Bethesda Hates Mages: 12 Reasons Magic in Skyrim Sucks

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Not tried these much but Magic overhaul http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/29276/? and Apocalypse http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/16225/? seem to fix that problem.

SirBryghtside:

Lyri:
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!

I'm tempted to grab it and play it, I've always been a fan of the older games in the series. I should revists Oblivion first though, I never really played it much.

Thanks for this walk down memory lane. I played Skyrim for 2 months. No comment on how many hours Steam says I played, just that, when I saw it, at the end of the two months, I calculated the number of hours in a month for comparison.

On Topic: I mean if Skyrim played like D&D then maybe, okay, if all you ever use is destruction magic. But in Elder Scrolls you mix different class abilities together to create something awesome like a battle mage in plate with a two handed axe slinging lightning bolts and storm andronachs. That literally was my first character and he rocked. By the endgame he was just using magic both for weapons and armor.

My second character I attempted a more typical mage path from the start and, yeah, that didn't last long before--well I don't remember how I got by but other than letting my follower do the tanking for me, and always having andronachs and raising zombies. I mean if you don't use your follower, that is a lot of loot you have to carry by yourself. May as well use them during encounters.

Okay you're right destruction magic was weak if that is the only thing you ever use. But conjuration magic was crazy imba. When you get that ability to have two summonables, game over man, just sit back while your follower and summonables take care of business. Alteration magic isn't bad. Healing magic works. Raising zombies... sure. Disagree it is harder to play with a caster than a weapons character.

He's 100% right here. With a few gold transmutes and a bit of smithing, I can easily level up any crap armor twice as much right along with whatever weapon I'm using. Hell, with potions and enchanting, you can create weapons that basically one shot everything in the game. And that's all before level right around level 35.....

Meanwhile, those little fireballs don't do shit when you have a dragon or (god forbid) a bear running at you. It's completely absurd.

Anyone who CHOOSES magic over the much more useful warrior class is do so out of boredom or want of a greater challenge.

The main issue is that there is only a handful of items that boost magic damage. I think I found a crown that boosts shock damage by %30 or some crap. Meanwhile, I have rings that make me do +40 2 hand AND another enchant on top of that which stacks with the Necklace/gloves enchants of the same...which means there's very few fights that give me trouble.

I hope they fix magic for the next ES game...and I don't mean that overpriced mmo.

Lyri:

SirBryghtside:

Lyri:
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!

I'm tempted to grab it and play it, I've always been a fan of the older games in the series. I should revists Oblivion first though, I never really played it much.

If you do, I recommend using this download:

http://wiwiki.wiwiland.net/?title=Arena_:_ArenaSetup_EN

It's a really well-optimised package that means you don't have to mess around in DOSBox at all. There's also one for Daggerfall, but that one's still really buggy despite a couple of fixes (as in, every character I've ever tried has had a file corruption buggy - Daggerfall is not very stable). Arena's pretty much a more simple and less broken Daggerfall, which ends up making for a really nice dungeon crawling experience. Don't be put off by the difficulty at the start either - the first two dungeons are a brick wall of challenge, but if you can get past those the enemies really don't get much stronger (at least as far as I've got, which is around halfway). There's none of the open-world exploration that Morrowind onwards are known for really, with most areas outside of the dungeons being completely randomly generated, but the dungeons in both games are ridiculously massive sprawling networks that take hours get through. Have fun!

I've never enjoyed the magic in The Elder Scrolls. The secondary magic skills are cool, but the destruction type spells are just awful. Firing slow moving projectiles at rapidly moving enemies is bad enough, but throw in a mana bar that runs out very quickly and you're just taking the piss. I've never made a character who used destruction as their primary means of attack: magic was always a backup to melee.

I made a similar list myself:

1. You didn't mod it.
2. You didn't mod it.
3. You didn't mod it.
4. You didn't mod it.
5. You didn't mod it.
6. You didn't mod it.
7. You didn't mod it.
8. You didn't mod it.
9. You didn't mod it.
10. You didn't mod it.
11. You didn't mod it.

