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What’s so new about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?

Submitted by on Monday, 10 January 201114 Comments

Bethesda finally released details of their sequel to GOTY Oblivion in the form of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim screenshots, game details, and more.

With a brand new engine, gameplay, improved cameras, and a whole bag of other changes, it really looks like Bethesda are pulling out all the stops – but are they going to do enough to improve on the epic brilliance of Oblivion?

Here at Attitude Towers we’re wondering whether in Rockville they celebrate Christmas in January, because Bethesda seem to have delivered our Christmas present late – that is, real details of Skyrim.

Skyrim has lots to live up to following on from two of the greatest role-playing games ever made. However straight from the off, it seems Bethesda aren’t taking this challenge sitting down, but are making changes across the board to really try and deliver another unique experience – and seemingly redesigning this game from the ground up. A bold decision but from the creators of Fallout 3, Morrowind and Oblivion we’re surely in safe hands?

To begin with, while Oblivion looked great (at the time), Bethesda has confirmed that Skyrim will run on a brand new engine, which will offer dynamic weather effects such as wind and snow as well as greatly improved environmental effects. Just take one peek at the screenshots to see just how great this game looks. With snow flakes falling individually instead of simple textures on the floor, as well as wind effects being able to generate ripples on surface water, it really sounds as though they’re pulling out all the stops to make this look incredible.

On top of rebuilding the engine, they’ve also created a brand new third-person camera system, doing away with one of the few negative points of the previous game. Early screenshots of this look great, hopefully giving us an alternative to first-person that really adds to the immersion that was so impressive in its predecessor.

Unconfirmed reports suggest Stephenie Meyer is writing the script

One divisive feature, carrying on from the last game, is that level scaling will be back in Skyrim, but not in the way that Oblivion handled it.

“All our games have had some amount of randomness/levelling based on player level. Skyrim’s is similar to Fallout 3’s, not Oblivion’s” – Bethesda senior community manager

For those who didn’t get to play the brilliant Fallout 3 (shame on you!) the main difference here is that areas lock to the level in which you enter them. As an example, if you enter a specific cave at level 5 that area is then locked at that level. This means that you can go back after a few more hours play and cause some real damage. The effect of this is that you can really feel the difference in higher level gear and abilities when backtracking to earlier areas.

We’ve also been treated to details on classes and levelling, with a massive ten races to choose from at the beginning and 18 skills in which to place your hard earned experience points. While this is fewer skills than were available in the previous game, it’s still plenty of customisation to concentrate on. As for classes, these will no longer be defined at the beginning of the game but chosen for you based on the way you play. Whether you will be able to alter the game’s choice (as in Fallout or Oblivion) Bethesda are yet to comment.

This isn’t the only way in which Skyrim will adapt to the way you play; some quests are now randomly generated with the game investigating the nearby area to look for places you’re yet to visit. It will then designate level and skill appropriate enemies for your character to face. While not a huge alteration, this could really improve gameplay making sure that each play-through gives you something different and creating gameplay that will suit the player. To add to this, there will be bonuses granted with each level, such as a health or damage boosts. However, the first omission to the game was also announced with Mysticism being removed in favour of Enchanting as a skill this time round.

NPCs have also received a face-lift in Skyrim having been remodelled to look and speak more naturally. Conversation itself has also been improved with the first-person close up view of the NPC’s face having been removed. Instead it now follows them round as they go about their business making them seem more human, or elven, or you know, whatever. Events are also triggered with NPCs who now react to alterations in the environment. If you kill a storekeeper for instance their next of kin will inherit their store and be none too happy with you. Rude, considering you got them a store…

They've also added some funky fresh background images...

As well as this, children have been added as NPC characters and all NPC and player characters can now sport a beard – if that’s your thing. Combat has changed considerably with adventurers now being able to use both hands and a dual-wield system being implemented. Whether you will be able to dual-wield whatever you like or if separate classes will have separate restrictions is yet to be announced. If the plethora of weapons that the previous game offered wasn’t enough you can now also smith your own in any of the major cities.

The game features five of these cities, each of them large and each of them offering more than just black-smithing. Cooking, farming, woodcutting and mining have all been announced so far, although how these will work is not yet known. These cities seem to be far more active and open than in the previous game with dragon attacks possible within any city. (again no details have been released on this yet.)

Finally, and possibly most important of all, is the story. Skyrim is set 200 years after the events of Oblivion and is set in the province of Skyrim, north of the province from the last game. Your character is a Dragonborn, or hunter, who is mentored in this role by the last surviving blade (the emperor’s elite guard, again from Oblivion) The king is dead and so civil wars are raging in Skyrim and the dragons are flying again. There is some speculation, yet to be confirmed, that the story will centre around Alduin – a Dragon who can destroy the world being spawned.

Skyrim is also the Honeymoon destination of choice

So there you have it. We’ll give you a moment to catch your breath and digest that information as after many long years of waiting it does seem rather a glut. Of course, in a game as large as The Elder Scrolls we’re sure the above is simply a taster of what’s to come over the next 11 months, as they gear up for the currently scheduled 11 November release date. Clearly Bethesda are really trying to improve on what is already one of their AAA-rated titles and the changes they have already announced seem to go a long way to correcting the (very few) complaints levelled at the original game. In a year with releases like Mass effect 2 and 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Batman: Arkham City, and Rockstar’s L.A. Noire – to name but a few. It’s clearly an exciting time to own a PS3. However, do you agree with us that Bethesda are doing enough to improve on their previous stellar outing? As always, that’s what the comment sections is for!

[Sources: latest edition of GameInformer via Badass Panda and Neogaff]