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Everything posted by 500MetricTonnes

  1. What I don't understand about this game is the name "Inquisition." The word conjures an image of an organisation dedicated to rooting out heretics, putting them on trial, torturing them until they confess, and so on. It's the sort of the thing that should cause your average peasant in Thedas to wet his trousers when he so much as hears the word spoken. And yet it's presented as this completely heroic, well-respected group - essentially the Grey Wardens for demons. It just seems like a poor word to describe what the group actually does.
  2. Or they could get rid of the perks and racial abilities. Really Skyrim's skill system has more depth than Oblivion's. If you consider making the skills a talent tree instead of a linear progression to 100 and consolidating them from 21 to 18 depth, sure. The skill perks are mostly the same as they had been with the exception of new ones to highlight Skyrim's new combat features. That said, I was mostly referring to the continued devolution of attributes and how precisely you can control your characters growth. In Morrowind you go from system with 8 primary attributes and 4 secondary attributes that receive bonuses dependent on what governed skills you increased that level to health-stamina-magicka in Skyrim. The skill system they just abstracted out into a talent tree because they had to replace the gutted attribute system with something. A flashy UI sequence and allocating a point to unlock a 'perk' you likely would have gotten from simply using the associated skill in a prior iteration of the game doesn't create depth. Remember, that in Morrowind you had Axe/Blunt/LongBlade/ShortBlade/Spear skills, in Oblivion you had Blade/Blunt and in Skyrim you have 1h/2h. This is without even talking about how enchanting is a joke in Skyrim. All it is is generic stat boosts now. Reminds me of enchanting in an MMO. Since I'm probably coming off jaded, I have all 3 titles and all of their content expansions (no horse armor) and probably 200hrs+ in each title. The direction they're going with the game bothers me because I care about the franchise. I don't want to be too much a downer, but... ...I don't believe for a second that Bethesda is going to go take TES back in the direction of Morrowind. In all likelihood, they will continue down the road of removing anything that looks like an RPG mechanic of favour of straight-up action gameplay. Like it or not, Skyrim was a hugely successful game and Bethesda doesn't really have any motivation to bring back the depth of complexity of earlier games.
  3. Telling of what? That people are angry at feminist for infiltrating and subverting online media, they shouldn't be allowed to be angry and criticize. "Inflitrating?" "Subverting?" What those quotes were telling of is that GamerGate is little more than another crackpot conspiracy theory. Such language does little to disabuse me that this is gaming's equivalent of the Red Scare. "We GamerGaters do not avoid women...but we do deny them our essence..."
  4. It's collection of worst fem freq and some fullmcintosh tweets. Wikipedia blocks veteran editor for being pro gamergate off site. Gamergates wiki page is a lost cause by now. Guy didn't even do any changes. He simply wanted to talk that maybe some changes should be made. Some of the comments on that article are rather...telling: Because remember folks, it's about ETHICS in GAMING JOURNALISM. Oh, and "gatekeeper?" Where have I heard that term before? That's right, from the 9/11 Truth movement, which is precisely the intellectual level GG is operating on.
  5. I personally consider the Revan/Bastila romance from KotOR to be the absolute low point of RPG romances, for the simple fact that it combines my two most hated romance tropes - mindlink mates and bickering love interests. And speaking of KotOR... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjXL3OayoQg Skip to 3:30 to see how love stories should end...WITH EVERYBODY DYING.
  6. Come to think of it, I've noticed that RPG characters voiced by Grey de Lisle tend to have a very high mortality rate in my play-throughs. I don't remember any who survived...
  7. That reminds me of an idea I had for a "romance" in some fantasy story. One common romance trope I loathe (almost as much as I loathe the "bickering love interests" trope) is "Mindlink Mates" where the two love interests have some sort of telepathic bond with one another. My idea would be showing how being privy to one another's thoughts is actually rather horrifying. Think about it - I'm sure all of us have experienced random, intrusive thoughts that are less than wholesome. Now imagine that every single thought you have can be heard by your lover. Every time you "check out" another woman, even for just an instant, she would know about it. Every time you thought ill of her, she would know about it. Every bizarre impulse, fetish, and stray musing would be laid bare. The sanctity and privacy of your thoughts would be completely stripped away. So eventually, these two people who were once lovers come to utterly despise one another. They realise that the only way they can be free of their bond is for the other to die, so they immediately start trying to kill each other. Now imagine they are both powerful mages, wreaking havoc in their battle. It'd be the ultimate fantasy version of War of the Roses.
