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Skyrim Master Difficulty Experience

Discussion in 'Bethesda Game Studios' started by halflingbarbarian, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. halflingbarbarian Scholar

    halflingbarbarian
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    Was writing a post (http://www.rpgcodex.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=1869102&highlight=#1869102) on how I'm enjoying Skyrim at the highest difficulty so far and thought to make a thread so others who are trying out Master can share tips/strategies (or exploits, though no gamebreaking ones please, like abusing smithing->enchanting->reselling to gain gold, or equipping NPCs with 1 arrow to get unlimited arrows, etc.) on how to tackle some encounters. Also, character builds.

    I'm running a sword+board Argonian fighter with some dabbling in Restoration now. Also with smithing (which practically uses up most of my gold) but without enchanting (no gold to level it), though I plan to go into that later.

    I have immense trouble handling:

    Dragons
    These things are crazy. Firstly, I have no strong ranged attack to bring them down from the skies fast, so I have to dodge breath attacks like a bitch for a long time. Secondly, once they land, my usual combo of block-slowmo interrupting their power attack (chomp) and riposte is not very effective. Once I stagger (wing buffet?) and they chomp, I'm minced. For now I avoid dragons in the wild, and if feasible I lead them into populated areas for guards to help me with them.

    Mammoths/Giants
    Again, sheer numbers and stagger abilities makes fighting them a fucking nightmare. I can take them 1v1, but as long as there's more than 1 I'm probably dead. My strat for now is to lead them into tight spaces, or regular sized buildings (where they can't enter due to size) and take them 1 by 1. Also note that both creature's attacks have long animations (comparatively) and slow recovery, so I time my attacks between those. However, stagger abilities rapes me now and then.

    Dual-wielders
    The only one of note I met so far is the Skinner woman of the Shining Hand in the Companions questline. And damn is she mad with the world. If you just block and watch her moves, she basically chains up dual-wield power attacks (for 3-4 hits) constantly, and eating 2-3 of those hits = KO. I had to shift to werewolf form and sprint->pounce->knockdown to avoid her even attacking me at all. After every knockdown I throw in a couple of rakes and sprint the hell away from her melee range, rinse and repeat. Works like a charm but you have to have 0 missteps, or it's over.

    Some casters
    So far, I haven't met any 1 shotting spellcasters yet. However, you can't dodge spell projectiles as easily as arrows, and I worry when I meet one of those 1 shotter spells. Right now I have the shield perk of reducing elemental damage, and plan to get some resist gear in the future. If there are spellcasters in any group fight, I HAVE to sprint to finish them off FAST before dealing with the others, because standing still and fighting the non-magical enemies with an arcane turret at the back feeding you bolt after bolt after bolt is untenable.

    Also, feel free to share some stories of emergent gameplay that you encountered due to this difficulty level. Discuss!
     
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  2. baronjohn Cipher

    baronjohn
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    I'm playing a pure mage (every level I upgrade magic, I wear robes, and I have the sign that gives me 100% vulnerability to magic) and the game has been much easier for me since I've gotten the perk that staggers enemies hit by a dual casted spell. I'm level 36 and I kill everything with the apprentice level firebolt. I even leveled smithing to 100 to see what it's all about (useless to me otherwise) and I'm not seeing any problems with enemy scaling.

    I dropped the difficulty from master to adept around level 15 though.
     
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  3. The Wizard Educated

    The Wizard
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    master? expert is already tedious as fuck if you don't want to abuse stealth, unlimited potion chugging and the ai.

    everything gives me equal trouble, because my tactic of summoning a bunch of shit and then running away like bitch is pretty effective as long as i don't get stuck on a goddamn rock or whatever.

    but if i had to choose i'd say the dedicated fire/electro mages because i installed a mod that ups damage on destruction spells.

    i consider dropping the whole game until something like OOO comes out, or at least the constrctions et so i can change shit myself.
     
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  4. halflingbarbarian Scholar

    halflingbarbarian
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    Can someone explain the exact nature of this 'tediousness' in higher difficulties? I understand HP and damage bloat makes fights longer, but longer fights + more dmg complicates things geometrically, not linearly in Skyrim. In Oblivion, FO3 or FNV, the games that uses the same kind of difficulty scaling (bloat), it felt alot more linear because the player character becomes rather invincible inevitably, and early in the game. So the difference in those was how many hits to down that particular enemy, from 1 hit to 5 hits, depending on difficulty.

    However, in Skyrim, in longer fights you get:

    1) AI usage of different kinds of power attacks, which must be managed differently. Sprint PA sometimes staggers even if blocked, sideways PA goes through block if you don't turn in time. Backwards PA and standing PA does not have unique effects for the AI, I think.

