Monday, February 20, 2012

Five Things I Most Want To See in Future Skyrim DLC

1. Better Interaction With Spouses

Over the past three months, I've played a lot of Skyrim. I've played through several of the major storylines with a variety of characters and married a number of NPCs. And having done this, I've come to one conclusion - my first wife spoiled me.

As those of you reading my Skyrim War Journal know, my first character got married to Mjoll The Lioness - protector of Riften and all-around ass-kicker. Originally I did marry her just because I was interested to see what would happen if you paired up an obvious thief and scoundrel with a woman who has devoted herself to destroying The Thieves Guild. Not much, it turns out. But Mjoll turned out to be everything I've ever looked for in a woman - kind, giving, supportive of my actions even when she didn't agree with them and willing to wear whatever sexy but impractical outfits I give her.

So cold... so, very, very cold...

Maybe it's the Conan in me, but that was exactly what I imagined when I heard that Skyrim would allow you to marry NPCs. I want a partner who will share my adventures with me - not some drudge who hangs around my home, cooking and cleaning. That's what I have a housecarl for!

She IS sworn to carry your burdens. As she will remind you constantly.

I'm not saying that every NPC spouse should be retroactively changed into a valkyrie in training. But it would be nice to see some of the more interesting NPCs be allowed to develop their dreams and careers alongside you. Ysolda from Whiterun, for instance, gives up on her dreams of becoming a caravan merchant pretty quickly after you get her a mammoth tusk and propose. Why not have her hit the road with you, helping to gather interesting items and giving you an indirect bonus on haggling when she's by your side as you sell off your loot? And that's just one example! I'm sure you can think of others.

2. Cleaning Up Riften and Taking Down Maven Black-Briar

Is there any NPC in all of Skyrim more loathed than Maven Black-Briar?

Besides Lydia!

She doesn't like you either and she's not subtle about it.

But in all seriousness, I was stunned to discover that while you have the option of joining The Dark Brotherhood or bringing them down, there is no such option for The Thieves Guild or the Black-Briar family that backs them. Further exploration alongside Mjoll revealed that there's not really much you can do to help the city in general. Hell, depending on how the Civil War plays out, Maven could well become Jarl of The Rift and wind up officially ruling the city she already owns in all but name.

If you're the idealistic sort, this stinks. And even if you're playing a dodgy rogue, like me, it stinks because Maven treats your guild like her own personal army. And even if you become the head of the Thieves Guild AND the chosen of Nocturnal, you're still at Maven's mercy.

So where does it go from here?

If you're part of the The Legion or are Thane of Riften, you could be summoned to go and help Maven deal with the forces that are slandering her good name and bring them to "justice". If you're part of the Thieves Guild, you are reminded of how Maven basically owns you and how it is in your best interest to protect her interests. And so you'll be sent out to do various dirty deeds to silence or discredit the people trying to clean up Riften.

Or, you fall in with Mjoll and some of the other honest people trying to make Riften a better place and you work along with them, working to expose Maven's true colors to either the Jarl or (if Maven is Jarl), the presumed High King in waiting. Lots of potential for good missions there on both sides of the coin.

3. A Moot... And A Chance At The Jagged Crown?

The Civil War storyline - regardless of what side you choose - ends with the question of who will be made High King of Skyrim open. If the Rebellion wins, it is all but assumed that Jarl Ulfric will take the crown eventually. If the Empire wins, it is all but assumed that Jarl Elisf - who took her husband's title of Jarl after his death - will be taking the High King title as well.

But why not you?

As Mel Brooks said, "It's Good Ta Be Da King!"

Those who know their Elder Scolls history, know that the first Emperor was also a Dragonborn, who united a troubled people after a number of great trials. Well, what have you been doing ever since you came to Skyim? Of course becoming High King could put a crimp in your adventuring but if being a Thane has taught us anything, it's how to pass off your chores onto underlings. Besides, I rather like the idea of the High King of Skyrim taking a break from his ruling to go run errands for a local peasant. Someone has to help harvest that cabbage, after all.

4. Become a Bard... For Real.

Unlike most gamers, I have a fondness for bards. I like bard songs. I like the bard class in D&D. And I was excited when I heard that Skyrim would include bards and a Bard's College. What a pity that - like most arts degrees - being a graduate of the Bard's College doesn't really give you anything useful.

I studied four years and went 40,000 gold in debt for THIS?!?!

I want to be able to stop in at the local taverns and sing for my supper. I want to play the lutes and drums I occasionally stumble across in my travels! I want beautiful women to swoon at my name and bold men to nod in respect as I honor them with a song. At the very least I want people to pass me a few coins for drinking money while I'm hanging around the pubs!

And how about giving us some more songs, while you're at it? I'm getting sick of hearing "The Age of Aggression" and "Ragnar The Red"!

5. To Morrowind!

It's only a model.

As one very clever game hacker discovered
, the land masses for Morrowind and Cyrodil - the settings of the third and fourth Elder Scrolls games respectively - have been built in (if not completely rendered) into Skyrim. Apparently there's also a gateway leading in the direction of Hammerfell. Were these included as a sign of things to come? Perhaps. But of all those options, I think I'd like a chance to explore Morrowind the best.

Why? Well, apart from a good deal of curiosity as to just how bad things have gotten in the last 200 years (the information gained in-game is not positive, to put it mildly), I can see the conflict in Morrowind providing the greatest opportunity for an exciting but conflicted adventure similar to the storylines Skyrim has offered so far.

Will you join with the Dark Elf resistance that is trying to retake their ancestral homelands back from the Argonian invaders? Or will you support the new Argonian regime, believing that their invasion of Morrowind is just desserts given how long the Dark Elf society profited on a slave-trade that primarily preyed upon the lizard-like Argonians? Will you attempt to broker a peace between both sides in the interest of bringing both parties back into the Empire? Or will you wage war to claim both nations in the name of the newly reunified Skyrim?

Lots of options, here. Lots of drama...

What do you all think? What stories and features would you like to see?

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