them up. He sees this, and runs over to ask if he can have them. Aw. He's so nice, you guys! I give him permission and he picks them up, though I'm a little disappointed that he doesn't actually put them on. I was hoping to leave Windhelm with the image of Angrenor strutting about in some classy duds. Alas.

Jasper and I begin our stroll to Whiterun, following, as we always do, the river. Aside from some wolves and one giant spider, we make it through the day without much hassle. As evening approaches, we climb a long hill and come upon two towers connected by a bridge straddling the river. A bandit woman rushes over and tells me there's a toll to pass safely. She wants 200 gold, but I talk her down to 50 (with my honeyed words). I figure we're cool at that point, and I spend a few minutes using her cooking pot and looking at the tower. She eventually grows irritated and attacks, but I calm her back down by killing her. I search her body, but my gold isn't there. Did she eat it?

I try to leave but the remainder of the bandits hiding in the towers attack, one by one, and Jasper keeps running off into the tower to protect me. After a long, calamitous fight, so frenzied that no decent screenshots of it were taken, four or five bandits lie dead, including one on the far side of the river who I bring down with a couple well-placed bowshots. That was pretty gruesome, but at least we have a place to spend the night.

Another day of quiet walking (except for Jasper's continuous barking, which is starting to grate) and a night spent at a Stormcloak camp, Whiterun finally comes into view. Sort of. It's a bit gloomy today. Reaching the city gate, the guards don't want to let me in because there's some dubious talk of a dragon in the area. I'm pretty sure a locked gate won't stop a dragon, but whatever. I bribe the guard and he lets me inside.

Whiterun! Now, this is a city. Forget the grim, claustrophobic alleys of Windhelm and the shoddy, jerk-filled wooden walkways of Riften. Whiterun's avenues are wide, bright, and clean, and the people seem mostly pleasant. I start my day off at the blacksmith's, where Adrianne Avenicci invites me to learn the trade by doing some basic crafting for her. I'm a pretty accomplished blacksmith by now, but I play along, and make her a dagger and helmet as if it's my first time, hoping she'll be so grateful she'll marry me. While she's impressed with my skills, she asks another favor: would I bring a sword to her father who works in the castle? I agree, and roughly three seconds later I realize she's already married to the guy who runs the weapon shop. Great. Half the morning gone for nothing.

I stroll around the streets of Whiterun, with Jasper following and barking noisily (seriously irritating now), looking for anyone else who needs safe, reasonable help with something. Once again, everyone needs something. An elderly woman says her son was abducted by Imperials, and asks me to meet her at her house so she can give me all the details. Well, I am aroused by the mention of a house, but I'm trying to avoid any Imperial entanglements. Another woman I speak with is being stalked by some guy who wants to marry her, and would like some help fending off the leering jerk. Seeing as how I'd only be helping her so I could stalk and leer at her, I'm probably not the right man for the job.

There's also an angry woman in the tavern who wants to fight me because she's been snubbed by the local fighter's guild, but I can't imagine telling our grandchildren how it was love at first fight (plus, she looks really tough), so I'll give that one a miss. A man and woman are bickering over a stolen sword, and the man wants to hire a mercenary to retrieve it from bandits. Sorry, I don't kill for money, plus it seems as if he's already married. Another woman named Ysolda is trying to break into the merchant business, and asks me to bring her a mammoth tusk to impress some Khajiit businessmen. Mammoths? I'm a hunter, sort of, but I prefer to stick to elk and deer. Mammoths are big and generally guarded by giants. Pass.

Although. I did see a mammoth tusk sitting on a bookcase when I rented my room at the inn. It turns out it's not for sale, and I'm not a thief, but the general store is only a few feet away from where I was just talking to... what's her name? Yolanda? Yosandra? Ysolda. Maybe they have a mammoth tusk I could just flat-out buy. I walk into the store and sure enough, the proprietor has a mammoth tusk for sale. It's pricey, but it saves me from having to go nose-to-trunk with a giant hairy enraged elephant, so it's probably worth it. I buy it and walk back over to... what the hell is her name again? Ysolda.

I give her the tusk, hoping she'll think I somehow managed to bravely kill a mammoth in the past two minutes, and wouldn't you know it, she suddenly notices I'm wearing an Amulet of Mara! Man. Love in Skyrim seems to involve not so much the performance of romantic deeds but the completion of routine business transactions. But, again, I'm just in this for the real estate, so who am I to criticize? Yosoldra (or whatever) wants to marry me! It's happening! Again!

I back off immediately. Sure, Yosanta (whatever!) seems nice, and I like a woman who swoons when you lug part of a deceased elephant a few feet over to her, but I need to scope her out. It's time to spend the day following her around like a horrid creep.

For a few hours, she walks around the merchant booths, chatting about this and that with the vendors. Okay, she's sociable. That's nice. I never saw Angrenor talk to anyone but me. In the afternoon, she stops chatting with the locals and walks off. I follow. She's heading for a small house behind the general store. Could it be? Oh, it could. Oh, it be.

Whatsername has a house! I follow her inside, because I want to make sure her house doesn't completely suck. Oh, and because I love her or something. It's a small place, to be sure, though there's a nice cooking pot, a bookcase, a table, a wardrobe, and a little dining nook with two chairs. After she has a snack, she leaves and I continue shadowing her. She walks all the way to the castle, twice, which gives me a chance to deliver Adrianne's sword to her father so it doesn't haunt my inventory for the rest of eternity. He gives me 20 gold. Ooooh, thanks. Now I can buy that carrot I've had my eye on.

The woman I'm in love with whose name I still can't really remember continues walking around town until dark, then heads to the tavern, where she drinks, eats, and enjoys the bard's performance, even stiffly (but politely!) clapping after each song. Around midnight, she heads home. She locks the door, so unfortunately I can't stand over her watching her sleep all night, but there will be plenty of time for that if we marry.

I head back to the inn for the evening. Time for the pros and cons list! It's pretty easy this time.


1) Likes me
2) Impressed by speedy mammoth bone delivery
3) Active social life
4) Eats and drinks
5) Enjoys music
6) Not filthy, homeless


NONE. Let's do this. In the morning, I find her by the merchant booths, and excitedly pop the question. She says yes. We are to be wed. Holy crap.

