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Every week, YouTuber Mitten Squad finds a way to complete a game in an unusual, improbable way, and this week it was Skyrim's turn. He set out to beat the main quest using only a torch, and it turns out that it's not only possible but, with the right setup, it's actually fairly straightforward—it just takes a very long time.
It took a while for Mitten Squad to find a torch (he had to get himself arrested and thrown in the dungeon to do it), but from then on he could grind up his Block skill, which determines how much damage you deal with a torch power bash. At level 50, he grabbed the Deadly Bash perk, which made his attacks deal five times more damage, and then set to hunting dragons.
It was a slow process, because bashing drains your stamina, so he was constantly waiting for the bar to regenerate before he attacked, and only whittled a slither of health from his enemies with each bash. The turning point was soup: vegetable soup, specifically, which regenerates one point of both health and stamina every second for 12 whole minutes.
With a large batch of soup cooked and portioned in his pack, Mitten Squad was able to beat the toughest enemies in the game. Power bashing with the torch staggers enemies and only requires a single point of stamina, so after glugging the soup he was able to put his foes into an endless staggering loop, including dragons.
In a couple of instances, Skyrim forces you to damage an enemy in a specific way, such as with a shout, but I wouldn't consider them rule breaks because they're hard-wired into the game. He also used magic to heal himself and other shouts that didn't damage enemies, such as Dragonrend to keep dragons on the ground, letting him stagger them. I'm still mighty impressed with his patience—I can only imagine how long it must've taken to beat down enemies with the largest pools of health.
You can watch his full recap of the run in the video at the top of this post.
Werewolves in Skyrim are pretty overpowered. First of all, they can maul the scales off a dragon’s back in a mere five swipes. They can also feed on corpses to regain health at an alarming rate. To top things off, their stamina is essentially undepletable. They’re lean, mean, wolfy machines.
I like being a werewolf in Skyrim, but even when I crank up the difficulty it feels a little too easy. The only real downside is that, well, people kind of hate werewolves. That's never really a problem, though: I can browse for trinkets and treasures along the high streets of Solitude without having to worry about anybody finding out that I’m a lycanthrope, and if the going gets tough I can just press the Beast Form key and turn into a ripped wolfman capable of claw-punching every single enemy in the game. Where’s the fun in that?
Instead of playing Skyrim with the same conveniences again, I decided to make things a little more interesting by cursing myself as an Accidental Werewolf. By equipping the Cursed Ring of Hircine, you lose control over your transformations. They become involuntary, and once you feel that rumbling in your tummy you’re left with no choice but to accept what’s about to go down. Obviously I don’t want to become a vicious murderer—I’m a human first and foremost.
But again, humans hate werewolves. I'll kill them if I have to, but I'll feel bad about it.
Now that I'm wearing the ring, I’ll have to be careful when I enter towns. No telling when I might, whoopsie, accidentally metamorphose into a bloodthirsty beast. No more hour-long antagonizations of Nazeem. I’ll have to settle for a Fus—there’s no time for a Ro Dah.
I decide I’m going to try it out in a safe place first, so I fast-travel to Whiterun and make toward Markarth. I quickly realize that it’s actually been a minute since I last played Skyrim, so I start to press every key on the keyboard to rediscover how the werewolf control mapping actually works. Accidentally, I unleash an almighty bellow, which is immediately met by the roaring cry of a too-close-for-comfort dragon. It’s fine though.
Rock beats scissors, werewolf beats dragon. Funnily enough, two rogue mudcrabs somehow find their way into the midst of this epic brawl, but they weren’t exactly the fiercest contenders in Skyrim.
I know I’ll probably turn into a human again pretty soon, so I decide to head back to Whiterun. It’s high time I paid my pal Balgruuf the Greater a visit, and I’m keen to net some catharsis after my bloody encounter with the world’s bravest mudcrabs. My plan fails immediately.