12. You're not using conjuration.

Yeah, I've always hated how TES handles magic.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of having all these cool different schools of magic, I don't want to lose that- but it's so much extra work to make a pure mage work.
I was really hoping they'd have scaled magic damage in Skyrim; the UI made it look like spell damage might change as you levelled up, but it's all static, just like the earlier games.

And this is why the very first mod I ever installed was a magic scaling mod. And I installed it very early on, after I realized that magic didn't scale like your weapons do.

That said, if you install a magic scaling mod and know which spells you will and won't find useful (i.e., you've already experimented a lot with other characters), you *can* play a dedicated mage, and do fairly well. Is it harder than playing another character type? Oh yes. I actually played a "pure" mage through to level 30 recently, just as an interesting challenge. A friend of mine played a "pure" mage at the same time, but *without* the magic scaling mod. We both succeeded at our goals, but he had to be a hell of a lot more careful than I did, and last I heard he was still getting stomped by a lot of dragon battles.

As for balancing magic versus might, I wonder if part of the problem with Skyrim is that it condenses ALL melee weapons into two skill trees. In Morrowind and Oblivion, there were half a dozen or so different weapon skills, which was actually on par with how many magic skills there were. Skyrim also has fewer types of weapons than Morrowind and I think Oblivion (been too long since I've poked Oblivion to say for sure). I like a lot of things that Skyrim does better than Morrowind, but when I play Skyrim, I often find myself longing for Morrowind's rich variety of weapon choices. While it's convenient to be able to switch from playing a war axe to a sword without blinking in Skyrim, maybe it's actually *too* convenient. Maybe the next single player game in the series should re-expand the One and Two Handed trees into specific weapon types.

Of course, this would work a lot better if you could move perks around (say it costs you money, or you have to do it within so many levels of investing the perk); nothing sucks more than dropping a few perks into a specific weapon skill, only to realize you really would prefer a different weapon and you're never getting those perks back.

I suppose you could also condense the magic schools, in a similar vein to how the weapons were condensed, but that feels way too simplistic. (Though I do wish they'd condense Pickpocket back into Stealth; I've just never found it worth it to invest my precious perk points and time into *just* picking pockets.)

All this said, I almost never actually play "pure" characters; I like to mix things up. Almost every character I've played in Skyrim learns Restoration magic, for example. And once you add in a proper magic scaling mod to balance things up, a fighter with healing magic becomes a formidable force indeed! I generally only keep potions around as backup for when my magicka runs dry.

"I first discovered this in Morrowind when I rolled a new fighter and killed my first foe in two or three hits. Then I rolled a mage and spent all my mana trying (unsuccessfully) to burn someone to death. Then I ran around in circles waiting for it to recharge,"

I'm going to guess you didn't actually play a thousand hours of Morrowind because if you had, you might realize that in the game that was given to us by the developers, magic didn't recharge just because you ran around. To wit, from http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:Magic

"Magicka can only be replenished by resting, using Restore Magicka, Spell Absorption or Absorb Magicka effects."

Also, my mages in Skyrim rocked it, dropping dragons with various forms of ice spikes.

I've always found magic in Oblivion and Skyrim incredibly boring. Just because of the nature of first person viewpoint everything feels like you're just firing special arrows at the enemy. Add to that the fact that it's incredibly tedious to play mages in Skyrim. They do small amounts of damage and burn out quickly, so much more often then not I just find myself spending the majority of my time in combat running away waiting to regain enough mp to finish an enemy.

Particularly if you're trying to approach harder areas you'll need to do this several times per enemy:
-Attack enemy until mana bar is depleted
-Run away until he you're no longer being chased
-Heal
-Walk back
-Repeat 3-4 times
-Move on to next enemy

I like games that let me challenge myself without turning it into a giant tedious chore. In Skyrim I found that the only way I could find using magic enjoyable was to turn the difficulty down low enough that I could kill at least one enemy with a full mp bar without having to run away.

