Hey guys, I want your help. I know there aren’t many frequent visitors yet, due to lack of advertising, visibly, frequent content, etc.
But I want to change all that. And with your help, I will.
What I want are some suggestions as to what I can do to make this blog be the best it can be.
Offer any number of suggestions in the comments below. Here are some of my ideas:
– Featured Articles (every week or few days)
– Spotlight Article (a few every week)
– Featured Reviews and/or Products and/or Benchmarks (once every week)
– Better organization for the blog (so you can check “desktop”, “gaming”, “monitors”, or whatever)
– Facebook page, Twitter account, social network integration
– YouTube videos (made by me)
– Product reviews and comparisons (made by me)
– Tutorials and Guides (made by me)
– TLD (Top Level Domain – meaning it wouldn’t be a WHATEVER.wordpress.com domain, but a WHATEVER.com URL instead)
– Unique graphics design (custom layout, images, theme, etc)
– News Portal
– Partnerships with other sites (for extra visibility)
– BUILD-OFFs where people get to recommend parts in a gaming build, and vote for the best one (as this site was originally intended to do)
– More PC games and gaming information and content
– More Desktop PC technology information and content
– More Desktop PC hardware component information and content
– More computer technology information and content
– More game modding content
– More PC software information and content
Can you think of anything else? Add it in the comments below.
Although I could make this into a poll for you to vote on, I’d like to hear your arguments as to why it would help the blog the most, and why you’d like to see it more than anything else. Also, there are simply too many options, and I need your help to reduce the number of options down so it’s possible to make a poll where everybody could easily (and quickly) vote for whatever they wanted.
Well, help me figure this out, guys. Thanks. Seeya.
OK, normally when a gamer buys a gaming mouse, he’s looking for a certain set of features – he often knows how a good gaming mouse will “feel” in his hands, but sometimes he’ll find it hard to put it into words. That’s what I’m going to try and do, now.
(Note: this entire article is based on subjective, relative experience of a gaming mouse for the gamer. Thus, it’s very hard to give definitive numbers on this. Meaning that most of this article is based on opinions, subjective experiences, and it gives pointers on several things. This may or may not be relevant to you in particular, but this might contain some useful ideas that can help you in your next gaming mouse purchase.)
First, though, let’s analyze what the mouse does.
A mouse is designed to accurately position itself on the screen, moving at the right speed the user wishes (not faster or slower), and it should be relatively comfortable.
For the gamer, he wants his mouse to offer as many buttons as he needs for his games (some gamers need several buttons, like MMO gamers, while others, like FPS gamers, might need only a few buttons). He also wants his gaming mouse to not be too light (and possibly feel somewhat lacking in quality), nor too heavy – normally, gamers would like to customize this if possible. The mouse should be of the correct size for the type of grip the gamer uses (Palm, Claw or Fingertip), and adjustable if possible.
The gaming mouse should be comfortable – ergonomic, if possible. For right-handed gamers, a right-handed mouse, for left-handed gamers, a left-handed mouse. (This article will cover right-handed gamers mostly – most of the population is right-handed, which is reason enough to believe that most gamers who read this will be right-handed as well, meaning ambidextrous mice will have to suffice.)
A gaming mouse should, if possible, have nice macro and software support – and being able to store unlimited macros, possibly on the cloud, is very nice. Some buttons for gamers really help – like those controlling DPI setting (or the famous “sniper button”). Ideally, a gaming mouse should also be able to perform these macros from the mouse hardware, rather than relying on the PC software (where PC lag can make the macro functionality lag, underperform and/or act unexpectedly).
Also, the mouse should have a good “click” feel to it. Meaning that it should feel easy to detect when the mouse has indeed “clicked”, and it shouldn’t have issues with the buttons “sticking”, or being hard to press.
A good gaming mouse should also be a long-lasting product. The endurance of the Razer Lycosa on a gaming mouse would be legendary (note: read my previous article if you wish to check that out – it’s a testament to what a rugged gaming peripheral should be like.
It should also be comfortable enough to be usable for several hours. And it shouldn’t require constant cleaning (matte texture is good), it should feel very “grippy” (texturized surface), it should glide easily on several surfaces (teflon feet?), among other features.
Now, there are other features a gamer might want. Wireless, customizable LED lighting, and others. Wireless can be useful, however, it the range isn’t good, or the battery life isn’t good, or the signal isn’t very good in quality (for whatever reason), it nullified the benefit of a wireless mouse. Also, it’s very important for a wireless gaming mouse to come with a rechargeable battery. A braided cable can help to avoid cable tangling (it helps me with my Razer Megalodon, so I can attest to it’s usefulness). As for LED lighting… well, customizable colors are nice, but they shouldn’t distract you from your game; white is best, while bright red, blue, green or purple can be more distracting (although they do look nice, the distracting color detracts from the gamers ability to focus on his game – and possibly ruining his gaming immersion experience).
Also, avoid pulsing LED lights… seriously, how distracting is that? Having some form of LED lighting is useful when finding your mouse in mid-gaming in the dark (after, say, using both hands to type a really long text message to your alliance and/or guild). But it shouldn’t in any way distract you from your monitor.
Rubber side grips might help too; like what is seen in the Razer DeathAdder 2013. However, rubberized mouse buttons that peel off (like what has been reported in some Mionix mice) can be quite detrimental.
Another thing you might want, for tracking precision, is to have no such thing as “mouse acceleration”. It’s a software (and/or hardware) feature that makes your pointer move more when the mouse is moved faster – this means that moving your mouse at different speeds will result in different amounts of pointer movement. This can mean (unfortunately) that your precision is slightly different when gaming, meaning FPS (First Person Shooter), MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) and RTS (Real Time Strategy) games suffer the most. Some gaming mice (like Razer gaming mice) disable this entirely, making your tracking much more precise.
Now, those are the main characteristics I’ll point out here. As for a gaming mouse that fits all of this… well, I’ll only like to mention one that seems to fit most of these: the Razer DeathAdder 2013.
It has so many nice features, great reviews, that it does seem to be an excellent product from my research.
Some mice, though, serve as examples of what to avoid, or what is an “overdone” product, or an “underdone” product.
The Razer Epic has 17 buttons. Yes – 17 frakkin’ buttons. Most gamers get lost with that many buttons, and pressing one accidentally can be bad – really bad, depending on your game, if you’ve assigned macros to those buttons. Sometimes more is less – this can be that case, as this isn’t a mouse for every gamer.
Some great products include the Corsair M95, Corsair M65, Logitech G500, and others. It really depends on your individual needs as a gamer. There are several things that make a gaming mouse great.
However, as a short list, here’s what I’d say:
– Make sure your mouse supports the grip you use (Claw, Fingertip or Palm), and supports comfortably the hand you use (right or left hand) to game.
(Here’s a guide, by Razer, about this: http://www.razerzone.com/mouseguide/ergonomic/advantage )
– Make sure the mouse is comfortable, not just for a short amount of time, but for several hours. You can’t test this in a store, but you can research the product before you buy it, and test it in the store (Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, or other stores). There are several guidelines to check from above.
– Make sure the macro software (if your gaming mouse supports it) is good enough for your standard. If possible, research what software is used on your gaming mouse, and see videos (like, say on YouTube) about installing the software, recording macros, and using them (in gaming situations). Also, check reviews (both video and articles) about the mouse after someone has used it for months.
– Make sure it isn’t distracting with LED lighting or pulsing. Make sure it’s precise in it’s tracking – you can check reviews and benchmarks for this online (yes, they do have benchmarks for this, surprisingly enough! – again, prefer reviews from people who have used the mouse for at least a month).
– Make sure the mouse has any specific features you need and/or want. Wireless, customizable weights, braided cable… it’s up to you.
– Make sure the mouse is “grippy”, so it doesn’t slip in your hands.
– Male sure it has only the buttons you will use. You don’t want extra buttons you might accidentally press, and you don’t want too few buttons that it limits your ability to perform well in the game. Finding a balance is important. Also, make sure the buttons are positioned where they need to be – poorly positioned buttons are meaningless in gaming. For this, you’ll have to actually test those mice in person, which means going to LAN parties, gaming conventions, product demonstrations, PC component stores, and other places might be important – and don’t forget to befriend some gamers nearby so you can get great gaming tips, technology info, and recommendations on the best products (or what products to avoid), besides being able to test their gaming system and/or components.
– Make sure the mouse slides easily. If it doesn’t slide smoothly, it might hinder your gaming ability. Teflon feet for your gaming mouse is very important, although other materials can work.
