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TES Marathon

Discussion in 'The Elder Scrolls 1-4' started by Ziad, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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  2. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    There is no such thing as too much advice Chandos :) The only thing I wouldn't want is spoilers, but so far no one has included any so it's all good. And just so you know, I don't consider "you missed a few quests in the city" a spoiler; for that it would have to be "you should have talked to Jensine and she would have revealed this complex plot about how Azura is really the one behind the Oblivion crisis". Or something similar ;)

    Charm would have been a good idea now that I think of it! I guess I'm still not used to how useful magic is, mainly because I hadn't realised how quickly magic regenerates (and I got so used to the Atronach in Morrowind). I'm getting used to the minigames now, even managed to figure out how to time the lockpicking. Speaking of guilds, the reason I couldn't join any early on my first try is that I couldn't find the guildhalls in the Imperial City (if they exist). I had to wait until I got to Chorrol to join the Fighers Guild, and even then I can't get any quests there. As for the Mages Guild I need to get all the recommendations (got the Chorrol one) and that seems to be a long process.

    Considering the overwhelming negativity of my previous post I feel compelled to write about good thing in the game to balance it out a bit. Restarting was a good idea (I had a save left at the sewer exit so didn't have to go through the tutorial), as I'm now paying much better attention to skill progress. Previously I just kept track of which skills were being raised (for the attribute bonus) then, when I was one Major skill away from a level-up, I would try to spam other skills to get the 5x multiplier. Needless to say it wasn't much fun. Now I'm spreading the increase in Minor skills over the entire level. For example, I wanted to raise Strength at level 1, and I was using a Steel Shortsword as my main weapon. Whenever I raised any Major other than Blade, I'd switch to H2H long enough to raise it by one, then switch back to Blade. The whole process feels much more natural; by the time I've raised 10 Major skills I already have my two attributes with maxed multipliers without having to do any extra work (Endurance needs no work since Armorer and Heavy Armor go up so quickly).

    I'm also starting to get the hang of combat. Previously I was focusing on trying to get as many power attacks as possible. That was a mistake. They're too slow, which makes it much harder to hit opponents when they're unbalanced and also makes me more susceptible to counterattacks. By focusing on regular attacks I seem to be doing better. Somehow NPCs still seem harder than animals (and that's not linked to Francesco; trying to play with and without the mod was identical as far as the combat AI is concerned) but I no longer have to tone down the difficulty.

    The landscape is beautiful. Just like in Morrowind walking through the countryside at night is a pleasure, especially with distant lands. Standing on top of a hill and seeing your destination far in the distance is a nice touch. Unfortunately a lot of this potential is thrown out by the choice of setting. Vvardenfell had this unique, alien and truly wondrous landscape; by comparison Cyrodiil is as generic and standard as it gets. All the forts look the same, castles and houses all follow the same basic design... sure there's wood and stone buildings, but compared to the completely different feel between Redoran, Hlaalu, Telvanni and Imperial architecture in Morrowind the lack of variety here is a bit of a shame. It seems to be the result of Bethesda retconning Cyrodiil from a more interesting jungle setting to the plain one found in the game.

    I found another interesting quest in Chorrol, "Canvas the Castle". Doing the detective work is fun, though I guess it would lose a lot of its charm with the quest compass pointing at exactly where the suspects are standing, never mind pointing to the clues you're supposed to find... The game's also far less generous with money. I don't even have 500 septims yet, and I've already sold anything valuable that I could find (without stealing). Looking at the prices for some of the houses (never mind the upgrades) I doubt I'll be buying one any time soon.
     
  3. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    You have been focusing on city quests. And that's pretty good but they don't pay very welll in terms of loot. Elven ruins are typically pretty good for loot, as are some forts (I won't give away which ones since they vary). Once you explore some of the dungeons you won't have a problem with loot.

    I'm glad you are liking the game a little better, Ziad.
     
  4. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    The real moneymaker is restore fatigue potions. Materials are plentyful and you will make a bunch to level alchemy anyway and you can sell them by the bundle.
     
