The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim E3 2011 Preview
From all the games I have seen these past two days on the show floor, Bethesda left me absolutely speechless with Skyrim. This isn't just a prettier Oblivion with a new graphics engine--this is a completely different beast that will swallow you whole and consume you in its stunning detail, new gameplay elements, and grand storyline.
Right from the start of the demo, Lead Artist Matt Caropano looked around the environment to show just how much more detailed the world of Skyrim really is. The flora and fauna coexisted organically as small butterflies flew across the screen and fox-like animals ran through bushes. Just like the environment, the characters populating the game got a major boost in detail. The developers wanted to ensure that fans eager to learn about Skyrim's rich history would not only learn about it through the massive library of over 300 books that can be found and read across the land, but also through the design and look of various items. All of these items can be viewed in 3D in the menu system.
Speaking of the menus, instead of relying on tabs like in the last game, Skyrim's menu systems feels natural--almost like it's a part of the game world. Pointing up on the menu will make your character look up at the sky, where every skill is shown as a constellation. Pressing left and right will sort through your gear and magic, and pressing down will zoom out and show a beautiful 3D map of where you are and where you need to go.
As he was playing, Caropano stopped by a settlement to show off how the citizens live out their days more realistically than they did in Oblivion. Blacksmiths go to work, women gossip on the streets, and kids conspire to cause mischief. At this point, the horse mount was also shown, which animated far better and more realistically than it had in Oblivion.
The biggest (literally) moments happened when we were brought face-to-face with a giant dragon. We were told that they are completely unscripted and that their behavior patterns are random. Though the fights didn't seem as dangerous, thanks to the main character's nigh invincibility (for demo purposes), they were still absolutely epic and will definitely require strategy. Aside from a standard sword and shield combo, you'll be able to mix and match weapons and spells as you please. Whether you want to dual wield or wield a dwarven axe in one hand and a fireball spell in the other, the choice is yours. Playing as a Dragon Born, you are able to learn special abilities called shouts, which are three words put together and spoken in the language of dragons. While they are mostly used as offensive abilities, we were shown one ability that helped the player do a quick speed dash through some environmental hazards that would have otherwise done a lot of damage.
If this short demo proved anything, it was that Skyrim is one of the most anticipated titles of this year and will once again let fans pour hundreds of hours into it.