– Make sure your gaming mouse isn’t going to get dirty, break down easily (it should stand the abuse of a gamer – and, if really well designed, it should be able to survive the wrath of a gamer’s angry girlfriend in PMS). Cleaning your gaming mouse (like fingerprints or food stains) is time spent cleaning that could have been used gaming, reading, typing, watching TV (Game of Thrones? Futurama? Lord of the Rings? oh god, I’m such a complete nerd). And, as for withstanding the abuse of a gamer… it’s sort of a requirement for a gaming peripheral, that’s in any way half-decent. If it can’t last in the hands of a hardcore gamer for several years, it might not be worth your money.
Hope this helps. Of course, all of these tips and advice are just a basic guideline. You should really research any product you wish to buy before you do so, test it out in person (if possible), check video reviews and unboxings (and reviews after a month or longer of use – video and text), and so forth.
Remember, factor in things like cost, quality, comfort (for endurance Immersive Gaming), and features (both hardware and software). If you’re more of the super-scientific (well, actually, more along the lines of “pseudo-scientific”), here’s the formula:
Quality (scale of 0 to 10) x Comfort (scale of 0 to 10) x Features you need (scale of 0 to 10) x Features you want (scale of 0 to 3)
(don’t be afraid to use numbers like 5.5, 7.9, and 9.8 if you aren’t comfortable using a whole number – but you might need a calculator or an Excel spreadsheet if you do so)
This will give you a number from 0 to 3000 – which is going to be called “Pre-Calc 1”. Now, give a subjective number for how adjusted that gaming mouse is for the type of games you play, from 0 to 30. Divide the number of “Pre-Calc 1” by that number (from 0 to 30), which should give you some number between 0 to 100. This is your “subjective quality rating” (which, when divided by 100, will become a “quality percentage rate”).
Lastly, consider the price of the gaming mouse (after shipping, if you’re buying it online or abroad). Consider how much that price relates to the “subjective quality rating”. Remember to compare that to the cost of other gaming mice, from the uber-expensive ones (like the Razer Mamba) all the way down to the uber-cheap gaming mice (like the Razer Abyssus). Remember to compare it to other reputable gaming mice.
Based on that (and there is really no formula for determining if a product is well priced or not), you’ll be able to determine if it’s indeed a gaming mouse of high value, high quality, poor value, poor quality, or averagely priced.
Now, remember that the formula above is completely subjective and relative. Meaning you’re trying to number things which are based on your own opinion and experiences, and using them to multiply against each other. And then comparing it against other products to see if it’s good value or not.
Of course, your budget will ultimately determine whether you can afford a mouse, but a savvy consumer will have done enough research to figure out what he should get, and what he should avoid.
Hope this helps.
Good luck. Game on.
OK, in this article I’ll cover Gaming Immersion, again. It’s really the pinnacle of gaming sensations, in my opinion – yes, it feels better than being crowned “Top Player” on your server, being on the top of the leaderboard for several hours, or PWN’ing so hard your username has become somewhat of a legend among the server. (Well, actually, let me rephrase that – my previous statement relative to the size ego of the gamer.)
So, in this article I’ll cover gaming mice, gaming keyboards, and gaming headsets. But first, let’s analyze what each of those peripherals do.
— The Keyboard
The keyboard’s purpose is to record your keys when you press them. Moreover, it’s so you can use the keyboard and so it records your inputs accurate – it does what you tell it to do, quickly, efficiently, precisely, reliably, and predictably. However, there are more factors to consider; if you’re going to be gaming for an extended period of time, you want it to be comfortable (or at least not tiring), practical, and you don’t want it to distract you or slip. As a builder, you want your keyboard to be beautiful, solid (it doesn’t break down often, or “feel” cheap, and doesn’t have keys that break often), you don’t want it to get dirty (and thus require cleaning or maintenance), etc. As a typist/user, you want your keyboard to give you feedback when you type, be comfortable, and make you want to type – yes, there is such a thing, believe it or not. And as a gamer, you may want it to be able to help you game; macro keys, low response time, NKRO (no Key Rollover), no Ghosting, etc.
Now, it’s very (VERY) difficult to get all of this on a gaming keyboard – much less a modern gaming keyboard of any kind. Much less at a decent price. This is the challenge of gaming keyboard designers today.
Now, there are three main kinds of keyboards today; we have Membrane Keyboards, Chiclet Keyboards, and Mechanical Keyboards
Each keyboard type is specific to the way the key is typed. This means that the way the key travels from being perfectly raised, to being completely pressed, is different. The moment the key is registered is also different – and no, the key doesn’t have to go down all the way to be considered “pressed” (or to register on your computer, thus pressing it beyond that point is meaningless and does not make a difference).
Here is a good comparison: http://www.team-dignitas.net/articles/blogs/Starcraft-II/1510/Keyboard-Guide-The-difference-between-Rubber-Dome-and-Mechanical
Chiclet Keyboard are normally keyboards where the keys have a short travel distance, typically use either Rubber Dome (Membrane) switches or Scissor-Switches (a type of Membrane keyboard). Although similar to traditional Rubber Dome Membrane keyboards, Chiclet keyboards are often considered superior.
Rubber Dome Membrane keyboards are the bottom of the bunch. They’re cheaper, but they are normally not as good. Their endurance (time before the key breaks) is much lower.
Lastly, we have the Mechanical Keyboard. Traditionally, we see Cherry MX switches being used, although there are other types as well.
Check out the types of Cherry MX switches here: http://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_MX
And there are other types of mechanical keyboard switches. How many? Here you go: http://deskthority.net/wiki/Category:List_of_all_keyboard_switches
Now, to reiterate, the Cherry MX switches each have their own specific application. Here’s my summary (which is very much what that link from Team Dignitas said):
Cherry MX Red – For FPS (First Person Shooter) and MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) gaming, where speed is more important than accuracy
Cherry MX Black – For RTS (Real-Time Strategy) gaming, where accuracy is more important than speed
Cherry MX Blue – Good for typing and solitary environments, due to being excessively noisy
Cherry MX Brown – A jack of all trades. It is good for typing (due to tactile feedback), which also gives it incredible accuracy (good for most types of gaming), but the low actuation force (meaning the force it takes to press it down) is low, meaning it is still very good for FPS and MOBA gaming. It is also almost silent, and with rubber rings around the mechanical switches (like what is done with the Logitech G710+ gaming keyboard) it can be just as silent (if not more so) than a Cherry MX Red keyboard.
Although this isn’t critical for some gamers, for the immersion gamer who plays in the dark (is there any other way to immersively game?), LED Backlit keys are important.
Now, they should be bright enough for you to instantly know what each key is when you look down on your keyboard. But, it should also not be so bright (or colorful) as to distract you from your monitor. Remember, if you’re distracted from your monitor, you’ll exit that immersive state, thus it is important that you do not have any peripheral that might distract you (and if possible, the same goes for family members, pets, roommates, neighbors, cars, noises in your house, TVs, sound systems, etc – but that may be a bit more difficult to achieve).
Now, in terms of colors, the color should not be too distracting. It should be good to read, thus, it shouldn’t be a color your eyes will easily get tired of seeing. This probably excludes right off the bat the colors “red”, “blue”, “green”, “purple”, among others. Which is why, if I had to choose a color for immersive gaming, it would have to be “white”. It’s a color most of us aren’t going to get tired of watching.
Now, individual key backlighting, and customizable LED lighting color (or a combo of both). Now that’s something else. I think both of those can be useful, to the right gamer – but I am not that gamer.
For me, I don’t need to select which keys to turn on or off. Sure, it might help in gaming scenarios (turn on only the keys you use for that game – practical, yes, and with software that detects which game or application is open, and adjusts those profiles for you, all the better). But most often, it isn’t needed. It can also be expensive to have a keyboard that does offer that specific feature.
As for customizable LED Backlight color, that might be more of a gimmick, really. I mean, if you have a series of keys that are red, blue, green, purple, white, etc, it’s going to be incredibly distracting – even if it is beautiful. Not very useful. Although it can be theoretically useful (from a marketing point of view) to maybe be able to give red backlight to your keyboard, and give backlighting so that your keyboard becomes a giant health bar for skyrim (or mana bar), or maybe show several stat bars (one red line for health, one blue line for mana, one green line for stamina, one white line for dragon shout cooldown). However, if you have to look down at your keyboard to observe these stat changes, you can’t be truly immersed in the game, meaning the keyboard has self-defeated it’s own purpose.