  5. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    IMHO the strength of Oblivion is in taking the time to explore as much as possible before rushing through the main quest. Due to the way levels are handled it's better to have a few levels before getting into serious stuff as otherwise it can be a little bit silly.
    Of course I'm not taking into account mods that alter level lists.
    I'm in love with Shivering Isles and I think that you'll have a lot of good things to post about it Ziad.
     
    Chandos the Red likes this.
  6. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    Some more comments.

    Dialogue is giving me very mixed feelings. In some ways it's an improvement over the previous games with the much reduced number of topics you can talk about. It still feels odd when I want to ask someone about something but the game won't let me. They've gone a bit too much in the opposite direction. Random rumours about people feels very poor compared to the tons of lore you could get in Morrowind (yes I know, I was complaining about that aspect). Then there's the really ugly bit (probably the reason for the few topics), which is voice acting. A very small number of actors do a dozen characters each, and it sounds really bad when they don't even try to change their accent and tone or don't put some personality into it. The real disgrace is when the same NPC effortlessly switches between the voice of a young aristocratic woman and an old beggar, depending on which topic you pick. All the unnamed guards having the same voice I can easily understand (they all say the same thing anyway), but the complete mess made with many actors for one NPC and one actor for multiple NPCs is pathetic for a professional product made by over a hundred people with a budget of several millions. If you can't do full voice acting for everyone properly, then just don't do it, or do "partial voice acting" like the IE games.

    To balance out the criticism I'm going to talk about dungeons, and I have mostly good things to say there! I've been through a few and I'm impressed. The fort and cave were fun. Bethesda have finally hit the sweet spot with dungeons, as they're neither as tiny as in Morrowind nor as ridiculously expansive as in Daggerfall. Loot has been better, I've started to make some real money (still nowhere near as much as in Morrowind) and even found a nice pair of Dwarven gauntlets. Then I got into an Ayleid ruin and now I'm really impressed. Visuals and music are great. The atmosphere in there was fantastic, especially after I got to the lower level and had to fight ghosts... which are immune to Iron and Steel weapons, the only ones I have so far. I had to run away from them, avoiding their spells all the while trying to find good things to pick. I found a couple of Varla stones (they're worth a LOT too!), lots of Welkynd stones and one Ayleid statue. The Welkynd stones restore magicka, but I don't know what the Varla stones and the statue do, if anything. Are they just for selling, or is there some purpose behind them? I suspect they're quest items and that I have stumbled on this place a bit prematurely.

    I'm on my way to Bruma to do that recommendation. I have some lovely scenery screenshots that I'll upload later. I found a few nirnroot plants and now I have a quest to take them to some alchemist, which if I recall is a very long fetch quest. I've noticed there are no Oblivion Gates at all, do they start appearing after a certain point in the MQ? Am I better off postponing the MQ as long as possible in this case, to avoid the hassle of fighting daedra everywhere?
     
  7. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Don't sell it till you discover its real value!

    Gates appear at some point early in the MQ - and in different locations at different times.

    If they appear, you can aviod them, since the gates are easy to see from a distance. But I haven't done the main quest in quite a while. At about level 10 I would at least continue the main quest, according to your strategy. But my current level 37 character has only delivered the amulet and not bothered with the main quest (you don't need to for SI, which is more fun).

    I completely agree.

    Varla Stones are more valuable to keep rather than sell....
     
  8. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    Thanks, I'll be sure to hang on to them ;)
     
  9. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    Aren't these loading screens nice? I now know what the Varla Stones do. I also sold my Ayleid statue to Umbacano and even found him another one. On a completely different note I have one rather major complain to make about a very, very idiotic thing the game does: when I take screenshots it seems to reset to screenshot0.bmp every time I restart the game - overwriting old screenshots without warning! Unfortunately I lost many of my older ones, so I don't have as many to show.

    Aside from this things have been going well. I finally joined all the guilds (had to murder a hopefully-not-useful NPC for the Dark Brotherhood, got the invitation to join the Thieves after getting arrested for a quest in Bruma). I also finally, FINALLY completed all the recommendation quests for the Mages Guild, so I can go to Arcane University (Discworld anyone?) and get my spellmaking and enchanting! I'm at level 6 now, boosting Strength and Endurance (had to use Blunt and H2H a lot to get good multipliers) and I'm starting to think about the MQ. However I noticed Nirnroot seems to grow a lot near water, specifically around the river that runs from the Imperial City to Leyawiin, so I may go pick some flowers while there are no gates and daedra around, then start the MQ when I have a decent collection.