  8. "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Spoken by that shining example of humanity, Pat Roberston. Reactionary hysteria is always hilarious, whatever form it takes. I'm personally waiting for the moment when someone claims that water fluoridation is some insidious SJW plot to sterilise straight white males. "I can no longer sit back and allow SJW infiltration, SJW indoctrination, SJW subversion and the international SJW conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids!"
  9. Glad to see GamerGate has completely abandoned all pretence of being about ethics in journalism and revealed itself to be little more than reactionary whining about "feminists," "SJWs," and "progressives." But hey, thanks to them, relative nobodies like Sarkeesian, Quinn, and Wu are now getting far more exposure than they would have otherwise. Good job, GG. (by the way, am I the only who keeps thinking "GG Allin" whenever I see "GG?")
  10. Playing Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition. My character showing absolutely no sympathy for drow slatterns:
  11. I guess this is the reason why I hope there will be one-night stands (with companions or NPCs), awkward flirting (probably not with companions, but NPCs are alright too) and some marriages (because weddings are hilarious, especially when they are done for plot reasons). I am pretty okay with romances being not a thing in the sense that half companions be romanceable and their romance must have same outline (flirt at beginning, kiss in middle of the game, have sex before the major boss fight at the end). What was done in Kotor 2 with Atton was pretty neat. As a protagonist you are unable to return Atton's feelings, so while Atton is actually trying to romance you as the player, but you are like "I see nothing, hear nothing, go and chart the course for the next planet, Atton". It allows more complexity for Atton and the kind of unrequited, conditionless love is pretty fun to watch, too. I wouldn't mind if player character in PoE was allowed to go Atton route and crush on a companion, without ever getting together. Sort of similar as with Visas (minus the sexual tension) where you just meditate together, sharing a very close and platonic bond. This is what I like the most about romances, to be honest, having your character become very close to a specific character and having the game acknowledge that THIS is the one, mostfavorite companion, would run off into the sunset together, 10/10, may only death do us apart. It's a good thing the Exile's relationship with Visas never became intimate. Can you imagine how their night together would go? Just picture it. He turns the lights in his quarters down low, maybe lights a few candles here and there. And then she strolls into the bedroom, wearing her sexy lingerie, and the Exile approaches her, barely able to restrain his passion. He wants to sweep her off her feet and carry her to the bed where they will make sweet, sweet love to each other, but before he does, he gently lifts her veil... ...and sees THIS! "Where we're going, we don't need eyes to see..."
  12. Personally, every time I hear developers proclaim the game will have "mature" themes I cringe a bit, because I fear we'll end up with something like The Witcher - a world filled with puerile crassness, vulgarity, NPCs dropping the f-bomb every sentence, NPCs determined to say something like "Hey, remember when we raped/murdered/burned alive/flayed/eviscerated that whole village? Good times, mate!" within earshot of the player character, and so on. Fortunately, I know Obsidian won't go down that path. I also believe Chris Avellone said he doesn't care much for romances, unless they're tragic or unrequited (Planescape: Torment is probably the best example of this, since it features both). Of course, I imagine players will probably wind up making romance mods for the game...of varying quality. Anyone remember the Saerilith mod for Baldur's Gate? No, of course you don't remember it, because it was so horrible your mind locked away all memory of it lest you be reduced to gibbering insanity.
