First of all, if you are unaware of what the Elder Scrolls series is (then shame on you. /slap), don't worry, I am here to help. Elder Scrolls is a series of single player fantasy RPG's that was one of the first to really break the mold in terms of featuring non-linear gameplay. You are handed a sword, bow and a few spells and then plopped onto a gigantic fantasy map which you are allowed to explore at your will. Quests could be completed in any order and there was always a baffling number of side quests and other things to keep you entertained as well, aside from the main story line featured in most games.
It all started in 1994 with the release of The Elder Scrolls: Arena which later became Daggerfall, then Morrowind, Oblivion and now Skyrim. I never got a chance to play Arena or Daggerfall, though I have heard they were hits back in the day. Those titles were, unfortunately, before my gaming prime ever began. No, my history with the Elder Scrolls games started with Morrowind back on my first self built computer. I had to run it on low graphics and the piece of shit computer I was playing on would tend to freeze up a lot, but I still remember playing that game day and night. I had never played anything like it, I would have played it in the freezing cold on a dated laptop if I had to. It was just that good.
So now we have Skyrim! Whoooo! I experienced a full body nerd-gasm when I first heard about it. What can we expect from it? It has been five years since Oblivion, who knows what Bethesda has had in the oven all this time. Well I was able to get a little taste and sniff the wonderful fumes, and here is what I found.
While Oblivion took place in the world known as “Cyrodil” this new game will be set in the lands to the north, called Skyrim (hence the name of the game). Skyrim, according to the Elder Scrolls story, is where the people of Tamriel fist came from long ago. The world of Skyrim looks much more rugged and untamed, featuring towering mountains and unforgiving snow covered forests. The cities look like they are sort of in ruins, having stood through countless battles and harsh winters.
Speaking of cities, there are only going to be five cities for players to visit in the land of Skyrim, which says something on its own about the ruggedness of the land, as Oblivion/Cyrodil had nine by comparison. This is just fine with me, I have never been a fan of piddling around in cities in RPG's. I would much rather be exploring the unknown country side and fighting monsters within the depths of dark caves and tombs, thank you very much.
Also, big news which I am personally very excited about, you will finally be able to dual wield in Skyrim! And not just weapons, you are going to be able to assign anything you want to either of your hands. Two swords, two maces, dagger and an axe, axe and a fireball, sword and shield, lightning bolt and shield (yes thats right, you could roll as a shield wielding Mage!), the possibilities go on and on.
And if this wasn't enough to add to the combat system, there will now be finishing moves that you perform on baddies as you make that final blow. Todd Howard tells us that these finishing moves will differ according to what weapon you are using and what kind of crazy monster you are fighting. This makes sense, I can see how finishing off a dragon (yes there are also DRAGONS in this game now! No Elder Scrolls game has had this before.) would look different from finishing off a saber tooth tiger.
In Skyrim the camera will no longer zoom in, and conversations will appear much more natural. NPC's will continue to walk about and complete simple tasks (Game Informer gave the example of chopping wood) as they talk to you. So try and imagine the awesome character interactions that take place in the mission cinematics of games like Grand Theft Auto IV, but being allowed to stay in control of your character rather than sitting and watching a short movie. Sounds like a wonderful idea to me!
And finally, the last thing I want to tell you about is the new quest system. Do you remember when Peter Molyneux first announced the original Fable (but back then it was called Project Ego) and he told all of us about how the game world would react to our every action? That if we killed some dude, his son would come looking for us later in the game, seeking revenge? If we got caught stealing from a store merchant, the merchant would remember you and refuse to let you into his store on your next visit. Remember those lies? I sure do! Peter even told us we would be able to plant an acorn in the ground and if we returned to the same spot later in the game, there would be an oak tree. Ha! Well that didn't happen, and I ended up beating the first Fable in one sitting.
Me, I can't wait for this game. It is scheduled to release on 11-11-11, and Bethesda normally makes good on their promises, so I would bet this a solid date.
Thanks for reading, tell me what you think in the comments below.
p.s. check out the Skyrim web site to see the first trailer!
Sources and relevant links:
http://www.gameinformer.com/search/searchresults.aspx?q=skyrim (interviews and preview)