Skyrim Details Emerge From Game Informer

Set 200 years after Oblivion, squashing early rumours which suggested that it would be a direct sequel, the game takes place in the Skyrim region of Cyrodiil (natch).  Skyrim is known as a harsh, cold, mountainous region, often beset by civil war and upheaval and is the home of the Nords, one of the playable races in Skyrim’s predecessor, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  As suggested in the recent teaser trailer, the player steps into the boots of Dragonborn, a dragon hunter, in order to take down an evil dragon god in a land beset, once again, by civil war.  All in a day’s hard questing for your average hero then – a hero mentored by one of the last of the Blades, voiced by Max Von Sydow.

According to those lucky enough to live on the other side of the pond and have access to Game Informer (who have just run a 14 page preview), Skyrim features several large changes.  Aside from the new, overhauled engine, the biggest of these appears to be the levelling system.  Gone is the class selection with various modifiers, and in are extra points for stamina, health, and magika and a Fallout-esque perk system.  Skills have apparently been whittled down to a disappointing 18 (quite a drop from Morrowind and even Oblivion), in a bid to help players specialise more, as opposed to the jack-of-all-trades approach.  Skyrim is also said to be ‘soft-capped’ at level 50, allowing for slower progression thereafter, which should keep long-haul fans and grinders happy.

A big plus point is that the conversations and animations have been re-vamped to present a more ‘natural style’, according to Bethesda.  This was often a source of complaint for many players, and Skyrim promises none of the, often scary, fixed stares – characters will now go about their business while they chat if you happen to have interrupted them.  The game’s combat has also reportedly been tweaked: the player can now assign each hand a specific function – whether dual weapons, or a weapon and magic/shield combo.

Much to the chagrin of forum diehards, level scaling is back, though to what degree is currently unknown.  It appears that if you don’t get your head chewed off in the first two minutes or have to level up to crazy degree in order to enter a specific cave, parts of the internet won’t be happy.   Regardless of however Bethesda have approached this, whether falling on the side of more mainstream accessibility or not, expect it to be modded, as with everything.  Bethesda are also promising the return of the fast travel system, a new sprint ability, and also finishing moves which are unique to weapon and enemy, though hopefully these won’t kick into effect after every single kill or we may have to do something unpleasant with Umbra’s sword.  Dynamic quests have been thrown into the mix, with some dependant on player choices and actions and differ depending on whether you are, say, a mage as opposed to a tank.  This may also suggest that the faction reputation system of Fallout: New Vegas may come into play in some form, though at the moment, it is just reasoned supposition.

For those who spend hours creating the perfect character, Bethesda have allowed for greater customisation in Skyrim, which extends to the body this time around.  Great news for fans of the bizarre as it looks like that purple haired elf of your dreams can suddenly have a beer-gut and moobs – if it is as comprehensive as we would hope, that is.  While we don’t expect Sims style depth to the modifications, we hope to at least have a boob/jewels slider (put that on the ‘yeah right’ list – Ed).  As far as other bits and pieces go, Mysticism has gone – how this will enable players to enchant, which they reportedly still can, is currently unknown – so presumably soul-trapping will still exist in some other form.  Towns will now also offer more than just a place to lay your head and the usual handful of stores: now players have the option of forging their own weapons, along with farming, mining, and cooking.

The scatter-gun hints gleaned from the Game Informer preview will likely keep fans of the Elder Scrolls series satiated for a while, providing as much ammunition for forum debate as speculation, with even nuggets like the returning fast-travel option seemingly ripe for fallout.  Still, regardless whether the first wave of information disheartens or gladdens gamers, Skyrim promises to be one of the most anticipated games of the year.  While still on track for the tasty 11.11.11 release date, we can expect more information to burst forth with each passing month and industry event and we look forward to finding out more, whether to allay some of our fears, stir up new ones, or just make us stamp our impatient little feet like Verruca Salt.

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