Maybe I'm doing something horribly wrong and there's some easy way to either increase your damage substantially without using more mp or increase your mp substantially. Or perhaps I should be stocking up with enough mana potions that I can use one every ten seconds. Either way despite my efforts Skyrim has never been able to hold my interest long enough to find out

But Lizard rhymes with Wizard! Seriously, because of Sips of the Yogscast, my first (and so far only) character was an Argonian Mage simply called "The Lizard Wizard."

Also, you don't roll a character in Morrowind. You make choices that determine where points go. There is no randomness involved.

Speaking of somebody who wrote a plugin for Skyrim to try to address the problem, I'd say this top ten list was mostly on the money.

Mathematically speaking, the trouble is that physical damage eventually outclasses magic damage about 4 to 1. Towards the end game, you should be using mastercrafted gear that lets your most meager stab do around 400 damage or more. Now, make it a stealth attack, and that damage is multiplied - my sneaky character was pretty much one-shotting dragons with sneak attacks with bows. Throw in some magical enchantment on your weapon, it just goes even further.

Magic, on the other hand, caps much lower in overall damage, cannot be supplemented by enchantments or smithing (but it can by alchemy, just like physical damage), and they even have the audacity to make it cost mana... granted, if you're wearing enchanted gear, you can pretty much completely remove the mana cost from a spell school or two.

Yeah, there are mods out there that try to address all of these issues. However, I have to wonder why Bethesda is so bad at balance that they didn't fix it before release.

Something not on this list that should be: dragon shouts are redundant with magic. A sword-swinger can get all the cool parts of having powerful shouts to bellow with a nice variety of effect, but a spell-user has spells that render most of those shouts pointless and ends up tripping over the GUI trying to use both.

Once my mage reached Enchanting level 100 I could create a suit of ebony armor with a total of 100% spell cost reduction for destruction spells, meaning I was casting my stuff for free after that point.

This means I could keep that lightning-Kamehameha on constant fire, which in turn means that I could roast a dragon to perfection in about a minute.

So yeah, mage in Skyrim is odd.

Hmmm... I never once ever played pure mage. Then again, I never played a "pure" anything in an Elder Scrolls game. Playing without armor always made me feel naked. It always made more sense to play as a battle mage or a night blade with the armor, and the enchanting made it so simple to augment your mana pool and regeneration. Truth be told, he mostly talked about the archetypal destruction mage, but a friend of mine played pure mage with illusion and conjuration. Never had any trouble with a fight.

I dunno, with a game like the Elder Scrolls where it's encouraged that you swap and combine different aspects of the trinity of warrior, rogue, and mage into a wholly unique class, the fact that a pure build of one of those three isn't balanced with the other two pure builds doesn't really bother me all that much. Hell, mages in AD&D were a sort of expert mode for those who didn't mind starting out super weak at the beginning so that they could outshine the fighter and cleric classes when they earn later level magic.

grigjd3:
snip

The "rolling a character" bit can be forgiven since I hear it a lot in regards to RPGs when they're referring to character creation, not the literal rolling of any digital dice.

As for Shamus' mistake regarding the magicka regeneration... I dunno. Maybe he was just confused or something. Hell, I put days worth of playtime into Morrowind back in the day, and when I booted up the game recently, I had completely forgot that the simple act running slowly drained stamina unlike the later entries in the series.

Nimzabaat:
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.

Those enchantments reduced the magicka cost, they don't boost damage.

Another sucky thing is higher level mobs have high damage resists, so your spells become even less effective.

Here's how I got my magic skills up, these can be considered "cheap", but screw it, mages are broken;

Blacksmith craft Iron Daggers (at smithing 40 get Dwarven and switch to bow crafting), dump junk enchants on them to level Enchanting (save Grand souls). Get Twin Souls at skill 100 to put two enchants on an item. Use the grand souls to make rings of destruction and conjuration 25%. Chest and helm with magicka regen. Level conjuration from 1 to 100 by casting Soul Trap on your horse, it won't agro. Make alteration rings and level Alteration with Telekinesis. With conjuration at 100, double summon Demora Lords to tank and hold back and throw your Destruction spells (while wearing Destruction 25% reduction rings).

Or you can just have fun by going in and cutting up everything with a big ass axe.

