Less organic intellectuals than morbid symptoms

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Froborr
    December 6, 2017 @ 11:48 am

    Hmm. I’ve never played an Elder Scrolls game, but with how much I’ve enjoyed Breath of the Wild so far and all the comparisons to Skyrim, plus this glowing review… I think it’s formally on my to-play list now.


  2. First time Skyriming
    December 6, 2017 @ 12:14 pm

    Why is GOG weird? I’d rather “own” the game file than have it on steam, but I’m worried over mod compatibility (also steam just added mu country currency and that ruined my budget a little bit so I would rather use US dollars instead).
    Would you still recommend I buy the Steam edition over the GOG one? Is there issues with GOG?

    Also I’m interested in the other Elder Scrolls games, should I get the “special editions” of those as well? Or are you doing a post for those games later on?


    • Josh Marsfelder
      December 6, 2017 @ 7:22 pm

      GOG is only weird in that it doesn’t use DRM. I was making a (bad) joke about how ubiquitous that’s become in the industry. If you can get a PC game on GOG I recommend it wholeheartedly. Alas, TESV is not on GOG and isn’t likely to be anytime in the near future.

      There’s no comparable “Special Edition” for the other TES games, in the way Skyrim‘s is an expanded re-release with new features and technical enhancements. Morrowind and Oblivion both have “Game of the Year” editions, however, which include all their updates and expansion packs. Kinda like Skyrim‘s Legendary Edition.

      TESIII GotY is on GOG, though TESIV isn’t. Aside from Steam, TESIV is also on the 360 and PS3, and is one of the select XBOX One X-enhanced titles. TESIII is also on the original XBOX, and there are console releases of both of those games’ Game of the Year editions.


      • Josh Marsfelder
        December 6, 2017 @ 9:51 pm

        Oh, and as for TES I: Arena and TES II: Daggerfall (only recommended for those seriously interested in retro video game history), they’re free, but you’ll need the DOSBox emulator to run them. Thankfully, GOG gives both the complete games and the emulator to you for free if you buy Morrowind or the TES spinoffs Redguard and Battlespire. GOG gives you a ton of free digital goods with each game purchase, another reason they deserve every accolade I can throw in their general direction.


  3. David Coulter
    December 7, 2017 @ 11:28 pm

    Just started playing recently! Haven’t started fiddling with mods yet–any Must Haves to recommend?


    • Josh Marsfelder
      December 8, 2017 @ 2:44 am

      I hope you have fun!

      Are you playing on the Special Edition or the original? And are you on PC or console? Because my recommendations would be slightly different depending-Mods have to be formatted differently for the Special Edition so not everything from the original game made it over (though there’s almost always an equally good alternative for the ones that didn’t), and some modders, for some reason, don’t want their mods to be available on console.

      The standard ones I’d recommend to everyone are from AFK Mods, who ports stuff to everything. Ars Metallica totally breaks the smithing system in a great way, but it’s up to you if you want to experience the “Vanilla” one first. Gildergreen Regrown, Storefront and The Paarthurnax Dilemma fix stuff that should have been fixed in the base game. On that note, The Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (or The Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch if you’re using that version) is the one real must-have, because TESV, like all TES games, is incredibly buggy. As in, “some of these glitches will actually break your game and render some quests unfinishable” buggy.

      After that, it depends on which aspects of the game you want to tweak. Not a fan of the character models? There are plenty of ways to change those. Want higher-quality textures and lighting effects? Pick the flavour you prefer. Want to change certain quests or certain parts of the story to fit your role-playing tastes better? What are you in the mood for?


      • David Coulter
        December 8, 2017 @ 11:12 pm

        Special Edition on PC via Steam. I’ve got a fair bit of experience modding Fallout, though I didn’t bother as much with 4.

        To start with I’m most interested in fixing the broken stuff, yeah. I’d prefer to go through the vanilla crafting system first, though I wouldn’t mind more options added to it. I’d definitely be interested in texture and lighting stuff. I don’t know if I’ve gotten to know the game well enough to say otherwise so far.

        I’m level 12, playing a Redguard axe witch. Just killed my second dragon and built a little cottage at Lakeview. I’m enjoying it so far, but my biggest concern is that a lot of the dungeons are kind of samey. Anything that adds more variety to them?


        • Josh Marsfelder
          December 10, 2017 @ 2:43 am

          There is admittedly a lot of Nordic ruins in Skyrim, but it is the home of the Nords after all. Once you get to Solstheim, though that should change up a bit 🙂 There’s also some interesting stuff done with Dawnguard, which is most people’s least favourite expansion, but I like it.

          As to mods though, you might be interested in Moonpath to Elsweyr, which is a remarkable fanmade attempt to create a snapshot of the world of the Khajiit. Unlike Skyrim, Elsweyr is equatorial, with tropical rainforests and arid deserts. It’s one of the first mods ever made for TESV so it might look a bit primitive by today’s standards, but it remains IMO one of the best fanmade experiences you can have in the game’s engine.

          USSEP will fix most of the actual glitches the game comes with, but there is an issue with the brawl mechanic invisible in Vanilla gameplay, but that some mods accidentally activate. For that, you’ll need the Modern Brawl Bug Fix. Some other minor QOL tweaks I recommend include Spouse’s Freedom, Follower Trap Safety, Crimson Nirnroot Quest Markers and Dawnguard Quest Markers (trust me. You’ll thank me once you get to Blackreach and the Soul Cairn). Also make sure you use a mod manager (the one from Nexus Mods is the best one right now, even if you also use Bethesda.net) and the Load Order Optimization Tool to avoid any load order conflicts.

          I have plenty of other recommendations too, but as some of them modify quests and normal NPC behaviour I wasn’t sure if that’s the sort of thing you’d be interested in.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    December 10, 2017 @ 2:47 am

    If you liked this piece, first of all thank you, but secondly, if you’re interested in Bethesda and Nintendo, you might enjoy these great documentaries from DidYouKnowGaming on YouTube, one on Todd Howard ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2U42vFTdU4 ) and one on Satoru Iwata ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUHi-vlACJI )


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