E3 2011 First Look: Skyrim

By John Walker on June 9th, 2011 at 8:57 pm.

But no infinite bears.
The largest issue with reporting on what Skyrim is like is I’ve only watched someone else play it. While that’s the norm for the vast majority of what’s shown behind closed doors at E3, in this particular case – a vast, elaborate game with an enormous non-linear world – watching someone else play it is a bit like being on one of those kids’ cars at a themepark. There’s a steering wheel on the front, but it’s going to stick to the track. Short of heckling, “GO LEFT, NOT RIGHT!” in front of an impromptu theatre of journalists (Bethesda always have the most elaborate booths), we were along for a prescribed ride. But a damned fine looking one.

Although not damned fine graphically. Skyrim is unquestionably going to be a beautiful game. The PC footage is beyond belief, and just the stills are breathtaking. Which makes their decision to demo it on a vast cinema screen with the 360 code an utterly bewildering one. People turned to each other in confusion and asked, “Why would they show us this version?”

It’s still damned good looking, for 360 code. It’s hard to imagine that anyone will manage to squeeze any more prettiness out of that six-year-old tech. It’s an amazing piece of work. But wow, it would have looked better on PC. We must never take anti-aliasing for granted. We are lucky, gift-laden folk. But even so, seeing a fast white-water stream running through fields of intricately detailed flowers, with salmon leaping out the water as they make their way upstream, is an impressive sight on any format.

So what can I tell you about it? Well, it’s The Elder Scrolls, and we all want more of that (yes, you Oblivion haters, you DO – no one is the least bit fooled by your antics). It’s a beautiful frost-bitten land, and it’s one where players need never let the main quest trouble them as they play for dozens of hours.

Of what we were shown – a trek through green fields, woods, a village, dungeons, and eventually a mountain-top dragon fight – the most exciting feature was the player’s hands. That’s not dismissive. They’re brilliant. Every single-handed weapon can be dual-wielded, meaning you can improvise your own style to some quite impressive degrees. Sword and shield combat looked especially entertaining. Holding up a shield has always been so disappointing in gaming, but here it felt like it was genuinely protective. Obscuring most your view, seeing the edge of the attacker slamming into it felt intense.

But even more entertaining is the magic. There’s all manner of magic types, from Runes to regular spells to Shouts, each of which make your hands glow an appropriate colour. Spells are assigned to hands in the same way as weapons – in fact, this can even be done from the same menu. There’s a “favourites” option, much like a web browser, that lets you opt for your preferred tools and spells to appear in a quickly accessible pop-up menu, letting you quickly assign to each hand in an on-the-fly paused moment. If such a thing isn’t a massive contradiction.

A spell assigned to both hands offers a further advantage. Preparing to cast it creates an orb of magic between the two, which can be violently propelled at much greater power. Also it looks effing cool. I especially enjoyed watching the demonstrator assign Circle Of Protection to one hand, and Chain Lightning to the other. The former causes fear in enemies who run inside the area around you, causing them to turn to flee. The latter than arced between them, doing impressive damage. And the spell can be bounced off walls, which is obviously incredibly cool.

Another nice combo was Detect Life and Frenzy. The first shows up the location of enemies who you can’t see with the naked eye. The second, once they’re visible, lets you make them uncontrolled with fury, maybe turning on each other to fight.

Rune magic acts as traps. A frost rune spell cast on the ground is triggered when enemies run over it, dealing damage that allows you to rush in with an axe, or perhaps let loose some Dragon’s Breath fire columns. And Shouts are word-based spells, each of which consists of three words, combined to create more powerful versions of the spell. Words are learned in a variety of ways, including by absorbing the souls of dragons. As we all already know.

There’s to be 150 hand-crafted dungeons in Skyrim, and the one we saw seemed even more elaborate than Oblivion’s. Packed with some really vile spiders, the combat continued to feel epic, everything seeming to be on a larger scale than the series has previously offered, matching the much more powerful attacks on offer.

Creatures aren’t always hostile. A pack of mammoths accompanied by a ten foot giant plodded through the hillsides alongside us, not minding our presence until the man in charge decided to start hitting them. Poor mammoths. They did nothing wrong. This is why the poor bastards are extinct.

And of course there’s dragons. An infinite number, they said. Which would surely suggest that the screen should just be packed with endless fiery creatures, such that you can’t move anywhere in any direction. This isn’t the case, however. But we saw two in the demo, the defeat of one triggering the arrival of the next.

Dragon fights act as the game’s “bosses”, but they’re not scripted combat. The dragons have their own AI, and will attack according to their whim and their need. A shield proved extremely useful in deflecting the torrents of fire coming our way, in a way that was just bloody exciting. Once most the way defeated the magnificent creatures will crash land, and offer a ground-based last attempt to survive. And once dead, if the right class, absorb that soul.

A particularly spectacular moment during the second fight with the Frost Dragon saw our magic-wielding hero cast a Shout that conjured an enormous thunderstorm. The game’s dynamic weather means climate effects are all a regular part of the world, with even snow’s landing being dynamic, meaning a rock covered in white fluff hasn’t been textured that way – it just landed that way. And the thunderstorms live up to this. A magical one looked gorgeous, the edges of the clouds visible in the sky around you, as lightning arced down and took brutal chunks out of the dragon’s health.

The glimpse of NPC voice acting we heard didn’t quite live up to the promises of having improved this aspect. A daft chat between two villagers about one thinking they’d seen a dragon, the other warning her not to tell anyone lest they think her mad, wasn’t well acted, and made as much sense as a chat between two people with the same voice about the Grey Fox, in a world where dragons are everywhere.

But clearly anyone with half a mind wants to at least take a look. It’s going to be ridiculously big. There’s 300 books to read in here. There’s nine main cities. There’s one hundred and fifty dungeons. There’s infinite dragons! Although at this stage there’s no word on horse armour of any kind.

It’s due on the 11th November this year.

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221 Comments »

  1. timmyvos says:

    I saw a dragon the other day. Did you steer clear of it?

  2. Wizardry says:

    (yes, you Oblivion haters, you DO – no one is the least bit fooled by your antics)

    Decline of John Walker!

    I jest, of course. I jest.

    Or perhaps I don’t?

    • Jumwa says:

      “Well, it’s The Elder Scrolls, and we all want more of that (yes, you Oblivion haters, you DO – no one is the least bit fooled by your antics).”

      It’s about time somebody had the guts to say it.

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      James G says:

      Oblivion ‘hater’ here who fully admits he is excited about Skyrim. Partly because from what I’ve heard Bethesda are aware of most my major complaints about Obivion, and are attempting to solve them. I enjoyed FO3, and it sounds like Skyrim is making further steps in the right direction. And secondly because Oblivion still had so much potential, and despite my negative feelings for it, I still had 60 odd hours logged. (Wich might say more about me than Oblivion) In fact, I suspect that my feeling about Oblivion are somewhat tarred by feeling that it outstayed its welcome.

    • Nick says:

      I want to be a dragon.

    • Robert says:

      Since Arena I’ve been anticipating every Elder Scrolls game with glee, and everytime it disappointed me. (except New Vegas -which is Oblivion with guns- for which the expectations were low, yet the result was awesome).

      I still look forward to Skyrim!

    • Buttless Boy says:

      I’m an Oblivion hater too – mind you, a hater who played 110 hours of the game in the first 11 days it was out (I’m entirely too proud of that). As John points out, like the rest of my ilk I’m dying to play Skyrim. Unfortunately I’m also extremely wary. I’ve seen a small improvement in combat, a cool magic system, and a leveling system which looks like it might be even better than the mod I’ve been using in Morrowind since 2005. I’ve also seen a bunch of the same dumb shit that was semi-acceptable in Daggerfall and Morrowind but is ridiculous now. Incredibly stupid AI, a terrible menu system, a world as empty as it is large, and some nightmare combination of cliff racers and Oblivion gates.