Fdzzaigl:

nyysjan:

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 did play on nightmare most of the time, turn of AI and micromanage, that's how you play DA:O (well, you can make a balanced party, setup their AI, and leave the room as they play on their own as well, but that does not sound fun).

Lyri:

nyysjan:
Bah.

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.

I'm playing on expert, stuff dies just fine with one heavy sneak attack from a dagger, some might require dual wielding, but that's about it for almost anything not a dragon or dragon priest or having some bullshit mechanic that stops me from sneak attacking them (at that point, destruction stun lock ftw).

Mr_Terrific:
He's 100% right here. With a few gold transmutes and a bit of smithing, I can easily level up any crap armor twice as much right along with whatever weapon I'm using. Hell, with potions and enchanting, you can create weapons that basically one shot everything in the game. And that's all before level right around level 35.....

Meanwhile, those little fireballs don't do shit when you have a dragon or (god forbid) a bear running at you. It's completely absurd.

Anyone who CHOOSES magic over the much more useful warrior class is do so out of boredom or want of a greater challenge.

The main issue is that there is only a handful of items that boost magic damage. I think I found a crown that boosts shock damage by %30 or some crap. Meanwhile, I have rings that make me do +40 2 hand AND another enchant on top of that which stacks with the Necklace/gloves enchants of the same...which means there's very few fights that give me trouble.

I hope they fix magic for the next ES game...and I don't mean that overpriced mmo.

Someone has either not actually tried playing a mage, or does not know how to play a mage in Skyrim.
dual casting + mana potions = stunlock anything to death
at most you might have issues with some of the mages using wards, but then it's dual cast rune = dead mage

Now that's on expert, on the highest difficulty level, well, if you are playing on highest difficulty level,
STOP WHINING IT'S HARD, THAT'S THE POINT.

My first Skyrim character was just a joke plowthrough as an Orc named "Hump." I was just testing the game and combat engine. My second was a Breton thief/archer because as "Hump" I had learned exactly which mechanics were the most broken and I exploited them all (a thief/archer who levels enchanting and smithing is an unseeable and untouchable killing machine by level 20.) Then I tried to make a mage. And it seemed like Shamus was was right. But I don't mind admitting...

I was just doing it wrong.

I was trying to keep every magic school leveled up and was pretty much ignoring everything other than magic to do it. And I was getting stomped and destroyed at every turn. I started over and I did it right. You pick one or 2 schools, and don't branch out until rounding out a character later in the game. You compliment it with 1 or 2 non-magic skills, and the combinations seem to all figure out a way to work. At this point I could use a random number generator to pick 3 skills to focus on, and come up with a successful character as long as at least one was a non-restoration magic.

Here, I'll try it a couple of times...

Block - Sneak - Destruction: OK, bad example right off the bat. Then again, if you just crank destruction it can remain pretty op as you level, ok it might work. Sneak up, unload with the burning and zapping, then block until you can recharge mana. You'd probably want to add enchanting and light armor to the mix, but you wouldn't have to grind them... it would work.

Conjuration - Enchanting - Speech: Yes, no problems there. A conjurer that can crank with enchanting... pretty boss. Might want to add restoration to sort of round things out, but paired with any companion this mix would run in to few problems.

Alteration - Heavy Armor - Light Armor: Ok, real bad example we only need 1 armor type. Let's re-roll that last one. One-Handed. I don't see a problem with that. I don't see much of a way to even damage that... just roll Breton and even mages couldn't touch that.

Ok, so it doesn't ALWAYS work. But the point is, the only way a mage doesn't work is if someone is going "omni-mage" and excluding everything else while trying to level every magic school.

Luminous_Umbra:

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.)

It's not that hard really. Right off the top of my head, I'd recommend with the distance kills just have something appropriate for each element. For instance, have enemies that are killed by a fireball be set on fire, flail around trying to put it out, and then the bodies burn into a skeleton or something, while lightning has them spasm out for a few seconds (like when electrocuted in real life) before collapsing, while the ice would have them freeze solid, perhaps shattering when they fall and hit the ground, all with the appropriate sound effects of course. That's just for the destruction spells, but I think you get the idea.

