Or at least, questions you might ask if you come by this site!
What’s this site all about?
This is my playthrough blog for all of my adventures playing Elder Scrolls games–mostly Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online, but with some Morrowind and Oblivion as well. I post in-depth descriptions of my characters’ adventures, commentary on the game in general, copious bitching about bugs encountered, and lots and lots of screenshots.
I enjoy coming at Elder Scrolls games with a roleplay mindset, including coming up with basic backstories for characters, and using that to influence my choices in how I run through the game.
And since I’m a writer and a completist nerd, I also enjoy documenting my playthroughs in detail!
Which means, for the record, that this site’s primary content is chock full of spoilers for every Elder Scrolls Game I’m playing, and several major Skyrim mods as well. If you want to play Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, or Elder Scrolls Online with an entirely spoiler-free experience, this is not the blog you should be reading. Please be advised!
What got you started playing Skyrim?
I didn’t play it when the game originally came out. Prior to 2021 I didn’t have a history of being a console gamer, so I didn’t play it when it was originally released. Up till 2021, I preferred to play games on my mobile devices, or casual games on my computer.
But in 2021, my housemate gave me a Nintendo Switch as a present! Which finally gave me the opportunity to play Skyrim for myself.
I immediately fell in love with it, and have been documenting my adventures in the game ever since.
(And I’ll say straight up, it’s been a helpful life preserver during the COVID-19 pandemic!)
What got you started playing Morrowind and Oblivion?
I hadn’t ever played Morrowind or Oblivion when they originally released, either. But after diving into Skyrim, I became actively interested in playing both of those games as well, particularly once I found out about the Skywind and Skyoblivion projects to port those games into Skyrim’s engine.
So while waiting for those to release, I decided to go ahead and play Morrowind and Oblivion in their original forms too. So far, that’s mostly just meant Morrowind, though I’ve started an Oblivion playthrough as well.
What got you started playing Elder Scrolls Online?
I was actively interested in ESO as soon as I heard about it, as a way to expand my experience in the franchise of Elder Scrolls games. However, I couldn’t actually start playing it until I acquired my Steam Deck, and then not long after, my current M1 Mac.
I’ve got friends with their own Guild in ESO though, and my housemate Paul was strongly interested in playing too. So he and I started playing the game together, and joined my friends’ Guild as well.
What version of the games are you playing?
For Skyrim, all platforms I play on are now on the Anniversary Edition. On the Switch, I have to play mod-free. On the Steam Deck and my Windows 11 VM on my Macbook, I’ve so far completed one very lightly modded playthrough (Shenner), and one that had a total of 91 mods as of the point of my bailing on that run (Harrowhark).
I’m currently running an entirely mod-free playthrough in German featuring my first Argonian character, a modded playthrough featuring my first time playing a male character in Skyrim, and a second modded playthrough that will feature a run through Legacy of the Dragonborn.
Most of my Switch activity has been on the Special Edition build since that’s what I had available. Then Nintendo released the Anniversary Edition for the Switch on 9/28/2022, and I switched over to using that version. I finished Faanshi’s playthrough on that with little impact. But I recently finished a playthrough using the AE on the Switch, with the result that I very much do not recommend it. More on this below.
For Morrowind, currently I’m running vanilla Morrowind. The playthrough I’m in was started on the PC, and moved over to the Deck as well for its primary location. So far that playthrough is without mods. Future Morrowind playthroughs will likely be on OpenMW, possibly with mods, as I learn about how well I can do that.
For ESO, I’m running on both my M1 Mac and my Steam Deck. I’m currently using a very small list of recommended add-ons from my Guild.
I currently prefer running ESO on the Steam Deck, though I will switch to Mac when I participate in group events with my Guild, for ease of access to the game and Discord at the same time. But when playing solo, I run on the Deck. The reason for this: I play with controller even when playing on a computer, and there’s an issue with causing accidental zoom outs when accessing the in-game map via controller buttons. I find this highly distracting, and avoid it by playing mostly on the Deck where the issue doesn’t repro.
What do you like about the games?
Even though I didn’t play it when it first came out, Skyrim was still a big deal in my house when it was released. And I did watch my wife and our housemate play it a lot, even though I was not playing it myself. I was very impressed at the time with the beauty of the game design, as well as the immersive story. And I was always very partial to the opening theme, which we always joked sounded like a choir of mobsters! Since “Dovahkiin” always sounded like “bada-bing”. 😀
Now that I’m playing it myself, the sheer scope of the worldbuilding is amazing to me as a player and as a writer. I love that the Elder Scrolls franchise has been around long enough to build up a rich, detailed history that Skyrim draws upon. And part of my enjoyment in building my playthroughs is digging through wikis and learning all sorts of fascinating lore about the game that I can use to enhance the narratives i build in my head for the characters I’m playing.