"You should arrange our marriage in Riften right away," she says and immediately walks away. Oh. Uh, sure. I'll just go arrange the entire wedding all by myself, shall I? Okay. I'll just do the whole thing. I just went out and killed a mammoth for you, as far as you know, and brought you a piece of it, but why shouldn't I also do all the wedding planning myself? I'll just do everything in this relationship! EVERYTHING! YOU'RE SUFFOCATING ME!

Okay, okay. Let's calm down. We had a little tiff, honey, but that's normal for two people about to marry, right? Perfectly normal. Couples in love grow and change and sometimes bicker, but it doesn't mean that their love is any less JASPER GODDAMNIT WILL YOU STOP BARKING? I'M TRYING TO HAVE AN IMAGINARY FIGHT WITH YOUR FUTURE MOTHER! SHUT! UP!

I'm sorry, Jasper, I'm sorry. It's just the stress of having to plan this wedding. You know, plan it all by myself. I guess it's getting to me.

So! Now I need to go all the way back to Riften to arrange our wedding (by myself). I think maybe I should have something nice to wear on my wedding day, though. Wouldn't that be appropriate? I head to the general store to find some fancy duds, but they aren't selling much besides "Clothes", unfortunately. I can't even find a nice new hat to wear. Then an idea strikes me: why not craft something for my wedding day? I recently increased my smithing skills to the point where I can craft Dwarven accoutrements: why not whang myself out some special ceremonial wedding armor?

It takes most of my savings, but I buy a bunch of Dwarfonium bars (or whatever) and presto! I've some gleaming new Dwarven armor to wear on my wedding day. I have to say, I'm a quite impressed with myself. Using my self-taught crafting skills and most of my personal fortune to build myself some ceremonial Dwarven wedding armor is a pretty damn romantic gesture to my bride-to-be. Slightly less romantic is the fact that wearing my new Dwarven armor makes me look like a giant fucking robot.

Not quite the dashing knight I was picturing, but it's the thought that counts. Now, all that's left is to clomp my way back to Riften, and plan the wedding (myself). Come on, Jasper! Stop your stupid barking and obey your robot overlord! Bleep bloop bleep!

Save the date! If I can make it back to Riften speedily and safely, you're all invited to the wedding of Nordrick and... shit, what the hell is her name?
PC Gamer
Attenion wolves: to make this easier, please strip off your pelts and leave them in a nice pile. Thanks.
Patch 1.4 for Skyrim is set to arrive soon, but if you're really eager to take advantage of the latest round of fixes then you can sign up for the beta through Steam. A post on the Bethblog says that you can opt in on the accounts tab of your Steam settings page. You'll want to back up your saved games first, though, just to be safe.

The preliminary patch notes for patch 1.4 include many, many quest and crash fixes. Bethesda recommend that you sign up for the beta if one of the fixes applies to your game. You'll find the list below. The first entry suggests that Skyrim will be getting Steam Workshop support shortly, the infrastructure that will let modders share projects created with the incoming Skyrim Creation Kit. The mod tools are still set to land sometime later this month.


Skyrim launcher support for Steam Workshop


General optimizations for memory and performance
Improved compiler optimization settings (PC)
Memory optimizations related to scripting
Fixed crashes related to pathing and AI
Fixed crash in Haemar’s Shame if player had already completed “A Daedra’s Best Friend”
Fixed rare crash with loading saved games
Fixed issue with accented characters not displaying properly at the end of a line
Master Criminal achievement/trophy unlocks properly in French, German, Spanish and Italian
Fixed issue where dragon priest masks would not render correctly
Fixed issue where quests would incorrectly progress after reloading a save
Fixed issues with placing and removing books from bookshelves in the player’s home
Fixed issue where weapon racks and plaques would not work correctly in player’s house if player immediately visits their house before purchasing any furnishing.
Fixed issue where the player house in Windhelm would not clean up properly
Fixed crash related to giant attacks and absorb spells
Fixed issue with ash piles not cleaning up properly
Fixed occasional issue where overwriting an existing save would fail
Fixed memory crash with container menu
Fixed infinite loop with bookshelves
Fixed issue where traps in Shalidor’s Maze would not work properly in French, German, Spanish and Italian versions
Fixed issue where transforming back to human from werewolf would occasionally fail
Bows and daggers will display properly when placed on weapon racks


The Unusual Gem inside the Thalmor Embassy is now accessible after finishing “Diplomatic Immunity”
In “Breaching Security”, the quest token is no longer required to receive a fortune reading from Olava the Feeble
Fixed issue where Galmar would not complete Joining the Stormcloaks properly if “Season Unending” was an active quest
Fixed issue where starting “Season Unending” after finishing “Joining the Stormcloaks” would prevent “The Jagged Crown” from starting properly.
Fixed issue progressing through “Message to Whiterun” while “Season Unending” was still open would block progression for both quests.
In “Arniel’s Endeavor”, fixed issue where a quest journal would trigger multiple times
In “Forbidden Legend”, the amulet fragment can no longer disappear after player leaves a dungeon without taking it
Fixed rare issue in “Forbidden Legend” where killing Mikrul Gauldurson while sneaking would make his corpse unaccessible
In “The White Phial”, the phial can no longer disappear if player leaves dungeon without taking it
“The White Phial” will now start properly if player already has a briar heart in their inventory
Player can no longer get stuck in Misty Grove after completing “A Night to Remember”
Fixed issue where leaving Riften during “A Chance Arrangement” would prevent quest from progressing
In “Darkness Returns”, a door in Twilight Sepulcher will properly open if the player leaves the dungeon for an extended period of time before completing the quest
In “Revealing the Unseen”, if the player leaves the Oculory for an extended period of time after placing the focusing crystal and returns, the quest will proceed correctly
“Onmund’s Request” will now start properly if player has already found Enthir’s staff before receiving this quest
Fixed instance where Tonilia would stop buying stolen items and also would not give Guild Leader Armor
“Repairing the Phial” will start properly if player already has unmelting snow or mammoth tusk in their inventory
Finding Pantea’s Flute before speaking with Pantea no longer prevents her quest from updating
In “The Coming of the Dawn”, fixed rare instance where a quest object would spawn incorrectly on the Katariah during Hail Sithis
Fixed rare issue in “The Mind of Madness” where player is unable to equip the Wabbajack
Fixed issue in “Pieces of the Past” where Mehrunes Dagon’s Razor will not trigger properly if player leaves the cell for extended period of time before activating it
“Blood’s Honor” will start properly if you visited and completed Driftshade and an extended period of time passes before starting the quest.
Fixed rare issue where “Dampened Spirits” would not start properly
Fixed issue where player would be unable to become Thane of Riften if they purchased a home first
Fixed issue where killing guards in Cidhna Mine would block progression for “No One Escapes Cidhna Mine”
Fixed numerous issues with “Blood on the Ice” not triggering properly
In “Blood on the Ice”, Calixto can now be killed if player owns a house in Windhelm
In “The Cure for Madness”, killing Cicero then resurrecting him no longer impedes quest progress
Fixed rare issue in “To Kill an Empire” where an NPC would fail to die properly
Clearing Knifepoint Ridge before starting “Boethiah’s Champion” no longer prevents quest from starting.

