A First Look at Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Page 2

Posted Fri, Jun 10, 2011 by B. de la Durantaye

Leveling up in Skyrim is similar to the other Elder Scrolls games by simply using your focused skills. After you gain enough skill ups in those specific areas, you'll level up. The new addition to this system, though, is the perk tree feature. Every skill, like swords, staffs, etc. has a unique perk tree that gives extra perks as you skill up. This means a swordsman will have more variations of attacks as they skill up their sword skills, for example.

elder scrolls v: skyrim

Bethesda kept the game's interface simple but powerful. There is very little screen clutter unless you want to see certain details. And when you want to see those details, it's as detailed as the hand-crafted art of the rest of the world. The inventory is set up in a menu system, allowing you to quickly and easily select which armor and weapons you want to equip. In addition every single item you pick up has a fully rendered model in the game. So when you browse your inventory you'll be able to actually examine each and every item as if it was a real physical object. This was emphasized by demonstrating the feature with something as simple as a fish to eat. In the inventory, we saw a fillet of salmon which was textured and colored as a hunk of salmon would look like. A quick cooking in the fire changed the model to a tasty looking cooked and seasoned fillet that was so realistic, it was mouth watering. That's a lot of detail for in-game food. And again, this is the case for every single object you pick up in the game, including over 300 books you can find and read to catch up on the back story and history of the world.

The 3D renders of the items has practical use, too. We were shown an example of one of the many puzzles in the game that players will need to figure out and the solution to the puzzle was all found in the inventory items. If the player were to read a journal they found off one of the thieves they had killed, they would have learned that the golden claw they looted had three markings on its underside. The player could then match those symbols with those they find on a stone-ring puzzle in one of the cave's walls to unlock a door.

elder scrolls v: skyrim

3D rendering doesn't end with just the world or its items, either. In fact, the entire map screen is fully rendered, allowing an immense level of detail to zoom in and out of. The map itself was so wonderfully done, in fact, that I expect many players will spend some time just playing around and exploring it. Should they need to, though, the map can also be used for fast travel back to places they've already discovered.

Next, we were taken into the first town players will come across in the game, known as Riverwood. It's a small town with friendly-enough residents. All of these NPCs have a mind of their own. As you walk through town you'll overhear conversations of events happening in the world, or listen in on some naughty children plotting ways to torment their dog. Practical applications here can include overhearing rumors that may be of interest to pursue.

Riverwood's residents are hard workers too, with a lumber mill in town that supports the local economy. Those of an evil persuasion may even opt to sabotage the mill and thus cripple the town's economy, and jump on a mount to flee the scene. Player choices have consequences and reactions, so every player will have a somewhat different experience with the game depending upon their actions.

elder scrolls v: skyrim

While in town, we stopped by the local blacksmith where we learned that crafting can be done at stations. Full animations for crafting are included for even the simplest task, such as sharpening a sword at a grinding stone.

One of the sticky points in the earlier games was that it was very easy to get lost in the world. At certain points, it could prove difficult to remember what you were doing or where you were supposed to go. That's not as much of a worry in Skyrim though, as the quests are custom-tailored to the player as they play through. Should they get too far off track of the main story line, the game itself will offer them paths and tips on where to go, eventually luring them back to the main story.

The weather system is as dynamic as the quests. From rain to snow, expect a variety of different weather conditions as you play through the game. Detail, once again, is generously applied as the game renders the actual snow on surfaces, such as rocks. This means as you climb snowy mountains, you won't be seeing pre-rendered snow on rocks, but rather the game will draw in the snow as it falls, offering an incredibly life-like gaming experience. Some of this weather is player-made too. A Storm Call spell, for example, will summon an actual storm. The skies will gray, and rain will begin to fall while lightning strikes your foes from the heavens. It's beautifully epic.

elder scrolls v: skyrim

The features list only goes on further. Sneaking and stealth attacks are all in, Rune Magic exists in the form of magical traps that can be set, poisons can be made from venom found on creatures with which you can coat your weapons, traveling spells like Sprint will have you whisking around the world in all sorts of ways and clairvoyance spells will lead you out of one of the game's 150 dungeons should you get lost. Magical weapons will have you tossing fireballs which can be charged before releasing, and every class type has its own faction and guild-type system.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is shaping up to not only be one doozie of an RPG, but quite likely one that will shake the industry as much as Oblivion did in its day. Look for its release on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 November 11th of this year.


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