TheMadDoctorsCat:
I 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?)

Again, it's right off the top of my head so take it with a grain of salt, but I'll answer that:

Rage: Simple, have the player lose control for a few seconds while the character blindly attacks any creature around it at random.

Pacify: The attack controls don't react to player input for a few seconds. i.e. if the player presses the attack button the character won't swing their sword.

Flee: Either the same as Pacify or have the player once again lose control of the character and it would retreat from the caster for the duration.

To help ensure they don't become a cheap way for enemies to off the player, with all of them the only versions enemies would have are short duration ones and the player would be able to shorten the duration of said magic effects a little further by pressing the movement(Rage and Flee) and attack keys (Pacify) repeatedly.

OT: I agree with most of what Shamus said, however I think he is selling magic short in a lot of ways. For one, it's incredibly versatile. Not only does magic have plenty of noncombat applications it makes up for it's lack of finishing moves with the fact that there's just so many ways one can kill the enemy, to wit:

Burning it alive.
Electrocuting it to death.
Freezing it.
Make them kill each other.
Prevent it from attacking and slay it however one wishes.

and probably a few more I'm forgetting. By contrast, a fighter character's options are "run up and hit it over and over" and an archer/assassin character's options are "shoot it from afar over and over again" and "sneak up behind it and slit it's throat" respectively.

However, I agree that magic itself is pretty underpowered compared to a fighter/assassin/archer character. What most people here that defend it have said only shows this all too well. In order for magic to just be viable not to mention effective the player either has to hybrid their class to do it, mix magic schools together to compensate for their weaknesses i.e. illusion to keep enemies off you while you pelt them with fireballs or exploit cheap tricks like enchanting clothes to make the magic cost nothing and things like that which one won't have access to right off and shouldn't have to do anyway. With being a fighter/archer/assassin all one has to do is draw their weapon and attack essentially. Especially compared to other options magic requires a ridiculous amount of preparation just to be of any use at all, and it's only worse if one is a pure mage character.

I always play a mage in Elder Scrolls and the magic does get a little... samey. However there are some excellent mods for boosting variety. I love the exploration in these games, have logged hundreds of hours but we can all admit the world suffers for its size through homogenisation.

Which is why I wore normal armor, used a sword in the right hand and kept the left reserved for spell-casting. I only used magic to augment combat - mostly sticking to Restoration, Destruction & Conjuration. It seemed to work really well...

Then I realized that being a stealth-archer was much easier since that combo is hideously overpowered.

Magic users can get pretty overpowered pretty quickly. Much to the same way that melee/archers can (True, Magic users don't scale as well into the late game but they can tear up early game and stay there due to not leveling up armour skills as often)

Destruction + Enchanting is all you need to wipe out everything.

Once you get enchanting high enough to be able to enchant your way to 100% cost reduction for Destruction spells, you can just run around throwing your best spells at everyone constantly.

With no other skills to unlock, you don't have to face the ridiculously inflated health pools of the late game.

This is while a Melee/Archer will be wanting to level up their Armour, Blacksmithing, Enchanting, their particular weapon type, potentially Alchemy to further improve their weapons (Potion of Enchanting skill > Better Blacksmithing enchants > Blacksmithing Potion > Massive Upgrades) and potentially Sneak and Pickpocketing meaning they will get to the point where their 1000+ damage weapons only take off tiny slivers of health on max difficulty more easily.

The only downside to mages is early game can be a bit rough, even more so when Staffs are kinda sucky due to their limited charges.

100% agree, Skyrim was my first Elder Scrolls game and I generally go in for magic users in games I play but in this case I just didn't enjoy it and quit that playthrough about 10-15 hours in. In the end I re-did as a Fighter/Rogue (Sword & Shield + Bow) and eneded up sinking a couple of hundred hours into the game

OT: You are not using mods. You are doing it wrong.

