PC Gamer

When Skyrim released we said, "Yeah, it looks pretty, but just wait until the modders get to it." A Reddit post this morning reminded us to check and, yep, they got to it. A blogger going by Unreal has been posting Dead End Thrills-like screenshots from a Skyrim world augmented by up to 100 mods at a time, and oh man, Bob Ross would have approved, rest his soul.

Unreal has "around 800" mods installed, but only uses varying combinations of 100 of them to produce these screenshots. If you want to achieve similar results, Unreal's FAQ points landscape lovers to the Skyrim Total Enhancement Project and lists a sampling of the "more than 300 mods" tested. That beautifully lush grass is "a WIP mod so there's no download link," but others work in its place.

Keep in mind that when that grass fills the screen Unreal reports framerates as low as 5 fps, so super-modded Skyrim isn't always playable. But think of it as a preview of the near-future: new hardware and engines should be able to render equally detailed worlds at 60 fps, at least if those worlds are created by PC-focused developers. And even without the grass, the screenshots are beautiful, and Unreal boasts 40-60 fps with an overclocked Core i5-2500k and GeForce GTX 670.

We've posted a few more screens below, but see all the Skyrim magic at Unreal's blog, A State of Trance, and check out our 25 favorite Skyrim mods for another resource.

PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Dragonborn 7

If, like me, you're the kind of person that likes to cross-reference every bit of minutia in promotional materials for upcoming installments of your favorite game franchises, this Skyrim: Dragonborn trailer analysis might be relevant to your interests. YouTuber samyoulonline drops some Tamrielic science, presenting some pretty believable theories about what locations, antagonists, and items might be involved in the next installment of Bethesda's Nordic fantasy epic.

All signs seem to point to us facing off against the Daedric prince Hermaeus Mora, and traveling to his realm of oblivion. Also probable are the return of some classic Morrowind enemies like ash zombies and ascended sleepers. Personally, I'm still holding out hope that we'll be able to fly our dragons over the entire volcanic ruin of the Morrowind province. It's not like they have to populate a wasteland with quests and towns, right?

Let us know about your theories for the Dragonborn DLC in the comments.
PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary 14 - Dragon

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

A hail of arrows shoots past me, and I scramble up some rubble to get away from the Giant. I look back to see if he's following, just in time to see him crumple a guard like a tin can. Oh Lord. Sorry guard!

The Giant stomps towards me. I still don't have any stamina to sprint with, and I haven't really got anywhere else to run to, so I just run to the other side of the tower. More arrows pelt him as he trudges round after me, into full view of the rest of the guards. At first this seems like a good thing, but then he stomps off into their ranks and starts crushing them one by one.

I do the only thing that seems to irritate him more than being physically injured: try to Calm him down. He turns and runs for me. Let's go around the tower again!

I scamper on a little, then turn back to see if he's following. He's not. He's found Irileth, the Jarl's housecarl, and is beating her to a pulp. She can't actually die because she's critical to the plot, so he's just incapacitating her over and over again, beating her back into the same hole every time she gets up.

I can't help feeling almost partly responsible for this. I anti-Calm him again, and he comes for me.

By my third lap around the tower, the giant's killed all but two of the guards, and the housecarl is on her knees again. The Giant raises his club above her, two more arrows thunk into him, and he goes limp. He crashes to the ground, finally dead.

I look sheepishly at the two surviving guards, then loot the corpse.

The dragon's body crashed down a long way from the watchtower, and as I'm about to head over to it, the guard who killed the giant stops me.

"Hey, I know you." Oh God. Not now. I must have a bounty on my head in this district, though I can't remember why. I suggest he's made a mistake.
"No, there's no mistake, you're a wanted woman, and it's time you paid for your crimes."
I blew all my money on Sarah the Implausible Horse, and all my most valuable possessions - my health potions - are stolen property. Getting arrested right now would be really, really problematic and really, really embarrassing.

But strangely, I have one dialogue option I've never seen before. I try it.
"I don't have time for this. Do you?"
The guard reflects. "You know what? You're not worth it. You can be some other guard's problem."


I'm almost at the dragon-corpse when I stop again. I see something bright in the bushes. It's a ghost... of a wolf. And there's a guy who looks like John Malkovich pushing his face through a mop running along behind him. Belrand?! Holy shit, man! Exactly how tough are you? And when did you land?

We trot up to the dragon corpse together, and it melts in front of our eyes. I'm shovelling its gold and valuable bones into my pockets when its soul flows through me, revealing to the city and the world that I am the Dragonborn, Skyrim's only hope of salvation.