      Also I just reinstalled a couple of their games and I’m reminded that they have the worst QA and bug support of any developer this side of Obsidian. Fully patched and meticulously installed, Morrowind STILL crashes my computer until I install a half-dozen unofficial patches. Why they’ve never bothered to incorporate the community’s fixes in their games I’ll never understand; there were a bunch of bugs in FO3 and New Vegas that modders had already fixed in Oblivion. Funny story, actually: Morrowind is the game that really got me into PC gaming, because I couldn’t play the Xbox version for a half hour without it crashing. The fact that Bethesda shipped a CONSOLE game with reproducible crashing is testament to their awful QA.

      All that said, I’ll still buy Skyrim. I have no doubt it’ll be fun, but I doubt I’ll really enjoy it until I’ve got a couple dozen mods fixing all the stupid crap Bethesda did. Hopefully I’ll have the self-restraint to pick it up used so I don’t feel so guilty for my raging hypocrisy.

      Speaking of hypocrisy, I think I’ll fire up New Vegas.

    • Frank says:

      I hate Oblivion* but am optimistic that Bethesda can fix TES, especially after seeing Fallout 3.

      * …for the way it artificially populates its world — with forests, quests, etc. Give me a dense world over an expansive one any day.

    • anonymousity says:

      Why should I be excited about this game when both oblivion and fallout 3 bored me so much I quit 5 hours in?

    • Mayjori says:

      buttless boy, what mod would you be referring to? I feel the urge to fire up some TES.

    • Yosharian says:

      I’m not an Oblivion-hater as such, but I do think there are really big problems with the game, and seemingly Skyrim is determined to repeat them. Still, mods will save us in the end, eh?

    • Buttless Boy says:

      @Mayjori: in my latest installation I’ve been using Galsiah’s Character Development, which is based on one of the oldest leveling system revamps. It removes leveling up completely and just increases skills and attributes as you use them.

      If you’ve got a decent gaming rig I also highly recommend Knots’ Modding Guide, although it’s starting to get a bit out of date. By the time you’re finished, Morrowind should be looking better than Oblivion.

      One thing he skips that’s an absolute necessity is the use of Wrye Mash, which makes the game’s buggy nature and crappy handling of mod files infinitely easier. It’s a bit old and has issues with newer versions of Python, but you can get a stand-alone here that worked great for me. If you plan on adding mods other than the ones Knot recommends, it’s worth using.

      Of course if you don’t want to spend days setting up a game, you could just get Morrowind Rebirth and MGE XE.

      EDIT: I fail so hard at HTML. :(

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    Poor old dragons.

    • McDan says:

      Poor old dragons indeed! No one ever takes their side of things, what if someone abducted the great dragon mother and that’s why they’re attacking people? Because the captors told them to? It’s just unfair. Don’t blame me if that’s the reason why they’re there and I’ve spoiled it, I didn’t know.

    • Khemm says:

      Poor, indeed. Your level 1 character will be able to defeat them no problem. Oblivion again.

    • Jeremy says:

      I don’t think that guy was Level 1 in the demo. He had access to quite a few shouts and spells.

    • jonfitt says:

      Someone call Hayden Panettiere.
      http://imgur.com/kRQ9U

    • Vitruality says:

      Don’t worry Jim, the dragons will be OK with the new Dragon Armour DLC!

    • Betamax says:

      Todd Howard strongly hinted at good dragons in a GT interview. So, yay Dragons?

    • Starky says:

      A harsh life been a dragon, can’t get clothes that fit – or a house for average wage, of course they’ve got to turn to crime and looting when any house they could fit in will cost more than most people make in a lifetime.
      Then of course they have all those hero’s turning up to slay them, even if they did try to go straight, make their way in the world honestly they’d not care one drop. Those glorified assassins they’d still just slay them – no trial, no due process or possibility of reform.

      Then of course you have the issue that if they get a cold, or startle themselves in a mirror they might just explode and kill themselves.
      It must be horrible having to live with chronic gas like that.

    • Wulf says:

      If there are actually good dragons in this (and I mean dragons, not flying reptiles which breathe fire and power fantasies, rather than fantasy) then it might just be able to catch my attention, more so if the racial options are good. But that they’ve only shown this guy this far leaves me feeling terrified in regards to what customisation options are on offer.

    • Betamax says:

      @Wulf: They have confirmed a number of times that the full range of customisation is back. Races will include: Orc, Nord, Imperial, Khajiit, Argonian, Dunmer, Altmer, Bosmer, Redguard, Breton. Male and female.

      Oblivion also offered a wealth of character customisation options (if not the most easy to master) so I would expect the same here.

      Hell if that doesn’t satisfy you there are usually a bunch of race mods up after a few months, although most usually focus on new beast races and demon types.

  4. kurtcocaine says:

    I’m guessing they probably choose consoles to demo these games because on the PC there’s always the offchance (however remote these days) that the game might crash.. which might end up being a bit embarrassing..I’m guessing that doesnt happen on consoles, but dont know for sure as i’ve never owned one
    although, personally i’d like to see a pc game which crashes and requires some workaround or something to get it working properly, it just feel right!

    • Magrippinho says:

      They showed it on a console because “they’re using the consoles as their lead SKU“.

      (This is pretty much a direct quote, don’t shoot the messenger!)

    • Highstorm says:

      They don’t want to show it on a PC ’cause people might get confused and think it’s not coming out on consoles, and with the PC market being so small and insignificant, that’d really damage their sales numbers.

    • Grygus says:

      Could be savvy management of customer expectations. Show the worst-looking version and nobody is disappointed with the final result. In fact, some will be pleasantly surprised.

    • Crabtacular says:

      I believe the demo they showed at E3 was pre-recorded and, therefore, bug free.

      Also, my friend experienced some frequent and quite crippling bugs on the PS3 versions of Oblivion and Fallout 3, so I’m not sure it would be much safer.

    • Salt says:

      There are two videos of the Skyrim E3 demo that I know of both showing roughly the same stuff, and sounding very similar to what Mr Walker has just told us about. Each video is clearly going through the same parts – complete with prompts for Todd Howard to explain about dual wielding spells and weapons – but they do vary very slightly suggesting they were separate play-throughs.

      It’s a fun time spotting the bits that are different between the two videos, and then wildly extrapolating out those differences to the whole game. For instance in one video some tiny animal skitters across the path in front of the hero, but is absent in the other: Which is a reassuring sign that it’s likely to actually happen in the game and isn’t some scripted event for the demo (the supposed video of radiant AI in Oblivion is a cruel memory). Conversely when fighting the mammoths and giants, a dragon always swoops down and picks the giant up in exactly the same way. In fairness, Todd Howard does say in that video that the opening moments of some dragon encounters are scripted, but the fight itself is free form.

      I watched too much E3 coverage.

    • propjoe says:

      They show it on a console because if they showed it on the PC, console players would buy it and wonder why it looks so terrible.

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      Devan says:

      As a developer on consoles I can tell you that they most certainly do crash, although sometimes for different reasons than a PC build might. There’s just a stronger emphasis on removing all the crash bugs before shipping on consoles.

  5. Seboss says:

    I’m a Oblivion hater, and yes I think 80% of Oblivion is retarded and yes, I still enjoyed it for what it’s worth :)
    My only hope about Skyrim is that it won’t have the same ‘uncanny valley’ feeling Oblivion so much had. For the rest, I already know it’s basically less depth, less skills, less thinking, more combat, more eye candy, more derp.

    • noodlecake says:

      and more suspension of disbelief… Which is what makes games engaging!

  6. MCM says:

    DUAL WIELDED

    DUAL WIELDED

    Do it with me now!

    There is no “duel wielded”!

    • Dozer says:

      I will have satisfaction, sir! Duel-wielded is carrying a weapon into a duel.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      or perhaps the weapon you’re carrying is a container containing two tinymen fighting to the death.
      Duel-wielding INDEED, good sir!

    • JerreyRough says:

      You sir are brilliant.

  7. Jesse L says:

    300 books!!!

    But are they NEW books? And can I dual wield one in each hand?

    • Jeremy says:

      No. Books are two-handed.

