Dark Souls, my new bestfriend and masochistic teacher

For years I never touched Dark Souls thinking it was too hard or that I wouldn't like it. I watched some lets play videos here with with Vinny Caravella and friends, enjoying the spectacle but never considered diving in myself.

But this spring the sun of Lordran finally shone upon my face!… before throwing me into the darkness. Skeletons, poison, mushrooms, oh my.

As I had seen some videos of the game beforehand I stepped into Dark Souls with a bit of an edge, but it was never like having watched an entire playthrough, only bits and pieces from here and there.

I didn't know all of what humanity did, where to find the best items, how to beat all the bosses (or who they even were). What I did know however was the mantra of close to every Souls-player I've talked to, "have patience, don't rush". I took this to heart, something that might explain why I haven't found the game to be as hard as people have claimed.

I beat the Gargoyles on my third try, Moonlight Butterfly, Gaping Dragon and Queelag on my first, and the Iron Golem on my second. For those interested I'm currently rocking the Black Iron Set and swinging the Black Knight Ultra Greatsword. I tend to switch to the Gold Hemmed Black Set when I need to be light on my feet. I've also invested heavily in pyromancy, which is great for crowd management and just plain fun to use.

Last night I beat Ornstein and Smough, the toughest boss(es) I've faced so far. I think I got them on my fifth try where I summoned Solaire. It was the first time I ever used a summon, quite fun actually.

Ornstein is apparently very weak to fire, something I found very pleasing as I'm a 15+ pyromancer that loves to scorch his enemies… praise the fair lady!

After 30 hours I finally got the power to warp between bonfire, and it really feels like a milestone. I love to explore every nook and cranny of a game (looking at you Skyrim), and this game is just chock full of it. I'm currently working my way down the hollow tree from Blighttown and let me just say… fuck mushrooms.

The feeling of accomplishment that Dark Souls provides when you finally beat that boss or conquer an area, the deep and hidden lore of Lordran and the absolutely stunning design and construction are but a few of the reasons I love this game. It's truly a unique and rewarding experience.


Forever an Outlander

I've now put over fifty hours into Morrowind. My Hlaalu stronghold is being built, I'm geared up with some Daedric artifacts, daedric weapons, and glass armor. Even the blinding speed of a certain pair of boots are no longer a problem.

Though I've grown accustomed to some of Vardenfell, it is, in many ways, still very alien. Ashlander customs, the corprus disease (which I've just contracted), Daedric cults, Dagoth Urs followers... the list goes on. It all helps lift the world to a level Skyrim never achieved for me. In the over five hundred hours I spent in the north, Morrowind has proven to much more "believable" in less than sixty. I don't question the logic of its many cults, customs, cultures or houses. The architecture and design makes the world come alive, combined with books, deep story lines, conversations and music. I never imagined I would end up this immersed in a twelve year old game with several undeniably outdated mechanics. It just goes to show that a game is so much more than just game-mechanics and graphics.

If you're even remotely interested in Morrowind, try it out. It might end up becoming one of the most rewarding gaming experiences you'll ever have.


Bewitched by The Witcher 2 (spoilers be abundant!)

The Witcher 2 was praised on the podcast, by critics and consumers, but it took a long time for me to truly delve into it. I had heard it was hard to get into, and I can be a real pussy when it comes to play "hard" games. I'm glad I didn't stay away though, cause The Witcher 2 is now one of my favorite games. I did every monster quest, side quest, dice poker and arm wrestling competition. I even tracked down every little side thing from the sign enhancing shrines to the Vran armor and legendary weapons. I can truly say that I haven't been this immersed in a games universe and lore since Skyrim. It might also explain why my first playthough of The Witcher 2 ended up taking around 53 hours.

The choices you are forced to make really made me stop and think about the consequences at times, especially near the end. My view of Geralt is that he always prioritizes his own path, though still caring for those closest to him. The worlds political workings and machinations are not his concern, and when faced with them he only gets involved if they benefit his path or prove unavoidable. He doesn't kill humans unless absolutely necessary, and is loyal to the path of the witcher.