I transform into a werewolf right in front of Carlotta Valentia’s food stall and within seconds the whole town is out to get me. For the first time in a long time, Gray-Manes and Battle-Borns fight as Shield siblings, working together to expunge the monster before them. Even Nazeem joins in—there’s no place for werewolves in the Cloud District.
I really don't want to murder everyone in Whiterun. I like these people! Desperate to avoid any conflict, I beeline for the sewers in the northeastern corner of the city and hide until I’m human again. Under the cover of darkness I slip out of the city undetected, wallowing in the fact that I can never return.
I run non-stop to Solitude in search of a fresh start. In between transformations, I frequent the Bard’s College before going down the Skeever for a pint. One pint only, though. Transforming at the bar because I stuck around too long to get sloshed would be a really embarrassing way to get kicked out of another town. The locals will turn against me in a heartbeat. As night falls, I decide to leave the city—it’s been a while since I last wolfed out, so I’m well overdue. Sure enough, it happens just past the hill that brings you down to the East Empire Company.
I barely have a second to consider my luck before things take a turn for the worse. A wickedly powerful dragon descends from the heavens and starts spitting some kind of frosty fire at me. I really didn't expect to spend this much time fighting dragons. This is supposed to be an inner struggle with my own humanity, dragons! Butt out.
It's not really that inconvenient—I kick the dragon's ass without busting a sweat, but then I see red on the screen. What hit me? A bear? A bandit? A blooded vampire, jealous of my lycanthropy?
Nope. Staring at me through eyes teeming with hate—at least that’s what I imagine, his helmet’s kinda hard to see through—is a young Stormcloak soldier, arrow nocked on a cheap longbow.
I’m caught. For some reason, even though I’m covered in thick wolfy fur and stand a solid three feet taller than usual, guards in Skyrim are instantly able to recognize me when I'm a werewolf. My bounty goes up just for being seen! What am I supposed to do, guard? Wait it out until I turn back into a human? Werewolves don’t carry gold.
These guards won’t leave me alone and I have the game difficulty cranked up. I’m in trouble. I think to myself: What would a werewolf do in this situation? It's time to really get into character. Probably retaliate with bared fangs and slashing claws, right? So that’s what I do—no more Mr. Nice Wolf. I let out a roar and before these unfortunate souls can swing their swords, they’re all dead.
I feel conflicted now. I managed to play for hours before having a moral hiccup like this (a murder hiccup). I decide to venture back to Solitude to snoop around a little. I quickly realize I don’t have a bounty anymore, probably because I killed all of the witnesses. After about 20 seconds of deep thought, I conclude that I should probably try to make it up to society, to use my wolven powers for good. So I make my way to the Blue Palace to visit my good friend Elisif, hoping she’ll have a cave that needs clearing out or a bandit camp worth bringing down.
Turns out I’m fresh out of luck, and so is everyone else. I didn’t think it was possible to turn again so quickly, but here I am stood in the Blue Palace, eight feet tall with wolf hair sprouting out of my shoulders. Ah. Fuck it.
“Never should have come here!” yells Falk Firebeard. Poor Falk. You don’t even know what’s about to happen, do you?
I bound around the Blue Palace on all fours, lashing out at anybody who gets in my way. Due to Skyrim’s annoying mechanic that has essential NPCs drop to one knee instead of actually dying, I’m unable to kill everybody in the palace. I also realize that I’ve been checkmated: As a werewolf, I can’t open the door leading back out to Solitude. But these NPCs keep coming, jumping back up from their one-knee respite pose with fully rejuvenated pools of health and stamina.
They keep stabbing me, and the ring's curse means I won't be turning human again soon enough. My health is dropping rapidly, the screen starts fading into darker hues of grey, and… I'm dead. I ungracefully fall down the stairs, defeated by the Cursed Ring of Hircine. Werewolves are OP in Skyrim, but I’ll be damned if I’m good enough to play one who can't control himself.
Dear God, just look at it.