Also, I did complete a full playthrough with unmodded Skyrim just after its release, and I never found mages underpowered. The one thing that is underpowered in the game is the Destruction school, but I could always work around that.
Not to mention, the article's repeated use of the term "proper mage" just crawls under my skin. In Tamriel everyone has magic and everyone can learn magic. I don't see why your mage just has to be a stereotypical robed guy with a staff. My sneaky mage, dressed in light armor and setting up runes everywhere and while using illusion and conjuration to deal with most enemies without dirtying his own hands played pretty well, thank you very much.

There are two things I have to agree with though: The robes were lame and destruction spells (and dragon shouts, if we are at that) were rendered mostly useless whenever you had friendlies with you because they had a really, really uncanny sense to wander into the line of fire and then get pissy about being roasted.

[Edit:] However, if we stay at vanilla Skyrim, there is one thing you forgot: There are some really, really impressive Master Destruction spells... that have casting times waaaay too long to be useful and learning said spells is a pain in the neck.

Really though, is there any game that does magic well, and doesn't just attribute it to 'shooting power from your hands or staff'?

Critical Intel did a very good article on it a while back.

Shamus Young:
I first discovered this in Morrowind when I rolled a new fighter and killed my first foe in two or three hits. Then I rolled a mage and spent all my mana trying (unsuccessfully) to burn someone to death. Then I ran around in circles waiting for it to recharge

No you didn't. Magicka didn't recharge in Morrowind except when you rested.

Magic is spread out over six skill trees.

This really doesn't make sense as a criticism. Magic that does direct damage, which is obviously the only kind you're talking about with all the comparisons to fighters, is only a single skill tree. One that actually gives you access to a lot more variety than any of the other direct damage options. The other magic skill trees all do entirely different things and don't make any sense in your comparison at all. Illusion, for example, is far more useful for a stealth character than it is for a pure mage, restoration is useful for absolutely everyone, and despite one of your complaints being that fighters get to use enchanting, you apparently failed to notice that enchanting is, in fact, one of those magic skill trees.

Magic is less satisfying to use. A typical kill animation

Considering how utterly stupid the mere concept of being ripped out of the game and forced to watch the same shitty pre-animated sequences over and over again is, it seems rather pointless to complain that some of them aren't quite as good as others.

Magic is prone to friendly-fire.

That's one of its best points! Hey look, it's a bunch of indistinguishable soldiers who are supposedly wearing different colour uniforms but are pretty much impossible to tell apart without walking right up to them and hoping they stay still long enough to figure our who the hell they are. Fuck it, nothing a few fireballs won't sort out.

Note that I completely agree that the magic system in Skyrim has issues, it's just that the things you complain are issues are mostly either completely irrelevant or just plain wrong. There are really only two main problems. Firstly, destruction is both underpowered and too easily exploitable - you can't do anywhere near enough damage compared to other options in the mid- to late game, but it's too easy to stun-lock absolutely everything and make actual dps irrelevant in the majority of fights. Secondly, duration of some spells is far too short - the problem with mage armour being one of the things you actually got right, but other things like light spells are also affected. Both of these issues are incredibly easy to fix with mods. And yes, I know that won't help people playing on consoles; that's why you shouldn't play a series which has always had modding as a huge part on a platform that won't let you use mods.

First off, starting out as a mage is stupid easy, like most other choices, except you don't have to go find your ammunition after you've fired it. It's a fine representation of short term gain at the cost of other more useful skills later on.

Second, everything but destruction is meant to support whatever else you're doing, not be a main choice. If it helps, think of it as careers for NPC's who make their living using illusion, alteration or restoration to get by in the world. They have useful spells, but not everything is supposed to be combat oriented.

Third, you're supposed to play the game smart, not just walk up to everything and disintegrate it "because magic". Use runes to lay traps, pick your spells accordingly (AoE/Single target) and conjure something to back you up or use a staff to do the same.
Also, magic in Skyrim is a step down from Morrowind since you can't make your own spells, which is a crying shame and on that point I'll admit that the TES series has lost considerable content.

This article is a perfect example of gamer laziness and how players take things for granted.
I'm not saying I don't do it myself, since I can hardly be bothered to think my way through most situations in games, which is a product of developers making so many obvious and repetative choices. I would much prefer a well made scripted event where you have to proceed carefully with maybe four or give choices, instead of a dynamic area where everything can and will go wrong. It's supposed to be a challenge, it's supposed to make you scratch your head and go "huh. I guess I should approach this situation in a different way" instead of just hammering through with your usual tactics.

