The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Andreas Inderwildi)

The Vikings have long ago invaded the coasts of pop culture on their dragon-headed longships and carved out their own Danelaw in the realm of video games. In recent years, they ve grown even bolder, taking over most genres from RTS to RPG, classic point and click adventure to action, with an utter disregard towards distinctions between AAA and indie. They ve settled in Hellblade and Frostrune, Dead in Vinland and The Witcher 3, God of War and Crusader Kings 2, and of course, The Banner Saga trilogy. Luckily, it s easy to spot a Viking. Horned helmets, mead-filled drinking horns, bloody battle axes and grim miens are a dead giveaway. When in doubt, tempt the suspected Viking with loot, then wait and see whether or not they can resist the urge to pillage.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

In 2015, modder gg77 created a Skyrim mod which let players shapeshift into creatures other than werewolves, like werebears and werebats and also Godzilla. Ordinary things like that. But what if you want to, say, ride Godzilla instead of become him? To tower over your foes in the afternoon but still be able to fit through a doorway in the evening? More importantly, what if you want to ride Mecha Godzilla, who is a mech and therefore better than regular Godzilla? Well, now there's a mod for that too, also courtesy of gg77: it's called Godzilla and Company, and it adds not one, but three kaiju mounts to Skyrim. 

As you may have guessed, the headlining act is Mecha Godzilla, in all his shiny metal glory. You can also ride vanilla Godzilla if you're wrong, as well as the pterodactyl-like Rodan. Temper your fantasies of burninating the countryside, though: the mod's massive mounts are meant purely for riding and won't help you in combat. That being said, using the mod's monster eggs, you can at least spawn an army of giant monsters in Whiterun. I think we net zero on that. 

You can find download and installation instructions on Nexus Mods. You'll need to fiddle with some game files to get the camera to work properly, and the end result is still a little janky, but that's a small price to pay for a view like this: 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda Games Studios, maker of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, tends to be a pretty secretive place. We won't hear anything for ages and then announcements for Fallout: 76, Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 come along at once and everybody frantically starts planning time off work.

The games are great but they're not, according to studio leader Todd Howard,
the greatest thing Bethesda Game Studios does. That honour belongs to something the studio doesn't shout about, a fairly private thing. Every so often Bethesda Game Studios opens its doors to terminally ill children who wish to see where their favourite games are made. It's part of the company's quiet ongoing support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"You want a reality check at work..." -Todd Howard.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

With so many to choose from, our list of the best Skyrim mods spans a whopping ten pages. Filipe's 'Strength of the Gods' is my newest favourite because, well, have a gander at the footage below and tell me it's not hilarious.

With the simplest of descriptions—"strike your enemies down with the power of a god and watch them fly away!"—Filipe's project grants the Dragonborn superhuman strength. As the footage above shows, punching enemies around the map yields some pretty funny results—and doing so in vaults and keeps and the likes sends baddies pinballing off walls, floors and ceilings.  

Activating it is straightforward, too: head to the Shrine of Talos in Whiterun, pick up and read the tome, and, voila, your latest conjuration spell is good to go. You can't miss it, really, but here's what you're looking for:

I'd suggest Strength of the Gods is a mod best explained in practice. To achieve the same results as the footage above, know that Filipe also has variations of Floating Damage and Floating Healthbar installed. 

Strength of the Gods is available to download for both regular Skyrim and Skyrim Special Edition.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brock Wilbur)

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 3.52.13 PM

The Forgotten City, true to the spirit of its theme, is both a game that has yet to be released and is a game that has been available for years. While I’ve always been one of the few hold-outs that’s been annoyingly “meh” about Skyrim, I fired up my copy this week to play through the The Forgotten City, which began as an extensive mod for Elder Scrolls V. In 2019, it is getting a stand-alone version that reinvents and expands its lore, but keeps the intriguing mechanics intact. Now that I’ve played it once, I’m ready to play it a dozen more times in its next reincarnation.

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Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

biggest-steam-games-2018

We’ve just passed the half-way point of 2018, so Ian Gatekeeper and all his fabulously wealthy chums over at Valve have revealed which hundred games have sold best on Steam over the past six months. It’s a list dominated by pre-2018 names, to be frank, a great many of which you’ll be expected, but there are a few surprises in there.

2018 releases Jurassic World Evolution, Far Cry 5 Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Warhammer: Vermintide II are wearing some spectacular money-hats, for example, while the relatively lesser-known likes of Raft, Eco and Deep Rock Galactic have made themselves heard above the din of triple-A marketing budgets. (more…)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

When Todd Howard announced The Elder Scrolls 6 at the end of Bethesda's E3 show, the message was clear: we're working on the game but it's a very long way away. We saw a very brief trailer of a mountainous, coastal environment, and then a logo, and that was it.

But what were we seeing? Was this the setting of the new game or a kind of red herring - a generic Elder Scrollsian scene made for the trailer? Has Bethesda Game Studios even settled on the region we'll play in yet?

I thought we'd wait yonks for an answer but as luck would have it I got one from Todd Howard at Spanish conference Gamelab this week.

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls 6 is happening! We don't know when, and in fact it might be quite a long time before the game is far along enough to give us a proper trailer. Still there are a few details out there that have allowed us to speculate about the RPG's setting, and the mountains in the announcement sure are pretty.

Until we know more, we'll simply have to speculate about the improvements Bethesda might be planning. Will it be a bigger world? Probably. Will it have swords and sorcery in it? Almost certainly. We'd like more than that, though, as ever. Here's what we want from The Elder Scrolls 6.

