The Elder Scrolls are back, this time in a fifth installment, but with the boys from the Elder Scrolls IV off the case and the Fallout 3 team working their magic, is it a game you'll want to play? If that's a yes you've still got to contend with the new boss on the block - the dragons, and a whole new graphics engine to master as well.
Pocket-lint was invited to a behind closed doors preview of the new game before its 11 November launch later this year. Read on to find out what to expect come the day of reckoning.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
What platform is it on?
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
When's it due out?
11 November 2011
What other game is it like?
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Does it use any new tech like 3D, PlayStation Move, or Kinect for Xbox 360?
The next chapter in the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls saga arrives from the makers of the 2006 and 2008 Games of the Year, Bethesda Game Studios. Skyrim reimagines and revolutionizes the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for you to explore any way you choose.
"The Empire of Tamriel is on the edge. The High King of Skyrim has been murdered. Alliances form as claims to the throne are made. In the midst of this conflict, a far more dangerous, ancient evil is awakened. Dragons, long lost to the passages of the Elder Scrolls, have returned to Tamriel. The future of Skyrim, even the Empire itself, hangs in the balance as they wait for the prophesized Dragonborn to come; a hero born with the power of The Voice, and the only one who can stand amongst the dragons."
Trailers, demoes, and video
Our first impressions
Sadly, we weren’t able to touch the controller, however at the helm was Bethesda Softworks games director Todd Howard responsible for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and previously titles like Fallout 3.
In fact, in an interesting aside, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been created by the same team as Fallout 3 rather than as you might expect the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion team.
Reworked completely from the ground up, the best way to describe Skyrim is epic. Epic in its reach, epic in its approach, and epic in that you’ll be playing it for months, not just days or hours.
Let’s start at the graphics, they are simply stunning. Big wide vistas complement large cities, that complement dark dingy tunnels and caves. The mix works well giving you a sense that there is a land to explore and explore it you will.
“Everything you see, you can visit,” claims Howard in our demo and he means it. That means a mountain in the distance, or a village across a plain. It will take you some time, but it’s good to know that you aren’t going to suddenly hit a glass wall because you’ve run out of game space.
Back to what you can reach, and everything seems to be interactive. Howard picks a flower for a use in a spell, before diving into the all-new inventory system that works like an MP3 player branching off into different bits of kit for you to manage and collect.
There are over 300 books in Skyrim and you can read them all, and that’s before you start delving into kit, spells, weapons, potions, and food.
As with previous games, spells and skills are where the action is and here it’s no different. Magic is a strong focus in Skyrim with the dragons helping you unlock even more (either by slaying them or by understanding their ancient language.)
To help you enhance your skills further the landscape is dotted with "Guardian stones" that increase power for certain traits.
Magic and melee skills are honed by fighting or performing it and there are plenty of chances to do just that. Our 30 minutes walkthrough saw a number of different creatures and characters from wolves, to giants, to mammoths, to people, to ghouls, to spiders, and of course dragons.
Howard, clearly wanting to impress, used a bevy of weapons (bow and arrow, swords, glass swords, hammers, axes, and spells) fighting off all those that would come to destroy us.
Spells work by being able to assign them to either your left or right hands or both. Both hands gives you greater powers, while mixing spells an even greater combination still.
They aren’t just about fighting evil foes, but healing, helping you out, and generally making you a stronger player. Take the Clairvoyance spell for example, that highlights the way to go if your stuck looking for an exit.
When you’re not casting spells or starting fights with giants herding mammoths (something that’s possible if you aggravate them) then you can explore the many cities of the game.
Here you can, if you so wish, just become one of the villagers or city dwellers earning your keep chopping wood, or doing other manual work. Each city has a fully working economy, The more work you do, the more cash you earn, which can then be spent on more kit. It looks like a compelling sidetrack and one that you should be careful not to get sucked into in-game – months lost, we bet.
Of course we haven’t even covered that you get to ride horses to help you get around the game (there’s also a quick fast travel to places like Oblivion and Fallout 3 too), or the most important element of Skyrim – the dragons.
The mythical beasts dominate the proceedings and are best seen as the big bosses of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
It’s here that we learn the true power of the game. You see a dragon has turned up in our demo and Howard just wasn’t expecting it. Turns out that the dragons aren’t pre-programmed and instead have been programmed with a mind of their own, so much so, that Howard’s about to be caught out mid demo and that's going to look bad. Running for nearby shelter he escapes to live another day as we cower in a cave and continues on with the demo, but if the director of the game is scared, well, we are terrified.
A couple of battles and a few more slain dragons later and our time is over. We get the feeling that our 30 minutes is just the tip of the iceberg, suggesting Skyrim, if you’re into that kind of thing, is going to be one hell of a title when it comes out in November. Not for the faint hearted or those with zero time on their hands.
The E3 games convention is a fantastic chance to see the latest games due out over the coming year, as well as, letting us get a glimpse into what is going to be the big titles and the ones to avoid like the plague.
The big problem however is that for most of the titles that glimpse is, well, just that. At the show you'll get to play a level here or a multiplayer map there or even have a product manager walk you through a specific level.
So with that in mind we present you with our Quick Play.
What we've done is broken down the key facts you need to know and then given you our first impressions based on around 15 minutes of gaming. For us that 15 minutes isn't enough to do a First Look review or even a review. How can you rate a game that offers over 30 hours of gaming on just 15 minutes of play? However it should hopefully give you an idea, a feeling, a notion, of what to expect come launch day.