The Elder Scrolls

An Illusionist in Skyrim, part 2: Seeking Solitude

Tom Francis at

I’m playing Skyrim with a rule: illusion magic only. No direct violence, just pure deception. I’ve just reached Riverwood and exploited the locals into killing some bandits for me, then gone to sleep in the Hadvar family’s bed.

Because I am bad at basic arithmetic, I wake up at 4am. The entire family is standing around the bed, watching me, waiting for me to leave. It’s not yet light, so I sheepishly get out of their way and move over to one of the single beds in the corner for two more hours.

An Illusionist in Skyrim: Part 1

Tom Francis at

In Skyrim, a mage is an unstoppable storm of destruction. In real life, a mage is just an illusionist: they can't do much except trick you. If one of them turned out to be the world's only hope of salvation, hijinks would inevitably ensue. Hijinks and sudden death.

Since these are my two favourite things, I've decided to try playing this way. Skyrim does have a school of magic comprised entirely of illusions, and I'd tried it out on an ill-fated adventure in Now Playing a few months back. This time, though, I want to be even more strict: I can't wear any armour, hold any weapons, cast any non-Illusion spells, or ever attack anyone directly - not even with a punch. Yes. This is an excellent idea.

Dawnguard released on Steam

T.J. Hafer at

Like some kind of sneaky Dunmer, Skyrim's Dawnguard expansion showed up on Steam this afternoon acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The release coincides with Bethesda's presence at QuakeCon, which began today in Dallas. Skyrim is also currently on sale for $30, and with Dawnguard priced at $20, you can get them both for less than the normal price of Skyrim by itself. The forests of Riften will be filled with howls this night...

The Elder Scrolls Online impressions

Tom Francis at

You might have noticed we've been flinging up video interviews with the key designers behind the MMORPGification of the Elder Scrolls series. That's because I went out to their studio in Baltimore to see it. We've got an in-depth preview in the issue out in the UK on the 6th, but I'll give you a quick breakdown of what I thought, in various areas.

How The Elder Scrolls Online plans to improve MMOs: "I look at the world, not at my hotbar"

Tom Senior at

High level MMO play is typically associated with stacks and stacks of ability icons lighting up and flickering in and out of of cooldown animations. Zenimax reckon that modern technology and improved latency means there's no need to rely on those flashing icons when you can accurately see how the action is playing out in the game world. You'll still have combat skills, of course, but they'll be tucked away in a minimalist interface designed to bring the player further into the world.

Lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle explains. "I think a lot of the previous generations of MMOs a lot of the game is looking at that UI and playing it. Technical restrictions were such that we couldn't have that sort of fully immersive battle experience because people weren't where they were, where you would see them, they were somewhere else.

"But we wanted to create an immersive experience because that's the modern game, that's the modern RPG," he says. "One in which I look at the world, not at my hotbar. Not at numbers that are flying up."

How combat works in The Elder Scrolls Online

Tom Francis at

I had a chance to chat with the lead designers of the forthcoming Elder Scrolls MMO recently, and I asked them how combat and character progression work. Gameplay designer Nick Konkle talked me through how they've tried to apply the principles of the Elder Scrolls games into an MMORPG.

Your skill bar in The Elder Scrolls Online has six slots, so Nick explained what you can put in each one. With great enthusiasm.

Skyrim item codes

Tom Hatfield at

Back in our Skyrim Console Commands post, we told you how to give yourself items using the in game console, simply by typing player.additem and the correct code. Of course, that only works if you know exactly what command to type. That's why we've researched all the codes for all the weapons and armour in Skyrim, just find the code for the item you want and you can produce it easily. If you're interesting in spawning NPCs, check out our list of Skyrim NPC Codes instead. Click through for the full list of codes.

