Skyrim is the next installment in the Elder Scrolls saga and so far it is looking epic. The game is set 200 years after the events of Oblivion and the story will take place in the region of Skyrim located to the North of Cyrodiil and to the West of Morrowind. Skyrim will be released in both the U.S and Europe on the 11th November 2011 (11.11.11).
The development team boast countless improvements on the previous title, Oblivion, but here are just a handful of things that I am looking forward to the most:
New system for leveling up
Unlike the previous Elder Scrolls titles (and indeed most RPGs), Skyrim has taken a more open ended approach to character leveling up and skill customisation. Players will no longer be bound to a class and it's related skills based on a decision that they made right at the start of the game. With the new system your character can improve any skill simply by using it. This means that you can now adapt the skills of your character as the story progresses e.g you may start off with skills with a two-handed weapon but after some experimenting discover that spell casting is more your style. Experimentation looks like it will be key in Skyrim and it means that your character will be constantly evolving throughout your journey, regardless of the path you take.
New combat systems
You can now dual-wield a variety of weapons and spells. You can for example hold a sword in your left hand and a fireball spell in your right. You can alternatively dual wield two different spells, or even dual wield the same spell in both hands. This will give you the ability to cast an enhanced, more powerful version of the spell. The new combat system will encourage players to try different combinations and tactics for attack, furthering the ethos of creating a unique character that suits your style.
Ok so, menus aren't generally a deal-breaker for a good RPG. However, from what I've seen of Skyrim, the menu and stats screens look stunning. For example the skills/perks system is presented as an enormous night sky filled with the twinkling stars of the various constellations that represent the various gods. Your character will now look to the heavens for skills and powers instead of the generic lists that we have come to accept. Skyrim has even taken a fresh approach to the Map Screen - now, at the push of a button, the player camera will zoom up into the sky giving a birds eye view of the entire region. As vertigo inducing as it sounds, it looks fantastic!
New ways of talking
Unlike Oblivion, conversations with Skyrim's inhabitants will no longer take place from a fixed perspective. You will now be able to converse freely with NPCs whilst on the move or whilst rummaging through their homes. This means that once a conversation is initiated, the game will no longer zoom in the other characters face, forcing you to hang on every word while you are glued to the spot. Not much is known so far about the conversation mechanics such as persuasion, but early speculation is that it may resemble something like that in the Fallout series.
The new Dynamic Quest system means that factors in your tasks will be randomly generated. Whilst the specifics of a quest may be pre-written, for instance 'steal an artifact from a sorcerer', the game will pick and choose characters and locations dependant on what is nearby and relevant at the time. In short, you and five friends could complete the same quest and yet each one of you would have a completely different experience. This factor sounds great for re-playability, although I wonder what it means for guide and walkthrough creators.
Diverse dungeonsDungeons in Skyrim have been built by a team of level designers who specialise in internal environments. The development team have said that this will help to create a better flow and diversity to these aspects of the game. I find this reassuring considering there are over 120 dungeons in the game.
New and improved AI
Much like Oblivion, the NPCs in Skyrim will all have set routines and occupations that they must attend to. However, the game will build on this by including unscripted reactions to the players actions. NPCs may now attempt to steal items that a player has put down or even challenge your character to a dual if they have taken a particular dislike to you. It's these small details that really breathe life into the villages and towns that you visit.
Ah yes, the Dragons. These fiery foes will play a large part in the story of Skyrim. Without saying too much, Dragons have awoken and roam freely around Skyrim and your character is the last of the 'Dovahkiin' (the Dragonborn) meaning you have the soul of a dragon and can speak the dragon tongue. These huge beasts look incredible and I can imagine the first few encounters with them will be terrifying. That said, I can't wait to get stuck in!
So those are just a few of the many new things that I am looking forward to in Skyrim. I was a huge fan of Oblivion and I can tell that Skyrim will be spending a lot of time in my disc tray from day one.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is due out on 11.11.11 and it's available for pre-order now.
Watch the trailer here: