Published on November 23rd, 2011 | by Bob20
Guest Article: 10 Things I’d Like to See Added to Skyrim
(please note that all experiences are derived from and based on my experience playing the PC version of Skyrim. Also, dicks -Ed)
Well, I have to start somewhere. I aim for this to be a place of short reviews and opinion pieces, so here’s a good place to start: the game out of which I am currently playing the ever-loving piss. That was an oddly-constructed sentence.
This article may come off as overly-critical, but let me preface this by saying that Skyrim is easily one of the best games I’ve played this year – hell, easily one of the best games I’ve played this decade. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Well, I guess they do because it only came out a week ago. I think by “they,” I meant “everyone but Bethesda.”
However, it is far from perfect. Luckily, with the advent of the age of post-launch support, there are plenty of things that can be still be added to the game, either as part of a paid DLC package or as a patch update. Things like…
10. The Snow Elves
If you’ve explored a few dungeons yet in Skyrim (which is like saying “if you’ve juggled a few titties in the 4 hours you’ve been in that brothel”), you’ve probably run into the Falmer. Blind, nasty, Tolkien-Orc-like creatures that live exclusively underground and hate everything. What you may have missed if you’re not one to read the books laying around everywhere, is that they were once a race of Elves. They were originally knows as Snow Elves, a native race of Skyrim that made the mistake of fucking with the Nords at some point. The Nords drove them underground, where they were enslaved by the now-supposedly extinct Dwarves. Now, after centuries of living underground, they’ve all become equal parts blind and pissed off.
However, I find it hard to believe that the entire race has undergone such a transformation. Part of the lore indicates that the Dwarves fed the Snow Elves a particular fungus to accelerate their devolution. What if there was a faction that managed to avoid being detected by the Dwarves before they disappeared? What if some escaped Skyrim altogether without ever being forced underground? What if they came back?
Such a splinter faction isn’t uncommon in RPGs. Take World of Warcraft, for example. In the first expansion alone, they created two major splinter factions: The Draenei and the Brown Orcs, two previously-undiscovered factions that had escaped the corruption of their counterparts (Eredar and regular ol’ Green Orcs, respectively). It was a fresh take on established lore and it fit perfectly.
The return of the Snow Elves could make an interesting DLC package, one that would expand on the lore from the game, and possibly offer yet another conflict in a game that already has conflicts coming out of every orifice.
It could even mark a new playable race. In the very first Elder Scrolls Game (Arena), there were 8 playable races: Argonian, Breton, Dark Elf, High Elf, Khajit, Nord, Redguard, and Wood Elf. As of the current installment, over 17 years later, there have only been 2 new races added to the franchise (Orcs and Imperials, both of which were added in Morrowind and have persisted in Oblivion and Skyrim). I can see why the threat of adding too many races could oversaturate the character choices, but what’s the harm in adding 1 teeny little new race after 9 years? It’s not like TES games are multiplayer, so there’s no balancing to worry about. Just give us some uppity pointy-eared fruits with a Frost Blast racial ability and make us all happy.
9. Fix the Port Issues
Word on the E-Street (band) is, Skyrim’s PC version is actually a console port. Thing is, it’s a goddamned good console port. Everything that should be part of a PC game is there. The graphics are brilliant, mods are abundant, console commands can either improve the game or make a fun experience for cheatyfaces, , and god DAMN is there more screen space when you set your field of view to 90+ (TAKE NOTE, INFINITY WARD. BETHESDA’S RPG DID WHAT YOU FAILED TO DO IN YOUR FUCKING FPS).
That being said, there are a few issues. They’re in no way game breaking, or “proof that the developer hates the PC Gaming Master Race,” but they’re annoying and could use some fixing. The most prominent is the confusion of your character’s hands vs. your mouse controls.
Skryim puts major emphasis on the characters’ hands – spells, shields, and one-handed weapons are all assigned to individual hand. Then, to use the equipped item/spell/sex toy, you press that hand’s corresponding attack button. Simple enough, right? On Xbox, you press the Left Trigger, your character uses his left hand. You press the Right Trigger, right hand. Easy.
The thing is, Xbox has always traditionally used the Right Trigger as its “Primary Fire” button, with the Left Trigger pulling a more auxiliary role. For example, in Call of Duty, by default it’s used to aim down your weapon’s sights. In Halo, it’s used to throw a grenade. It’s easy to make the adjustment for Left Trigger using the other hand when dual wielding. When a 2-handed weapon is being used (such as a Greatsword or a Bow), Right and Left Trigger reassume their traditional roles as Primary-Secondary. Right attacks, Left blocks or does that weird fist-bump thing the bow has.
