Wowzers: Skyrim + CryEngine = Lichdom

By Nathan Grayson on September 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Move over, giant lizard pig monster. You're cluttering up all the pretty.

H… h… h… hey there, Lichdom. Gee, you sure are pretty. Why, you’re basically what Skyrim would’ve been if Bethesda wasn’t still using a 1000-year-old engine. You maybe want to get coffee some– [trips over an inconveniently placed chair, falls out the door, stumbles into a patch of cacti, trips over a hillside, rolls into an errant band of wild boars, loses terribly on an episode of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader, crawls broken and defeated back to Lichdom’s location] time?

It’s quite a looker, right? Lichdom is powered by CryEngine, so expect graphical oomph in spades. Also regular oomph, if developer Xaviant is to be believed. Basically, Lichdom is about high-octane magical combat first and foremost, which means spells that hit enemy hordes with craterous impact, scattering them like mana-singed bowling pins. Better still, you’ll be custom crafting your spells, so baddies will careen through the air hilariously to your exact specifications.

With the focus on combat, however, comes one rather large compromise – namely, the game’s world isn’t fully open. Xaviant’s claiming it’s “just as immersive” as something like Skyrim, though. The developer elaborated:

“The system driving combat and magic is designed from the ground up to deliver an emergent spell-casting experience in worlds tailored to allow for experimentation and re-playability. The player is trained in the use of these systems through quests tailored to feel seamless with the environment. Hundreds of encounters with the corruption of this world encourage a player to build and test their magic creations. Each new region challenges the player with visceral combat and rewards them with magics of increasingly varied effect.  With skill and creativity these abilities can be combined to create organic synergies that unleash far more devastating destruction.”

Sounds like it could be quite interesting, though I hope there’s more to defense than just flailing your easily severed hands and hoping a spell casts in time. Lichdom will be out in summer 2014. Does it strike your fancy and/or set it ablaze in a hundred horrifying, entirely devastating ways?

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93 Comments »

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  1. Ziv says:

    You know what? I could trade an open world experience for one where the combat is really good.

    What’s missing from the video is more rhythmic combat, it looks like a run and gun, hopefully that will change.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      Open-world is not needed to make a satisfying combat experience. I mean, look at Dark Messiah: Might and Magic.

      • Amra says:

        While I agree that open world is not needed for good combat, Dark Messiah was not great combat. I found the combat one sided: KICK. Kick. Kick, kick, kick! You needed only one skill and there was no need to do *anything* else 99.9% of the time, as the edge of an abyss was never more than two kicks away, except in one specific boss encounter, if memory serves.

        Lichdom looks incredibly boring. 1st person casting of the same ol’ same ol’ spell types. . Ho hum.

        • rogueruler says:

          I don’t think that the point is to compare it to Skyrim, because my understanding is that Lichdom and Skyrim will be two completely different games altogether. However I do think that the concept of this game is very cool, and already looks incredibly immersive.

          For everybody who is already bitching that they are going to be sacrificing the story in order for gameplay, and that it just won’t work; I believe that it very well could work. If anyone here has played Dark Souls, the story wasn’t exactly the main driving factor that made me want to play the game non-stop. But it was the combat and game-play, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. If Lichdom is able to incorporate that into this game, then I think that trade off might work.

          I am very excited to follow this game’s development .

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      PoulWrist says:

      At the presentation at AMD’s livestream he showed and talked about crafting his spells to work in combinations that he could then chain.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      There doesn’t seem to be any melee combat in this game, just the spell casting. A shame really, I’ve been waiting for a new Dark Messiah for far too long.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        I am a huge Dark Messiah fan and I feel like it’s the game that was WAY underrated when it came out.
        People didn’t appreciate it enough back then. (High HW requirements didn’t help much either I guess)

        • haradaya says:

          I revisited Dark Messiah not long ago, it’s still the most fun I’ve had in a FPS not about guns. So many ways to play with the enemies.
          There’s a ship/boat that still makes my more-than-capable PC drop below 30 fps. It wasn’t very well optimized I guess.

          • dE says:

            What made Dark Messiah so special to me, was the impact of your attacks. A heavy sword from the side made enemies stumble in the opposite direction. A fireball hurled them a few feet through the room. That felt satisfying. Now if we go and look at Skyrim… well, really just most First Person Games with Melee:

            Hit. Flinch. Hit. Flinch. Hit. Flinch. Hit. Flinch. Hit Flinch. Hit. Flinch. Hit. Flinch. Hit. HITPOINTS ZERO KABOOM WTF ZZOOM WOAAAAAAAAH FLY TO THE MOON MY LITTLE RAGDOLL, BE FREE LIKE YOUR ANCESTORS.