Now, there is another feature which is useful: the level of LED Backlight brightness. In some scenarios, the gamer might need the keyboard to be slightly bright (gaming while there is still sunlight outside, twilight, dusk, door partially open, lamp poles outside shining through the window, TV on in your room). And other times you may need to really brighten your keyboard (absolute pitch black environment in your room – ENTER NINJA STEALTH MODE!). Ahem, excuse me, it seems I’ve been somewhat sleep deprived and my brain isn’t totally working today – speaking of which, did you know Star Trek: The Next Generation has exactly 178 episodes and four movies, and that if you put Red Bull in your coffee maker you can see sounds?!
For an Immersion Gamer, endurance is important. Meaning comfort is critical. This means that rubberized keys might be useful, but they can’t become sticky over time, lose the imprint of the key on them (I’m speaking to you, my 4-year old Razer Lycosa with plain blank WASD keys!).
A wrist rest can help. It should be comfortable, large, and removable. My Razer Lycosa wrist rest, for example, wasn’t easily removable (too much work!), it was hard (uncomfortable), and wasn’t large enough – plus it was a sweat magnet (albeit I will admit I’m a sweaty guy, but having a smooth wrist rest isn’t wise regardless).
If possible, the keyboard should be have a matte (non-shiny) finish, and it should be texturized for better grip (so your fingers don’t slip off the right key) but not enough to keep you from gliding your fingers over the keyboard, of texturized to the point where it’s obvious and uncomfortable.
Rubberization can be important, but a keyboard should be comfortable – neither too soft (which can make the gamer lose precision), nor too hard (will make the gamer uncomfortable in less time). For this, my suggestion is to use a thin sheet of soft, long-lasting rubber (silicon rubber would work), that’s texturized so it won’t make the gamer’s wrists slip, and kept in place firmly so it will never peel off.
AESTHETIC PHYSICAL DESIGN
Although certain features, like special color for WASD keys, special key tops (rubberized, texturized, colored, raised, angled) can all work very well, it should not be to the point where it’s obvious and/or distracting to the player. He should feel it subconsciously, not consciously. It should be intuitive, not something that screams “pay attention to me, I’m a marketing feature of your gaming keyboard, please over-emphasize my importance in your reviews!!”. Remember, if it’s distracting in an unnatural, obvious and/or distracting way, it won’t be as good for gaming. If anything, it should be a help to gaming, not a hindrance.
If possible, the keyboard should be of a color that isn’t too distracting either. Normally, this means black, because gamers (especially Immersion gamers) prefer to game in the dark (for fewer distractions, obviously – the focus is the game, and possibly to play it well).
Some gamers (not all, though) might find Macro Keys appealing. I used the Razer Lycosa when it was still new, and when it was considered the best gaming keyboard out there. Those days are long gone, I’m sorry to say.
Now, some gamers might be offended by this, but this is critical. A gaming keyboard with macro functionality is only as good as it’s software. Let me repeat; if your going to use macros, your gaming keyboard is only as good as it’s macro software.
I have the Razer Lycosa. And it’s macro software both sucks and blows. It is the worst macro recording experience ever, period. Although it can record macros, it gives tremendous lag, records certain unwanted key strokes (which must be edited out later), the macro editing software is atrocious (no, that’s a compliment – the words I’d use quite frankly can’t be typed or published without summoning Beelzebub, Mephistopheles and Baal – never mind the people with “virgin eyes oh so holier than thou” that can’t be bothered to read offensive language).
If the macro software is laggy, allows for multiple macro keys to be pressed over each other (very, very bad – take my word on that), or doesn’t always register (VERY bad), it’s horrid – and that’s an understatement.
If possible, your keyboard should record macro profiles in hardware (onboard memory, if possible), and then send the keystrokes over USB. Meaning an onboard processor (like a multi-core ARM, like what they have in cheap cheap mobile phones) would work well for this.
The storage of said macros should happen at two places; local storage (your computer hard drive or SSD), and the cloud. This way, simply by using compatible hardware and the specific software, you can obtain all your favorite macros in a snap. It should also allow you to have unlimited macros.
If possible, a button to switch back and forth through Macro Profiles (maybe a list of 3 to 5 at most) would be best.
Also, how many macro keys do you need or want? Well, as many as you can reliably and consistently use. You don’t need 200 dedicated macro keys on your MMO gaming keyboard, nor should have have ZERO dedicated macro keys.
Personally, I feel that the Logitech G710+ was right – 5 keys, well-placed, are enough for me, and placed where I’d use them.
Some keyboards have macro keys placed above the F1-F12, which can be awkward when gaming. Other ones (like the Corsair K90) have three columns of macro keys – really, isn’t that too many, too far away to be useful? If you have to look at your keyboard to find the right macro key to use, it’s obviously too complicated with too many poorly-positioned, unintuitive macro keys on it. And you, mister keyboard engineer, should consider that you can save some bucks by shaving off unnecessary keys, or make the product more appealing them by placing them elsewhere there they’d be more intuitively usable.
Disabling the Windows Key might be important. In fact, doing so by software and/or hardware would be essential to any gaming keyboard.
Also worth nothing is Key Rollover. Key Rollover is when you press multiple keys and some of them don’t register. This is a serious problem in gaming keyboards.
Normally, 6 Key Rollover is standard, meaning you can press 6 keys and all of them will register. Some gaming keyboards will allow for any six keys to be pressed (and register), while other gaming keyboards will tell you 6-Key Rollover and only mean six specific keys (note: if you find such a company doing that, don’t buy from them – obviously marketing and sales mean more to them than their customers, and they aren’t worth your money, even if they do offer a great product, and no gamer should reward such a company with their money, consideration or attention).
Other gaming keyboards offer 20 Key Rollover. This means 20 keys can be pressed at once, and all will register. Now obviously, with only 10 fingers, and maybe a few that can press multiple keys at a time, this may be a limit. However, certain companies again will claim they have 20-Key Rollover, but not for ANY 20 keys – only specific ones. This isn’t THAT bad in 20 key rollover, so long as more than any 12 keys (excluding media keys, Shift, Alt and Ctrl) can be pressed simultaneously – anything less than 8 simultaneous keystrokes and that company should have anything to do with gaming, because they don’t understand the gamer – or integrity for that matter.
A few companies (and only the ones that offer premium products) offer NKRO, or No Key Rollover. “No Key Left Behind?” Well, that’s right, any combination of keys (yes, any combination) will register ALL keys.
Now, normally only PS/s keyboards can do this. But it isn’t strictly so – by using virtual USB devices over a single cable (it’s a workaround), you can allow more keys to be simultaneously pressed than if you did not do so.
USB keyboards are normally more compatible with modern gaming rigs, since some gaming motherboards don’t offer PS/2 compatibility (some do, though). Using a USB keyboard with Rollover protection, and you shouldn’t have to worry – it isn’t the inner workings of your keyboard you should worry about, but the end result it delivers.
Ghosting might be a problem. In some keyboards, when you press a certain combination of keys, it can result in false keys being registered. Most modern gaming keyboards have workarounds to fix this, so it isn’t a real concern in good keyboards – with some research you should be able to determine if your keyboard suffers from this or not, although it’s likely it doesn’t.
(these problems are explained in greater detail here: http://deskthority.net/wiki/Rollover )
Your keyboard often comes with “feet”. Surprised? Well, look at the bottom of your keyboard; there might be supports to help raise it’s angle. Those are called “feet”.
For gamign keyboards, it’s imperative your keyboard does not slip. This mean that rubberized, texturized, or some anti-slip technology must be used to firmly keep your keyboard in place. A slipping keyboard isn’t good for gaming – in fact, it’s downright disgraceful. (Razer Lycosa, I’m very, very mad and disappointed at you – your feet were lost, and you’ve been sliding on my desk. What do you have to say for yourself?)
PROTECTION AND QUALITY
Most people want a sturdy, tough keyboard. They don’t want (normally) a flimsy, easily-breakable keyboard – I mean, I certainly haven’t met any gamer who did. Gamers abuse the cr*p out of their stuff. I can tell you, my Razer Lycosa is a trooper for lasting this long – it’s been on a plane in a suitcase without any padding, it’s been in constant use (I use my computer for about 8 hours a day, including weekends), I’m a VERY fast typist (78+ words per minute – without errors, or a lot more considering the errors and backspaces needed to achieve that), I’m a heavy typist (keyboards make a gut-wrenchingly loud noise when I type, because I type to strongly, quickly and deeply).