We're all in quite a lot of trouble.
PC Gamer
Skyrim Dragonborn top

In an effort to recapture the limelight a soldier from Fallout 3 has invaded the upcoming Dragonborn expansion for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Desperate to relive the glory days of 2008, when Fallout 3 was quite popular, the Brotherhood of Steel member tunnelled his way into Tamriel. His plan to set up a shop in Whiterun before Skyrim's release where thwarted by a poor sense of direction and an inability to see anything through his helmet's ridiculously tiny eye slit. "It was the worst thing that's ever happened apart from the thing with the giant robot," he said. "And no, I don't want to talk about it."

The soldier, who wishes to keep his identity a secret, broke down quickly under questioning, revealing that all he wanted was to have an adventurer stray within earshot so he could loudly announce his life story. "Am I doing it right?" he asked forlornly, before folding his arms and resuming a well-practiced idle pose.

Authorities vowed publicly to have the soldeir removed in due course, but added that they couldn't right away, as they were too busy admiring the weird creatures and "mad awesome sky-lizards" present in the latest batch of Dragonborn screenshots.

PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary 13 - Kill the Dragon

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I park Sarah on a hill at a safe distance, and head on to the watchtower. I stop before I get there, and scan the horizon. I've just had an idea. I find what I'm looking for, then carry on to the tower.

The guards are just arriving. Belrand's at my side. I wait until I see the dragon itself - circling high in the clouds - then put my plan into action. I run away.

I sprint across the scruffy brushland until I arrive at a huge bonfire a little way outside the city. I knew what I'd find there when I saw its glow on the horizon a minute ago - a few woolly mammoths and two Giants, devoted to protecting them.

I run up to a mammoth and start jumping around annoyingly. The nearest Giant roars, and waves his club angrily at me - but doesn't attack. Not good enough. I keep being annoying, dancing dangerously close to the giant himself, but no luck.

Then Belrand catches up, and runs straight at the Giant. Oh hell. I hadn't accounted for this. I do the only thing I can think to do, and cast Calm on the Giant. The spell does nothing, but feeling it hit sends the Giant into a rage - he turns away from Belrand and charges at me.

Belrand swings his two-handed frost axe at the Giant's leg, but he keeps coming for me. I'm just about to turn and run when the second Giant catches up to Belrand, raises his club, and brings it slamming down on the ground.

Belrand is crushed - and then, in a quirk of Skyrim's physics, sent rocketing into the sky. He flies higher than the dragon, until he's just a glowing speck in the sky, then he vanishes altogether. I am agog. I run.

When I finally risk taking a split second to glance back, the Giant is still storming after me, but the second hasn't given chase. As far as I can see, Belrand's body still hasn't hit the ground.

I'm running for the watch tower, in the hope that I can still execute my plan: get a Giant close enough to the dragon that he gets caught in the crossfire, and watch the titans clash. This is scuppered somewhat by a sight that would otherwise be great news: the dragon comes crashing down out of the sky. It's dead. It's taken me so long to bait the Giant over here that the guards have killed it without me.

I should really lead this angry Giant away from them now, but I don't have a choice: I'm out of sprint juice and he's gaining on me fast. I keep heading for the watchtower.

The guards are shouting and rejoicing about their hard-won victory when I get there, at which point they all look at me and raise their bows.

Hey guys! I, um, brought a Giant?

Next Thursday: how that goes
PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls Online trailer

Bethesda's latest trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online may have just changed my mind about the game: I was a little lukewarm on the idea before - now I am rather Dovah-keen. The video shows off the first proper gameplay footage (rather than the environmental fly-by videos we've seen previously) and talks us through the MMO's features. You can read our earlier in-depth Elder Scrolls impressions here, or hit the jump and see the trailer for yourself.

Here are the headlines: there aren't any shards - everything takes place on one single server, or "megaserver" as Bethesda have dubbed it. You can play as nine different races and there's oodles of customisation and specialisation on top. Perks sound particularly interesting - and extremely broad, too - determining everything from vampiric powers and pets to how you replenish your mana on the battlefield.

Combat, meanwhile, is said to be in line with traditional Elder Scrolls action, with attacks and blocks tied to mouse-clicks rather than hotkeys. That said, the video doesn't convey the sense of brutal kinetic connection you get from a Skyrim ruckus; it looks very much like MMO hotkey combat, even if it isn't.

The entire thing takes place 1000 years before the events depicted in Skyrim, and all of Tamriel is at your disposal. The Imperial homeland of Cyrodiil has an extra special role, however: it's the setting of the game's PvP component. A time of uncertain succession, players of any level can take to the field in massive battles, besieging forts, smashing them with ballistas, and eventually claiming the emperor's crown for their own side.

Sounds like there's plenty to do, anyway - certainly enough to keep the Dragonborn from getting dragonbored.