    2) AI usage of differing abilities. Giants will stomp. Archers/Mages draw melee weapons and close in to complicate fights. I haven't met many types of enemies yet, but the ones I've seen so far have interesting variation in attacks in long fights.

    3) Resource management. Particularly, potions. Potion costs are relatively prohibitive (I didn't spec in speech or alchemy, maybe that will make a difference) and I finish whatever I have usually in a single dungeon crawl, sometimes even running out of them in the middle of a crawl. It makes cheaper restoratives more than just flavor: food, I imagine, in a game of regular difficulty is kinda LARP but in Master, mammoth cheese for example saved my ass many times. Higher quality ammunition is also expensive, and you need many of them to, say, kill a single dragon.

    Maybe I'm just too bored of the previous games in respect to combat difficulty (ease, to be exact) and variation, but Skyrim at Master difficulty is really quite refreshing.
     
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  5. hanssolo Educated

    hanssolo
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    Every fight in Skyrim as a mage is chip away hp while your followers keep shit away from you. Fights being longer or shorter do nothing to change the strategy of keeping cannon fodder between you and the enemy and spam firebolt (because practically everything is weak to fire) until dead. Giants stomp pretty regularly to little effect and ranged enemies changing to melee usually means they're no longer a threat. I chug potions like a motherfucker and I have not once had to buy/make them because the game shits every dungeon full of them.
     
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  6. Heresiarch Prophet

    Heresiarch
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    One of the biggest problem playing at expert and master is your damage get massively reduced by around 40% but your companions get a huge boost because they also get the 40% damage reduction bonus. Which means your minions are effectively having triple HP and can kick even more assess while you can do only shitty damage.

    Playing on adept means you must use more resources to kill stuff because your pets can't solo everything by their own, in fact they will fall at least twice faster when fighting heavy hitters like deathlords.

    The above is only for mages though, who must more or less rely on at least one follower or summoning. After getting the enchantment for something like -80% spell casting reduction in a school you can probably solo through any encounter at any difficulty.
     
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  7. halflingbarbarian Scholar

    halflingbarbarian
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    I don't use a companion myself, but doesn't 40% damage increase on their part get offset by increased enemy hp? I might have to test out having a permenant NPC stick around... But in some of my quests so far, for example Aela at the Gallows, or Vilkas (?) at the Companions initiation trial, they got beaten quite badly by the enemies, basically going into 'recovery' mode shortly into every fight. Does gearing your NPC up make a huge difference?
     
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  8. Heresiarch Prophet

    Heresiarch
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    I edited my post, it is a 40% damage reduction bonus for companions, not 40% damage bonus. So both enemies and your companions are much tougher.

    Gearing up NPC do make good differences, if you give them equipment which can provide a 100% resistance in an element, you can happily blast away with all sorts of spells of that element including AOE without worrying about friendly fire (some noobs at the bethsoft forums apparently want FF disabled too). Giving Lydia a good shield and she can become a very good tank, while you will often laugh how she whack bandits flying away if you give her a good two handed weapon.
     
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  9. Mangoose Arcane Patron

    Mangoose
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    I don't know what difficulty to play. Either I play on Master and Lydia (AND MY HORSE) kicks ass, or I play on Expert and I kick ass. Oh well.
     
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  10. Black Cat Prestigious Gentleman Magister

    Black Cat
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    It depends on the dungeon, actually. Once you start getting stronger enemies your companions will find themselves overwhelmed just by facing two of them, and sometimes will have a hard time on a one on one fight. This is particularly nasty when they get rushed by two or three enemies given while enemies usually don't finish them off once they fall to their knees, they still die if they suffer any damage while down. So the more enemies there are the highest the risk several of them hitting them with just a split second of diference.

    Though companion's usefulness is kind of exagerated as anything but decoys, or maybe I am kind of exploring dungeons far above my level. I went through a fair number of companions on my "test" character: Poor Lydia never came out Stillborn Cave, though at least her corpse was kind of awesome and Boromir-esque all surrounded by dead Falmer and with half a dozen arrows sticking out of her face. The elf archer went flying out of the seven thousand steps when an Ice Troll gave him the most beautiful punch EVER. And that Windhelm mercenary guy never came out Sightless Pit after he somehow agroed six Falmer and a couple of Chauruses. Ouch.
     
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  11. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
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    Yes, I've noticed that horses are surprisingly good fighters. Obviously not against Giants or Dragons, but against soldiers, bandits and even trolls (provided I help a bit), konjad holds his own.
     
