The next patch for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim raises the game's level cap, but this addition is neither as straightfoward, nor as exciting as you might expect.
This morning Bethesda Softworks debuted the beta version of the upcoming 1.9 patch for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Valve Software's ubiquitous Steam digital distribution platform. Full details on what the patch changes and adds to the game were then published on Bethesda's official blog. The good news is that this patch finally raises the game's level cap. The bad news is that to accomplish this, Bethesda had to employ a very esoteric solution.
Alright, here's how things work: If you've played Skyrim in the past, you're no doubt aware that the game eschews a traditional leveling system in favor of raising a player's strength through individual skills. Swing a sword at skeletons long enough and your ability to murder said bony jerks will increase. On paper it sounds pretty simple, but this system throws a massive spanner into any attempts to raise the game's non-existent "level cap."
Instead of merely bumping up the available number of levels, Bethesda opted to swipe a page from Activision's Call of Duty play book. Once you've downloaded the 1.9 patch, you'll find that any skills you've raised to the top of the game's 100 point system can now be reverted to level 15. This both denotes the skill as a "Legendary Skill," and allows players to further enhance their abilities beyond the original high water mark. As Bethesda points out, this "effectively removes the overall level cap," though it seems to only change the numbers your character is able to generate. To put it more simply, improving your sword fighting skills beyond that 100 point limit is now possible, but will only increase the amount of damage that particular skill is capable of generating and won't offer you new skills or any special attack animations.
It's a fix, but as far as "raising Skyrim's level cap," this is probably the simplest (read: least time-intensive) method Bethesda could have possibly employed.
As we stated above, the patch is still in beta and is thus only currently available to those playing the PC iteration of Skyrim. As of now there's no word on when this patch might be applied to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, though we'd expect it appear on the former in short order. PlayStation 3 fans are used to a dearth of additional Skyrim content, so at this point we won't even speculate on when that game might be patched. At best, we expect it alongside the Xbox 360 game, but if history is any indicator Sony devotees could be waiting until mid-2014 to enjoy the new Legendary Skills.
Widely disappointing news aside, the patch also brings with a huge number of welcome bug fixes. Have a look:
-General memory and stability improvements
-Fixed issue with quest scripts that were not shutting down properly
-Companions will equip better weapons and armor if given to them
-Fixed rare issue where player is unable to learn the Clear Skies shout during "The Throat of the World"
-Fixed rare instance where Alduin would become invincible during "Alduin's Bane"
-Fixed a rare issue where player could become stuck in Night Mother's coffin during "Death Incarnate"
-Fixed rare issue where protected companions could be killed from poison damage
-Fixed rare issue with certain ash piles left from resurrected NPCs not clearing properly
-Fixed rare issue with NPCs and creatures respawning improperly after player fast travels
-Fixed rare crash when entering Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary
-Fixed rare crash when entering a player owned home
-Random dragon attacks will no longer occur during "Battle for Whiterun"
-Fixed a rare crash when attempting to save your game during "Waking Nightmare"
-Fixed issue where "Glory of the Undead" would not start properly if player is in combat with Eorlund Gray-Mane
-The white phial is no longer consumed if given to a follower
-If player marries Aela, the "Totem of Hircine" quest will be available
-Unused briar hearts can be dropped after finishing "The White Phial"
-Fixed issue with paying off a crime against the Companions that prevented player from getting Companions quests properly
-Thieves Guild caches are now properly enabled in the appropriate cities
-The Dragon Infusion perk now works properly when taking Esbern's Potion
-Cragslane Cave properly resets if player receives a radiant quest to clear it out
-Fixed rare issue with bounty quest objectives not properly clearing after completion
-Gallus' Encoded Journal is no longer a quest item after completing the Thieves Guild
-In "No Stone Unturned" Vex will now accept Unusual Gems if you've collected them all before starting the quest
-Vekel the Man now gives rewards for completing "Toying with The Dead"
-Fixed rare issue with being unable to turn in stolen items in "The Litany of Larceny"
-Fixed issue with followers becoming over-encumbered after being repeatedly rehired
-Fixed rare issue with visiting Kynesgrove on horseback not progressing "A Blade in the Dark" properly
-Fixed issue with receiving a duplicate radiant quest from a Jarl
-Fixed conflict with clearing Driftshade Sanctuary before starting "Trouble in Skyrim"
-Fixed issue with using shouts while in jail and having guards unlock the jail cell
-Fixed rare issue with quest NPCs not properly moving to quest locations
-Fixed issue with NPCs not selling master level spells
-Fixed rare issue where player gets control locked outside the Thalmor Embassy at the start of "Diplomatic Immunity"
-Fixed rare issue with disappearing containers after upgrades in player owned house
-Fixed issue with being erroneously attacked while as a werewolf during "Ill Met By Moonlight"
-The Ebony Blade is now only improved by two handed perks
-Locked door to Proudspire Manor can now be unlocked by proper key
-Fixed issue with merchants not receiving the proper additional gold with the Investor perk
-Fixed a rare issue where the player would be unable to learn a word after leaving for several days during "The Way of The Voice"
-The Nord Hero Bow can now be improved
-The Purity perk no longer requires the Experimenter perk
-Fixed rare instance where Lovers Comfort would not be applied properly
-If you approach Frostmere Crypt from the north, "The Pale Lady" will start properly
-Fixed rare issue where player could be prevented from speaking with Atub to start "The Cursed Tribe"
-Fixed rare issue where a dragon could appear in the Mind of a Madman realm and kill the player
-Fixed instance where player could get stuck in Japhet's Folly
-Fixed rare instances where Arngeir would not teach Worldwind Sprint
-Fixed issue with "Ill Met By Moonlight" if Sinding dies before the quest starts
-Gharol can now properly train up to level 75
-Fixed conflict with visiting The Karthspire before starting "Alduin's Wall"
-Reduced the instance of random dragon attacks after fast traveling post main quest
-Recruited Blades now have appropriate dialogue while at Sky Haven Temple
-Fixed rare issue where an incorrect dungeon could appear as a location during "Totems of Hircine"
-Fixed rare instance in "Fetch me that Book" where books found before getting the quest would not be properly recognized
-Fixed rare issue with traveling to Thalmor Embassy with companions during "Diplomatic Immunity"
-Fixed issues with Matching Set perk not working properly with certain pieces of armor
-Fixed issues with Custom Fit perk not working properly with certain pieces of armor
-Fixed issue with NPC dying in a bear trap blocking progress in "Time of My Need"
-Fixed rare issue with swinging door becoming stuck and blocking an entrance in Volunruud
-Imperial Light Armor can now be crafted
-Fixed issue with "Vald's Debt" where Vald was not leveled properly
-Fixed issue with Vilkas not giving proper greeting after completing "Battle for Whiterun"
-Fixed issue with respawning actors that were raised by using the Ritual Stone power
-Fixed issue with the Ancient Knowledge perk not calculating properly
-The Palace of Kings now has patrolling guards on upper floors
-Reduce percentage chance of getting a werewolf loading screen while player is a werewolf
-Pantea's flute is no longer a quest item after completing "Pantea's Flute"
-Placing an unread Oghma Infinium on a bookshelf in the player's house no longer allows the book to be reused again
-Adjusted dialogue priority to improve chances of hearing more combat dialogue from certain NPC enemies
-Fixed issue with falling damage on high difficulty levels
-Fixed bad collision on certain clutter objects
-Fixed rare instance of couriers who would appear only dressed in a hat
Source: Bethesda Blog