It’s been through hell and back. Most keys (not all) still have visible letters (about 10 or more aren’t readable anymore, due to the thin coat of paint on them to show the letter), and one key did pop out (oh poor F7, where art thou?). But it still works, and it hasn’t broken. THAT is possibly the greatest redeeming quality of by Razer Lycosa – it’s build like a tank, and survived me, which is quite a feat.
That is the kind of endurance you expect for a great product. It’s actually a testament to the longevity of that particular keyboard, in spite of it’s overwhelming flaws in other areas that are very hard to overlook (or ignore, if it’s your only keyboard).
A good keyboard should not have much of a flex. This means that if you grab it on both sides (the ones that are far apart) and try to twist the keyboard, it shouldn’t bend much, if at all.
Also, a good gaming keyboard should be somewhat heavy – this gives a “feel” of quality, and also helps keep the keyboard in place, although this may not be ideal for transportation (like going to your friend’s house for pizza and a weekend-long MMO-a-thon, or a LAN Party).
You also want your keyboard to be resistant. How resistant? Well, normally gamers like to bring food to their desktop, to maximize their gaming time. This may include drinks. And this may later lead towards catastrophic results for expensive gaming gear. (It’s happened to me.)
However, some products are more protected than others. My Razer Lycosa survived a deluge of brand-name cola on it, nevermind the brand-name Lemon Ice Tea or the other beverages. It’s a trooper, I tell ya. No product is meant to survive this kind of onslaught – no, really – I literally mean no product is designed with that kind of abuse in mind. (Well, maybe those “indestructible + flexible keyboards” are. They do have “indestructible” in their name… hhmmm…)
You want your keyboard to be able to handle these kinds of things. If possible, if it has some kind of way of protecting itself from falling pieces of potato chips, sandwich bread crumbs, or other food, all the better. You don’t want to clean your keyboard often, as a gamer – because that’s time you could be gaming. Unless you prefer to clean then game, in which case I should really invite you over for a LAN party one of these days.
Wireless keyboards can be interesting for some. Not me. Wireless keyboards are subject to having their keystrokes intercepted (hackers do it all the time), meaning your system security (and passwords – League of Legends username and password, maybe? – or credit card number and personal information, maybe?) could be stolen. It can also require recharging – meaning if it loses it’s charge, you could very well suffer temporary blackout from being able to use your keyboard, which during gaming can be fatal for your character (or reputation among your Guild, Alliance, or among other players on the server).
Wired keyboards are better, most often. With a good dedicated desktop, this shouldn’t be a problem, since in that case portability isn’t critical. However, in a “Steam Box”, HTPC, or hybrid setup, that can happen. If so, finding a keyboard to suit that need may be important for you, although using a 15-20 feet USB 2.0 extension is another option.
Now, for best keyboard in using each type of switch, for immersion gaming… well, I’m also considering cost, so don’t get too excited here, because “best in class” isn’t going to be the emphasis, although I will bring up some interesting keyboards, mind you.
For “Best Value Membrane Keyboard”, I’d say the Microsoft Sidewinder X4. It’s got LED Backlight, macro functionality, and it’s tough.
Now, it’s the best membrane keyboard, I’d say that the Logitech G510 ( http://pcpartpicker.com/part/logitech-keyboard-920002530 ) is up there, but I don’t know enough about it to make that assessment. Nor do I know enough about gaming membrane keyboards to say for sure.
For “Best Chiclet Keyboard” – Well, there really isn’t much competition here, since the only gaming chiclet keyboard I was able to find is the Razer Deathstalker. Not much competition, frankly. So, best value and best in class, but only due to lack of competition – I’d like to see what Logitech, steelseries, ROCCAT, Cooler Master, Rosewill and others have to put up against the Deathstalker.
Best Mechanical Keyboard falls into three categories:
Best Value Mechanical Keyboard – Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Elite ( http://pcpartpicker.com/part/razer-keyboard-rz0300391300r3m1 ) / Or Alternatively, the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Non-Elite ( http://pcpartpicker.com/part/razer-keyboard-rz0300390100r3u1 )
Both at around 80$, it’s very tempting. Although not very good in terms of silence, they are pretty full-featured, and offer great value at their respective price point. Although, given the other alternatives, I’d rather pick something else.
Best Silent Mechanical Keyboard – Logitech G710+ ( http://pcpartpicker.com/part/logitech-keyboard-920003887 )
Even though it is priced high, it reflects how much it’s sought after, and it’s value. It is pretty silent for a mechanical gaming keyboard, pretty darn solid, and well-built. It offers some of the best-in-class features all around, and embodies some of the best features imaginable for a keyboard that is meant for the Immersion Gamer. Truly, it’s almost tailor-made for the job, and it gets my choice in the gaming keyboard I’d get if I had a pick.
Best in Class Mechanical Keyboard – ROCCAT Ryos MK PRO ( http://www.roccat.org/Products/Gaming-Keyboards/ROCCAT-Ryos-MK-Pro/ )
Even though it doesn’t seem to have been released at the time of this publication, it does seem to have a LOT to offer. From all the marketing on the product page, it does seem incredible. Almost too good to believe – which leads me to be suspicious, as it may be luring gamers into a flase sense of security. (Hhmmm, mental note: stop watching Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery on cable TV.)
And given you can choose the mechanical key type of Cherry MX switches (I’d choose Cherry MX Brown for versatility, silence and tactile feedback for typing), it seems just too good to be true. Let’s hope it isn’t. I’m also unsure about ROCCAT Macro software support, but if it’s as good as the product is advertised, we can expect this to be legendary. (Note to self: Stop watching Barney in ‘How I met your Mother’, because it’s rotting what’s left of my brains… braaaiiiinnnnnssssss… add “The Walking Dead” and zombie movies to the list.)
If you’ve played Skyrim for some time, you probably know about modding. This is an exclusive PC-only feature, which enables players to download modifications to Skyrim and apply them to their game, thus accessing new features, possible unofficial patches to fix things the official patches don’t fix (The Unofficial Skyrim Patches are quite famous, actually), extra content, and so forth. Moreover it also allows players to enhance the graphics of their game, create a much more immersive and detailed look and feel for the game.
In this guide I’ll explain (with great detail – this is a long read) about some great modification videos to watch, the different categories of mods (audio, graphics, and interface – other types will be explained later), the places where to download these Skyrim mods, and how to apply these mods to your game.
Before we start modding your game, let’s tweak it’s performance a little, right? First, download the latest drivers for your system – software, firmware (your SSD has firmware, some headsets, some GPUs might need BIOS upgrades, your BIOS, etc), your video drivers, Windows needs updating, etc.
You can also close unnecessary programs so your system gets better performance. Razer Game Booster has you covered. Check it our here: http://www.razerzone.com/gamebooster
This will help you get extra gaming performance, record videos, tune your system for better performance, help you update the software needed for gaming performance, etc. Really, it’s a game changer – speaking of which, it has a game launcher included, so it’s sort of a pun. (oh no… I have used a pun – excuse me while I go hang myself from Cyrodill’s White-Gold Tower)
Now, on to the mods themselves (a series of links from YouTube follows):
Now, if you’ve watched those videos, you’ve probably got some of your favorites by now, and the description in those videos should cover the link as to where to download them. This also is probably convincing enough that it might be worth modding your copy of Skyrim for PC if you have a powerful enough gaming PC.
Here’s a link of a huge mod collection of what is possible in Skyrim, with powerful hardware and a good mind for modding: http://www.asot.es/2001/09/skyrim-mods.html
Now, that’s a showcase of what’s possible, and why modding can be SO awesome. That doesn’t even begin to add to the list of possible mods.
You can still get content mods, extra lands (like Cyrodill or Morrowing – yes, there are mods that add those lands to Skyrim), extra quests, extra weapons, weapon retextures (so they look slightly different – normally for the better), new magicka system, new spells, etc. To each his own.
Now, hopefully if you’ve only been playing “vanilla Skyrim”, you’ll want to start modding. But how, you might ask? Well, there are two major modding communities out there: the Steam modding community, and the Nexus modding community.
To get the best mods, you need both. So, that’s what I’ll offer you.
The Nexus mod manager (a program) offers you a way to update all your mods on the go, easily. No need to update them one by one. It’s really useful, and I’d use a Nexus mod over a Steam workshop mod whenever possible, to be perfectly honest.
To check out the Nexus Skyrim mod selection, check it out here: http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/
Watch how to use the Nexus Mod Manager for Skyrim here:
As for the Steam Workshop for Skyrim:
How do you use it? Here you go: http://www.creationkit.com/Introducing_the_Skyrim_Workshop
Well, hope this helps.