Better faces and conversations

Bethesda Studios makes remarkable, atmospheric open worlds, but the NPCs who inhabit them look like they have come from a different era. They tend to suffer from stiff posture, stilted animations and faces that can’t emote very much. That’s fine for cool robo-companion Nick Valentine in Fallout 4. For humans we’d like to see huge improvements. 

Character faces and performances have generally improved a lot in the last five years and when a game falls behind, like Mass Effect Andromeda, it’s painfully obvious. Likewise conversations could be much more engaging than they have been in previous Fallout and Elder Scrolls games. Fallout 4 introduced a Bioware-style cam that improved interactions, so that’s a sign the Bethesda RPGs are moving in the right direction.

Some memorable NPCs

It might be easier to forgive stiff NPC performances if most of the people you met in The Elder Scrolls games weren’t quite so boring. You meet powerful Jarls and master wizards but they tend to grumble mildly about this and that and then ask you to go fetch them something. There are a few memorable characters, often skulking about in the Dark Brotherhood, but for the most part I’m struggling to remember many NPCs of note. Oddball Fallout characters wouldn’t fit the grandiose fantasy tone of The Elder Scrolls, but some humour, romance, and the odd argument would do a lot to make the world more lived-in.

More varied, hand-crafted dungeons

Some of Skyrim’s dungeons were great. The transition from Dwemer city to glowing mushroom underworld in Blackreach is sublime. Typically, though, the typical Falmer dungeons became samey fast. There might be a trap or two, a couple of caves full of enemies, and a few chests along the way. If you happened to wander into a cave of plot significance you were more likely to see more unusual puzzles and some interesting architecture. More consistently interesting dungeons would be sweet.

Bigger towns

Skyrim’s towns each had a separate sense of identity. Riften was grubby and a little sordid, Markath looked like a sweet piece of concept art made real. However compared to The Witcher 3’s Novigrad, or even the Imperial City in Oblivion, the cities felt like limited settlements—a shop or two, a few residential buildings and a central hall. It would be fascinating to see what Bethesda Studios can do with a proper town with distinct districts and a sense of daily working life.

Oblivion-style spellcrafting

Oblivion and Skyrim both had spellcasting, but Oblivion let players become real magic users through spell-crafting, a feature that didn't make it into Skyrim. By using an altar and combining various spell effects they'd learned, players could design their own custom spells, including range, duration, and effects. With crafting becoming such a big part of so many games, including Bethesda's RPGs, I'd love to see a return of spell-crafting. It would be optional, of course, since there will be plenty of pre-existing spells to learn, but for those who really want to dabble in magic there's nothing better than a little DIY.

A polished third-person view

It’s nice to hop out of your skull and see your character’s cool armour or wizard robes, but actually moving and fighting in third-person feels off compared to first-person in Elder Scrolls games. Part of it is down to your janky animations as you hop and slide around the terrain, part of it is that attacks that look cool in first-person look a bit silly when viewed from behind your character. Having said that, on balance I’d probably prefer to have a janky third-person view than none at all—how else are we to take celebratory selfies once we’ve climbed to the highest part of the world?

Settlements

Fallout 4's settlement system had its ups and downs, the up being it was an enjoyable activity to partake in between quests, and the down being that the interface was clunky and the buildings generally looked like shit. Freed from a post-apocalyptic setting where building materials could be made from healthy trees instead of bombed out buildings, I can imagine founding your own town in the Elder Scrolls universe to be an immensely enjoyable pastime. You'll be meeting NPCs from all over the land, so why not invite some to live and work in your town? You could raise livestock and grow crops, build your own house, staff your own city watch, attract vendors, build a pub, stables, maybe even form your own guild, and become mayor of a growing community. We always want to establish a home (or several) in Elder Scrolls games, so establishing an entire town feels like a logical extension.

UI designed for PC, please

Both Oblivion and Skyrim's UI were serviceable but ultimately felt like they'd been designed for someone playing on console, not on PC. The UI was overlarge and clearly made for navigation by cycling through options rather than just clicking with a mouse. Modders, bless them, offered much better and more sensible UI for PC, with the Darnified mod for Oblivion and SkyUI for Skyrim. I'm sure modders will once again retool whatever UI Bethesda creates, but it sure would be nice this time around if more thought was put into the UI for PC by the developers.

Mod support

This one almost goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning that the mod scenes for The Elder Scrolls and fallout games are astonishing. The mod scene is the reason we got a proper PC UI for Skyrim in the first place. We’ve seen modders transpose old Elder Scrolls games into more current engines. We’ve seen dramatic visual overhauls, new monsters, quests, and much more. Mod support will be essential to the longevity of a new Elder Scrolls game. Hopefully we’ll see that in The Elder Scrolls 6.

What would you like to see from the new Elder Scrolls?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

The Forgotten City, a time-looping murder mystery which won an Australian Writers Guild Award as a mod for Skyrim, is becoming its own game. Developers Modern Storyteller announced last night that they’re “re-imagining” The Forgotten City as a standalone game in Unreal Engine. I missed the mod but this sounds like a fascinating Groundhog Day/The Last Express sort of time-looping mystery, sending us explore and alter the events that led to 26 explorers in an ancient underground Roman city being magically turned to gold after one breaks a law. Peep this trailer below. (more…)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

You will, I am sure, be astonished to hear that Bethesda Game Studios are making another Elder Scrolls game. Today, during their E3 pressblast, they announced that The Elder Scrolls VI is now in pre-production. And… that’s about it. The game is a long, long way away, coming after Bethesda’s all-new Starfield – which is itself so far out that we don’t even know what it is. But! The Elder Scrolls VI exists. Bethesda don’t say where it’s set, but perhaps you can sniff some clues out in the teaser trailer below? (more…)

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