          • Deadly Sinner says:

            It had the most glorious kick of all time.

            Also, the stealth managed to be pretty fun when I put some points in it later in the game.

    • Ny24 says:

      The enemies look like in the first doom. They just run to you and bite you.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Yeah, I remember having played the demo of DMOMM and having a lot of fun.

      It’s a shame I could never get into Kingdoms of Amalur though, because that game had really amazing combat.

      • frightlever says:

        Amalur combat got more interesting the further you levelled up, but then the actual game became pretty annoying because there were scrub monsters everywhere so you were left doing a lot of busy work. At around the eighty hour mark with entire chunks of the map unexplored I just powered through the main quest, brushing off side-quest givers like peddlers at the bazaar.

        • paddymaxson says:

          Same here! Sadly that game kind of outstayed it’s welcome. I think it could’ve been bearable if most of your later combat wasn’t way too easy.

          The combat was a lot of fun but it lacked challenge so dominant strategy became spamming a couple of abilities. I can handle a boring go kill 10 guys sidequest if the core of the gameplay is super fun but the excess easiness made it less fun.

          Shame that PC patch they promised with a higher difficulty level and improved camera never made it out! Double shame that they didn’t get to do a sequel where they could polish out some of the issues because it was a phenomenal effort for a studio’s first game

  2. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Am I supposed to watch this with 3D goggles? There are these weird green/red graphical effects every time the protagonist is being hit by something. Also, the parallels to Skyrim are pretty obvious, at least concerning the design. The art style doesn’t look very distinct.

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      stahlwerk says:

      Yeah, that (Tele-)glitch effect did not fit at all with the setting, I now fully expect the backstory to take place at Abstergo.

    • Doghaus says:

      Yes, this effect seems to be popular at the moment (seen it in a few game trailers/promo art pieces). In this context it looks daft and doesn’t make any sense.

      • MrSean490 says:

        I think I know why it’s (I’m sure temporarily) there though. I was going to say the effect makes sense if you’re a robot or something and your camera was “damaged” and then I remembered this was made in CryEngine which of course in Crysis features the nanosuits. Very similar damage effects.

    • Giuseppe says:

      I’d hate to play a game where I have to see that stupid “effect” every time I get hit.

  3. BobbyDylan says:

    This looks epic.

    Coupled with Hell-raid, and we got a couple of interesting First Person Caster / Slashers on our hands.

  4. Premium User Badge

    DarkLiberator says:

    This popped up during the AMD stream, looked pretty good. Count myself interested.

  5. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    First Person Magicka? My money? Take it!

  6. Shooop says:

    Did they really not notice one of the worst things about Skyrim was the bland combat? Why do they seem to be making copying that aspect of it one of their goals?

    • BTAxis says:

      What bothered me more about Skyrim was the titanium-alloy static shell of a world. At least during combat things moved.

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        All is Well says:

        What bothered *me* more about Skyrim was the fact that all quests were essentially the same. At least the world had variety.

      • GameCat says:

        In Gothic II you can see more people on farm than in Skyrim’s first big city (forgot its name*, you fight with first dragon here) and they’re talking, walking, sleeping, eating, working etc., not just staying in one place.

        *Skyrim is bland in every aspect.

        • shagohad says:

          gothic 2, better than any elderscrolls game I have played, have you checked out Risen? Its nice for a bit of nostalgia

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Actually, in Skyrim all the NPCs do move around living their lives. While the world doesn’t really change, suggesting that the NPCs stand around all day doing nothing is absolute rubbish. If they did, I wouldn’t have to break into their houses and wake them up at 3am to return their lost or stolen property.

      • fish99 says:

        That’s a bit harsh TBH, the grass and trees sway, the water flows, banners flap in the wind, rain and snow fall, dust clouds swirm etc. Most game worlds are largely static if you stop and look at them. The real world is pretty static.

        • Koozer says:

          In the real world you could chop down a tree, make a bridge over the river with it, then steal the banner.

          • fish99 says:

            Yes but that’s not an apt criticism of Skyrim, because you can’t do that stuff in the vast majority of other games either.

      • Shooop says:

        It still had a few surprises though. There were some quests and things you could do only if you just happened to stop and examine a certain location for no other reason than it being there.

        And things only moved in the most rudimentary fashion during combat, either lunging at you with reckless abandon or running sideways and shooting you with magic.

