Skyrim Contains Most Of Tamriel, Sort Of

By Jim Rossignol on November 22nd, 2011 at 1:04 pm.


As noted in this post (via here), Skyrim contains much of the rest of the continent of Tamriel in rudimentary form outside its mountains. bBorderRegionsEnabled=0 in Skyrim.ini and no-clip on does the trick. Thanks, commenters. There’s a huge heightmap out there, well beyond view distance, down into Morrowind, Cyrodiil, and Hammerfall. It’s a bit buggy, mind and seems unstable once you’re out of skyrim. Looks like it’s just a chunk of the world rendered around Skyrim for view-distance authenticity, rather than any possible expansion.

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104 Comments »

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  1. Orija says:

    Makes some sense though, Skyrim in the game is a bit too small for an expansion to be set there, if that is on Bethesda’s mind.

  2. Twilightx says:

    it’s not whole of Tamriel, but it does contain about half of Cyrodiil and Morrowind, along with pieces of High Rock and Hammerfell. There is surprisingly much detail in there, though – even the little island next to Bravil, with the fort and a quest is rendered. Oh, and White Gold Tower is there as well :)
    video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlbA2qiXsf0

  3. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    It *would* be so very interesting to go to the ruins of Vvardenfell…

    • Torgan says:

      Definitely! I found a book last night saying Morrowind had been conquered by the Argonians after the Red Mountain exploded which is great as I am currently playing an Argonian.

      Bow down to me Dunmer slaves.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      @Torgan

      Bow down to me Dunmer slaves.

      I nerevar asked for this.

    • Brun says:

      “I nerevar asked for this.”

      Quote of the day!

  4. Baboonanza says:

    Back to Morrowind? Cool.

    • DrGonzo says:

      THEY BLEW IT UP

      I haven’t been able to find much lore about it in game. I really hope Morrowind isn’t gone forever. It’s by far the most interesting setting they have. It would be an awful thing to simply wipe out a world like that. If something like that were to happen it seems like we should get to see it.

      Plus it really changes how the game feels now. Instead of being a saviour from the corruption of the Tribunal and the false gods, you indirectly murdered everyone on Vvardenfell. Not really much of a saviour.

    • alexanderwales says:

      Sad story: Morrowind is gone forever. Actually, that’s not technically true. Vvardenfell is completely destroyed, but the rest of Morrowind province remains. What happened was that when you killed Vivec, there was nothing holding up the moon anymore (the one that hovers over Vivec City, and is canonically bigger than it was in the game). When the moon came down, tidal forces caused the Red Mountain to erupt, destroying the whole island.

    • simonh says:

      Not only did the moon crash down and the volcano explode, and the Argonians invade – a huge flying city followed by an army of zombies also swept through the land. There’s nothing left of the original Dark Elf society, but all that happened over a hundred years before Skyrim takes place, so returning refugees would have had some time to rebuild.

      A revisit to Morrowind is definitely my #1 wish for an expansion. That gate gives some hope :)

      The terrain is clearly for the map though. It’s actually possible to see both Vvardenfell and the White Gold Tower on the Skyrim map if you hold the right button and rotate the camera.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      The impression I got from the variety of lore changes–especially the introduction of the Aldmeri Dominion–was that Bethesda wanted to introduce a number of potential avenues to explore in addition to whatever apocalypse-of-the-month scenario they cook up for a title. Think about Oblivion: there was nothing of interest going on outside of the main and faction quests. Sure, some people talked about unrest in other parts of the Empire–notably Skyrim and the Summerset Isles, implying that Bethesda were thinking about this ahead of time–but Cyrodiil was almost absurdly peaceful. Even had they done more to give the Imperials a culture that set them apart from the other races, there still would have been little of interest going on.

      Now they have a rich vein of political, racial, and even environmental tension to mine for future titles. A very smart move, and I look forward to seeing what they do with it.

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      Durkonkell says:

      Oblivion wasn’t completely devoid of political struggles and racial tensions. Head south – Leyawiin and the surrounding areas belonged to Elsweyr, but the land was taken and given to the Count and Countess of Leyawiin (who are absurdly racist). Ahzirr Traajijazeri deals with this, although sadly the Khajiit rebellion wasn’t present ingame at all. There was a really interesting conflict there that was never developed.

      http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Lore:Ahzirr_Traajijazeri

    • ttcfcl says:

      “I haven’t been able to find much lore about it in game.”

