Friday, November 25, 2016

Mother Gamer Plays The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Remastered Special Edition

 I know. How is it that I had never played Skyrim until now? Many of my friends asked this. The only answer I have is that I had a ton of other games I was playing at the time so I just never got around to it. With the remaster, I figured this would be a great time to play it so I got the special edition for PS4 and I was excited to start my adventure.

 Having ten different races to choose from is very cool and I decided on Wood Elf for my first play through, but for my next one I do want to play as a Khajiit (cat race) because they sound quite interesting. I was a little disappointed while creating my Wood Elf that the faces looked rather harsh and every expression looked like she was angry and ready to smash your face. It wasn't a big deal, but I wondered about the idea behind that design. Having played Elder Scrolls Online, the character design for the Elves has improved a lot, so maybe it had something to do with their design engine.
I did manage to create my character the way I liked eventually and once I was satisfied, I decided it was time for Pirotess to start her adventure (yes, I'm a Record of Lodoss War fan so I'm always Pirotess) and start exploring the world of Tamriel.

My Wood Elf Pirotess, ready for adventure! 

 There is so much to see and do in Skyrim. The game itself is huge and then you add the DLCs and there's even more to do. I got the initial introduction tutorial out of the way and the set up for the main story and then I ran around picking up quests. Between the radiant quests, side quests, and guild quests you never run out of adventures. I liked the Thieves Guild quests a lot because the story line for it was interesting. The Dark Brotherhood quests were also fun to do because of the great story content. My favorite armor was the Nightingale armor which was a reward for completing the Thieves Guild story line. I also liked my Dark Brotherhood mount which I jokingly called demon horse. His name was Shadowmere however and he was cool. He would go everywhere with me and he would even fight enemies with me which I thought was fantastic. 

The Nightingale armor is the best!

If you want to take a break from adventuring, you can do things like crafting or build your own house with the Hearthfire DLC. You can also get married and adopt children with Hearthfire. This was one of the things that I found showed off the beauty of the gameplay in Skyrim. You can do as much or as little of the main story quests as you want. You can just run around crafting things, do side quests, or go hunting dragons. It's entirely up to you and gives you a vast amount of freedom for exploration and discovery. For me, it made the game a lot of fun and I just enjoyed running around discovering new places. 

I also loved battling all the dragons and finding all the dragon shouts for my Dragonborn character. The battles are epic and the controls handle very smoothly. I love it when a game has great game controls and good camera angles. It definitely makes fighting a huge dragon easier. I enjoyed playing with all the different dragon shouts seeing what each one did. My favorites were frost breath and dragon aspect. Because of that exploration freedom level grinding was not a chore at all. I was just having fun and enjoying the game. 

Taking down a dragon.

The environments are beautiful. I would find myself stopping often just to look around the different areas I was in because they are so well done. Whether it was a forest, snowy peak, or Dwarven ruin it always looked amazing and no two places looked alike. The musical soundtrack is amazing too setting the right atmosphere for each moment in the game. 
 You get followers too, but you can only have one at a time with you. Unfortunately if they die, they're dead for good unless you have the mods. I learned that the hard way with a couple of mine as they suffered from death by dragon. Most of the time, I just wandered alone because sometimes the followers would do stupid things like step on a switch and set off  a trap. Once in a while I would take a follower with me just to change things up, usually a mage because they were useful for fighting dragons.

A beautiful view in Skyrim.

I enjoyed the main story in Skyrim as well. The lore was intriguing and some of the reveals about certain characters made for a great story. I also liked that a couple of the dragons were allies of a sort. I thought the dragon Paarthurnax was very cool and learning a few dragon shouts from him was fun. I was also thrilled that Pirotess got to fly on a dragon also. It was quite a sight! I finished the main story and it was a great finish to a fantastic story. 

Pirotess chatting with Paarthurnax.

While the main story is finished, there's still a ton of things for me to do. I'm currently playing the Dawnguard and Dragonborn DLC as well as more side quests. I'm also enjoying crafting and building my houses with the Hearthfire DLC. For me, Skyrim is a blast to play and I love that there's always something going on and I continue to explore and have fun. There's always interesting things to see and I can't wait to play as a Khajiit for my next play through. Skyrim is a great game and I'm glad I finally got a chance to play it. 

Lots to discover, like mammoths!

*The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Remastered is available to play on these platforms: PC, Playstation 4, and XboxOne

Friday, November 4, 2016

Elder Scrolls Online, A Fun Adventure

Many of my friends kept telling me I should play Elder Scrolls Online because it was a lot of fun and set before the events of Skyrim. I told them I didn't have it yet, but eventually I would check it out. I liked that they followed in the steps of Guild Wars 2 by not having a monthly subscription, once you buy the game it's yours to play to your heart's content. I waited until it went on sale on Steam and got the collector's edition which included three DLCs and a horse mount. I was excited to create a new character and explore the world of Elder Scrolls Online. I actually made two characters both in the Nightblade job class a Dark Elf and a Wood Elf. You can have 8 character slots which is pretty nice. I may go and try out a Khajiit character later.

One of the many Khajit characters in the game.