You can also find tons of videos online about the best Skyrim mods, some channels even offer “best Skyrim mods of the week”, and so forth. It’s up to you, really.
But there are also settings to tweak (tune), so check out nVidia’s guide for it here: http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/articles/optimize-your-skyrim-experience
Although you’ll find all the links I’m providing below in the nVidia Skyrim guide above, I think these will help:
Say you’re using a GeForce GTX 680, and want optimal Skyrim settings for your card? Well, look no further, GeForce Experience has you covered, here: http://www.geforce.com/optimize/optimal-game-settings/Elder-Scrolls-V-Skyrim-GeForce-GTX-680-OPS
GeForce Experience also automatically tweaks your setting for maximum quality and performance automatically, for some games. This is something AMD sorely needs to add. In spite of having a much better gaming bundle than nVidia could dream of, and some better framerate stability, AMD does have better value in their cards right now.
But, on the other hand, in Skyrim at least, nVidia offers superior performance, including average framerate. Not sure why, so don’t ask me.
Oh, here’s a little app to help you figure out if your GPU can handle Skyrim: http://www.geforce.com/games-applications/pc-games/elder-scrolls-v-skyrim/gpu-analyzer
(Note: one thing that I will say, which may be incredibly surprising, is that I was able to get around 15 to 25fps in Skyrim using Medium and Low settings using a Phenom II X4, and GTS 8800. Yep… don’t ask how I was able to pull off that miracle, I’m still surprised myself. And that’s with 4K texture mods, and other tweaks. Don’t ask, I don’t know – sometimes I wonder if my PC has the power to do the impossible, because I swear I’ve seen it do things which don’t seem possible given it’s hardware OR software. Errors in Windows that defy explanation, hardware problems that solve themselves over time for no reason, software problems that can’t exist… I’ll tell ya, my desktop PC is a mystery wrapped in an enigma covered in juicy caramel-flavored unknowable and random problems and solutions.)
Now, if you do use these mods on your system, they WILL make the framerate drop. It’s a fact, because it will demand a lot more from your system. Remember, finding the right combination that still delivers excellent framerate is your challenge. I will give this tip: consider TXAA instead of MSAA when using Anti-Aliasing, maybe hardware-enforced if necessary (via the driver).
OMAKE, OMAKE!! (japanese word for “extra!”)
How about a huge Skyrim conspiracy while we’re at it? And some rumors about future DLCs too?
I present to you for your viewing enjoyment (or general horror and disgust), “the bug in the jar conspiracy” … some really interesting stuff in it, though.
Now, about the next Skyrim DLC, possibly Redguard… let’s check it out:
YongYea has some stuff to say about it here:
And YongYea explains (and apologizes) himself here, as well as demystifying some rumors and doing some debunking:
Well, how about insane0hflex’s videos about it?
Or how about TehScroToM (don’t read that username aloud near children!) and his video collection about rumors and speculation? Check them out below:
Well, that about covers it. Anyways, hope this is extensive enough for you, and I hope you’ve got all the information (and more) than you’ll ever need (or ever want to see again – ever!).
Good luck. Game on.
Strategy Guide for Skyrim
OK, in this guide, I’ll divide it into two main parts, playing style, and items.
Last, I’ll offer my own build as how I play Skyrim.
Creation Guide for Starter players in Skyrim: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:First_Time_Players
Character Builds, I’ve found, work best if you focus on defense both from armor (high armor rating – but use light armor, so you’re highly mobile and can carry lots of loot), and magicka. Getting high magicka resistance and magicka absorption is critical. Thus, prefer getting a Breton, Mara’s Agent, Lord Stone, Atronach Stone (using the Aetherial Crown), Atronach Perk, and Magicka Resistance gear.
Playing Style: I’ve found that early on it’s kind of hard to be a full mage charater, but if you play as a mage+warrior hybrid, it works out well earlier and later on. By focusing on Enchanting and Smithing as you Perks and Skills for crafting, it really helps. Work on Alchemy later. Obtaining the Transmute spell might really help; it helped me a lot, to create lots of jewelry with all those gems I found. Remember to use a container to store silver ore, if you plan on making silver jewerly.
How to earn money: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Making_Money
About Magic in Skyrim: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Magic
About Races in Skyrim: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Races
About Character Creation in Skyrim: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Character_Creation
Some extra strategy guides:
About Official Plug-Ins (and paid DLCs): http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Official_Plug-ins
Dawnguard (first DLC): Mostly about vampires and werewolves. Makes those “races” better for gaming, and also offers extra weapons (Dragonbone weapons, Crossbows, etc.) – http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Dawnguard
Skyrim Werewolves: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Lycanthropy
Skyrim Vampires: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Vampirism
Hearthfire (second DLC): Mostly about allowing you to build you own custom houses, and adpot children. Not much, though. – http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Hearthfire
Dragonborn (third DLC): It seems you are not the first dragonborn. There was another, named Miraak, and he is on the Morrowing island of Solstheim. Includes a whole new land (Solstheim), new weapons, dragon riding (well, you can’t control where the dragon flies yet, but still), many new creatures, and some great abilities (like being able to unlock your perks).
Shouts to use in Skyrim:
In Dragonborn (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Dragonborn:Dragon_Shouts) try these: Bend Will, Cyclone, Dragon Aspect
In Skyrim (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Dragon_Shouts) try these: Aura Whisper, Call Dragon, Disarm (very useful every now and then, trust me), Dragonrend (it’ll save you SO many times!), Ice Form (more useful than most think), Slow Time (VERY useful), Storm Call (normally not useful, but fun, and can be helpful if you’re VERY far away from any non-hostile NPC), Unrelenting Force (VERY useful), Whirlwind Sprint (you mostly use it to solve dungeon puzzles – Clear skies and Become Ethereal too).
In Dawnguard: Drain Vitality, Soul Tear, Summon Durnehviir
Powers to get in Skyrim:
Dragonborn Powers: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Dragonborn:Powers
Bones of the Earth, Mora’s Boon, Frostmoon Instinct, Black Market (useful in dungeons).
As for abilities (http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Dragonborn:Powers#Abilities), prioritize these: Companion’s Insight (VERY useful), Dragonborn Force (use with Force Without Effort to get really a lot of extra oomph! power), Scholar’s Insight (might help more than you think), Seeker of Might, Seeker of Shadows, Seeker of Sorcery
Skyrim Powers: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Powers
Getting the Werewolf “disease” seems like an easy way to gain extra power, and immunity from disease, with little (to no) mainenance required. As a vampire, you’re going to have a much more difficult time, although you may gain some perks from doing so.
Racial Power seems to be that the Breton has the best power to protect himself, and with his passive ability to absorb magicka already, in combination with the Lord Stone and/or Atronach Stone, Atronach Perk, and so forth, it can be rather difficult to beat him.
From the Nightingale powers, the Shadowcloack of Nocturnal seems best in my opinion.
Summon Spectral Assassin can be useful too.
As for abilities, get all of them that you can. But prioritize these: Agent of Mara, Dragon Infusion (after meditating on a certain word of power from Paarthunax – Force Without Effort seems best), Sailor’s Repose, Sinedrion’s Serendipity, Surefoot
There are two types of items you can get in the game; the ones that already come with the game, and thus require no crafting… and the ones you make yourself. I’ll cover both in this guide, and hopefully you’ll be able to make the most out of it.
Now, first, I’ll cover items that come with the game:
ONE-HANDED WEAPONS: I’d say the Chillrend, although the Mace of Molag Bal can be powerful (if you have way too many soul gems, and you’re good with a mace), Mehrune Dagon’s Razor (if you use daggers).
TWO-HANDED: Ebony Blade (after you charge it up completely), Dragonbane, Wuuthrad
BOW: Auriel’s Bow, Zephyr
STAFF: Sanguine Rose, Skull of Corruption, Staff of Magnus,
SHIELD: As for shield… the Spellbreaker is an awesome shield, although Auriel’s Shield is also useful on occasion.
HEAD GEAR: Morokei (for mages), Nahkriin (for mages), Vokun (for mages), Aetherial Crown (if you have the expansion), Masque of Clavicus Vile (for barter), Diadem of the Savant, the Jagged Crown (while you are still doing the quest). Zahkriisos, Dukaan, Ahzidal and Miraak can all be useful, if used properly.