There are so few real consequences in the game, that it doesn't encourage you to be smart about it and so we see this whining (sorry to put it so bluntly) about how one thing is overpowered or another is too good, when they're actually not that far apart.
There's major streamlining in most games today and people forget that being powerful is fun and if you don't have different classes, methods or gear to compare with, there's no sense of satisfaction or pride in being anything (this is especially true in World of Warcraft where the classes are almost completely streamlined).
In Skyrim you can be the Listener, Archmage, Thieves Guild Master and Leader of the Companions and not exclude anything through your choices. It's handholding at its prime and while I get that it's convinient not to start over to try something else, it's pretty damn pathetic and your choices lose all value.

Don't forget to roleplay once in a while to challenge yourself and keep it in the spirit of the game.
One example would be the thieves quest where you're supposed to help out with an infestation problem. Would an adventurer in full daedric armor really bother to do that for a pittance of gold? No.
You're undercover, you wear normal clothes and leave your platemail at home along with your greatsword and do with a dagger or spells. It might be more difficult, but it's infinitely more satisfying.

I could write a book about the things that make Skyrim a boring affair and go into length about design choices and mechanics, but this is an issue of a player spirit, about how to make the game fun for yourself instead of complaining about number tweaking, min-maxing and how you're "losing out" because you can't do everything at once.
Bottom line, I get why some are annoyed that you can't just be a powerful mage if you dedicate enough time to it, like you can with other combat methods, but you have to keep it in perspective and realize that you can absolutely still get by if you play it smart and live up to the challenge.

I totally agree with the article, balance aside the magic system is underdeveloped, uninspiring and mechanically boring.

They have 3 basic attack spell archetypes: projectile (think guns in fps), flame thrower and traps(glypes). BORING!!

They have really great level designers, but they seriously need better game play mechanic designers and little more time on game polish. Aside from the gameplay they need to set more acknowledgement of player's actions, like if I steal a store clean during the night I expect to see some specticles in the morning.

Nimzabaat:

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.

I came here knowing I'd find at least one guy saying this. But

Magic actually is kinda pathetic. Yeah it's OP for making money with the transmute spell, but since your flamethrowers spell does 8 damage and your firebolt always does exactly 30 damage (or thereabouts) and your fireball does an explosion of 75 damage whether you're level 1 or 50 says something's a little off (By the way, the enchantment you're thinking about makes the spells easier to cast, not more powerful). You can kill things fairly quickly from the outset, but later on the warriors have levelled and they're hitting for incredible amounts of damage (While wearing fucktons of armour, to boot) and you're still dealing the exact same level of damage.

Luckily, just like for everything in Skyrim, there's a mod which fixes this! It makes magic scale with skill and suddenly you can keep up with melee masters! Suddenly you can mow down those goddamn Falmer, rather than throwing a couple of firebolts and hiding in the corner having removed only a fifth of their health (or whatever) while a melee man just wades in and starts hacking like he's a fucking lumberjack.

Sure, you'll still be a squishy little bugger, but at least you're a glass cannon rather than just plain old glass.

I have to say the magic system is pretty uninspired and I miss the spell creation sysem of the previous games. I also REALLY REALLY hate the friendly fire.

On the other hand, I can't agree that magic is underpowered. It's a bit of a pain the first few levels(helps a lot to be Altmer, though the racial loses all value eventually), then it starts to ease up and by mid levels you're OP.

My lvl 48 mage/crafter with ~85 destruction, maxed speech, alchemy, smithing, enchanting, and various levels of other skills. Casts destruction and restoration spells for free. 1-3 shots most enemies with double-casted thunderbolts, even dragons die in 5-6 hits(and rarely do they ever harm me, one did a sliver of damage with its breath once), one-shots entire groups of human enemies with ice storm, and if there actually were any melee enemies that could get to me, I could stop that with wall of frost or wall of storms. Frost cloak also has a tendency to make many enemies just fall down as an ice block before they get to me(yay deep freeze).

