The Elder Scrolls

(EEMC) Hyac’s Mod List: Entry 4, Civil War Enhancement

Content of the article: "(EEMC) Hyac’s Mod List: Entry 4, Civil War Enhancement"

(EEMC) Hyac's Mod List: Entry 4, Civil War Enhancement


Reviewer's Specs: i5-4460 @ 3.2GHz | Radeon R9 280 w/ 3GB VRAM | 8GB of DDR3 RAM | Logitech G602 & MK320


Previous Entries: 1: Vanilla Quest Enhancements | 2: NPC Appearance Mods | 3: Combat & Enemy NPCs


Introduction

The last couple entries in this series got away from me. I tried to keep them entertaining, but in the end I think they were both far too long. I made an effort with this one to try and contain myself a little better.

The Stormcloak Rebellion is one of Skyrim's most important story elements. It portents the dusk of the Septim Empire which has stood for over 600 years, it's pivotal to the prophecy of the Last Dragonborn, and ending it — one way or the other — and stopping the torrent of souls into Sovngarde is supposed to be a key factor in averting Alduin's return to power.

… but actually fighting the war is boring as shit.

There's lots of content left in the game files that suggests that Skyrim's civil war was meant to be a lot more engaging than what we were left with by the time 11.11.11dots rolled around. We got to see a large amount of that content thanks to the Civil War Overhaul, which we can now experience on Special Edition thanks to the Civil War Overhaul Redux.

But for a long time, the Civil War Overhaul wasn't available for SSE. In that time, many other mods cropped up to fill the void. I haven't had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the Redux yet, but from what I have seen it doesn't seem to be all that different from the original. Now don't get me wrong, CWO is a great mod. ApolloDown achieved something many thought impossible, and schofida has done a spectacular job modernising it. But at the same time, I spent several weeks and multiple false-start playthroughs building this suite and have found the result to be more stable, performance friendly, and without some of CWO's more bothersome mechanics (looking at you, EGGS BENEDICT ARNOLD).

All of these mods are fully inter-compatible, and IMO do a really good job of making the civil war feel more like how I have to imagine Bethesda wanted it to play without some of the more advanced and sometimes problematic features that come with CWO.


War… War Never Changes

Open Civil War is the heart and soul of this list, and has the most drastic impact on the way the war plays out.

  • My favourite feature of the mod is the re-implementation of proper sieges for Riften and Markarth. They're fortified cities, and now you have to treat them like it by assaulting them properly — break through the barricades, fight your way through the city to the Jarl's keep, and force the Jarl to surrender.

  • I always thought it was silly that the city of Dawnstar would surrender if they lost Fort Dunstad, or that the Jarl or Falkreath would yield the hold after a prison-break at Fort Neugrad. Now you actually have to fight for the capital city before you can claim the hold.

  • As you wander around Skyrim, the war continues without you. Holds your side controls will be attacked by the enemy, forcing you to return and defend them. If you don't make it back in time, then it's possible for the battle to be lost and the hold to fall into the hands of the enemy. And there's always the danger that you will lose a battle even if you make it there in time, simply because the enemy overwhelms you.

  • There's also a strategy-game style way of interacting with the war, but I've not messed with that part much myself.

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Warzones is a mod with a storied past, to say the least. The Oldrim version was notoriously unstable and outright dangerous simply because it was too ambitious a mod for the Legendary Edition's poor 32-bit game engine to handle. But Special Edition's engine improvements combined with more advanced modding tools allowed for a very cool mod that makes fighting the civil war a much more white-knuckle, in-the-thick-of-it kind of experience. There are now dozens of new "warzones" scattered across the province. These are similar to the game's own encounter zones in that when you enter a zone there's a chance of any number of different events happening — except every possible event is some form of battle. There are lots of different kinds of battle, and some of them get pretty hairy.

If Warzones just isn't intense enough for you, then maybe you'll appreciate the self-described "DLC sized" add-on for it called Assault Attack. I haven't tried this one yet myself, but by the looks of things it would combine with Warzones and the rest of this list to make it very difficult to do anything else in Skyrim but fight in the civil war.

