Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Skyrim: four weeks and counting


If you haven't played Skyrim and plan to do so, you may want to skip this, but I assure you, mere text does not give justice to this awesome game!

Yes. Mess with me. Please.

This friday will mark four weeks since I've started my adventures in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and like pretty much everybody who plays video games, it blew my mind. Well, that was an easy one to see coming because as a gamer looking for a new drug, and without a fantasy RPG I found quite to my liking previously, I was a fan ripe for the plucking. I did play Dungeons & Dragons Online but I was always limited because I kept my account free-to-play, and compared to the amount of dungeons there is a serious lack of dragons. Skyrim, even though it's a single-player game (for now... more on this in an up-coming post on modding), fixed all those short-comings quite nicely. 

During the holidays I posted a pictorial that gave a good idea of where I was in the game. Having had a very quiet and relaxing holiday time I was able to put a lot of rewarding time and effort building my RPG Cozmik character. After almost 130 hours of game time, Cozmiken Arrfimm is now level 44 with 100's in one-handed weapons, heavy armor, smithing, and soon enchanting which is at 95, with perks distributed where they count the most. The only constellation which is completed is the smithing so I can now build and upgrade everything. Because my main weapons and armor cannot help me level up anymore I am now starting to raise some other less used skills like archery at 65, in which I do have a few perks, and sneaking, which I royally suck at even though it's over 50. The lack of perks shows. I've dabbled in magic and alchemy a bit, but now that my level is so high of lot of the enemies I encounter are very resistant; wild animals and regular baddies die easily, but for the tougher ones I have to pull out my twin Daedric swords. Because yeah, I'm in Daedric gear from head to toe :) 

So with the main quest and civil war behind me, do you really think I'm done with Skyrim? Oh hell no! You see, an Elder Scrolls game doesn't simply "end". The main game that came out on 11-11-11 may soon be over but I still have an innumerable amount of miscellaneous quests to do, and one of the biggest storyline is still left untouched because I showed a bunch of assassins that they had messed with the wrong guy. Because of this alone I have to do a replay! Here's a little run-down of my achievements so far: 

The Companions: This was a no-brainer. As I was reading in preparation to actually starting the game, I knew I was going for a Redguard character not only because he was kinda Minmatar but because he was going to fit my play-style to a Tee. So with the 50% resistance to poison I wanted the 100% resistance to diseases. To blazes with the sleeping bonus! But I never really used my werewolf form; the first time obviously, and once as I was exploring and wanted to check how it was like at level 40 compared to level 15. The higher stamina is cool, but not having access to potions and the inability to loot stuff makes it annoying in the end. But the entire quest line was very fun to play through and I can thank Farkas for the heavy armor training, Aela for archery (she was my companion around level 25, but not the one I married) and Eorlund for smithing. 

The Civil War: The first time I entered Windhelm and stayed for a while was basically what made my decision to go Imperial. After talking to many of the non-Nord locals, listening to Jarl Ulfric's spiel and even doing a few jobs for him, I felt more like quashing down the "separatist movement" than helping it. Having had some trouble with the later part of the Companions quest I did a lot of side quests and all my money making before I tackled the war and the main storyline, so I showed up at Imperial HQ around level 30. At first Aela was with me but as she was having a harder time tanking the higher level enemies I had to let her go back to Whiterun. But apart from that Ulfric got seriously plowed, and it was with a great sense of accomplishment that I FUS-RO-DAH'd the Jarl into the wall behind his throne. 

The Main Quest: Ulfric's body was still warm when I got back to the main quest, which I had done just enough of to get the famous 3-word shout. By the way, shouting someone or something off a cliff just never gets old :) In any case, by this time in the game I was already a dragon killing machine thanks to my buffed Daedric gear which I had gotten access to just before the end of the war. My first armor was actually given to me by General Tullius... Yay Empire !!! The timing couldn't have been better because I had received the Daedric smithing perk just before, and was already collecting daedra hearts and ebony ingots. Couple all this with some strong enchanting and yeah, I'm a death machine. So the end of the main storyline was pretty easy and Alduin wasn't even a challenge worthy of that name. It was kind of special to walk in Sovngarde and meet some Nords I had fragged including Ulfric Stormcloak, Kodlak of the Companions who had died just as the quest was reaching it's peak, and Ysgramor, hero of all Nords. But the death of Alduin wasn't the highest point of the main storyline... 