PC Gamer

I’ve heard talk that vanilla Skyrim isn’t pretty. Balderdash! Sure, it's got a few muddy textures, but I think it deserves a ton of recognition for the scale and artistry of its environments. To that end, I've created a video featuring my favorite places in the game, which I’ve dubbed “Koyaaniskyrim.”

The only modifications I made were a few config edits to increase level of detail at distance, and console commands to free up the camera and mess with the passage of time. The tweak guide over at Dead End Thrills explains the config changes, and most of the console commands I used can be found at The Elder Scrolls Wiki. Here’s a list of the basics, in case you're bitten by the Skyrim filmmakin' bug:

coc – Teleport to a given cell ID (e.g. "BlackreachCity"). A complete list can be found at http://www.skyrimsearch.com/cells.php.
sgtm – The "set global time modifier" command can be used to slow down and speed up time.
set timescale to – Modify the speed of the night/day cycle.
tfc – Toggle the free camera.
tcl – Toggle collision.
PC Gamer
It's a little weird to admit that, as a grown man, I have a genuine emotional attachment to a fake dog in a video game. And yet I do. I love my new dog, Jasper. I love him. He has bright, cheerful eyes and a big panting smile. He happily follows me everywhere I stroll. When I stop, he sits or lies down. He pitches in during combat, and helps me hunt large game like deer and elk (animals too large for me to kill with one shot from my bow), bounding after and finishing off the wounded beasts that would have otherwise escaped.

My warm feelings for Jasper help me overlook his main flaw, which is his incessant, endless barking. They also explain the sudden bolt of terror and sadness I feel when, while crossing a river, Jasper gets trapped in the current and sucked over a waterfall.

We left Riften a few days ago after I decided to take my marriage search to a new, hopefully more pleasant location: Skyrim's central city of Whiterun. Before we left Riften, I checked with the blacksmith again and found he'd somehow filled his inventory with a bunch of steel ingots, so I whanged myself out a new suit of armor, and improved it to "exquisite" levels. It doesn't look particularity exquisite on Nordrick's ugly, awkward frame, but it's an improvement.

When I consulted my map to plan our trip, I noticed a wee little obstacle between Riften and Whiterun: the tallest, most intimidating mountain in Skyrim. My options were to travel around it to the south, where it looked like there may be a partial mountain pass, or skirt it to the north, which would take me most of the way back to Windhelm. I opted for the latter. It's familiar ground, and NPCs like Nordrick are known for retreading their steps. I knew what to expect from the terrain and where to find places to spend my nights. Most of all, I was worried that if I passed through mountainous terrain to the south, Jasper might have difficulty following me over cliffs and rocks, and I didn't want to lose him.

I'll spare you the intricate details of the first part of the trip, since there really weren't many. There were some wolf attacks, one angry sabre cat (which I've mistakenly been spelling "sabercat" this whole time), a couple bandits and some skeevers, but otherwise I just picked flowers, caught butterflies and fish, and walked along the river with Jasper as he barked non-stop from dawn until dusk.

Now, though, I've stupidly crossed the river a little too close to a waterfall, and poor Jasper can't quite make it across. He tries: he paddles with his big feet, his shiny eyes fixed on me, in a display I would find comical if I weren't so scared he was about to die. I run into the river -- I don't know why, really, since I can't help him or grab him -- and we both fight the current, but a moment later he disappears over the falls. Then, I'm sucked over as well, plummeting down to whatever lies below. Pounding water. Roaring noise. Jagged rocks. The abyss.

Actually, we're both fine. No worries. In fact, we both run back up to the waterfall and go over it a couple more times. It's fun!

As we continue along, I realize I'm running low on arrows, and decide that we might as well stop in Windhelm, my old strolling grounds, since it's not too far out of the way. Plus, I can poll the locals to see if any of them might be interested in marrying me, since I wasn't able to last time I was there. We even stop in for a night at my old bloody riverside shack along the way. The sabre cat hasn't returned, but the disgusting bones have. Again. I kick them back into the river for old time's sake.

The next morning I return to the familiar bleak, snowy streets of Windhelm, and after conducting my usual potion and crafting-related business, I drift around the city for a day, talking to the locals about the endless series of tasks they are unable to complete for themselves. And then, after giving a gold coin to a beggar named Angrenor: a bombshell. A bombshell of love. The beggar notices I'm wearing an Amulet of Mara.

For the uninitiated, the dialogue option "Interested in me?" really means "Interested in marrying me?" This is it. If I want to, I can totally marry this guy. His deed was simple: just give him a coin. I always donate to beggars because it gives me a nice Speech buff I can use on the vendors. Angrenor says he is indeed interested in me, and then tentatively asks if I'm interested in him. Am I interested in marrying a stinky, sleeveless beggar? Are you kidding? I'm so interested I feel like my head is going to explode.

And yet, I don't want to say yes. I can't rush into this decision, not me, Nordrick, who once spent five minutes having an internal debate as to whether or not I should borrow a spare pickaxe. I also don't want to say no, because I can't remember if you can still marry someone after you've turned them down. So, I say nothing. I just tab out of the conversation and walk a few feet away. I need to think this over. I need to find out everything I can about this filthy homeless man I just met before I can decide if he is my true soulmate. I need to engage in a ritual as old as love itself. I need to stalk him.

Since Skyrim hasn't invented Facebook yet, I have to do my stalking the old fashioned way: on foot. So, for the rest of the day and well into the night I follow this guy around to see what he does. I need to make sure he's a good person who will treat Nordrick like the delicate flower he is. I also need to find out if he's really homeless, because where am I going to live if he is? Will we share a disgusting sleeping bag somewhere on the street? Will I get my own pile of filthy hay, or will we have to sleep in shifts? Granted, this isn't a BioWare game, so there won't be a cutscene of us vaguely humping in some public alleyway, but I'd still like there to be some modicum of privacy in our marriage. If we get married.

