Skyrim - The Problem with the College of Winterhold


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In our latest Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim video we are talking about the problem with the college of winterhold.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth main installment in The Elder Scrolls series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 11, 2011.

The game's main story revolves around the player character and their quest to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. The videogame is set two hundred years after the events of Oblivion, and takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim. Over the course of the game, the player completes quests and develops the character by improving skills. The game continues the open world tradition of its predecessors by allowing the player to travel anywhere in the game world at any time, and to ignore or postpone the main storyline indefinitely.

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  • Ashbee Gaming

    I would have loved a quest revolving around the Great Collapse, what caused it and why 🤔 some kind of big conspiracy

  • Marvin Kitfox

    College of Winterhold's approach to handling new students:First day of classes: Hello new guy. Here, cast a shield while I try to roast you. You survived? Good! Now, the whole class is (individually) trekking across the Yeti-infested glacier, to explore an ancient tomb full of vengeful Draugr..Somehow I don't think the College is OSHA-certified.

  • Ramsey Dewey

    Skyrim somehow succeeded in making magic the LEAST interesting part of an Elder Scrolls game.

  • Quolley

    Everything in Skyrim moved too quickly. I feel like I do a few quests here and there and.... wait, I'm in the circle already??? You really trust me enough to do important thieves guild jobs after i acted tough to some shopkeepers? The sense of progression in TES V is completely fucked. It's way too fast.

  • Peter Badger

    First time I went to the College I went there with the intention of learning magic and improving my skills. About 6 missions later I was Archmage of the place despite only being able to cast apprentice level spells. I was like, "Really? I'm in charge? Already? I'm crap at magic though....that's why i came here in the first place......"

  • Gorveth

    My problem with all the Skyrim factions is how fast you rise through the ranks.

  • Nemerly o,O

    The lack of students is a big issue for me as well. But the thing that really irritated me about this storyline was the first time I played through: I was an archer/thief character and had no interest in Magic. I managed to get through the whole storyline without casting any spells stronger than the novice spells or using scrolls and staffs when needed. I was then given the title ArchMage with almost no magic training or proficiency. After that first playthrough, I installed the "Immersive College of Winterhold" mod and that made the college better. And at least you can decline to be ArchMage and pass the title on to Tolfdir.

  • Tiny Room Studio

    my gripes are:-- why is there no guard on the bridge after you arrive? are you the only person who needs possible keeping out?-- the college doesn't actually teach you (or anyone else) anything-- it's idiotic simple to become archmage and has nothing to do with actual ability with magic.

  • Chris Ramsey

    The college questline feels half finished because it IS half finished. Have you ever read the original plans online? The initial plan was to have the questline culminate in an ending which involved time travel, revealing that the Dragonborn his/herself was directly involved with the Great Collapse somehow, casing more light on Aren, Ancano and bringing the Psijic Order more into the game. Unfortunately, for Bethesda to make that all-mighty 11/11/11 release they had to make some cuts due to time constraints. The college got the short end of the stick, in my opinion. The College, the civil war, and several side quests were cut down. Personally, I would much rather have had a finished game than a cool sounding release date, but whatever.

  • Tanner McNeill

    Fun fact: The last generation of students from the college are almost all dead. You can find a lot of their corpses throughout Winterhold. One was killed by a bandit, in the journeyman's nook east of the city. Another one's charred corpse can be found on the coastline surrounded by fire, with a flame cloak spell on the ground in front of him, and so on.

  • Fabian Luis P

    Fun story about the ward spell: I finished the college with actual 0 investement in magic and that lesson was incredibly difficult because I had no magick potions on me. My ward upkeep time was like .5-1 seconds. I cast ward, he starts casting, my ward fizzles, he finishes the spell, I get hurt. After like 10 minutes I manage to block the spell and he immediately dismisses class instead of suggesting I go and learn god damn magic before trying to go to a magic college.