    There have been some fun quests so far, especially with the Thieves Guild. I'm not too impressed with the DB so far - I've heard it was the best guild line in the game, but so far evey quest but one involves killing someone. What I found most disappointing is that a lot of them have lost the multiple solutions that were so characteristic of the previous games. Here there's usually exactly one way to do it, and the annoying journal update pop-ups will spell out the solution without any ambiguity. Some quests seem to have so much potential at first but then quickly degenerate into pure hack and slash. The Cheydinhal painting quest is the best example: it seems really intriguing at first, especially after stepping through into the completely surreal paint world, but then all it involves is walking through a linear corridor killing 6 trolls to retrieve an item. At least some of the others are more involved, such as the Thieves Guild quest to retrieve the amulet from the Countess of Leyawiin. Just finding where the amulet is takes some work, then sneaking through the secret passage and into the castle was a lot of fun.

    I've got a much better grip on combat now, but fighting NPCs is still far more annoying than critters, for some reason. I can beat a storm atronach with bare fists without breaking a sweat, but a same-level NPC with a flimsy iron dagger can block my silver longsword effortlessly. The real annoyance though is the Security mini-game (good thing I took it as Major and with the Stealth specialisation!). I finally figured out how it works: the tumblers don't always go up at the same speed, and it's much easier to lock them when they move at the slower speed. There's both a visual and audio clue when they move slower, but still the time I've got to lock them is so short it requires better reflexes that I've got. Really the very presence of the auto-attempt says it all: if you've got a mini-game where you actually feel the need to include a button to bypass it, your mini-game is so annoying you might as well either change it or remove it completely.

    I have yet to buy any of the houses. They're all pretty expensive, and while I can afford some I'm not sure which one to go for yet, or whether I'm better off spending the money on upgrading the plugin locales (I've visited Deepscorn Hollow, Frostcrag Spire and Dunbarrow Cove). Frostcrag Spire seemed like a nice home thanks to the teleporters, but I can't take the horse with me, which severely limits their usefulness (especially since they're one-way trips, as far as I can tell).
     
  10. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    I don't know what's causing that. My game has never done that with screenshots (Fraps).

    I would go for the house in Anvil first, but that's just me. A few of them are much easier to aquire, but not as much fun. ;)
     
  11. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    I'm using the game's built-in screenshot taker, which does not seem like such a good idea anymore :p

    The one in Morrowind worked fine and kept increasing the number sequentially. I wonder if the many CTDs I get when exiting Oblivion are throwing the numbering off, hence why it keeps resetting. Still you'd think it would know not to overwrite existing files without asking!
     
  12. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Ziad - I would recommend Fraps, especially since it's a free download and it doesn't have any issues in TES, at least that I'm aware of.
     
  13. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    Thanks, FRAPS seems to work much better and I no longer have to worry about losing screenshots.

    Things are going well, although I have to complain about the inordinate number of fetch quests in the game, specifically the "gotta catch'em all" ones. First Nirnroot, then Ayleid statues, now Shadowbanish Wine... After a while it starts feeling as if Bethesda ran out of interesting quest ideas and decided to artificially lenghten the game with these collection quests. It wouldn't have been a problem at all if each dungeon was unique, but while the atmosphere (especially in the Ayleid ruins) is very good, after a while it becomes obvious there's very little variety in design. It gets worse when entire rooms are copy/paste from one ruin to the other. Fewer items to collect but making sure that each dungeon was unique would have left a much more powerful impression. As it is I can fondly recall the mood of the ruins, but not a single feature of any of them. To be fair Morrowind suffered a bit from this as well, but the presence of Levitation there meant the designers could get much more creative.