After hours of following Angrenor around, I've only learned that he spends all of his time walking between the inn and an alleyway near the Elf slums. He doesn't talk to anyone or do anything. He doesn't even appear to ever sleep or eat. It eventually occurs to me that a good way to find out more about him is by, you know, actually talking to him. So, I walk over to him while he's stopped in the street. Hi! Remember me? The guy who wordlessly walked away in the middle of a marriage proposal and has been following you around for fourteen hours at a distance of ten feet in the company of a constantly barking dog? Can we talk?

He doesn't really have much to say, except that he once fought six Imperials while trying to rescue his Stormcloak buddies during an ambush. He also says he's not too proud to admit he needs help, hence the begging. That's about all I get out of him. Having delved into his life a bit, it's time for another well-worn ritual of relationship decisions: the pros and cons list. I start with the pros, the positive aspects, for getting married to this sleeveless hobo:

1) He actually wants to marry me, unlike every other jerk in the world
2) He seems nice

That's a good start. I think for a few minutes, then write:

3) It would be funny

Well, wouldn't it? Sad sack Nordrick marrying a stinky homeless guy? That's comedy gold, as gold as the coin Angrenor fell in love with. But do I really want to spend my life with him just because it's funny? Finally, I write:

4) Probably no other Skyrim player has married him

Could be true. Everyone else playing Skyrim is running around covered with enchanted armor and awash in treasure and perfectly willing to perform dangerous quests for NPCs far more attractive and well-off than this sad, aimless frump of a man. I might be his first and only love in all possible versions of this world. Now, there's a reason to marry him: pity.

Okay, time for the cons, which is, as it turns out, a much shorter list:

1) He loves my gold, not me
2) He has no home I can live in

I admit it's weird to criticize him for only loving me because I gave him a gold piece when I myself only want to marry someone so I can live in their house for free, but there it is. The hypocrisy can't be denied. There's also this concern: if he loves me because I gave him a Septim, what happens if someone else gives him money? Will he leave me? Will he dish out that sweet hobo honey for anyone who thumbs a coin in his direction? Can I trust him to be true to my coin purse?

This is all too much to decide tonight while standing here staring at my potential future husband as he shuffles endlessly back and forth in the street. In the shadow of this monumental life choice, even the normally boisterous Jasper has grown quiet and contemplative. No, just kidding, his incessant, moronic barking continues unabated as it has over the past five days. I lead his noisy butt back to the inn and rent my room.

I'll sleep on it. Choosing whether to marry a homeless man isn't a decision you can make in a single night. It might also take a couple hours in the morning.
PC Gamer
Skyrim Sabercat
If there are three words you'd want above any other in your Skyrim spell book, "Conjure Undead Dragon" would be the those words, closely followed by "Conjure Spectral Bear." The Tytanis mod adds both of these abilities, along with a fat tome of additional updates, including new magical greatswords that can be dual wielded with a beefed up Warmaster perk.

Tytanis is an ambitious mod that hopes to eventually bring multiplayer support to Skyrim. The team is already working on the code and are busy designing dungeons made for two or more players.

It's worth playing right now, though. They've already added new items, crafting recipes and spells. New mounts and horse armour are in the works and the one of the modders behind the excellent Midas Magic is on board to add some even more powerful spells.

You can read the full list of additions and download the current version of Tytanis from the Skyrim Nexus page. Tytanis is just one of the projects included in our round-up of 25 best Skyrim mods, but it's being updated all the time. Keep an eye on the Tytanis site for more info.
PC Gamer
Skyrim Mods thumb
Skyrim mods are amazing. In the two months since release, thousands of mods have been released, some of them quite spectacular. It’s not like Skyrim was an ugly game to begin with, but with new high resolution textures and post processing it becomes truly stunning. Not to mention new items, expanded crafting and a full UI overhaul.

With so many mods available, choosing them can be a little daunting, which is why we’ve rounded up the 25 best here for you to enjoy. Check inside for the full list.

Remember, this list will be perpetually updated as more mods are released, so if you have any particular favourites you'd like to be included, mention them in the comments below and I'll test them out before the next update.

1. Sky UI


Ask any PC gamer what Skyrim's biggest flaw is and you'll get one answer: the inventory. The default UI is inelegant, slow and features far too much scrolling. Which is why Sky UI is so essential. It doesn't merely fix the problems with Bethesda's interface, it improves it on every level. Icons are now used to easily distinguish items while using less space. Additional information, such as if an item is stolen or poisoned, is clearly displayed. The inventory can even be sorted by value and weight, while a text search lets you find the correct item in a hurry. There is simply no reason not to install Sky UI, even those few who don't mind the original interface will find their Skyrim experience improved immeasurably as a result.

2. Midas Magic


Midas Magic was a fantastic magic overhaul mod for Oblivion, which added flashy, powerful new spells to make high level mages even better at setting people on fire with their minds. The Skyrim version is shaping up to be just as good, with spells that summon mini dragons and call down meteor strikes. It also features a brand new way to learn spells, by using 'aurum reactors' dotted around Skyrim.

3. ENBSeries


The ENBSeries mods are famous for adding improved post processing and lighting effects to make games like GTA4 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution look amazing. Now, creator Boris Vorontsov has turned his hand to Skyrim. The result is unsual, but is nonetheless beautiful using brighter, more striking colours than previous ENB mods. Those who don't care for the style should check out the the more muted Confident ENB settings instead.

4. Skyrim HD

Like Quarl's Texture mod for Oblivion or NeilMC's for Fallout 3, Skyrim HD is an ambitious project to replace the majority of in game textures with new, high resolution versions. Clocking in at a hefty 1.29GB, this mod already contains huge amounts of textures, and is getting updated all the time. Alternatively there’s Chris’s Whiterun Texture pack, less comprehensive, but just as good.

5. FXAA Post Process Injector


There's a lot of post processing mods for Skyrim, but FXAA has emerged as the best. It layers on several handy effects like sharpening, technicolour, sepia and saturation, but the best part is that it's all totally customisable. Modifying the settings file will let you turn settings on and off or adjust them to your preferences, giving you full control over the look and feel of your Skyrim game.

6. Xenius Character Enhancement

Xenius has rapidly carved himself a niche as Skyrim's premier character enhancement modder, producing a whole series of texture improving mods at a tremendous rate before packaging them together as Xenius Character Enhancement. While so many other modders have spent their time making characters that look more like fashion models than medieval peasants, Xenius stays true to the original art style of Skyrim, and for that we salute him.