The first major choice you are faced with is to choose between Roche or Iorveth. I chose Roche as I felt an obligation to him and that his path might lead to more answers. In hindsight I somewhat regret this as I felt responsible for the outcome of the race war. Though I have to say I loved the side quests and secondary plot of the chapter. The curse, characters and surroundings were terrific. It'll be interesting to see what drastic changes will occur if I choose Iorveths path the second time around.

I let Roche kill king Henselt, something that probably didn't help the Kingdom, but I found him unfit to rule. He would meet his demise sooner or later. On to the third chapter and I faced the hardest choice so far... save Triss or help Roche secure Foltests children. I chose Triss, as I felt this was ultimately about Geralds story and ambitions, and he should choose accordingly. This is something I don't regret.

For the final confrontation, I chose to fight and kill Letho. My reason for not letting him go is that I view him as a "lost" Witcher. He was bought by promises I doubt would be kept, and in the process formed into and an assassin that no longer held any code or life sacred. A shell of his former self, like a sick dog that needed to be put down. I might choose differently the next time.

I couldn't be more excited for Witcher 3 now, and I'm also thinking about jumping into the books. The fiction really fascinates me and I'd love to learn more.

What choices did you guys make? I'd like to hear some differing opinions.

Some screenshots:


Delving into Morrowind: part #3

Filthy rich, quests galore, assassini (!)

From Ebonheart I decided to finally visit Vivec (the city I've always heard about). It took me at least an hour until I knew where to go and where shops, guilds and etc. was. Around this time I also learned that the Mages guild has a house in many (if not all) of the major cities, which made traveling a lot easier. After wandering up and down, around and around and in and out of every building I went on back to Balmora, but by a different route than normal. I went across the water, stumbling into a large plantation with many slaves. I've freed several slaves from bandit caves, and i'm thinking of freeing them from nobles as well. I don't endorse forced labor, but it's allowed by law… lets just say it's a moral dilemma for my character.

On my way to Balmora I met a man who wanted me to find his friend, a researcher or professor. I quickly found him after killings some creatures, and in return I was given a slowfall amulet. That might come in handy later.

Finally arriving in Balmora I finished several small contracts for the Fighters Guild until I got to a mission where I had to get back a book (by any means) from a Thieves Guild member. Having dabbled in speechcraft I though I'd might flatter her until she gave it up. Unfortunately I had joined them earlier, becoming a toad, so she wouldn't hand it over. But knowing how to work taunt in Morrowind helped along, taunting until zero, bribing her up again and then continue to taunt. In the end she snapped and attacked, at which point I could kill her without penalty. I got the book back and avoided killing her in "cold blood", thus also avoiding getting tossed out of the Thieves Guild.

After some more affairs in Balmora (among getting a dwemer box for some information, which took forever as the ruin was a goddamn maze), I returned to Caldera. After talking to someone (I can't recall) I had something called a ghostgate marked on the map not far from the city. But even after having it marked it took some time to get to. Traversing mountains with low acrobatics skills takes its time. I arrived at its gate and actually gave out a small gasp in awe. It looked like a huge magical barrier, and I soon learned it's purpose and history from the inhabitants of the two guard towers at the gate.

To my excitement I found a smith and armor salesman in the basement of one of the towers, as I still had several Dark Brotherhood pieces to sell. But buying wasn't all he did, he also sold armor, glass armor. Except for greaves he sold the rest, but it was far to expensive for me. My stealth skills were (and for that matter are) almost as low as possible, so stealing was out of the picture. Then I remembered how I taunted the Thieves Guild member. I tried the same on the smith and lets just say that I now have several glass swords and an almost full set of glass armor. I look quite extravagant.

After this little moral break I started on the return trip to Caldera. I now had a full inventory and went back to sell it all to a small creature with lots of gold that lives in some Orc Manor, and buys items at face value. I spent almost ten days selling and buying items so he could afford my most expensive pieces. In the end I had 75K gold, a ludicrous amount for a low level (now eight) Rouge.

Wanting to join more guilds and experience Morrowind at it's fullest, now feeling that I knew the land more, I traveled to city where the Redoran house is located (I don't remember the name of it), joined with them, and quickly noticed their neighbors, The Morag Tong. I love the role of the assassin, so I wanted to join them as well. But to do so I have to go to Vivec and talk with their leader. I went there but I haven't found him… the search goes on.