NECKLACE/PENDANT: Saarthal Amulet (not really worth it), Savos Aren’s Amulet.
ARMOR: Archmage’s Robes (for mages), Ebony Mail (useful for warriors who want silence), Armor of the Old Gods.
RINGS: Ring of Hircine (uncursed), Ring of the Erudite, Ring of the Beast.
BOOTS: Boots of the Old Gods.
ARMOR SET: Cicero’s Armor Set (for assassins and theives), Jester’s set (same as before). Ahzidal’s set is useful, Deathbrand also useful, Miraak’s set useful,
MISCELLANEOUS: White Phial (maybe with the strongest “Fortify Enchanting” at max you can get with Max Alchemy, after drinking a Fortify Alchemy potion and using fulll Fortify Alchemy armor set) – Although another idea is to put the strongest “Fortify Alchemy” potion you can inside the Vial, once you’re satisfied.
(EDIT: If you do get the White Phial (and you SHOULD – but only when you get 100 in Alchemy and all the Perks), you should wear a set of equipment that has the strongest Fortify Alchemy enchantments you can. Then, enchant another gear set with Fortify Alchemy. With that, create another potion of Fortify Enchantment. Store it in the White Phial for later. Now you’ll be able to use it whenever.
When you do use it later, drink it before enchanting other gear. Alternatively, you can use it to craft a Fortify Smithing potion, to refine equipment, and store that using the same method in the White Phial, however, I’ve found that Enchanting is more important overall.
Sadly, there are no ‘Fortify Alchemy’ potions available, nor are there any ‘Fortify Enchanting’ enchantments available. You’ll have to go back and forth. However, using a loop, you can strength equipment significantly, or put a ridiculously powerful potion inside the White Phial. But that can ruin the fun of the game.
You can also use Sinedrion’s Serendipity to have the 25% chance of creating two potions.
Another possibility is to use the Necromage perk from Restoration, whilst being a Vampire, in order to gain an unfair advantage, although I’m not 100% sure it would work for increasing the benefit of enchanted equipment and/or potions.)
Now, here’s for enchanting items:
There are two main strategies here. You can try to enhance your character’s playing style, or try to protect him as far as you possibly can.
Achieving the maximum armor cap is relatively easy. This occurs when the player’s armor rating reaches 567. ( http://uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Armor#Armor_Cap )
This limits the amount of damage he takes from arrows, bolts, melee weapons (and other non-magickal sources) to only 80% of what they normally would be like. Having the Light Armor or Heavy Armor perk can increase this number naturally.
Using the Smithing Perk and refining armor piece can also increase the level of protection you get. It is relatively easy, using Dragon Bone Armor and max smithing (with Fortify Smithing-enchanted gear and a Fortify Alchemy potion) to get an armor set that exceeds 800 armor points. This means you can easily lose one or more pieces of armor, while still reaching max armor cap.
Using the Steed Stone, your armor doesn’t weight anything for you. And there are certain perks in Heavy and Light armor that can make your armor weight nothing as well. For those concerned about stealth, the Muffle enchantment can take care of that, enough so that it does not mean anything if you are wearing a full set of heavy armor and sneaking around. The Ebony Mail (daedric artifact) also helps in that regard.
Thus, enchanting your own set means you can do several things. In fact, while using the max Enchanting perk available, you can put two enchantments on each piece of armor or weapon, allowing for a much better set using a custom-made set.
If you wish to avoid damage, and you already have the maximum amount of armor protection possible, here are two links that will help you protect for magickal damage:
Resist Magic means that you are going to reduce any magicka damage do yourself (which includes elemental damage, spell damage, dragon breath, magic traps, poison, etc). However, when you use two or more enchantments on yourself, the limit is 85%. Meaning 15% will still get through. However, this CAN be bypassed by having one SINGLE item with a SINGLE enchantment of over 100%. Normally this isn’t possible, but by using a cycle of Alchemy, Enchanting, and Restoration, you can get it to be done. However, that is a bit impractical, overpowered, and take take away from the general enjoyment of the game; normally, not advisable.
There are two versions of this enchantment. One is standard, and the other one is found exclusive on the Shield of Solitude, and must be disenchanted from it to be obtained. With 100 Enchanting, the standard version gives you 20% Magicka Resistance, while the special version (from the Shield of Solitude) gives you 25%. You can, however, put both versions on the same item for 45% Magicka Resistance on ONE piece; although you cannot put the same version twice on any item – you must put both different versions, for both to take effect.
Bretons have a 25% Magicka resist on them, racially, meaning they are the better race to build a “resist-type” character, The “Agent of Mara” gives you another 15% Magicka Resist, the Lord Stone gives you another 25%, and each perk from Magicka Resistance (from the Alteration Perks) gives you 10% (total 30% when it reaches max). This means that you can, without any special enchantments, reach 95% Magicka Resistance, which is a bit above the max cap. This means that you shouldn’t have to enchant any equipment to reach this. In fact, is you can obtain all this, you may not even have to get the third level of the Magicka Resistance perk in Alteration.
It should be noted that magicka-based damage (including offensive spells, elemental damage, elemental traps, etc) can also further be reduced with Elemental Resistance. This mean Fire Resist, Ice Resist, and Shock Resist al stack with Resist Magicka. This means that using the 85% Magicka Resist cap and the 85% Elementa Resistance Cap, you can get it so you only take 2.25% damage of any given element (or all three, if you can figure out a way to do so).
Spell Absorption means you absorb the magicka of a spell, and it’s effect, when it hits you. This can sometimes mean conjured creatures you cast, healing spells cast on you by others, and hostile spells as well, all get absorbed with no immediate effect. This is calculated by percentage, meaning that a 50% Spell Absorbtion rate means you’ll fully absorb the effects of a spell 50% of the time, and not the other times.
Spell Absorbtion can reach 80% by using the Atronach Perk, and the Atronach Stone. The disadvantages of the Atronach Stone can be overcome by using Magicka Regen enchantments, of mage armor, in particular the ArchMage’s Robes. In Dragonborn, if you use both the Atronach Perk and the Atronach Stone, and you wear Miraak’s Robes, you gain 95% Spell Absorbtion, making you virtually untouchable by magicka in the game – and using another of Miraaks apparel, you can get 100%. You can also simply use both Atronach perk and stone, with the Necromage perk (Restoration) while being a vampire (undead race) to get 100% spell absorbtion, although this might be fixed later on in the game.
This means it can become VERY easy to face (and kill) a Legendary Dragon in Legendary Difficulty (available after Skyrim Patch 1.9). But be warned, without a specifically designed damage-reduction build, you might find it rather difficult to do so.
There is also another approach to enchanting. You can design your enchantments so that they enhance your playing style. Meaning if you are an Assasin/Theif character, you might want to cause your items to make less noise (Muffle) for sneak attacks, increase one-handed damage (daggers), increase Archery damage (for kill shots from a distance), decrease the spell cost of Illusion spells (to cast Invisibility for free), etc. Increasing damage by using Chaos Damage (available in Dragonborn), Fire Damage, Frost Damage or Shock Damage might work. Paralysis is another option. Increasing Health, Health Regen, Stamina and/or Stamina Regen are also other useful ideas.
In a warrior build, increasing One-Handed damage, Two-Handed damage, or Archery damage would be the approach. Also, increasing Health, Stamina, Health Regen or Stamina Regen might be another idea. Increasing damage by using Chaos Damage (available in Dragonborn), Fire Damage, Frost Damage or Shock Damage might work. Paralysis is another option.
For a Mage, increasing Magicka, Magicka Regen, and Fortifying any of the five Schools of Magicka (Alteration, Conjuration, Desctruction, Illusion and Restoration) is also advisable. Also, increasing Magicka Resistance and Elemental (Fire, Shock and Frost) Resistance is also useful. However, you are best advised not to use the combo of “Fortify Magicka School and Fortify Magicka Regen” in a single enchantment – it’s best if you use both separately whenever possible.
Note: Any enchantments made on a item, while the player has simultaneously the Necromage Perk (Restoration) and is a vampire increase their effectiveness by 25%. This may be a glitch, and may be fixed in future versions of Skyrim.
Here’s my build, as do what items I’d prefer. I’d use a Breton, and make him a Werewolf as soon as possible (to resist disease), and get his Werewolf Perks eventually.
With armor, I prefer Dragon Scale, simple because light armor weights less, allows you to move faster, requires less perks initially (even though it might offer less protection, and even though later on you can get perks to nullify the extra weight that comes with Heavy armor). It can also be easily crafted (although one can argue that it’s relatively easy to craft daedric armor if you have access to the shrine of Dagon, and the college of Winterhold through the mage Enthir).