  13. My only real issue was the same issue I had with KotoR2: the villain is in plain sight, but your character doesn't realise it and is forced go along with the villain's plan. Oh, and another thing. In Watcher's Keep, there's the infamous "dead magic" room. You emerge from a portal into a room filled with demons who cause fear in your party members. There's a bunch of traps in the room as well. And since it's a "dead magic" zone, you cannot cast spells, and any buffs will be dispelled. There's a good chance half your party members will end up running about like headless chickens while demons hack them to bits. THAT ROOM IS BOLLOCKS. The rest of Watcher's Keep is fantastic, particularly the way in which you face increasingly-powerful foes. First level features some animated statues, some vampiric wraiths...second level has a chromatic demon, some fire giants, nothing too difficult...but then you reach the third level and suddenly you're facing every kind of demon imaginable. Fourth level has mind flayers, a dragon, and a goddamned demi-lich. Fifth level has you fighting another dragon, a marilith, a beholder hive mother, even an aurumach rilmani. And that's just a prelude to the final boss fight, should you choose to battle the Imprisoned One. A lot of people complain about ego-stroking in games, but Throne of Bhaal does it right, by showing just how powerful your character has become. If you were playing as a mage in BG1, for instance, you would start out with a maximum of 6 hitpoints and the inability to wear armour. By comparison, a simple unechanted arrow does 1d6 damage, meaning your character could easily die in one hit. You were limited to casting one or two spells per day, meaning that for much of the time you'd be standing at the back of the party, flinging bullets with a sling, while the fighters do most of the work. But by the time Throne of Bhaal comes along, that level 1 mage has transformed into someone capable of obliterating hordes of enemies at once and flinging about huge amounts of spellpower.
  14. Got a Canon DSLR camera not too long ago...what follows is a random collection of my attempts to teach myself (a complete newbie) the basics of photography: The two best things in the world...wine and cheese: My turntable:
  15. Back when I was on the BSN, there was a thread titled "The Adventures of Ugly Shepard." The thread is still there, but all the image links are broken, sadly. Rather unfortunate, because the whole thread was side-splittingly hilarious.
  16. I believe Arcanum had a "Beauty" attribute that influenced NPCs reaction. Personally, I'd find it amusing if an RPG woud allow you to create a character so butt-ugly that NPCs would remark about how it is physically painfully to look at you, and how you should be forced to wear a paper bag over your head in order to spare them the sight of your hideous visage. Examples:
  17. Thats common amongst those with little experience, but that wears off once you get used to shooting guns, it least it did in my caseAfter a while you realize its little more than a device that accelerates a piece of led and copper to fast speeds, its no magic device that gives you the power of a god. I also felt really awesome when I first drove a fast sports scar, but that wore off too. You get used to things and that helps you to behave and stay rational. *correction* WTF. I just read it again, if you feel like shooting people while holding a gun there might be something wrong with you and it would be better to stay away. I've never felt the temptation to kill somebody or to get in a situation where I might have to while holding a gun. The day I do I sell my guns, thats for sure. I'm not saying I wanted to shoot people, it's simply that, while holding a gun, I felt that if someone were to attack me, I would be able to stop him with far greater ease than if I were unarmed. There's a great line from the movie Shoot 'Em Up where a character explains that Americans like guns because they allow wimpy guys to feel like tough guys. Merely possessing such a weapon radically alters the power relationship between two people. Homer wrote in The Odyssey, "The blade itself incites deeds to violence." In other words, the very presence of weapons serves to encourage their use. What do you think a society would look like if everyone were armed? I don't think "an armed society is a polite society." It'd be downright terrifying.