    There have been some surprisingly interesting quests though. "Through a nightmare darkly" is one of the most original of the misc quests so far, and while it's pretty simple the weird setting of the Dreamworld is pulled very well, and it manages to take advantage of its unique premise to offer more than simple hack and slash. The Mages Guild quest dealing with the Count of Skingrad was also fun and took a completely unexpected turn. Generally I'm not too impressed with the guild lines though, they're all strictly linear and don't have that much variety to them ("go there, fetch this, kill that"), with the exception of the Thieves Guild. They've got the best and most elaborate quests by far, and the total lack of "kill kill kill" quests makes for some much more original gameplay. Unfortunately they, like all other quests, suffer from the extreme linearity. There is only one way to do things and complete the quest optimally. It's disappointing, especially compared to the multiple solutions present in the previous games. Even when the storylines are interesting I kept wishing there was a different way to deal with the matter. The worst offender so far has been one of the Bravil misc quests, where the dreaded "cutscene mode" struck again and I had to helplessly watch while the guy I was supposed to save got killed. Forcing a single path on the player is bad enough, but taking away control for no reason other than to force a predetermined outcome is just poor design, and Bethesda of all people should know better considering so many quests had multiple outcomes in their other games.

    In other news, Vicente has offered to turn me into a vampire, and I have taken him up on his offer. I'm waiting for the disease to get hold so I can see what life as a vampire has to offer.
     
  14. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Finding a cure for vampirism is certainly the most painstakingly laborious quest I've ever completed... And I'm running out of expletives... :shake:
     
  15. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    While we're on the subject of being a vampire, are there any vampire-specific quests other than the cure? So far talking to people hasn't brought up any new topics.

    I've started the cure quest, and it's laborious alright. The witch wants me to find FIVE empty Grand Soul Gems before she'll even tell me what she needs for the cure itself! Interestingly this is also one of the few quests where you get no indication whatsoever where to go. You're completely on your own for finding them.
     
  16. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Here is some info:

    This link may be a bit of a spoiler for you but it contains a lot of info on vampirism within the game. So use this link with care.

    http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Oblivion:Vampirism
     
  17. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    Time for an update.

    Being a vampire in Oblivion wasn't as fun as in Morrowind, but it's certainly much easier. Stage 1 vampires don't get any sun damage and everyone keeps talking to them as normal (except for a slight drop in disposition), so as long as I remembered to feed before resting I didn't really suffer from any of the disadvantages. The downside is that there isn't anything special to do as a vampire, except get the cure. That was a fun quest, mainly because there's very little direction given. The witch has a long shopping list and only one item is given clear indication. For everything else I was completely on my own. I made a bad timing mistake when turning vampire in that my strength was 95, which meant that I couldn't raise it to 100 until after I got cured. The clever thing to do would have been to max strength first, then turn vampire and hold off using the cure. As it was I ended up taking the cure just before the level-up.

    At this stage my Redguard was level 12 and I decided it was time to start the main line. Things move pretty quickly at first; although the towers in Oblivion are annoyingly mazey I closed the gate relatively easily, cleaned out Castle Kvatch and got Martin and Jauffre to Cloud Ruler Temple. Something really annoying struck me about the structure of the MQ at this point. When I delivered the Amulet of Kings to Jauffre I remember thinking it would make more sense for me to keep it - after all I'm going to find the heir, so why not hand it to him straight away? But no, Jauffre has to take it so he can conveniently have it stolen from him shortly afterwards. Why didn't he move it somewhere safe like Cloud Ruler straight away and asked me to take Martin there, or better yet meet me and Martin directly at the Dragonfires? No wonder Mehrunes Dagon is so close to victory; it's not that the Mythic Dawn are such terrible foes, it's that the Blades are total morons!

    Anyway I'm tracking the location of the Shrine of Mehrunes Dagon, which is fun but terribly linear. In fact I would say that Oblivion, even though it claims the opposite, is in fact a strictly linear game. Sure, you get a choice in which quest line to do, but within each line quests are as linear as it can get, with no possibility of deviation, no way to skip ahead, no shortcuts, no optional paths... It's something I can live with, but it makes me wonder what the point of level-scaling everything was in the first place.
     
  18. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    Well, I did the Kvatch gate with a level 3 character so I guess level scaling makes things like that possible (and utterly silly when you come to think of it as a level 3 guy shouldn't go through a gate as if he was going for a walk in the park).
     