    • pilouuuu says:

      And this game doesn’t even seem to have many RPG elements. But it seem fun though, even if just as a hack n’ slash.

  7. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    My God, a game about exclusively playing a mage? With good combat? If it’s got decent writing I won’t even care if it’s more linear than I’d like.

    Not too crazy about CryEngine, though, just because I’m A) not sure how well it’ll run on my machine and B) generally more impressed by strong art direction than ghee-whiz tech, and you don’t need one to get the other.

  8. Noviere says:

    It looks more like a modern day Hexen than Skyrim. Which isn’t really a bad thing.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      That’s what I was trying to think of.. Yeah, it’s a first person magic shooter.

  9. Imprecision says:

    Dem hands.

    …. Magical iron sights.

  10. Varnos says:

    Sooo~ Dark Messiah of Might & Magic then?

    • Potajito says:

      Yeah ! About to type the same !

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      lowprices says:

      If you can’t kick monsters into other monsters for giggles then the combat isn’t fit to lick Dark Messiah’s bloodstained boots.

  11. trueplayer says:

    Make this moddable and I’m sold.

  12. marsilainen says:

    Definitely got heretic/hexen vibes from it.

  13. HilariousCow says:

    If there’s one thing a fantasy RPG doesn’t need, it’s chromatic aberration effects when damaged. Unless, of course, you’re some kinda steam punk robot thing in this?

    • Nevard says:

      As someone above said, I’m hoping that’s just a cryengine placeholder they haven’t made their own effects for yet

  14. Solidstate89 says:

    I’m never sold on first-person magic combat. It always looks so bland and boring – very static in the animations, reactions, etc.

    Movement like something out of Avatar: The Last Airbender would be pretty neat when you cast certain spells. Even just as much movement as the mages in The Witcher perform would be better. There’s just something so…immersion breaking about first person magical oriented combat like this.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      I think the problem is that in first person, you can only really see in front of your character. No matter how interesting the spell effects are, the limitations on seeing yourself are pretty impairing to the experience. It has a lot to do with character animations on the protagonist, which we don’t see at all in this trailer, and which are god awful for spellcasters in games like Skyrim.

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    CelticPixel says:

    I like a bit of chromatic aberration as much as the next gamer, but that seems a bit out of place with the fantasy setting. Still, beautiful looking CryEngine game : )

  16. Star_Drowned says:

    Thousand year old engine? Skyrim uses the Creation engine, which was built just for it, as far as I can tell.

    http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/The_Creation_Engine

    I mean, I know it’s pretty much exactly the same as Gamebryo or whatever, but apparently it’s a new engine.

    • skyturnedred says:

      Making the same engine from scratch is still the same shit it was previously.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      And it’s not as if Skyrim is some fugly game kicked out in a week. There’s strong art direction, loads of content, and an eye for detail. It also runs very well on a variety of machines, even with the HD texture pack installed.

      Dinging the visuals on a game which took years to make and which still does a better job of depicting mountains than any other game I’ve ever encountered is kind of mean-spirited and exactly the kind of attitude that results in lavish, spectacle oriented games without much in the way of meaningful gameplay.

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        Rizlar says:

        Yeah, the world design in Skyrim is still one of my favourite of any game ever. To me it seems incredibly strong but it’s also subtle and deep, which is perhaps why people bash it.

      • Shooop says:

        The only thing I think was awful about Skyrim’s engine was the color grading they used. The blue tint was absolutely horrible.

        However that can be resolved with one of the thousands of mods cranked out within the first week of the game’s release.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      A sign of how dated the Creation engine is, is the fact that it’s still running DX9, a 10 year old library. I mean, it can look fine under controlled conditions, but a lot of it should be credited to artists and modelers (even though there’s some HORRENDOUS textures and models in the game, there’s still some pretty good ones). The engine also struggles with large amounts of NPCs in the same cell, and it’s been a known issue since Oblivion – the game breaks down if there’s too many AIs in the same area, and considering how the AI is actually rather simplistic (NPC routines in Skyrim are less advanced than in Oblivion, for instance), the whole blame can be laid on the engine itself.

      People shouldn’t be fooled, the Creation engine is a rebranded Gamebryo with a bit of polish.

    • The Random One says:

      Is it called the Creation engine because it’s as old as the universe, or just because it was made in seven days?

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        This comment win this thread.

      • Shooop says:

        Doesn’t work if it doesn’t have humans riding dinosaurs!

        Oh wait.