      I believe because it’s mostly in the (actual) book “The Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City” which details the events of why the volcano erupted. And that books came out two years ago. The author recently released another TES novel “Lord of Souls” which I’ll have to check out.

    • tetracycloide says:

      While it is sad that so much of the culture of the Dunmer was destroyed there is a certain justice to the success of the Argonian invasion.

  5. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I’m not sure what to think about this, but my gut reaction is that it’s just to provide a mechanism for displaying distant scenery.

    Edit: This purports to show the landmass that’s in Skyrim (green block): http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v225/SliVeROVeRloRD/Skyrim-landmass.jpg

  6. Sankis says:

    Supposedly this happened in Oblivion as well. The heightmap for Skyrim and surrounding areas were present. They probably just built out a good bit of Tamriel in the event that they need it and if they don’t then they always have it for the next game.

    It’s literally just untextured terrain that’s there in the event they need it. It’s their “In case of Expansion/DLC emergency, break glass” On the bright side, Modders can make use of this in the future assuming they get their fill of nude mods.

  7. cubed2d says:

    Shouldent be that supprising, games been in development for a long time and we have not seen how features such as the map operated in earlyer builds. When you have a game like skyrim that offeres such massive draw distances, you need stuff speard up to the horizon to draw. I wouldent be supprised if you could see the white tower in imperial city from skyrim with some combination of cell loading settings, climbing the tallest mountain in the game and an incredibly clear day.

  8. wccrawford says:

    I suspect the real reason is pretty boring: They were making the map, and someone on the team decided to rough out further than they needed. Maybe they were asked to go further a couple times, and it wasn’t far enough each time, and they finally just went all the way. With the right tools, making mountains isn’t that hard. Placing the building, etc, is what’s hard. Bethesda already has the maps and all that, so making the mountains and rivers in the right spots wouldn’t take much time at all.

    And I think it’s probably safe to say that the team at Bethesda loves their jobs and the lore, and it wouldn’t take much to get them to do more work than necessary on the game.

    • Magnetude says:

      This, sadly. Much of the landmass from Oblivion could be ported over and stitched in relatively easily I imagine. Maybe they had plans to put the player very high up at some point, like the boss fight from the Knight of the Nine expansion in Oblivion, which ended with you falling through a cloud and seeing the entire game world rush towards you as you plummeted towards the Imperial City. I think that was my favourite moment from the entire game.

      Or maybe you could zoom out further on the map in early builds, so they needed the detail. Or maybe they had plans to do an in-engine flyby of the world. If they’d really intended this for use in an expansion I’d imagine it would be looking a little bit more fleshed out than this…

    • soldant says:

      I think these are the more likely reasons. Oblivion had a large section of the continent mapped out but it was never put to use by them (and apart from the Elsweyr (sp?) mod, few others really used it much). I find it curious that they modeled the White Gold Tower though, however minimally. That’s fairly interesting and I’d guess that the map was supposed to show much more originally (maybe if it was rotated a certain way the other landmasses would be visible).

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Magnetude: Without spoiling anything, there is a quest that takes you very high up. However, I never found a place in the game–including that quest–where I could see far enough to justify having that much extra terrain. I assume it’s there just for people with maximum draw distance and/or mods that enhance viewing distance and possibly for a starting point for DLC content. I will be very surprised if we go to another plane of Oblivion, a la Shivering Isles, since it would be thematically off for Skyrim, but a trip to the edges of Hammerfell or Morrowind wouldn’t be out of place.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Surface of the landmass is ported easily, but what about internal, geological structure and future mining mods? I’d bet they haven’t thought of that.