    • jonfitt says:

      Certain magazines are one-handed.

    • Seb says:

      Certain books as well. “The Lusty Argonian Maid” comes to mind. Which better have a sequel in this game, by the way, because I’ve been dying to know what happens in act V since 2007.

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      9of9 says:

      The real question is whether we’ll get an uncensored version of the Real Barenziah again at last. Now that’s a good book.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      I had a huge tower and library in Morrowind with my main playthrough, hunting down the more obscure copies of books as a way to fill time after completing most quests.

      The Real Barenziah had a featured spot in my collection. Really good stuff.

      Let’s hope the books are Morrowind-interesting again, not Oblivion-no-one-reads-this-stuff-anyway-let’s-not-bother-with-it!

  8. Escalus says:

    INFINITE

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      Alegis says:

      Dragon a698ie90a@DRAGON is not your ordinary flame dragon

      it has 7 more hitpoints

    • Starky says:

      These endless factory mass produces dragons are just no good, the old hand crafted by experts with skills passed down generations were so much better.

      Honestly, those factories are putting honest dragon-smiths out of business.

    • Finster says:

      Sure they might have some longevity issues, but look how much more affordable these new dragons are. Before we outsourced dragon production to Argonia, the average citizen of Tamriel wouldn’t have been able to afford even a single dragon if they slaved their entire lives. Now it’s just a quick pop down to the corner market to pick up a replacement when last week’s dragon can no longer quite manage to wheeze out a meager flame to toast your breakfast.

  9. Jim Reaper says:

    “The glimpse of NPC voice acting we heard didn’t quite live up to the promises of having improved this aspect.”

    They never do….

  10. Seboss says:

    nvm

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    stahlwerk says:

    For a second there I was thinking we’d have a veritable Horace simulator on our hands. Fiery, scaly, infinite Horace.

    edit: huh, would you look at that alt-text…

  12. Flint says:

    But can I dual-wield dragons?

  13. Hamuel says:

    Is the capital city still going to have 10 residents?

  14. MiniTrue says:

    It feels really weird to read about Oblivion haters written about in terms of “you” rather than in terms of “we”… :D

    Reserving judgement until PC footage. Currently suspecting a severe case of Oblivion 2. Todd “The Feature Butcher” Howard really needs to break the Beths team into two, in my opinion: One, large team to continue the “Oblivion Line”, if you like (the people who first got into TES with ‘blivi, probably on a console, and think that is what a TES game should be). On the other hand, with a smaller budget and team size, a secondary “Daggerfall/Morrowind” team should be making a PC exclusive, with the madness of Morrowind’s world coupled with the incredible skill system from Daggerfall (or preferably Battlespire).

    100% market coverage.

    • _Jackalope_ says:

      I got into Elder Scrolls at Arena and I still like Oblivion. Doesn’t stop me playing Daggerfall if I fancy a more in depth game.

    • Betamax says:

      Yeah, no. I got into Elder Scrolls with Morrowind and I still liked Oblivion, not as much to be fair, but it was still good. The bad gets rediculously played up though, and Morrowind has been retroactively made into a god amongst games (I love it, but it was flawed too).

      From what I’ve seen of Skyrim they are still putting crazy amount of effort into the little details, it’s hardly rushed to release or butchered. Of course I am hoping for improvements (such as the main plot, however optional it may be), but from what I’ve seen it’s going to be another fantastic experience best played on the PC.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      That’s not as crazy an idea as it might seem. I always think it’s a bit tragic when this massive amount of art assets (and a decent engine!) is created and only ever used in one game. All that work by so many people, and only a fraction of it is the game part of the game. You have all this great stuff that’s generic enough for a variety of settings, certainly another game set in the TES universe. And you’re not going to reuse it?!

      Add that to my list of reasons that publishers should set up a bunch of indie-like studios: it’s extremely cost-effective when you’re sitting on top of a big pile of under-used art.

    • MiniTrue says:

      Oblivion was a horrifically broken game on every level, though, this is the thing. From a purely nuts-and-bolts perspective, there has probably never been a more broken “mainstream” ( a qualifier I use to discount games like Big Rigs) game, on so many different levels. From the infamous auto-leveller, to the variable weapon damage outputs, to the completely-and-utterly levelled loot, to the heavy reliance on scripting, to the nonsensical objective marker, to the fast travel system which removed any need to explore or route-plan, to the click-heavy interface. Even from that, purely objective standpoint, it was broken. Once you get into more subjective areas (like the streamlining of skillsets to make customisation harder, the removal of all chance of failure from both combat and magic, the cast-and-fight system which homogenised all playstyles into a fighter-mage, the idiotic decision to make stamina a useless stat, the removal of the ability to wear clothes under armour, the removal of all rivalry and mutual exclusivity from factions to remove the Morrowind sense of rivalry, the idiotic rushing of the main-quest storyline to effectively de-legitimatise all side quests (as the world is technically in danger if you procrastinate), etc etc. We can even go into the really subjective and talk about the horrifically over-generic art style, homogeneity of environments, lack of art assets by comparison to Morrowind resulting in endless repetition of assets… I could keep on at this for years.

      Even though “I enjoyed Oblivion” is a perfectly valid and correct statement (from your perspective and, to a lesser extent, mine) that does not invalidate the fact that it took the entire RPG design rulebook and re-wrote it in lolcat.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Weapon damage based on character skill and levelled loot have been part of RPG’s since the original pen and paper ones. Prior to Oblivion, TES based weapon damage purely on the weapon, and skill on the to-hit chance. All they did was remove the to-hit chance and base the weapon damage on a combination of the weapon stats on skill. Either way they’re using half of the classic D&D combat system, just a different half in each case.

      In regards to the fast travel system, how does it not force you to explore or route-plan? You can’t travel somewhere until you’ve visited it.

      I will admit I enjoy your attempt at passing factual inaccuracies off as objective criticism.

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      dahauns says:

      Hm. I can’t remember a single RPG (P&P included) where the very first type of enemy you meet will suddenly drop epic stuff later if you’re only high enough in levels.
      Oh – and the problem with the variable damage is not the way it’s calculated, it’s the way it is (or more like – isn’t) presented.

    • MiniTrue says:

      @Jason Moyer: Are you seriously asking me how the ability to travel from any point to any other point limits the need to route plan? Morrowind’s use of fast travel as an in-game feature requiring in-game money was far more immersive by comparison to the Arena/Daggerfall system of arbitrary fast-travel, which was returned in Oblivion. Please, do explain to me how a failure-free fast travel system, which acts as an instant mitigation of all the bandits etc upon a road network, could possibly be considered an immersive feature?

      I am not trying to say that Morrowind’s abstraction of combat and magic was optimal. However, it least it gave the ability to miss. If your character in Morrowind is trained in broadswords and persists in fighting with a dagger, he will lose the fight. In Oblivion, he will always do some damage, and if he persists for a long enough period of time (and circle-strafes diligently enough), he will win the fight. The same is true of magic. A warrior character could spam the same weak fireball infinitely, whilst running away from his pursuer periodically, and win. How is this conducive to playing a role?

      As for levelled loot, it was a necessary abstraction in D&D due to the nature of the game. Absolute items and a persistent world are mechanically impossible in a pen and paper RPG. Thus, the reasoning of “D&D did it, therefore it must be acceptable” does not hold water. By that logic, I could state that Morrowind allowed potion stacking in paused time, therefore every game should (of course, I would not say such a thing. Because it was a silly mechanic in 2002 and it’s a silly mechanic now).

      Still, do carry on. I rather enjoyed your totally gratuitous snide comment at the end.

      @dahauns:
      Yes, I agree with you. The fundamental problem with Oblivion was its high granularity. However, the removal of all to-hit (or to-cast) chances meant that the PC was able to treat the game as an FPS, which I feel to be a step to far. Morrowind’s system was far less than ideal, but such is the nature of things.

      As to loot drop, that should be a case of good game design. Make good loot appear on hard bosses, which a low level character could not easily kill. However, it is important that the loot be there, and be available with ingenuity (such as drinking sujamma, for example). I felt like I was playing under a Communist state in Oblivion, with no prospects for improvement whatever I did!