And I adore the music. So many evocative pieces all over the game! I love the music enough that I also bought the soundtrack.
Multiple playthroughs in, and I’m still finding new details, too. Especially while doing playthroughs in French and German!
So far with Morrowind, I’m really appreciating that there is a cohesion of worldbuilding, both in the overall game design and in the continuity of the world. Even though Morrowind is ten years older than Skyrim, it’s still recognizably the same world.
Elder Scrolls Online is kinda blowing me away with its sheer size, and how much of Tamriel it actually has implemented. The graphics are much different from Skyrim’s, but still recognizably the same world. And I’m starting to really appreciate the music on this game, as well.
And of course, there’s the whole fun of playing ESO with other players. It’s great fun to do it with my housemate, so we can collaborate on running dungeons, and how to tackle bigger plots!
What do you not like about the games?
I think every veteran Skyrim player on the planet will probably understand when I say “how it’s buggy as fuck, even ten years after its release”!
I’m aware that the Skyrim modding community has addressed a lot of that by releasing bugfix mods. Right now I can’t take advantage of that on the Switch, but I’m also finding that on the PC, even where I’m running the USSEP, this doesn’t appear to let me off the hook for a buggy play experience! There are just different bugs involved! (As my wife has pointed out, it wouldn’t be Skyrim if it weren’t buggy as fuck. ;))
Also, the writer in me sometimes struggles to make the open-world nature of the game make narrative sense! (But the gamer in me accepts this as a consequence of playing this type of game.)
And I have a collision between being a completist nerd who really wants to play the hell out of every last detail in the game–and how some aspects of it are just stuff I would actively not enjoy playing at all. Such as some of the darker-themed Daedric quests.
With Morrowind, so far my primary beef with it is that the game was designed at the time with the presumption that the main character is male. As a female gamer, I find this annoying. (Though I temper this annoyance with being aware that Bethesda learned to do better, as Skyrim clearly demonstrates!)
About the only thing I don’t really quite like about ESO so far is that it kind of wrecks my ability to build a character narrative in my head, as I commonly do with Skyrim. I can’t quite commit to full immersion in a game where dungeon bosses can respawn every five minutes so the next player coming through can take them out. 😀 But that’s an extremely minor quibble.
What’s this about the AE on the Switch?
Now that I’ve finished a run in the Anniversary Edition on the Switch, I very, very much recommend against any Switch players using that version of Skyrim. Particularly towards the end of Kendis’ playthrough, I ran into increasing performance problems. And more worryingly, I found notable content breakage on Solstheim when trying to run Dragonborn.
See the final five or six posts on the Kendis Playthrough page for more details.
What kinds of characters are your favorites?
After over half a dozen playthroughs in Skyrim, with three more in progress, I know for sure that I tend to prefer characters who specialize in light armor, stealth, and archery–the stereotypical Stealth Archer, in other words! I also enjoy the hell out of throwing magic around.
So far, I’ve also gravitated towards “minority” characters: a Bosmer, two different Dunmer, an Orc, a Khajiit, and an Argonian. Even the human characters I’ve played have mostly been “minority” characters in the immediate culture of Skyrim as well–a Breton, two different Redguards, and an Imperial. I’ve played a Nord exactly once, and her playthrough only got started because I surprised myself by getting a viable playthrough going on my ancient PC laptop.
The College of Winterhold and the Thieves Guild are my favorite factions to play in Skyrim.
I’ve played through fighting the Imperial side of the war twice, and I enjoyed the hell out of that both times. (But I think it requires me to play the correct kind of character who’d want to fight for the Empire specifically, which doesn’t often seem compatible with the characters I enjoy creating.)
In Morrowind, so far I’m trying the same sorts of trends–i.e., a light armor/archery kind of character. I’ll want to see if I like other kinds of characters in Morrowind, too. I don’t have as much faction experience yet in Morrowind, so far just Fighters Guild, Mages Guild, and House Hlaalu, so I don’t have as good a basis for comparison yet. But of the three of those, so far I think I may like the Fighters Guild best.
