Bethesda Hates Mages: 12 Reasons Magic in Skyrim Sucks

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I've always favoured going stabby over going boom so the shortcomings here don't really effect me as a pure mage is the last type of character I'll try. I guess what's always bugged me with them goes back to Balders Gate and those types of games, where you always had to stop and rest for 8 hours after big battles to recover your spells so you can actually be useful. Especially when the story sets things up as being time critical. Yeah you just beat the mid boss and the final boss is just through that door about to destroy the world, but no you gotta stop and have an 8 hour nap to get your spells back.

I will say one thing for TES mages though, in Morrowind I thought it was really cool all the complimentary spells you could learn. With the right skill in magic one could breathe underwater, walk on water, levitate, turn invisible, teleport, make people like you, unlock doors, grab keys with telekinesis, and so on. Even if you could kill quickly with a sword and die slower with heavy armour, just being a straight fighter seemed pretty lacking in comparison.

But that was Morrowind. When I started my first game of Oblivion, I made a spell sword type of character with those things in mind, taking stuff like Illusion and Mysticism instead of the usual Destruction and Restoration, but he flat out sucked because there was barely anywhere to use those 'neat' spells. I'm guessing Skyrim isn't much different.

I did finally by Skyrim during the Steam Christmas sale, but after loading a bunch of mods the game would crash to desktop every 5-10 minutes and I couldn't figure out why.

i have to admit i never ran into this because i only started playing skyrim last summer and the first thing i did was mod the magic system to be good.
damage scales with skill, a shitload of new spells and armor and enchants with +magicdmg.
except that made the game too easy so i had to boost enemy strength, which meant they broke some quests so i had to fix that but by now i heard of another cool mod that gives you a magic castle and like 8 new schools of magic that are different kinds of destruction and interact with each other...
and i spend more time modding the game than playing it. again

Same thing happened to me with FO3.

I've now halted my playthrough until I can find/create a DLC extension for a food mod.

OT: That sucks, but at least Skyrim has a mod community. Can't say the same for most RPGs that do the same thing.

That's a shame. I'd really want to make a Dunmer dual-wielder with some light armour and some stealth skills called Drizzl Schmo'Durden or something, but you're saying that wouldn't really work out?

Well, it may assuming you overenchant your armor so you might as well be wearing something amazingly better than what it really is. Same with your weapons. Sadly like I said almost nothing is viable late game in skyrim, and everything that is viable is only viable because you can exploit potions of alchemy allowing you to cheese your alchemy level to astronomical levels so you can make potions of enchanting that allow you to craft god level gear. Still, if you're gonna try to survive the lategame without a shield or by sniping, I wish you luck.

Fun fact: Besides the added perk of being able to carry more increasing stamina is as far as I know USELESS. Yes, yes, you can sprint for longer as well I guess. But in combat? Just eat some stew damn it! With a constant reg of one or two stamina points you will always have SOME points to use for power attacks or shield bash. Infinitely shield bashing someone into a corner is not a pretty tactic, but it often works. Combined with gear made to erase the cost of casting spells completely... You more or less only "need" health.

Question for everyone: At what difficulty are you playing Skyrim? How much do you think that that affects your perception of the strength of your build?

It definitely sucks balls in vanilla Skyrim, that's for sure. I can never live without mods that add to spellcasting.

Strangely enough though, I predict it will be different in Elder Scrolls Online. Because there the ones who don't focus on magic will be spreading themselves thin.

Three out of four classes in that game rely on magicka for their class skills. It was a big problem for my templar tank had to balance between stamina, magicka and health.

I am perfectly ok with a system existing where everything besides mages aren't trivial and pointless next to the limitless power of the godlike spellcasters (looking at you, DRAGON AGE) - not that two unbalanced systems make a right but it's a nice change of pace from the usual imbalance between mages and fighters in most places ever.

Archers and melee DPS >>> Mages in DA2 mate :)

Tanky warriors and melee rogues didn't do so bad in the original either.