Also, I enchant my armor to provide me with max armor against physical damage, and also against magickal damage. By using a double enchantment set of two different “resist magicka” (there are two in Skyrim, although one of them is harder to find than the other – hint: Shield of Solitude), you can get near the 80% cap of magicka resistance. By using the Atronach Perk (Alteration), the Lord Stone, The Atronach Stone, and being a Breton, you can get near the 80% Absorb Magicka limit.
By using resist specific elements, even powerful dragons will barely harm you at all, even in Legendary difficulty. Then all you have to do is continue using the Extra Enchantment Perk (Enchanting Perk) to put double enchantments on all your equipment. I’ve found that max Enchanting and Smithing really help.
If you’re a warrior, by using “Fortify One-Handed”, “Fortify Two-Handed” or “Fortify Archery” you can easily cause massive damage. If you’re a mage, why not just use spells that make Destruction Spells cost less (so they’re free?). You can also use the Aetherial Crown (available in Dawnguard or Dragonborn – I don’t remember) to obtain the benefits of another stone, and if you’re a mage, the Arch Mage’s robes are awesome.
Also a good tip if to get the Black Star from Nelacar – it’s difficult to obtain, but very useful. If you want to enchant a weapon (one-handed or two-handed), using the Fiery Soul Trap spell (damage set to minimum) allows you to cause continuous fire damage (that stacks, with fear effects too) while using very little charge. Also, if you put a Paralysis spell with 1 second duration, one hit will cause the enemy to fall to the ground, enough time to cause extra hits that might give you an advantage. Using the Soul Squeezer Perk and the Fiery Soul Trap spell, as long as you have plenty of soul gems, you should not encounter any trouble. (Drop any soul gems that aren’t completely filled, in order to empty them so they can fill with a useful soul.)
As for what I’d enchant… well, depends on what you can get. Getting high Absorb Magicka and Resist Magicka in your equipment is essential, if you’re going to be a resilient fighter against dragon priests, dragons, and mages. Reaching your Armor Cap is essential if you plan on surving in general in skyrim, period.
So, assuming you can get such an armor set that can do all of that, I’d say one of these:
Heavy Armor: Dragon Bone (due to weight concerns with Daedric), Dragon Scale (if you’re going with light armor). I wouldn’t recommend going without armor, because I think battlemages, warriors, and even assassins (as long as they use Muffle) can benefit from heavier armor, and by using the Steed Stone (Aetherial Crown may help get you that second Stone, so you aren’t hampered), or the relative perk (Light or Heavy Armor) to make your armor weigh nothing, it becomes a non-issue.
Weapons: Dragon Bone, for the most part – Although Stalhrim can also be useful. Daedric, Ebony, and Glass can also work, potentially.
Headset: Zahkriisos, Dukaan, Ahzidal and Miraak can all be useful, if used properly.
Set: Ahzidal’s set is useful, Deathbrand also useful, Miraak’s set useful,
What enchantments to use for weapons?: Chaos Damage (available in Dragonborn), Paralyze (use short duration for more uses), Fiery Soul Trap (minimum damage, for maximum uses), Damage Fire (overall damage, rather than slowing down, against enemies who aren’t resistant), Damage Frost (most enemies not resistant to this), and Absorb Health. (I know, I’m pretty much hack and slash.
What enchantments to use for apparel (armor) ?: Muffle (very useful), waterbreathing (is hardly ever useful – don’t hold your breath for this spell, pun intended), Resist Magicka (both the standard 8% and 10% versions), Resist Fire (rarely useful, unless you’re a vampire), Resist Frost (rarely useful), Resist Shock (almost pointless), Regen Magicka (useful for mages, but only when not in combat – normally lowering cost of spells is best), Regen Health (very useful!! must have!), Fortify One-Handed (if you use it – multiple times across different armor pieces, never the same one), Fortify Two-Handed (if you use two-handed), Fortify Archery (is you use it), and Fortify your schools of magick (for battle mages, Conjuration, Restoration and Destruction).
Out of battle, you may want to create sets of armor (rather, clothing) that are meant for help in specific tasks. Such as a Alchemy + Smithing outfit (because Fortify Enchanting doesn’t exist), a Fortify Barter + Carry Weight (for selling things), Fortify Sneak + Lockpicking + Pickpocketing for theifs and assassins… although, if you are of a high enough level in Smithing and Enchanting (and you built your armor set well, using specialized gear when you crafted your stuff, and used the right potions first too), you shouldn’t need to fortify Light Armor or Heavy Armor, because you’ll be already way beyond the maximum game armor cap. Meaning you might even trade one or two pieces of your armor off (like putting on the Arch Mage’s robes, and/or the Aetherial Crown).
Personally, here’s how I’d build my character in Skyrim:
Get a Breton, and level him as far as possible. Get all the Magicka Resistance I can, so I have (without any enchantments) reached the 85% Magicka Resistance cap.
Get Dragonscale Armor with Max Smithing (100), use Fortify Smithing gear with Fortify Alchemy (double enchantments using the Extra Effect perk from Enchanting), to craft a Fortify Smithing potion, and then drink it when I refine my set of armor.
Then, now that I have a full set of armor (and shield) for Dragonscale items, with everything as high as possible, I’ll now start enchanting it.
First, forget the helmet. Use the Aetherial Crown, and get the Lord Stone and Atronach Stone. Get the Resist Magicka perk (Alteration) to level 2 or 3. If the character is going to be a mage, use the ArchMage’s robes in the place of the main armor. If the character is going to be a thief/assassin or warrior, use Miraak’s Robes (for 95% Spell Absorbtion).
This will give 95% of fully absorbing any magicka-based damage if it does hit, and the 5% left of anything that does hit will be reduced to 15% damage. Meaning that about 0.75% of any magicka-based damage will apply. That takes care of dragons from a distance. But physical damage is still a problem; that 80% physical damage is still a problem. However, the other pieces of equipment can still help.
To avoid detection, use the Muffle enchantment on the boots.
If you’re a warrior, use Fortify One-Handed or Fortify Two-Handed as the second Boot Enchantment. Otherwise, Carry Weight will help you transport things.
For a Mage, I’d say Fortify Conjuration (if you prefer to summon), Fortify Destruction (if you’re an offensive mage), and/or Fortify Restoration. For warriors, use Fortify One-Handed, Fortify Two-Handed, or Fortify Archery. For a Theif/Assassin, Fortify Archery or Fortify One-Handed should suffice.
Here it depends on where your priorities are: Fortify Health Regen, Fortify Magicka Regen, or Fortify Stamina Regen. It depends on your playing style, really, since each of those might deserve a place independent of what playing style you choose. (There are exceptions in each stereotype.)
If you’re a mage with the Atronach Stone on, and you have the ArchMage’s Robes on, I’d be pretty confident in recommending you getting the Fortify Magicka Regen enchantment, to add up to what the ArchMage’s robes already do. For a Warrior, normally Fortify Health Regen or Fortify Stamina Regen work best. For a Theif/Assassin, I’d say Fortify Health Regen simply because if you do need to get up close and personal, this will save you time when licking your wounds, giving you more useful playing time and less waiting time.
Waterbreathing might be tempting, but rarely do players spend that much time in the water to justify it.
Either Miraak’s Robes (warrior and theif/assassin), or ArchMage’s Robes (mages).
Aetherial Crown (get both Lord Stone and Atronach Stone) – No exceptions.
A repeat of the same first enchantment of the FINGER (RING) enchantment.
A repeat of the same second enchantment of the FINGER (RING) enchantment.
Normally, a mage you won’t need this if you plan on dual-casting. And as a warrior, you will only be able to use it if you are using a One-Handed weapon.
However, if you must use one, the shield to get is the Spellbreaker (helps a lot when dealing with mages and/or dragons), although at higher levels ir may not be as relevant. (I’ve found that around level 40 it becomes much less useful.)
However, it does provide an extra pair of enchantments on you at any given time, which might be important. As a mage, surprisngly enough, you can use it to add two Fortify -SCHOOL- (School of Magicka; Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Illusion and/or Restoration), which can be very useful later on.
By using a Fortify Enchanting potion before enchanting any equipment that uses this, you’ll be able to achieve a significant cost reduction in your spells. Enough so that it might be worth it to single-cast spells, if it means you get two schools of magicka free of spell cost. This is increasingly meaningful and important when using Master Level spells (especially Destruction).