PC Gamer
skyrim dragonborn

Skyrim's new Dragonborn DLC has winged its way onto our YouTube channel, bringing a horde of new creatures to shout at, set on fire and stab. Well, I say "new" - some are old Oblivion favourites - like goblins, which now hurtle into the battle on the back of boars. There's also something horrible which appears to vomit oil, and a thing that looks like an evil floating artichoke. Cool. But best, and most inevitably, of all: you can ride dragons! All of this in the aid of thwarting some ancient evil, who, it's implied, is one of your Dovahkiin predecessors.

As with previous DLC, the only date announced is for the release on Xbox - December 4 - but we can probably expect it to arrive on PC shortly thereafter, just as Hearthfire did. Hit the jump for the full video.

Tom Francis has just reminded me that in Oblivion you could steal totem staffs belonging to each goblin tribe, and then place them anywhere you wanted the goblins to attack. That's definitely one thing we'd like to see again.

PC Gamer
skyrim trailer

Bethesda appear primed to announce more Skyrim DLC, after a tweet (spotted by IGN) was posted on the company's Twitter page. Along with an image of someone wearing a particularly Skyrimian helmet, they released the following missive: "Milk, sugar, tea-" no, wait, that's my shopping list. It said "Full trailer on 11/5". Which is the American way of saying 'Bonfire night'.

We'll know for certain what this relates to on Monday, but the prime suspect, of course, is the rumoured Dragonborn DLC that was spotted a couple of weeks ago in the innards of a recent patch. If the grisly details are accurate, we'll be heading for the island of Solstheim, which you may remember from the frosty Morrowind expansion pack Bloodmoon. There, we will ride dragons, craft new weapons and armour, and dual-wield magical staffs. Sounds like one hell of a holiday.
PC Gamer
Skyrim Diary 12 - Cover

This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I'm not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can't attack anyone directly. The first entry is here, or you can see all entries to date here.

I remember this! It actually shouldn't take long. I mount Sarah the Implausible Horse and canter up into the mountains.

I find it easily and trot up to the gate, alerting a few bandits. As I dismount, one of them runs in my direction yelling, confusingly, "You've beaten me! I yield!" Belrand emerges from behind a stone column and hacks him down. Ah. Hi Belrand!

Belrand is already charging at the next bandit, and to my alarm, so is Sarah the Implausible Horse. I see another bandit aiming a bow at her, so I hit him with a bolt of Calm. He stops, puts his bow away, and wanders off to rethink his life. Sarah rears up and kicks the other bandit, and Belrand finishes him off. We head inside.

I Fury a few bandits and rats into killing each other, and Belrand mops up the survivors. The only trouble we hit is in the giant spider's lair - not the giant spider, but the archway leading to it. It's covered in strong cobweb.

I can't Illusion that away, and I'm not entirely sure if my rules allow me to punch it. I try telling Belrand to do it - you can give followers orders, of sorts. But when I point at the cobweb, the only command I can give him is to try to walk through it.

"Okay, got it!" he says in his chirpy Nordic accent. He walks directly into the cobweb, stops, and looks back at me. "Nope. Not possible." Thanks for trying, man.

My self-imposed rules say I'm not allowed to "directly hurt anyone or anything" - the 'thing' was meant to cover monsters, but I guess a cobweb is also a thing. Can you 'hurt' a cobweb? After careful philosophical analysis, I decide that you can't and put my fist through it.

The giant spider is irrelevant - I'm powerful enough to pacify her with a Calm spell, walk past, and chat to the man stuck in her other web. He wants out, understandably, so I very carefully punch around him to clear the web without causing damage. He runs off, Belrand gives chase, and I stroll along behind.

When I catch up to them, they're both fighting Nordic zombies in a crypt. I run past, and inadvertantly step on a stone that triggers metal rack of spikes to swing out of the wall, smacking the thief and a zombie off their feet. Huh! Well, it might not be illusion magic, but it's not direct violence either.

I was hoping to be able to run straight through the final chamber and escape without a kerfuffle, but unfortunately we need something from the Draugr Scourge in the final crypt. Belrand's only too happy to take care of it, while I keep him on his feet with Courage - the Draugr's a zombie, so I can't cast illusion magic directly on him.

On the Draugr's corpse, I find the dragonstone the Jarl will want. In his crypt, I also find a two-handed axe with heavy damage and a frost enchantment - I pass it to Belrand and he equips it eagrely. Outside, I find Sarah and gallop back to Whiterun.

The dragon's been sighted. They want me to help them kill it. Oh Lord.

Next Thursday: the dragon.
PC Gamer
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Lydia

Poor Lydia. Her eternally pledged sword for the Dragonborn makes her nothing more than a guinea-pig for an egotistical nomad with volume problems. This time, she's blasting off into the sky once more after taking a small hot air balloon's worth of Fus Roh Dahs—aka The Only Shout That Matters—straight into her face. The resulting hilarious physics grenade comes courtesy of LilCosco08 and a usage of the "TCL" console command which toggles collision detection.

If you also feel like going back to Skyrim, our list of console commands should make your second visit memorable.