Skyrim update toughens up the monsters, fixes bugs

Bethesda Softworks has announced a major update to its most recent single-player, role-playing adventure game.

As if you needed more reasons to spend more time exploring the Northern reaches of Tamriel, The Elderscrolls V: Skyrim will be getting a huge update later this month. As announced over on Bethesda’s blog, the major feature of the update is a couple of new difficulty options: Legendary difficulty and Legendary Skills.

First, Legendary difficulty is just what it sounds like. For those who have found the highest current difficulty level too easy for you, this new difficulty level will make the game impossible for all but those willing to google the most subtle flaws in the game’s development system.

In addition, the team is introducing a way to continue to level a character beyond the current cap. The way it stands now, a player is limited in their level advancement only because they eventually run out of new skills to learn, and learning new skills is what advances levels. With Legendary Skills, players will have the option to ‘make Legendary’ any skill which they have completely mastered, thus reducing the skill and all of its perks back to 15%, the starting point for most skills. Devs have confirmed that this will work exactly the way it sounds. Players will lose all of their earned points in the skill, but won’t lose their levels or stat points. This way, they can retrain the skill back up from the beginning, while fighting monsters which are just as difficult, and will continue to scale as the player continues to earn levels, no matter how many times they make their skills legendary (you can make the same skill legendary as many times as you wish).

Legendary skills confer no benefit other than allowing the player to level up more, thus leveling up the monsters as well. Some monsters, like rats, for example, are limited in their level progression, and so will never again be tough to beat after level 20 or so, but many monsters in the game, including NPCs, will scale with the player well beyond the original level limit (the game’s internal math limits the scaling to around level 6500). I’m not a big fan of monster scaling, personally, I think it’s non-verisimilar and nurtures bad habits in the players, but I can see why it would be tough to do a game like this without it.

For those of us who don’t have any complaints about the difficulty of the game, there is also a huge list of bug-fixes. Here are some of the more important ones, with some of the really exciting ones emboldened:

  • General memory and stability improvements
  • Fixed issue with quest scripts that were not shutting down properly
  • Companions will equip better weapons and armor if given to them
  • The white phial is no longer consumed if given to a follower
  • Unused briar hearts can be dropped after finishing “The White Phial”
  • Thieves Guild caches are now properly enabled in the appropriate cities
  • The Dragon Infusion perk now works properly when taking Esbern’s Potion
  • Gallus’ Encoded Journal is no longer a quest item after completing the Thieves Guild
  • Fixed issue with using shouts while in jail and having guards unlock the jail cell
  • Fixed rare issue with quest NPCs not properly moving to quest locations
  • Fixed issue with NPCs not selling master level spells
  • Locked door to Proudspire Manor can now be unlocked by proper key
  • Fixed issue with merchants not receiving the proper additional gold with the Investor perk
  • The Nord Hero Bow can now be improved
  • The Purity perk no longer requires the Experimenter perk
  • Reduced the instance of random dragon attacks after fast traveling post main quest
  • Recruited Blades now have appropriate dialogue while at Sky Haven Temple
  • Fixed issues with Matching Set perk not working properly with certain pieces of armor
  • Fixed issues with Custom Fit perk not working properly with certain pieces of armor
  • Imperial Light Armor can now be crafted
  • Fixed issue with the Ancient Knowledge perk not calculating properly
  • Fixed issue with falling damage on high difficulty levels
  • Fixed bad collision on certain clutter objects
  • Fixed rare instance of couriers who would appear only dressed in a hat

The list also has a bunch of minor bug fixes, and quest-specific fixes. You can check out the whole list over on the Bethesda blog. It’s the biggest list of bug fixes I’ve ever seen for a single update of an Elder Scrolls game.

The patch (version 1.9) will drop automatically later this month, but players on Steam can opt into the patch today if they want to give it a shot already. Just turn on the beta-participation options in the settings for the game in your library. Bethesda warns that you may want to back-up your save-games before trying, and that most of your mods might be disabled until the authors get a chance to update those as well.