Tag Archives: PC

Fall Update

It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve posted one of these, hasn’t it? Well, I’ve definitely played some games in that time. If anything, it looks like I’ve been a little restless for the last few months, though in addition to everything mentioned here, I’ve also played through an entire, lengthy single player game and been working my way through another classic DOS game, both of which I’ll dedicating separate posts to soon.

My crew about to head out on another raid.
“My crew about to head out on another raid.”

Continuing to play through Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds with friends, I really wanted something of a similar vein that I could play solo. I recall hearing discussion about it on some podcasts and was intrigued, but at some point more recently I stumbled upon some YouTube footage of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and I was instantly hooked. I’ve been a fan of Ghost Recon since the early days, and while installments from Ghost Recon 2 onward have lost me more and more, it seemed like Wildlands was taking some of the best parts of those newer games and applying them to a big budget, open world shooter.

It turns out that my decision to hop into Wildlands was (mostly) a good one. While the gameplay quickly felt much more formulaic and repetitive, and a little bit more like GTA 5 with a Ghost Recon skin, than Ghost Recon with an open world, than I was hoping for, the main elements that drew me in remain compelling: playing dress up with the huge (though far from exhaustive, unfortunately) amount of customization options available for gearing up your character and your squad, taking that squad into whatever objectives you might want, whether the single-player campaign missions, or just randomly chasing new weapons and other upgrades, and finally, pulling off a coordinated, Tears of the Sun like stealth assault on an enemy position using silenced weapons, drones, and synchronized, long range shots.

A quiet nighttime op suddenly heats up.
“A quiet nighttime op suddenly heats up.”

The game world is awesome, the action, at its best, feels extremely satisfying, and the customization combined with the open world gameplay leads to a certain immersive quality that practically had me roleplaying the scenarios I’d bring my squad into. I’m 100% sure the game would have been even more enjoyable played cooperatively, but sadly none of my usual crew was very interested in checking out Wildlands for one reason or another. Even though I’ve mostly fallen off of the game by now, I’m keeping it installed for now in hopes that another one of my friends might eventually pick it up. That, and I’ve recently started watching Netflix’s Narcos, which the game seems to be undeniably inspired by, and I’ve already been feeling the urge to jump back in as a result. Wildlands definitely seems like it will be best enjoyed when viewed through the lens of that kind of on-the-ground, legally questionable operations where coordinating with “indigenous forces” is perhaps more crucial than more conventional small squad military or law enforcement direct action. While I personally rarely call on rebel support myself, there are certainly plenty of systems in place to play that way.

While it doesn’t seem like Wildlands is very popular (despite some stubborn attempts to foster an online, competitive community) reviews were generally quite positive so maybe there’s some hope for Ubisoft to justify developing a sequel. I’m sure everyone who still plays would love even more customization options, and maybe they could even throw a battle royale mode in to help boost sales the second time around. Oh, and including the PVP mode from the beginning would probably help get those numbers up too.

At around the same time my hype for World of Warcraft’s new expansion, Battle for Azeroth, was building. I decided to play a little catch up and play through the last expansion, Legion. The last time I took an extended break from WoW was just as Legion was being released, so I’d missed entire thing and really hadn’t spent any time following it. I went in more or less blind.

The Battle for Azeroth login screen looks like something of a throwback.
“The Battle for Azeroth login screen looks like something of a throwback.”

I ran my Dwarf Rogue through Legion’s single player campaign and I found the new zones and their associated storylines and quests to be quite enjoyable. I also enjoyed the whole artifact system and class hall/class quest system much more than I thought I would. That said, as a solo player, I was extremely frustrated by how much gating I encountered. Forays into dungeons and even raids for questline progression, in particular, were the worst offenders. There have always been items and recipes that you could only acquire as part of dungeon and raid drops, or deep rep grind purchases, but in Legion I found my leveling of Alchemy to be completely halted due to some of these non-solo friendly quests. This was the first time since classic I haven’t had my alchemy maxed out. I didn’t have much time to dwell on this for too long, as Battle for Azeroth came out almost as soon as I finished the core Legion campaign. This means only a few dungeons, no raids, not even any PVP (which is usually my primary activity in WoW’s endgame.)