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  12. Xi Arcane

    Xi
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    I've noticed that once you hit lvl 20ish, you need to fear double-handed power attacks from mini-bossses (Leader of Bandits in a cave, etc). This is on the regular difficulty too. So, on master, you really got to stay away from their attacks. Something to consider as you approach that level. I'm sure there's another shift at 30 or 40 too. By then, you'll hopefully have enough tricks up your sleeve to over come.
     
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  13. halflingbarbarian Scholar

    halflingbarbarian
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    I just had a session of Skyrim and took Lydia along to see if she's worth her salt in a dungeon. I crafted a full set of orcish armor for her, and gave her an ebony bow and a scimitar. I was exploring the surroundings of a new town, Ivarstead, and came across this tomb complex on an island in the middle of a river closeby. Well with tombs you get the run of the mill Draugr spam and Lydia handled them quite well, but at this point (lvl 20ish) I could take all of them on by myself anyways.

    Then out of nowhere, we stumbled into this larger cavern that looks like an elaborate tomb for somebody important.

    SPOILER AHEAD!

    Turns out it was one of the sons of some important archmage. His name is Sigdis Gaulderson, and is an archer type of enemy. It's a boss fight where he teleports and mirrors himself around the room, and uses a shout that knocks you out for a good 5-10 seconds and disarms you. Suffice to say I spent about an hour in that bloody room dying and reloading and trying to work out a proper way to identify the real Sigdis.

    He has two mirror images at any time and they glow a little blue so you can start to tell which is the real deal awhile into the fight once you got used to things. HOWEVER. Once the two images die (they die to a single hit), Sigdis disappears and teleports, summoning another two images. The problem here with having Lydia along is that she can't figure that shit out due to AI and with her bow she constantly destroys the images before I can reach the real Sigdis. Coupled with the fact that an unlucky shout randomly throwing me into view of all 3 Sigdis... it's pincushion hell. Every other shout will do away with most of my health due to arrows getting on me (can't move) without my shield up, and many times I watched helplessly as I die in a single round of shout -> pincushion.

    It was a crazy fight with me rushing around desperately trying to catch the real Sigdis before Lydia helps him teleport. Finally after the above mentioned hour of scrambling like a rat we managed to whittle Sigdis down to death. And it was glorious. Out of spite I also took his bow (some unique named bow) and shot his corpse full of arrows.

    Needless to say I considered dumping Lydia in that hellhole for the trouble she caused me (I also used up all my health potions in that fight... around 10 of them a mix of vigorous and plentiful) but brought her out of there anyway. Will give this whole NPC companion thing another try and maybe find one who doesn't look so retarded with a helmet. God I hate her.

    :x
     
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  14. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

    Self-Ejected
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    Stop badmouthing poor Lydia! :x

    Sure, she's pants-on-head retarded around traps. Sure, she gets a little too triggerhappy around bosses. Sure, she couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with that godawful hunting bow she insist on using instead of the nice elven bow I gave her. Sure, she mostly just steps into a power attack and goes into her kneeling animation.

    But she's saved my ass so many times at level 1-15. And she helps me carry so much shiny loot. She'll take a two-handed power attack to the face, block the stairs while I shoot arrows past her, haul 200 pounds of semi-worthless misc junk to town to satisfy my OCD when it comes to picking places clean of loot. And all she ever says? "I got your back! ;)"

    Don't listen to these plebs, Lydia. You're the bestest packmule slash meatshield I've ever conned into working for me for free.
    :love:
     
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  15. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Master is pretty satisfying a difficulty for the most part, though derpy AI still exists, so you can always jump on top of some rocks or, when your Sneak is 50+, sit and put sneak attack arrow one after the other as they look around. I don't know about companions as I don't use them - why would you? It's not like they have any personality, and they just get in your way, not to mention making things easier.

    Level 25 sneak/bow/illusion at the moment and dragons are easy, boring, stupid and annoying. I don't even bother looking when one starts attacking me, I just keep going my way until it loses interest. :roll: It's like a Super Mario 64 boss or something. As for difficult enemies - Giants are insane so I haven't really taken them on yet, as they can one-shot me, and cave/snow bears are a pain as well if I get surprised by them. I also have a lot of trouble with ice wraiths because I can't bloody see them.

    "Oh, this game sucks, I'm bored because I'm playing in the most boring gamey way possible." Congrats.