  9. Was Neurotic says:

    I actually had this same thought yesterday, upon installing the game and playing for a while and finding that it was rock-solid stable. My initital sense of awe and wonder at having a brilliant and stable Elder Scrolls game, out of the box, was:

    “Fuck me, this is like Morrowind with 2011 graphics, and it’s the game I wanted Oblivion to be. Hmm… Wouldn’t it be awesome if they made all of Tamriel in this engine somehow…”

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Minor Lore Spoilers:

      I completely agree. I’m actually incredibly impressed with the lore and politics of Skyrim. The internal history and machinations of the Aldmeri Dominion, The Thalmor, the Pyrrhic victory of the Empire against them, the White-Gold Concordat, the Stormcloaks, their history and the former High King’s complex loyalties, the indigenous population of The Reach and their long history of brutalisation and subsequent brutality. It all feels so remarkably mature and nuanced in a way Oblivion certainly wasn’t. I’m even experiencing The Witcher 2-level ambiguity and complexity in many decisions; discerning truths between conflicting accounts and judging which decision is most congruent to my own ideals. Whilst I naturally sympathise with the anti-Imperial nature of the Stormcloaks, are they any more just or legitimate than an Empire still widely supported, yet in a truly invidious position?

      What about the Foresworn? They have remarkably legitimate grievances, yet their aims unlike say the Scioa’tel of The Witcher are hardly as noble nor feasible nor even much of an improvement from the status quo.

      And that’s not even speaking about the more tragic parts of Skyrim, the personal suffering you witness, the toll of the civil war you witness, the implied narratives of loss and anonymous death in the tundra of Skyrim; a journal next to a destroyed trading caravan written by a spouse worried about her travelling husband deciding to accompany him, a lone woodcutter’s camp strewn with scattered supplies, an axe lying next to his corpse and a fire site still issuing smoke. And being a plaything for the machinations of Daedra… well that’s just downright diabolical.

      Even the Falmer, who I thought were quite a well-designed and unusually interesting goblin-analogue turn out to have a history steeped in immense tragedy. They were formerly Snow Elves, equal to the other Mer but they were subjugated and enslaved by the Dwemer. The Dwemer fed them the glowing mushrooms you see in many caves and lost their sight over time, becoming completely blind and now scrap out a depressingly pitiable existence in caves and the former great ruins of the Dwemer, harvesting the Chaurus for materials. If you’ll look, you’ll notice the chests they use are actually made from Chaurus chitin and someone told me of a pile of items assorted by texture since obviously the Falmer cannot see.

      It’s things like this that really make me want to read more of the historical and lore books on the game. Some are actually quite hilarious and superbly written.

      Main Quest Spoiler:

      Did anyone love infiltrating the Thalmor embassy? It must rank as one of my favourite quests in an Elder Scrolls game… really everything about it was just wonderful, the setup, atmosphere, sense of greater importance and as a congruent part of a larger world and polity. Oh and Max Von Sydow’s voice lost in wonder at the Akiviri artistry in the former Blades temple.

      Truly the game is a masterpiece in my eyes.

    • ninjapirate says:

      Tyrone, your comment makes me wish that I actually had the patience to read the books scattered across Skyrim. Reading books in a game just doesn’t click with me – I wish game designers would use more engaging ways to deliver their lore instead of in-game books and lengthy NPC monologues.
      I know there’s a wealth of interesting information about Skyrim’s lore in the game, but in the end I’m much more likely to grab a *real* book if I wanted to read about it.

    • theblazeuk says:

      Very tricky line to walk. Make too much of the in-game dialogue and natural exposition about the lore and you will rapidly alienate more casual players.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think Half Life (and 2) is the pinnacle of organic exposition of a huge amount of backstory and character through incidental detail – but much of that is because it’s pretty straightforward. It’s our world up to a point. Conveying the lore of an entire world, which is given over to entirely different physics of magic and gods to boot, is incredibly difficult without a heavy reliance on monologues and text. Otherwise you just have surface detail or at best, lots of inexplicable audio logs.

  10. BatmanBaggins says:

    It’s most likely just there because it was used as a scale & spatial reference when they were building the map.

  11. deanb says:

    UPDATE: Seems to be fake.

    Any expansion on this? Everything I’ve seen and read (videos tend to be hard to fake, especially for a game with no mod tools atm) suggests that this is very muchin the game. Supposedly there’s a quest where you end up rather high up (I’d assume something like knights of the nine upon completion of pilgrimage) where you can see beyond Skyrims border should you look down. It’s only simple land mass, fairly easy to throw together in a matter of hours.