WIth Battle for Azeroth, the zones are probably even better than in Legion. It impresses me how good Blizzard has gotten and how they continue to improve at world design, though I have to say that questing in World of Warcraft STILL feels a lot less compelling than games like my beloved Star Wars: The Old Republic or any number of single player RPGs. At least, outside of some vicious reputation grinding, the gating from Legion seems to be largely gone. Oh, and I need to give a shout out to the soundtrack, as this one might be the best by far, which is saying something after just playing through Legion.

The only issue that I feel strongly enough to really complain about is the change to the way the global cooldown (“GCD”) works, which I can sum up simply by saying that more (most?) abilities are now tied to the same timer, which means you can’t “spam” them out (or particular, between them) too quickly. What seems like a small change on paper can actually really change the feel of certain class specializations radically. For me, as an aggressive combat rogue, I feel like it makes combat feel noticeably clunkier, and I feel less capable as a result. I really don’t like it.

Gulgrim, my main, hanging out wherever I abandoned him months ago. Poor guy.
“Gulgrim, my main, hanging out wherever I abandoned him months ago. Poor guy.”

Anyway, I don’t have much more to say about BfA for now – I played through ALMOST all of the Alliance campaign, maxing my character’s level far before finishing, before getting distracted and falling off the bandwagon. I’ll definitely go back to World of Warcraft to finish the single player content and hopefully check out PVP and some of the other new systems, though for now I’m waiting to see what the upcoming 8.2 patch is going to look like.

I have to say, moving between WoW’s expansions back to back like this really serves to highlight the unfortunate cannibalistic nature of them. Warlords of Draenor’s central feature, the garrisons, were completely abandoned once Legion came out. With Battle for Azeroth, the artifacts and class halls we spent so much time leveling and working with? Abandoned. I’d really like to see expansions that change and build upon existing content in a less destructive way, personally. Maybe if expansion content were developed this way we wouldn’t need silly things like World of Warcraft Classic.

I finally feel like I’m getting close to closing this chapter of my life. While I’m still very much a fan of Warcraft and enjoy dipping back into it every couple of years, it’s the lore more than the gameplay keeping me around. With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to playing through the recently announced Warcraft 3: Reforged. I hoping that the whole generation of gamers who only know Warcraft via WoW will jump on it and enjoy it as much as I did back in 2003. I would have rather had Warcraft 4, but I’m interested nonetheless.

Back on the shooter front, me and my normal PUBG crew were definitely being tempted away from PUBG by the promise of battle royale modes in both Battlefield V and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Unfortunately, I and most of my friends were totally disappointed by the direction it seemed Battlefield V was going, and interest in that very quickly fizzled. BO4’s battle royale mode, Blackout, on the other hand, was looking fucking sick, and quite a few of us hopped into the Blackout PC beta weekend in September with most of us agreeing that it might very well take our interest away from PUBG.

Finishing off the boss of a public event. I've loved this system since WAR.
“Finishing off the boss of a public event. I’ve loved this system since WAR.”

Finding myself not wanting to give up the highly polished, smooth gunplay of Call of Duty to return back to the clunky, sometimes buggy feeling mess of PUBG, I decided to dust off Destiny 2, particularly because everyone had been talking about the pre-Forsaken expansion 2.0 patch, which made a number of much-requested tweaks and balance changes. I ended up playing through the single player campaigns of both Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions. I had fun with both despite feeling a little bit like “more of the same” campaign content. Still, that content was pretty enjoyable to begin with, and neither it or these expansions overstay their welcome with too much unnecessary grind.

The 2.0 patch made plenty of other changes to the game though, most pretty positive. I strongly dislike what they did to the infusion system, changing it from an easy, convenient way to cash in your junk gear drop to keep your favorites useful, to making it quite cost prohibitive, meaning you’ll only want to keep your absolutely favorite items upgraded, and even those, probably not too often. I know that it’s viewed as a very positive change, but I also had a very hard time getting use to the new, lower TTK (“time to kill”) in PVP. I’d often find myself rushing into situations where I’d normally survive long enough to get a kill, or pop off my super, only to get mowed down without achieving anything but an embarrassing death. It was rather demoralizing, and despite quickly realizing why it was happening, the adjustment hasn’t been easy for me.

