Ok, so I've been playing a lot of Nehrim these past two days in order to
check out the new updates and features.
This review is for all the updates that occured between English patch
188.8.131.52, when I played through the entire game, and the current update, Version
184.108.40.206. So let's dive right in:
English patches 220.127.116.11 –> 18.104.22.168 review
It's a big world... And this is only part of it.
The new content added during these updates can be broken down into three
parts: Zerobilion, Bounty Quests, and the Ostian Arena. Let's begin with
While Zerobilion was already the end point of a long quest line, SureAI
decided to add another series of quests that appear once you reach the top of
the tower. I actually stopped playing Nehrim just before I reached the top of
Zerobilion, so I definitely got a taste of some great environmental puzzles and
combat. Perhaps the coolest thing about Zerobilion is that it's filled with
tons of mines that you can pick up and use. Remember those annoying little
annoying fire mines you would find in Oblivion, the ones that would do a ton of
fire damage if you set them off? Well, now you get to use them yourself. You
heard that right, you actually get to use the little annoying fire mines. This
innovative idea is just another way that SureAI successfully squeezes Oblivion
of all its untapped fun juice, blends it up, and then serves it for free across
Fire Mines to collect
Anyways, towards the top of Zerobilion, I got trapped in a room filled with
poisonous gas and a pack of ghouls. I managed to kill all of the latter, which
allowed me to escape the former, and I ascended to the final room of the tower.
I entered the final chamber where I dueled and defeated a proficient mage lord.
Obstacles to the top
With this victory in mind, I looted the room and then went outside to the very
top of the tower to survey the impressive view of my new domain.
A view to the north
To the south
re-entered the room and entered a gaping portal to a fiery dimension.
A sneak preview of Portal 3
With this epic setup in mind, picture yourself entering a room with plenty
of metallic pods that contained portals to other worlds, albeit with only two
of them functioning. This is where the new content begins. I entered the first
one, and was treated to the sight of numerous bodies of Star People surrounding
one of their ships.
The Interior of a Star People's ship
I picked up a note on the ground, and my quest log popped
up to summarize the entire Zerobilion Update for me:
Cool notes to read
It’s a tower defense game. Get this: a tower defense game in the Mod of the
Year 2010 made from the Game of the Year 2006. All I could do was laugh and
marvel at SureAI's craziness. SureAI hadn't disappointed me before, so I decided
to give it a go. The first thing I discovered about this tower defense game was
that it was made for hardcore tower defense players.
Tower defense game of the year!
The game didn't give me much time to prepare for the first wave, as I only
had two minutes to collect five orbs spread out around the island and use them
to build towers on pre-made pedestals that were placed at certain points along
the monsters’ walking path. Before I knew it, the Oblivion gate opened, and
some very, very weird, elongated creatures marched out slowly. I don't know
where SureAI got their skins from, but the monsters felt very HP Lovecraft to
ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
I actually found the tower defense game to be pretty interesting and
nailbiting, if a little basic, and I won pretty handily. Thankfully, there was
more to it than that; that was only a tutorial, so I collected some fine loot
and headed back to Zerobilion, where I took the second portal to a different
defense game. Here, the tower defense game was significantly more complex and
large. It used more tower locations, a much longer path, interesting tower
upgrades, and offered three difficulty levels. I played the easiest difficulty
level, and enjoyed myself plenty. SureAI made rushing around the large map easy
thanks to a convenient portal system. The only real complaint I had was that
the monsters moved a bit too slowly at times for my tastes, so the game
occasionally dragged. In short, I enjoyed myself, enough to give the hard mode
a runthrough when I have the time, but I wouldn't call it the most fun I've
ever had. Things could get a little
tedious at times, but not so much as to ruin the experience. I just gotta give
credit to SureAI for giving this cool idea a try and actually making it work.
Zerobilion Final Verdict: 8/10
And now, let's tackle the expanded Bounty Quests
In 22.214.171.124, there were about five bounty quests that you could pick up by
reading wanted posters scattered throughout the game, and then being given a
target and a small bounty for killing that target. These were all very
interesting and thematic quests, and so SureAI added another five quests to the
lineup. I noticed that SureAI used the bounty quests to tie up loose ends
throughout the world. For example, SureAI placed the quest targets in
previously unenterable buildings, and also began tying the bounty targets
together, kinda like how Irrational did it with SWAT 4 in the Stetchkov
Syndicate. Except not really. The Bounty Quests still don’t have much of a
narrative structure, but they’re great spice added to the rest of the game.
Even played entirely in a row, they failed to become monotonous and I enjoyed
them thoroughly. I also really enjoyed getting to revisit the different areas
of Nehrim; It was kinda like a reunion tour for me.
