I was a bad, bad man. Or should I say, Argonian? At a recent hands-on session with Skyrim I elected to play as “that lizard race,” and I wanted to be as evil as possible. Although the race is designed primarily for thieves and stealth-based characters, I was interested to see how it would fare as a Necromancer. Turns out it’s a pretty good combination.
The Argonian skill-set allows them to be immune to most poisons, capable of breathing underwater, and able to cast a wicked-good healing spell known as Histkin. The races in Skyrim can be anything with a few caveats, but it wasn’t until I ventured past the Guardian Stones to select my speciality between Thief, Mage, or Warrior that I could really select my specialty. For the sake of my hands-on I went with Mage which allowed me to learn magic skills 30% faster. (If I was playing the full retail version of the game, I could return to the Guardian Stones at any time to swap out my special trait — you can only have one active trait from the Guardian Stones at a time.)
With my skill selected I continued down the trail to the town of Riverwood. After listening in on various conversations throughout the town, I entered a nearby shop and spoke to one Lucan Valeries. Soon after I accepted his quest to retrieve an item known as the Golden Claw. Turns out a group of bandits who are holed up at the nearby Bleak Falls Barren have taken the artifact. I accepted the quest but not before looking through Valeries’ wares to see what he had for sale.
I spotted a few spells he had in his possession: Raise Zombie, Fury, and Oakflesh. Raise Zombie is exactly as it sounds — it allows me to raise a recently killed enemy to fight by my side. Fury, when cast on anyone below level 6, will have them attack any and everything near them (including me). Oakflesh increases my armor by 40 points for 60 seconds.
After learning these spells, it was time to select which ones would be my “go-tos.” Because this demo was on Xbox 360, I assigned my Flame spell to the Right Trigger while Fury was tied to the Left Trigger. In addition, each of the spells can be set as a “favorite” to the D-pad, saving a trip to the inventory menu.
With my spells equipped I started to venture forth from Riverwood, up the mountainside to the ruins known as Bleak Falls Barren. The remnants of a castle jutted out from the hillside; this is where the bandits were, and it gave me my first chance to unleash a flurry of Magik spells.
Three bandits charged at me. Immediately, I fired off a Fury spell that sent one of them into a rage, attacking the two other bandits — they ignored me and concentrated on their corrupted friend. This allowed me to move in close and flank one of the bandits, attacking him with a Flame spell that turned him into a quivering mess of fire on the ground. I scrolled through my “favorites” and cast Raise Zombie on the fresh corpse. After a few seconds, the recently defeated bandit rose up and began to attack the remaining bandits. The zombies I create only fight by my side for about a minute before they turn into a pile of ash, but it is utter chaos until then. I love it.
I continued the Fury-Flame-Raise Zombie strategy I as moved deeper into the Bleak Falls Temple where there were more bandits and the Golden Claw I sought. Along the way I noticed that if I looted a body and then brought it back to life, it would wander over to a pile of weapons (or another body) and equip a sword. Such smart zombies.
It didn’t take long until I began to level up my powers and navigate through the game’s astrology interface. At first it looked rather intimidating with a ton of choices. But for the sake of the demo I was intent on upgrading my Magik abilities as much as possible, so I elected to increase my Conjuration and Destruction abilities to improve my Raise Zombie and Flame spells.
As I continued deeper into the Temple, things got hairy when I encountered a giant spider. It took some time, but a mix of using a zombie bandit and my Flame spell dispatched it. Then I cast Raise Zombie on the dead spider to have it fight by my side as I encountered the Draugr (undead).
Defeating these foes was more of a challenge because they are a mix of warriors and spell casters. Thankfully I managed to take out one of the spell casters and bring it back to undead “life,” and it began utilizing its Freeze spell. When combined with my Flame spell, we made short work of a variety of Draugr as I fought my way out of the temple. Along the way I retrieved the Golden Claw off the corpse of a bandit who fell victim to a booby trap.
The Golden Claw itself was more than an item to store in my inventory. As I neared the exit of the Bleak Falls Temple I encountered a door that needed a specific combination of symbols. Only after going into the inventory and examining the Golden Claw by rotating it around did I notice its engraved symbols. Following the pattern I was able to unlock the door and exit the Temple.
As my time with the game neared an end, I decided to venture out into Skyrim’s countryside instead of returning to Valeries to complete my quest. My plan: see how many innocents I could turn into zombies or insane with my Fury spell. Turns out it’s a lot. Before my adventure was complete, I dueled with a giant, had a 1,000 gold bounty placed on my head, and ventured upstream until I encountered another Necromancer along the coastline. Ironically, I turned him into a zombie.
My three hours with Skyrim flew by almost instantly; the game is a complete time-sink in the best possible way. The world itself is so fully realized there’s no “correct” way to really play through the game unless you just want to critical path it, but I would highly recommend against such behaviors.