7. Val's Crafting Meltdown

Playing Skyrim inevitably results in picking up a lot of items you don't necessarily need. Weapons or armour you aren't properly trained with, or just useless pots and pans, every Dovahkiin ends up with a lot of clutter in their inventory. Val's Crafting Meltdown, has an ingenious solution to that problem, giving players the ability to melt down weapons, armour and junk into raw materials like iron and steel. It also provides an invaluable service for archers, letting them use smithing to create arrows, an ability inexplicably missing from the original game. Val's Crafting Meltdown is built to be compatible with other crafting mods, so if want to expand your crafting options, be sure to check out The Lost Art of the Blacksmith and More Craftables, which let you craft faction specific items like Thieves Guild armour or Skyforge Steel weapons. Alternatively Craftable Staffs lets mages get in on the smithing action too.

8. Tytanis


The creator of Tytanis bills it as 'The Ultimate Mod', and it's certainly comprehensive. The mod adds a whole bundle of crazy new items, powers, spells and perks, each more ridiculous than the last. If you've ever wanted to ride a bear, summon an undead dragon or dual wield two handed weapons then this is the mod for you. Future plans are even more ambitious, with farming, fishing and carpentry in the works.

9. Millenia Weapon Retexture Project

You spend an awful lot of time in Skyrim looking at swords, either because you're holding one in your hand or because a bandit is enthusiastically trying to insert his into your eyes. Modder Millenia understands this, so he launched his Weapon Retexture Project to ensure you get to see the prettiest, highest resolution blade possible in those brief moments before it takes off your head.

10. Deadly Dragons


Dragons? Wimps I tell you! I eat ‘em for breakfast! So goes the cry of the high level Dragonborn. Spectacular though Skyrim’s flying lizards are, they can sometimes be a bit of a pushover in the late game. Thankfully, there’s a mod for that. Deadly Dragons tweaks Skyrim’s biggest monsters to be even more terrifying, including adding all new Dragon types like Storm and Magma to threaten even the hardiest of adventures.

11. Quality World Map with Roads

Ever get lost trying to navigate the world map in Skyrim? Then Quality World Map is the mod for you. It not only upgrades the textures, but hand drawn roads to the map for easy navigation . It also includes the option for a 'classic style' map for those who prefer Oblivion's hand drawn look to Skyrim's flashy 3D. This last feature is a work in progress, but it looks so lovely it's worth trying anyway.

12. Weapons of the Third Era

Pre-Skyrim most Elder Scrolls fans would tell you Morrowind was the highlight of the series and, despite the excellence of Bethesda’s latest entry, Vvardenfell still has a special place in gamers’ hearts. Weapons of the Third Era aims to bring a little bit of the Dunmer Isle to Skyrim, adding over 50 new weapons with a Morrowind theme. Let’s hope this is the first of many mods to recapture the exotic flavour of Vvardenfell.

13. Jaysus Swords

For a more general weapons package, look no further than Jaysus Swords. Master smith Jaysus has forged 38 lovingly designed weapons for you to craft and wield. The pack offers everything from katanas to cavalry sabres, letting you pick a weapon that fits the look of your Dragonborn.

14. Bellyache’s Animal Pack

Skyrim is full of adorable, cuddly animals, most of which will attempt to eat your face at some point. Bellyache’s excellent Animal Pack contains a variety of different skins to improve and customise your furry friends. Whether you’re just improving the default textures, or turning grizzlies into polar bears, this is the mod for you.

15. Proudspire Manor - Dragonborn Edition

Proudspire Manor is the most expensive house in Skyrim, but it doesn’t feel that much better than starting house Breezehome, which next door to a blacksmiths. Enter Proudspire Manor - Dragonborn Edition, which expands and renovates your property, adding a built in smithy, along with extra mannequins and weapon plaques, turning your humble abode into the mansion it was meant to be.

16. Skyrim Online

A work in progress, but an exciting one. Skyrim Online aims to turn Skyrim into a pseudo MMO, letting players connect to a server where they can see and interact with each other. So far it's pretty simple, with other players appearing only as undressed prisoners, unable to do anything but chat with each other, but it's still a great technical achievement. We can't wait to see where this mod goes once the creation kit has been released.

17. Realistic Smoke and Embers

Another neat little improvement to Skyrim's effects, Realistic Smoke and Embers completely overhauls the appearance of fire in the game, improving it greatly. It's the mod that screenshotmancer Duncan 'Dead End Thrills' Harris used to create this stunning image (along with plenty of other mods and tweaks). If you're playing Skyrim as a fire throwing destruction mage, you have to install this mod.

18. Realistic Water


The water in Skyrim already looks pretty lovely, but Realistic Water pushes it that little bit further. Based on high resolution photography, Realistic Water makes Skyrim's streams foam and bubble in a beautiful and convincing way.

19. Skyrim Sunglare


If you like lovely sunlight effects Skyrim Sunglare is the mod for you. It makes the game's sun produce delicious rays of beamy goodness, including optional lens flare effects for those who favour the 'cinematic' look. There's something special about cresting a mountain and watching the sunbeams break through over the horizon, and this mod makes it even better. If this version isn’t to your tastes, try Alternate Sunglare from Isoku, the creator of the Realistic Water and Smoke mods.

20. Enhanced Night Sky

A nice little mod I've enjoyed in previous Bethesda games. Enhanced Night Sky replaces the Skyrim's stars with a high resolution texture taken from starfield photography. This version is so seamless it doesn't even effect the in game constallations, and looks simply beautiful.

21. Glowing Ore Veins

If you're like me, you probably played several hours of Skyrim before even realising mining was in the game. The problem is that ore veins don't actually look that different from the surrounding rock. Thankfully, Glowing Ore Veins solves that problem, tweaking mineable rocks to make them stand out more from the background. As an added bonus it'll fade back to normal once you've extracted all the ore, once again blending harmlessly into the background.

22. Nicer Snowflakes

There's a lot of snow in Skyrim, so it's a shame it's mostly represented by vague white blobs floating past. Nicer Snowflakes fixes that problem completely, replacing the default snow with beautiful, high resolution flakes. There's several flavours to choose from, from realistic to stylised. I like the 'Whimsical' version best, it might not be what snow really looks like, but it's what we all wish it did.

