RPS Chat-o-Think: Skyrim

By Alec Meer on October 18th, 2011 at 3:48 pm.

Two pints of lager and a packet of those roast orc flavoured crisps, please

I recently played three hours of Skyrim, and decided in my madness that the best way to document this was with three random anecdotes. Of course, if you weren’t interested in hypocritical vegetarianism, obsessively playing with the zombie spell or trying to pull off stealth crafting, those might not have given you the overall flavour of the game you’re after. So, let Jim be your proxy interrogator about the wider nature and feel of the fifth Elder Scrolls – y’know, combat, openness, voice acting, exploration, all that jazz…

Jim: I suppose my initial question has to be: how good an open world do you think it is going to be? Open worlds are very much my favourite thing in games, but good ones are SO rare! What’s the feeling here?

Alec: Well, it’s very important to observe that I was a low-level character so only encountered relatively piddling stuff – I don’t know what manner of strange beasts I’d encounter in my wanderings. But it was relatively comparable to the start of Oblivion, once you’re out of that lousy intro quest, and suddenly there’s the freedom to go anywhere.
Jim: Any sense of serious diversity? And also did you get to see anywhere particularly urban?
Alec: I spent quite a lot of time just wandering around, looking in a couple of dungeons, fighting some bandits hiding in ruins, bothering a fisherman sat in an island, peering at a town run by angry elves. O didn’t make it to a major city, no, mostly because I was too obsessed with making hats. But the best bit was getting almost to the top of one of the mountains, which takes quite a bit of trekking. I didn’t find any beasts up there, but the sight of Skyrim below me, through the clouds, was spectacular. Very much an ‘all this is yours, my son’ moment.

Jim: that sounds like exactly the kind of thing I like in my games. Is it bigger than Oblivion, in scale?
Alec: from what I’ve heard it’s similar in terms of basic map size, but you’ve got these bloody great mountains to climb – and explore within, so it ends up being a fair bit bigger. Also the bulked up cooking/hunting/crafting stuff meant there felt like there was more to do, too. I didn’t get that ‘suppose I’d better hit a dungeon, then’ feeling, I was quite happy bimbling around collecting stuff.
Jim: Ok, combat. I think the issue I had with the original was that melee combat was very predictable. Do you think it’s going to be a bit more dynamic this time?
Alec: the spells and dual-wielding really mixes it up, I think. It wasn’t a case of fiddling to get the right thing up and having that staccato anti-flow, but instead I’m roasting with a stream of fire from the left hand and stabbing with the right. Comparable to BioShock 2, a little, but obviously more melee based.
Jim: BioShock 2? That’s an interesting reference. I did like BS2′s take on things.

Alec: It definitely felt less pantomime than Oblivion, and also more elaborate. My preferred fighting was having a zombie I’d summoned as a meatshield then stabbing people in the back while they fought it. Oh, and you’ve got the stealth in there if you want it, so you can get away from trouble in a dungeon and hideout until you’re ready to have another go
Jim: are the Shouts just spells? Did you see that?
Alec: I didn’t get to try a Shout myself, but yeah, they’re spells with long cooldowns.
Jim: ok, going back to the world stuff, how much incidental stuff was going on. The anecdote with the poacher was great, but what about travellers, ambient life etc?
Alec: oh! I fought a giant spider. That was pretty horrible. I mostly roasted it to death, but it charging towards me was genuinely unsettling. That was in a dungeon though. Outside, I saw another poacher – the one whose horse I nicked – but didn’t happen to bump into anyone else, bar bandits, but the poachers were chasing animals, and there were some wolves hunting something too I think. Y’know, being all wolfy. I don’t think I saw enough though, got too bogged down in crafting and stealthing. Three hours sounds like a long time, but it really wasn’t enough to entirely get Skyrim’s measure. It did feel a *lot* like Oblivion, but with more incidental stuff and polish – so it wasn’t like the jump (for good and ill) from Morrowind to Oblivion, but more a direct evolution from the last game.

Jim: hmm! So. Is it more like Morrowind, really?
Alec: Well, it definitely doesn’t feel as fantasy-generic as Oblivion didn’t, but it is building on what Oblivion did rather than what Morrowind did. It’s clawed some of the strangeness and randomness of Morrowind back in, and sorted out some of Oblivion’s presentation issues. I think it’s going to be more satisfying and, I think, better, than Oblivion, but maybe not as memorable as Morrowind.
Jim: One of my bugbears with Bethesda games is UI and menus. They’re ALWAYS horrible. Always. I mean there’s a degree to which we can’t know this till we get the PC mouse menus
Alec: oh, that stuff’s so much better. They’ve really worked on it. They’ve redone it from the ground up, and now it’s genuinely about how to present lots of stuff rather than stuff everything into a scrolling box that fits on a TV screen. I mean, they may well cock it up on PC as they always do, with supersize fonts meant for 720p that require mods for anyone with a monitor that’s less than ten years old, but on the console build it felt really quick and deft to find what I wanted. And the favouriting system, an instant, one-click drop-down menu in the main game of whatever you’d tagged as preferred items, be it weapons, spells, potions, whatever, really eased things up. So if you have certain attack styles, combos, it’s going to make it a lot less stop-starty.

Jim: Juh, that sounds useful. How much of the story did you actually get to see? And what did you make of what you did see?
Alec: I saw the quest where you enter a Draugr dungeon in search of a golden claw and your first Shout, including a boss fight against a mega-skeleton with a big horned hat, but that was about it. That kicked off nicely, by overhearing a shopkeeper and his wife arguing about how the claw had been robbed and ultimately offering to help. The dialogue sounded a lot less forced and trite than Oblivion and Fallout 3, too.
Jim: thoughts on voice-acting? I know that was always a bugbear for you (oddly I never minded that much)
Alec: In fact, I interviewed the dev after and he said Bethesda have completely changed how they record dialogue now, as well as getting in new actors. Whole different agency for it too.
Jim: it’s interesting than they knew it was bad. I think devs are increasingly realising that man in a room saying the lines isn’t enough.
Alec: It didn’t strike me as an amazingly-written game, but I didn’t get any Brother Jauffre-style wincing. Yet, anyway – I mean, I largely avoided storyline stuff as it’s not really why I play TES games anyway.
Jim: Yeah, and I think that’s the exciting bit: the freedom to wander and to buy houses and stuff. I guess there’s no way to measure that from a quick preview, but it’s the bit I am most interested in, just exploring, making the world mine.
Alec: I was levelling up fast just wandering around, doing my own thing, bit of sneaking, conjuring, crafting – didn’t feel like there was any need to go and have enormous fights to progress

Jim: That’s the stuff. I do so get grumpy when an open-ended game funnels me down its story.
Alec: No sense of that all, it felt far more hands-off in that regards than Fallout. My only real disappointment was climbing to the top of a mountain and finding nothing there, apart from a great view. But maybe once I’m higher level I’ll get chased by dragons and giants and things
Jim: how much is going to do that dynamic world-levelling up thing?
Alec: hard to say; it’s in there but they’ve said it’s improved. I think I’d need a good 12 hours in the game to get any sense of that. Tell you what though, even after just three hours, leaving the game and knowing my character would cease to exist was heartbreaking. I was entirely invested in my strange, minute story of crafting, poacher-bothering and zombie-summoning, and how I’d made a character and an internal fiction to suit that. I didn’t get that dread sense of ‘oh god, I just don’t really care’ I did with Fallout 3. I was entirely into this.

