You didn’t think I’d leave this sucker behind, did you?
The fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series is an action-adventure RPG by Bethesda in which dragons are a rising threat to an otherwise peacef- oh wait, there’s a civil war too, and necromancers, and giants, and vampires, and werewolves, and… Anyway, your skinny/furry/scaly head is saved from rolling off your neck into a basket at the last second by a dragon attack, after which you end up discovering that you have powers related to dragon-slaying.
You gone done it.
Irony, like every other Elder Scrolls game, allows you to chisel your character’s frontispiece in detail, after choosing from a variety of races such as White People, Blindingly White People, Slightly Less White People, Black People, Legolas, Brown Legolas, Never-Saw-The-Sun Legolas, Velociraptor, Neko, and Orc. There’s always Orc.
Naturally, I went with Velociraptor, because not only can they open doors, they wear pants properly.
So what do you do in Medieval Hoarding? You might as well ask what don’t you do. There’s all sorts of plots and quests to follow, and, uh… Questing, plotting to quest, questing to plot quests. Yeah, basically you do stuff for other people and you get rewards… But look at the scenery!
WARNING: May contain traces of dragons
Please the local top cat enough, and he’ll name you the equivalent of sheriff of the place. He might even give you a house! Why would you want a house? Well, maybe because if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself hoarding clutter like there’s no tomorrow, with no place to keep any of it. In the land of rimmed skies, no container is safe from the demons of respawning, save for those inside your hard-earned haven. You can also marry and have your spouse rot there for the rest of their life!
But what is the point of Quests With Scenery? Well, killing dragons, for one. Despite the countless hours that I have spent shooting arrows into everything but knees, I haven’t finished the game yet, so it’s not like I can spoil the ending or the final purpose of it all. Soon after your botched execution, you learn that you are the fabled Dragonborn, an individual born with specific powers who comes along every century or so as a gift from the gods to get mortals out of some bind that inexplicably can only be neutralized by someone who can sneeze a dragon off the skies. Not that this is out of place, on the contrary. The environment and especially the music do a great job of making the whole experience feel epic, especially while battling dragons.
That’s as close as I can get to a dragon before shitting my pants.
As far as skill development goes, I’ve always been a fan of how this series handles that. For those less familiar with the Elder Scrolls games, almost every attempt at anything, from interacting with merchants to battling, to lockpicking, to crushing ingredients to make potions, increases your experience in that skill, therefore making you better at that specific skill through training, regardless of success. Many RPGs instead give you experience points that you can then spend on anything, making it possible for you to become better at, say, magic, from beheading goblins in a cave with an axe. Unless you ate the brain of a shaman, that’s not gonna happen. Those that don’t do that have predetermined skill trees for each pre-selected class, and I was never much of a fan of those, mainly because it feels a tad too restricted, at least in games that rely on rich details and freedom for your character. I wouldn’t ask that of Hammerwatch, for example.
I should be able to buy a boat
For all its breathtaking scenery, rich lore, and inspiring battles, even Epic Sneezing does not come without faults:
Bugs. Bugs everywhere. Holy shit, so many bugs. Ant farms of them. But that’s almost a staple of Elder Scrolls, really, and it is understandable, due to the complexity of the game. Still, BUGS.
Every monster looks exactly the same. Little to none texture variance, which, in a game where you’re bound to meet plenty of monsters, is an invitation to visual boredom. Every beautiful sunset over the mountains won’t save the fact that every skeleton, troll, and bear looks the same.
The inventory screen is an aberration. I don’t think I have to say anything else, but my amygdala is begging me for a hyperbole: Imagine you have a lot of objects to sort in one room, imagine you can only know their name except when you hold them in your hands, imagine you can only see the names of about twelve of them at a time, then imagine you have to sort objects between this and another room, and you cannot see what is inside both rooms at the same time. All of this has to be done around five times a day, if not more.
The keyboard and the mouse are having their own civil war for dialogue and inventory menus. If you decide to use both for some reason, you’ll often end up challenging someone to a duel to the death when all you wanted to know were directions.
Followers are mentally-challenged, and the arbitrary limit of one follower serves no purpose.
Why does every book cover look the same?
I look like an idiot when I jump. In the game too.
Corpses become immaterial. In a game where I can pick up and move almost anything, this sounds contradictory.
If apples and bread heal me, why would I craft potions?
Like in every RPG, once you get the hand of the mechanics, everything turns into a lot of grinding just to increase your abilities. This is almost inevitable, but there are ways to make this less boring, and to fix everything mentioned above.
I loaded over 150 mods into my game, and I can say they solved all the problems above, and more. Now, of course, your machine needs to be able to handle them, and there will always be bugs, but you can’t possibly compare them to the ones in the vanilla game. The mod community is definitely to thank for imbuing The Buggy Scrolls with the life it needs. From enhanced visuals and sounds, survival systems, and texture variants, to difficulty enhancers, interface overhauls, and added content, they turned my experience with this game into a 10/10.
Due to public health concerns, I am not allowed to show the original inventory screen.
However, I am not here to review a modded game.