Thursday, June 5, 2014

Elder Scrolls: Arena #4 - Battle of Evermore

In the latest episode, I pass the halfway point of the game and go after artifacts. Rated T for Teen.

Here's a shot of High Rock, which along with a large part of Hammerfell makes up the setting of Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. I wonder if Evermore will be a visitable locale in the second game as well. Figures that this game has a place called Evermore, considering that Secret of Evermore on the Super NES had an amazing soundtrack composed by Jeremy Soule, who went on to compose the Elder Scrolls games from Morrowind onward. ...whoa.


Moments after this picture was taken, she tased Sting. My God! SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH!

 Auriel's Bow, which never misses and has like 15 charges of a clickable instant death spell? Sign me up.

Going after artifacts is a matter of talking to townspeople until someone mentions one, then talking to the jolly bartender (seen here) that they direct you to, then going through TWO four-floor dungeons. Yikes.

I start encountering Trolls at this point. They're big and powerful, and they regenerate soon after you defeat them. If you kill one and immediately rest, the "corpse" will disappear. So there's that.

These dungeons are... very generic. Not too complicated, but lengthy enough to be a bit irritating. Took a good hour to get through the two of them.

Getting through the first one nets you a map that puts the second one on your overworld. And then you get to run all the way back out of the dungeon. Yay. The game actually began to lose me a bit at this point, because it just isn't that interesting anymore. I've gotten most of the equipment upgrades I'll get, leveling has become extremely slow, and most of the locales I'm seeing are copy/pasted.

Also, you're basically doing the same thing over and over in the story. Talk to a certain NPC in a certain town, complete a dungeon, talk to that person again, complete a second dungeon for a staff fragment, go to the next province and repeat. There's very little sense of questing going on. I mean, there ARE quests, but they're generally quick side-missions that are also repetitive and offer little reward (deliver pies to someone for 90 G).

While I've been taking the game slowly and savoring it up to now, at this point I might well speed up my forward progress just to get this game done.

After exploring nearly every square foot of the last floor, I finally discover Auriel's Bow in the northwest corner. That was tedious.

 I get my first artifact. And last, unless I drop this one. It's a powerful weapon, for sure, and means I'll be putting my sword away.

This weapon has fairly low attack power, but it shoots fast and NEVER MISSES. It's hard to express how great that is. Even with maxed agility, I still miss about a third of the time with my attacks. With this, I can just rapid fire away and never worry about a string of misses potentially costing me a fight. Also, it has a use effect of a death-bolt that fires ahead of you and can insta-kill multiple enemies. Only 15 or so shots of that, alas. If it had infinite charges it'd be the best weapon in existence.

Onward with the story, I talk to the mages of Corinth to learn that nefarious warriors from a nearby temple have stolen the tablet I need to get to the next staff fragment dungeon. Off to the temple I go.

I find a sweet longsword upgrade here. Adamantium is the second-strongest weapon type; only possible upgrade now is Ebony Longsword. Except I have Auriel's Bow now...

Upon trying to leave that room, I get attacked by SIX hell hounds. They appear out of nowhere, and instantly commence attacking. They obliterate our hero in 2-3 seconds with fireballs, and I had to reload something like seven or eight times trying to escape. Finally managed to death-spell the two blocking the door with Auriel's Bow, then run past them. It was brutal.

Here's a shot of the death spell in question. It sends a blue bolt ahead of you and fireballs arcing in front of you, and anything touched by any of these projectiles dies.

...that said, once I use the charge on the bow a few times, I decide that it just isn't powerful enough to keep as my artifact. That new Adamant Longsword does more damage even if it does miss sometimes, and I'd rather swing a sword than wear out my right mouse clicker. So I drop Auriel's Bow and go looking for the Skeleton's Key. Was hoping to get the Oghma Infinitum first for the stat boost, but I never saw a lead pop up for that one... whatever.

Skeleton's Key is the best artifact in the game. I definitely regret wasting an hour getting Auriel's Bow, even though I was all for it a little while ago.

The portly, jolly bartender again tells me where the dungeon with the map is.

Annnnd I go through another generic four-floor dungeon with the same old enemies.

Hooray, a map! Onward to the next dungeon...

 ...and more genericness. Yawn. I'm still having fun with fighting monsters, but I wish there'd be some kind of variety in the environments or the objectives.

Here we go, the best artifact. This thing can unlock ANY door in the game, and drastically shortens some dungeons (like the already-completed Labyrinthian). Only problem is that it can only be used every 20 or so hours game-time, so you need to rest between uses. This can be an issue in areas with a bunch of locked doors in succession; you end up resting a bunch of times due to interruptions.

At this point I go for the tablet, heading back to the temple and hoping for no more half dozen hell hound ambushes. What sucks about this place is that at the very end you have to swim through this tunnel, and... you can't, really. There's a flying enemy in the next room, and it tends to get right up against the wall in front of you and above. Since it's out of sight, you can't do anything to it. However, due to the way monster geometry works, the flying enemy actually blocks you from moving in its entire "block", so you can't get through here at all. I ended up having to use Passwall nearby just to break a land entrance into the room. Geez.

That was an atrocious pain in the ass. Luckily, the next dungeon would be very simple. It has been a trend that the staff dungeons have been quicker and easier than the dungeons before them, aside from Labyrinthian. Weird, you'd think it'd be the other way around.

Boy, am I getting tired of seeing this all the time when there are no visible enemies around. If there are any enemies near you, even if they're in other rooms with walls between you and them, you can't rest.

One longsword I randomly picked up finally breaks the 7500 G record of that earlier one. 18,751 G is more than I've ever even SEEN in the game before now. This is like winning a small lottery. I even haggled it up to 20,000.

What weapon is worth so much, you ask? This. It's got poor damage output with strikes, but it has almost two-thousand uses of the Firestorm spell. That's a mid-level spell that damages everything around you at point-blank range. While I pondered the feasibility of just running around Firestorming everything for the rest of the game, I decided that being attacked by multiple enemies wasn't common enough to take an attack power downgrade. Sell it is.

Halls of Colossus is the next dungeon, and it looks awesome. Whenever we get an Elsweyr game, I expect this to be a major dungeon and I'm looking forward to seeing it in HD. Wasn't this place in Secret of Evermore? My God, have I unearthed some sort of cosmic connection between that game and Elder Scrolls?

Turns out that I got the Skeleton Key just in time. This is a loooooong dungeon that involves collecting six different keys in different sub-dungeons in order to get through a hallway of doors near the start. Since I have the Skeleton Key, I'm able to just waltz through all of the doors and get to the end of the dungeon in 5-10 minutes.

 Holy shit! New enemy alert! At first I thought this was a mummy, but it turned out to be a stone golem. Took a lot of punishment to bring down.

 Four staff fragments down, four to go. Now that I'm done wasting time looking for artifacts, and have the key to every door in the game, I'm going to try to blaze through the rest of the game fairly quickly.

The next two dungeons take me to Summerset Isles. Been looking forward to this since the location is so intriguing, but... it looks just like everywhere else. Regardless, onward I go.


  1. I wonder if the price of the fire sword would have gone down after you used up some of the charges of the spell it has.

    It's too bad you're not about to play the first Mega Man Legends, you've built up quite a dull-looking-dungeon callous after this game and that's probably the worst part of MML.

  2. Didn't expect to see the Skeleton Key so quickly, but it makes sense that you'd reach saturation point with the dungeons eventually. That's the trouble of not having a plot and having most of your game be dark. What's good about it didn't change; the thing is just pretty long to play all at once.