Jim: that thing you are talking about – actually giving a damn – is what matters most to me with Skyrim. I’ve really struggled with the last two Bethesda games, and didn’t complete either. On paper they should be ideal Rossignol games, but I never quite get on. I genuinely hope that come November, this will be the one for me.
Alec: yeah, I think there’s a chance you might get on with this. It feels less contrived, I think. Less I Am A Roleplaying Game, These Are My Systems. More organic.
Jim: Man! Fingers crossed. If they’ve nailed it… I’ll have to take the rest of the year off.

(Disclaimer from Alec: I played this on an Xbox 360, as PC code was not available on the day and I am fearful will not be so before the game’s release. So, very possibly the only chance and all that. Damned shame, but there you go. If we can get PC hands-on time before release, you can be sure we’ll tell you whether they’ve done The Right Thing or not.)

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156 Comments »

  1. Ross Angus says:

    I’ve no idea what “complete” means, when it comes to finishing Oblivion, or Fallout 3, or Skyrim. I guess Alec means the main quest.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I never got any further than the first hellgate in Oblivion. I played Morrowind tons though, really enjoyed it but then found Oblivion completely boring.

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      Maybe it means ‘complete arseholes’ in relation to the NPC voice repetition?…

      WIll be great if that’s improved, as it’s one of the lickl things that took away otherwise great atmospheres in Fallout 3, Oblivion, and Morrowind.

      “Good to see you”.

    • 4026 says:

      I’ve played hundreds of hours of Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3… and haven’t completed the main storyline in any of them.

      I’ve tried really hard! I go back to them, roll a new character and think to myself: “This time”. And then they send me on some bloody tedious fetch quest, and a little dungeon catches my eye, or a worried NPC lures me off down an imaginative side quest or I contract vampirism and BOOM! A wanderer’s life for me.

    • Wizardry says:

      I finished Daggerfall.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I’ve played hundreds of hours of Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3… and haven’t completed the main storyline in any of them.

      Fallout 3 was quick and easy. I finished it almost without meaning to.

      Now Daggerfall, on the other hand…I know I’ll never finish that. The dungeons are impossible to navigate. Except for Wizardry, apparently.

    • Wizardry says:

      Bullshit. Hug the immediate left or right wall and move through the dungeon clockwise or anticlockwise. Easy.

    • vecordae says:

      Is it not written “Go left young man”?

    • Syra says:

      I’ve completed fallout3… after about 60 hours, every quest and location and bobble scouted and all that jazz, max level etc. Second playthrough. That’s how I complete a roleplaying game, play it through as myself, then play it through as an asshole, which is sometimes the same thing but with different combat skills. All the content done from atleast a couple of angles *checks box*.

    • Stevostin says:

      Actually WIzardry, that didn’t work in Daggerfall’s dungeons. The real thing preventing to finishing Daggerfall, thus, was save corruption.

      World wise, my favourite TES game was Morrowind, but game wise it’s so hugely inferior to Oblivion that I take the dull, unimaginative and less ambitious on Morrowind anytime. I think many ppl are biased with nostalgia with Morrowind. Morrowind was full of promised it didn’t even try to deliver. Oblivion promised lessed and sometimes delivered poorly, but you always had at least something. Fallout games are along that path and I feel like they’re solid on everything they promises. And let’s be honnest : when it’s about spending dozens of hours, the fact that those games are balanced at every character build on any level is one of the key reason I could play them so much.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Stevostin: Make multiple saves. I never did get stuck due to save corruption.

      And you’re probably right that world wise Morrowind is better than Oblivion. It’s probably better than Daggerfall too. But I don’t understand why you think Oblivion is a better game than Morrowind. It’s inferior in almost everything it tried to do. And Daggerfall shits on both game wise.

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      Durkonkell says:

      Ignoring Wizardry’s contention regarding Daggerfall, I believe that Morrowind actually IS a superior game to Oblivion.

      It’s not nostalgia either! I played Oblivion *extensively* (and loved it) a little while after it released, and have only played Morrowind recently – in fact, I’m still playing it now. I’ll grant that the combat system is sometimes infuriating – traditional RPG hit mechanics in a first person game didn’t really work for me – but the environment, depth and breadth of the world are captivating to me in a way that Oblivion wasn’t. Disclaimer, though: I am playing the game rather heavily modded.

    • Zippy says:

      Morrowind was the only TES game I ever managed to finish, on more than one character even. Daggerfall I couldn’t even find the main quest, and spent my time in huge random dungeons that couldn’t be navigated without glitching out of one corridor onto the roof of another, then walking through the ‘void’ to the quest destination, and looking for another glitch to get back in.

      Oblivion’s world leveled up faster than my character did (I’m not much of a min/maxer), so I found myself abandoning the main quest at level 15 or so. Repeated wrestling with my horse led to giving up on the game soon after.

    • Stevostin says:

      Morrowind was falling short on several stuff people often forget. First, it was really badly unbalanced. It was ok first level, then really, really hard until level ~15, then ridiculously easy. Some skills were very easy to max out (Alchemy, weapons…) and some nearly impossible (or very painful) : some magic skills for instance. And some of them were largely useless – so you had more skills, but not all the gameplays promised by thoses skills were actually working in the game. There was some nice quests, but overall the quest engine was pretty limited. A lot of stuff could just never happen, like fighting with one or more ally on your side. There was a lot of places to explore, but not hugely rewarding. And you still had a shitload of thieving exploit to make you rich that didn’t make any sense at all.

      It’s a fact : Oblivion beat the crap out of Morrowind on any of those points. The AI engine is hugely better – the fact that you can make fun of it or that it doesn’t deliver everything expected make a lot of people miss the point : can they point out a game with similar challenges for AI that does more ? I can’t. An Oblivion character can decide “friend, foe, law breaker” on the fly, they can desire an item, search for it, pick it up, use it ; they have daily routine and can do unexpected stuff. They ‘re not real characters, but they try to be, rather than trying to look fine (like in a Bioware game). It’s the way to go for me.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Oblivions solution to the rampant thievery in Morrowind was rubbish – shopkeepers can magically tell if any item has been stolen and refuse to buy it.

    • gwathdring says:

      If you’re insane, complete means doing everything you possibly can. For me, it means playing until I reach a point where I feel like the character is retired to the same extent that I am. Where I feel like, in world, I’ve done a lot of the things both player and character feel utterly compelled to do and the rest is more … “You know what would be kind of great? Assaulting a slaver compound. Fawkes, I think I know what we’re going to do today.”

      I got there with Fallout 3. It took a while, and there were lots of breaks, but I got there. I’m still hesitant to delete it because I have fun mucking about in the wilderness and finding new places. I was so excited when I discovered the Nuka Cola Factory! Not because it was an especially interesting level (though the collector’s house certainly was) but because … it was the NUKA COLA factory! Also getting bunch of ghouls into Ten-Penny Tower and … er … accidentally inciting a woman to kill her philandering husband … which made me feel a bit awkward. Especially when everyone decided to ignore the body in the stairwell …

      Oblivion though … I got to the Bruma Gate quest in relatively short order. I did sidequests and such, but mostly I did the hero thing. Then I leveled up to … something around 30. Then I got back to the main quest. I seem to remember what the Wiki page describes as Miscarand, as well as the Defense of Bruma. But I’m not sure. I know I never finished the main quest, and I certainly didn’t realize I had gotten that close. I did shut down an insane number of Oblivion Gates not related to the main quest, though. And I found all kinds of awesome goodies like a battle inside a painting to save a trapped mage. Good thing I had a lot of turpentine.

      I never felt like I completed it, despite the hours and hours I poured into it (and that’s just my primary character!). I’m still playing Fallout 3, and I feel like I completed it. I didn’t get that feeling from finishing the main quest, per se … but I got that feeling nonetheless. I meant to play multiple characters at once in Fallout 3, but I got sucked into the fiction I and the game created around my character and never really went back to the second character I made. In Oblivion, I liked mucking about with things but never felt settled on any one of them. So I never got that “well, we had a good run” feeling. I just … stopped.

