Forums » Elder Scrolls

Dungeon Puzzles

    • 77 posts
    May 25, 2014 4:37 PM EDT

    It's a general consensus that the nordic animal puzzles in Skyrim were a bit lacking. I appreciated the animals corresponding to the animalistic Nede interpretations of the 9 divines, but that didn't save the puzzles from monotony.

    The question I have come to pose is would Zelda-style dungeon puzzles improve dungeons in future TES games. That is, puzzles based on physical objects in the environment; pushing objects to allow water to flow, burning cloth to allow light to shine on mechanisms, and burning overgrown areas to open a way forward. Obviously not every dungeon needs puzzles, as was done in Skyrim. I think having some recurring elements, like torches to burn wood and attacks to push objects in physics puzzles would be neat. If such a system were implemented these kind of objects would need to be left near puzzles to allow their completion to free-roaming players. That would allow these puzzles without compromising TES' trademark freedom. So, yeah, thoughts?

    • 163 posts
    May 25, 2014 4:57 PM EDT
    I would love that, the puzzles in the LoZ were half the reason I followed the game series so enthusiastically. There could be fake paths which would spawn enemies, unleash trap, or even just plain out warp you back to the start. There could even be multiple ways to complete said puzzles. Only snag may be this generations short attention span, hardly anyone I know would willingly sit down to do something like that, and games do tend to be tailored to general opinion.
    • 1217 posts
    May 25, 2014 5:06 PM EDT

    Not puzzles so obvious as pushing blocks on the floor, but yes, I do think some more puzzle-y dungeons would really improve the TES dungeon crawling. Totem turning is only interesting for so long. I really liked, for example, the puzzles left by the Masons in ACIII that unlocked the fast travel network. They were often in the form of riddles, which were really underused in Skyrim. Those times they were made the dungeons so much better.

    • 1483 posts
    May 25, 2014 5:22 PM EDT

    I like this idea! I would have preferred more element based puzzles, like directing a water flow, emptying a room from water using a pump station, using weight balance to open passages, using reflections to direct sunlight etc. The most recent Tomb Raider had those elements and while the puzzles were easy, those things really added to the feeling that you interact with the environment and you are the first one in that dungeon for a long time. And the dungeons should be less linear, some secret passages would be nice! It would also be great if they punish you for fighting with Fireballs in an ancient crypt, something like cave-ins blocking your path and forcing you to seek other routes...

    • 163 posts
    May 25, 2014 5:32 PM EDT
    Interactable environments, another thing I wish to see in the next game.
    • 77 posts
    May 25, 2014 10:44 PM EDT

    I liked the touch where, if you took a fire spell or torch out in certain areas of mines the room would explode in flame. You could see a slight distortion in the air betraying the gas in the passage. Firing a fire bolt into the area from a distance would burn it safely.

    That kind of environmental interaction really draws you in and involves you in the world. Instead of just running and gunning like one would in a boorish MMO world this forces the player to stop and think cautiously. You can even strategically lead enemies into the gas leak and then roast them.

    I really enjoyed finding the secret treasure caches in dungeons. Some, like in Ustengrav and Reachcliff cave, required Dovahkiins to use the whirlwind sprint shout to cross gaps. Certain universal powers would be interesting skills to use in puzzles.

    Generally speaking intractable environments just liven up the world and more directly translate all the work put into level design into gameplay.

    • 77 posts
    May 25, 2014 11:19 PM EDT

    I'm fine with using logic to solve puzzles, but I prefer to keep things grounded in universal laws of physics. Fire heats water, produces steam, and burns wood are instantly understandable and universal to anyone over the age of 3. Grounding a puzzle's logic in this way allows everyone to have an innate understanding of the mechanics, as tutorials are the last thing I want when entering an ancient ruin.

    Zelda's puzzles aren't easy so much as they just make sense in this universal way. Sure, you can breeze through them, but I'd take Zelda dungeons over a 'what number am I thinking of' puzzle any day. After a puzzles gets too cerebral, forcing you to memorize number codes and such, it becomes less like fun gameplay and more like an equation, you know, the kind people are paid to do.

    Having 'harder', or less innate puzzles in this way also can get players stuck, disrupting the flow of gameplay. Nowadays this results in players breaking their immersion to look up guides just to progress. Besides all that, everyone hates the feeling of being lost and not knowing what to do. After a while of this, my brain, at least, just gives up and even obvious puzzle elements go overlooked. This would really ruin the flow of exploring a world and ruin for me. The first three times I went through Saarthal I had to look up the bloody animal puzzles. Needless to say it was never fun for me.

    Monument Valley on iOS is a good example of a puzzle game that strikes the right balance between cerebral and innate, proving abstract geometry-based puzzles that could be instantly understood by everyone. Some thought that game was too 'easy', but in fact it just did a good job of preventing players from getting stuck and being fun to play.

    I'm no great fan of block pushing or switch-stepping puzzles, but interactions like cutting ropes with arrows, melting ice with various fires, and using gusts to move objects into place are the kind I play games for. One set piece in particular strikes me, in Wind Waker (SPOILERS:) you find an island with a stopped windmill. To reactivate it you have to step on a switch while changing the direction of the wind to blow into the windmill to start it turning. You can then ride the ferris wheel carts on its blades up to the top of the lighthouse it's attached to and use a flaming arrow to set it alight. At night the newly-relit lighthouse reveals a treasure chest for looting.

    That kind of layered puzzle would make for THE BEST TES dungeons and it could be done realistically (for Tamriel) with fire spells, switches, and wind magic.

    Again, I'm not suggesting TES copy Zelda whole-sail (Wind Waker puns), but rather learn from it's more innate and elaborate elements.

    • 77 posts
    May 25, 2014 11:22 PM EDT

    That one was definitely cool, it was in Volsung's dungeon if I remember correctly. The biggest factor with involving dungeon puzzles, I think, is inventive thought and unique attention being paid to that particular area. I would rather have one dungeon with a layered, set-piece puzzle and 9 with no puzzles at all than 10 dungeons with the typical and uninspired match-the-animal puzzles (your example being the exception).