  18. Mass Effect 2, which I consider greatly inferior to the preceding game. "Now wait," you say, "ME2 isn't a reboot or a re-imagining, you dope!" While it may not be as such, it's very different from the first game, to the point where the discontinuity between the two seems very jarring: - The gameplay was drastically altered, going from being an action-RPG to a Gears of War-style third-person shooter. Exploration was greatly scaled back, reducing much of the game to a series of linear corridors filled with conveniently-placed bits of waist-high cover. The weapon cooldown mechanic was replaced by "thermal clips" which is little more than an ammo system. - Shepard is busted back down to level 1, and the levelling system is much more superficial than in the first game as part of the genre-shift from RPG to shooter. Hell, I bet you could beat the final boss at level 1, if you could reach it. - Cerberus goes from a rogue Alliance black-ops group to a fully independent, pro-human organisation with access to tremendous resources. - The focus of the game underwent a shift from being about the ME universe to being about Shepard. Much of the first game was dedicated to exploration and learning about the game world, and while Shepard was depicted as being an extremely talented soldier, there was little sign of the "Shepard is Jesus in Space" approach that the next two games exhibited. In the second game, suddenly Shepard is the entire focus of the story, with nearly everyone gushing about he's the only hope for humanity, the galaxy, and so on. He's also the only who can solve his teammates' various personal problems, an element that was far less prominent in the first game. - The whole tone of the game changed. The first was your classic space opera with a few nods to hard sci-fi thrown in. The second game threw that away, and what we were left with is a some gritty, Fireflye-esque sci-fi shooter, filled with scantily-clad female party members (something completely absent from the first game) and Shepard as some badass, one-liner spewing action hero. TwentySided said it best: "But I’m not at all keen on the notion of a Shepard who is the only one who KICKS ENOUGH ASS to take on the Reapers. I’d like the game to maintain the pretense that they need him to do more than just hose the galaxy down with bullets until the problem goes away." - Even the music differed noticeably. The first game has this great, Vangelis-like soundtrack, while the second game went with a more generic, orchestral fare.
  19. I've only fired a gun a few times in my life, but it's impossible not to feel the sense of power it gives you. You hold the gun in your hand and think, "Yeah, now I'm badass, now I'm powerful. No one better mess me; I'll shoot em' dead!" The peculiarities of a nation, both good and bad, must ultimately arise from the character of its people, and I believe that the American ideal of "rugged individualism" is largely responsible for that country's bizarre fixation on firearms. When you have a highly-competitive, ultra-individualistic society where the "self-made man" is expected to make it on his own, without help from anyone, it's easy to see why people would feel the need to arm themselves.
  20. The thing is, Skyrim feels marvelous for the first few hours. After all, there's this big, expansive world with so much to do and so much to discover! But then it quickly dawns upon you that this whole world is a mile wide and an inch deep. But to Bethesda's credit, they did add some new "features," whereas the only things that Oblivion added were idiocies like the quest marker and worldwide level scaling. But Skyrim's new features are all shallow: Perks? A great many of them simply increase the damage your weapons do, which is completely redundant because your weapon skill level already affects this. Others just allow you to do the same things you did before, but with less difficulty. Others are completely useless - Speechcraft perks are mostly focussed on gaining more money, which was never an issue for me so I never wasted a perk point on this tree. Pickpocketing is worthless because most NPCs don't have anything worth pickpocketing. Lockpicking makes the asinine lockpick minigame easier, but lockpicks are so plentiful and the minigame so easy that investing perks here is largely useless as well. Most of the perks don't change your playing style in any meaningful way. Compare this to Fallout: New Vegas, where certain perks could grant new dialogue options, regenerate health while irradiated, avoid setting off floor mines, and so on. Dragons? Fighting dragons if fun enough the first time, but like so much else in the game, it quickly becomes tedious. You'll be engaged in some task, then suddenly a dragon drops out of the sky and you'll forced to drop whatever you're doing and deal with it. And since combat in the game is so simplistic, dragon fights usually come down to "Cast Dragonrend, hit it with your sword until it dies." Except, of course, when the dumb dragon decides it would much rather fly off and fry some deer or rabbit than deal with me, who is trying to kill it. Shouts? Only a few are useful (Unrelenting Force, Dragonrend), the rest are basically just a substitute for mage spells, making playing as a mage even more redundant. Followers? Most of them are have little in the way of personality or character, and serve mainly as beasts of burden. Their ability to fight is hampered by their boneheaded AI, and prior to the 1.6 patch, they didn't even level up with you. Again, compare this to New Vegas, where each companion gave you an additional perk, and had their own unique line of quests. Marriage? I managed to get married to an NPC by giving her a mammoth tusk. No, that's not some sexual innuendo, that's how marriage works in Skyrim. You wear a special amulet telling people you're available, you do some mundane task for them, and you get married, at which point your spouse moves in with you, cooks you meals, makes money for you, and almost nothing else. I could make a joke about how that's just like real marriage, but that would be too obvious. The "romances" in Skyrim make BioWare's cheesy love stories look like Casablanca in comparison. Oh, and the one NPC (Serana) who actually possesses some semblance of a personality? You can't marry her. Radiant quests? Oh, joy of joy, procedurally generated fetch and kill quests, which fill up the "miscellaneous" section of my journal like so much detritus. All of them are completely lacking in context beyond some NPC saying "Uh, yeah, some bandits or whatever stole something of mine, I'll pay you back if you get it for me." That's it. That's all the "Radiant quests" offer. Really, every new "feature" Bethesda added is completely half-assed and does nothing to mitigate the continued removal of features which has been a staple of TES since Morrowind.