    • rei says:

      I’m also one of the brave few who actually finished the main quest in Daggerfall, but I think it took me a couple years. The plot dungeons weren’t anywhere near as gigantic and random as some of the other several thousand dungeons, however. It really was quite something to go into a dungeon and spend a week of real time in there until you see daylight again. (And in the game!)

    • sinister agent says:

      I agree with Stevostin. Morrowind’s world was excellent, but it was a horrible, tedious game. Oblivion was generic, but far more playable and fun. Skyrim looks like it’s shaping up to combine those two quite well, which would be terrific news.

      I’ve never got more than a few early missions into any bethesda main storyline. Boring, fiddly, and badly written and delivered. I’m not interested in being THE CHOSEN ONE. I’ve done it a bajillion times already, thanks.

    • Wulf says:

      Oblivion has some truly fantastic moments…

      …but they’re all thanks to mods.

      See, the one thing that makes me really, really sad about Oblivion is that it’s so effing generic. What this means is that people never really bother to scope out the mods. And that’s a shame, it’s the biggest shame ever, really. The base game is fairly terribad because it’s so boring, aesthetically it’s kind of awful too, and yet the mods for it are so, so good.

      The Lost Spires, Ruined-Tail’s Tale, Deserts of Anequina, and so many others. You don’t need a Total Conversion for it, because that means that you just miss out on the mods that aren’t, but mods which add some truly great content to Oblivion. The best content in regards to Bethesda games invariably comes from modders, and this is true of any of their games that’s supported mods. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)

      When I install Oblivion though, I install it to play mods. Sometimes some of my favourite content mod makers will release a major update to something, or a new mod entirely, and I’ll be back. And I’ll be staring in wonder at what they’ve done. And I’ll just ask myself how they manage to create such brilliance when a massive developer like Bethesda is apparently unable to. Why they can do so much right.

      Perhaps it’s Bethesda trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator and being afraid to take risks, but Skyrim seems more of the same, really. I mean, man with mansword takes on thousands of flying reptiles. That sounds like the most original concept ever, doesn’t it? To me, that sounds like wish fulfilment for incredibly boring people. And we both know that’s true. The sad part of Bethesda games is that they could be so much more clever with their plots and settings, but they’re so scared to try, so that comes down to modders.

      (Like I often say about Bioware and their pedestrian efforts compared to the likes of Obsidian, Bethesda just needs writers. They need good writers. Please, Bethesda, this is important. I actually want you to succeed! You’ve made so many of my favourite modding platforms! But you could actually make good games. Please, just hire some decent writers. Just one, maybe? And a content designer with even the slightest modicum of imagination? That too? It’s a risk. But try?)

      But yeah, modders I rely upon. And I urge you to go back to Oblivion and check out some of the stuff that’s out there, take a look at the likes of the TES Nexus and round up some content mods. Just give them a test drive and I promise you that you will see it too. The writing and design of many of them is nothing short of exemplary.

      Anyway, I’d said I’d come back to Bethesda failing in regards to content design in general.

      I think that in Fallout 3, most of the more interesting content came from modders, too. And I will give you an example of one modder who’s created a series of mods that far, far outdoes anything else in Fallout 3. I mean, sure, Fallout 3 was more interesting than Oblivion, by a bit, but it was such a boring themepark, and that made it boring. Even in regards to consequences, they were so light on them, to the point of not really having any. (One of my favourite examples is Megaton, you can blow it up or not, but you don’t actually lose anything at all in the process, you can still do Moira’s quest line, and you get access to all the same services in Tenpenny Tower.) And the speech skill in Fallout 3? Worthless!! Completely worthless. You can just shoot your way through everything.

      In fact, one of the funny complaints about New Vegas was that you couldn’t just shoot your way through everything. Some of the content in the game you actually needed a pretty damn high speech skill to see, and that’s awesome. See, that’s a choice and consequence scenario which has meaning, even in a simple stat! You choose not to have speech, you choose to lock yourself out of that content.

      And there were so many instances of pretty damn decent writing, along with choice and consequence in Fallout: New Vegas. In F3, nothing I did mattered. Not positively and especially not negatively, and the black & white karma system where you could become the most loved murderer in the world by handing bottles of water to beggars was… I can’t think of a kind enough euphemism.

      But in Fallout 3, there was also a series of mods…

      A series of mods by puce moose. And I would tell you to go and download Fallout 3 right now to play them. That’s the power of the modding community behind those games, they take entirely average, pedestrian games, and they weave beautiful, often brilliant, bits of content into those games, making them just better in every respect.

      If I would say anything about Bethesda, it’s that they’ve inspired the existence of one of the greatest modding communities ever.

      I’m not looking forward to Skyrim at all, really.

      I’m looking forward to Skyrim’s mods.

    • aerozol says:

      Just to join the internet discussion, cause I can:
      Morrowind is better than Oblivion, even today. imo.

    • JANUS says:

      Daggerfall is unquestionably the best TES. Oblivion, on the other hand, would still pretty much be the role-playing game’s Great Satan had ME2 not been released. It’s abominable.

    • Koldunas says:

      In TES games the player makes the story. Not the “brilliant AI” or “lack of exploits”. Of course, these things are good, but the sandboxedness is what makes TES great. And the mod community are a part of this sandboxedness. They are the ones, who let you flesh out your story, make it unique and not just randomly pick and match from the generic box of generic Oblivion genericness.
      That being said, without the mods Morrowind is an outdated (graphically and structurally) classic (because of its ambition and vision). Oblivion, without the mods, is just painful to play.

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      Hidden_7 says:

      Wulf, you’ve often mentioned great adventure / quest mods for Oblivion, but are rarely specific as to which ones. I’m doing a bit of replaying of Morrowind and Oblivion in anticipation of Skyrim, and would very much like something new to play. There’s so many mods to choose from just by going to the Nexus, it’s a bit daunting. Which are some of your favorites? Preferably ones not too comprehensive, adventures that slot more or less into Tamriel as it is would be best (I’ve been playing in that world since Daggerfall, I’ve a fondness for it), though if there are really good TC’s I’d be up to give those a whirl as well.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      People get all excited about Oblivion mods, but having tried several hundreds of them (I tried them individually and then tried to merge them into my 255-mods install), I can say that almost none of them reach the level of polish of vanilla Oblivion content. I even had a go at modding myself and fixed bugs in a mod or two, but I found the task unrewarding.

      Most mods are either buggy, have absolutely horrible voice acting (no voice acting would be better), or try to cram in so much visuals/AI/other stuff that they cause the game engine to melt. People on the forums often say that Bethesda is dumb because they should have had such and such idea that modders had, but if you look behind the novelty factor and at the actual implementation, you see that the same people would flame Beth to no end if they had dared include such half-assed content in the game.

      Lastly there’s the fact that your “ideal Oblivion version” lives somewhere in the clouds and probably necessitates the installation of a large amount of mods. Problem is, unlike say the STALKER community where people tend to freely borrow from each other (Russian/Ukranian spirit, maybe! The devs even allow people to use content from their past games freely), the Oblivion community is obsessed about control over their creations, and don’t allow people to create large mod compilations. Which means that everybody has to go over the same painful mod integration steps; and that means (again, unlike STALKER) no “Oblivion Complete 2012″ for 90% of users who are not ready to spend a week debugging their install.

      Sounds like a rant I guess, but I thought I’d give a more realistic picture of the modding scene that the one people usually paint.

  2. Zaboomafoozarg says:

    Looks delicious.

