Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Log on Mods: Skyrim and New Vegas


Skryim is already over two years old. With mods, however, it easily competes with the best games released this year.

Well hello again reader. After a long hiatus (let's call it being busy as hell for several months in a row), I am back to provide you with what will hopefully be an article of at least average quality.

I recently acquired a new laptop for college, that, luckily for me, is also capable of playing games fairly well. Thanks to the magical service that is Steam, I was able to download a number of games at a criminally low price. The ones I play the most by far are Skyrim and Fallout New Vegas, both of which I had previously owned on the Xbox 360.

Now, you might ask, why buy the same game twice? Well, for one, it was cheaper to buy the games plus all of their DLC as a complete package on Steam than it was to download the pieces of DLC I still needed on the 360 versions (what a complete joke that is). Second, I knew from previous experiences with PC gaming that these versions would be FAR superior.


I was right. Before even getting to the mods (of which this article is titled for), I'll mention the things that are vastly improved about the PC versions of Skyrim and New Vegas. To put it briefly, load times are instant, FPS is astronomically higher, there is actually some anti-aliasing present, and oh right, did I mention instant load times? I can't tell you how many times I've thought about throwing my 360 controller at the screen while waiting for my console copy of Skyrim to take an hour to load the world for the first time.

Anyways, all that being accounted for, the best part about PC games (well really, Bethesda PC games), is the modding community. I've loaded about ten or so mods for Skyrim and New Vegas and each adds so much to the game that it is actually kind of unbelievable.

For Skyrim, I have mods that add to the game worlds population. No more experiencing cities that have five people strolling about! Now the streets are packed like Times Square on a Saturday afternoon. Same with New Vegas. For each game I've also downloaded graphical enhancements, which further improve them over their 360 counterparts.

The best mods I have, however, add to the amount of weapons and armor and enemies and loot. For Skyrim that means forts with fifty bandits, for New Vegas that means abandoned gas stations with tons of enemies to face. And all of them have a chance at dropping some sort of wonderful and glorious piece of loot that wasn't there in the vanilla console versions of the games!

And, despite all of these changes, the games still run perfectly, usually never dropping below sixty frames per second even with tons of NPCs on screen.

The only issue is that sometimes, if you are OCD like me, you can go a bit overboard with the mods. When this happens you try and load more mods than you know how to deal with properly and it permanently messes up your game as a result. The key is to know when to stop. Only download mods that you know will definitely improve your experience. If you don't think you'll fully appreciate a mod that makes combat more "realistic" in Skyrim, for instance, forget about it. Or for New Vegas, if you don't particularly need a mod that "re-balances" everything in the game at the cost of being incompatible with most other mods, then toss it out the window.

With these pitfalls in mind, I still stand by my initial assertion that modding Skryim and New Vegas is a delightful experience. It adds hundreds of hours of fun to games that are already tremendous in size, and gives you the opportunity to have experiences you would never be able to have in say, the 360 version of Skryim and New Vegas.

Only through modding will you be able to witness actual battles between Stormcloaks and Imperials in Skyrim, or be able to have access to countless new and unique perks for New Vegas. With mods, these games really do become entirely different beasts, something closer to what Bethesda and Obsidian originally had in mind.

Though you should be able to enjoy both Skryim and New Vegas on consoles (I managed to do so for several years), there is no question in my mind that you would be missing out on a lot. The modding community has done so much to dramatically improve both games that if you have a computer built in the past five years, you have no excuse not to pick up one or each of them on Steam when they are on sale. So go get them and start enjoying the numerous benefits listed above!

Happy modding!

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