However, when everything is translated over to PC, things get wonky. The mouse doesn’t use its right button as the traditional Primary Fire, it uses the left. Right becomes the secondary button (citing a previous example, it aims down sight in CoD). This transition was overlooked in the porting process, and fuck me if it isn’t confusing as hell. When using a two handed weapon, Left Mouse button is Fire, Right is Block. When dual wielding is being used, all hell breaks loose because the Right Hand is still the Primary, and Left is the Secondary, but on the mouse those positions are reversed. Confused yet? So was I, especially if I was using a sword and a spell together. By default, Left Click is Right Hand and vice-versa. I ended up binding the Mouse buttons to the opposite of their default, so that RMB = Right Hand and LMB = Left Hand, because I play a character that is mainly concerned with Dual Wielding. However, whenever I pull out a bow, I have to fire it with Right Mouse instead.
Again, it’s not gamebreaking, but it could definitely use some tuning up. As it is now, it’s unintuitive and definitely takes some getting used to. At level 45 I’m accustomed to it by now, yet I still find myself occasionally fist-bumping the air instead of notching an arrow.
Another small complaint is that the conversation and inventory menus are sometimes glitchy when trying to click a selection. Sometimes when an option is already highlighted, clicking a different option will reselect the highlighted option instead.
8. I’m Not Dreaming of a White Christmas
You know, for an Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim isn’t very racially diverse. I understand that it’s meant to be more Nord-heavy than anything else because it’s the Nordish ancestral homeland, but god DAMN there are a lot of Aryans. Sometimes I expect to walk out of my house in Whiterun to be greeted by a bunch of hateful blue eyes behind a burning cross.
I’m one of about 3 Khajit I’ve met so far in the game, not counting that asshole thief who tried to rob me on the road. And I’ve been to every major city and met hundreds of NPCs. Oblivion seemed to have a nice mix of races, because Cyrodiil was supposed to be a crossroads of sorts, a place where all of the races were forced to coexist (although some unhappily).
In Skyrim, every settlement is a Nord one. I had high hopes at the beginning of the game, hearing about a Khajit trading caravan and “Those Elves up in Winterhold.” I thought that Skyrim would go out of its way to come up with reasons why the region was becoming more of a cultural melting pot. As it turns out, the Khajit trading “caravan” is one guy, there are about 7 people in the College of Winterhold, only 4 or 5 of which are Elves, and the most racially diverse town in the game, Windhelm, is less like New Orleans and more like Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1950’s.
7. Bug Fixes
Pretty self-explanatory. It’s a Bethesda game. It’s huge. It’s open-ended. It’s buggy as fuck. There are very few present bugs that don’t affect both the PC and console versions of the game.
Luckily, Bethesda seems to be compiling bug reports and are more than likely planning to release bug-fixing patch updates. Even if they don’t, the community will get around to it eventually. Oblivion had one of the buggiest launches known to the universe, and the community eventually came up with http://www.tesnexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=5296, a fan-made patch which corrects over 1800 present bugs in the game.
6. Allow Me to Craft Arrows
This is a small one, but any of my fellow Archers will agree on this one. There is currently no way to craft arrows, and instead they must be either found or bought. This is pretty annoying when trying to stock up on Daedric Arrows (the most powerful ammunition in the game), as very few enemies and merchants carry them. Even Ebony arrows (the second best) are scarce, as marchants typically only stock about 15-20 at a time.
Being able to craft powerful arrows would keep dedicated archers supplied with an abundance of their preferred ammo, and give them more of a reward for leveling the Smithing tree. The materials are all present in the game. The heads (Steel, Ebony, etc) are all crafting ingredients already, and Wood is an item that is present in-game but serves no purpose other than being worth a tiny amount of gold.
It would be a relatively small change really, but would at least do something to make ranged weapons more attractive.
5. Make Ranged Weapons More Attractive
As it stands now, Ranged weapons (bows, really) are nothing but sidearms, rather than a primary class unto itself. It does well in this role, serving as an opener for stealth classes who can’t sneak behind their target, or for someone with no magical ability trying to kite a mammoth across the continent. But it doesn’t seem right to even give it its own skill tree considering it’s hardly a viable form of sustained combat.
Aside from there being almost no reason to use to a bow beyond an opening shot, or a dragon fight, there’s absolutely no variety. You want to play a ranged character? Bows. That’s it. Crossbows were present in Morrowind, but even then there were only 2 of them in the game and they’ve disappeared ever since. Why can’t we have crossbows back? And Dwarves managed to make robots, but no one has invented a gun yet? Thrown weapons, such as small throwing daggers, would make an excellent addition to a sneaky stealth class, with perhaps a similar perk to the dagger sneak attack proficiency. And yet no one in Tamriel has thought to huck a sharp thing at their adversaries.
Okay, to be fair, I don’t want TES to become World of Warcraft (and if I recall correctly, those were the 4 classifications of ranged weapons in WoW – Bows, Crossbows, Guns, and Thrown). The bow fits the classic Elder Scrolls archtype of The Thief better than a throwing knife does, but it would be awesome. Although, I root for throwing knives to be put in every game (Come on, Valve! The Spy is a man of many disciplines. And you, Mojang. I have some pigs that are too far away to hit with my sword, and I’m sick of stocking up on arrows).