  3. KauhuK says:

    I want to play this game so badly now. Been waiting for epic freeroam adventuregame where you can do almost what you want.

    • Khemm says:

      Then bethesda’s games are not what you’re looking for. They’re hiking sims that allow you to walk around and admire nearby rocks and grass, enter a random dungeon, kill stuff – and you do nothing there but repeat that over and over and over. Basically, single player MMOs.

      It’d be awesome if they looked at games like Gothic, Ultima, stole some ideas, added interesting factions, NPCs, conseqences of your actions, branching plot paths which Daggerfall had, living world – and made Skyrim not suck, but I fear it’ll be Oblivion and Failout 3 all over again.

    • Rhin says:

      Honestly, Oblivion had some good gems –

      The time you have to rescue the elf from his dreams by passing his tests of character for him.

      Like, everything in the latter half of the Dark Brotherhood quest line.

      That time in the Mages guild where you get sent down a well to retrieve a Ring of Burden. Ha ha ha.

    • Grygus says:

      Your post seems inconsistent to me. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

      Bethesda games aren’t what he wants – but then you list features that the Elder Scrolls games already have…

      Complaining that the main quest doesn’t branch seems to completely miss the point when you have the freedom to ignore the main quest altogether. If being free is your priority then what the laid-out path contains is of secondary importance at most, surely?

      You can’t do absolutely anything in Bethesda games but they’re pretty damned open and you can do whatever you want in the order you want given the limitations of the engine. Your example of a better game in this sense is Gothic? The games that force you to do the main story line in order to unlock areas? Are we playing the same Gothic?

      You seem to be saying that Bethesda games aren’t what he wants, but the game you’re describing doesn’t exist at all; here in reality, The Elder Scrolls are pretty fine free form games. I do look forward to the Holodeck game you envision, but until it exists we have to make do with what we have, and there’s no point avoiding the best available because something better may exist sometime in the future.

    • RagePoon says:

      @Khemm – You obviously just purely hate Bethesda games and have no actual input at all. If this is you trolling then you are succeeding but I am gonna take a guess and say your not. I love how you use Gothic as a prime example of what a game should be yet, having played it… The Gothic series was extremely unpolished and boring in comparison to Morrowind etc. (Maybe not Oblivion because I thought that was the most bland setting they’ve done so far) Don’t get me wrong, Gothic was a decent game, but in no way do you sit there and say it was better then a Bethesda game as Gothic entails the same thing, walk around, kill things and level up. News flash Khemm, all RPG’s are exactly that.

    • Salt says:

      I know it’s meant to be a bad thing, but a hiking simulator just sounds wonderful to me.

      I’m going to play a hunter going out for a nice long walk in the mountains. I hope we can have companion animals.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @ Everyone since Khemm posted – I don’t agree with him, but in all fairness, he is adding some input and trying to help the OP – The Elder Scrolls games aren’t for everyone and on the offchance the OP doesn’t enjoy them, there are some good alternatives suggested!

      @ Salt, I couldn’t agree more!

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      Hanban says:

      I’ll just weigh my two cents in by saying that I love both the TES games, and Gothic 1 and 2 (still can’t bring myself to play more than a couple of hours of Gothic III).

      They’re rather different games though. In Morrowind you have quests where you run to some place and talk to some fellow. That is rarely the case in Gothic where you will run to some place and kill something then return to talk to some fellow. Sounds a lot like an MMO when I come to think of it…

      Anyways. there’s a lot of running and killing in both those games. So I’d say they’re both good run-kill simulators.

    • Wizardry says:

      Khemm gave two examples. Ultima and Gothic. So why did everyone pick out Gothic to dispute while ignoring the other example?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      “Khemm gave two examples. Ultima and Gothic. So why did everyone pick out Gothic to dispute while ignoring the other example?”

      If someone said “Why can’t our country be more democratic, like Norway or North Korea”, I think it likely that people will pay more attention to the North Korea bit than the Norway bit. i.e. it’s the part of his statement that drew attention.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      People here are mentioning other RPGs such as Gothic, Risen, and there are other similar “lower-tier” third person RPGs like Two Worlds and Divine Divinity 2.

      The problem is none of them are first-person. This is CRUCIAL.

      It’s only recently I’ve seen first-person dungeon crawling action RPGs making a resurgence. Since the mid 00s they have become extinct on everything save for the Nintendo DS.

      Skyrim will probably have as much dead, empty space as previous Bethesda games. It’ll probably have copious bugs, and crashes, and the usual expected Bethesda-isms.

      But it can be played like a first-person dungeon crawler, and that’s good enough for me. (Hope they’ve improved their dungeon design though, so far 5 hours of Nehrim has proven that Oblivion’s dungeons were rather repetitive and lacking!)

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      “it’ll be Oblivion and Failout 3 all over again”
      Well, that’s a good thing in my book, hooray for me not hating things! :)

    • Bloodloss says:

      I pretty much agree with Khemm. Take a look at this review: http://rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=129

      Hilarious and points out everything I hate about Oblivion and probably Skyrim.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      @Bloodloss RPGCodex? I’ve read them enough to know that they don’t really like anything, they’re just generally angry and feel good about themselves trashing every game developer they can. I mean, they’re as angry with Bethesda as with Jeff Vogel (of Spiderweb Games), so that should tell you something.

    • JANUS says:

      Can you really blame RPGCodex posters for being angry when the genre they love has been supplanted by third/first-person action games with perfunctory stat systems? And they’re then told by every developer and games journalist under the sun that the genre they love is terrible and outdated and irrelevant and the only people who like it are fat virgin white supremacist shut-ins?

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Yes, I can really blame them for pointlessly raging at everything. Posters on other forums manage to point out the flaws in recent games in a level-headed way, and also respect the few people making old-school games (for instance Jeff Vogel). Posters on other forums are able to see where recent RPGs improve on old-school ones, such as actual stories – old-school RPGs had great number-crunching but often had a pathetic excuse for a story and a completely incoherent setting, see the first Wizardry and Might and Magic games for instance.

      In any case as I said they don’t like anything. When old-school games get mentioned they also say that they suck. They’re caught in a spiral of universal smug hating.

    • JANUS says:

      I don’t think you quite understand the contention, here. It’s that what you call “modern RPGs” are not RPGs at all, by any accepted sense of the definition, and yet have somehow managed to dominate the marketplace while being marketed as RPGs – because you can, like, increase your shotgun skill or something, and there are dialogue trees. It’s absurd to say “they hate everything”, too, when this clearly isn’t the case, since the forum is notorious for its protectiveness of certain games – Fallout being the most notable. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a Codexer who didn’t like Darklands, either.

  4. Jockie says:

    My sense of the level-scaling for my 45 or so minutes at EG Expo is that it’s far less immediately obvious. I accidentally stumbled into a giants cave and no concession was made for my Level 1ness. My attacks did next to no damage to the giant by the entrance and I got killed in a couple of hits. It’s entirely possible he wasnt actually hostile to me and I just panicked like a big wuss when entering an unknown cave and being faced with a massive scary looking fella.

    I found an encounter with several bandits demanding all my money enjoyable and challenging though. I had to mix up stealth, archery and a bit of melee for the general bandits. For their leader I used a staff of reanimation I’d found to get his former comrades to kill him for me.

  5. Flint says:

    How’s the levelling system? Identical to the Morrowind/Oblivion formula or tweaked somehow?

    • Groove says:

      I can’t remember all the details but it sounded like they’d made big changes to the levelling systems. It made me feel much happier with it, and I hated the Morrow/Obliv leveling systems (and enemy scaling) so much that I found the games unplayable. Despite otherwise loving them.