    • FakeAssName says:

      “Oblivion was a horrifically broken game on every level, though, this is the thing. From a purely nuts-and-bolts perspective, there has probably never been a more broken “mainstream” ( a qualifier I use to discount games like Big Rigs) game, on so many different levels. From the infamous auto-leveller, to the variable weapon damage outputs, to the completely-and-utterly levelled loot, to the heavy reliance on scripting, to the nonsensical objective marker, to the fast travel system which removed any need to explore or route-plan, to the click-heavy interface. Even from that, purely objective standpoint, it was broken. Once you get into more subjective areas (like the streamlining of skillsets to make customisation harder, the removal of all chance of failure from both combat and magic, the cast-and-fight system which homogenised all playstyles into a fighter-mage, the idiotic decision to make stamina a useless stat, the removal of the ability to wear clothes under armour, the removal of all rivalry and mutual exclusivity from factions to remove the Morrowind sense of rivalry, the idiotic rushing of the main-quest storyline to effectively de-legitimatise all side quests (as the world is technically in danger if you procrastinate), etc etc. We can even go into the really subjective and talk about the horrifically over-generic art style, homogeneity of environments, lack of art assets by comparison to Morrowind resulting in endless repetition of assets… I could keep on at this for years.

      Even though “I enjoyed Oblivion” is a perfectly valid and correct statement (from your perspective and, to a lesser extent, mine) that does not invalidate the fact that it took the entire RPG design rulebook and re-wrote it in lolcat.

      QFT

    • Urthman says:

      MiniTrue, fast travel only saves you from facing bandits when you’re backtracking. Maybe you like walking back and forth over the same terrain fighting the same monsters over and over, but a lot of people don’t.

      I’d prefer better game design that avoids repetitive grinding without out-of-game fast travel. My solution is to play with mods that add limited teleport spells. I’ve played hundreds of hours of Oblivion without ever using fast travel. I just ignore that button.

      It’s not like there’s anything in the game forcing you to use fast travel.

    • jeremypeel says:

      ‘From a purely nuts-and-bolts perspective, there has probably never been a more broken “mainstream” ( a qualifier I use to discount games like Big Rigs) game, on so many different levels.’

      Are you sure you’re a PC gamer?

    • annonashera says:

      @MiniTrue

      I think that you’re way exaggerating on how “terrible” oblivion was.

      “From the infamous auto-leveller,”
      What’s wrong with an auto-leveller? It leaves the depth for players who want it, but those who are new to rpgs may prefer a bit of hand holding.

      “variable weapon damage outputs”
      I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure all weapons are “variable damage outputs” in real life. No slice of a sword will cut the exact same every time, same with guns. There is some randomization to it (like arm strength, position, point of contact, etc) that makes total sense.

      “completely-and-utterly levelled loot”
      Pretty much nobody makes more loot than bethsada these days. They may have gone too far with the leveling loot but hey, every dev learns and tries new things, some work, some don’t quite as well. However, the loot system was far from “broken” in oblivion, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This coming from someone who also loved morrowind.

      “to the heavy reliance on scripting”
      Hm? What’s wrong with scripting? They attempted to do alot, too much in fact, as is their usual problem. It would have been nice for more to be dynamic, but they still put out one of the biggest, bestselling worlds to explore.

      “the nonsensical objective marker”
      How was this “nonsensical”? It worked perfectly fine for me. Unless you consider it “breaks the immersion.” But you have to remember, and its the same with fast-travel, that not everyone has 8 hours a day to play video games. Some people don’t even have 2. These days more and more gamers have full-time jobs, university classes, responsibilities. We aren’t 19 year-olds in our parents basement.

      Part of the challenge of making a giant game like this is making it so people who don’t have tons of time can still experience and explore it. Fast travel/objective marker/compass/map certainly all help with this. No one forces you to fast travel, or do anything else.

      “removal of the ability to wear clothes under armour,”
      Wow. That’s one of your big flaws? Who cares? That isn’t a game-breaker, sorry.

      “If your character in Morrowind is trained in broadswords and persists in fighting with a dagger, he will lose the fight.”
      And this was one of the dumbest things about morrowind. Might make more sense in a pen/paper situation where you can choreograph fights, but running up to someone with a dagger while they are completely relaxed and stabbing them from ~1 inch away SHOULD NOT miss. Period. That’s just stupid, and definitely breaks immersion.

      “I could state that Morrowind allowed potion stacking in paused time, therefore every game should”
      And I recently played the witcher 2, where you have to take potions outside of combat while meditating. And it was more realistic, but it was a pain, not more fun at all.

      I could go on and on. Your post pretends that things are “facts” when they aren’t. You also forget that oblivion sold well 1.7 million at the time of this article, so someone must have liked it. Morrowind certainly didn’t sell like this.

      “According to NPD sales figures, Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has become the fastest selling Xbox 360 title to date, in North America. In addition, the PC version accounted for 13% of all Windows games sold during Oblivion’s first week of release — more than four times the percentage of the next best selling game. ”

      They created a brand new engine, which looked amazing at the time. They did alot of innovative stuff, and will continue to. Fun factions, more fun combat, a cool alternate dimension, mod support with an editor, and much much more.

      I’m not a bethsada fan boy, but your post is pretty much ridiculous.

  15. mortimasIV says:

    Dragons. Dragons Dragons Dragons. Dragons Dragons.

    I feel like I should do my part to help dragons claim the Only Word To Rival “the” and “and” For Most Used On Gaming Websites In The Last Month award.

    Dragons.

    • Torgen says:

      Dragons dragons dragons dragons
      Dragons dragons dragons dragons

      Mushroom mushroom…

    • Quinnbeast says:

      Come to Skyrim… Dragons and Dragons… (Forget Tamriel!)

  16. Mana_Garmr says:

    So are Shouts actually cast via the hands? That’d be weird. Or am I just mis-interpreting the description?

    • Raziel_aXd says:

      Actually, you can hear the shouts and the visual part of it seems to come from the entire camera-view.

  17. jealouspirate says:

    Really, really looking forward to this one. A shame about the voice acting still being mediocre, but it looks like they’ve improved an awful lot.

  18. Nickless_One says:

    I like dragons, why would I want to kill them?

  19. Khemm says:

    John Walker = Oblivion/Bethesda fanboy.
    Sorry, I want more of TES, NOT more Oblivion. Or Fallcrap 3. I want depth instead of dumbing down everything in sequels, I want good writing and interesting lore instead of something written by a 5 year old, I want challenge instead of being able to finish the game on level 1, I want choices and consequences like in Daggerfall instead of a linear piece of crap of a story found in Oblivion, I want an interesting world to explore full of cool stuff instead of a boring, empty landscape like in Oblivion or Fallcrap 3 which you quickly begin to fast travel through – maybe pretty, but BORING. I want interesting NPCs instead of mannequins. I want a good UI instead of something what looks like a nightmare to navigate in Skyrim, something designed for people who don’t pay attention to inventory/stats at all, something which you have to fight with to quickly get access to the information you need.
    And I wanted real Fallout instead of that dumbed down piece of crap for FPS fanboys called Fallout 3. Just like Deus Ex Invisible War, that game doesn’t exist for me. I refuse to acknowledge it’s been made.
    Sorry, there’s nothing to Bethesda’s games but big worlds which people like to explore – hey, I had fun walking around for a short while,too. The problem is – if you don’t like pointless MMO-like grinding and are looking for something else, these games fail. Create a huge random map in CryEngine editor and you’ve just made yourselves another Bethesda game. Same result. Too bad journalists are so afraid to point out the flaws and go for 9/10, 10/10 scores immediately. Bioware is favoured in the same way.
    If Skyrim improves in some areas, good for us. But in November, I don’t want to read reviews praising GRAPHICS, EXPLORATIUN, then again EXPLORASHUN and GRAPHIXXX and nothing else, because that will mean Bethesda didn’t learn from their mistakes in other areas and didn’t bother to improve, knowing none has the guts to criticize their products. Look PAST the graphics and exploration and you’ll see how POOR said products can be.