Almost impossible to kill
One thing I noticed while doing these bounty quests was that Nehrim’s skill
advancement system, while designed to perfectly match the difficulty of the
game, exponentially outgrows the standard difficulty once you’ve explored every
zone and thus completed the main quest. Well, thank goodness that the
difficulty slider, used in Oblivion to directly affect that game’s difficulty,
allows you to fully customize your gameplay difficulty in Nehrim to a
pitch-perfect degree. I took advantage of this massive flexibility by cranking
up the difficulty slider to 100 for the bounty quests, which made them,
particularly the last one, fairly challenging. Still, I don’t think that
someone playing through the current version of the game and completing these
bounty quests at the pace they are supposed to would need to tweak the
difficulty slide in the least.
It's a trap!
As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed the bounty quests, and found them to be up
to par with the rest of the game. I also found the easter eggs here to be on
par with the rest of the easter eggs present within the rest of the game.
It's the little things in life...
Bounty Quests Final Verdict: 10/10
Gruesome and dark
And now, it's back to the Southlands for The Arena.
Suck it, James Cameron!
Better than Oblivion's arena
The third main section of the
updates is the arena, located in Ostian. The one thing that can be said about
the arena in Nehrim compared to the arena in Oblivion is that the one is Nehrim
is longer and better. The immediate thing you’ll notice about the Ostian arena
is that it actually put thought into its level design. You can run up narrow
planks if you want to be able to fight in a narrow space and knock your
opponent off, or trigger some tricksy traps that will thoroughly damage your
opponent. There spikes protruding from the base of this scaffolding, spikes
that you may be able to knock your opponents into for an insta-kill, or that
you may run into if you’re not looking for an insta-death. The second thing
you’ll notice is the enemy variety. There are so many fights in the arena;
there have to be at least twenty, and all of them are long and gory. One thing
that the arena occasionally does to you after you’ve vanquished your main
opponent is drop additional fighters sitting in cages suspended above the arena
to finish you off in your weakened state. The game doesn’t even tell you it’s
doing this; you have to figure out where they’re coming from and how to
anticipate them. In many ways, it’s more like just a second wave of enemies
mixed into a single fight, but it certainly adds both a sense of desperation
and a cool factor to the battles.
Expect an axe in the back
I get the feeling that, had I played through
the arena battles while I was in Ostian for the main quest, I would have
enjoyed them as a way of getting better immersed in the city when I didn’t feel
like doing the main quest itself. But I still thought it was some great fun!
And a mutt at your side
Arena Final Verdict: 10/10
Three cheers for Tacky
that’s not all! There are some new locations and loose ends that get
tied up. For instance, you do finally get some bloody closure to your childhood
story, as well as a quest involving aquatic vehicles- pretty awesome, to
say the least. But the main improvement in these updates has to be technical
Your childhood quest, resolved
Crashes are gone! That’s right, no
more crashing to desktop whatsoever. This tweak just makes the experience a
little bit more professional and enjoyable. What’s also noticeable is that the
optimization, while not incredible, is slightly improved. While I did have to
curtail my draw distances to regular levels, they tended to be a lot more
fluid. I’m really surprised SureAI managed to do as much coding clean-up as
they actually did.
...no longer of crashes to Desktop
Something else of note is how well
they cleaned up and streamlined their launcher. Now it’s a lot easier to get
updates, add sub-mods, and tweak your preferences for the game. It simply
increases Nehrim’s accessibility and ease-of-use.
SureAI's technical team lead
Something for those of you who own
Oblivion on Steam: if you want to play Nehrim, you can’t install a new Oblivion
file; you’re going to have to overwrite the Oblivion folder, meaning that you
can’t easily change back and forth between both games. Nehrim is kinda meant to
be played after Oblivion, so get all the Oblivion out of you while you can
before diving into the world of Nehrim.
Get it? Diving?
In all, I found the updates to grant
me about five extra hours of game time, bringing the total amount to fifty hours of gameplay. Vanilla
Oblivion was sixty. That makes Nehrim slightly smaller than vanilla Oblivion,
and twice the size of all the Oblivion DLC and expansions.
I’m really glad that SureAI managed
to enhance this experience by expanding their excellent side quests, filling
out their world, and just generally adding more awesome to what’s already
there. Nehrim exemplifies a bunch of cool ideas that really should and could
have been implemented in Oblivion had Bethesda gone to the trouble to hire more
level designers and not just relied on algorithms to make their game for them. These
updates really do make me excited for what Bethesda’s huge team can do with all
the cool stuff that’s coming with Skyrim.
Hope for more Nehrim updates in the
future, and if you own Oblivion for the PC and haven’t yet played Nehrim, what
are you waiting for?
Look forward, to Skyrim and the next chapter of Nehrim: Fate's Edge!