Initial Thoughts: My first 20 hours of Enderal

Well, this is a nice change, isn’t it? I’ve been wanting to write a thoughts/review of this exceptional total conversion mod for a while, so here it is. Everybody knows how much I love The Elder Scrolls, and Skyrim is amazing for a reason…..MODS! MODS MODS….sorry. I got carried away. I’ve been playing a lot of games again lately. MGSV, Witcher 3, Technomancer, No Man’s Sky, Deus Ex, it’s a pretty big list, but this one is a rather impressive endeavour; Enderal.

SureAI have been making this mod for a long time, ever since Skyrim released back in November 2011. They have been responsible for making other total conversions such as Nehrim for Oblivion, and the lesser known Arktwend for Morrowind, which I’ll be trying out soon. I’ve already played Nehrim, and found it very solid.

Big mods for Skyrim are rare. They usually come out through heavy-release delays or are just cut-back. I do appreciate anybody who tries to make one, but it is disappointing to be met with constant big, ambitious projects being pushed back for years or discontinued, like Beyond Skyrim, Skywind and lately the Rise of Mannimaro. (This got nuked literally a week before it’s projected release date. 4 months on, and no word. Guys, DO NOT give release dates if you cannot back it up, people will get pissed off!) So it was a great surprise to see Enderal not only get released, but it’s getting regularly patched. Of course, I made a separate Skyrim folder, installed Enderal through it’s nifty little installer package which updates it for you, and began playing. And….it’s rather impressive. What I’m going to do is list off some basic bullet points, and go into detail.

It is much prettier then normal Skyrim, but ordinary if you’re used to ENBs. 

 

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This was the first thing which caught my eye. The game is gorgeous. Obviously, if Skyrim fans out there use image-enhancing shit like ENBs, then this won’t look much different. But to people like me, this was a nice change. It really pushes the engine to its limit, and it really does look exceptional at times. There is a couple of problems I found with moving while looking at water (some odd flickering and glare) but overall it looks great.

Onto a similar topic, while the game is certainly similar to Skyrim we’re used to with very recognisable mechanics, a lot of stuff is different. There is a completely new levelling system regarding talents and perks, an experience system which grants you points when you do pretty much anything, fast travel has been replaced by large, rather cool looking animals which can take you to waypoints for 25 pieces of gold each, and health-regeneration has also been removed. You need to either use potions of healing spells (which increase your magical fever, a new addition which raises whenever you use such magic and kills you when it hits 100%, so use it sparingly!) or eating food. It has rather a lot of depth, and the first ten or so hours for me have been refreshing. It still has clunkiness of Skyrim however, so you may be a bit turned off early one.

It’s not the same size of Skyrim, but still a lot of content for a mod.

 

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It’s still a pretty big landmass, at least the size of two-three Skyrim holds. To be fair, Skyrim was a pretty small game in terms of size, but Enderal feels alive and heavy with content. I went on a rather dangerous jaunt exploring the centre and east of Enderal, probably discovered barely half of all the known locations and still got a long way to go. For a mod, this is incredible work. It’s not as large size-wise as the likes of Nehrim, but it’s at least the size of the Dragonborn DLC, and probably larger. There is a hell of a lot to do, throughout. I will give you guys one tip….don’t rush the main quest. A little spoiler, the game ends when you finish the main quest, so take your time to explore and do as much as possible in the conversion before you take up the final few quests. You’ll know which one I mean.

 

The Voice acting is excellent.

 

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Voice acting is so important for a mod. If it’s poor, people will judge it negatively no matter how good everything else is. There are excellent Skyrim mods let down by poor voice acting. Enderal overall has some damn good voice acting, easily on par with the original game and outstrips it on many levels. Of course, they don’t have too many different ones, so you’ll find the lines repetitive after a while. This isn’t too big of a problem because it’s the same in any game, but there is rather a lot of depth even in the voice-acting. Pretty much everything is now translated into perfect English now, which must have been hard to do. Good job overall, I’ve found very few voices I hate (except a certain kid in the game who has a REALLY annoying voice.)

 

Enderal is rather Linear, but elements of Skyrim’s open world remain. 

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This little fact may turn off some players. The game is pretty heavily scripted at least early on. There isn’t much you can do off the beaten path for at least 5-6 hours, but you are able to explore different points as you go. This isn’t too much of a problem for me, because sometimes games can be rather too open. Even so, the first couple of hours really do keep you locked to a ball and chain, and it does force you to play the main quest at least for a little bit in order to really set the ball rolling. Travelling to the main and vast capital city of Ark is where the game really begins, and it can take a while to get there. The first few hours does feel like an extended tutorial with no other way to go.

The game is also linear in terms of difficulty. There are many areas and quests which just aren’t accessible to you early on, so you may have to potter around and find some easier things to do in order to survive. The game isn’t levelled like Skyrim and Oblivion was, so there will be parts which you have to avoid or run away from. Even normal bandits are hard to kill sometimes. A lot of the side-quests/places are just bandit camps, but there is a lot of shit to kill and loot. Don’t let the linearity of this game fool you though. Even in it, there is a lot of open-world elements. It is just a bit harder to get into then gen5 Elder Scrolls, that’s all. Don’t expect to go in expecting to kill everything and everyone with just a knife.

 

Final thoughts. 

So far, I’m really enjoying Enderal. The game is difficult, it’s solid, I’m having fun even after 20+ hours of playing the game and feel there is a lot of stuff for me to do. It is clear that there is still a couple of performance issues (I lag quite a lot in some areas and there is still some crashes, but that’s Skyrim engine for you!). There is also evidence of unfinished/buggy parts of the game, some stuff seems to be missing in the world, but the devs do plan on releasing more content fo the game over time. You’ll easily get 40-50 hours of content at least playing this though, and I’m happy to keep playing it to explore more. Overall, this gets a 9 out of 10 for me currently. I may write a full review when I finish the full game.

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