23. Map in Full 3D

Not so much a mod as a set of tweaks, Map in full 3D shows you how to modify Skyrim's ini file to make it possible to zoom the in game map right down to the ground. The result is essentially a free camera mode that lets you roam anywhere in the world. It's like the google street view team was let loose in the frozen north.

24. Vurt's Skyrim Flora Overhaul

This is going to be one to keep an eye on. Vurt's Skyrim flora overhaul is dedicated to improving the quality of the vegetation in Skyrim, starting with trees. It even offers several different colour schemes to let you tailor your foliage to your own desires.

25. No Spider Mod

Arachnophobes like PC Gamer contributor Richard Cobbett have a hard time with games like Skyrim. Which is why No Spiders patches, which remove the offending beasties from the game, are so useful. This first attempt at a spider free Skyrim is particularly hilarious, as it replaces the models of the spiders with completely out of place bears. Honestly, we mostly included this because it’s hilarious, if you want a more sensible anti-spider solution, try the Arachnophobia mod.

Once again, we're going to keep updating this list with new and interesting mods, so if you know of any good ones we've missed please let us know in the comments.
PC Gamer
Riften Inn
I don't care for Riften. Well, that statement isn't really fair. I hate Riften. I hate Riften, and I wish it would burn to the ground, and I wish everyone who lives here would also burn the the ground, and I wish a bunch of giants would come and push dirt and rocks over the ashes, and I wish that whenever anyone asked about the giant dirty rock pile that smells like burnt dead bodies that sits where Riften used to be, the giants would shrug as if they didn't know.

That's my wish for Riften.

Things start going wrong before I even get inside the city. When I reach the gate, late in the evening, the guards tell me the door is locked and I have to use the north entrance. Fine, whatever. I slog around the outside of the city, running into a necromancer who attacks me, and then three bandits who attack the necromancer and then attack me. After everyone is dead and their bodies have been stripped of armor and weapons, I finally reach the north gate, where another guard tries to extort a toll out of me just to unlock the door. I complain, presumably loudly enough that he worries about getting in trouble, and he lets me in.

I'm two steps inside the gate when a huge guy gruffly warns me not to cause any trouble. Another fellow glances at me and decides I've come by my wealth (wealth?) dishonestly and that I should help him with some criminal enterprise. A woman at the inn glares at me and tells me to get out of her face before I've even crossed the room to try to hit on her. Just how inhospitable this town is can be demonstrated by the pile of hay I find in Beggar's Row, the dank chamber under the city where I hope to spend the night rent-free.

Yeah. The hay pile is owned. OWNED. A stinky matted bunch of hay in a filthy cellar frequented by penniless panhandlers is too exclusive for me.

After paying to spend the night at the inn, I visit the Temple of Mara and talk to the priest about getting hitched. I buy the (fairly expensive) Amulet of Mara from him, which, when worn, will let the other NPCs in Skyrim know that I'm on the hunt for a spouse and they might as well get used to my optimistic leering. The priest also gives me the bad news I already knew: to get someone to like me enough to want to marry me, I'll have to perform some sort of task for them. Marriage, in Skyrim, begins with deeds.

Deeds. Why did it have to be deeds? I don't do deeds. Deeds, generally, lead to adventure, excitement, riches, power, intrigue... I'm not interested in any of that crap. I just want to chop wood, craft boots, and catch butterflies. Still, I'm holding out hope that there may be some NPC with a safe, simple deed I can accomplish to win their heart (and their home).

The tough part is, I'll have to complete the deed before I even know if it's a deed that will convince someone to marry me. No one will come out and say, "Hey, ugly, I'll marry you if you bring me the enchanted toilet seat I lost in Batshit Cave." I'll have to brave the bats and retrieve the seat before I even know if the NPC is interested in marriage at all.

So, I spend the next two days wandering around, talking to NPCs, seeing what kind of deeds they need deeded, and trying to determine if the deeds are doable and if they might lead to marriage. Sure, I know there are wiki pages that can give me all this information in advance, but I'm trying to be pure. It quickly starts sinking in that this is going to be next to impossible.

There's the burly blacksmith who needs fire salts for his forge, and tells me the best way to acquire them is by killing scary magical fire monsters. Pass. An elf at the meadery wants me to smuggle a illicit barrel of hooch to a buyer out of town. Smuggling? I'm not Han Solo. A barmaid is unhappy with her boss and wants me to collect evidence of her employer's promiscuity. A Redguard is in dutch with the local gangsters. A guy on a local farm wants me to retrieve some items of his that were stolen by the Thieves Guild. The list goes on and on. I finally meet a quiet, pleasant Nord woman who doesn't want me to do anything at all, but that's only because she's dead.

Desperate, I even stop by the orphanage on the off-chance that someone will simply adopt me. Looking at these poor kids with no parents and realizing they that have even worse lives than I do cheers me up a little, but not much.

I eventually find a decent prospect: an Argonian woman working at the Riften Fishery complains that she's addicted to skooma, Skyrim's drug of choice, and asks me to bring her a healing potion to cure her. An ugly talking lizard with a crippling drug habit? It's every young man's dream. Still, as quests go, it's a simple one, especially since I happen to have a healing potion on me. I hand it to her, and she thanks me... then gives me a ring. A ring! Oh, I do! I do! A thousand times I do!

Wait. No. She's not proposing to me, she's just giving me an expensive ring as a reward for handing her a potion. Well, jeez, you stupid junkie lizard, you could have just walked to the general store in town, pawned the ring, and bought the potion yourself. Is this what adventurers have to deal with on a daily basis? Idiots who can't complete even the most simple of tasks without assistance? What a terrible job that must be: admin to every NPC in Skyrim.

Adding to my growing list of irritations with this crummy town, I notice some random dickweed is wearing the same stupid hat I am.

Come on, man! That's my signature Nordrick man-about-town lid. You're totally copying me. Then it strikes me that I don't even recall where I got this hat. I flip through my notes, and find the scribbled answer: "DEAD GUY SHACK - DUMB HAT." Oh, right. This hat belonged to the guy who got eaten in the riverside blood shack, the guy whose grisly reappearing remains drove me to this lame city in the first place. I take the hat off and throw it on the ground. This causes a stir as three nearby townspeople notice the hat, then start arguing over who saw it first, then draw weapons and actually start fighting over it. Do you see now why I hate this town?