If Warzones seems a little too intense for you, then Immersive Patrols might be the mod for you (of course, there's nothing stopping you from using it with Warzones either). It adds smaller skirmishes at predetermined points across the map consisting of groups typically no larger than ~20 NPCs, as well as has faction patrols of 4 to 6 NPCs roaming the province that will fight if they encounter each other. It doesn't just do Imperials and Stormcloaks, either, but also adds faction-aware patrols for the Thalmor and for the Dawnguard. You'll also occassionally run into travelling merchants and their bodyguards., which can be a real help for the overburdened adventurer-on-the-go.

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Diverse Skyrim improves the variety of race, gender, and appearance of many kinds of nameless NPCs, both sides of the civil war included. You'll see more Orcs and Dark Elves in the ranks of the Legion, and there'll be a number of fresh faces amongst the Stormcloaks as well — no more platoons made up of triplets and quadruplets serving together!

Better Civil War Guards changes the equipment used by the soldiers that take the place of guards when you take a city. Now they'll continue wearing the local guard armour and helmets, but continue using their faction gloves, boots, and weapons.

Civil War Aftermath removes the "essential" flag from the leaders of enemy faction camps, and allows you to set the camp itself on fire. Doing both actually removes the camp from the map entirely, and it will eventually be replaced by things like stockades, gallows, and prison cells from your own faction.

After the Civil War gives you a small "quest" following the end of the war which lets you contribute to reconstruction efforts for Whiterun and Windhelm/Solitude. Within a few weeks, all damage will be repaired and life in the city will begin to return to normal.

Stormlord Armor and Hevno Dovah is a great addition, and while the same armor is also included in Immersive Armors, I much prefer this mod's implementation. It also implements a new weapon, an enchanted hammer inspired by EnaiSaion's Summermyst. I use the version that gives Ulfric the armour and Galmar the weapon, but there are other variants available that don't prevent you from acquiring Ulfric's unique vanilla outfit if that's something that concerns you.

In the same vein you could also look at Royal Armory to give unique weapons to several characters throughout the game: Ulfric, Tulius, and their lieutenants are among them, but so are Maven Black-Briar, Savos Aren, and Isran of the Dawnguard.

FranklyFamily's textures for Imperial and Stormcloak equipment are above and beyond any other alternatives around, even if the Stormcloak one needs a quick pass through Cathedral Asset Optimizer before use in SSE. Frank's work is some of the best on the Nexus IMO, and I'm pretty sure I'm using almost all of his faction-related retextures.

Civil War Intro Scenes Happen Only Once does just want it says on the tin: the intro scenes between Ulfric and Galmar or Tulius and Rikke will happen only the first time you enter their respective locations, instead of every single time you visit the damned palace. This is a vital fix to my mind, and I can't fathom how Bethesda let the game ship with such a glaring and obnoxious issue.

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Summary

Performance

  • Warzones can be intensive on mid-range or lower machines thanks to the significant number of NPCs it tends to place at any single time. Even on higher end rigs, there are reports of the physics engine freaking out at the number of NPCs and sending random characters hovering into the air and dropping from great heights. If you're concerned about performance then I'd suggest using the much lighter Immersive Patrols instead.

Conflicts

  • Stormlord Armor and Royal Armory need to edit NPC records to do their thing, and will thus conflict with mods like AI Overhaul or any NPC appearance mod. If you're unfamiliar with how to patch these issues, I've written a brief-ish, novice-friendly guide to the process here.

Outroduction

I'm re-thinking how I want to continue the series going forward, and would genuinely appreciate some feedback from the community. Am I giving enough useful information about each mod? Am I rambling too much about things nobody cares to read about? Is it even worth continuing, or is there a different kind of content you'd rather read from the EEMC?

I have no feelings to hurt (seriously, the court-appointed therapist says it's a real problem), so please: let me know!

Skyrim belongs to the modders!

~ Hyac

Source: reddit.com

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