My poorly geared Warlock main hanging out with The Travler.
“My poorly geared Warlock main hanging out with The Travler.”

I fully realize I somehow never posted about my (relatively brief) time with Destiny 2 when it launched in 2017, somehow. I’ll leave the in-depth Destiny 2 analysis to the more hardcore players, but the short summary of my experience is that it’s the type of extremely polished AAA shooter experience that you’d expect from Bungie if you’re a Halo veteran, and the single player campaign and PVP modes are both quite a lot of fun. Tie that in with a loot drop system and a heavy focus on multiplayer, and it’s easy to see why people got so addicted to the franchise.

It’s far from perfect, however. I, for one, expected Destiny 2 to be more like the Destiny that Bungie was rumored to developing in the early days, rather than a polished up rehash of the first game, somehow including less of the features that kept players hooked during the later phases of that game’s life. In any case, with no investment in the first game, I feel like I got my money out of it and will be returning soon enough to play through the Forsaken campaign. With no group of friends dedicated to it (interestingly, most of friends who were hopelessly addicted to Destiny 1 bounced off Destiny 2 hard!) and no huge attachment to the endgame systems, I can’t see ever treating it more as just a fun single player campaign set in a multiplayer world at this point, however. I’m fine with that.

Parachuting down in Blackout!
“Parachuting down in Blackout!”

Finally, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launched and, as planned, I played the absolute hell out of it. Much to my surprise, Blackout mode wasn’t actually where I spent my time though. While I stand by my opinion that this new battle royale mode is quite good and a worthy addition to the franchise, I found it somehow much less forgiving than Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. In PUBG, it was always fairly easy to drop into an area and get looted up before having a conflict with the enemy, and those conflicts were usually fairly tactical when they did happen, but in Blackout I feel like I’m usually finding myself in furious engagements almost immediately, often before I’ve even found a firearm, and they often feel desperately frantic (and not in a good way.) Solo mode feels fairly good in this respect, though I much prefer playing battle royale games with a group, and squad mode feels far, far too hectic. Duos seem to be the sweetest spot to me. The biggest issue though, is that somehow the draw to hop back in and try again, especially after a terrible, frustrating loss, just isn’t there in Blackout, while being one of the most interesting parts of the PUBG “special sauce.” I’m not quite sure how to explain this, but it’s not just me – almost all of my group has also bounced off of Blackout, and from some posts I’ve read, we don’t seem to be alone in this. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

On the flipside, I got utterly hooked on playing through the normal multiplayer modes, especially team deathmatch. I don’t think I’d played Call of Duty multiplayer since Modern Warfare 3 in 2011 and I still find the multiplayer of Call of Duty to be quite a lot of fun, with the progression system giving me just enough of a carrot on a stick to keep me addicted to leveling up my character. This time around, I’ve actually stuck with it long enough to max out quite a few weapons and “prestige” my main account at least once now. I’ve even taken to playing in “hardcore” mode which eliminates most of the disparity between different weapons and weapon types (I fucking HATE getting “shotgunned” with a “no scope” 50 caliber sniper rifle shot… ffffuuuuu!) and changes the balance of firefights quite a bit in general.

Lining up a kill shot in Hardcore.
“Lining up a kill shot in Hardcore.”

While I did eventually grow tired of the churn of Call of Duty’s multiplayer, as I always do, and I’m finally considering returning to the slower, more tactical gunplay of PUBG, I legitimately hadn’t been this addicted to a “normal” deathmatch type gamemode in PC game for so long I can’t even recall when it might have been. All in all, despite not dedicating my time to Blackout like I’d planned, Black Ops 4 has still been money well spent.