It definitely sucks balls in vanilla Skyrim, that's for sure. I can never live without mods that add to spellcasting.

Strangely enough though, I predict it will be different in Elder Scrolls Online. Because there the ones who don't focus on magic will be spreading themselves thin.

Three out of four classes in that game rely on magicka for their class skills. It was a big problem for my templar tank had to balance between stamina, magicka and health.

I am perfectly ok with a system existing where everything besides mages aren't trivial and pointless next to the limitless power of the godlike spellcasters (looking at you, DRAGON AGE) - not that two unbalanced systems make a right but it's a nice change of pace from the usual imbalance between mages and fighters in most places ever.

Archers and melee DPS >>> Mages in DA2 mate :)

Tanky warriors and melee rogues didn't do so bad in the original either.

Only reason i did not have a group of nothing but mages in DA:O was because there was not enough mages (holy fuck those guys were OP), could not force myself to play 3rd act of DA2, but they really nerfed mages in that game.


Only reason i did not have a group of nothing but mages in DA:O was because there was not enough mages (holy fuck those guys were OP), could not force myself to play 3rd act of DA2, but they really nerfed mages in that game.

Well, it's really different if you play on Nightmare, because then your mages will kill your own party :)

You should try a dual dagger rogue backed up by double haste (which you indeed need mages for), momentum + swift salve. Rapes everything a new one, even burns through high dragons and everything in seconds.

+ You can make warrior tanks virtually invincible (also to magic).

I always played as a Jack of All Trades kind of character. The perfect mix of Warrior-Mage that summoned a Flame Atronach before exhausting all magicka throwing giant AoE destruction spells before charging in sword drawn cleaving the heads from the necks of my adversaries. And if I got hurt, no worries because I leveled up my magicka evenly with HP and Stamina and some of my armor had magicka regen to it so I could pull out two-handed healing spells to get back into the fight quickly.

But I understand how hard magic sucks in Skyrim if you use it by yourself. At one point mid to late game I suddenly realized I hadn't gotten any good new spells in a while and found that my magic skills were severely under leveled in comparison to the fighting skills I'd been using just as much of throughout the game. So I started trying to level grind my magic and it was so damn difficult I just stopped bothering.

In other news: World War 2 is over!

Archers and melee DPS >>> Mages in DA2 mate :)

Tanky warriors and melee rogues didn't do so bad in the original either.

In the only proper Dragon Age game, Mages were broken as fuck, to the point where my main character mage guy was a better warrior than my warrior character, plus he had magic.

It's one of the reasons when I play I only have Morrigan (who is built pure offensive support) and maybe the main character as a mage. Anything else is way too stupid easy.

Looks like Shamus didn't find the perk that lets you augment your dual-cast destruction spells with stunning power that always works. Everything just drops once you have that. From then on it's just a matter of keeping stocked up on magic potions and stun-locking everything to death.

So yeah, magic is definitely not underpowered. It's just extremely boring.

I must apologize, but I'm mostly just amused at the contrast between this and, say, 3rd edition D&D, where ANYTHING that doesn't cast spells is just plain inferior to casters. Turnabout is fair play???

I totally agree. I can't count the times I've started an Elder Scrolls game with the mindset "This time, I'm going to play a mage", but just end up being 80% fighter with some magic sprinkled on top. Playing a fighter is just way more fun. Combat is more involved, more exciting, more reliable and you are constantly upgrading your tools; weapons and armor. There is just not much to look forward to as a mage.
Also, most spells are not useful or interesting enough and too fuzzy. Why bother casting a spell that provides a combat bonus for 15 seconds? Recasting that 10 times during combat is just a pain in the ass. To be any good, I would have to cast 4 of those spells, and besides using up all my hotkeys, by the time I've cast the 4th spell, the first one is almost running out.

Playing Skyrim with Requiem however, I can't complain about magic not being powerful... some enemies are unbeatable to me unless I exploit their specific magic weakness, and any enemy caster is a force to be reckoned with.