    • Squishpoke says:

      From what I saw in this youtube video, a comment metions, “put bBorderRegionsEnabled=0 in your skyrim.ini (not prefs), in the general section”.

      Seems legit.

    • simonh says:

      You don’t even have to do any ini hacking. You can see both Vvardenfell and the White Gold Tower on the vanilla Skyrim map, you just have to press the right mouse button and rotate the camera.

    • Grygus says:

      @simonh Which explains both their presence and scale. It’s just a really nice background. Exciting to think that maybe they are considering a game that covers more than one province, though. As wonderful as Skyrim is, and I do think it is quite wonderful, the ability to travel to more disparate locations would be an improvement.

  12. Tom OBedlam says:

    I’d really like the next game to set in Elswyr. Though whether the mainstream gamer would take to a world populated by middle eastern people that you’re not supposed to reflexively shoot is debatable.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’d rather have Black Marsh. Swamp, Dinosaurs, carnivorous plants …

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      Durkonkell says:

      I really want to see Elsweyr! I’d even place it above ‘southern Morrowind’ or even ‘the whole of Morrowind including Vvardenfell’. With that said, I’d guess that the presence of no less than 16 different Khajiit subspecies (17 if you consider the Mane) might pose a problem for the developers.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      In Oblivion, two commonly-discussed places outside of Cyrodiil were the Summerset Isles (where the Altmer were getting uppity) and Skryim (where the Nords were getting uppity). The next title takes place in Skyrim and prominently features a new, fascist Elven nation.

      So what regions seem to get a lot of attention in Skryim? Hammerfell gets some love, as there are quite a few immigrants who’ve crossed the border, plus the Alik’r who figure into a quest. But Elsweyr also gets a lot of attention. Talk to the people in the caravans and you’ll get very detailed descriptions of Elsweyr, including jungles, desert-swallowed ruins, and more. Throw in the skooma trade, which has been a memorable part of the series since at least Morrowind, and the popularity of Assassin’s Creed, which did fine for itself while taking place entirely in parts of the world that the stereotypical gamer likely has no interest in, and I think you’ve got a place that could make a great setting with wide appeal.

    • ttcfcl says:

      And Middle Eastern furries, at that…

    • Brun says:

      I’d say Hammerfell is more likely. Both Elsweyr and Hammerfell are defined in part by deserts or arid landscapes. If Bethesda had to choose one, I’d put my money on Hammerfell because Redguards are more relatable than Khajiit (i.e., they fit into the traditional fantasy archetype more readily than walking, talking cats). I hate to agree (somewhat) with Wulf here, but I have a hard time seeing them put in something like Elsweyr given the current trends in their audience’s preference.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Even though it probably won’t happen, I’d like like some portion of Akavir to be explored.

    • undead dolphin hacker says:

      High Rock and Hammerfell were visited in Daggerfall. Hammerfell was visited again in Redguard.

      Morrowind and Cyrodiil were of course visited in Morrowind and Oblivion.

      If we assume every game is set in a new province, that leaves:

      -Black Marsh. Definitely could be neat, but perhaps not mainstream enough.

      -Elsweyr. Described as the most “gamey” potential province in Skyirm thanks to all the hints about the various different biomes and ruins. Also seems to have kept a lower profile in the politics, so it could be “stable.”

      -Valenwood. Who the fuck cares, but Elf Forest Magic would be solidly mainstream.

      -Sumerset Isle. I have no idea what this place is like. In my mind’s eye, I see Blood Elf-style towns and architecture. Since High Elves play a huge role in the past 400 years of history (Conquer Cyrodiil! Outlaw Talos! Perform inquisitions!) and it’s an isolated island (perfect for a game setting), I think there’s a pretty high chance this will be the next spot.

      tl;dr:

      Prime suspects for TES6 are Sumerset Isle, Elsweyr, and Black Marsh. Probably in that order.

    • MultiVaC says:

      I would really love to see Black Marsh or Summerset Isle come next. For some reason Elsewyr doesn’t really appeal to me that much, maybe because jungles and deserts are too common “open world” settings, and the way Elsweyr is described doesn’t sound strange enough. What I just realized is that Morrowind is the only game that doesn’t take place in human lands. Daggerfall had Breton and Redguard lands, Oblivion took place in Imperial territory, and Skyrim is the Nords’. Maybe next time they do Elf lands they’ll go all out crazy like Morrowind again? Probably just wishful thinking, but it could make sense.

      I think Akavir would be really cool, too, but I doubt we’ll see that any time soon. I don’t see Bethesda going that far out of their established lore.

  13. caddyB says:

    And a thousand moans of pleasure were heard by the modders as they all orgasmed simultaneously.

  14. kalelovil says:

    From the youtube comments:

    “put bBorderRegionsEnabled=0 in your skyrim.ini (not prefs), in the general section”

  15. HilariousCow says:

    I like the music in this skyrim video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=yBqKG8HF3zQ

    I like it a lot!

    • TigerMike74 says:

      Flying through Tamriel should be accompanied by Awolnation’s Sail.

  16. Magnetude says:

    While I don’t think the inclusion of all that landmass means a lot, the gate into Morrowind and the unnecessary detail beyond could be a hint at the direction any expansion goes in… They’re obviously planning to have a few if we consider their recent efforts, and that content has to plug in to the existing world somewhere, right? Don’t want to get my hopes up, but a tiny bit of Morrowind wouldn’t be totally crazy to expect (and they know it’ll sell).

    • soldant says:

      The unnecessary detail is probably just auto-gen’d on the map so that if you look out through the gate from the boundary, it looks like there’s something beyond. Having the trees and things just stop dead would look pretty ridiculous. Oblivion had the same thing; once you moved out of the boundaries the clutter would thin out and you’d be left with flat expanses that were never used.

      There’s nothing to read into here, like the others are saying it’s there for gameworld scale and lore purposes, just like it was in Oblivion. It’d look silly if you were told that Morrowind was to the east but in the game you just saw a blank space.

  17. Orija says:

    What are heightmaps?

    Edit: Also, how do you make a reply?

    • kyrieee says:

      It’s a simple data format for terrain. You have a 2D-grid and you assign a value in each element (between for example 0-255) and the value determines the height of the terrain at that point. You can then use various techniques to interpolate the terrain between the different elements so it becomes smooth.

    • pepper says:

      A good example google found on wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heightmap

      EDIT: What Kyrieee is saying is technicly correct but rather confusing if you dont know what he is going on about. Images a greyscale image(black and white) where each pixel represents a point on a flat piece of terrain. The intensity of this pixel will then represent the height of that point.

      Quite a populair method for representing terrain structures in game worlds.

    • Josh W says:

      You make a reply by hitting the reply button on a comment, or if it’s already a reply, on the comment it is replying to.

      Then you cast runes, roll a dice, and maybe the comment will go the place you sent it!

  18. Shatners Bassoon says:

    Tis the real deal, to find out yourself add bBorderRegionsEnabled=0 in the [General] section in Skyrim.ini.

    Then use tcl in the console to fly about and explore to your hearts content.

  19. DickSocrates says:

    Because there is a map of the whole world in existence, they couldn’t simply make Skyrim an island, like the cities in GTA. If you look to the west, east, and south from Skyrim, the canon demands that you see what should be there, and not just water. Stiching the maps from previous games makes more sense than either making up new terrain or having no terrain. Fallout 3 was surrounded by land you couldn’t travel to, but there were no other games to take what should be there.

    The map that shows how much of the rest of TES world is present in Skyrim looks like it is there purely to function are the surrounding world that should be there. If you want to go there, boot up Morrowind and Oblivion!

  20. Stardog says:

    Keep all the stupid speculation, but delete the ones that talk sense. RPS has gone downhill.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Rude/insulting comments are generally deleted. You were being rude.

      We have not gone downhill, you were just being impolite.

    • mondomau says:

      Oooh, it was deleted Thank goodness, I thought I was going mad.

      Also, other people pointed out it was just height mapping, but less…grumpily.

  21. Isometric says:

    Cool, I just heard of this and was wondering if it was actually factual. I know PPSH-41/Jessie, we’re in a BF3 clan together [WTFS], strange to see his tumblr link on here.

  22. Snargelfargen says:

    This development sort of ruined my dunmer’s immigrant from Morrowind backstory. I had also planned to make him a staunch anti-imperial because of their colonialist activities in Morrowind, but the Stormcloaks’ right wing nationalism/racism left a bad taste in my mouth.