It was a busy several months of game hopping, and every game I’ve mentioned I’ll definitely consider going back to at some point in the future. For now, I’ll likely dedicate my time to more and more single-player experiences, particular those that have been stuck in my backlog for far too long, while desperately being on the look out for the next multiplayer experience I can hop into with my crew.

By the time I finally got around to editing this and posting this, I hadn’t played any of the games mentioned in quite some time. I had to begrudgingly re-install Destiny 2 to get screenshots, which means I’ll probably be heading back to play Forsaken much sooner than expected. On the flip side, hopping into Black Ops 4 to play a few more rounds of multiplayer for screenshots felt great, and I was a little sad to have to resign myself to uninstalling it. That’s possibly the best complement I can give it.

Side note: New year and a new, slightly larger thumbnail image size! Rejoice!

The Tale of Garn: Epilogue

Directly following the completion of the massively dragged out “Garn” Oblivion campaign I’ve decided to do a quick postmortem wrap up to answer some of the questions that have been asked over the years and just take a quick, general look back over it all.

What’s up with the name “Garn”? Is “Garn” from x?

First, the name Garn. A lot of people have wanted to know where I got it. A few have commented on it sounding kind of dumb and/or not fitting the character.

You’re totally right. I actually came up with the name several years previous when I decided to try playing an Alliance character in World of Warcraft for the first time. Specifically, I wanted to try the prototypical human Paladin. I always thought human males looked dumb as hell in WoW, and still do for the most part, so I gave him a name I thought sounded appropriately dumb and harsh, like something Conan’s less-known knucklehead brother might have. My decision to use that name in Oblivion was fairly random. This Garn was also “human” and the name was appropriately fantasy-ish so it seemed like an okay fit. I admit at that time I had little idea of what my character’s… err, character would be like. What a different series this would have been if I had played him as just a beefy, dumb fighter. Maybe next time?

Not actually anything to do with witches.
“Not actually anything to do with witches.”

What is Garn’s x?

Some people have been curious about the particulars of the character, since I rarely talked about the specifics of the game systems during the campaign. All shall now be revealed!

Race: Breton
Birthsign: The Warrior
Class: Witch Blade (custom class focusing on Heavy Armor, Block, Blade, plus a few schools of magic.)
Level: 42
Health: 521
Magicka: 270
Fatigue: 394

Strength: 100
Intelligence: 100
Willpower: 100
Agility: 94
Speed: 104
Endurance: 100
Personality: 90
Luck: 91

Major Skills:
Athletics: 91
Blade: 100
Block: 84
Heavy Armor: 100
Conjuration: 100
Destruction: 88
Restoration: 78

Notable Minor Skills:
Armorer: 89
Alchemy: 41
Acrobatics: 40
Mercantile: 33
Security: 98
Speechcraft: 36

Notable Accomplishments:
Days Passed: 199
Quests Completed: 118
Skill Increases: 675
Training Sessions: 80
Fame: 144
Infamy: 0 – What little infamy I had I would have cleared while doing my Knights of the Nine routine.
Days Jailed: 0
Items Stolen: 1054 – I can’t imagine how I racked up so many.
Items Pickpocketed: 0
Assaults: 58
Murders: 0
Largest Bounty: 40
Creatures Killed: 1902
People Killed: 845
Locks Picked: 441
Souls Trapped: 0 – I didn’t do any soul trapping at all with this character, surprisingly.
Potions Made: 215 – Surprised it was this many. I didn’t do much Alchemy with Garn.
Oblivion Gates Shut: 9 – The bare minimum to advance the plot + Allies for Bruma.
Horses Owned: 1 – Really? I always avoided getting my horse killed and only really ever replaced if I had to.
Houses Owned: 2 – In addition to my Imperial City shack I also acquired but never used the awesome Benirus Manor in Anvil.
Books Read: 236
Skill Books Read: 15
Artifacts Found: 2 – I got the Skeleton Key to save myself the frustration of constantly hording and breaking lock picks, and of course the artifact needed to complete the main quest.
Hours Slept: 225
Hours Waited: 1369 – I waited more than I slept, huh! The waiting mechanic is crucial for saving time.
Nirnroots Found: 114

Gold on hand: 342,662 although I hadn’t sold most of my loot since starting the main quest, and of the little of it I took with me a lot of it was worth a fair amount (magic weapons and armor, mostly.) I also horded almost every piece of magical weapon or armor that fit my class in my Imperial City shack for the first half or more of the campaign. Probably quite a lot of money tied up in there.