THIS is why I prefer TES games on PC.

Mods make mages suck less.

Seems Shamus doesn't know how to play a mage or maybe Skyrim as magic doesn't suck.First all destruction spells have side effects use them properly.Also a lack of stamina doesn't just stop you doing special attacks it slows you to a halt watching a giant creature unable to chase you while you pretty much freeze it to the ground as you power up another spell to end the fight is always awesome.You need to mix up your spells and staffs enchantments not just try to fire off the same spell repeatedly hoping something will happen.

Surely magic scaled in Morrowind?

I haven't played it for a long time but the higher your destruction the more potent the spell, no?

Magic was flat out broken in the earlier itterations of the game, which is why they removed mysticism & spell crafting from the game. Items like The heavenly dagger would allow the user to fly in the air and bombard their enemy with impunity.

My fondest memory is being the Grand Master of House Tel'Vanni and using the gloves that were given to me by my patron to summon atronachs that laid waste to a city (forget which one) whilst I hovered over head, raining down fireballs.

Good times.

Magic sucks in Skyrim though,I usually default to some kind of stealth based illusion archer.

I thought magic was awesome in Morrowind. It starts off pretty wimpy but quickly you can get your hands on some useful spells. You can certainly make a go of being a full time wizard with no problem in Morrowind.

Skyrim really just was not a great game. It had a lot of compromises, a lot of streamlining that didn't really help out the game, I sunk a little over 200 hours into it just due to the graphics, mods, and the beautiful worlds Bethesda is still able to create, but I am 100% burned out on it and feel like I will never go back, while I STILL go back and play Morrowind.

I hope this next console generation makes it easier for them to focus on systems and getting those right, or else they will slowly but surely start to lose this series.

While I don't disagree, I don't think I've really played the game enough to notice the problem as much as Shamus has. But I suppose looking back I have noticed it to some extent.

Just as an aside though, every time he used the word "mana" it made me cringe. it wouldn't have been that hard just to write out "magicka" instead. I just really hate seeing people use out of universe terms to describe things, like applying the term "mana" to every game with a magic meter/ MP.


while I agree that you do have a point in terms of what you suggest being viable, I still think it's an issue that this is pretty much the only single way to play a mage "right", despite fighers being pretty much impossible to play wrong.

Then again, I suppose what we have now is better than everything being essentially the same.

Who are you people, that you don't see how overpowered magic can be in Skyrim when played right? My first complete playthrough was as a mage. Almost all of my damage was done with destruction magic and staves. Dual-cast destruction staggers your opponent. Staggered opponents can't hit you. You have ranged damage, you have close-range damage, you have trap runes. You get some amazing magic staves and they're light so you can carry several and swap them on the fly.

Many of the items you gain through quests (amulets, masks etc) are highly supportive of a mage playstyle, and the dragon shouts make up for any other lack.

Plus, the dragons themselves are vulnerable to elemental rock-paper-scissors. If a dragon breathes fire, use ice.

Destruction mage, with conjuration and alchemy for support, is made of win.

I've played a lot of Skyrim... probably over hundreds of hours on my Xbox 360.
Don't even get me started about the hours wasted on the PC version since I found out the reason why people love mods.

When reading this article, I felt like I wanted to disagree since I love being a mage. Then it hit me...
Shamus Young was right. ALL of the points were right, and I couldn't bring myself to disagree with him.

OT: That's probably why I love Skyrim on PC so much. Mods allow you to balance magic out and make them superior without going into the OP zone. It also allows you new abilities, refixing the perk trees, and so much more. But without the mods (or playing Skyrim as a mage on the 360) ... you're really limited and screwed.

Now that I think about it, that's probably why I just delete most of my mage characters when I hit level 40-50. Everything owns me while I just use magic that doesn't efficiently kill my enemies off as soon as I want them to. For example, a Draugr Deathlord is a massive beast in strengh and can jack you up with his weapon (despite it's just a default Draugr weapon you come across at lvl 1!)
Even with my Expert spells of Destruction, Conjuration, and Enchanting... he still owns me.