        Comments over, someone get the lights.

    • fish99 says:

      It’s not a new engine, they just reworked parts of it and gave it a new name. If you dig around enough you’ll find the quotes from Bethesda confirming this, plus it should be pretty obvious from just playing the game since it feels so much like Oblivion and has almost all the same engine issues. They even share most command line/ini tweaks.

  17. Ansob says:

    Erm, those hands look nice and healthy to me, so it’s clearly not Lichdom. If it we’re, they’d be rotting hands or skeleton hands or just no hands at all because you’d be a demilich.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I’m not generally someone who wants to play as an evil character, but I would LOVE playing as a ludicrously evil wizard gradually ascending to lichdom. Have him voiced by Steve Blum at his absolute hammiest–think Zoltan Khule or Eliphas in DoW2–make him petty and have him be just gleeful about his wickedness, and I’d be on board.

      • Volcanu says:

        THIS.

        Let me become a latter day Kangaxx the Demi-lich please.

    • Zekiel says:

      Dammit you beat me to it. Was going to post the same. Don’t tempt me with the name lichdom and then give me decidedly human-looking hands. Its skeletal hands or nothing!

  18. aliksy says:

    Will the game actually be challenging and difficult instead of being like skyrim’s paper tigers? (Ooh i’m a skeleton! I’m gonna stick you! *poke* ha! How do you like losing 3% of your health! Well you just wait 15 seconds and I’ll poke you again!)

  19. Belmakor says:

    Am I the only one that thinks this game screams out for Kinect support (or some such motion tracking hardware) and even Occulus’ rift?

    I mean, imagine that instead of mashing keys you actually have to perform gestures to do spells. Hard spells would require longer more intricate gestures.

    You could do away with the traditional mana bar without worrying about spell spamming.

    Imagine throwing your hands in the air, waving them around and then striking down with a bolt of lightning. Or punching downwards to cause a earth tremor. Or an intricate hand dance that takes 20 seconds to perform but which causes you to summon a demon to aid you.

    Mix that in with the ability for spells to backfire due to an incorrect hand pattern and your on to a winner.

    Man I would give my left butt cheek to have such a game.

    • Creeping Death says:

      Imagine waving your hands around trying to get up a protective spell but accidentally casting lightning instead as the enemy attack kills you. For the 15th time. Now you are having the motion control experience!

      They’d have to slow the game down far too much to give the player a chance that it would no longer be interesting to play.

      • Belmakor says:

        I disagree. You make the complicated part the thing that changes your spell in the same way as selecting a spell through a menu button. Then actual casting is as simple as throwing your hands outwards.

        Black and whites gesture system (a good example) was frustrating because trying to draw a circle with a mouse is difficult, its not so difficult to describe one with your hands – compare it to writing letters in the air with a sparkler for example.

        So actual casting would be only a fraction of a section slower than a button click.

        Interesting you say about slowing combat down though, most games with weightless bodies and weapons make wielding a weapon look like you are controlling a feather. Add some weight in there and it would become that little bit slower so as not to disadvantage.

  20. Lobotomist says:

    Honestly Skyrim at max settings + mods , doesnt look much worse. I am much more excited for that deep silver / techland dungeon crawler : Hellraid

  21. Professor Snake says:

    Hmm, looks like the closest thing we have to an awesome Doctor Strange game.

  22. Turkey says:

    I’ll play this if this if the title of the game is the main character’s last name and his first name is Abraham.

  23. acu says:

    So, no weapons, only magic? I’m not sure if I like that. Could get boring very quickly. Apart from that it looks great!

    • skyturnedred says:

      I hope you can at least summon a fire sword or something and swing enemies with that.

  24. BoZo says:

    This made me realize how much I’d like a first person Magicka style game.

  25. realitysconcierge says:

    Can you imagine someone walking around with their hands in front of them like that?
    I really like the font of the game title.

  26. Megakoresh says:

    Looks really cool. Let’s see if it plays that way too.

  27. Tom Camfield says:

    I’d get super tired holding my hands in front of me for so long.

  28. Freud says:

    Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!

  29. SRTie4k says:

    The 6th Age of Roth? As if 5 ages of greasy hair, sweaty bare chest, parachute pants, gymnastics and girly yelps weren’t enough.

  30. ChiefOfBeef says:

    Hoping that magic actually becomes more effective when/if you become an actual lich. It didn’t seem to do much to the unencumbered enemies launching themselves at you.