Oh and did I mention I cast all destruction and restoration magic for free because of my enchanted equipment? I did the enchanting+alchemy loop around lvl 45, as well as alchemy/enchanting enhanced smithing(seriously my light armor set is about 1200 points of armor) Restoration is there because it means I can hold wards up indefinitely for free, completely nullifying magic casting enemies. If they shield, they'll run out of magicka eventually and be disintegrated.

I don't even bother with summons, don't need them.

Oh and if I ever feel like I need a bit more oomph I have potions that double my damage output.

nyysjan:

[quote="Mr_Terrific" post="6.843334.20761293"]
Someone has either not actually tried playing a mage, or does not know how to play a mage in Skyrim.
dual casting + mana potions = stunlock anything to death
at most you might have issues with some of the mages using wards, but then it's dual cast rune = dead mage

Now that's on expert, on the highest difficulty level, well, if you are playing on highest difficulty level,
STOP WHINING IT'S HARD, THAT'S THE POINT.

No. The point is there is an imbalance between melee and magic where one is fun and useful and can be improved, and the other is shit.

Shame on you for thinking stun locking is fun. Look at meeeee...I play a mage on nightmare and I stun lock. Weeeeee!

Meanwhile, every other class has tangible benefits to their class and perks while you're stun locking.

Some one clearly has no idea what balance is and that is the point of this thread.

grigjd3:
"I first discovered this in Morrowind when I rolled a new fighter and killed my first foe in two or three hits. Then I rolled a mage and spent all my mana trying (unsuccessfully) to burn someone to death. Then I ran around in circles waiting for it to recharge,"

I'm going to guess you didn't actually play a thousand hours of Morrowind because if you had, you might realize that in the game that was given to us by the developers, magic didn't recharge just because you ran around. To wit, from http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:Magic

"Magicka can only be replenished by resting, using Restore Magicka, Spell Absorption or Absorb Magicka effects."

Also, my mages in Skyrim rocked it, dropping dragons with various forms of ice spikes.

On top of this: You did not 2-3 hit anyone in Morrowind. If you roll your first char and use the question/classes, you mostly get something like 30-40 points into a fighting ability. This is something like 50% miss chance and rats and crabs hit you 'hard'.
On the othe side magics like ice/frost/lightning/fire bite (the on touch variation of damage spells) can kill many npcs with 1-2 casts. If i have to judge by the article, the author did not play Morrowind.

I don't get, how people think, that magic sucks in TES. Its a different playstyle from melee and range and this is GOOD!. Its not just melee with RGB colours. Its something different. If you are a mage, you need money for potions. This is okay, because you dont need money to repair items. You need to think ahead. That is the whole deal about magic. In the end magic was just strong. My Morrowind mage had 2 two Atronachs of each type, 2 Dremoras, a golden saint, can fly above the battle field, travels across the world easily with divine invention, almalexias whatever and mark&return. She could throw multielemet damage balls, etc.

Magic does not suck in TES. It sucks in games like DS, but not TES.

Mr_Terrific:

nyysjan:

[quote="Mr_Terrific" post="6.843334.20761293"]
Someone has either not actually tried playing a mage, or does not know how to play a mage in Skyrim.
dual casting + mana potions = stunlock anything to death
at most you might have issues with some of the mages using wards, but then it's dual cast rune = dead mage

Now that's on expert, on the highest difficulty level, well, if you are playing on highest difficulty level,
STOP WHINING IT'S HARD, THAT'S THE POINT.

No. The point is there is an imbalance between melee and magic where one is fun and useful and can be improved, and the other is shit.

Shame on you for thinking stun locking is fun. Look at meeeee...I play a mage on nightmare and I stun lock. Weeeeee!

Meanwhile, every other class has tangible benefits to their class and perks while you're stun locking.

Some one clearly has no idea what balance is and that is the point of this thread.

Who said anything about fun?
The point was about magic being underpowered.
Ability to stunlock a dragon to death, is not underpowered.

Could magic be better and more fun? Hell yes, but that was never the point of conversation.

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