Destruction consumes so much of my mana, while Conjuration makes it where I can only summon 1-2 allies. Unless they're Dremora Lords whom are the boss of Conjuration... you're really screwed since they die almost instantly too.
Plus I totally admit the flashing lights/special affects can blind you from what you're actually hitting which probably explains why I never brought Lydia with me on my journeys. Accidentally killed her 3x with one character during a Dragon fight.

In the end, it seems mages aren't the best class despite they can be fun and with mods- are perfectly balanced again.
To me, Bethesda is working out how to make everything satisfying. It would seem they tried making mages less OP since in Oblivion- they were masters of the world. Sadly, they turned them into side kicks of the Dragonborn that end up being fodder lol.

I read this article as "I don't know how to play a mage".

Imp Emissary:
Skyrim was my first elder scrolls game, and I loved playing it. Always a mage. :D

That said, :( everything Shamus said is completely true. I actually like the archmage robes, but they don't compare to daedric armor, in terms of looking cool and stats. Also, pretty much all of the other robes besides the thalmor robes, and archmage robes, just look lame.

The only way I was able to play a "mage" well, was to get great at enchanting, smiting, and alchemy first. That way I was able to make myself great armor and weapons, and use alchemy and enchanting to make a circlet, ring, and necklace that let me cast all spells for free, and sell powerful enchanted weapons for gold to buy the best spells.

Even then, it takes forever to level up the skills.

:D Hope it's better next time I guess.

Well some of the article is true, but I find mages pretty OP myself. I read it as "I don't know how to play a mage in Skyrim".

One of the first little tricks is that north of Whiterun there's a mine full of easy kills and a transmute spell for turning iron into gold. Level your spells, create wealth, buy destruction skills (unless you're doing the summon critter, kill critter practise for your destruction keeping in mind that mages study).

I will agree that the robes could be better looking though.

EDIT: I also seem to recall picking up enchantments that boost destruction and mana regeneration at the same time. I guess Shamus wasn't looking hard enough.

Oh, I agree that mages can get overpowered, eventually. But it's a slow crawl up a steep hill, unless you don't stick to being a "proper mage", or use exploits. Shamus brings this point up here.
(And really, it's the Regeneration school that makes a mage OP, not so much the others.)

Even with the exploits, it is a fair bit easier to use physical weapons, or sneaking to defeat enemies, even late game.

As for the magicka regeneration enchantments, they pretty much do the same thing as the ones that lower the spell cost, though they do at least work for all magic instead of one school. But in the end all it means is you don't have to wait as long as normal, so you're better off with just lowering the cost.

That said, there's really no way to do more damage with magic (without mods) than you can do with melee, and sneaking. Even with the few perks in the destruction school.
Except maybe for vampire lord when you use the spell(Vampiric grip) to pick up and toss people. But that only works on some enemies, and is only that effective when you're high up somewhere. :D Fun spell though.

I beat Skyrim using a pickpocket / archery / sneak / illusion character, and honestly I think that's the best way. Illusion is by far the best school of magic (largely because the spells it uses are the kind that are so overpowered that your enemies can't use them on you - what kind of possible mechanic could you use to simulate "rage", "pacify" or "flee" when used on a player?) and you don't need to deal direct damage with it. Heck, I used it mostly for invisibility and pacify. So easy to backstab one's enemies when you can just walk straight behind them!

I completely agree with the article though: I'm trying a "destruction" mage now, and it's one of those abilities (along with pickpocket and two-handed) that I class as "fun but useless". There's just nothing you can do with it that you can't do more effectively with a bow or a conjured dremora lord (and there you're in danger of the enemy ignoring your conjured creature and going straight after you, and the dremora being too stupid to stop it.) Pickpocket is a hella lot of fun but I wish the poisons you could plant on your enemies were more potent, and worked on stuff other than humans or vampires. And two-handed is a whole heap of fun - the weapons are the most satisfying in the game, easily - but mean that you can't duel-wield or use spells or anything. Ok for a pure warrior (as long as you don't mind not having a restoration spell in your hand all the time) but not great for any other type of class.