I played on default / medium difficulty for more or less the entire campaign. At first this was quite hard thanks to OOO’s rebalancing. For most of the middle and end of the story I found it laughably easy to slaughter my opponents. At the end, going through the main quest line, a lot of the Daedric enemies were actually pretty tough. I ended up bumping the difficulty slider down a tiny bit just to make clearing out Oblivion gates less of a grind.

The story arc/plot of the series? Why didn’t you do x questline?

At first I had only a vague idea that I might do normal quests and write about those, and not coming up with any other great hook early on, that is definitely how things developed. Soon I found myself needing to consider what order I’d play the questlines in for some sort of narrative coherency. The final product is fairly close to what I had imagined with the only difference being that I had originally planned for Garn to be sidelined by evil (an excuse to do the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, and Daedric questlines) and him doing the Knights of the Nine questline in order to repent. With things taking so long and some conflicting thoughts about exactly how I’d pull off the whole redemption thing, I decided to skip those questlines altogether.

How many hours did you play?!

Naturally it didn’t actually take me more than 9 years to play Oblivion – it’s not that long. According to my last save, almost 122 hours on the nose. I only played a session or two a month, with each session usually being somewhere in the neighborhood of a few hours. There were definitely segments where my post didn’t really reflect how long I had played but for the most part I feel like my time playing is pretty well represented by my writing. I would have loved to play much more often but I found having to write about my adventures before proceeding on to be a big stumbling point. In fact, I wanted to play so much more than I was playing that I actually ended up running through an entirely separate campaign with a different character on the Xbox 360 version of the game back in 2013. I also 100% Fallout 3 during that time as well.

So is Oblivion like, your favorite game ever?

Err, that’s hard to say. I’d definitely say that The Elder Scrolls is my favorite RPG series ever. I love the immersive nature of the world and the more and more I learn about it I absolutely love the lore behind the series. In fact I’ll be playing through Arena soon in one of my Retro Reviews, hopefully.

What mods are you using?

People have certainly noticed that I’m not playing 100% vanilla Oblivion. While I’ve found a few other mods I would have loved to incorporate into the campaign (this one for example, which adds active Imperial Legion forts across the continent) I decided to keep my add-on list static after starting the campaign for the sake of stability. Getting Oblivion mods, particularly complicated ones like OOO, to play together can sometimes be difficult. My setup is fairly solid.

Here they are, and the load order (tuned with Oblivion Mod Manager):

Oscuro’s_Oblivion_Overhaul.esm – OOO is the source of most of the odd tweaks that people have observed.
Enhanced Daedric Invasion.esm – I liked the idea of this mod but apart from having more and more spawns around the gate I didn’t notice many of the cooler enhancements.
AWS-Core.esm – Atmospheric Weather System.
Unofficial Oblivion Patch.esp
DLCHorseArmor.esp – Essential! 😛
DLCHorseArmor – Unofficial Patch.esp
DLCOrrery.esp
DLCOrrery – Unofficial Patch.esp
DLCThievesDen.esp
DLCThievesDen – Unofficial Patch.esp
DLCThievesDen – Unofficial Patch – SSBB.esp
DLCMehrunesRazor.esp
DLCMehrunesRazor – Unofficial Patch.esp
DLCVileLair.esp
DLCVileLair – Unofficial Patch.esp
DLCSpellTomes.esp
DLCSpellTomes – Unofficial Patch.esp
Short Grass V3.esp – So I can see my loot!
Natural_Vegetation_by_Max_Tael.esp
Natural_Habitat_by_Max_Tael.esp
Oblivion Citadel Door Fix.esp
Crowded Roads Revisited.esp
Crowded Cities 15.esp
Obscuro’s_Oblivion_Overhaul.esp
OOO-Level_Stock.esp
DLCFrostcrag.esp
DLCFrostcrag – Unofficial Patch.esp
DLCBattlehornCastle.esp
DLCBattlehornCastle – Unofficial Patch.esp
Knights.esp
Knights – Unofficial Patch.esp
Enhanced Daedric Invasion.esp
Enhanced Daedric Invasion for OOO.esp
No psychic guards v1.2.esc – A classic essential!
PekImperialHorseArmor.esp – Because the Legion should have armored horses too!
OOOPekImeprialHorseArmor.esp
KseAliLeveling.esp – Forces maximized/optimized leveling.
Encumbrance100.esp – Because I don’t like managing my inventory constantly, and I’m a pack rat.
Quest Award Leveler.esp – I think it’s a bummer that you need to optimize quest timing to make quest rewards more valuable / last longer. This mod simply keeps them leveled to you. Problem solved!
Quest Award Leveller – Vile Lair.esp
Quest Award Leveller – Mehrunes Razor.esp
Quest Award Leveller – Kinghts of the Nine.esp