The character creation is very user friendly with a variety of options. However, I once again wondered why there so many different variations of bald for the female characters. I suppose that just gives you a lot of options if that's your thing. I did like that there were plenty of longer hair options for the characters. Once my character creation was complete, I could not wait to start my adventure. I also had to pick which server to play on North American or European. I went with North American as the time difference doesn't really let me play with my European friends. Depending on which character you pick: Dark Elf, Wood Elf, High Elf, Khajit, Argonian, Nord, Breton, Redguard, or Orc you start the game that gives you a tutorial introduction for the game controls and then you have racial origin quests you can play.  I play the game on PC so my controls were for the PC, but you can also play the game on PS4 and XboxOne. Once I finished the tutorial quest I was able to really begin exploring the world of Tamriel.

My Dark Elf ready for adventure!

One great thing that stands out is how easy the controls are to map and use. The user menu for items and quest logs is incredibly user friendly making the game feel nicely streamlined. There is literally tons to see and do in Elder Scrolls Online ranging from a myriad of side quests to origin story quests as well as the main story quests. Another thing I like is the dungeon system. While I like Final Fantasy 14, the one thing I really do not like is how many forced dungeon crawls there are. Elder Scrolls Online has made it so that if you want to do a dungeon you can or you can just skip it if it's not your thing.

There are actually seven different types of dungeons. You have the public dungeons which if you have the right character build, you can solo very easily. This dungeon is open to everyone so solo players can come in and explore and team up with people who are in there if they wish. Public dungeons are a bit more challenging than the other dungeons so in general a group definitely helps. Delves are solo dungeons pertinent to whichever quest you're on. Non-Veteran group dungeons are instanced dungeons that require a group of four and are normal mode and scale to the level of the group leader. Veteran dungeons are instanced as well, but they don't unlock until you're level 50 and they are a higher difficulty than the other dungeons. Trials are 12 person instances that are mainly for endgame content and require a solid group and teamwork. Craglorn delves are instanced dungeons that have you kill a specific bosses inside. Finally, there is the Dragonstar Arena which is a 4 person instance PVE (Player versus event) arena. This has 10 different levels where you work together to fight 5 waves of monsters in each level and a final boss at the end. This is a difficult level dungeon for experienced players. 

Battling in a Delve. 

There is chat of course and for the most part it's alright in the fact that you can learn about events or people looking for groups so you can team up for quests and dungeons. This also lets you know what guilds are out there recruiting. Other times I tend to turn off zone chat because there's only so many sexual innuendo and dick jokes I can take. For the most part I run around by myself doing quests and I always have fun doing them and I have done a few group dungeons which are fun as well. The community in Elder Scrolls Online is quite friendly from what I've experienced and there are a lot of players who are willing to help if you need it and give advice about the game and class builds. I've even had a few players trade gear with me to help my Nightblade characters be even better which was so nice of them. That alone has made my experience with Elder Scrolls Online even more enjoyable.

The different areas that I've explored so far are beautiful. Just exploring is a lot of fun in itself because each area is completely different so it's a lot of fun to just look around at everything. The music in the game is fantastic as well and sets a great atmosphere for the story and quests. The battles are fun and easy to navigate. Leveling doesn't feel like a chore and unlocking skills is simple to do and with enough skill points you can even morph your skills into more powerful abilities. Traveling is great too because once you unlock a way shrine you can fast travel to those spots that you have unlocked. It does cost some gold when you fast travel however, but with all the quests you get under your belt it's not that big a deal. Traveling on a mount is easy, you can just use a command that has your character whistle and your mount will appear so you can head to where you need to go. 

My Wood Elf admiring the beautiful scenery.

There is PVP (player versus player) in the game. You can fight in Cyrodiil from level 10 and above. You can also challenge other players to a duel anywhere in Tamriel. If the person accepts your duel challenge, a flag appears and you fight in the designated area marked by the flag, if you leave that area it results in a forfeit. I tried it out once just to see what it was like (PVP is not my thing) and it was alright. For those who love PVP it is one more fun adventure thing you can do in the game.

You can do crafting in the game as well. There is an introductory quest to crafting that you get so you can learn about the craft you choose. There are six crafts to choose from: Blacksmith, Clothier, Alchemy, Enchanting, Provisioning, and Woodworking. The tutorial on how to do the crafts is easy to follow and once you get started it's easy to do. This is also a terrific way to make a bit of extra coin in the game for all the things you need such as gear and healing potions. 

The one issue I have with Elder Scrolls Online is that there is no cross platform gaming. This means if you play on the PC, but your friends play on the PS4 or XboxOne consoles you can't play together. This means that PC players are on their own server and the console players are on their own separate server. I can understand a bit why they did it that way, but it kind of sucks that I can't play with my friends who are on the console platforms. In that regard, Final Fantasy 14 is winning because you can play with your friends across all platforms. Perhaps that may change in the future, but for now that's not the case. 

Lack of cross platform gaming aside, Elder Scrolls Online is a great game. It's a fun adventure with a ton of content to explore and plenty of things to see and do. I'm glad I was able to check it out and I'm enjoying playing by myself and with other people. It's an MMORPG that offers a lot of great things in its game and gives a huge amount of freedom to the different play styles that people have allowing everyone to enjoy the game the way they wish. Now, I'm off to do some more adventuring in Tamriel!

My Wood Elf  off to a new adventure!

*Elder Scrolls Online is available to play on these platforms: PC, Playstation4, and XboxOne