Okay, I need a break from my depressing marriage hunt and hat-related woes. Luckily, I have another personal goal in mind. I'm a little tired of the grim, patchwork look of my banded iron armor, so I head to the blacksmith's, thinking maybe it's time to craft myself some attractive steel duds. While I'm milling around, checking out the facilities, I notice something. There's no ore smelter. What kind of blacksmith doesn't have his own ore smelter?

Another problem: neither the blacksmith nor the general store have any steel ingots for sale. Riften just keeps getting worse. There's no way to smelt or buy own ingots. I can't find anyone to marry. I caused a brawl by dropping my hat. And, I completed a quest by helping someone, which makes me feel like a common hero. A local guard can't help but rub it in: "I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow to the knee," he says in passing. Granted, guards say that a lot anyway, but I find it particularly hurtful now.

I grouchily decide to spend the next day out in the wild. Maybe there's a mining community nearby: they often have their own smelters. Maybe I can still make Riften work. I head north, and sure enough, a mine appears on my psychic radar. As I stalk slowly toward it, I spot a Khajiit, dressed in Dark Brotherhood armor, sprinting right at me. What, this assassin shit again? We fight. I immediately start losing. I use my Battle Cry. He stops fighting and starts fleeing. I kill him. I examine his dead body, and sure enough, he bears the same assassination contract as the Argonian assassin did. Look, it was cute the first time, Skyrim, but now you're just repeating yourself.

Speaking of repeats, the near-constant wolf attacks are getting a little tiresome. Why are these wolves so damn hungry and stupid? Shouldn't they know by now to chase foxes and rabbits, and leave the iron-plated, sword-wielding travelers to bigger monsters? I can always use the pelts, but having to stop seemingly every few feet to kill the same three wolves is getting old.

I finally reach the mine, but as I approach, I can already tell something is a little off. Generally, there's a little community, or stronghold, or town built around these mines, but this one is just a door in the rock wall. Weird. Inside, it's weirder. No filthy but friendly NPCs greet me as I enter the cavern. No comforting sounds of workers chipping away at the stone ring through the air. I creep around in a crouch, suspecting foul play, but no monsters or bandits charge out to meet me. It's just an abandoned mine. Worse yet, whoever abandoned it seems to have abandoned it after mining out all the ore. Apart from a bunch of mushrooms, the mine yields nothing of value.

Well, that fits in perfectly with the rest of my crummy week. No ore to smelt and no smelter to smelt it in. No one to marry and no home to be married in. I actually miss my cruddy, bloody, bone-filled shack by the river. I never should have left.

Feeling glum, I leave the mine and start the long, lonely trudge back to Riften. And what do I see a hundred yards down the road? Three wolves. Sigh. I draw my sword, then notice that they're not attacking me but each other. Wolves fighting each other? I've never seen that happen before.

As I get closer, it appears that one wolf is fighting the other two, and the one looks a bit different than the others. A little bigger, perhaps? Wait, that isn't a wolf at all, it's a dog! I hurry over to help him finish off the annoying wolves, and then look around for the dog's owner. No NPCs in sight. This dog is a stray.

What's more, I can interact with him, telling him to wait, to go home (wherever that is), or to follow me. I have a dog. I have a dog now! I name him Jasper. My mood lifted, I start walking back to Riften, turning around every few steps to make sure Jasper is really following me. He's always there, a few steps behind, panting and barking.

Okay, it's not the same as having a husband or a wife, and I still don't have a home. But I have a companion who will sit in the pub all night, happily watching me drink. What more can anyone really ask?

PC Gamer
Skyrim Bather
I've settled into a comfy routine during my past week in Skyrim. I spend time by my new riverside shack, hunting, fishing, gathering alchemy ingredients, and chopping wood at a nearby mill. Every other day I make the walk to Windhelm to mix potions and craft armor to sell to vendors. I even run (well, walk) into a giant who is doing some strolling of his own near my house, and to my delight he doesn't try to kill me or ask me to do something for him. In my mind, he's the perfect NPC: completely indifferent to my existence. I've named him Andre.

This morning, however, on my way back from spending the night in Windhelm, something is nagging at me. I've spent my morning walk trying to figure out what do to next, but I'm drawing a blank. Where do I go from here? What's on my to-do list? And then, as my shack comes into view, I suddenly realize why I'm having so much trouble planning my next move: I may not actually have a next move.

I mean, isn't this the dream realized? Isn't this mission accomplished? I'm living as an NPC. I've got several ways to make money. While my crafting business is still operating at a loss, alchemy is paying off and it's only a matter of time until I grind my smithing and speech skills high enough to start turning a profit at the forge. I've got a home to live in rent-free and a quiet yet enjoyable routine. For all intents and purposes, I've done what I set out to do. Isn't this, well... the end?

As I step inside my blood-stained hovel, however, I notice something is wrong. It's the books. When I first arrived here, they were stacked in a pile on the table, but I'd moved them to the bookcase where they belong. Today, they're back on the table in that same neat stack. Next to them lies a dagger, which I'm pretty sure I moved to the nightstand. What's going on here? Who undid all my painstaking interior decorating?

More alarmingly, sitting in the center of the room, on the floor, is a bloody skull and ribcage. These belonged to the previous owner, who had been partially devoured by a sabercat, and I had kicked them into the river and watched them float downstream. Now, though, they're back, reset to their original positions. It seems I have a roommate, a dead roommate, and no matter how many times I kick his disgusting remains into the river, he will return. An even more dreadful thought: if the dead victim of the sabercat keeps returning, isn't there a chance the sabercat itself will return as well?

As I halfheartedly kick the bones back into the river, I realize the truth of the matter: as much as I've tried to make this filthy busted shack a home, it simply isn't, and never will be. It's a borrowed hut belonging to the bones of a dead man. As low as I've set my expectations for Nordrick's life, this simply won't do. I want and need a real home. The question now is: how to acquire one?

I can't buy a real house: as far as I know, all the buyable homes are tied to dangerous quests and tasks. The only other way to acquire a house is to marry an NPC who already owns a home, and move in with them. Nordrick needs to get hitched for the most romantic of reasons: to own property.

Of course, I can't just walk up to nearest man, woman, or indifferent giant and simply propose. Getting married in Skyrim is a three-step process. First, you have to travel to the town of Riften, which lies to the far southeast of Skyrim. Second, you have to visit the Temple of Mara and buy an amulet which, when worn, will signal to the other NPCs that you're interested in bumping uglies on an exclusive basis. Third... well, the third step is incredibly problematic for an NPC like Nordrick, so I'm not even going to think about it at the moment. It's all moot unless I can reach Riften anyway, and Riften is a hell of a long stroll from here. I won't be able to sneak around the edge of the map like I did on my trip to Windhlem: I've got to march straight through the interior of Skyrim.