The thing I hated the most was the fact that spells have to be equipped and bound to a hand.
Which means that you can't wield a two-handed weapon like a bow, and have a spell equipped at the same time, for quick casting.

This worked perfectly in Oblivion. Why the hell did they ruin this in Skyrim?

Spells shouldn't need to be bound to a hand, they should be a secondary ability that's always available to you regardless of what weapon you have equipped.
A bit like throwing grenades in a typical FPS.

The way Skyrim does it, it would be like an FPS forcing you to equip a 'throw grenade' ability to one hand, and only being able to wield a pistol in the other.

Your face when that used to be the case. Grenades were considered a weapon of their own and you had to equip them before throwing them.

OT: Yeah, magic is really underpowered in Skyrim unless you cheese it with infinite casting gear(I usually go for Destruction/Restoration myself). They REALLY should have made it so that effectiveness of the spells goes up 20% with each rank you put a perk in. Lasts 20% longer, does 20% more damage, affects targets more effectively.


Level destruction, restoration and enchantment, get some gear that make your restoration and destruction spells cost 0 magicka, stun lock dragons to death.

Magic, if anything, has simply gotten easier to level overtime, but lacks versatility (seriously, stun locking dragons to death is boring).
Or get summoning to 100, do same with gear, have 2 high level summons kill everything for you.

I'm level 60+ on Skyrim, started out as a Dunmer mage, and having 0 issues, later i switched to rogue style play, and after levelling sneaking and one handed a bit, coupled with illusion, i can now one shot any non boss monster, and most boss monsters i bump into, with a dagger (crafted, sharpened, smithing 100 level daedric dagger).
Occasionally i use daedric heavy armor and 2 handed daedric sword (both skills below 30) just for fun, but when going gets though, i pull out my destruction spells (runes are especially awesome).

Could they have made magick better? Yes.
Is magic underpowered? Hell no.

You playing less than normal difficulty setting if you can one shot pretty much everything, one shotting does not happen so easily higher up.

Morrowind's magic is really awkward at the higher levels. Lower down the chain, a 100pt frost damage spell or a summon will take care of nearly everything - but once you start finding higher level bosses and Golden Saints, you start running into Reflect, which means all your spells just kill you outright and deal next to no damage to the opponent. The way around this is to use summons, which is all fine for vanilla, but once you get to the expansions the power levels of the enemies keep increasing while the best summon available is still the Golden Saint. This means that the only way of dealing with certain foes is to spam summons and chug Magicka potions (which are actually really scarce, even if you make your own) until the opponent falls over. And it takes forever.

I'm saying this from experience (I literally just got through Tribunal as my first mage character), but while I've been bashing it a bit I have to say that I do enjoy the problem solving aspect. The best way of playing is definitely still as a warrior, but it's a nice change of pace.

I haven't played in a long time but I never ventured into the dremora dungeons because I left spell creation well alone, which is probably why I do not recall those things.
The character I rampaged through the game was a typical nord blunt warrior.

I loved magic in Morrowind because you could make your own insanely broken spells. It also let you do really goofy things that were hilariously fun. Like Boost your acrobatics by 10,000 for 1 second so you could jump half way across the continent.

IMO, in Oblivion when Bethesda got the stupid notion the game needed to be balanced the series started to get a lot more boring to me.

That said, the weapon conjuration in both Morrowind and Oblivion were good if you wanted to do a battle mage (it was made shit in Skyrim). I actually have Fond memories of my custom "bound gear" spell I made in Morrowind that would create a full set of armor, a sword, and summon a helper monster for me with one mouse click for 80 seconds or something like that.

It was an incredibly liberating spellcraft system and I wish they kept it.

I haven't played in a long time but I never ventured into the dremora dungeons because I left spell creation well alone, which is probably why I do not recall those things.
The character I rampaged through the game was a typical nord blunt warrior.