  • Mario Levesque

    For the Illusion Master Quest, They could've used the Dawnstar nightmare quest in an effort to reestablish the college reputation within Skyrim's population.

  • thunderstruk033

    A Psijic DLC would’ve been absolutely amazing.

  • Quiet Rage

    11:47 Are we not gonna address the half naked guy standing in the middle of a blizzard?

  • TheStigma

    The college of Winterhold is just shallow - that's it basically. It clearly didn't get the time and effort it needed to be special. It somewhat extends to some of the other guilds in Skyrim too, but COW was definitely the weakest overall.Aside from just the college itself (and it's questline) needing to be fleshed out you need a feeling of progression. A sense that you are climbing the ladder from a rookie who is just learning and doing basic tasks, up through the ranks and unlocking more privileges as you go.Start off in a shitty bunk-bed room with 3 other students of questionable quality to begin with and have to work at it to become a proper member. Also I think it may actually be better if they don't always end up making you the guild leader in the end. It's just so unbelievable that you would become the top authority in the sort of timescale we are playing in - especially since you will always be an adventurer primarily and not a school headmaster. As a headmaster there's really nothing for you to do to fill that role anyway, so it just break the illusion and makes you realize the college is shallow and static. It's more than good enough if you reach a high rank second only to the archmage that only one or two rivals hold.I think a great idea for any guild once you "complete it" is that the leader suggests you have learned what you can from this place and recommends you to practice your skills in the world to grow more. To facilitate this they will keep a lookout for interesting opportunities and relay this to you. This would essentially be a radiant quest type that dynamically points you towards questlines you haven't yet completee. The leader will tell you they have heard about something interesting - say a few lines about the rumor they heard and drop a hint or two as to the nature of it - and then send you on your way. Each guild-type could prioritize questlines that vaguely fit the theme although there's plently of room for overlap. The archmage might suggest exploring a dwemer ruin in the name of gaining knowledge, but the thief leader might suggest the same in the name of uncovering great treasures. I feel this is a very low-cost way to add more content as it only costs a bit more dialogue. Put a reasonable in-game time limit on it so it's clear you aren't really supposed to chain-perform these quests. Instead the intention is that each time you go home to your guild you will feel that it still has something new to offer rather than being just a static house with a couple of merchants from whom you have already bought everything that was interesting and unique.Write in some camaraderie and rivalry too for the classic "hogwarts" experience. Maybe some of the initial rookies you join the ranks of also manage to advance at a similar pace that you do. At least it would make it feel like something is changing and progressing, and those characters can easily be spun into sub-plots in various ways.All in all there's no shortage of thing you can do to make guilds awesome if you just put in the work for it - this one just felt rushed.

  • Chippy Pippy

    I felt like there were too many quests were you're the only one that can save the world from ending. Skyrim was like end of world fatigue.

  • GreenTea

    "Until Bethesda fires or relocates Emil Pagliarulo, do not expect quality storylines ever again"...

  • Luke Price

    Skyrim felt almost like a wasteland sometimes. Such a huge province but there's only like nine small villages. The "Cities" have like 50 people in them max.

  • Anthony Delfino

    The College is so under populated because Faralda won't let anyone come in to learn magic unless they already know how to use magic.

  • Crimsonfang

    The reality is that Oblivion did most things better, except gain popularity. The Dark Brotherhood line was way better. Loved all the assassination missions with unique ways of killing people. The multiple times I went "what the fuck?!" from the twists was also great. The arena was awesome too and always the first thing I did. The ability to craft your own spells. The thieves guild line was better as well, especially once you got Nocturnal's cowl and could just rack up a 50k bounty and get off scott free. The only thing Skyrim did better was the crafting system, which by all accounts, was massively overpowered. So even that should have been revised.

