Monthly Archives: April 2024

Pretty sure no bards created Tamriel

After having an abysmal time playing Diablo, I spent a while playing Skyrim through several “speed runs,” or the closest someone of my mediocre skill level will reach. I started with a sword and shield run to see how soon I could join the Dark Brotherhood and assassinate the emperor of Tamriel. (Level 15, pretty easy, actually.) Next, I did a two-handed hammer run to see how fast I could help the Stormcloaks end the civil war. (Level 17, a bit trickier because I needed a few more levels in heavy armor and alchemy to see me through to the end.) I then did a mage run to do the civil war from the empire’s side. (Level 19, as mages require a lot of skills that other classes can skip just to stay alive.) And then, finally, I just played through the main game, with detours to join the thieves’ guild, the bards’ college, the Dark Brotherhood, defeat an ancient god, and then help the Stormcloaks get rid of the empire. (Because if it’s good enough for Hammerfell, it’s good enough for the Nords!)

Before I get to the ranty griping, let me answer the question, “Zoe, why do you still play Skyrim if you were never a fan?” The answer is, I’m a fan of the mechanics. It’s like with Borderlands 2. I don’t like the story, but I love the looting, the shooting, and the creative paths of designing new builds for each character class.

The added twist with Skyrim is, if you want to get good at a skill, you need to keep doing that skill. You want to get better at picking locks? Buy some lockpicks and find some locks. Even better is that unlike Bethesda’s Fallout games, you can pick a lock with a high skill level requirement even if you’re an idiot. You found a master lock? Well with enough picks and patience, you can pick that lock, and you will get several levels for putting in the effort. You even gain experience by breaking picks. You can cheese lock pick leveling by buying up a bunch of picks and intentionally breaking them in a master lock.

And yeah, skill leveling doesn’t always make sense. Like, if you want to level up in heavy or light armor, you do so by getting your ass kicked. But in most cases, it’s a great system. Swing a sword to level up one or two-handed weapon skills. Shoot a bow to level up archery. Use a shield to raise blocking. Smith stuff to level up smithing. Cast spells to level up in magic. It’s a fantastic, brilliant idea, and I love it.

BUT. Continue reading

Why Diablo sucked

Not long ago, I watched a speedrun of Diablo on the YouTube archives of Awesome Games Done quick, and as the runner got into the lowest floors, I suddenly realized that I had never finished the game with any character. I saw it was only ten euros on Battle.Net, so I figured I would fire it back up to sort out why I stopped playing.

I could nitpick on all the game’s flaws. No, check that. I will do that anyway, but the sum of all its flaws can be condensed down to one damning statement: accounting isn’t fun.

Spending ten minutes in every session trying to sort out whether to call a financial loss on a run by casting a portal or lose twenty minutes walking back to town is not fun. Being financially penalized for wanting to hold onto items is not fun. Even when the game is almost starting to feel fun, here’s a room filled with thirty enemies who will deplete my carefully budgeted supply of potions while dropping no gold or items to sell back in town, and I’m right back to having no fun. Continue reading