Skyrim NPC Codes

Tom Hatfield at

If you enjoyed our list of Skyrim Console Commands, you'll know that a lot of need reference codes for NPCs and items. Well, good news! Now we've compiled a list of those too! We already gave you a list of Skyrim Item Codes but now we're bringing you references for all the NPCs and enemies in the game. The Base ID is used with a 'place at me' command to spawn new creatures, that's how we managed to summon the horde of dragons in the video up above, while the Ref ID is with the 'move to' command to take you to an existing NPC. Click through for the full list.

The Elder Scrolls Online trailer released, website live

Owen Hill at

Boomy, Michael Gambon-esque voice? An ancient symbol coming together in the mists, possibly the mists of time? Epic, rousing music? No actual sight of gameplay? Why, yes! It's the Elder Scrolls online trailer, which we've been eagerly awaiting since the game's announcement yesterday. has just gone live, too, but at the moment it's just some atmospheric HTML holding the above trailer, nothing more. We did have fun switching the copyright notice at the bottom between French, German and English though.

Elder Scrolls Online announced! An MMO set in the world of Skyrim

Graham Smith at

Elder Scrolls Online has just been announced, to the pretend shock of people who definitely didn't already know that was happening. It's being made by Zenimax Online Studios, the studio founded by Bethesda's parent company to develop massively multiplayer games. There have been a lot of rumours that Elder Scrolls Online was going to be their first game, but this is the first time we've heard anything concrete.

This will also be the first time the Elder Scrolls universe has been the setting for anything other than a singleplayer game. We know very little about it so far, though Game Informer have started to trickle out the details. So far they've revealed that it's "set a millennium before the events of Skyrim as the daedric prince Molag Bal tries to pull all of Tamriel into his demonic realm." The game will also include vast PvP conflicts between three factions, in which players will fight for the Emperor's throne, as well as "solo questing" and "public dungeons".

Most exciting: the first teaser trailer is due to hit tomorrow morning. Read on for a bit more mad speculation.

The Elder Strolls, Part 1: Fresh Off The Boat

Christopher Livingston at

It's morning, and I've just arrived in Skyrim. I wear no armor, just simple clothing and footwraps. I carry no two-handed broadsword, just a small iron dagger. No fearsome warpaint adorns my face and no jagged scars tell stories of hard-fought battles won. I have no priceless treasures or magical artifacts, just a handful of gold coins and a single piece of fruit.

I won't be looting ghoul-infested crypts or rampaging through bandit-occupied forts, I won't be helping citizens with their various problems and quests, and I certainly won't be awakening any dragons. My name is Nordrick. I'm not a hero, I'm an NPC, and I'm here not to play Skyrim, but to live in it.

The 11 best Skyrim mods so far

Tom Hatfield at

Skyrim is a wonderful game. It's so good that Tom gave it 94% in our Skyrim review, but as good as Bethesda games are, they're always a little bit better once they're modded. Amazingly, despite the fact that the game has only been out for a few days, there are already over a hundred mods on Skyrim Nexus. We've rounded up the best of the first wave - they're not game-changers, but some of these are worth taking a look at.

We're planning to regularly update this page as more mods come out. New mods will be added and old ones will either be updated or fall by the wayside.

Saturday Crapshoot: The (Lost) Elder Scrolls

Richard Cobbett at

Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week, he's busy cursing empty, yet surprisingly detailed threats at Bethesda for thinking a tutorial was a good place for giant spiders. GRR! But also...

Skyrim! It's here, it's awesome, and you're probably playing it right now, aren't you? But here's something interesting you may or may not know - while it's officially The Elder Scrolls V, it's actually the seventh game set in its universe - not including expansion packs like Shivering Isles and Bloodmoon, or a set of mobile games for N-Gage and cellphones. Somewhere in the middle, two went missing - and their names are Battlespire and Redguard. What happened to these lost adventures?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review

Tom Francis at

Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil anything here - I'll steer clear of anything story-related beyond the premise. With another game, that would be tricky. With Skyrim, the stories that come from how the game works are often the best ones.