To Riften, then! I set out in the early morning and leave the bloody shack behind, perhaps for good. Examining my map, it looks like I can follow the river pretty much all the way there. That's good news: if I run into trouble, I can always swim to safety.

It's around noon when I come across a small camp with tents and bedrolls, sitting on the rocks amidst some bubbling hot springs. I don't see anyone around, which is odd, because I can clearly hear someone talking to me. "Yes?" the voice says. Then, "Do you need something?" Finally, I look straight down and see that I've nearly stepped on a half-naked female hunter who is lying in the hot springs at my feet. Oh. Hi there. I didn't notice you lying there being pretty much nude.

I spot another two nearly nude hunters also enjoying the hot springs. Well, when in Rome, right? I strip off my armor and hop into the water with them. I can't sit down with them, though, and crouching just feels a bit... predatory. So, I just sort of stand there awkwardly for a while. The hunters stare at me and offer up conversational tidbits like "Hello" and "Huh?" Then they start making nasty comments about how I'm not wearing anything, which is a bit hypocritical. People in glass houses shouldn't sit around in their skivvies.

My beefcake display clearly unappreciated, I strap up and move on, eventually finding a small mining community at the base of the mountain I'm going to need to climb. I do some mining and pick their crops, but I can't find anyone to sell the crops to, so I just drop the wheat in a neat pile for them. I'm honest that way. I meet an NPC named Annekke Crag-Jumper, who talks to me a bit about her marriage. Maybe that's a good omen for my search for a spouse. (I wonder if her maiden name was Crag, and her husband's last name was Jumper, and she went with the hyphenated option.)

I spend the night in a spare bedroll, and in the morning I get a good look at the mountain that stands between me and Riften. It's going to be a long climb. There's a switchback trail snaking up the side of the mountain, but it takes me away from my escape route, the river, which is now basically a series of waterfalls. Well, as long as I don't run into anything large and angry halfway up the mountain, I'll be fine.

I run into something large and angry halfway up the mountain. Sabercat! We spot each other at the same time. I freeze, he leaps. I manage to get a single arrow into him as he charges, and then unleash my Battle Cry power right into his big, furry face. He runs off in fright, thankfully heading past me, down the mountain, allowing me to continue up without having to worry about meeting him again. Perfect. As long as I don't run into another sabercat today, I'll be fine.

I run into another sabercat roughly two minutes later. Okay! No river to dive into, no magic shriek to send the sabercat away harmlessly. Just my arrows and sword between me and the abyss. It's pucker time. I manage to get two arrows into the beast before it's on me, then switch to my shield and scimitar. I block one swipe, then raise my weapon for what I hope will be a deadly slash.

And wouldn't you know it, it's a damn deadly slash, right through the beast's neck. Fatality! It's dead. That was, um. Easy? Almost disappointingly so. Is it that my smithing has improved my bow and scimitar so much that they're actually dangerous? Or am I just a badass and didn't know it? I did look pretty buff while I was standing around naked earlier.

The next morning, having spent the night in another camp, I've reached the top of the mountain and am heading along the river again. Riften is finally in sight when I spot a female Argonian running directly at me. Before I can even ask her to marry me, she's leaping at my face with a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. She spins, she whirls, she dances, stabbing and slashing in a balletic display of violence that would be difficult not to admire if she were not carving me into bloody little Nordrick nuggets. I finally get my shield up and saber out and fight back. My swings are slow and spastic compared with hers, and it seems pretty clear I'm outmatched. I still have my ace in the hole, though: I hit her with my Battle Cry, which has recharged since I used it yesterday. As she pauses ever so briefly, gripped in fear and preparing to flee, I cut her down.

What the hell was that all about? I examine her corpse, noticing that she's wearing assassin's armor and that her name is "Assassin." This wasn't some common bandit or thug, this was the Dark Brotherhood. But why was she attacking me? Then I find the note on her body.

Someone wants me dead? Not just wants me dead, but wants me dead so badly they actually they took time out of their day to pray to an shadowy deity and pay for a contract on my life? Why? What the hell did I ever do? And to whom did I do it?

As I walk the remaining steps to Riften, I assemble a mental list of those who might hate me enough to hire an assassin. Someone in Dawnstar, angry I'd lured a giant angry troll into town? The hot springs hunters, offended by my casual nudity? One of the Jarls, because I always sit on their thrones when they're not looking? The blacksmith in Windhelm, because every time I want to use the grindstone or the forge, and he's using it, I'll just stand there repeatedly poking it with my hand until he finally gets the hint and stops using it? Yeah, probably that last one. I can be pretty annoying like that.

Well, no matter. My feelings are a little hurt, but a personalized assassination contract is kind of a cool souvenir. It actually says "Nordrick" on it! I'm really making a name for myself.
PC Gamer
You've read the review, now build the best character, find the dev team's favorite items, survive your first PvP encounter, and get the most out of Star Wars: The Old Republic with our enormous 10-page launch guide and behind-the-scenes coverage. Then bury your nose deeper into the February 2012 issue of PC Gamer US for previews of 2012's biggest games, including Diablo III, BioShock Infinite, Guild Wars 2 (which may just change everything we know about MMOs), Mass Effect 3, and more, as well as an all-star lineup of reviews, including Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, and Assassin's Creed: Revelations.

You can find it all and more on newstands now! Or, if your house is surrounded by small rabid beasts which have somehow made it clear that only your flesh can satiate their voracious appetites, you may want to stay inside and check us out on Coverleaf.com and Apple Newsstand.

PC Gamer
Happy new year! We're back of from two weeks of balancing dutiful shifts of family time with prolonged periods of PC gaming. From the look of Steam's player stats page, we're not alone. Steam has just broken the five million concurrent users barrier.

The Steam Christmas sale will have plenty to do with it no doubt, but the success and longevity of Skyrim has also helped. It's still easily the most played game on Steam at the moment. Team Fortress 2 sits in a distant second place.

Not a bad result in a year that saw EA launch a serious competitor in the form of their Origin client. Origin don't make their user numbers public, but it's the only place to get hold of The Old Republic digitally. Both services must be rolling in Christmas cash. It looks like digital distribution is going to continue to grow in 2012. What did you pick up from the Steam sale?

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