Skip to main content

Elder Scrolls Skyrim preview: A world you can sink your sword into

Image used with permission by copyright holder

For awhile now, the game publisher has been talking about the size of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and comparing it to the last Elder Scrolls adventure, Oblivion. In actuality, the size of the virtual worlds are the same, but with the mountain region of the new game, the way players will navigate the world will take longer (Oblivion offered flatter terrain for more direct routes). But Skyrim has been designed to offer a larger adventure to gamers in a scope that goes beyond square miles.

Skyrim will offer more dense quests for players to explore through its new Radiant Story System. This technology will serve up random encounters, quests and towns depending on each player’s actions in the game and where they are. It should ensure that players will have a very different experience when playing the game, and offer up replay value for those who want to journey back to Skyrim.

No more dead ends

Those who played Oblivion may have, on numerous occasions, tired of a quest because the game literally broke the adventure. With so many quests built into that game, once in awhile a quest would require the player to vanquish the very person who sent them on the adventure, thus breaking the chain of the quest. That will never happen in Skyrim.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

In Skyrim, the new dynamic system will ensure that even if a merchant originates a quest, which later develops into an adventure from the Dark Brotherhood to kill said merchant, other virtual characters will take over the quest-giver role. It could be a relative or a spouse that steps in so that players can seamlessly finish the quest, rather than being left high and dry after a lot of time invested in that particular journey. The ability to talk to NPCs while looking around and taking in your surroundings further envelopes the player within this universe.

This new mechanic should encourage more gamers to engage in more quests. And Skyrim will come packed with them. In fact, that’s partly where the size and scope of the new game comes to play. While getting from point A to point B might take a little bit longer because of the landscape, the developer is also enticing players to experience engaging side quests that should take up a lot of time.

Deeper dungeons, deeper customization

There’s also the matter of dungeons. In Oblivion, dungeons were there for those who wanted to grab some loot, but they didn’t offer engagement. Part of the reason was that artists created the dungeons in Oblivion. But for Skyrim, each dungeon is being designed by level designers. The end result should be unique experiences complete with back stories that the team hopes will encourage more players to spend yet more time underground, exploring for more than just loot.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

One thing you can find in dungeons is ore, which can be used to create custom weapons from scratch. The open world nature of Skyrim is also likely going to make players lose track of time. Bethesda has showed off the depth of this world, which includes the ability to go off and become a specialist in any number of jobs. At E3, Bethesda showed off Riverwood, where players could become a logger and earn virtual currency chopping wood. At Gamescom, the developer talked about how everything in the game can be used to create weapons, potions, and other items that take on an important purpose. Getting back to that ore, players can use a pick axe to collect enough of the raw materials to create a dagger or sword – once they find a weapons forge. Kill an animal, find a tannery, and you have leather, as well as fur. There are plenty of details to play through in this massive game.

Players can specialize in 18 different skills, including one and two-handed swords, archery, enchantment, and heavy and light armor. The sky is literally the limit, as constellations serve as perk trees for each individual skill. There are over 280 perks in the game. Again, plenty to get caught up with as you explore the world.

A world waiting to be explored

Getting around Skyrim will be a little bit easier thanks to horses. Bethesda spent a lot of time creating believable animals, which opens up all-new controls that handle a lot different than the on-foot portion of the game. Shown from a third-person perspective, horses allow players to more quickly navigate this huge area.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Built with the Creation Engine, Skyrim is really starting to show off its polish. Anywhere players look in the game world, no matter how far in the distance, is open for exploration. The game’s weather system adds more realism to the world, while the real-time shadows brings minute details to life as you explore both above ground and in the dungeons below.

Skyrim remains slated for a November 11 release date (11.11.11) on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Bethesda will also offer a $150 collector’s edition that includes a statue, art book and “making of” DVD.

Also check out our first look at Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Editors' Recommendations

John Gaudiosi
John Gaudiosi has been covering video games for over 25 years, dating back to his work for The Washington Post while in…
The best games like Skyrim
A dragon breathing fire while flying.

The impact of Bethesda titles on gaming as a whole is hard to even grasp. Some of the most influential and beloved RPGs of all time have come from this studio -- or were revived by them -- and give players ways to interact and live in worlds that few other games even attempt. The Elder Scrolls series has always been one of their crowned jewels, but it was the fifth game in the series, Skyrim, that took the fantasy open-world series to levels of popularity that rival the biggest IPs in gaming. Now, over 10 years since that game came out, there are hundreds of people still playing that game to this day for all the freedom it gives.

As great as it is, 10 years is old for any game. Skyrim may be constantly released on every new system that comes out, but there's no denying that there's only so much that can be done to make this game look and feel modern. Plus, for many out there, even the huge map is running dry of secrets to find and stories to be told. With the next entry in The Elder Scrolls still years off, a ton of people are looking for their next fantasy RPG fix. Whether you love the open world, deep story and lore, RPG-style combat and character building, or simply a giant experience that lets you play the way you want, we've rounded up all the best games like Skyrim you can play right now.

Read more
How to fish in Skyrim
Fishing in skyrim.

Now that players could've potentially been playing Skyrim for a decade by this point, there may not feel like there's anything left to do in this huge, open-world RPG. That may be true -- however, with the release of the Skyrim: Anniversary Edition, Bethesda has packed in a host of new content, quests, and mechanics to draw you back into their winter wonderland for a few more hours. Among the technical upgrades, this version includes some of the most polished and popular content the community created in the Creation Club. One new feature that isn't as flashy as the others is the ability to sit back, relax, and spend some leisure time fishing.

For whatever reason, fishing is one of the most common side activities in gaming, so it was only a matter of time before it came to Skyrim. In prior versions of the game, the only way you could collect fish was by jumping in a river or lake and grabbing one with your bare hands. Thankfully, those days are over, and you can now catch fish like a sophisticated Dragonborn by casting your line and reeling in some new fish. If you're ready to take on a lower-stakes activity in Skyrim: Anniversary Edition, here's everything you need to know about fishing.

Read more
The Elder Scrolls VI has to be a decade game, says Bethesda’s Todd Howard
The Elder Scrolls VI

Bethesda Game Studios director and executive producer Todd Howard admitted that the next Elder Scrolls game has major expectations to live up to, according to an interview with GQ. Following in the footsteps of Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls VI, which is still without its official title, "has got to be a "decade game," Howard said.

Making a game that's meant to be played for 10 years comes with some challenges. Skyrim was made with replayability in mind, giving players access to a massive number of quests, including some that can be tackled over and over again for "unlimited" gameplay. But for Howard, it's not clear how Bethesda will make another game with more content and replayability than Skyrim. "How do you make a game where you go into it, like, 'people have to play it for a decade?'" Howardsaid.

Read more