      They’ve replaced 7 fairly minor stats with simply increasing Health, Magika or Stamina when you level. I believe every skill is now a major skill? And they’ve removed things like running and jumping, as everyone runs and jumps. I think they’ve also removed a lot of enemy-level scaling so that if you level your alchemy a bit then you won’t suddenly be facing minotaurs and bandits in dragonscale armour.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      I hope that turns out well. The old Elder Scrolls system basically punished you for using your main skills, and that is just stupid.

    • serioustiger says:

      This. On the subject of “what do you want from an RPG”, progression is a key thing for me. And the (unmodded) levelling system in Oblivion was horribly broken.

      Obviously I will still spend weeks of my life in Skyrim either way, but a decent levelling system would be grand.

    • csuzw says:

      I really hope it has changed as it pretty much put me off Oblivion (although for some reason I didn’t mind it in Morrowind – maybe because I didn’t think about it). Being punished for not micro-managing your skill ups in completely unintuitive ways was a silly idea.

    • Lucas Says says:

      Big question of mine, too. I always get paralyzed by fear of leveling in Oblivion. I’ve spent literally an hour trying to run through a dungeon using minor skills so I didn’t accidentally level up any major skills. That’s wrong, and I hate it.

      I’d love a detailed look at it so I could be properly excited for Skyrim, instead of half-fearing it.

    • vecordae says:

      Dear Bethesda: I love the concept of your TES games, but hate having to fight your leveling mechanics to make a fun-to-play character. I know that some people have this esoteric (and frightening) art down, but I foolishly decided to skill up in “pen and paper role-playing games” instead. If I try to learn how things work in your games, I might accidentally level up and come to work to find my boss in glass armor.

      Also, now he’s an ogre for some reason.

    • formivore says:

      I actually really enjoyed gaming the leveling system. The key was to go minor/major for everything except your primary weaponskill, which you did major/major. It was fun going on quests to Bruma to get the 5 training points in heavy armor you needed to get your full HP boost. Ah, the times I debated whether to choose for my last major illusion for controllable uselessness or speechcraft for overall uselessness.

      I understand that this is not a normal response however.

      Not getting screwed by Oblivion’s leveling system – an intricate minigame that integrates in a rich way with the larger experience – the essence of good gameplay.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      There are mods for the levelling systems in both Morrowind and Oblivion. The latter, particularly, is thoroughly improved by Obscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul. That as well as the “DarN UI” interface mod, make such a huge difference to the game, personally I wouldn’t want to play Oblivion without them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      @formivore: This is how I played, too. Unfortunately, I did not nearly enjoy it as much as you.

    • Arasaka says:

      “I love the concept of your TES games, but hate having to fight your leveling mechanics to make a fun-to-play character.”

      That’s exactly how I felt too. I couldn’t finish either of them because of it.

    • warthog2k says:

      I could live with the levelling system to a point, but it’s clearly broken if it encourages you to spend an hour punching a horse in the arse rather than rewarding you for exploring, fighting and actually ‘playing’ the game.

      And bandits in full Glass Armour demanding a handful of pennies from you was always stupid. Desperate for cash? Sell that armour you’re wearing for tens of thousands of gold you fool!

  6. Stevostin says:

    I feel sorry for anyone not enjoying Bethesda’s Fallouts. Such great games. Actually you’ve got huge freedom in F3 – most of the game isn’t in the main story line – but nearly everyone missed that. I played it twice entirely, something I never did for any TES game (or BI game, BTW) – and I am currently doing the same with FNV.

    I wasn’t a big Fallout fan before Bethesda (still I finished both) but I was surprised when I realised I am not 100% hot about Skyrim just because… well, it’s not Fallout.

    • Khemm says:

      I feel sorry for everyone liking Beth’s Oblivions with Guns… pardon, “Fallouts”.
      What freedom? Walking around? LOL.

    • Metonymy says:

      Yep, I played NV once, then played FO3 for about half a year, (and I will go again) and have made about 5 failed attempts to enjoy Oblivion. The farthest I’ve made it was the first dungeon in the demon world, and every second was horrible. Oblivion has the worst leveling system of any game I have played, full stop. And even after you mod that out, the game expects the player to melee enemies, at least a little bit, which I don’t understand from a design perspective.

      There’s a reason why these games aren’t bigger than they are, in spite of their potential. FO4 should have been the immediate next project. This, Skyrim, is a waste, basically. I’m sure it will do a little better than break even, but so what? Other games do fantasy a lot better. No one does fallout better. What are the competitors to a Fallout 4? Stalker? Metro2033? Borderlands, Rage? None of these are worth more than a day or two of player time. It makes no financial sense, and no ‘fun’ sense. I can’t explain the reasoning here, this is like Blizzard decision making.

    • Berzee says:

      And yet here’s me wanting Skyrim so much more than Fallout 4 =)

    • Ian says:

      @ Khemm: Wait, why would you pity somebody enjoying themselves?

      “Hah, look at that poor sucker. ENJOYING HIMSELF. Sad bastard doesn’t even know how unhappy he… er… ought to be. For some reason.

      ….

      This made a lot more sense when I started saying it.”

    • Khemm says:

      @Ian
      Some people enjoy taking drugs. Go ahead Ian, be happy for them!

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Has Khemm just related Oblivion to taking drugs (Take that in context you lot). Has he completely lost touch with reality? Oblivion was a good game, especially when compared with many others which tried to do something similar, however it did have problems and wasn’t for everyone.

    • Magnetude says:

      Metonymy: You must be trolling, Skyrim is going to sell shit tonnes. Imperial shit tonnes. Granted, probably not as much as FO4 would if it was released this instant, but they’re still putting out DLC for New Vegas. You’d rather they just churned out sequel after sequel?

      And as for Stalker etc being worth only a couple of hours of play time, you can’t have played any of those games. I didn’t like Borderlands, but many did. Rage and Metro 2033 are linear shooters that people think are competitors to Fallout but aren’t, because in the world of videogames art direction = genre (see Max Payne 3 for more details). And while I don’t go to that dive anymore, 4chan’s videogames board would have a Stalker thread active round the clock. People just won’t stop playing that delightfully messy little gem.

      I didn’t care much for Oblivion either, but the hype train is rolling and to say that Skyrim will barely break even is to massively underestimate Notch’s fanbase.

    • Berzee says:

      He said “I feel sorry” because the OP said it, methinks.

      As for the “couple days of play time” I’m trying to figure out if that means “48 hours of play time” or “played over the course of a couple days”.

    • Stevostin says:

      @ Metonyms.

      I do like Oblivion’s leveling, although I know I am among the few. The best leveling for me is STALKER, i.e. no leveling – and just after that, Oblivion. The idea that you’re supposed to become 200 times stronger in a few month of adventures is just an immersion killer to me. The only thing I didn’t like about Oblivion’s leveling is item leveling. That’s in any RPG, but in TES games it’s so much opposite to the game’s philosophy…

      Anyway : just create 3 characters like I did and you’ll immediately see the good sides of autoleveling. I could play 3 entirely different gameplay on 3 entirely different content. That was cool.

      Also, I think the one thing you can’t say about Oblivion is that it forces you to melee. It doesn’t even forces you to fight. You really can do a Mage who doesn’t melee at all – I did up to a very high level. And you can play nearly full arrow as well – if you can run a lot.

      That’s the thing to know about Oblivion. Melee gameplay isn’t that good. Range gameplay is more interesting but even less pleasant. Stealth gameplay is ok but could be way better. All the magic, thus, is excellent. Oblivion’s mage certainly are by far the most interesting to play I have encountered, because the game allows for creativity in combos.

    • Magnetude says:

      @Khemm

      “You know who else enjoyed things? HITLER, THAT’S WHO”

    • Outright Villainy says:

      And Khemm inches closer and closer to full on trolling.