    On the bright side, wiping Morrowind’s slate clean sets it up for another TES game!

    Edit: Failed reply to the post about Morrowind exploding/being invaded

    • JackShandy says:

      I was planning to side with the Nords too. Colonialist imperial forces trying to restore control over native citizens – fairly sure I’ve read that history book before, and I know who I’d rather side with.

      Then I go to ulfric and the entire place is packed with dark-elf hatred. Playing as a dark elf, this limits my options.

    • Magnetude says:

      As an Imperial I had plans to fight predestiny and help overthrow the Empire, but the Stormcloaks really are dicks. My second playthrough is going to be as a True Nord, 2 handed weapons, some bows, no magic but some poison, and I’ll side with Ulfric then.

      The thing is, I’m considering role playing as a racist Nord and shunning/roughing up the other races – is that racist?

    • Snargelfargen says:

      There’s nothing wrong with playing a flawed character, so long as that is the intention.

      Playing through Mass Effect with Commander Shephard being a xenophobic space bastard is way more fun than it should be.

      Edit: I actually like what Bethesda did to the Nords; the Stormcloaks reflect a return to the more nuanced racial tensions of Morrowind. My next player will probably be a khajiit, just to see how people react.

    • Magnetude says:

      I’m leaving room for the possibility he’ll meet a really kind dark elf and learn the value of tolerance, but for at least the first few levels I think I might shout a few Argonians off high places…

    • bleeters says:

      The Stormcloak dogma of “if you’re not one of the amazing light skinned, light haired Nords, get out of our country” can bugger right off.

      Mind you, my Nord has thus far been ambushing Thalmar justicar patrols whenever she finds them. Those guys are thoroughly unpleasant.

    • sneetch says:

      It was my plan to join the rebellion too but my dark elf got halfway through the grey quarter before deciding “screw the Stormcloaks” and leaving. I’d cheerfully lead a battallion of Imperials into that city now.

    • vecordae says:

      I really liked the lack of clear bad guy in the whole civil war thing.

      Really, the game did something pretty amazing for me in that regard. My lizard bloke actually got quite attached to Whiterun and likes the Jarl there quite a bit. It is his home and it is where his lovely, feral, red-headed wife live. He would fight tooth and claw in its defense. Which side he picked in the civil war was based entirely on his love for the place. Never had that happen in a game before, where the side I picked in a conflict was driven by loyalty to a community rather than an ideology.

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      Durkonkell says:

      I was moderately anti-imperial at the beginning – I mean, they did try to decapitate me for no reason! I really wanted to find and kill that Captain. Not only did she decide to cut my head off because she couldn’t be bothered to work out who I was, she called me ‘Cat’ when I was on my way to the block. Isn’t it bad enough that she’s having me killed, she has to throw in racial slurs too?

      Unfortunately it looks like Alduin took care of that for me. A shame. I was looking forward to coming up behind her and sneak attacking her for 6x damage.

      So with the Imperials being so heavy handed, it seemed like the Rebellion was the way to go. Unfortunately, their view is very much “Skyrim for the nords!” and they seem to favour getting rid of all the ‘outsiders’ because they are the cause of all the problems in the world and so on. Also there’s the little thing about me being dragonborn and therefore probably the rightful emperor…

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I would like to see some sympathetic or at least not-entirely-unlikeable Thalmor. On the one hand, yes, they are clearly fascists who are also engaged in varying levels of genocide, including elves other than Altmer (based on some info you hear about purges in Valenwood). On the other, in a fantasy realm where the gods clearly exist–see the ending of Oblivion, or any of the daedric prince quests in any title–it does seem like a questionable, even dangerous, decision to elevate a mortal into the pantheon.

      There’s also some interesting stuff with their theology. From what I’ve gathered from the in-game books, the Elves hate the god of creation because they view themselves as descendants of the gods trapped in the mortal plane, separated until death (at least) from divine perfection, and view the Divines as distant relatives. Its implied, however, that the ancestors of the Elves chose to stay in Mundus (the mortal realm), so there’s an interesting strain of self-hatred woven into their very culture which seems at odds with the Thalmor’s pointy-ears-good, round-ears-bad worldview.