One of the sillier challenges I had during the course of the series was that I didn’t want to migrate this setup to over another PC and risk breaking anything. While there were other reasons, that was one of the excuses I used for not updating my main gaming PC for way, waaay too long. I had built just before I started this campaign. Yeah, it was definitely time to upgrade… 😉

What did you do to take your screenshots?

Nothing too special. I used FRAPS and set it to repeat shots every 2 seconds. A lot of my action shots are achieved by playing normally but occasionally going into third person, plus a huge amount of simple luck. This didn’t always work for me though as sometimes I wouldn’t end up with anything useful after an otherwise awesome encounter. My fight with Mankar Camoran is a great example of that – no great pictures of the fight with Mankcar himself. Beyond that I often purposely framed nice shots using third person view and, more and more often as the campaign progressed, started using the toggle free camera (TFC) console command for the sake of variety.

Things you learned from the series / what you’d do differently next time?

First of all, I learned that writing is hard. Despite not being particularly good at it I absolutely love to write. The problem is that I’m goddamn slow, and I usually have trouble finding the time and the motivation to sit down and write something out, revise it multiple times, sift through my screenshots, etc. This was the main reason this whole project took so long – I’d play for a few hours and then I’d have to come up with the time to pen my adventure before having another session. This was especially frustrating after a great session that got me all amped up to play more.

I found it quite difficult to keep my perspectives consistent with such spread out writing sessions. I ended up purposely experimenting with this for my own benefit which is where the different “From Garn’s recollections” and “From the journal of Garn” subheadings came from. I found it ESPECIALLY difficult to keep my tenses straight when writing something so long and spread out which I admit I don’t have any good excuses for. I guess I won’t ever end up writing my Great American Novel after all… 😉

Directly related, the final format I used for this “Let’s Play” was a bit ridiculous. I would have been far better off writing a more detailed account of a much shorter adventure OR a much less detailed account of something this size or even larger. The next few of these I do will be much shorter form, whatever format those end up being, for the sake of my sanity.

Finally, a little less mechanical, I learned a ton about the lore behind the Elder Scrolls series and a lot about the TES community in general. I actually wish I had sought out more sources than the various wikis and whatnot beforehand as I might have been a little better prepared to make my fiction fit into the canon from the get go. I’d have to say that the various TES related subs on Reddit, including /r/TESLore were especially influential later on into this series.

Shoutouts:

Living in Oblivion – Nondrick’s Non-adventure was a great, less serious, inspiration for starting this originally.
The Elder Scrolls Subreddit and related subs were excellent resources, especially for learning about the lore.
The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages (UESP) was my main reference when planning my sessions and writing up my adventures.
The Imperial Library also a nice place for referencing the script and in-game books.

That’s about it for Garn! I’ll definitely never do such an epic Let’s Play ever again, at least not in text, but this probably isn’t the last time I’ll be doing one based in the Elder Scrolls series.

The Tale of Garn Chapter 55

Warning: potential main quest spoilers ahead!