    • Aufero says:

      I’d love to have enjoyed F3. Instead, I spent three weeks and probably fifty hours fooling with the damn thing trying to get it to run for more than half an hour without crashing to desktop. (Or crashing my system completely.) I wasn’t a huge fan of Oblivion, but at least it ran, eventually.

      In sum, based on previous experience with every Bethesda game I’ve played back to Daggerfall, I’m going to wait at least six months to play Skyrim. Maybe by that time it will work.

  7. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    The generic fantasy bullshit and repetitive combat turned me off Oblivion within the first forty five minutes. Nevertheless, I do so want to like Skyrim. I love open ended games, and Alec and Jim’s comments give me hope that those two issues will have been addressed somewhat.

  8. westyfield says:

    A Jimquisition? Oh dear.

    On a less-complainy note: these recent previews have made me move Skyrim from “Would only buy if super cheap” to “Colour me interested”, which is a good thing for Bethesda (and indeed Alec, as his writing is having the intended effect) but a bad thing for my wallet.

  9. Aspongeinmauve says:

    Am I the only person who enjoyed the intro of Oblivion? I also completed and enjoyed the main quest of both Oblivion and Fallout 3 (which I think had an equally satifying intro). Seriously, why does everyone hate Todd Howard’s intros and mainquests? I love them!

    • Berzee says:

      I didn’t mind the intro to Oblivion although it was a bit too “you kill lame stuff while we kill cool stuff” — but the parts where you were moving through goblin caves and such were not bad at all.

      I liked the parts of the main quest that were in Tamriel,

      but anything involving daedric creatures or going to Oblivion itself, I just hated so much that I put it on 0% difficulty and ran through without stopping, so I could get back out of that game’s version of Xen.

    • Aspongeinmauve says:

      Xen is quite an interesting comparison. Never thought of thought. I would have to agree that the Plane of Oblivion was quite uninteresting though.

    • Adekan says:

      I won’t say I hated the story, found it a bit boring though, honestly. Finished the main quest once in 4-500 hours of play, never touched it thereafter. Mods were the highlight of the game for me, so hopefully Skyrim will have great modability right out of the gate.

      Oblivion really seems to be one of those games that you either obsessively love or unconditionally hate, with no in-between.

      I also greatly disliked all of the oblivion gate related things. Once you talked to Actor2/4 and started the main quest proper the gates would pop up all over and ruin the otherwise beautiful and serene countryside. I ended up downloading a mod that would let me throw away the stupid amulet.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      The problem I have with intros is that they’re incredibly on-rails. It’s not optional. There should be an option at the beginning like… “Skip intro section – start me at the exit to the sewers”

      It’s not too bad the first time around, but in games like TES people tend to create new characters and restart the game.

      Every time you restart, you have to go through the tutorial again. I’ve probably been through it 10 or more times, and by now it’s completely mind-numbing.

      There are no interesting ways of tackling it, no branched story. It’s like every time you want to make a new character to have to endure this test of patience before actually being able to run around and do what you want.

    • Vinraith says:

      @UW

      One of the first mods for any Bethesda game (alongside a UI fix) is a mod that lets you skip the tutorial section, create a character, and get out into the world. I can’t imagine playing through one of their tutorials more than once or twice, there’s certainly no reason to do so.

    • Berzee says:

      @Aspongeinmauve — I tend to lump Xen, Oblivion, and other “hostile alien planes of existence that stand between you and finishing the game” together, as they’re the biggest culprit in making me fail to complete a main quest. There’s just something about final levels that often makes developers go crazy and forget large parts of what makes their game universe loveable (in favor of a barren wasteland from which you cannot return). Oblivion is unique in that it has these areas at regular intervals, and you can keep playing in the normal world when you’re through with them…so it’s not really as bad as some other games. Linear RPGs that nonetheless have overworld travel are the places where it stands out the most to me, because when you hit The Void (as I call it, in honor of Arcanum’s version) you no longer have access to all those towns.

      That said, although Oblivion’s void levels are better in terms of how long they keep me separated from the real game world I wanna be in, they’re the worst in terms of frequency and they rank very highly on how much I hate the atmosphere (ugh…the noise of daedric enemies, the squooshy doors…I know they’re intended to be repugnant, but after ten minutes I miss the Forests of Uber Bloom).

    • Aspongeinmauve says:

      I had a save game at the end of the sewers, so I could start a new game without the intro if I wanted to. Simple solution really.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Coccyx says:

    I’m a tad young, meaning I was rather too young to enjoy Morrowind properly when I played it for the first time – It seemed inaccessible and hard to get into. I was going to revisit it but then Skyrim got announced and I basically abandoned that idea.

    • Wizlah says:

      I’d heartily recommend going back to morrowind. odds are, you get skyrim now and it’s going to be a while before patches and the community stabilise it. Morrowind really isn’t inaccessible, and by the time youve finished playing about with it, Skyrim will be good to go!

    • Wizardry says:

      Start with Daggerfall, then move onto Morrowind and then buy Skyrim for a few pence in 10 years time once gaming have deteriorated even more.

    • Berzee says:

      But if you start with Daggerfall be warned that if you unequip your armor your little paper-doll man is NOT wearing underwear.

      I was so indignant about this when I was 10 that I quit immediately and never played it again. Why would they force the paper-doll man to go commando?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Don’t start with Daggerfall. It’s a dull, empty, procedurally generated mess — exactly the kind of thing I’d expect Wizardry to drool over, but not something most gamers would have any fun with.

    • Wizardry says:

      Daggerfall has far and away the best mechanics in the entire series. Absolutely no competition.

    • arccos says:

      The one thing that keeps me from getting very far in Morrowind is that you seem to have to ask every NPC about every topic to get most of the content. It gets so tedious. Is there a trick to this that I’m missing? If I can just get Oblivion’s highlighting of topics when someone has something new to say, I would love, love, LOVE Morrowind.

      Any tips?

    • PodX140 says:

      Actually, although I adored morrrowind a million times more than oblivion, I could never go back to morrowind without the constant battering of my mind thinking “WHY IS THERE NO PHYSICS?!? I want to shoot that diamond off it’s pedestal…” It’s quite the annyoing change for me. Everything else is stellar, but that engine really needed objects to contact eachother :(

    • The Greatness says:

      You never thought ‘it’s nice that everything on this table doesn’t fly to the other side of the room when I stand near it’?

      Seriously though, I would highly reccomend giving Morrowind another shot, especially now there are so many fantastic mods around for it, including loads that make the graphics stunning.

    • PodX140 says:

      I actually played more morrowind after I played oblivion, but no, I still prefered physics, and actually pretty much exactly for the reason you found a negative. See, my massive house in Balmora with it’s several tables of swords looks nice and all, but it takes ages for me to properly place it with the finicky inventory dropping, the physics drag was much more intuitive. Also: physics traps.

      Morrowind was a superior game IMO, but I still would have loved alot of the systems of oblivion.

  11. Jnx says:

    I sure hope this isn’t a totally horrible port. Been waiting for this so long :F

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I’m mostly worried about the interface. We still haven’t seen buying and selling. If it’s as awkward as Oblivion with a mouse or keyboard, I’m going to cry.

  12. Metonymy says:

    I’m going to wait until someone mods in some shotguns and carbines. Or just modify some of the starter spells so they fire instantly and fast, with weaker damage and cost. There’s no reason to have obnoxious weapons in a game just because it fits the artistic setting.

    A game with this kind of budget, made with the money spent by the casuals of FO3, needs to quickly acknowledge the preferences of those types of players.

    • Groove says:

      ….please be a troll or a joke.