    • Walsh says:

      What’s Fallcrap?!? Is it available on Steam? IT SOUNDS AWESOME@!

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      I respectfully disagree with every opinion you have.

    • Wizardry says:

      I agree with you. But without all the anger and hatred.

    • Jeremy says:

      I shan’t criticize their products. They have eyes everywhere.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Khemm, do not insults our editors with your ignorance, please. John is about as far from being a “Bethesda fanboy” as I can imagine anyone being. I know it’s terrible when something is wrong on the internet, but you don’t need to get so angsty about it.

    • Premium User Badge

      stahlwerk says:

      infinite fandragons.

    • Grygus says:

      If you believe that nobody but you had the guts to criticize Oblivion, you might do a little more exploring on the Internet. You probably won’t like it because it’s all Fast Travel, but some of the destinations are still worth seeing. Jim mentioned Oblivion in this article precisely because it is controversial, not because it garnered universal praise and nobody noticed the flaws.

      Like you said yourself, you had a great time for a while. How many reviewers were really able to put in 200 hours before writing a review? The process of reviewing often means you are getting an incomplete impression of a large game. These things happen; you would be wiser to adjust your reception of reviews than to demand the entire industry change to meet your expectations.

      Most players and critics will agree when I say that Mass Effect 2 was, in all but a couple of ways, a better game than Mass Effect. Simplification of gameplay can pare a game down to the great parts. Using the term “dumbing down” and talking about games that you claim not to acknowledge (though you brought it up, so it looks like your brain still has space devoted to Invisible War…) it suggests a desire to simplify the universe into a bite-sized nugget you can digest and not a desire to find the truth.

      Incidentally, if you play Invisible War as a game in the Deus Ex universe and nothing more, it’s actually an above-average experience. It’s not amazing, but if your only statement is that it isn’t as good as Deus Ex, that’s really not much of a criticism since that’s also true of virtually every other video game. It definitely isn’t deserving of vitriol; it’s a far better game than the Internet believes.

      Have fun playing whatever you play instead.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I’m a little confused here. You want it more like Daggerfall, but you want it full of interesting characters and not in a boring, samey world? Did we play the same Daggerfall?

      The Elder Scrolls strengths have always been freedom and exploration, with writing and originality taking a back seat (ESPECIALLY writing). So if you don’t like any of that, why are you complaining that the next chapter in the series looks like more of the same?

      Actually, never mind. You set the level of discourse at “fecal” with your clever “Fallcrap 3″ quip, and I don’t really see this discussion rising any higher.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stijn says:

      why are you getting so upset about a game that, as far as you’re concerned, does not exist

    • Robert says:

      Fallcrap New Vegas beats Daggerfall/Morrowind out of the water you silly Daggerfall-fanboy.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I’d just like to drunkenly chip in and say that I hate what Bethesda did with Fallout and I loved Daggerfall and Morrowind.

    • Khemm says:

      @Jim Rossignol
      I did not intend to offend anyone, I actually felt offended by a certain part of this preview concerning “Oblivion haters”. Yes, these words were written by someone who tried to be objective. Spare me the words like “ignorance”, please.
      I originally intended to put a smiley in my post after accusing John of being a “fanboy”, decided not to, did not expect you or anyone to be so sensitive. I’m sorry for that. Well, lesson learned, Internet=serious business.

      @ResonanceCascade
      Daggerfall was ENORMOUS. If you’re comparing a tiny Oblivion-sized world to what we had in Daggerfall in 1996, congratulations. You could excuse certain things because of how huge the world was, you can’t excuse the same approach in Oblivion. The scale is different.
      Daggerfall lore is awesome and well written, denying that is lunacy. Considering “I saw a mudcrab” writing found in Oblivion/Fallout 3 acceptable speaks of your low standards.
      Daggerfall had a non-linear main quest, what about Morrowind and Oblivion? Go ahead, tell me they aren’t worse, tell me TES standards are maintained.
      Exploration is FINE! But I’m tired of kids convinced Oblivion is the bestest RPG evar and journalists actually supporting such claims with undeserved praise for it! None acknowledged its glaring faults in reviews, we suddenly found out there were HUGE problems with this game only just now, when journalists are wetting themselves over Skyrim, convinced Bethesda will SURELY fix the problems Oblivion had. Wait, what problems? If you read Oblivion reviews written by the same people, it turns out the game is PERFECT.
      Sorry, but with a focus turning to much smaller worlds, you can’t excuse things like cardboard NPCs anymore. Daggerfall was a pre-Black Isle game. Now the standards are higher. Daggerfall was an improvement over Arena. I’m looking for improvements.

    • MiniTrue says:

      Oblivion is mechanically broken. There is nothing more to be said about it. The design decisions of the game can be as good or bad (they are a mix of both) as they want to be, that does not change the fact that it is broken. Invisible War was not fundamentally broken, just poorly designed. ‘blivi on the other hand…

    • Nick says:

      the oblivion haters thing (and i don’t think he meant haters as in the tupid anoying haters gonna hate shite) struck me as playful.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Oh, i’m guessing there’s *plenty* more to say about Oblivion.

    • Jeremy says:

      You can’t write 4 paragraphs of abrasive text and then claim that there was some “implied” smiley face.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      @Khemm
      I don’t care what you think about “kids” thinking Oblivion is great. I’m also not sure why you feel the need to project the feelings of these imaginary kids onto everyone who’s calling you out. I thought Oblivion was just OK. I’m also sorry that you don’t seem to understand something as simple as subjectivity and that the problems you had with the game might not have bothered others in the slightest. It’s not a tough thing to grasp.

      I also didn’t say Oblivion had good writing. In fact, I very clearly implied the opposite. Now you’re just blatantly making stuff up to prove whatever point you think you have, which further proves my assertion that you aren’t even worth responding to. Goodbye.

    • MiniTrue says:

      @AndrewC:

      Well, yes, there is naturally more to say about Oblivion, but my point is that it is academic. Sure, there was some nifty quest design, and the game was graphically impressive for its time of release, and the Shivering Isles was an excellent expansion. But…as I reiterate… all of that pales into insignificance when considers the fact that the core game mechanics are either outright broken, or homogenised to the point of imbecility. It’s rather analogous to praising the beautiful sheen on a polished turd, and how it catches the light in such a piquant fashion.

    • John Walker says:

      Yeah! I’m such a fanboy! Nevermind that I never bothered with the main quest in Oblivion and could t stand to play more than 20 minutes of Fallout 3! I’m just a mouthpiece for Bethesda. Mmm, look at all this gold.

    • Premium User Badge

      heretic says:

      This is why I read RPS comments, you guys are the BEST. Especially the last three :D this guy has been TOLD!

    • westyfield says:

      Because heaven forbid that games journalists like the games they write about.

    • Davie says:

      Yes, Khemm, we understand you believe the quality of a game is directly proportional to the amount of years since release. Do you really have to continue your nonsensical complaining in every Skyrim post that comes up?

    • jeremypeel says:

      @MiniTrue Alright, everywhere I turn you seem to be claiming that Oblivion’s core mechanics were ‘broken’, so let’s hear it. I don’t want to hear about auto-levelling enemies or scripting – these are deliberate design decisions which, as much as they are unanimously hated, are entirely subjectively judged. As far as my own experience takes me, Oblivion was a pretty functional game with a number of increasingly unbearable design decisions.

      Show me the breaks, the hairline fractures. Let’s cut this beast open!

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      NMA’s finest

    • Commisar says:

      HATERS GONNA HATE / BUTTHURT DWELLERS GONNA HURT

    • annonashera says:

      You also have to remember that the further graphics/assets come (audio, and visual) the harder/more time consuming/more disk space/etc. it is to do some of those things.