Fair enough :) Nord warrior's my favourite way to play The Elder Scrolls as well, just smashing through dungeons with a massive hammer - I'm actually playing through Arena right now for the first time with one, and it's surprisingly good!

Eh, while you do have a point about magic being ineffective, melee combat still feels rather weak. While the finisher animations added in do add a certain... Flair to it, it does nothing to actually make the combat any better. You're relying on random chance to give you a kill animation, while in the midst of just swinging and swinging your sword around. There's no real impact to it otherwise, not from the swings or hits, to even using a shield. Magic at least has seen some improvements through the game, melee feels as flimsy as a wet pool noodle still.

Also, magic isn't the only thing screwed over by gear and potions. Ironically enough, pick pocketing actually becomes harder the more you equip items to boost it and potions to increase your skill. I had about a 45-50% chance to grab some gold normally, but after equipping some pickpocket boosting items and downing a potion to boost it as well, it dropped to a 5% chance. At least "Mage gear" doesn't make the skills weaker and cost more!

I think the fact that a few people think others can't play, actually proves his point. You bring up a certain way you have to play a mage or get a certain enchant. Playing Rogue or Melee you don't have that specific way. I added some magic to my warrior, but I certainly was a warrior.

And it's going to be worse in ESO, there is no real magic :(

All very true I'm afraid, and honestly it's a lot like that in many RPGs including paper and pencil ones. As a guy using the handle "Therumancer" I'll be one of the first people to tell you that when it comes to fantasy games the general consensus is that magic sucks unless your an NPC villain using it on the heroes. Exceptions of course exist, but for the most part a pure wizard tends to get robbed.

In Elder Scrolls I believe the justification by the designers is that your supposed to be a hybrid, basically they expect everyone to have melee skills and magic and use a combination of the two. When you look at purist characters though, yes melee does stand better on it's own.

Of course it can be argued that this is also true of the older versions of D&D which inspired everything. Mages at low levels were pitiful, having one spell a day, otherwise they were fairly useless. When they gained power and got access to those really awesome seeming high level spells, they still tended to suck because as a general rule when you level up anything your likely to meet that is worthy of say a "meteor swarm" is going to be so packed full of magic resistance that it's likely to bounce off anyway... and anything that allows a saving throw you might as well forget about because again, enemy saves tend to get ridiculously low by that point. Academically it can be argued that say a 20th level magic can destroy hundreds of 1 hit die orcs more or less with a gesture, but as a player character how often is your GM going to pit you at 20th level against 1 hit die orcs, it's not considered to be a "level worthy challenge", you don't get any experience points, and the loot is trivial. What's more if you generally tell the GM "you know I think I'm going to head out and vaporize every lizard man in the Swamp Of Doom for payback over how they terrorized me when I was 3rd level" your likely to be labeled a time waster at best, and a munchkin at worse, not to mention really... what do you gain from it?

In comparison whacking stuff with a sword works at pretty much all levels, you don't generally worry about magic resistance, there is no saving throw against "stabbed in the face" and in general a fighter has enough hit points where he doesn't have to worry about high level encounters where a major demon whips out "power word kill" or "symbol of death" and outright obliterates anyone below X number of hit points (the guy who had the 1d4 for hit points with constitution as a secondary thing on the other hand, he does have to worry).

Then in WoW of course I found it lovely how after a while all ranged DPS could do as much damage as a mage if played correctly, while still being allowed to wear heavier armor (no, it's not as good as plate, but it's not bloody tissue either), still retain their healing spells, shapeshifting, backup melee, or whatever else. I haven't played for a while and hear they have changed things around a lot more, but really it was another game where I felt the same thing applied. A Shaman or Druid played correctly could whip out as much ranged magic DPS as a mage in many cases and do other stuff too.