    On Master, if you're playing light armor and low health, even regular enemies can one-hit you with 2H power attacks. Some bandit outlaws/plunderers will also have elven/dwarven arrows that do a lot of damage. That makes things really interesting because sometimes you're storming a keep and ther'es not a single enemy that couldn't kill you if you turned your back on them.
     
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  16. Machocruz Arcane

    Machocruz
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    Is it worth wearing heavy armor on Master difficulty? Even on Adept, dragons are able to face in my direction at all times and bring me down to 3/4 inch of health with their breath attack, I can't maneuver around them. Should I bring a companion to distract? Use sprinting more?

    And I can forget about taking on Frost Trolls now. They take off huge chunks of health, and I can't back away quick enough to avoid them, I usually just have to high tail it.
     
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  17. halflingbarbarian Scholar

    halflingbarbarian
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    Armor type decisions probably depend on your play-style, but in general heavy armor seems to be the better of the 2 types since there are perks/birthsigns to negate all its drawbacks. And armor rating translates into percentile damage negation; with proper smithing (not cheesed above 100 and beyond) you can hit around 80% reduction at 500+ AR, including enchantments etc, which is the cap. It is much easier to get that with heavy armor than light armor, plus heavy armor perks give percentage increase to AR on already high base AR armor type which is great.

    Also, if you are going the melee route w/o sneak attack (1 shotting potential, as opposed to slugfests), I feel that block is definitely needed. Without block, I would not survive 90% of melee fights. Furthermore, block gives you interrupt/stagger ability, and deeper in the tree also disarm. The utility of those cannot be overstated. And there is a block perk that decreases elemental damage, which is invaluable against dragon breaths.

    I can deal with giants/mammoths/dual-wielders etc. now, for the record, since going from 1 shotiness to 2-3 shot endurance due to gear improvement and health increase makes those fights much much much more manageable. At lower levels archers and projectile mages weren't the biggest dangers for me, since they rarely deal enough instantaneous damage. But now at around level 30 they are the ones consistently killing me when I get careless and ignore them. And dragons are still a big problem all around.
     
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  18. Mangoose Arcane Patron

    Mangoose
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    Potion of Resist [Element of Breath Attack]
     
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  19. Machocruz Arcane

    Machocruz
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    Thanks for the tips.

    I'm using an Imperial, specializing in One Hand, Restoration, Destruction, and Heavy Armor. I usually open up with a bolt spell, than equip shield when they come close. Haven't even touched Enchanting yet,was too lazy to go out soul hunting.

    Also using a Khajit/archery/dual wield/light armor, and he has a much easier time, with everything.
     
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  20. Machocruz Arcane

    Machocruz
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    Thanks for the tips.

    I'm using an Imperial (lvl13) specializing in One Hand, Restoration, Destruction, and Heavy Armor. I usually open up with a bolt spell, than equip shield when they come close. Human, even guards, pose no real threat, but frost trolls are a bitch. Even dragons go down prettyfast if I can avoid the breath attack taking me down.

    Also using a Khajit/archery/dual wield/light armor, and he has a much easier time, with everything.
     
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  21. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    I agree that you really have 2 routes in melee - high sneak (get the perk then Brotherhood gloves = 30x), which can also combine with Paralysis powers / potions so you can keep on sneakattackin' them (think of it as a TES Coup de Grace); otherwise, get some heavy armour and block and march in there.

    Enchanting has a very useful perk for a small amount of automatic recharging of weapons that I'm going for. I think enchanting's a must for most characters - compared to Morrowind it's a lot easier to get soul gems and there are various methods of soul trapping.
     
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  22. halflingbarbarian Scholar

    halflingbarbarian
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    Btw, did any of you find any reliable source regarding the exact numerical differences between difficulty levels? I am very curious about it after stepping into a bloody 50 damage (on UESP wiki spell description) Frost Rune and getting KO'ed instantly.
     
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  23. JrK Prophet

    JrK
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    And once you get the Black Star (Azura's Star) you can trap NPC souls which are equivalent to GRAND souls. See that low level bandit? He's worth a grand soul! Why would anyone pick Azura's Star over Black Star...
     
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  24. The Wizard Educated

    The Wizard
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    problem is: that is all you can do as a mage if you do not want to grind the shit out of illusion and sneak. what, should i summon something and then run towards my onehit death, with 8dps flamethrower in hand? or maybe stand around like an idiot catching arrows with my head?
     
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  25. Mastermind Cognito Elite Material Patron Bethestard

    Mastermind
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    You can just buy filled soul gems for enchanting, so the star is mainly there for weapon refill. Which star is useful depends on whether you're facing NPCs or monsters/undead when your weapon runs out of juice. Not a big deal either way.
     
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