  • Niobesnuppa

    The College of Winterhold was a massive disappointment for me. When I first started, and I got my own dorm and the lesson, and then a field trip, I was like "Awesome! This is almost like Hogwarts, I wonder what other lessons there will be", but then there's never another lesson again. Maybe it's because I grew up playing the Harry Potter PC games, but I was honestly hoping there would be lessons for each school of magic, lessons where you would have objectives to finish and spells to complete. Basically at the start of the quest, it feels like you're actually a student at a magic school, but after completing the Saarthal quest, that feeling disappears and you just end up doing what you would've been doing anyway; killing evil mages and stealing their stuff. The Immersive College of Winterhold mod halfway fixes this since it adds magic practice sessions with the teachers every morning, but I wish it did more. I wish there were actual lessons where the teachers would tell you stuff and make you use different spells to complete objectives in the classroom and whatnot.The whole Eye of Magnus thing also felt really contrived and unnecessary, in my opinion, I really don't think the college questline needed something big and world-ending, and it felt really out of place for the teachers to ask a student to fix it. You're treated more like a mercenary than a student. Also, the whole "You're super special and we've chosen you to be the headmaster even though you've studied magic for 2 days" thing is beyond stupid.

  • Joe Nesvick

    I thought the bard college is worse myself. No achievements. Basically one main quest and three fetch quests. Unless you have mods, no instrument playing. On the bright side, it can be done quicklySkyrim For Pimps Season 2 had a great arch mage task for the collage of Winterhold, cleaning the toilets (really that Out of Balance focal points quest). I’d ditch them all and marry Ysolda too.

  • The Destroyer

    I have jazargo as a follower he is a savage.

  • Tsundere Husbando

    I know I'm commenting in 2018... But this video should just be called "WTF Bethesda?!!? Oblivion has WAY better magic than Skyrim". This could have all been summed up to 10min. Not 25. I still give you a like.

  • Desphinx

    So, I went back and started playing Skyrim a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to see how it held up now that I've experienced games like Dark Souls and Witcher. Here are my thoughts.Pros: The game is still tons of fun and a great time killer. The game has this sense of openness that no other game I've played has, you can marry, cut wood, be a vampire etc, even if the game does these things in flawed ways, other open world games don't do this often. Until another game comes through that has Skyrim's level of production and does this as well, I will keep coming back to Skyrim to play this way. Not only that, however, Skyrim's magic system did make me feel like a badass mage whereas Dark Souls magic system feels like you're a complete novice even when you've maxed out INT, because there's no difference between a lot of its spells.Cons: The writing is INSULTINGLY lazy in 95% of the game's quests (non dlc, non mod). Oblivion has one of my favorite questlines EVER, in the Thieve's Guild questline, and one of my favorite individual quests ever, in the Whodunit? quest. Base game, Skyrim has NOTHING that lives up to that. The best questline in Skyrim's main game is (to me) the Dark Brotherhood, which is just meh. Not only that, however, the game crashed on me SEVERAL times (without the mods fixes). In 2018!!!! That is unacceptable.And also, minor problems plague the combat, such as shields being useless and things like that. Without mods, the game is a solid 7/10 for me, as long as gameplay isn't the focus for you, like it is in a game like Dark Souls, and you focus more on exploration and character building. WITH mods, the game is a 10/10. The modding community has basically fixed all of my major issues with the game, and ENBs make this game one of the most beautiful games I've ever played.

  • Jesse Lapham

    More or less agree with everything you said. One thing I will say though, is that as an Elder Scrolls outsider at the time (Skyrim was the first game I played in the series), I was so awestruck by the freedom of the game that a vast majority of it blew me away. The mage quests included. Learning new spells, the feel of being in some sort of university as a student, the wonder of strange ideas, characters, creatures and locations, the lore (as with any other questline in Skyrim), as well as the fact that you could become Arch Mage at the end all were very enjoyable features. For the most part, I enjoy it how it is, but the thing that stood out the most to me was the lack of students. I understand there was a lot of social stigma around the college because of the Great Collapse and such, but Skyrim is such a diverse world of its own, and with how common magic - and the people that use it - is, you'd think there'd be more aspiring mages looking to study there. You could argue that with the war and the dragons there were bigger things to worry about and most people were conscripted as soldiers, but something along these lines is never explored.The mage questline and related characters were great, just wish they were fleshed out more. Feels like some things were rushed, skipped over or not fully explored.