But, in my opinion, Elder Scrolls’ ranged game is looking very plain, and could definitely use some spice. Enchantments don’t do much to excite me either. I just ask for at least one separate ranged weapon class so that the Ranged tree can at least have a choice in weapon specializations, like the two melee trees do.
4. Unlock ALL the Perks!
Currently, the max level in Skyrim is 50. Each level, you gain access to a new Perk. There are 180 perks in Skyrim, not counting those that have multiple levels (For example, the Armsman Perk can have up to 5 Skill Points sunk into it, providing +20% bonus damage with One-Handed Weapons per point). There is no way to get all of the perks you’d like with the current level cap.
Sure, some people might be a bit unreasonable and say that they’d like EVERY perk in the game, totally maxed out. That might be asking a lot, but even more modest goals are denied. I leveled my character as a Light Armor user, and ranked my Smithing up along with everything else in order to outfit myself with some nice digs whenever I could afford it. Obviously, I traveled up the Light Armor branch of Smithing (the Smithing Tree is actually a circle. You start at the bottom, and can either travel left for Light Armor or Right for Heavy, and it meets at the top for Dragonscale Smithing). After I’d finally crafted my Dragonscale Armor, I tried to grab the next perk to the Right, which was getting into the Heavy side of smithing – Daedric Smithing, which would allow me to craft some of the best weapons in the game. Due to what I assume is a bug, the game wouldn’t let me take the perk without first leveling up the rest of the Heavy Armor branch.
This was an inconvenience, to be sure, but I did it anyway because I’m nothing if not a loot whore. In retrospect, it was a pretty dumb idea, because it was a waste of 4 skill points that I’ll never get back. 4 skill points is a pretty hefty amount when you only have 50 to throw around.
I also made the mistake of putting a point or two into Speech for better merchant prices before going on a huge selling/spending spree. At the time, I wasn’t even aware of the game’s level cap. Honestly, with only 50 points to spend, I don’t see how anyone can spend any points in Speech at all without missing out too much on the Combat or Crafting sides of things – especially when gold is so easy to come by.
Oblivion had a console command that released the level cap, but Skyrim is lacking such a feature. Maybe this is because Bethesda plans on introducing a DLC Pack that raises the level cap, similar to an MMO expansion. Maybe they plan on offering extra levels in microtransactions. I can’t say for sure, but I hope that’s what they’re doing, otherwise I’m stuck being the only person dumb enough to put points into Speech.
This all wouldn’t be so bad if there were any way to reallocate your skill points. Instead, once you make a decision, it’s goddamn final. It’s like I’m playing Diablo II all over again. “Respecs” would be very welcome.
3. Actually Make Dragons Somewhat Interesting
I’m not the only one to complain that “Epic” Dragon encounters have less to do with outsmarting and tackling a giant, ancient opponent, and more to do with cursing a stupid flying lizard until it lands and then instantly raping it with whatever weapon I have handy.
It’s probably too late to suggest that maybe Dragons could be made more interesting by fighting them Shadow of the Colossus or God of War-style. More than likely all we’re going to get is that lame, not-quite-right animation where the character jumps halfway onto the dragon’s head and lazily slashes at it a few times for the kill. I can live with that. But can we at least make the Dragons something of a challenge before that dull-ass finisher? Or at LEAST change the encounter from breed to breed?
Right now, there are several breeds of Dragon: Black (aka “Vanilla”) Dragons, Blood Dragons, Frost Dragons, Elder Dragons, and Ancient Dragons. All of them use either Fire or Ice breath attacks. That’s it.
…wait what? Only Fire or Ice? Come on! The game only has 3 elements in it, and you’re not even going to use all 3 for Dragon encounters? And who says they have to be purely elemental beings? Here’s an idea:
Black Dragons use Fire, like a regular boring goddamn Dragon.
Frost Dragons use Ice, because what the fuck else would they use.
Blood Dragons deal non-elemental magic damage but steal health when they do so (this is a weapon enchantment in the game).
Elder Dragons use Shock, because I don’t know what else to assign Shock to.
Ancient Dragons use a mix of all 4.
Come on! Is that so hard?
2. Give Me Something to do with Souls
Speaking of how damn easy Dragons are, I have more of their Souls than I know what to do with. If you were to learn all 3 parts of every shout in the game, you would need exactly 60 souls. But Dragons are random encounter and limitless, and are encountered fairly often. Words are less so. Last I checked, I have about 9 unused Dragon Souls and the only reason I’m learning half of the Shouts I do is because…why the hell not? I don’t have anything else to spend them on. But what am I going to do with a Shout that makes the snow stop? I really only use 3 shouts at any given time (Unrelenting Force, Fire Breath, and Elemental Fury).
What if I could actually spend my Dragon souls on something useful instead? What if they could be used as the next step up from Grand Souls in Enchanting? What if I could temper my Dragonscale Armor with Dragon Souls, making it even more powerful? What if there was some eccentric dude out there collecting jarred Dragon Souls in exchange for festive hats?
1. Festive Hats
Come on, Valve did it!