From Garn’s recollections:

Closure

Martin and a couple of Blades who happened to be in the great hall when I had appeared sat me up, dusted me off, and handed me a tankard of ale. Believe me, to go from running out of a collapsing building to appearing in another world in the blink of an eye is an uncomfortable experience. Martin seemed relieved to see me, correctly taking my return to mean that I had defeated Mankar Camoran. He congratulated me on my victory and asked if I had recovered the Amulet of the Kings. Still attempting to gather myself, I simply handed the Amulet of Kings to Martin and suggested he put it on, as it was his after all.

I'd be reluctant too, did you hear what happened to the last guy?!
“I’d be reluctant too, did you hear what happened to the last guy?!”

The two Blades in the room each took steps back to watch intently as Martin easily placed the amulet around his neck. Martin had more or less always known he was Uriel Septim’s son since we first suggested it to him back in Kvatch but that made it official. Well, almost. Martin remained very respectful of the traditions of the empire and demanded, even in this time of crisis, to meet with the high council to secure their full blessing and carry out all of the traditional ceremonies. Not only that, but lighting the Dragonfires was more than a hollow ritual. It should, as planned, close the gates to Oblivion and end Mehrune Dagon’s invasion once and for all. Martin had already sent a messenger to High Chancellor Ocato in preparation for my return and so we wasted no time and assembled a small retinue to accompany us down to the capital.

High Chancellor Ocato swears his loyalty to his new Emperor.
“High Chancellor Ocato swears his loyalty to his new Emperor.”

We received strange looks from both city guard and people in the streets alike as we quickly ushered Martin to the Imperial Palace. Ocato met us in the council chambers along with a few witnesses. Ocato knelt down before Martin and told us that he had already met with the rest of the Elder Council to discuss Martin’s claim to the throne and that the decision to back him was unanimous. On behalf of the council he officially accepted Martin’s claim, recognizing him as Uriel Septim’s heir. I had been through so much after the fateful day when I first witnessed the Mythic Dawn’s assassination of the Emperor that coming full circle to that moment was a huge relief.

Trouble in the streets of the Imperial City.
“Trouble in the streets of the Imperial City.”

Ocato, Martin, and the others ceased with the formalities and began discussing arranging the coronation ceremony when suddenly a young guardsman came bursting into the council chambers screaming in alarm. The guard collapsed before he could deliver the message in its entirety, 2 Daedric arrows sticking in his back. Everyone in the room instantly drew their weapons and not too late, as Dremora soldiers rushed in immediately engaging with the palace guards at the door. I, along with the other Blades, made escorting the Emperor and the High Chancellor out of harm’s way our highest priority and after dispatching a few Daedra found ourselves back out in the streets of the Imperial City.

The situation was worse than first feared. There were multiple Oblivion gates opened throughout the city itself, buildings on aflame, and groups of Daedra pillaging and marauding through the city streets. It was suggested that we return to the relative safety of the palace but Martin instead ordered us all to fight our way to the Temple of the One so that we could light the Dragonfires. In retrospect, that was probably the only sensible reaction.

Total chaos!
“Total chaos!”

With the amount of Daedra pouring through the gates the fight to get the temple was incredibly chaotic. Few of the city guard who hadn’t served in the Imperial Legions since the Oblivion Crisis started had ever had to fight Daedra and many of them fell due to their inexperience. Still, there were enough soldiers and Blades around us that we eventually made it to the Temple District. The district was filled with a dense, black smoke and the combined cacophony of screams, cries, roars, and clashes of steel on steel only added to the confusion. Then as our group rounded one side of the temple things got even worse – Mehrunes Dagon!

Actually Martin, I need to split. I've got an appointment... or something. Yeah.
“Actually Martin, I need to split. I’ve got an appointment… or something. Yeah.”

The Daedric Prince himself had broken through the barriers that had protected us from Oblivion and taken on a physical form in our world. We had run out of time – our plan had failed. Summoning the last bit of desperate hope the soldiers with us could muster we all raised our shields and huddled in a corner to come up with a plan. Lighting the Dragonfires could no longer help us but I asked if, since the Amulet of Kings was an artifact of Akatosh, its power was still of use. That was when Martin came up with a genius plan. He ordered us to get him to into the Temple of the One.

A plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox.
“A plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox.”

Getting the Emperor into the temple was no small task as Prince Dagon stood near the front door fighting off a small group of Imperial battlemages who had been ineffectively peppering him with spells. Soon our careful advance was broken by a swarm of Clannfear and Daedroth that viciously knocked three of our men away, causing many of the others to run in fear. As the High Chancellor broke off to help Martin and I pressed on, running past much of the fighting in the streets, sneaking around the menacing Daedric Prince, and making it into the temple.

Inside Martin began to reveal his plan to me. He would shatter the Amulet of Kings, mixing the divine power of Akatosh with the Dragons Blood of the Septim line. I questioned what exactly he thought would happen but we were interrupted by a heart-stopping booming noise coming from the roof of the temple. Martin and I both looked up to see a large section of the temple’s roof and outer wall give way, and the towered physical manifestation of the Daedric Prince peering in at us.

Before I knew it I was blinded by an intense white light as Martin was enveloped in the scattering beams of intense divine power, and then a pillar of flame rose up from where Martin had just stood. The flames quickly rose up, higher and higher, and then, incredibly, took the shape of a great dragon. There was a brief moment of still as the Daedric Prince stared at the flames curiously, interrupted as the flames parted to reveal head of an actual golden dragon. It struck out at Mehrunes Dagon, letting loose a massive jet of flame breath.

The Avatar of Akatosh delivers a divine beatdown.
“The Avatar of Akatosh delivers a divine beatdown.”

In the most incredible battle I or indeed anyone in the Imperial City that day had ever seen, the towering Daedric Prince and this amazing avatar of the divine Akatosh traded blows. The fight seemed even enough but where Prince Dagon seemed to suffer from his wounds the dragon barely reacted to being struck. With that it was only a matter of a few more successful strikes until Mehrunes Dagon sustained enough damage that he was cast back into Oblivion. The dragon, perched atop the center altar of the temple, let out one last victorious roar and then turned to stone.

The smoke clears...
“The smoke clears…”

In an instant all of the Oblivion portals in the city flickered out, their rocky supports crumbling into pieces, the remaining Daedra in the city were seemingly also cast back into Oblivion, and the black smoke that had choked the city’s center began to part revealing blue skies once again. It seemed that not only had Martin’s plan defeated Prince Dagon but it had also restored the protective barriers that separated Mundus from Oblivion, creating a new divine artifact in the process. The city, indeed, our entire world, was safe.

I sheathed my sword, took off my helmet, and began walking away. High Chancellor Ocato stopped me, asking what happened. After I explained the situation he was, of course, heartbroken about losing our new Emperor. He assured me that the Elder Council would find a way, and that Martin’s sacrifice would not go unrecognized. He had been one of our most heroic Emperors, even if Emperor for such a short time. He also recognized me for my part, proclaiming me Champion of Cyrodiil. I was honored but I could only think of all of those who gave up their lives during this struggle: Martin, Jauffre, and Baurus to name only the few I knew personally. I was tired. It had been a long, long journey, and I hoped that it had finally come to an end.

Hanging up my sword and shield.
“Hanging up my sword and shield.”

With great fanfare I returned back to the Priory of the Nine. After a brief celebration I went to the Priory’s armory to return the Crusader’s Relics. I had hopes that Pelinal Whitestrake could guide another to take up the cause if ever such a need arose again. While I would continue to oversee the Knights of the Nine and help the people of Cyrodiil wherever I could, my adventuring days were over. I had seen the deaths of two emperors, been in the middle of struggles between the gods and demons themselves, and seen more than my share of all of the good and bad that his world has to offer.

And that is how I ended up here, to tell this story…

Well friends, at long last, with the closure of the Oblivion gates and the completion of Oblivion’s main quest, Garn’s story also comes to a close. Stay tuned for a special epilogue in which I’ll share some behind the scenes details some people have asked me about over the years. Special thanks for my few, dedicated readers!