Really, it would be nice if more games put the effort into making mages considerably more viable. Of course I think a big part of it in video games is that magic tends to be ability based, where melee and fighting tends to be gear based. This leads to a problem where it's easy to reward melee by clearly giving things that are more powerful. With mages you wind up with a case where you either have to make things equivalent to top end gear (raising the question as to how to reward the mage) or turn mages into more of a support thing which is what Elder Scrolls seemed to do. +spelldamage as seen in some MMOs was a step in the right direction, but tends to fall apart because it's very difficult to balance that kind of damage increases with all of the things that apply to mages. Not to mention how that can lead to the flip side of the equasion where "if a mage can do as much damage from 10 miles away, why would anyone want to play a fighter?".

When it comes to robes, I've always felt art departments need to get a little more creative with how mages dress to be honest. After a while it becomes hard to make robes look good... I think Cranius said it best... :)

(A classic for a reason)

I'm an armored mage I can offset my mana loss with an enchanted mask that gives me free magic with 100% replenish so as long as I look ugly in that thing I can cast all day but my powers aren't much better then my novice rank even though I'm archmage of winterhold you think at least gaining that would make your powers really strong but no.

consolidating the powers so double wield on any spell type makes it possible for all, once you upgrade any spell style to intermediate then all powers will slowly level till they naturally become intermediate as well unless you want to add in those points for a faster level advancement. Weak spell casting abilities when you reach zero so you at least can withdraw, and magic that grows stronger like the other classes could be a few upgrades they could do.

I really hate the friendly fire but I'm usually careful to notice where is my friend or move the enemy further away from npcs or aim up when in town so as to avoid setting people on fire or summon monsters to do ground work for me but even then me + the monster + my friend still can take time to clear out anything. I've actually had to leave my partner in the woods to go fight people sometimes as I'm casting 360 degree spells or fire walls and my dumb partner will rush into it! The game pretty much forces you to adopt some swordplay if you want to live but its also my natural style so to me it wasn't too bad once I knew how to work around my weaknesses but I wouldn't want to go 100% mage I would die even if I had a buddy way to much for the game to be fun. I never played much into morrowind it wasn't very interesting, I would say maybe they'll change the mage class for the better but if they've had such a track record so far I can't see them wanting to do that.

Man, that's weird. I played Skyrim up to level 54 or so almost entirely as a mixed assassin/destruction/restoration mage, and let me tell you, magic was what I always switched to when all else failed to do anything against my enemies. Sure, I could swing the Nightingale blade at a draugr scourge up close and personal all day, I have the level 100 one-armed stat to support that, but I can guarantee I'll take enough damage in the process to kill me thrice over if I'm not also healing with one hand at the same time. Who needs armor when your health refills itself? Or, rather than bother with using a weapon at all, I can snipe from far off with lightning storm and never take a hit while all around me becomes ash. Lightning storm also happens to be quite effective against dragons, they don't exactly get close enough to me to be an issue usually. On the subject of magicka costs... have you ever heard of Winterhold? It's this great little place up north where people refer to me as "Archmage" and I walk around wearing fancy robes and a mask called Nahkrin which together make everything fine and dandy. On the subject of time it takes to level, destruction was the very first skill I leveled to 100, and a shiny pair of gloves given to me also in Winterhold helped me level that up VERY quickly.

So, when you say that magic "sucks," could you perhaps verify what it is you actually mean exactly? Because I'm not quite understanding where you're coming from with that statement. Oh, and my illusion character is doing quite fine thank you, he doesn't meet many people though, because they're too busy running from him.

THIS ARTICLE. This so damn much! Holy moly Bethesda but how you cannot care less for magic when most of the combat mechanics are already silly?

I made up a Breton on my first playthrough. I went for the Nightblade gameplay (Thief Mage) and realized that even with the strongest spells you still suck hard, you can't even deal the bonus stealth damage with magic and the quiet casting perk!!

Then I just went full thief and stopped bothering with my level 100 Destruction spells, yeah thats right I realized Archery is so much better than Destruction for long range AND mid range.