*Thanks again for reading! I won't be writing more of these until next weekend at the earliest. The entire next week I'll be at Music Festival (Hove Festival, Norway), living in a tent and smelling mildly sweaty. I off course won't have access to any internet, so sorry for responding to anyone late!*


Delving into Morrowind: part #2

Fuck morals, Trial and error, money-money-money

After the most strenuous day of my Morrowind adventure so far, I traveled on from Caldera and further North in search of… well, whatever crossed my path. At an intersection I encounter a scantily clad Northman hailing from Whiterun (which I found quite amusing). He had supposedly had all his belongings stolen by a witch, along with it his precious Axe. So we ventured out to find this women, and eventually found her going north-west and then north at another intersection. She though had a different story to tell. The Northman was hired by her, but got a little frisky during a campfire, so she paralyzed him and took his gear as punishment. She sounded more honest, so I killed him instead. She rewarded me with some potions, and said her goodbyes.I felt a bit cheated though… I wanted the axe, being the power hungry player I always am. So, I killed her. And took everything she had. Just a little extra profit for a lonely rogue, wandering the wilds. Soon after I encountered a merchant looking for a guide to some far away place. I first told her no, not knowing that it would be final, and I couldn't take it back. So I killed her. She was carrying some nice boots that made me incredibly fast (but blind, unfortunately). I'll be keeping those.

After this I decided to return to Balmora to continue the main story and join some guilds. They were greatly beneficial in Skyrim, so I figured it be the same for Morrowind. I delivered some papers to an official and was promptly told I was now part of the Blades. I had to have a cover identity though, so joining the Fighters Guild seemed like a good option. And so I did. Afterwards I completed their first quest, killing some rats. Easy stuff, but that was expected from the very first mission.

I suddenly felt like exploring and perhaps finish the Dark Brotherhood quest. My journal told me to speak to a guard, which guided me to a man in Ebonheart, who further guided me to its main hall, then being teleported by some lady to Mournhold. I was a bit bewildered after that ride, treading carefully around in this entirely new place. What monsters would I encounter, who could I trust? I decided to just follow the Journal and be guided, telling myself that if I died I'd just come at a later time.

I was further guided to Mournholds Great Bazaar. There I was told that the Dark Brotherhood was rumored to hold up in the old sewers under the Bazaar. After a little searching I found a trapdoor that led me down. Once there I continued very carefully, not knowing what might jump me around the corner. I was soon attacked by some ghosts and and a skeleton, but having a silver sword helped quite nicely. They weren't much of a fight.

The tunnels of the sewer went several ways, twisting up and down. I said to myself "just keep right for now", and suddenly, I was in the Dark Brotherhoods layer. The place was crawling with assassins, and I often had to defend myself against two at a time. If it hadn't been for my shied, I would probably have had a tougher time with them. Now, my mission was to kill their leader, Dandras Vules. I had no idea of where to find him though, and probably went through twelve or more assassins before finally finding him. Before this I had finally gained my first level, and gathered lots or expensive assassin armor. I jumped the bastard, but he was a lot tougher that anything I had expected to encounter. He conjured a bow and quickly dealt with me.

Feeling a bit flustered, I told myself to calm down and think for a second. Earlier on I had found some magic rings that might help me, so I quickly equipped them. I then waited for my endurance to raise completely before attacking again. This time I won the battle, though only after taking a health potion halfway into the fight. More armor and weapons for me. Especially his main blade, a poisonous short blade with high hit points.

Returning to the Bazaar I saw a stage and some audience standing around. A play was supposed to happen soon, so I went on and around the stage and lo and behold, a quest. I was asked to step in for an actor that was sick. It was the main part though, and I was given only two minutes to remember my lines. I skimmed the book, noticing the important facts, and told the quest-giver I was ready. He sent me out on stage (an open stage, entered through a door in the back). There I recited some lines until, to my astonishment, one of the audiences attacked me. I quickly drew my newfound sword, but before I could say anything he beat me to the ground, and was quickly pounded into a dead pile of meat. Bloody assassin got me. The next time around I bought some potions beforehand, and drew my sword before entering the stage. But it wasn't until my third try that I got him, drinking at least three health potions. The play was cancelled, and I was told they knew that an assassin would attack me, a Morag Tong assassin to be exact. He paid me handsomely though, so I didn't complain. And the assassin carried an even better weapon for me… a Daedric Wakizashi. Not bad for a level two Rogue, not bad at all!