  • Filthee Mudblood

    Honestly the master quests could have been multiple quest lines concerning the different elements of each school of magic. Restoration? Start by going and curing some sick people, eventually work your way up to helping entire parties escape dungeons for pay. Illusion? I mean that's ONE good quest, but there could definitely be many more.The college of winterhold just kinda felt slapped together in a rush and it was upsetting because I was looking forward to my mage build in 2012.

  • Mr. Bubbles

    A cool idea is when you finish the original quest line tolfdir is made Archmage, then you are given quests to learn new spells only available to this quest line, maybe fight dragon priests and you eventually become a teacher of whatever school you have shown mastery in, or maybe you could be a jack of all trades teacher. Asa teacher you may be called back to the college if you have no urgent quests going, this letter could be asking you on deadly serious missions or maybe someone’s sweet roll was stolen. Also maybe as a teacher with your newfound influence students will seek you out as you adventure and will ask if they can join the college. Maybe you can dual them and decide if they are worthy, or if they say they are leaning restoration you can ask to see a spell of there’s. Maybe you could do a dungeon with them or create a problem they have to fix, like you start a battle with rage spells and they fix it with calm spells. Maybe you can still become Archmage by somehow killing the current Archmage in a story quest where you are given multiple chances to kill them in which it looks like an accident. And if you do the Archmage could come back as you progress through a different quest line where you become more and more corrupt, leading up to a final moment where you somehow find the eye of Magnus and choose to kill the Archmage as he catches up to and use the Eye to erase everyone’s memory of the incident or maybe spare the Archmage, in a final moment of redemption for your character as both you and the Archmage destroy the Eye of Magnus together knowing full well the corrupting powers of such an object because you just had an experience with it, and then leave the room never to show your face in the college again. These are just some unorganized ideas for the college that I basically came up with on the spot, do any of you think they are any good?

  • Constant Rage

    Bethesda is lazy. I wish Skyrim was done by Obsidian. In another life.

  • Bite Me

    Magic is for milk drinkin pussies a sword and sheild is all a real man needs

  • Jebradiah Drake

    My biggest problem with the College is the confusing structure of the building itself and how I have to spend 15 minutes looking around all the dorms and others rooms to find the one NPC I'm looking for if they aren't connected to a quest. And that happens a lot. Every time I am ready to learn higher levels of spells of course I'll want to seek out the teacher in that school and yet without knowing exactly where they are I have to look around all day just to find them. It'd be nice if the rooms were literally marked and said who slept there so I could just wait till night to find them at least. This would not be as big of a deal in the future where the entire layout of the College could be downloaded at once and we didn't have to sit through loading screens to go in and out of each room, but since we do it's so tedious.

  • Jared Laurence

    I wish all the quest in the guild were like the first quest, when you learned how to use wards and stuff like that.

  • Chease Master

    Alot of the game is a coincidence take the draugar ruins when they wake up or pop out of the coffins its just a coincidence you can sneak past them and when they wake up they act like they act like its just another day and walk around

  • Dustwarewolf 55

    Well, there is a broken quest where you have to figure out what happened to about five recent students only to find out they all died in different ways. There were also another five or so a decade prior who were all killed while summoning a dremora. You know what? I don't feel bad for the former archmage dying anymore, what with his utter incompetence causing at least ten student deaths and all. Granted, at least three of them were being impatient idiots, but come on. Such a reputation would explain the low attendance, and might even explain why the professors would be willing to let a newcomer be the new archmage.