      While anyone could whip up daggerfall era art in a few minutes. And design hundreds of enemies in months, it isn’t that simple anymore. The animating, rigging, modeling, texturing, programming audio and behaviors, ai, etc. to get the monster to do what you want is far harder than it used to be.
      Daggerfall was 62 square miles. Can you imagine filling that up with meaningful content, unique content? It would take a lifetime.

      While before, dialogue delivered by text lest you write thousands of custom responses, situations, etc. When recording all the dialogue that becomes much tougher, in every sense.

      As for challenge, oblivion had a difficulty slider, and I’m sure this will have the same, or levels of difficulty.
      Accusing TES of not having good lore is beyond ridiculous. 300 in game books for skyrim. I don’t know ANY other series with more lore (besides possibly LOTR).
      Check of the uesp wiki if you don’t believe me.

  20. KauhuK says:

    Let there be dragons.

  21. MythArcana says:

    All the people bitching about Oblivion are more than likely console players. Enough said about that.

    • Walsh says:

      False, and possibly the opposite. One of the biggest complaints was navigating the console based UI. You’ll notice one of the first mods released for Oblivion tweaked the UI significantly to take advantage of mouse and higher resolutions.

    • Betamax says:

      @Walsh

      But you said it yourself: “one of the first mods…” – That was never a problem the veteren Elder Scrolls players had with Oblivion because it was so quickly modded. Sure it would be nice if it hadn’t needed to be, but the large modding community is one of the things those of us who play on PC love so much about the series so eh.

      At the end of the day I didn’t find Oblivion suffered in any major way from it’s console status. Most of it’s major problems were there for other reasons (leveling, main plot etc.)

    • Reapy says:

      I just hope the UI here lets you hotkey into significant areas. I mean, ok the oblivion UI was clearly made for a controller. Even shrinking the font down, there was not hot key to bring you right to your inventory or map. You could f1 – f4 I think and get to each major section, but if you had say the world map up and not the local map (or wahtever i forget) and you hit the map button, you still had to UI hunt and peck to get where you wanted.

      Overall the small bit of UI I have seen looks like it will again have consolitus, but at least maybe this time they might let us at least hotkey right into sub-menus and all should be mostly ok, I hope.

  22. Betamax says:

    They could have just shown me the inventory and I would have been sold. The horse riding looks better this time around too, and at least the conversation system is less clunky if nothing else.

    It’s currently living upto the hype, now they just need to show the improvements to Radiant AI and Story, although John’s comment in this article makes me worried we will see a return of the infamous Elder Scrolls banter.

    Really all this Dragon stuff is just icing on the frost encrusted, magic infused, very much not a lie, cake.

  23. Vivi says:

    Am I expecting too much if I’m hoping that dragons can crash in forests and towns as well, breaking trees and buildings in the process?

    Of course I am, but I’m going to keep expecting and start complaining when it doesn’t happen.

    • Jeremy says:

      The only thing you should realistically expect is a Nude Dragon mod.

    • Nick says:

      and a large breasted, skinny female body replacer with anime style weapon mods.

  24. Robert says:

    I’m hoping on less cells, aka no zoning to/into cities. And more muppets inside the cities. But maybe I hope too much.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      From what I’ve been able to gather, at least some of the caves aren’t cells. Which does make me optimistic.

    • Betamax says:

      Apparently that was Winterhold(holme? I cannay remember) in the distance towards the end of the demo. It looked pretty open unlike the closed off cities of Oblivion, but that may have just been that one city or something.

  25. Zanchito says:

    One thing that worries me greatly is the creation of magic items and spells. In all of the TES games you can create your own spells and your own magical items. Will it be possible in Skyrim?

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Todd’s mentioned that the Enchanting skill makes a return, so yes.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      That’s good to know. Even though I rarely used the enchantment system in Morrowind (and never in Oblivion) I’d still feel like something was wrong if it was missing.

  26. PiiSmith says:

    There is no COOP in there or? (Which is too bad, because I enjoy my games a lot more in company)

  27. Premium User Badge

    Lacero says:

    I’m going to ask a question I expect hasn’t been answered, or even asked, but I figure the hivemind might get to hear of it and ask next time. Maybe.

    Is there going to be any construction of buildings like in morrowind? Buying empty buildings was ok but growing your own tentacle plant to live in and hide from ash storms was really cool. I’m not expecting minecraft, but more control over the world really improves these games.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Agreed. I loved the building aspects in Morrowind and I sincerely hope they come back here.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Oh, I forgot all about that! I remember building my little fort on the cliff near Balmora and just wishing it would get attacked. It was cool and all, but it was in a boring location where nothing ever happened.

      The Telvani crazy mushroom house on the other hand was sweet.

      I never did get the Redoran stronghold, mostly because I never liked or joined House Redoran.

  28. Leelad says:

    As long as there are boots that can be thrown on roofs then i’m happy.

  29. MiniTrue says:

    I’m getting the impression more and more that Skyrim is simply not designed for people like me. Please, o ye angry internet denizens, do not read this as a RAGE BUTTHURT post, merely a statement of fact. I suspect there just aren’t enough “hardcore” (I’m sorry, I hate that word, but it has become the standard) RPG fans out there any more to sustain that kind of development. Which is a shame, because the genre never reached anywhere NEAR the zenith it could have reached with more time and money, but at the end of the day, I accept that my enjoyment of the game is not more valid (and is indeed arguably less valid) than the enjoyment of 100 *less hardcore players.

    Thus, I accept that TES is no longer the right franchise for me, and respectfully urge that others who feel angry about Skyrim do the same, and do not attempt to convert Bethesda by force of shouting and rude words. It won’t work.

    Nothing lasts forever, and sometimes we need new franchises to foster innovation. It is unreasonable to expect a consistent level of innovation and quality from just the one series, and I think the REAL solution to Todd Howard is not to bitch at him for dumbing down his series, but to patronise innovative or independent developers who you feel better suited to your style of play. That seems like a more constructive use of time than, metaphorically speaking, shouting at a wall.

    *EDIT

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      He sounds so reasonable, so accepting of other’s opi- oh: ‘console users’, ‘dumbing down’. Oh.

    • MiniTrue says:

      Oh dear. That was my attempt at “conciliatory”. I thought everyone took the fact that Oblivion was heavily dumbed down (alright fine “simplified”) as a given?

      Also, I’m not suggesting that console gamers are stupid. Merely that developers THINK they are stupid. I am perceptive enough to spot the difference, there, so please don’t treat me as someone that derides console gamers, merely console game development.

    • dadioflex says:

      Proper 3D killed your hardcore RPG game. Probably. Define what your hardcore RPG game is and assuming it’s not a lot of guff about min-maxing stats and micro-managing combat then… wait… it is that isn’t it? Dude, you probably want to learn to love grognard wargaming and just give up on RPGs. Or learn to love Pokemon, I guess. I hear it’s getting quite the following.

    • Bloodloss says:

      Couldn’t agree more with Mini. And yes, it is dumbing down. I’m sorry if that’s hard to accept but that’s exactly what it is. They don’t make deep, well-written RPGs with tons of features any more. They make “”"streamlined”"” games for retards. I’m still somewhat looking forward to Skyrim, but it’ll be like being fed bread crumbs after having had a steak dinner the previous day and them trying to sell it as better! More stream-lined!

  30. Derk_Henderson says:

    I will play it, and I’m guessing I’ll have fun hunting dragons for a while, but my guess is that – like every Bethesda game – I simply will not finish it. The stories in these games aren’t compelling, and while I realize that ‘wander off and do your own thing forever’ is a big selling point for a lot of people, what happens to me is that one day I stop playing the game to do something else and I never come back.

    That’s really Bioware’s biggest selling point with me – for all their issues with Dragon Age 2, I still felt compelled to start the game up as soon as I got home from work until I had finished it. I wanted to see where it went. I’ve never been drawn to these games the same way.

  31. Scare Tactics says:

    No horse armor? Meh..unless it’s day one DLC for 15,99€ I’ll pass, thanks

    • Thants says:

      I demand the opportunity to express my individuality via optional post-release purchase options! Various graded payment strata empower me as a consumer!