Mimics are the worst, tricking oblivious adventurers into becoming a snack. This Skyrim mod appears to be based on the most grotesque of the lot of them: Dark Souls' mimics. There's not one part of them that isn't incredibly unsettling, but it's that horrible, diseased tongue that turns my stomach.
Skyrim modder Mihail created them for the original version of Skyrim, but they've recently been added to Skyrim Special Edition, letting you ruin your dungeon dives once again. You can download it here.
While you're here, check out the best Skyrim mods.
During QuakeCon, the original Doom trilogy was released on consoles and the first two appeared on iOS and Android. It was a nice surprise, except for the the additional surprise of an online requirement in strictly singleplayer ports. Players needed to make a Bethesda.net account and log in to play, hopefully avoiding connection errors. Clearly this is a feature other Bethesda games need. One modder agrees and has added it to Skyrim.
The Immersive Bethesda.net Experience will ruin your game by trying—and failing—to connect to Bethesda.net. The exciting moment has been captured in the video above. It will never succeed and after five attempts will kick you back to the main menu.
"In case it was unclear, this mod is a joke," says its creator, d3sim8. "Bethesda re-released DOOM/DOOM II and DOOM III in July 2019, and they required a Bethesda.net connection to play. This was despite DOOM being 26 years old, and not including an online component (in this particular version)."
After facing a lot of criticism for it, Bethesda is planning to make connecting to Bethesda.net optional. But we'll always have the Immersive Bethesda.net Experience mod for Skyrim.
I've spent hundreds of hours exploring Skyrim across countless saves and multiple editions, and not surprisingly I've been on dry land for most of it. Skyrim's ocean is murky and full of unfriendly fish. Of my many downloaded mods, only a couple affect water, and then only the surface, but Depths of Skyrim, uploaded last week, changes a great deal more.
Depths of Skyrim is an underwater overhaul that gives the game's damp areas the same sort of attention that's been lavished upon its mountains and forests. No more diving off the coast just to discover some weeds and a slaughterfish waiting to snap at you until you flee back to shore.
Modder TheBlackpixel has introduced new types of grass and kelp, more than 1,000 new fish, none of which have a penchant for slaughter, hidden treasure, whole forests of coral and, most importantly, a bunch of new horkers merrily swimming across the sea. Horkers, of course, are Skyrim's greatest and most majestic creatures. Don't go killing them for their tusks.
If you've got any other mods that spruce up the ocean and rivers, like the popular Realistic Water 2, Depths of Skyrim is compatible and should even enhance bodies of water added by other mods, too, though don't expect new fish or giant kelp. TheBlackpixel recorded a frame rate drop of just 1 fps, but your performance could vary.
If you're playing with Skyrim Special Edition, you'll need this version of the mod instead. It's otherwise exactly the same. In both, you'll have to pop into your Skyrim.ini file and change iMaxGrassTypesPerTexure to 7 or above if it isn't already, or the mod won't work.
I recently confessed to a friend that I never finished the DLC, despite the ridiculous amount of time I've spent in Skyrim, so my shame is tempting me back once again. This time, though, I'll be spending a lot more time swimming. If you've also got a hankering to return to the eight-year-old RPG, here are the best Skyrim mods.
Since January, once a week 83-year-old Shirley Curry has been cracking open a book and reading it to her audience of some 600,000 Youtube subscribers. Not just any books—the books inside Skyrim, which she's been playing as the Skyrim Grandma since 2015. There's a warm Mister Rogers quality to her voice as she begins each video with a "Good morning, grandkids." Except unlike Mister Rogers' gentle life lessons, these books have titles like "Of Crossed Daggers" or "Pension of the Ancestor Moth."
Still, they're soothing with Shirley Curry reads them, and that's the whole point.
"I started this series because everyone likes to hear me read so I thought, well, I can just sit and read the Skyrim books to them and see how they like it," Curry tells me over email. "So all my 'grandkids' were my inspiration. But I didn't want it to be too boring for them or for me, so I made a Grandma and pretend the neighborhood kids come to listen to a story time. I sit or stand in different places to change up the view."
In the latest video, embedded above, Curry stands on a deck overlooking a lake and takes some time at the beginning to compliment the day's lovely weather (in Skyrim). She points out how pretty a small island with a lone tree is, in the distance. Later, she'll chastise herself for not having met all her neighbors yet, and ask her NPC companion Inigo why he's not wearing any shoes. It is probably the sweetest and most pure six minutes and 23 seconds of internet you can experience today.
It's almost overwhelming to watch something this utterly, guilelessly nice in 2019. It does things to my heart. Is this… inner peace?
After reading last week's book, Watcher of Stones, Curry pauses for a moment, asks Inigo for his opinion on the book (he doesn't have one), then offers her take. In the story, a man spends his life seeking glory in hopes of being granted special powers from the Guardians' stones, but it never happens.
"I think that that man really had the whole thing wrong," she says. "All along, he was already empowered by his own abilities and his own strength. Or we could think about it another way. Every time he touched these stones they really did give him this power. He just didn't realize it... But I prefer to believe that he really did all these things on his own abilities, and using his own strength, and didn't realize how much he had actually changed his own life and accomplished within his own self. Do you feel that way, grandkids?"
Over email, Curry tells me that's part of the fun for her. "If I can sum up at the end with a moral to the story, or a question to make them consider and think about something in the story, then that's what I like."
Curry shot back a "lol" when I asked if she plans to read all 300-some books in Skyrim's world. That was never a goal, and she expects to get bored of the GrandmaShirl's Bookshelf series and move onto something new long before then. For each recording session she's traipsing all over the world, hunting down traders to buy new books or raiding caves or homes with Inigo to find ones she hasn't read.
"What makes this enjoyable for me is that it makes my viewers happy, and I enjoy the feedback I get from them," she says. "Especially when I hear 20 and 30 year olds tell me they saved it for bedtime and how nice it was to be read to at bedtime, and the memories it brought back to them and so on.
But, when I'm tired of it, they probably will be too, so I'll end it then. I'll dream up something new to take its place. :)"
Whatever that is, I'm sure it'll be lovely.
You might've heard of an ambitious Skyrim mod called Religion that completely changes the way you interact with the gods of Tamriel—it's one of the best mods for Skyrim. With the mod installed all your actions, from the crimes you commit to the armor you wear, affects the way individual gods view you, and they can either bless you or curse you as a result. The whole mod has just been overhauled for its version 3.0, adding religious visions and new gods called Ancient Spirits, as well as the 13 Constellations.
It's an incredibly deep system with lots of moving parts, and you can have multiple blessings—or curses—at the same time. All of the gods are looking for different things, and you'll get clues about their desires through visions. To receive visions, you'll first have to worship them at set points in the world, which increases their disposition towards you based on the amount of in-game time you spend worshiping them (don't worry, you can press T to wait if you want to rack up many hours at once).
Once you've worshiped them enough to receive a vision, you'll be able to ask them for guidance or for a boon. But you don't want to ask for a gift too early, because it might annoy some gods, causing them to curse you.
It sounds like it will reward exploration and investigation. You'll have to read books related to the gods to find out exactly what they want, and respond with your actions accordingly. Blessings gradually get more powerful as disposition increases, and some are specific to each god: if Julianos likes you enough they'll let you cast spells without using magicka, or if you worship the Daedric Lord Azura then you might gain invulnerability.
Displeasing the gods through your actions can also make you cursed. The Nine Divines, in general, won't like it if you commit crimes. If you wrong enough people, they might decrease your health, magicka and stamina regeneration for a period of time. Daedric curses are more imaginative. If you ask Malacath for help but they "they don't find you amusing enough", you'll receive a curse that means you're blamed for every crime committed in Skyrim.
I like that it's not completely transparent: you can tell a lot about what each god wants from the lengthy descriptions on the mod's Nexus page, but you'll still have to find out more if you want their blessings.