    • Sigh says:

      I am going to wait for the mod that turns Skyrim into a near-future post-apocalyptic twitch shooter with crazy dune buggies with rocket launchers bolted on and Tina Turner fetish armor.

    • Berzee says:

      I don’t even know what this *means*.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      I think it means Oblivion with Fallouts.

    • Berzee says:

      ohhh….

      now I know?

    • Saldek says:

      I was getting a “Mad ZeniMax: Thunderdome™ VII: rAge of Empires at War™” vibe …

    • PodX140 says:

      I’m not even going to go with please:

      Troll or joke, likely troll considering my faith in humanity.

  13. nootron says:

    This preview excites and saddens me. I am sad because the spectre of BAD CONSOLE PORT looms over this article. My excitement is keeping the sadness at bay for the moment, and my cynicism for the most part as well.

    But please please don’t give us a crummy console-y UI like Rage has with a mouse that’s too slippery and weird keybinds to access everything. Please oh please!

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I agree. Especially since, judging from the screenshot and gamplay video released thus far, the graphics in the PC version actually look worse than some of the higher end Oblivion graphics mods out there.

      Which is sad as this looks like it’s shaping up to be the first Elder Scrolls game that isn’t a massive leap forward in graphics awesomeness. It basically just looks like an Oblivion mod to me.

      So I am wondering how well Bethesda gameplay design/writing/quest design will hold up on it’s own without having the added appeal of gawking at the pretty landscapes to keep you going (which, admittedly, was a major incentive to play “Oblivion” when it first released). Of course, we already kind of know the answer to this: Fallout 3. For me, it’s not a very encouraging answer, though, given that Fallout 3 didn’t hold my interest long enough to finish the game,.

      I’m not very encouraged by the combat videos I’ve seen so far either, which is also worrisome given thatr Oblivion’s combat was pretty clunky at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged at all well since. From everything I’ve seen Skyrim just looks like Oblivion’s basic combat, only with duel wielding.

    • Riotpoll says:

      It being Bethesda the main worry is crash to desktop wiping out your last hours worth of play cos you were having fun (maybe) or just plain forgot.

  14. Coins says:

    I want to like Skyrim. I want to like it a whole lot, but I’m afraid I’ll come out of it disappointed. Although, if they release the TES (Which they ought to) I really don’t care about the state of the game.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Heh. I spent over a 100 hours with Oblivion and I never finished the main quest. I think I stopped following it shortly after the first Hellgate.

    Concerning Skyrim, I just hope that the enemies you encounter later in the game make more sense this time. Something is wrong when Bob the Random Bandit, possesses weapons and armor which are described as incredibly rare and are valuable enough to buy a house.

    • Groove says:

      He really should be called Bob the Dedicated Bandit. I mean, being a bandit must be his one true calling in life, since he could retire and make a good life for himself just by selling his armour.

      Robbing passing peons of tiny amounts of cash then struggling to pay for even the tiniest of repairs to his irreplacable equipment, that is the life of Bob the Bandit.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      There is something really frustrating about starting out with the game and just barely scraping through an encounter with some bandits… then spending hundreds of hours gaining virtual (And actual) skill at fighting, getting the most sought after and powerful weapons and armour in the game, and just barely scraping through an encounter with some bandits…

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Exactly.

      @Groove : Heh. That sounds like an awesome NPC to find. I can picture finding this strange guy with the weirdly powerful equipment, overhearing his mad ravings about how has to fix the nick in his armor he got the other day.

    • jonfitt says:

      Kill it with fire!

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      I’m staggered that some consider Skyrim’s visuals to be little or no upgrade to Oblivion. There’s a staggering difference in detail, but also, things look far less bland. Have Bethesda finally discovered what it means to have an artistic vision rather than merely a “technical one”? This skellington looks excellent, I’m looking forward to fighting it!

    • PodX140 says:

      Completely agree, the visuals may not be unbelievably detailed, but they just really work, and my mind loves the overall aesthetic of the game.

      (Though, I loved every elder scrolls aesthetic :P )

  16. Robin says:

    What I’d like to know:
    is the world believable, economic-politically and geographically*, like Morrowind, or is it more similar to a “themed luna park” like Oblivion/Fallout 3?

    * believable distribution of dungeons and dangerous environments/creatures (That is: no dragons or cursed ruins/bandits camps, just outside the city doors).

    Thanks.

  17. vodkarn says:

    I think I’ll wait 6 months and see what the reactions are, as I cannot think anything other than:
    1) It’ll be slightly-better Oblivion levelling
    2) Awful console port
    3) The NPC puppets of games previous
    4) It’s a game where you wander, and there’s some story and stuff, but nothing really happens, and randomly a Bandit in crystal armour riding a tank on a dragon will try to rob you for 10 copper.

    • Khemm says:

      Dude, stop making sense. The RPS hivemind is convinced Oblivion and F3 were TEH BESTEST RPGS EVAR. Don’t you dare imply Skyrim will have the same fundamental flaws its predecessors had, the same ones people don’t want to see “because exploring is fun and nothing else matters”.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Only if you don’t outright say liking Oblivion is the same as being a drug user…

      Oh, too late

    • Prime says:

      @Khemm

      Jim: that thing you are talking about – actually giving a damn – is what matters most to me with Skyrim. I’ve really struggled with the last two Bethesda games, and didn’t complete either. On paper they should be ideal Rossignol games, but I never quite get on. I genuinely hope that come November, this will be the one for me.

      Oh yeah, the RPS Hivemind are totally sold on these games, aren’t they? Must be embarassing to be completely contradicted by the article you clearly didn’t read, huh?

    • Berzee says:

      I think Oblivion killed his dad.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think Khemm is referring to the “hivemind” of the commentariat, rather the writers. There’s no evidence for enthusiasm about the Bethesda games since Morrowind among the RPS staff.

      I do, of course, hope that this is a good living world, but time will tell.

    • Khemm says:

      @ Jim
      That is correct. I trust the RPS team will review this game harshly and speak about its flaws, accomplishments and judge how it compares to best RPGs we have on PC.

      If you check F3 and Oblivion reviews on various sites, they read like advertisements. It wasn’t until Skyrim was announced they “suddenly” remembered awful writing, lack of memorable NPCs, static world, Oblivion gates, level scaling, samey nature of gameplay, lack of consequences to player’s actions, lack of meaningful choices or alternative ways to handle quests…

    • Berzee says:

      True, he did not capitalize hivemind. A subtle distinction.

    • greenbananas says:

      @vodkarn

      “4) It’s a game where you wander, and there’s some story and stuff, but nothing really happens, and randomly a Bandit in crystal armour riding a tank on a dragon will try to rob you for 10 copper.”

      Stop right there, criminal scum!

      But yes, on the whole, you pretty much summed up my opinion on Skyrim.

    • povu says:

      Funny isn’t it? On release day, the reviews of Oblivion were glowing. Wooo best game evar. Level scaling? Never heard of it. Then Skyrim is around the corner and suddenly ’50 things that sucked in Oblivion that we don’t want in Skyrim’ articles start popping up.

    • sinister agent says:

      Part of the problem there was that Oblivion and Fallout 3, like Morrowind, were games full of promise. It wasn’t until you’d played them for quite a while that you realised its constant stringing along and hinting that things will get better any minute now was just going to last forever, and the great game it kept promising would never come.

      Also there’s some selective memory going on, I think. There was plenty of criticism of Fallout 3 and Obliv at the time, but it was generally balanced with “but it’s still an entertaining game”, because they both were until the chipping away at the fun by the flaws won out through sheer attrition.

    • Urthman says:

      It took at least a year for the modding community to make Oblivion into the great game it is today, and it was well worth the wait, judging from descriptions I read of Vanilla Oblivion.