    K, lightning does shocks, fire burns and green stuff does what? Would have been helpful to actually be able to see what the non-standard spells actually do. I spotted just one bit where someone was knocked back to their death after they cunningly sought the strategic advantage of positioning themselves with a cliff behind them.

    Hoping this is very early footage and they are working on design and physics.

  31. SuicideKing says:

    CryEngine should be mandatory or something these days.

  32. pilouuuu says:

    I don’t think it looks THAT much better than Skyrim.

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Agreed, it isn’t a leap above Skyrim.. there maybe the odd texture or effect.. but yeah, I dont see that much of an improvement. This game does more things/is more imaginative with effects, but there’s nothing there that Skyrim ‘couldn’t’ do, or at least it doesn’t look that way, but unless there is more to do than pew-pew I’m not intested anyway.

      • ShadowLeague says:

        With mods Skyrim can look even better that this game and I’m sure that there are also mods which can give you the effects like the ones shown above, plus you get to keep that whole open world exploration too.

  33. Sghirate says:

    . . I am disappointed , that no one made the obvious: “CryRim” joke, yet. But looking at the video I kind of miss ‘non-combat-fun-bits’ . . . well . . maybe something to get, when it’s on sale.

  34. frank3n says:

    With your bare hands out in front of you like that, figure it’s only a matter of time before they got chopped off on an unlucky roll of 1/100. ‘Stumpdom’.

  35. RProxyOnly says:

    Is it only combat, or is there something else to do?

  36. orange says:

    Fact 1: No CryEngine game not developed by Crytek has ever looked good.
    Fact 2: Fact 1 is still a fact.

  37. Brocktoon says:

    This is more “back pedal and gun” than “run and gun”.

  38. ShadowLeague says:

    It’s still very early to tell so I might be completely wrong about it, but I hate the types of games that are built solely around one mechanic and I know that a lot of games are like this but in their context it works. This looks like an incomplete RPG even if it is a linear one, is this even going to be an RPG? Dark Messiah let you switch it up with swords, spells and bows and this game resembles that however I think it’s missing the whole point of spell casting. Range. The whole point of throwing a fireball is to blow your enemy apart before he can get close to you and stab you with a pointy piece of steel. All I’m seeing here is a lot of running around and getting close up to deliver your ranged attack (though that could be just to show off what the enemies look like). If magic is the only thing you can use then they better have summoning too, because you’ll need something too keep the hordes of enemies off of you while you plink away at them.

  39. Skepsis says:

    Combination, combination, blagh blagh blaugh. So many ways to reduce story line and pretend to get playability. Skyrim worked because it was crafted and had lots of varied missions rather than, blast that , blast this so you can… oh, blast that and blast this a little more much like Final fantasy. How to make combat last eons! Once a pattern of good magic is found then the game is over like the early Magic the Gathering. Find a combination ahd stick with it. NOW GTA 5. Larhe open world, lots of story only spoilt by only having 3rd person view so as to not upset the console games that have to use a controller.
    Will steams offering finally bridge the gap between superior mouse and keyboard and game controllers?
    Does this make Occulus Rift game on?

  40. Vlad86 says:

    I’m very sorry, but the opening of this article is little on the weak side.

    “Gee, you sure are pretty. Why, you’re basically what Skyrim would’ve been if Bethesda wasn’t still using a 1000-year-old engine.”

    One of the first iterations of CryEngine 3 where no better than The Creation Engine, which is used by Bethesda. Rendering techniques used by latest iteration of CryEngine 3 are very new, thus this is a very poor comparison. Its like comparing PS1 vs PS4 which deliver better performance regarding rasterization.

    I could twist this also this way: In-game player hands have not sub-surface scattering, this is old!!! (not fair right?)

    PS. This game has some very cool casting animations :)

  41. D3m0nS0h1 says:

    Thousand year old engine you say, it was built specifically for the game dude…. Game did look sick though

  42. etonbears says:

    All games compromise; real-time modelling of reality ( or, as in this case, a fantasy reality ) isn’t possible with even the best available PC technology.

    Every aspect of every game requires designer, developer and artist time, and always fall short of reality. Every game I have played has things I think could be done better, and the same will be true of this one.

    As others have mentioned, Lichdom resembles Heretic/Hexen in style with modern graphics. I remember liking those games, but they were very limited in their gameplay, as developer time went into the graphics.

    Lichdom looks like the same trade-off – good graphics, but a rather limited concept. For all their limitations, I prefer the open-world style of games Bethesda produce where I can just do as I please ( within the limits of the game ). I often don’t even bother doing the main quest!