  32. Premium User Badge

    RQH says:

    For some reason, for all its flaws, the one that ultimately caused me to bounce off Oblivion was the fast-travel. I don’t object to fast-travel as such, but I guess I prefer when it’s implemented as part of the world. Having to go to a specific point or perform an in-game action (i.e., to use the tunnel system in AssBro, or Those Giant Bugs(tm) in Morrowind or taxi cabs in GTA IV) to fast-travel just feels more substantial to me than clicking on a location on the map and being teleported with no explanation.

    • Jad says:

      There was a mod that deactivated the fast travel system and placed a silt-strider-like carriage outside of every city.

    • studenteternal says:

      Personally I don’t care about fast travel, it is easy enough to just not use. I never used fast travel in Fallout 3 nor oblivion. The deal breaker for me was the auto leveled world in oblivion. Yes I know it makes it more table toppy where the DM caters every encounter to provide an appropriate challenge to the party, but I don’t want an appropriate challenge, I want to level and then come back and stride like a god among my early foes :)

  33. Shazbut says:

    I thought Oblivion was great apart from the fact that I didn’t care a damn for anyone or anything that ever happened.

    But developers are right to neglect story and characters. After all, it’s not like Aeris’ death had any impact. Or Andrew Ryan’s assisted suicide. Or Manny Calavera’s repeatedly giving up everything he’s built to find the woman he loves. Or the Ur Quan’s tragic history. Or what team Paul Denton was working for. Or what really happened at the Shalebridge Cradle. Or what can change the nature of a man.

    Oh wait, no. When it’s over, that’s all anyone ever ****ing remembers.

    • Jesse L says:

      I remember a couple of other ^^^^ing things – atmosphere, game mechanics, level design…

      I mean, I like a good story too, but for me, I follow the Elder Scrolls games for the world building. And the books. And now, for the shouting at dragons.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lacero says:

      Not trying to be argumentative, just something I find interesting. I’ve found the physical layout of the game is the thing I remember most when it’s over. I can sit here thinking of ways to assault the statue of liberty all night. And the layout of the Cradle (and the cells) is stronger in my mind than the story of what happened. I have to piece together the story from what I easily recall of the location.

      Now you can’t communicate this sense of place as easily in text as “Man, Ryan killed himself with me!”, which is perhaps why it’s not mentioned so much online. I find it fascinating that games journalism manages to do so much to comment on a medium that is so much richer than writing.

      I guess I’m saying that if they achieve a good sense of place the game will be memorable, and the story you had will stay fresh even if it wasn’t totally prescripted. Meeting the dwarf bloke in morrowind stands out, as does exploring the tomb to gain the trust of the ashlanders, but then again that’s partly because the location of both was so memorable.

    • Wii U Sounds Like Ambulance says:

      Yeah, Oblivion wasn’t as memorable as morrowind.. and when I think of Oblivion I don’t recall any specific location, but it was a good game in its own right.

    • Urthman says:

      A good story adds a lot, but it’s not close to being my first priority in enjoying a game, and certainly not what I’m thinking of most when I remember my favorite games.

      Deus Ex? It was all those great secrets to search for and find.
      Bioshock? It was the shooting, the scenery, setting ambushes for Big Daddies. I thought the story sucked.
      Final Fantasy 7? You’d have to have a heart of stone to watch the death Aeris without laughing.

  34. MiniTrue says:

    reply fail! I’m sorry.

  35. Sauronych says:

    “The PC footage is beyond belief, and just the stills are breathtaking.”

    Wait, you’ve actually seen the PC footage at E3? Or has it been publicly available and I just missed it? Because I remember seeing a quote from one of the Bethesda guys that said they weren’t yet ready to show the PC version.

    • MiniTrue says:

      I also distinctly remember that quote. Although, in fairness, some of the stills released are quite manifestly too pretty to have been rendered by either console. (Except with a little trickery, which is not impossible)

  36. MiniTrue says:

    I’m sorry to keep spamming posts, but I feel there is a misconception beginning to spring up: that “old skool” RPG fans just want to see Morrowind 2 made, and that is that. Whilst there are undoubtedly some of that mindset, I do not think that represents the majority view. The reason why so many of us want a new TES game of that ilk is precisely BECAUSE Morrowind and Daggerfall were so flawed. It just seems agonising that all that (not properly realised) potential should be cast away, Of course there have been changes in the industry, I think most people get that. However, there is a delicate line to be walked here. Oblivion blew that line to pieces with a tank. We just don’t yet know enough about Skyrim to make an informed judgement, although the Fallout 3 levelling and reduced skill numbers certainly don’t augur well.

    To give a good example, for those that have played the Deus Ex: Human Revolution beta leak (am I allowed to talk about that here? I hope so), that is a very good example of an entry in a venerable franchise done right. Modern-day mechanics whilst preserving and expanding the core ethos and ambition of the franchise. “MORROWIND WILL NEVER BE SURPASSED!” talk would quickly die down if Bethesda made that game, just as “DAGGERFALL WILL NEVER BE SURPASSED!” talk (mostly) did. :D

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Absolutely. Daggerfall in particular felt like a first tentative step into a truly vast world of potential. It was a buggy mess full of half-finished ideas, but it was incredibly exciting. Instead, Morrowind and especially Oblivion took steps backwards to create tighter games with far less ambition.

      I want more games to explore that potential. Not just tell new stories with the same old gameplay and a thick coat of polish.

      If there’s any doubt about the potential of CRPGs, cast an eye over the world of tabletop RPGs. There’s so much in there that hasn’t even been attempted in a computer game. I was just reading the Nehwon supplement for RuneQuest and saw that one of the suggestions for a long, open-ended campaign was to let the players establish and run a new thieves’ guild in a city where the current guild wasn’t very powerful. There’s a whole game in itself: recruiting, planning heists, dealing with competitors and the city guards, meddling in politics.

    • MiniTrue says:

      Beautifully said! I suppose it’s a case of trying to explain ambition to shareholders…

    • Wizardry says:

      Meh. Neither Daggerfall or Morrowind are representative of what truly old-school CRPG players want. Party-based, turn-based, lots of statistics. That’s what they want. I’m one of them.

      But I do love Daggerfall. The best game in The Elder Scrolls series by a mile. Morrowind is still a good game, but not nearly as good as Daggerfall. So I agree with you in a sense that I would like to see a modern incarnation of the Daggerfall formula, but I disagree in the sense that that’s all that old-school CRPG players want.

      Give me a new “Gold Box” like series, please.

    • MiniTrue says:

      I should probably rephrase that: it’s not all I want either, but it’s the most likely solution to the problem given the modern state of the industry. I presume from your username that you are a fan of Wizardry, so from that I extrapolate that you have a similar kind of RPG background to me (sorry if that is not the case). Whilst I would love a modern-day Betrayal at Krondor or (a pet love of mine) Darklands, I regret that no “AAA” developer would ever do that. However, I feel that something like Human Revolution or indeed Morrowind represents a much better half-way-house than the rubbish Bioware et al have the temerity to (mis) label “RPGs” these days.

    • Wizardry says:

      Yep, I’m pretty much in agreement. I would love a modern Darklands or Betrayal at Krondor. That would be yummy. But if a modern day Daggerfall is the best I can get then I’ll gladly take it, but I’ll still continue wanting more.

    • wodin says:

      I played the Deux leak….I thought it was awful…very dated…felt like I wa splaying something from five years ago…it looked terrible…and had very bland gameplay…I also spent about an hour trying to find away onto a fire escape…then agve up and uninstalled…

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      @wodin: you have to stand on a crate.

      I don’t even need to know the specific location you’re talking about. ;)

  37. magnus says:

    But can I play as a female Orc (as I always do with the Elder Scrolls) games in Skyrim?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Yes. Why on Earth would you think you couldn’t? All the usual races are in there, and you can be male or female as always. They’ve said as much, not that they needed to as it’s an Elder Scrolls game.

  38. Jad says:

    Leveling monsters and console UI and confusing skill system: am I on an Xbox Oblivion complaint thread?