In ESO, my current factions are Fighters Guild, Mages Guild, and the Psijic Order. I’ve finished the plotlines for the Fighters and Mages Guilds, and liked those well enough. But the Psijics are new and exciting, and so far they’re my favorite of the factions I’ve joined.
What other Skyrim playthroughs do you plan to try?
With Kendis’s playthrough on the Switch, a main goal there I had was to try Survival Mode. I wound up bailing on running that mode (more detail on that here: Bailing on Survival Mode in Kendis’ playthrough). But I still want to try a modded playthrough that does some of the things I like about Survival Mode without making me deal with the things I don’t like.
My two current modded playthroughs are targeting running Beyond Skyrim – Bruma, Legacy of the Dragonborn, and a few other notable content mods.
Eventually, I also want to try out a playthrough that involves some of the major civil war mods that change how the overall war behaves.
Since I am also a bit of a language nerd, and have already enjoyed playing Skyrim in French, Finds-The-Way’s playthrough is in German. I may also eventually try a playthrough in Spanish, since I’m studying that language along with French and German in Duolingo.
How about Morrowind playthroughs?
My next Morrowind playthrough is going to be on OpenMW, probably. I’d created an initial save file in OpenMW on my PC, but now that I have the Deck I will probably scrap that and just start fresh there.
What kind of playthrough I’ll do will be a thing I’ll be better able to think about once I make better progress through Tembriel’s playthrough, and identify the areas of the game she doesn’t touch which I’ll want to explore more of with another character.
What platforms are you playing on?
As of September 2023, my Elder Scrolls gameplay action includes the following devices:
- Steam Deck (Skyrim Anniversary Edition, Skyrim Together Reborn, Morrowind, Oblivion, Elder Scrolls Online)
- M1 Mac, native macOS (Elder Scrolls Online)
- M1 Mac, Parallels, Windows 11 VM (Skyrim Anniversary Edition)
With the completion of Kendis’ playthrough, I’m decommissioning the Switch from Skyrim play for now. The AE is too problematic on that device, so if I ever want to run Skyrim on it again, I’ll need to revert to the Special Edition. Right now though that’s unlikely. For now my plan is to do all of my future Skyrim action on the Deck or on the VM on my M1 Mac.
The PC was an interim measure, just to practice learning about modding and to see if I liked playing on the PC. But my PC laptop is old and stupid*, so it will not serve as a long-term gaming box, at least not for Skyrim, which it can barely play. Further gaming plans with that are likely to involve Morrowind only, since it can actually handle Morrowind pretty well. I may or may not try Oblivion on it too.
(* And by “old and stupid”, I mean, this box is as old as Skyrim itself. It’s a 2012 HP Elitebook Folio 9470m. Its graphics card is an Intel HD 4000. Its CPU is an i7-3687U. Even with 16GB of RAM in it, this thing can barely play Skyrim. It does better with Morrowind, but it’s still not an optimal gaming experience!)
The M1 Mac’s Windows 11 VM primarily lets me run modded Skyrim, and take advantage of having a larger screen than the Deck available, but also a full keyboard. It will not run Morrowind or Oblivion, probably because those games long pre-date ARM builds of Windows. So if I want to run them on PC at all, it’ll need to be on the older laptop.
The VM on my Mac will not run Skyrim Together Reborn, unfortunately, since it’s an ARM build of Windows 11. And the STR Discord advised me they don’t support ARM builds. So all my STR playing is exclusively on my Deck.
Do you plan to play other Elder Scrolls games?
I’ve already dabbled a little with Blades, since I have a history with casual games, and Blades can be played on my Switch as well. But right now, Blades is way less interesting to me than Skyrim or Morrowind, so I haven’t been as invested in going too far with that. Blades kind of strikes me as a dumbed-down version of Skyrim and that’s less interesting to me than the actual Skyrim.
Plus, I have less patience these days for casual games’ tendency to try to upsell you to buy something every time you log in.
I now have an Oblivion playthrough in progress!
I’m keeping a sharp eye on both Skywind and Skyblivion, the efforts to port Morrowind and Oblivion into Skyrim’s engine. I will absolutely be trying both of those whenever they finally release. And I’m very much interested in some of the other Beyond Skyrim projects I’ve been seeing news of, as well as Odyssey of the Dragonborn, the sequel to Legacy.
I’ve had it suggested to me that I should try Daggerfall, though that’s not a huge priority at the moment. That might however eventually wind up on my ancient PC, as I’m dubious about the chances of it running on Windows 11 in my VM.