    • Kestrel says:

      @ the Stormcloaks/Imperial convo – the nuance is so good, right? I’d like an RPS piece just about that line of the story, because it felt like a nod to the Witcher 2 and a great evolution from the standard ShinyPureChosenOne vs. DarkEvilHorde. I felt all the community and personal appeal, but I totally bought into the political narrative.

      Unsophisticated Nord redneck racism is downright refreshing compared to how scary and manipulative the Aldmeri are. Anything I can do to set myself in direct opposition to them, I will do. If they don’t want a revolution, then I am going to Occupy Whiterun ASAP.

      Nostalgia for the old empire notwithstanding.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Setting the Altmer as bad guys really threw me for a loop. Coming from the last two TES games, I had no reason to expect them to invade Cyrodiil, and I still don’t know what the motivation for that war was. Of course, the various elven races seem to have a history of nastiness (see the Dwemer, the Ayleids, House Dagoth and a good chunk of the dunmer) so maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked.

      @Drinking with skeletons: If you think the altmer’s ambivalent relationship with “mortal” gods is interesting, you should definitely play Morrowind. The country is controlled by the Tribunal which are worshipped as living gods, and the player is heralded by some as a reincarnated prophet. A lot of the main story is dedicated to investigating the truth behind these mysteries. It also lets you draw your own conclusions, instead of just empirically stating “you are the dragonborn”

    • Fiatil says:

      @Drinking

      Well part of it comes down to whether you believe Talos became a god or not. The Nords think he ascended into godhood upon his death, while the Altmer and others think that he’s just a guy. It, like all of the other threads going through Skyrims story, is very much up for debate.

      Morrowind Spoilers:

      Though you do meet the avatar of Tiber Septim right before you fight Dagoth Ur in Morrowind; he gives you a Septim coin which grants you a blessing.

      Oh and there’s also the fact that Mannimarco managed to make himself a god with the Numidium during the dragon break. You’ve got to figure if he can do that while Numidium is also helping out everyone else at the same time, Tiber Septim could pull off a good amount of divinity with it all to himself.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      I have to admit, for this reason i’ve been staying largely neutral – hoping post game I become the Emperor and stomp the shit out all over everyone else anyway.

      Thalmer? I’ll just shout them into paste.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      I don’t approve at all of the Thalmor, but it’ll require a strong, united Empire to overthrow them. I’ll get right on that after (in order):
      1. Having myself installed as Emperor,
      2. Breaking the Thalmors’ hold on as many of their client states as possible.

      (This will never happen. How can there be a player-character Emperor when no-one can ever remember the names of PCs from previous games? “Ah, yes! The reign of Emperor uh… what was his name? Or was it a her? The one that united Skyrim and then Tamriel, ushering in a new golden age?)

    • Grygus says:

      @durkonkell Assuming you followed the Stormcloaks while escaping Helgen, you murdered that Imperial captain; she’s in the first group you encounter. I missed it, too, and only saw it on a subsequent playthrough. Before I saw it, I spent a lot of time hunting for her. Many Imperials died Just In Case.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      @Grygus
      I did not know that! Then again, I didn’t even see the option to choose a side on my first playthrough, I just followed the imperial. I wonder what happens to her if you don’t take the Stormcloak route? I’m going to assume that Alduin toasted her for the time being.

      Since my previous post, I got jumped by a Thalmor justicar patrol carrying an order to terminate me with extreme hatred. I haven’t even done anything against them yet!

  23. scruball says:

    Now think off what the modding community might do with this.

    • Hey What? says:

      Cover the empty landscape with strip clubs and brothels most likely.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I’m gonna need to update my passport.

  24. peanut says:

    I imagine Bethesda probably have a reasonable resolution heightmap for the whole of the continent and have had for a while – they’ve probably used it to create the skybox in the game. The Imperial tower and other buildings could well be visible from parts of Skyrim.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skybox_(video_games))

    • Cameron says:

      Could also be a reference point. Tall buildings often are, and it’s easier to spot than a patch of terrain.

  25. MistaJah says:

    Can’t wait for a Skyrodiil mod. It would be even easier to do than Morroblivion conversions, as Skyrim’s engine is a lot like Oblivion’s.