Being brutally honest after playing Dark Souls I realized that the combat mechanics of Skyrim are horrible overall (except for probably archery which can't be criticized a lot). But don't get me wrong I still play Skyrim (moded), I still think its a fun game with a nice lore.

I recommend Escapists to use the Apocalypse Spell Pack mod, otherwise you're not going to have a good time with magic and even that mod doesn't fixes it entirely... but it adds some spells the game deserved.

THIS is why I prefer TES games on PC.

Mods make mages suck less.

Yup, the spellpower scaling mods were brilliant. They also made it so the spells were specialized in that a fire bolt would do more damage to a single target than a fireball but the ball would obviously have an AoE component.

I didn't really like how they went with a "large mana pool, slow regeneration" style for the mages. Unlike my fighters or rogues, it always felt like every battle was on an egg timer where I had to remove the threat before it went off, or desperately run around trying to survive long enough to reset the timer again. Levels up and cost enchants lengthened the timer, but it was still there.

I'd have prefered a "small pool, constant regeneration" method, where charging or holding charged spells didn't stop the regeneration of mana, but took their cost from your reserves while charging, and perhaps leveling up the regeneration would increase the rate such that lower level spells would eventually be possible to cast while only slowing regeneration to pay their charge costs instead of draining from your reserves.

That would mean mages could open up with the big guns till the reserves are drained, then mix in some low cost spells while they recharged, then go back in swinging with a big blast again, and so on in a carefully managed cycle. That would have been more fun than emptying your mana on something, then spending the rest of the battle running in circles while waiting for enough mana to cast again.

Plus the "nursemaid" buff or summon spells that required constant recasting could be rewritten to something you applied to yourself with a specific drain on mana per second, rather than a x second duration, and have them drop off if your mana reserves ever empty. "do I go for this last fireball, and maybe end the fight, or stick to sparks and keep my armor?" kinda thing. More thought and strategy to the fight and less eggtimer.

I really don't understand a lot of the issues brought up in this.

1. Yes, it's annoying, but if it wasn't magic would be stupidly broken.

2. Fair enough, but it is ultimately satisfying.

3. I think that "something reasonable" is a bit of an understatement. With proper perks, mage armor is amazing and as long as you know how long it lasts, it really isn't a problem.

4. Maybe it's just me, but I almost never put points into health.

5. True, but how exactly could this be fixed? I mean, if it was a close kill, I could see maybe grabbing an enemy's head and liquifying it with whatever brand magic you are using, but how exactly could you make distance kills interesting? (Besides, I love how the current kill cams often send enemies flying farther then they probably should be.)

6. Personal opinions aside, they do feel a bit lacking. Although, considering they have to compare to such things as Daedric and Dragonbone/Dragonscale, it is a bit of a losing battle.

7. Perhaps not, but it becomes easier to cast lots of the magic, which is an increase in damage still. Plus, going from firebolt to fireball does a lot more than one might think.

8 + 9. No, but it can be boosted by potions, along with duration for other spell types. (I personally only need them for boss fights.)

10. I can't speak for Oblivion or Morrowind, but Skyrim has a few perks spread among the skill trees that work for each other. Illusion has one that makes all spells silent (Fixing that loud mage armor problem.), Restoration has one that makes all spells work better against the undead, and Alteration has two perks that makes you less susceptible to spells. Also, sharing spell cost reduction would, again, break magic. Dual casting I could see being shared, but not cost reduction.

11. First, there are ways to make followers at least immune to magic damage. Also, use discretion. You wouldn't swing a sword while a guard was in the way, would you?

12. Completely and utterly wrong, unless you have no patience and/or are unwilling to try. I've played a pure mage, archer, and fighter in Skyrim, with no mods and avoiding exploits, on expert to master and I honestly find fighter to be the hardest. Distance makes combat immensely easy, plus you have to rely on the block skill to save you as a fighter (If you mess up a shield slam, it hurts). Archer is the best though.

Is magic in Skyrim perfect? No, I personally would like a bit more versatility.
Is magic in Skyrim bad? No, certainly not.

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