  • Awesome Girl

    I just joined because it was required for the main quest, and then played the storyline while trying to cleat out some quests. Seemed pretty bare and basic. I agree with everything in this video.

  • Anton Nery

    Lol they make you their leader after a few quests

  • Ikcatcher

    The Collage questline felt so short even though there were about the same amount of quests as the Thieves Guild, it’s like literally nothing happened

  • Riley Hadley

    The college is definitely NOT part of the mages guild lol

  • LuBu4u

    Bethesda needs to sell this to Obsidian so we can finally get someone who's developed a successful RPG before...I like the elder scrolls games but bethesda seems more and more like "The Ideas guy" of the video game world with each release.ANY rpg developer would have wrote, animated and modeled circles around these retards. How does one look at vanilla skyrim and say "Yup, its done. This is a finished product" Half the shit didnt even work on launch and this very quest was broken for ~2 weeks.... It genuinly seems like, they know its the elder scrolls, they know people will buy it.... why try? Why spend money on effort?Half the shit STILL doesnt work without fan patches and they had the audacity to release a working version of the game as SKYRIM SPECIAL EDITION. Lmao, like, what??? People defend this group?? How?

  • Unknown

    What you say about Tolfdir going from teaching you a basic ward to taking you down one of the most dangerous cairn in Skyrim is true, but imagine if they had to develop the whole cursus of an archmage, the game would last thousands of hours! It's an ellipse. A badly narrated one.Bethesda should just drop this whole Messiah complex, it's been overdone, and not just in The Elder Scrolls. It only appeals to people with fragile egos. Who should immediately rage about my com.

  • MadGhostGames

    the bards college is worse

  • Wells

    I hate Faralda's entrance exam. The fact that you have to cast the specific spell she demands plus the fact that it's randomly chosen means you can end up in a situation where you're prevented from entering the college just because you're unskilled in the relevant school of magic and your magicka isn't high enough to cast that particular spell.

  • SlappingDingos

    Restoring the Mages Guild would have been super cool

  • Awad Shakoor

    Also, not to mention, the place screams NORDSI wanted it to scream MAGIC

  • bacd 1990

    Most develop fraction would be the Thiefs giuld that in Skyrim.

  • Chueko Loyo

    Kingdoms of Amalur does all the things you said skyrim does wrong

  • tommy flores

    This idea would also affect areas outside the college as well. Trainer characters, would give you radiant miscellaneous quests, as an alternative to just paying for skill. The quests would involve the process of doing what you need to do to level up. Like the destruction master can send you to a random dungeon or bandit hideout, but you can only fight using destruction spells, if you do, the destruction xp you earned will be doubled. Or the conjuration master could send you too places that are "closer to oblivion" or something, and you go there and summon a random item and give it to him. Or a blacksmith could ask you to craft a random item of your skill level. you get the materials for free, but you can't keep the item. I just wish leveling up by grinding, felt less grindy and more like a part of your characters life, like going to school or working for a blacksmith.

  • Aerin Gothyk

    Magic in general was really disappointing in Skyrim. Yeah it looked prettier and was more streamlined, but had almost no depth. It just felt like a bow and arrow skin.I just feel like magic should require some pretty insane tasks to improve with a very very high ceiling of mastery. Magic should be special, and very powerful in the hands of a dedicated student. And that student should be required to do difficult but rewarding tasks to improve their abilities. Not just repetition, but study and adventure. Finding artifacts, consorting with Daedra, sacrificing souls, secrets! There’s so much potential for that gameplay but it was just so shallow.

  • Obi Wan Kenobi

    When I first played the college quest I was like "wow, I'm never doing this ever again"

  • Dave Adams

    students have a high mortality rate ... conjuring dremora setting themselves on fire failed skeever armys turned rabid

  • Jonathan Williams

    "Why are my research materials constantly disappearing?!"