  21. "Ghosts! Commie ghosts what don't know they're dead. Hoping to steal our rockets so they can fly up and paint the moon pink and draw a Lenin face on it!"
  22. Thank you very much sir, that just made my day. "Communism" is just one of those inherently funny words to me, like "weasel" or "chainsaw." Whenever I say the word, I want to wave my hands about and go "WOoooOOOOooo!" like I'm some sort of boogeyman.
  23. That's why the whole "responsible use" canard irritates me so much. You know how to use firearms responsibly? That's good...but thousands and thousands of people don't, and we ought to consider what is available to them. Just because some people can use something "responsibly" does mean it should be legal. Here in Canada, at least, people wishing to obtain a firearms licence are generally required to take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. I suspect that for Americans, however, even legislation akin to this would be considered an unacceptable encroachment on their "freedom."
  24. I also remember that happening at some point. No game will ever be "perfect" and a certain amount of disbelief needs to be uspended. It's a common means of defending a game: Person A points out a flaw in Game A, and Person B defends Game A by pointing out that the same flaw is present in the well-regarded Game B. What Person B invariably fails to realise is that the flaw in Game B is usually extremely minor, while the same flaw exists across the board in Game A to its tremendous detriment. When I was on BSN, people would complain (and rightly so) about the large amount of reused environments in Dragon Age II. The game's defenders would often retort with "B...b...but Dragon Age: Origins reused environments too!" What they won't mention is that the scope of the problem was much, much worse in DA2. Did a game like BG2 fail to recognise the player character's qualities, such a race, on occasion? Of course it did...except that the game never established a world that was rife with racial tension. The only real targets of racial hatred were the drow...hence why recruiting Viconia results in a reputation hit, and why some party members might wind up trying to kill her. She won't romance an elven PC, either, due to her prejudice. You can't say the same about Skyrim, where all of the (incredibly shallow) "romances" are open to you regardless of your race or gender. Was combat in Planescape: Torment bad? Yes, but combat is not at all the focus of the game. The focus is on the personal journey of The Nameless One to discover his past and find out why he cannot die. Saying the game's combat is bad is like complaining that a Bugatti Veyron has poor gas mileage. It's true enough, but also irrelevant considering what you're talking about. No one buys a Bugatti Veyron to save on gas. Even great RPGs will have their flaws and drawbacks. But in each case, there are other well-crafted elements, such as combat, narrative, quest design, NPC personalities, etc. that make up for their shortcomings. Skyrim, on the other hand, is flawed in every aspect. There's something wrong with everything, and it's usually a major thing. Quest design, exploration, choice and consequence, RPG mechanics, combat, are all severely lacking and extremely shallow. The only thing the game does well is its landscape design and mod-friendliness. But what does it say about a game when the fanbase's rallying cry is, "The modders will fix it!" and the first bit of advice given to new players is often "Go download these half-dozen or so mods to fix the game's egregious design flaws!"? My point, and the point the video's author makes, still stands - Skyrim is "dumbed down" largely because Bethesda's safety-scissors, hand-holding approach is manifest throughout. All paths are open to your character regardless of the character you've created. All quest-related NPCs, or even tangentially quest-related NPCs, are completely invulnerable, because Bethesda is terrified someone might make a choice that locks them out of a quest or faction. Some axe-wielding barbarian knucklehead can join the Mages' Guild so long as he can cast a few basic, low-level spells. And after thwarting the Thalmor agent's plot, he's automatically promoted to the rank of bloody archmage despite having demonstrated no real talent for leadership (or possibly even magic). That same knuckleheaded barbarian can go join the Thieves' Guild without any trouble whatsoever. In fact, the Thieves' Guild representative in Riften will speak to your character and automatically assume