Skyrim Expectations

It occurred to me, while I was reading my latest issue of GameInformer, that I’ve given a lot of attention to one of my favorite series (Mass Effect) but not one of my first favorites: Elder Scrolls.  This was the first game, never mind series of games, that I have been devoted to.  I loved both Morrowind & Oblivion.  Now the fifth installment, Skyrim is just a few months away.

You might need a bigger sword...

 Not a lot as far as plot has been revealed so far.  The game is set 200 years after the events in Oblivion, in the frozen northern land of Skyrim.  Skyrim is the homeland of the Nords, as well as having been the setting for the Morrowind expansion pack Bloodmoon.  The country is in the midst of a civil war after the assassination of its king.  Some wish to secede from the Empire, which has been crumbling without an heir, while others wish to stay loyal.  But if that wasn’t bad enough, a prophecy within the Elder Scrolls foretelling of the return of the dragons is coming true.  You play as the Dragonborn, & it’s your job to figure out why & from where they’re reappearing.

The graphics look amazing.

Some of the aspects revealed will be familiar to Elder Scroll fans.

  • You start the game in prison.  This seems to be a staple of the series.  (Okay, maybe you didn’t technically start Morrowind in prison… you were just a prisoner ship about to be released.)  What events lead to your escape haven’t been shown yet.
  • In most areas, creatures will be leveled to yours.  That’s not to say that there aren’t challenging areas if you’re unprepared.
  • Fast travel will return.  Some people didn’t like fast travel in Oblivion, but I did.  It makes the back & forth from guild missions easier.
  • Speaking of guilds, the familiar sects return, although some have been renamed.
  • Free-roaming exploration is a major part of the game.  Skyrim is supposed to have 150 dungeons, all of which are hand drawn.  Horses will also be returning.
  • All of the familiar classes will return (personally I always play as a Wood Elf because I like being stealthy).

    Character models are greatly improved over Oblivion.

That being said, there are also a lot of difference that, assuming they work the way Bethesda claims, will make for quite exciting gameplay.

  • The first noticeable different is the graphics.  Bethesda created a brand new engine, the creation engine, to upgrade the graphics.  If the screenshots are anything to go by, this means both improved environments & character models.  Bethesda also claims that almost all of the settings were hand drawn, right down to the flowers.
  • Dragons!  Probably one of the biggest changes in the inclusion of dragons.  These function sort of like boss fights, & appear to be encountered randomly as you explore the world.  According to Bethesda, these fights are not staged.  The dragons’ AI allows for them to react to your actions & the environment to make each encounter unique.  On a side note, I like the design of the dragons.  Their wings are merged with their arms, making them look more birdlike, versus the more common design of separate wings & legs.  (Not to sound like a nerd)  but I think this is a more practical design.
  • Linked with dragon fights is the player’s ability to use “Dragon Shouts.”  These are chants that the character learns & activates by absorbing the souls of defeated dragons.  Twenty shouts have been revealed, ranging from breathing fire, calling thunderstorms, teleporting, & calling a dragon to aid you.
  • New enemies, some of which were seen in Bloodmoon.  Includes mammoths, giants, ice spiders & draugr.  Not all creatures are initially aggressive towards you.  Some will only attack if attacked first.
  • For the first time since Daggerfall (short of modding) children will be in the game.  Whether this means the player can have a child — or the relations that lead to one — haven’t been seen.
  • The player can take a job, including farming, mining or smithing.  You can even forge your own weapons.
  • One of the most dramatic changes is in the class & skills system.  Firstly, there are no classes in Skyrim.  That also means there are no major or minor skills.  All skills level up equally.  This allows the player more freedom to play as they like.  Instead of a class, the player can choose a “perk” when the skill levels up.  I read in one source that there are 280 perks per skill, but the player will likely only have 50.
  • Some skills have been removed.  Mysticism has been removed, but its spells have been distributed among the other schools.  Athletics & Acrobatics have also been removed.  I’m kinda bummed about acrobatics, because I liked cartwheeling around.  I hope something replaces it.
  • Dual wielding!  That’s right, now you’ll be able to use two swords.  Or two staves.  Or two different spells.  There’s also a One Handed & Two Handed skill now.
  • Combat will also include finisher moves.
  • Immersion as a whole seems to have improved.  Dialogue no longer places you in a still screen.  You can actually move around while people talk to you.  Each city has an economy that you can affect, for good or ill.  NPC’s will have more complex actions & more distinct personalities.
  • Armor is simplified slightly.  Cuirasses & greaves are not combined into a single armor set.

    Forget dragons. This will be my most feared enemy.

There are more changes that I don’t have time to get into, & I’m sure more will be revealed as the release date nears.  To keep up with the news, check out the Elder Scrolls Wiki.

The game will be released on November 11, 2011 for the PC, 360 & PS3.

If Skyrim can keep its promises, this will be an awesome game.

– GamerDame


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