Monday, August 25, 2014

Skyrim Mod Review - Helgen Reborn

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Mod Review: Helgen Reborn (version 105.3)

Score: +5/-4
Summary: Sounds like a mod to rebuild Helgen, but not really. Basically a series of fights and dungeon crawls with no involvement in city-(re)building. The mod works better if played at a fairly low level (pre-level 20).
++ Good voice acting as well as good dialogue. Characters feel more like they are actually talking to each other in the cutscenes rather than delivering short lines.
-+ Token story line about The Keepers of Hattu which really goes nowhere and has no bearing on the rebuilding of Helgen. As a standalone side story, however, it has good events and scripted scenes. Overall, too much backstory, not enough content, and no real tie-in to Helgen. It could have happened anywhere.
-- Meaningless series of dungeon crawls to evaluate hired guards. These are just guards, not implausibly elite units that have any business surviving a dungeon crawl where the odds are overwhelming against a "normal" person. And when the Dragonborn is level 50 and they show up in trash armour but ebony or even daedric weapons, it looks really odd.
Using a dungeon crawl mission to evaluate them is also implausible especially when they are apparently not scripted to fight according to their abilities and you cannot give them tactical commands -- there is actually no useful evaluation, especially as a Dragonborn using stealth could clean out a dungeon without them doing anything at all. Finally, their performance report seems to have no consequence, and in any case none of this has any real bearing on rebuilding the city but you have to do it six times, making it a sizeable chunk of the mod's play-time.
For a mod that is supposed to be about rebuilding Helgen, I would have preferred to be more hands-on as it relates to the final status of the city, such as how many guards to hire, and the quality of their gear.
+There is one area that stands out as being quite an interesting (haunted mine) experience and definitely worth a play-through, but it is buggy if you accidentally kill the boss before going through the intended sequence of events.
- The closest the Dragonborn gets to the task of rebuilding Helgen is looking into lumber shipments, but this turns into a series of fights at an arena. Again, very little actual rebuilding or input into the city as far as the Dragonborn is involved.
After the quests are done, you basically wait a few days and the rebuilding continues without you.
+ Pretty decent home for the Dragonborn in the form of a multi-level "Private Tower", with a lot of named storage and many mannequins.

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