As you might be able to tell from the video I posted, I’ve been playing rather a lot of modded Skyrim recently. As you can probably tell from the video- you did watch the video right? You should, because it’s pretty ace. I talk about mods, climb a mountain, and fight trolls. I even die once, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. It won three Academy Awards, you know. From the director who brought you Dead Leg Bar Sex – Deus Ex: The Fall – Part 7, comes the blockbuster hit of the summer – starring Mark “Madness” Ja– have I pushed that joke far enough? Probably.
Modded Skyrim has become a real blast for me. I’ve installed completely rehauled texture packs, extra maps, follower tweaks, a shortcut through the mountains… it’s basically an entirely different game from the one I started back in 2011. But aside from the texture mods, I haven’t really had chance to experience most of the mods – much of the content is for later in the game, and I restarted to try and get the full experience.
But one mod has an impact right from the beginning. Frostfall. Frostfall turns a land that was no different from the temperate climate of Cyrodiil into a hellish wasteland where death is always waiting to catch out the unaware. Skyrim’s meant to be cold, and Frostfall’s hypothermia system feels like something the base game was really lacking.
Paint the scene – you’re in the north of Skyrim. Not somewhere completely frozen like Winterhold, but you’re almost there. Think… Windhelm. Pretty damn cold up there, but you’ve thought ahead and you’ve made sure that you and your companions are fitted out with fur cloaks and lined steel armour, and you have a bellyful of venison stew, warming you from the inside-out.
You’re hunting, looking for extra hides for a larger tent. But now it’s getting dark, and with the dark comes the cold. It was cold before, but the night brings temperatures that can kill… but you already knew this, and you planned to be back in a warm inn in Windhelm before there’s any real danger.
Except… your Weathersense is tingling. There’s a storm coming. And that means rain – rain means you’ll get wet – getting wet means that the cold will penetrate faster and kill you before you even see the great walls of Windhelm.
Rain also means that your fur tent is also next to useless – fur is great at trapping warmth, but it’s not hugely waterproof. Your leather tent is in the inn at Windhelm, back where it’s absolutely no use at all. Leather might not be as warm as fur, but it’s waterproof, and in this storm, being wet could mean death.
So that means you need shelter. An alcove or rocky shelf that you can hide under until the storm has passed. You swap out your fur cloak for a leather one just as the rain starts to fall – at least you always keep that on you – and you trudge on with your companions, the bitterly cold wind pushing the freezing rain into your face. They feel like pinpricks of ice. Hell, ice would have been preferable; at least ice doesn’t feel like it penetrates down to your bones.
The rain picks up as you move onwards, no shelter in sight. Further and further through the howling rain you go. You’re way past the point of just being cold – now your vision is starting to suffer. Hypothermia is setting in, and you’re in serious trouble. The rain in front of your face parts, just for a second, and you spot it. Not an alcove, or a cave, or a rocky shelf – a corpse.
As you get closer, you can pick out more details; a hood, a thick robe, a fur cloak… a mage. Or, at least they were.
The rain batters into your face as you get closer to the body. Gathering your cloak around, you kneel beside the body, the rain hammering against the tough tanned leather. You rummage through pockets with nearly frozen fingers, barely daring to hope until– there! A scroll. A scroll of “Conjure Shelter, Greater”. Must have died before they had chance to use it.
You clutch it close and fumble it open, whispering the words into the wind. A magical field springs up around you, and the wind and rain instantly disappear. With a pop, an exquisite bed appears, followed by a fireplace, a cooking pot, a chest… your companions scramble to cram wood into the fireplace and light it.
Warmth. Blessed warmth.
Outside, the tempest howls anew, robbed of its prey.
The other day I racked up something like six hours straight – more than I’ve played any game for in quite some time, and certainly more than I’ve played The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim in maybe the last two years.
And it’s purely because of the mods. Mods can bring a tired old game back to life, long after you had thought it dead and gone, and they’re one of the joys of PC gaming in particular.
Reinstall Skyrim, check out the Steam Workshop, install some mods, and get yourself back into the frozen wastelands. It’s worth it.