    Look, people: the majority of the most common complaints about Oblivion were fixed with mods. Most of these mods came out days after the release of the game. If you can’t be bothered to look around for mods, for a game that was the sequel to one of the best-modded games ever, if you’re uncomfortable installing mods, then I’m not going to sugar-coat it:

    You’re not a PC gamer.

    Sorry, yeah I’m sure somebody’s angry with me for saying that. Mods shouldn’t fix dev’s mistakes blah blah. Screw that. Mods are (one of) the things that make PC gaming great. They are, more than really anything else, what separates us from console gamers. We have complete control over our games. We can take a developer’s vision and shape it to our own ends.

    Install a leveling mod, an oblivion-gates-delaying mod, a UI-enhancement mod, a levitation mod, an open cities mod, a companion mod, and shut up. Or go play on a console, if you want plug-and-play, carefully curated experiences spoon-fed to you.

    • MiniTrue says:

      You are correct, of course, but I still don’t think that it should be considered acceptable from an ethical perspective that unpaid modders fix the mistakes of the people who get paid to develop the content.

      But yeah, better a terrible game with excellent mod support than a terrible game period. That’s undeniable.

    • Jad says:

      Sure, we can debate the ethics of it I guess. It would be best if every game came out perfectly. And you can fault Bethesda for that. But there are lots of people on here who sound like they found an issue with the game and then didn’t do even the tiny amount of effort that was required to solve their problem, but just took it as an opportunity to bitch and moan about what was on the whole a great game.

      Before anyone gets me for this, I’m not saying that Oblivion was perfect, or that everything could be fixed with mods. I did miss the weirdness and the giant insect shell cities of Morrowind, and I don’t think there were any mods that replaced the crappy voice acting (although maybe I’d be surprised). But to complain about long-ago fixed things like monster-leveling? Only console gamers have a right to complain about that, not PC gamers.

      A perfect example is STALKER:SoC. Everyone admits that when that game was released it was pretty broken. Yet if Jim puts up a post related to that game tommorrow, you will not find the whole thread filled with comments trashing the game and complaining about bugs. Instead and you’ll find lots of people praising the game and recommending that those who have not played it do so — after patching it and installing the Complete 2009 mod or another mod, of course.

    • Draevos says:

      @Jad
      TRUTH.
      I play Morrowind and Oblivion with 200+ mods each. For every complaint or wish people have about both games, I can name several mods that fix the problem or add a feature. It’s why, no matter how “streamlined”, “dumbed-down”, or console portish Elder Scrolls games become, I won’t be worried.

    • John P says:

      Except Stalker was an amazing game without mods. Oblivion was frankly crap. Interesting for a couple of hours perhaps, but after that you’d seen everything. Mods are great but it’s hard to mod out the fact that all the dungeons were the same, all the oblivion gates were the same, even most of the landscape was the same. It was a dull, boring, generic setting, with dull, boring, generic content. I don’t feel the need to defend a game like that just because other people have modded it.

    • Nick says:

      @Draevos

      Except the voice acting.. and I never found one that replaced every character in the game with a non freak (even the “beauty” mods didn’t stop them almost entirely looking like orange space alien people).

      That said, I enjoyed Oblivion with mods, Oblivion without mods was.. ok but disappointing and had several knuckleheaded design choices that I couldn’t stand.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      @Jad
      So, I’m not at all angry about what you said, and on one level I agree – mods are an amazing feature unique to games on PC, and a really valuable part of PC games culture.
      But ‘not a PC gamer’ if you don’t want to install mods? Surely, the great thing about the PC is its breadth. Loads of people have ‘em, loads of people play games on ‘em. You can express your view without the exclusion and judgement, so why exclude and why judge?

    • Joof says:

      Was there a “Make the entire world not be procedurally generated generic blandness?” mod ever released?

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Speaking purely for myself, I’ve modded Oblivion to hell and back and it still never makes it as fun as Morrowind. I can play Morrowind with no mods and still enjoy it. Unmodded Oblivion just makes me frustrated.

      Is there a mod now that fixes all the dungeons so they feel unique instead of “generic cave #3″? Or one that adds a ton of new areas to the map so I don’t spend half of it riding my horse through generic forest? Those might get me interested.

    • Gorgol says:

      Disagree. I tried installing mods to fix the problems oblvion had and they wouldn’t bloody work! Not even the No Fast Travel one… And no, I’m not a technical tard, I’m quite technically adept actually, for example I’m an amateur programmer. So, no, imo Oblivion mod support was rubbish.

  39. amorpheous says:

    Infinite dragons… does this mean there are infinite Shouts? ;-)

  40. wodin says:

    “I was attacked by a Dragon the other day”

    “WoW…it’s amazing your still alive”

    “Oh it was OK I had my trusty wooden shield”

  41. Lord Montymort says:

    Well, I didn’t find Oblivion perfect, I did however spend many many hours playing that game, and enjoyed myself immensely. Still remember walking out of the cave and realizing I could go anywhere, and do anything in that beautifully realised world.

    I never finished the main quest, in fact I mostly ignored it. I did however, create several memorable characters and play out their little adventures, and I strongly suspect I’ll do the same in Skyrim. It won’t be a perfect game, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending a lot of time playing it. I think we just need to accept the limitations of these games, and enjoy them for what they are. I’m going to have fun playing as a vicious dragon hunter at least, and I’m totally going to pretend every dragon is using Sean Connery’s accent.

  42. Zefah says:

    Wait, you’ve seen the PC footage?

    I thought they hadn’t demoed it on the PC yet.

  43. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    BIG FREAKIN DRAGONS

    IM SO EXCITED

  44. Scandalous_J says:

    As long as I can get my skooma on I’m happy.

  45. TSA says:

    I’d happily trade the dragons for a tad more nuanced modeling of NPC psychology. Please, include a mood in between “indifference” and “fight to the death”. Give them sense enough to run away when they’re hurt, and record a single dialog line to tell me off for standing in the middle of their bed when they want to sleep. Quit making it karma-free to lure strong wandering monsters over to kill people, but a crime to look in their cupboards afterwards. Stuff like that.

  46. Premium User Badge

    lurkalisk says:

    Hmmm… There appear to be jötnar.

  47. bascule42 says:

    The only thing I want this time is a proper “kill 10 rats” quest at the beginning.

  48. MultiVaC says:

    So they were actually showing PC footage there, or is this just speculation about how much better it must look? This is the first I’ve heard of any PC footage even existing, so I’d really like to know a little more about this.

  49. narcogen says:

    Perhaps because the 360 version is what most people will end up playing, and if the promotional materials looked significantly better than that, they would claim (legitimately) it’s a bait and switch.

    Of course, that’s the situation that hardcore PC gaming fans want, to use as ammunition in their crusade against console owners. They want console gamers to salivate over a beautiful game. They want them to buy the console version, be disappointed, and be told by the developer and the publisher, “well, that pretty version you saw before was the PC version” to reinforce their own message, that PC gaming is prettier, better, and for the “real” fans.

    They want to enlist the publishers and developers in waging a PR war against the majority of their customers.

    It’s not going to happen.

    A better question is, why does this article begin with this angle, and only talk about the actual game afterwards?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Why is a PC gaming blog complaining about not being shown the PC version?

      I really couldn’t say.

      Also, nice armchair psychoanalysis there.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Thankfully we PC Gamers already have the Witcher now to point at at console-boys, and laugh heartily and lustily like that sexy wench over there.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Vexing Vision
      But… The Witcher 2 is coming out for X360 before the end of this year? Or is my sarcasm detector totally bonked?

      Edit:// After careful reading, it seems my sarcasm detector is ok. It’s just my reading skills that are bonked.

  50. Limey says:

    I do hope there are penalties for dual-wielding and that it isn’t just a given that someone not using a shield will replace it with another weapon.

    I remember being similarly annoyed in Oblivion when I wanted to play as a character with a single one-handed weapon and found out that it had no benefits over running around with a huge shield on your other arm.