      So I’m definitely waiting at least a year before trying Skyrim.

  18. jonfitt says:

    However, an important question still remains: has anyone in Skyrim seen a mudcrab the other day?

  19. Eldiran says:

    Anyone know how the skill increases work this time around? I’ll be sad if you still get less experience for being more efficient, as in Morrowind and Oblivion, where the best way to become a master of weaponry was to duel a mudcrab with a rusty fork for a week.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      This was always the real problem with the level scaling system (for me at least). You could level up via trade, conversation, jumping, and other useless things, and your stats would reflect this. Monsters apparently only leveled up via murdering things, and their stats reflected that fact.

      Hopefully this will work like a mod I installed for Oblivion, which automatically increased your stats as you improved relevant skills. Sure, my level might be based on my major skills, whatever they happened to be–and this would affect enemy stats and loot levels–but my combat ability was based purely on my skill levels, regardless of my class composition. Since some degree of combat was always required, I would always be well-suited to dealing with the enemies appropriate for my level.

    • Eldiran says:

      It’s not just the leveling and the level scaling that was deeply flawed. It’s also the way skills increase that is wrong. In both Morrowind and Oblivion, you are discouraged from using your skills effectively. If you kill an enemy with 3 blows from a real sword, you gain less experience in that skill than if you had gently rubbed him with a butterknife 10 times.

      Similarly, casting “Tickle” increases your skill at magery just as much as casting “Meteor”. And while you might be able to cast Meteor 3 times before running out of mana, you can cast Tickle 700 times.

      Guess who becomes a master mage? Not the guy casting spells that actually do anything, but the guy who ran around casting “Heal 1 HP” 9999 times.

      Put simply, the game encourages you to suck.

      I really hope they fix this, or my first run through Skyrim will be modded.

  20. Ergates_Antius says:

    What I’m interested in the the amount of fucking-around that will be available.

    Side quests? Meh. Main quest? yawn. Fucking around? Yes please.

    That and interesting things you can find in the wilderness that aren’t marked on any map.

    Preferably interesting things you can fuck around with.

  21. greenbananas says:

    HUUUUUUGE… TRACTS OF LAND?!

    No one? Seriously?

  22. Berzee says:

    chat-o-think

  23. mrbungle says:

    I just want the locations to be more memorable. I’d much rather have 10 unique dungeons than 100 slightly different ones built from the same assets.

  24. Jeremy says:

    My only hope is that there isn’t a main quest along the lines of Oblivion. It wasn’t so much that I disliked the quest itself (it was average to me), just the whole “The destruction of the world is at hand, hurry and save us!” that ends up in a stasis as you putter about for 12 in-game years bullying woodland creatures as you search for caves/ruins/forts/etc.

    • Berzee says:

      But there is a main quest. o_O It has got dargons.

    • Jeremy says:

      As long as the dragons aren’t threatening some sort of “imminent doom!!!” I am okay with it. It’s just counter productive to the open world idea in my mind. Maybe they could create some end game goals to give people more direction? Don’t get me wrong, I’m able to fill my time ambling about in games like these, but a few extra post-doom quests that have more meaning could be great.

  25. reticulate says:

    This guy, right here, is going to enjoy the fuck out of this game. Especially if they’ve taken the good bits from Fallout 3 and integrated them well.

    If that makes me some sort of simpleton, then bring on the low IQ’s and trailer parks. I don’t care. I’ll enjoy it just to spite the shit out of the apparent ‘purists’ or whatever. There’s a line where streamlining works, and we know it exists because of Mass Effect 2. Don’t think for a second the team at Bethesda haven’t looked at what worked and what didn’t. They happen to be, y’know, developers.

    • Berzee says:

      “They happen to be, y’know, developers.”

      Not that I disagree about this game’s probability of being fun, but what you said there is…well, it’s a lot of faith in the power of profession. =)

  26. The Greatness says:

    ‘The original’? Has Jim… has Jim never played Morrowind (or Arena or Daggerfall)? Make him play Morrowind! It also doesn’t have a shitty UI like he suggests all Bethesda games do.

    • sinister agent says:

      Um… Morrowind’s UI was terrible. Oblivion’s UI had its problems, but improved on it rather a lot. You couldn’t even see what items were without hovering over them in morrowind, harvesting was a pain in the arse, conversation a ridiculous mess of generic options, checking up on your inventory and status was a window clusterfuck like searching for porn before tabbed browsing… awful.

      You’re kind of nitpicking with the “original” thing, to be fair – Skyrim is obviously based more on the oblivion/fallout technical model, making Oblivion the original in the sense that it’s where this branch started.

  27. Brun says:

    @ Everyone worried that it will be a terrible console port:

    Oblivion was also a console port, and aside from the UI most of its issues were minor.

    Remember, “console port” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad console port.” It’s possible to do it correctly.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yeah, but we had to wait for outside mods to re-size the huge consolized text in Fallout 3 on higher-res monitors, so their recent track record hasn’t been all that great.

    • Brun says:

      You had to do that in Oblivion too. That’s why I said “except for the UI.”

    • sinister agent says:

      No but you see, if there’s anything you ever dislike about a game, if it’s a console port, you can blame absolutely everything you dislike about it on that, thus congratulating yourself for having a PC.

  28. BurningPet says:

    If you wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me to navigate to caius house in balmora from the stilt rider without a map, i could do so without effort.

    If you throw my ass to the arena in vivec and ask me to navigate to tel vos without using the great transportation system or without looking at the map, i could easily do so.

    Oblivion? i cant even remember the capital city name despite the fact i played it much later than morrowind.

  29. Kaldor says:

    “I mean, I largely avoided storyline stuff as it’s not really why I play TES games anyway.”

    So they always say, but I think if they could push the story from “serviceable” somewhat nearer to “captivating” it would make a giant impact, and I don’t see why it should even be that hard to do (the difference seems to be more in the areas of skill and motivation rather than resources). One part of it is to make the world seem more life-like and less “generic” from a structural point of view. Like “every town and dungeon is the same”. More variety in that regard seems to be already on their list.

  30. Kaldor says:

    (double post – activated Adblock seems to delay the appearance of comments (reload doesn’t help so it’s in the system))

  31. DigitalSignalX says:

    Any word yet on some sort of SDK GECK thingy for Skyrim’s frothing mod community?

  32. Thiefsie says:

    Obligatory Fallout with Swords post.

    Reminds me to go back and finish New Vegas, and replay Oblivion.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Hidden_7 says:

    I don’t know if this has been answered yet, but if not, Alec, can you tell us how many armour slots there were? Same as Oblivion? Fewer? Dare I dream, more?

    From video I’ve seen so far, I’d guess that it looks like chest and legs have been combined into one part, which really is taking it too far, I’d say, but oh well, I’ll play it anyway.

    • Davie says:

      Yeah, fewer. Head, body, hands and feet is it. Supposedly there’s a much bigger variety of armor to make up for it–hopefully it’ll actually be worth it. It would be an improvement over Oblivion, which had, what, twelve sets of armor? Of course, Morrowind had 8 slots and dozens of armor types, so it seems like a bit of a downgrade either way.

  34. outoffeelinsobad says:

    Somebody needs to caption that lich pic with, “U MAD BRO?”

  35. dellphukof says:

    Nah, It would only be fun if it was either 2 player, or like 16 unrelated players. 4 players would make it too easy giay tay.
    Best setup would be an assassin and a mage-warrior. Mage could distract targets and freeze them etc and Assassin could sneak up and slit their throats.having a warrior, stealth theif, mage and archer working together would almost as overpowered as a USAS-12 with frag rounds…yeh but they would make the enemies much stronger so it would be near impossible without all four ?