It's a frozen nation, just to the north of where the previous game, Oblivion, took place. A pleasantly brief introduction sets up the plot: Skyrim is in the middle of a revolt, you've been sentenced to death, and dragons have just shown up. Good luck!

At that point, you emerge from a cave into 40 square kilometres of cold and mountainous country, and that's it. Everything else is up to you.

Even after spending hundreds of hours in Morrowind and Oblivion, the sense of freedom in Skyrim is dizzying. The vast mountains in every direction make the landscape seem limitless, and even after exploring it for 55 hours, this world feels huge and unknown on a scale neither of the previous two games did.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim available to pre-load now, day one patch to fix bugs

Tom Senior at

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is now available to pre-load on Steam and Direct2Drive, letting you grab 99% of the files needed to run Skyrim. That should be about 6 gigabytes according to the system specs. Then the vital de-encryption data that will turn these files into Tamriel will be shunted to everyone at launch on Friday. Then the game will unlock and we'll all be able to finally play it ... almost.

Once Skyrim is decrypted, you'll then have to wait for another download before playing. Bethesda say that "All platforms going to 1.1 by 11/11/11" with a day one patch that "fixes some minor stability and quest progression issues." Skyrim's going to have a pretty huge world map, and there's bound to still be a few bugs lurking in there somewhere. Oblivion and Fallout 3 had problems with AI getting stuck in doors, objects floating mysteriously and other bizarre anomolies. It wouldn't be a Bethesda launch without a few of those hitting YouTube.

The Elder Scrolls: V Skyrim has gone gold, "sweet golden mead" quaffed in celebration

Tom Senior at

A post on the Bethblog on Friday announced that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is done. "We’re pleased to announce that after more than three years of hard work, the team at Bethesda Game Studios has completed over 20 versions of Skyrim — across multiple platforms, languages, and countries. That’s right, Skyrim is officially gold!" cheers the announcement.

The team celebrated with a drop or two of golden mead, which has already played its part in Skyrim's development.

Beyond the excitement of the fact that one of the biggest games of the year is finished and on its way into shops, it's worth noting that Bethesda are cutting this rather fine. Typically games go gold several weeks before release to give the freshly printed discs time to leave the factories and make their way to stores. Skyrim is out this Friday, apparently just seven days after being finished.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Todd Howard Interview

Tom Francis at

This interview originally appeared in PC Gamer UK issue 232. Alongside our Skyrim preview.

Playing Skyrim made me realise just how huge, fresh and exciting it really is. I asked game director Todd Howard how far it’s come from Oblivion, and what some of his favourite discoveries have been.

Late to the Party - We play the classic games we missed first time around

PC Gamer at

This feature originally appeared in PC Gamer UK 230.

Most gamers have a secret shame. There’s always one classic title everyone raves about that you never quite got around to playing at the time – either because nobody was raving about it back then, or because you played the first level and couldn’t make head or tail of it.

It’s a quirk of PC gaming: a lot of our true classics, particularly the old ones, are baffling or intimidating to play. It’s their complexity that makes them so great, but it’s also what makes them off-putting if you don’t immediately grasp how they work. A game that gives us a great amount of freedom also gives us the freedom to miss what’s good about it.

So we moan at each other, endlessly, to play the things we love. Graham, how have you still not played Deus Ex? Rich, why would you skip Morrowind? Craig, you like crosshairs! Play IL-2 Sturmovik!

It’s time to find out what we’ve been missing all this time.

Skyrim will feature Dark Brotherhood, five cities and 130 dungeons

Matt Purslow at

Bethesda Softworks are tantilisingly releasing more Skyrim information every day. Today's update comes from the Dutch magazine Power Unlimited. Read on for the details.

Confirmed: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will use an entirely new engine

Tom Francis at

Bethesda Softworks community manager Nick Breckon has confirmed that the next Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, will use an all new engine. This is contrary to a recent rumour that Bethesda's next game would still use the Gamebryo engine that powered The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3.