you're a thief, saying something like "You've never earned an honest septim, I can tell"...even if I've earned every septim legitimately. In Oblivion, I actually had to steal enough stuff to advance the Thieves' Guild questline. In fact, even finding the Thieves' Guild required a bit of work...because it's a freakin' guild of criminals. In Morrowind, there were minimum skill and attribute requirements to advance through the ranks of the Mages' Guild, or most other guilds for that matter. That's why Skyrim fails completely as an RPG. I establish a role, and the game disregards that role except in the most superficial manner. My skills are "meh" my level is "whatever," every path is open to me, no matter how little sense it makes, nearly everything scales to your level, including enemies, loot, and even quest rewards. Hell, it wouldn't even surprise me if someone could beat the final boss at level 1 without the use of cheats or exploits. To conclude, there's a quote from another forum (The Escapist, I think) that sums up Skyrim perfectly: "I believe that Skyrim is a Bigfoot pizza from Pizza Hut. Do you remember that pile? It was a massive pizza, like the size of a bathtub, made with the cheapest ingredients anyone has ever dared use in a consumable product. But, this Skyrim pizza, you eat it alone, in a room, for hours and days. Every piece of it sustains you, only so that you can continue on to eat the next piece. Every piece tastes bland, and offers you almost noting in the way of nourishment, but it's still pizza, so you're not upset to be eating it. Pizza is inherently good, but, god damn, the more you eat this pizza, the more you come to hate the taste of it. After a time, it becomes a punishment. "Oh god, not another slice of that same stale-ass ****. There's so much of it, and none of it makes me happy! All this time and not once have I felt satisfied!" This is the experience of playing Skyrim. It is an exercise in tedium that leaves you numbly continuing forward not for any meretricious reason, but only for its essential nature. TES games are always good in their nature, if not for what they offer. You will never feel as content to remain unsatisfied as you feel playing an Elder Scrolls game."
  25. Bethesda specialises in making the same game over and over, only each iteration possesses fewer features and more bugs. I must say, they really outdid themselves with the sheer number of bugs they managed to cram into Skyrim, such as how the release version ran about 50% slower than it should have due to Bethesda's programmers forgetting to enable compiler optimisations. Evidently their QA process amounts to little more than "Does the game install, yes/no?" And not only does each game remove yet more RPG features, they also have an NPC (M'aiq the Liar) who serves no purpose but to mock fans who complain about the removal of said features. Classy, Bethesda, very classy. Here's an excellent review that details more of just why Skyrim is an utterly mediocre game. Having an "open world" is nothing new or unique these days, so the game gets no points for that. It's an open world with nothing interesting to find except five variants of the same dungeon (Nord crypts, caves, fort ruins, Dwemer ruins, icy caves), each containing level-scaled enemies and level-scaled loot (which will be inferior to whatever you can make yourself). All but a few enemies level up with you, meaning you'll seldom encounter anything too dangerous for you to handle. And as the OP's video explained, the presence of a quest arrow renders the whole "open world" pointless, since you'll be led by the nose wherever you go, with no exploration required. Nor can you affect the world in any meaningful manner. Rising to the top of any one of the guilds might cause NPCs to give some remark like "Oh, you are the leader of the Companions"...if that. I can be the champion of every Daedric prince in Tamriel, I can be the one who defeated Alduin, I can be the Archmage of Winterhold, the Thane of almost every city in Skyrim, the one who won the civil war for the Empire...and yet when I go to join the companions, one of them says he's "never even heard of this person." Really? The world does not react to you in any way. Some shopkeeper in Riverwood was pleased that I had returned his "Golden Claw," having been very upset at its theft. I stole the thing the instant his back was turned...and he still kept talking about how glad he was to have it back every time I talked to him. The game does not react to the character you've created. Some waifish, elven