If you're interested, you can download the mod for Skyrim Special Edition here. The 3.0 version for regular Skyrim is here. It's still in beta, so expect some rough edges and some missing content—creator IronDusk33 is working hard to complete it all.
If you've got an itch for more adventures in Skyrim, you'll soon be able to delve into draugr-infested crypts and fight in the civil war on your table. The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is a tabletop miniature adaptation where you'll lead followers into dungeons and battles with diminutive heroes drawn from the RPG.
While Call to Arms is a skirmish wargame, with two groups of heroes and warriors trying to bash each other over the head, there's also PvE threats and narrative events promising to shake things up, a bit like fellow spin-off Fallout: Wasteland Wafare. Players can team up against the game's monsters, and the PvE system also means you can play solo.
A two-player starter set and reinforcement sets for two factions, the Stormcloaks and Imperial Army, will launch in the first wave, focusing on Skyrim's civil war. To lead them, you'll get Hadvar, Ralof, Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced, Marcurio, Mjoll the Lioness, Ulfric Stormcloak, Galmar Stone-Fist, General Tullius and the Dragonborn's long-suffering pal, Lydia. Speaking of the Dragonborn, you'll also be able to field one, but the miniature is sold separately.
While Skyrim's civil war is the setting of the first wave, more races and characters are already planned. Future waves will expand on the Skyrim base game, as well as delving into Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls Online and more.
Call to Arms is due out at the end of the year.
The team behind co-op mod Skyrim Together has received "multiple direct death threats" from members of its community, it has revealed.
In the mod's May report one modder, Yamashi, apologized for saying last month that the team "[doesn't] owe the community anything". The team said Yamashi's comments were "poorly written and a result of a lot of pressure and frustration"—but that pressure came partly from fans "harassing" them, with some going as far as to send death threats, they said.
"Since March a part of the community has been harassing Yamashi, even going so far as to send multiple direct death threats (all of which have been properly reported to the appropriate authorities)," they said. "At the same time many are not asking—but demanding—that we do certain things such as weekly updates, that we open source the mod, etc.
"We know that you are most likely trying to help, but this isn’t helping...our work on this is very irregular, with people maybe not being able to work on the mod for weeks, and then suddenly having full weeks to dedicate to the project. Yamashi’s comment was targeted at the minority of people who were aggressive and toxic, if you are not harassing or making demands, this comment does not apply to you."
The mod was effectively rebooted this month after a series of setbacks, including having to apologise for using code from the Skyrim Script Extender. In the May report, the team revealed that they plan to release a new build of the mod every day from now on, based off the latest code. These builds "might not work, and will definitely be buggy", but it gives fans a way to see the progress being made.
"We do not suggest trying to seriously play the mod like so right now, as this is just for players who are eager and feel they can put up with minor up to plenty of bugs and crashes," the team said.
The open beta currently has no release date.
Multiplayer mod Skyrim Together reached a big milestone in January, hitting closed beta after years in development. Since then there have been considerable setbacks, starting with the use of code from the Skyrim Script Extender mod without attribution. After this came to light, the beta quickly ended and work started on removing it. That was expected to be a big job, but according to one developer, the entire codebase has now been crapped.
On Reddit, Ijustwantsteamdosh gave a brief update, explaining that the "entire codebase" had been scrapped, but that the mod was still being worked on and a "new approach" to release was being considered. The overhaul is not a result of the SKSE code being removed, they clarified, but the team felt that it was a good time do a "restructure of class hierarchy and how things interact with each other".
Developer f13rce_hax provided more details. The team hasn't started from scratch, as most components can be copied from parts of the mod that worked. "It's not really scrapped, but rather a restructure," they said. And quite a lot of progress has been made; it's back to where it was during closed beta.
An official progress report in being worked on, too, with more information on the mod's development. It was looking good earlier in the year and was on track for an open beta, though that was before the overhaul. There's no word on the rescheduled open beta or another closed beta yet.