  • The Last And First Time

    J'zhargo is not smug, he is correct. He will be the most powerful mage, you will see.Is that a sweetroll in your pocket? My mistake. It is in J'zhargo's hand.

  • Beanmachine91

    the thieves guild is funner

  • OG Haze

    Bethesda really should have added a feature that lets you rebuild a town

  • Henning Gu

    Oblivion did things the exact opposite. Self-made weapons are weak af. But magic could be overpowered (if you had enough magicka). In Skyrim magic is too weak mid to endgame. But weapons and enchanting together could create instant kill weapons. Honestly I like Oblivion better.

  • David Meyer

    You make valid points, but personally, I enjoyed Skyrim's College of Winterhold questline way more than I did Oblivion's Mage's Guild questline. I felt that Oblivion's questline just dragged on and on and on with inane fetch quests, whereas Skyrim's actually had some interesting objectives, like the early field trip where you find the Eye of Magnus and then actually entering Labyrinthian to recover the Staff of Magnus.This is just my personal opinion, of course.

  • ConvexSpys 8335

    Actually you have to join the mage guild to get the elderscroll you don't have to finish the story of it but you are forced to join it also that's the same for the thieves guild the only guild that isn't forced on you is the dark Brother hood.

  • Madison Myers

    I loved the college! Why do people keep hating on it? Though I do only play in VR so everything's awesome. Because I HAVE LIGHTNING COMING OUT OF MY FINGERTIPS AND I CAN SHOOT EVIL MONSTERS TWO AT A TIME IN TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS AND IT IS JUST SO AWESOME!!!!!! Also I struggle with normal video game controls and it feels much more natural in VR. I don't think I'd be that into Skyrim otherwise. (I'm freakin' obsessed currently.) I honestly just loved the college. I always wanted to have magic and be in a school of magic and go on magical adventures because of it and for it. So for me this was honestly just a dream come true.

  • hisoj

    college in general sucks. massive debt, a worthless degree, harmful indoctrination that makes you less able to enter the world after graduation.

  • Amy Carter

    Yeah. The college itself, if one would call it that (I personally would not-it is a fortress), is damn impressive, by looks. Other than that, I'm more impressed by just how faulty the Ford Pinto is (and for those of you that don't know about the Pinto you can Google 'fender bender explosions and you'll likely get results many about the infamous vehicle).To infer just how much impressive a garbage vehicle from the 1980's is compared to a 'college' in a game from 2011, means that this person talking about the 'college' is far more impressed than I am. Sure, there's decent characters, good story building, but very, VERY incomplete otherwise. I don't even bother with the storyline at all (my main doesn't use magic that much anyway).

  • Motaz Fawzi

    What's the problem with the students clothes? 11:47

  • Twice19

    I always thought the whole College of Winterhold was underwelming. Even aesthetically it was dull. It seems so cold and uninviting. Surely a Mage’s College should have magical fireplaces and a cozy interior...not the ‘classic’ Nord architecture.

  • gijuki 1

    If u calculate how fast u can get the archmage than I understand why there are almost no students (they are all bandit mages after 1day in the college)

  • Skadi

    is there a mod which makes the lecture hall an actual lecture hall with desks or something. also actual classes that you can take, with actual times, where you can both listen or read a book that youre given. and as you said maybe like 20 students or something. this would be nice to actually be like a college. also i want the bards college to be like an actual college as well (being able to actually play instruments in vanilla)

  • Alex Oelkers

    Yeah I agree, I enjoyed the Mages guild it just could of been expanded a bit. And I admit I was a little dissapointed just because of its potential.

  • Flex Gopnik

    Well they used to be around 6 students...or 7 wtf? Where they slept?

  • Devansh Kumar

    Fancy yourself a mage, eh? I'm more of a warrior myself.

  • Topy

    have fun paying off college debt for the rest of your life, stay away from winterhold its not worth it

  • William Alexander

    I didn't know the arcu mage would die

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