If you’re a mage, that means that by using the NECK (Necklance/Pendant), FINGER (RING), ARMOR (ArchMage’s Robes) and SHIELD, you will need each of your custom-enchanted items to deliver a total of 85% spell cost reduction. That means 29% cost reduction for each item (Shield, Ring and Necklace/Pendant). This can be achieved with 100% Enchanting and using the maximum Fortify Enchanting potion in the game (Enchanter’s Elixir) – meaning you won’t need high alchemy levels to do this.
For most mages, Fortify Restoration and Fortify Destruction will work. Remember that even then, the other three schools of Magicka (Alteration, Conjuration and Illusion) still all cost 15% less because of the ArchMage’s robes.
And with 100% spell cost reduction in Destruction, you can cast Firestorm, Blizzard and Lightning Storm (all Master level Destruction spells) with Destruction at 100, and with the relevant perks, it’ll cause insane amounts of damage. Using the Companion’s Insight (obtained from the Black Book “The Winds of Change”, in Dragonborn), your followers (dogs or other allies) will not take damage from your destruction spells – but only your destruction SPELLS. (I’m not sure if Dragon Shouts classify as “destruction spells”, though.)
Or, if you prefer single targets, using the Incinerate, Icy Spear, Thunderbolt (Expert level Destruction spells) you’ll cause great amounts of damage too, without jeopardizing your allies.
For a warrior, however, a shield does not help much. It’s value is only if you add specific Elemental Resistance (Fire, Frost or Shock) to it. Now, if you’re a vampire, Fire Resistance would be essential. Given that Frost Damage is also quite common in Skyrim, it’s also recommended. Due to the rarity ot Shock damage in Skyrim, it’s likely that it isn’t advisable to put it on your SHIELD, unless you intend to face an opponent who deals Shock damage.
If you’re using a Dunmer or Nord character, you already have some elemental resistance in you, meaning that might help. But remember, a Breton character has reduction in all elements due to his Resist Magicka, meaning he’s a better character for resistance builds. Still, for a warrior, best not to use a shield.
Last but not least, weapons.
If you’re enchanting a weapon, you have to go with Dragonbone. They just cause the most amount of damage, and obtaining crafting materials is so ludicrously easy. They come to you, literally.
Now, if you’re a Thief/Assassin, the obvious choices are dagger and/or sword. However, given the power of Mehrune Dagon’s Razor, it is a very good weapon, and should not be ignored, especially if dual-wielding. One good dragonbone dagger and Mehrune’s Razor in the other are quite the pair.
If you’re a warrior, there are plenty of choices. But, if going with One-Handed, you must remember that damage per second (or “dps” if you’re a hardcore gamer) is critical in dispatching an enemy quickly and decisively. Thus, an Axe or Sword are best. The Sword has a greater speed, meaning it can be better, especially considering the extra enchantments and refining you can do to it.
Bleeding damage does not seem to stack from the same weapon, meaning that it might not be as good. Although a Mace can go through 75% of the opponent’s armor, that may only help with certain enemies, and only if you can be quick with your weapons, and precise (missed blows can seriously hurt your chances of winning a battle). A mace is indicated against opponent’s with good armor protection, such as high-armored NPCs (like The Ebony Warrior).
For a general weapon of choice, I’d say the Dragonbone single sword it best. By dual-wielding, you can deal incredible amounts of damage. Same with the mace, however the sword gives you an increased amount of chance for death blows (due to increased speed) and critical hits (which can do a lot of extra damage). With dual-wielding, that effect doubles, meaning a Dual-Wielding warrior using two Dragonbone Swords with max stats (from Smithing), max enchantments, all perks, One-Handed at 100% has an incredible opportunity to deal several blows.
All these blows mean extra chances of death blows (decapitations), critical hits, and they offer twice the enchantment effects that a single weapon could offer. Note: Unfortunately, Elemental Fury does not work with enchanted weapons, meaning it won’t help here – sorry guys.
As for the enchantments I’d put, that’s easy:
Fiery Soul Trap (set on minimum)
Using this, and having several soul gems, you can store the sould ot the enemies in front of you, which can help recharge your enchanted weapons. This will help level up your Enchanting skill and give you materials for other enchanted weapons – with the Black Star (from Nelacar), you can obtain human souls too, just don’t get caught doing so. But that isn’t the main reason. The main reason is so you can recharge your weapon from the second enchantment on it.
Also, fiery soul trap does a fixed amount of fire damage, in spite of how much you put on it. And considering that the number of uses increases as the power goes down, this can really help – giving over 500 uses in my tests. Also, since most enemies die from the hits of my weapons (rather than damage over time, from spells or from falling), having a 1 second Soul Trap doesn’t affect how many souls I capture. My main issue is capturing the right soul for the right soul gem, and having enough soul gems for an entire dungeon.
The extra fire damage is just icing on the cake here.
Paralyze (set on minimum)
Now, this may decrease the number of uses on your weapon, however, don’t try to increase Paralysis very high here. Remember, even the falling down animation counts as time the enemy isn’t able to fight, meaning you can get him with extra blows as he’s in the middle of the animation, and getting back up again. With Force Push (Fus Ro Dah!), you’ll be able to keep several enemies at bay and attack the ones (with Paralysis) as they’re on the floor.
Note: Relevant perks in Alteration (as well as enchantments, buffs, abilties, etc) can work to help Paralysis work longer, or cost less.
Alternate Second Enchantment:
Absorb Health (set on medium-low)
This will work to increase your health as you absorb the enemy’s health. This meand you’ll be recovering as he is damaged, which can be a big thing in battle, as it decreases the amount of potions you need, and shortens the length of battle.
Alternate (2) Second Enchantment:
Chaos Damage (set on medium to medium-high)
Only available in Dragonborn, this will cause 50% to cause damage in Fire, Frost and Shock. Remember, it’s 50% on each, meaning there’s only 12.5% chance of doing damage in all three, 38.5% chance of doing damage in two, 38.5% chance in doing damage in only one, and 12.5% chance of doing no extra damage at all.
This damage can be increased by using a Stahlrim weapon, like a Stalhrim Mace, Sword or Bow, meaning it might be better than a Dragonbone weapon, in that regard – but I’d still prefer the Dragonbone weapon, due to Smithing enhancements.
Other Second Enchantments:
Silent Moon – It can help, but only in certain conditions, making this weapon somewhat unreliable.
Fire – It can help, and with relevant perks, buffs and enchantments (Destruction) it can be quite useful. Still, not as effective in pure damage output as Paralyze.
Ice and Shock – Same as fire. Check above.
The Dragonbone Bow (with Max smithing and refining, using Smithing perks, buffs, etc) can be very damaging, and do massive dps (damage per second).
Another alternative is to use the Zephyr Bow, which fires 30% faster than a standard bow. However, I am not sure if you can enchant it, meaning you might still get better damage by using a Dragonbone Bow and enchanting it (especially with Extra Effect, this can be significant).
I’d use a Fortify Alchemy gear, and a Fortify Alchemy potion before I began. Next, I’d make a Fortify Enchanting Potion (or several), to carry with me.
Afterwards, I’d enchant my gear using a Black Soul gem (with human soul) to enchant my gear. This means all pieces, not just weapons. However, a Grand Soul Gem (with soul inside) should be just as powerful. The Black Star with Grand Soul or Human soul should be the same too. Still, Black Soul gem with human soul would be best, just to be on the safe side.
Well, that’s it for my Skyrim strategy guide. I hope this helps you prepare for Skyrim a little bit more, and gives you some insight as to where to put your next Perks.
If you’re interested in re-assigning your perks, the Dragonborn DLC allows you to do so after you’ve completed the main storyline with Miraak – it’s a sort of special reward you get. Also, by using Skyrim 1.9 Patch, you can eliminate all perks from a certain skill, so you can reassign them – but it lowers all your stats on that skill to 15, so make certain you’re ready. You’ll do that by making your skill “Legendary” – this also means you’ll break the Level 81 cap limit altogether.
Also, remember that Sneak Attacks (so you can cause massive damage), walking backwards (to avoid getting hit), retreating, and throwing your opponents from high places (or using shouts) can all be used as valid strategies to defeat an opponent. It’s better to play smart than to play fair. Using Archery or Destruction Spells (from a distance) and/or possibly from an unreachable place can also really help.
However, if you do use this strategy guide, please try to play at Legendary difficulty. After all, with these strategies, you should be a very difficult opponent to defeat, and playing the game will be easier.
Good luck. Game on.