  19. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    I agree. Not only is it utterly silly that a level 1 character could walk through Hell and back without breaking a sweat, become the best Arena fighter the world has ever seen and become head of three guilds, but I find it very annoying gampleplay-wise that the game becomes harder rather than easier if you gain levels. It encourages a very bizarre way of playing. Thankfully Francesco's mod fixes this quite a bit, especially with guild quests (it narrows down their difficulty to a much smaller range), but the progression still feels very unnatural.

    I've moved along the MQ and have mixed feelings about it. The linearity is annoying, but even the non-linear bits have problems that I will get to in a minute. Tracking down Camoran and the Amulet was fun, but unfortunately the MQ has now degenerated into one boring quest after another: get this, get that, close this gate, close that gate... the only non-linearity is in "Allies for Bruma", and all that entails is which gate to close first. Hurray for variety. While venturing into the realm of Oblivion is fun the first few times, the sameness of everything quickly gets annoying. I cannot imagine how anyone could go through this with every random gate as well, especially since they all seem to recycle the same sets of corridots multiple times. The only gate quest that tries to spice things up a bit is Cheydinhal's, and the way it does this is by splicing it with an incredibly annoying escort mission. Not only is Farwil such a prick that I was sorely tempted to shove him off a ledge into the lava, but he even saves me the effort by constantly committing suicide and jumping by himself. To top things off his bodyguard comes off as very likable just by contrast, which made me want to save him too - fun times.

    Another big gripe I have is with the way Tiber Septim is treated lore-wise. For some reason he's gone from being a regular guy turned legend into a bona fide god whose divine blood flows into all his descendants and gives them odd special powers... while a good deal of the MQ story seems to rely on him being a real god, this completely contradicts every other game in the series. It's as if all the carefully written pieces of information scattered throughout were thrown out just to make this particular story work. It's deeply unsatisfying, especially since they ended up replacing a much more interesting historical character with one that's as cliche as you can get. Worse, the game utterly fails to provide any reason for why Tiber Septim should have ascended to godhood. What exactly did he do to warrant this? It's even more bizarre when you remember some of the horrible things he did to his own allies and friends, up to killing his own unborn child. Even in Oblivion's own storyline St Alessia has done far more good, and she's only made a saint (the Divines must be sexist). None of it makes any sense.

    On a more positive note I have nothing but good things to say about the Thieves Guild line. So far it's the only line I've completed, mainly because it's the best by such a long shot that none of the others can compare. The first couple of quests are simple enough, but straight away the game starts adding some interesting twists. While a number of them involves dungeoneering, which is an odd thing to do for a thief, even these quests are spiced up with a healthy dose of stealth or some kind of twist. The whole thing really feels like one cohesive story with multiple arcs: Amusei, Lex, the Gray Fox, all three are present from the very beginning and contribute to the advancement of the story. The conclusion of the quest line is brilliant. "The Ultimate Heist" is easily one of the best quests in the game. Although it overdoes it a bit with the dungeon crawling, the small bit of stealth at the beginning and the extensive stealth required in the latter part more than make up for it. There's something to be said for sitting in that chair, with an Elder Scroll right there, after hours spent crawling and sneaking to get to it! Having to use all the items requested by the Gray Fox is also a nice way of tying things together (though I managed to avoid using the Boots and breaking them). Even the end is very satisfying (and with a little surprise), not to mention that the reward for getting to the top of the guild is an awesome item. It took me a little while to fully understand how the alter ego worked (I got a couple of Fame points accidentally assigned to the Gray Fox instead... oops), but it makes Dark Brotherhood assassinations so much easier! The way the persona switching works is extremely silly, especially when a guard is running to arrest you for murder, but if you remove the Cowl he'll initiate a regular "hello citizen" conversations. The game does try to handwave this by "the magic of the Cowl" but it's clearly an engine limitation. No matter, this is a nitpick more than anything. I'm still hoping the other lines will live up to this one, but so far it looks doubtful.
     
  20. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    The DB quest line is linear but I found it be a lot of fun. Just the general mood of the Dark Brotherhood is just so right. Some of the assassinations are also quite fun and can even be a bit frustrating. The mood of the entire questchain is in my opinion just awesome. And you get really good looking gear. No matter what skill I had or how good I enchanted my armour I still prefered using a plain black robe. Just looks so much cooler.
     
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