    • Magnetude says:

      It’s just an updated Gamebryo, unless they spent hundreds of man hours making the jumping and animations just as rubbish in the new engine. Which is strange, because I definitely remember reading that this was going to have an ‘all new’ engine, and the people who made Gamebryo shut down.

    • caddyB says:

      You can already port mods using oblivion mod manager and some other stuff so it isn’t so “hard”. but it would still take quite a long time to get it working.

    • Rob Maguire says:

      Gamebryo was just the (rather crappy) graphics engine, in the same way that Havok is a physics engine; Skyrim plays so similar to Oblivion/Morrowind because the underlying code base hasn’t changed (even if they did rip out Gamebryo, which half the internet seems to disagree on). As long as the data formats the game uses are the same, it doesn’t matter to modders which engine they are using.

    • HothMonster says:

      It is a modded Gamebryo, the fixed things like draw distance, flora creation and visual fidelity and added the Radiant Quest system, the animations are from Havok which is the same as what they used in Oblivion.

      http://www.elderscrolls.com/community/welcome-back-elder-scrolls

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls_V:_Skyrim#Development

  26. DeanLearner says:

    This is nothing to do with the story but…

    does Skyrim have a sense life style ability (seeing enemies whereabouts through walls etc)?

    I used it all the time in oblivion and miss it.

    • Cameron says:

      I haven’t come by a spell that does it yet but I got a shout that will.

    • sneetch says:

      It has a sense enemy thing, when you are aware of enemies they show up on your compass thing.

    • Rob Maguire says:

      A loading screen mentioned Sense Life and Sense Dead, so I’d assume they are somewhere in the game.

    • Unaco says:

      Yes. There is a Detect Life spell (Alteration school) in Skyrim.

    • simonh says:

      It’s an Adept level spell though and will only show up in spell vendors’ lists once you reach 40 in Alteration.

    • DeanLearner says:

      Thanks everyone for your replies :)

      I hope I find a ring or something that gives me the ability (it’s how I went about it before) else I best get me alteration levels up.

  27. F4T C4T says:

    @Snargelfargen: “You’ll make a nice rug, cat!”

    :'(

  28. Megadyptes says:

    As others have pointed out this was also the same with Oblivion, I recall no clipping my way into crude and baron parts of Tamriel and wondering what could have been.

  29. cafe says:

    This makes me wish The Elder Scrolls was more like Ultima and you would play the same character in all parts :( I loved Mass Effect for keeping the same character through the episodes because it’s the same as with books for me, once the story ends i just want more and MORE of that story and not a new one even if it’s set in the same universe!

  30. Danarchist says:

    I just need to get rich so I can pay an army of modders to merge skyrim with oblivion and marrowind. Then I could run naked through the lands and never see the “real” world again.

  31. Was Neurotic says:

    One thing I wonder about all the ‘It’s for view distance fans” talk is, can anyone really actually see that far? Even in real life you couldn’t see all the way from, say, Whiterun to Vvardenfell.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      It really depends- in normal life situations, you tend not to get much elevation, because mountain climbing is hard. When you’re atop a a structure that stands a few hundred meters tall though, you can see close to that far, yes- and these mountains are likely taller than that. (Hard to tell how accurate the scales are.)

  32. MistyMike says:

    >>>down into Morrowind, Cyrodiil, and Hammerfall

    Hammerfell. HammerFALL is a power metal band from Sweden.

  33. CommanderZx2 says:

    It seems fairly obvious to me that it was simply created for people using very high draw distances as a backdrop when you are very high in the game world.

  34. Big Daddy Dugger says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of dragon mount riding/flying (or a shout to turn into a dragon) dlc if modders don’t beat them to it.

  35. Tonberry says:

    Just so people Know there is another ‘Gate’ in the south. So maybe some Cyrodill DLC too? im thinking cloud ruler temple and recreation of the blades but im probably wrong.

  36. dankw says:

    Well, I can’t be the first but I’ve just found a path that seem to go in the direction of High Rock. Just follow the snow-covered path west from Pinefrost Tower in the north-west. Leads to what looks like will be a cave entrance. Looks like we may be giving the Orcs a visit.

    I get the feeling it’s going to be on a separate map, like fallout3, rather than on the same map, like morrowind.