sorceress with pitiful melee combat skills is accepted just as readily into the Companions as some hulking Nord warrior...and that same Nord warrior can join the mages' guild just as easily as the waifish elf. Despite the obvious racism present in Skyrim, there's next to no reaction to your character's race whatsoever. Despite the fact that Windhelm is supposed to be a hotbed of prejudice against people like Dark Elves and Argonians, playing as either of those races elicited no unique responses at all. One NPC even asked my High Elf Dragonborn if I were one of those "Skyrim for the Nords" types. Um...what? They barely even react to what you're wearing...someone can wear Stormcloak armour into an imperial-controlled and the worst that will happen is you'll get a few irritated remarks from certain NPCs. I distinctly recall strutting into Windhelm as a High Elf wearing Thalmor robes...and somehow I wasn't attacked on sight. The quests are consummately terrible, and offer no freedom or multiple resolutions at all. Take, for instance, the "Blood on the Ice" quest. Listening to NPCs in Windhelm, you hear that a serial killer is one the loose. If you go poking around peoples' houses, you can find evidence that clearly indicates which NPC is the murderer. But can you take this evidence to the guards? No. Can you take the law into your own hands and slay the killer? No, because he's flagged as "Essential." So you are forced to go along with a few false leads, allow a few more NPCs to be murdered, before the game will allow you to deal with him. And this is how nearly every quest in the game goes. Shamus Young has a five-part series talking about the Thieves' Guild and how it is a poorly-designed, badly-written quest line...and none of the other guilds are much better, to be honest. Combat is even less interesting than in previous TES games, as the best way to fight is by making sneak attacks with a Daedric bow for massive damage...a strategy aided by the boneheaded enemy AI that seems awful quick to go from "Hey, someone just shot my friend in the face!" to "Ahh...it was probably nothing. Playing as a mage is distinctly unsatisfying, as spells do not scale with your level, but enemies so, so your spells will invariably become obsolete. Spellmaking is gone, and weapon enchanting has been greatly scaled back. Were player-crafted spells overpowered in Oblivion? Sure, but creating obscenely-powerful spells and weaponry was part of the fun. Let's compare this to another "open world" game, Fallout: New Vegas: - Your stats and attributes matter. A character with an Intelligence of 1 will talk like a moron ("I is scientistic"), while one with a higher intelligence can do things like spout Latin phrases to a Legion POW in an attempt to convince him that he's an assassin come to kill him. At the very beginning of the game, the Courier can use skills like Explosives, Speech, and Barter to convince the people of Goodsprings to aid in a fight against the Powder Gangers. Get your Speech skill high enough, you can even talk your way out of fighting the final boss. - Exploration has risks and rewards. Poking about might net you some powerful loot, like the Ratslayer or YCS/186. But you might find enemies more powerful than you can handle at your level...try going into Dead Wind Cavern at a low level and see how well you fare. - There are no "essential" NPCs. Everyone can be killed, even faction leaders. The only NPC that can't be killed is Yes Man, and that makes sense since he's a Securitron who can transfer his personality to another body. If I wanted to, I could empty my gun into Caesar's face and slaughter his entire camp, and the game will recognise that I killed him. When I'm confronted by Vulpes Inculta, the second his back is turned I can blow his head into bloody chunks with my 12-gauge. If this were Skyrim, I could not do that - he'd be "essential" until the exact moment the game says he must die. - Many major quests have multiple solutions, often geared to specific character builds. When I go to find a new Sheriff from Primm, for example, I can either convince the NCR to pardon the former sheriff, reprogram the Primm Slim to serve as sheriff, or get the NCR to take control of Primm. And that's just one example. I could go on and on about Skyrim's failings. But I'm not going to blame the dumbing down entirely on Bethesda wanting to capture the "casual market." No, I blame it on good old fashioned incompetence, which Bethesda possesses in great measure.
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