The Hardest Choice Ever: As I was progressing in the main storyline I was getting closer and closer to the faction called The Blades. To put it simply, Blades hate dragons. I mean REALLY hate them. One of your main helpers so far has been Paarthurnax, the dragon boss of the Greybeards. And when the Blades learn of this they literally pop a fuse and want the old lizard dead. So you can keep him alive and never deal with the Blades again, or kill him and never deal with the Greybeards again. Quite a heart-wrenching choice when you're this far into the story. I went with the Blades but next play-thru I'm keep the old guy alive. Still, I found that this was one of the saddest moments I had ever witnessed in a video game. At least Paarthurnax himself seemed to be cool with my choice because he himself doesn't trust other dragons! 

The Dark Brotherhood, aka How to Skip a Storyline: Not being one for sneaking and back-stabbing, and having been attacked by a few Dark Bro lackeys since the start of the game, I didn't feel ready to turn into an assassin. So when I found out I could wipe out the entire faction, I started my evil (well not really... THEY are evil!) plan. I had picked up the "Innocence Lost" quest during my time in Windhelm so it was great that the first Dark Brotherhood quest is actually a good deed. That old bag in Riften had it coming and I fragged her in plain sight, to the joy of everyone but her aide. But later the way the game wrenches you into the questline... quite sudden, enough for me to go "WTF is this shit?!" So this chick Astrid is all up in arms that I owe THEM a life they should've taken and tells me "someone is not getting out of here alive". Well, make that two someones. First I questioned the three tied-up persons, found the obvious criminal, fragged him, and then showed Astrid she chose the wrong Dovahkiin to mess with. Having received the "destroy the Brotherhood" quest, I did. These guys were no push-overs but remember... Daedric killing machine! And that's how you skip a huge chunk of Skyrim! 

The Thieves Guild: Having already scrapped a chunk of game-play, I didn't want to cut like half the game so at some point I had not much choice but to go rogue a bit. Well, stealing stuff, shaking a few people up and messing with people's businesses isn't as bad as cold-blooded murder right? Right. So I met up with Brynjolf in Riften and started what was a much more interesting than previously thought quest. I followed it to the letter and was rewarded with the way-cool Nightingale armor, bow and sword, and was named Guild leader. I haven't done much of the side-quests so I have plenty of stuff left to steal, people to rough up, etc. 

The College of Winterhold: In case you don't know, this is the mage school. kind of like with the Thieves Guild I simply followed the quest and skipped all the side stuff so I am now Arch-Mage (!) of the College, even though I used magic only in a few places where the quest requires it. The storyline was interesting, but not as much as the Thieves Guild was. At least you get to kill a Thalmor; these high-and-mighty snobbish elves need to be nuked whenever possible!

Houses, and Jarl of This and That: When I posted the pictorial I had just received access to my second house, but smithing wealth meant I wasn't going to stop there. I am now the proud owner of Breezehome in Whiterun, Vlindrel Hall in Markarth, Hjerim in Windhelm, Honeyside in Riften and Proudspire in Solitude. I'm Thane in all those places but Riften. The Solitude house cost a pretty penny, but I got so rich by smithing that it barely put a dent on my wallet. Also, because I got it on the late side means that Jordis the Shield-Maiden, my housecarl, is quite decently leveled up compared to companions you get when you start up. To find out how good she was I gave her my Daedric gear and made myself a new set with better enchanting skills, smithing gloves and smithing potions, and together we are quite the deadly couple. Because yeah, I married her :) I can also count the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary as a house because after destroying the faction I can make their hide-out mine. The wife can't move in like in the regular houses though. I do have another dwelling but that was an added mod so I'll detail it in my modding post. I did get a mod for Proudspire though; it now has plenty of bookshelves, a nicer weapons and armor display room with eight mannequins, and the old housecarl room is replaced with all the smithing tools. And that's cool because the housecarl now shares my bed :))

And that's where I'm at right now. I am trying to become Thane in all the holds, I still have two dragon priest masks to find and I have no clue where they are, and plenty of miscellaneous quests to finish so all those people I avoided talking to during my storyline play, I gotta talk to them all now. Yep, an Elder Scrolls game is quite an adventure!

Coming soon: Skyrim modding!


Just a regular day at the office... :)

PS: look me up on Steam: CozmikR5 (no space) :)

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