Afterwards I started selling off all the Dark Brotherhood armor I had gathered. Having mercantile as a major skills helps greatly when you start charging for several hundred more gold that the buyer initially offers. I sold armor to vendors until I had to return to Ebonheart (after closing the book on the Dark Brotherhood quest) to be able to sell more. And now I have over ten thousand in gold. I do feel a bit lucky.

On stage action

Thanks for reading, I'll continue writing these as long as you guys show interest. In the future I might truncate my adventures a bit more, I seem to get a bit wordy in my descriptions.


Delving Into Morrowind: part #1

#0 Introduction

So, I decided to play Morrowind during my summer break, never having played it before. My first Elder Scrolls game was in fact Skyrim. And at the age of 23 (24 in October) I've had many years and chances to get into the earlier games. I have several friends that played Oblivion when it was new, but I never had any particular interest in it. I guess my taste in games has changed over the years, now that I'm eager to jump into a large RPG and explore the vastness, while when I was younger I settled for GTA-games and more linear games that guided you along its path (not to say that those games were or are bad, I still play that style of games as well).

After having played Skyrim for probably more than 300 hours, I've become more and more interested in the lore and feel of the earlier games. Having read about the similarites and differences between Skyrim and its predecessors, I came to the conclusion that Morrowind is closest to the things I love about Skyrim. Not having my stationary PC during summer break is a little annoying, but thats what I get for going home during summer and leaving my things back at the apartment. So I'm playing the GOTY version of Morrowind on my Macbook, through a Cider wrap. It runs quite well, even with high resolution textures added. Now, enough intro.

#1 Where am I, and how does this work?

I started off, like everyone, in the costal village of Seyda Neen. I love the look and lore of Dunmer, so I made a male with a young appearance.

Having never played any of the earlier Elder Scrolls games I opted for the option to answer questions to determine my class. Ended up a Rogue, which has quite a nice set of major and minor skills. Not knowing what I had in store, I went on with the main-quest until I ended up in Balmora. Encountering and experiencing the pompousness and personal army of the main houses sold me on the game instantly. It's the little things I guess. Though still not having a complete feel for what, where and how, I continued on for some time with small quests and exploring the city, exhausting the dialogue options of several main and minor characters. Lack of proper armor and weapons made me a bit of a thief on my first visit to Balmora. I stole a short silver blade (being proficient in the art), and a set of medium bonemold armor.

Now that I finally felt a bit more secure, I started to venture out in the wilderness, heading north. My first encounter with creatures were small slug like things that paralyzed me with their venom, though they posed no real threat going down quite quickly after a few jabs. Quickly thereafter I met my first cliff racer, the infamous flying lizards. A tough fight for a level one Rogue, but I managed.

Further on I entered a new town, Caldera. Home of the mages guild and close to an ebony mine, I'll likely return to the city once I feel I have something to gain from it beyond selling goods (I won't be dabbling with magic though, it doesn't fit with my character).

Just outside the city, feeling a bit bold and going off track, I encountered two Diseased Kagouti (dinosaur like creatures). Posing a bit of a challenge, they still went down. After the fight I felt like resting until fully healed, but right after a Dark Brotherhood assassin attacked me out of nowhere. I died the first time, but the second time around I won just by a small margin. Having gained a new armor I felt pretty badass, but with my life now almost fully drained, I started to run back to Caldera. Just as I close in on the city a cliff racer descends upon me from above! Luckily a guard came running and took the bastard down while I recuperated at a nearby inn… Needless to say, it was an eventful day.

I hope some of you will find this a fun read, and feel free to give me tips! I've played and experienced more than written here, but I'll save that for the next entry.