20 Reasons To Be Excited About Skyrim

This dragon is excited. If it were a larger screenshot, you could tell

Well, there’s an awful lot more than 20 reasons to be helplessly nerding out about the next Elder Scrolls game, but a nice round number is a good place to start, right? Let me be clear: I love Morrowind, quite like Oblivion and really didn’t get on with Fallout 3. I am what you might call a doubter. Nonetheless, I am impossibly excited about Skyrim, having recently been shown an hour of it (and listened to a bonus hour of lead dev Todd Howard answering questions about it). Here are just a few reasons why…

(Click on the images for luvverly full-size versions, by the way)

1. Killing a dragon involves knocking the enormous thing out of the sky, with a combination of arrows, magic and whatever else you can think of. When you do, it crashes to earth like a meteorite, its huge body skidding along the ground in front of you with a sense of weight and speed that would kill anyone caught in it. Even then, the beast rises to its feet and takes another pop at you – moving along by walking on the tips of its visibly damaged wings. When you do finally slay the thing, you absorb its soul. This involves the dragon essentially catching fire from within, reducing down to a scorched skeleton the size of shed.

2. A new questing system means randomly-generated stories. If you’re sent on a quest to rescue a kid from a dungeon, though the nuts and bolts of the plot might be pre-written, the game will pick and choose characters and locations from what’s nearby and relevant, rather than have every player retrieve the same kind from the same dungeon. More so than ever, no-one will play the same game.

3. While the game’s pretty much the same size of Oblivion in terms of land mass, the inclusion of huge mountains – all of which you can climb to the top of, as well as often venturing within – means Skyrim has significantly more world to explore than its predecessor. “They create more time because you can’t just cut across them,” says Todd Howard.

4. The menus are pure sex, basically. The crisp, floating text, tiered menus and full 3D renderings of every inventory item is light years ahead of the fugly boxes and fuzzy, endless lists of Oblivion and Fallout 3. Seriously: these may be the best-looking in-game menus in history.

5. While in Oblivion dungeons were primarily designed by art staff, this time around they’re built by a new raft of level designers, which promise a more engaging flow and diversity to each. There are over 120 dungeons in the game, plus many more smaller points of interest and encounters.

6. For a dragon, combat is debate. When it’s breathing fire at you, it’s talking at you in power-words, or Shouts. Your part in the discussion is to Shout back…

7. The world is so much more alive. You’ll see packs of wolves hunting mammoths, you’ll see fearsome beasts such as giants wander by without bothering you because they’re off on other business rather than being mindless killers, you’ll see friendly passers-by running up to you with a sword you dropped earlier and offering to return it – or taking a pop at you with it if they have some reason to despise you.

8. Conversations with NPCs no longer involves an awkward zoom-in to their strange faces, a fixed perspective and an ugly text box. Now, it’s clean, sharp text floating directly onto the screen, and you’re free to look around as you please. Much of the incidental conversation, such as back stories, can be had while going for a stroll with a character as they chat away ambiently, rather than standing there clicking through text from a static position because you’re worried about missing something.

9. The skill and attribute system has been rethought to make it more streamlined yet offer much more varied character builds. We’re down from 8 attributes and 21 skills to 3 attributes and 18 skills, which will probably cause gasps of horror in some camps, but actually the aim is to make character builds even more diverse while getting rid of redundant levelling. Acrobatics is gone, for instance – “who makes a character that is like ‘I am someone who doesn’t run?” Each skill unlocks a series of perks, which add multiple new abilities – such as a slow-time mode for arrow shooting. Each perk has certain requirements, not purely having unlocked the one below it. “You see a perk you like and say ‘I’m going to start using my sword more because I want that perk”, says Howard. The attributes, meanwhile, are distilled to Health, Magicka and Stamina. “What we found was those [old] attributes actually did something else. For instance, Intelligence just affected Magicka. They all trickled down to some other stat.” Again- this will cause gasps of horror. Maybe those will be justified, maybe they won’t – we won’t know until we play. Conceptually speaking, however, I dig the idea of your character build now being more about your actions than about strict segmenting into what were in some cases multiple attributes with similar effects. It does mean it’s more a game of actions than of numbers, and that’s always going to get backs up, but in this instance I’m fairly sure they’ve genuinely done it to increase engagement with your character and what he/she/it gets up to than to stoooopidise matters.

10. The Giant Frostbite Spider, in motion, may well be one of the most frightening things I’ve ever seen.

11. We won’t suffer the horrible voice repetition of Oblivion. “We’ve expanded it a lot. It’s a much bigger jump even from Fallout in terms of VO and the amount of people we have.” Max Von Sydow won’t be the only celebrity voice in the game, either… “I think you’ll all be very impressed, but it’s not just about getting the name on there.”

12. You can dual-wield weapons and spells. Or dual-wield spells. Or wield the same spell in each hand, and thus cast an ultra-spell. The combat system is about discovering combinations, stringing particular abilities together to create mighty tactics. Again, it’s all about creating a character unique to you, rather than being an archetype.

13. Character creation only involves choosing what you look like and which of 10 races you are. “After that it’s all about what you play. We want to minimise the initial decision point when you start the game.”

14. Modding is fully supported, in the form of the Creation Kit. “We’re really big into the mods on the PC. Hopefully day and date with the game, but there might be some slack there.” Bethesda have also been influenced by a few mods for earlier games – for instance, bows have been tweaked as a result of finding an Oblivion balance mod that did ’em better.

15. The engine looks absolutely phenomenal in motion, with the draw distance, streaming and detail able to handle “massive changes in scale from plant to mountain.” There’s none of that awkward visual disparity between near and far away objects which we saw in Oblivion. Meanwhile, tree branches wobble delicately in the wind, mountain peaks have their own micro-climates (such as gorgeous snow and mist), and even your character’s hands are wonderfully animated – a far cry from the forever-clenched fists of so many games. “We like the downtime, the moments like watching the sunset, staring at the water.” Even pulling up the map involves seamlessly zooming up and above the world to look down at a full 3D rendering of it.

16. You get to fight magic zombie vikings. (Draugr, ancient undead Nord warriors). They look like muscle-bound, bearded skeletons, and they’re proper eerie.

17. There’s a real in-game economy. If, for any reason, you decide to destroy a local lumber mill, you’ll find it results in a shortage of wooden objects such as arrows in nearby shops. You probably shouldn’t destroy the lumber mill, then. Alternatively, you could chop some wood for the lumber mill, which will earn you a bit of cash.

18. There will be a few out-there quests, like entering the painting in Oblivion. “It’s good to remind people it’s a world of magic and fantasy.” There’ll also be a bunch of secret features, but it won’t be a unicorn again.

19. The skills/perks system is presented as a vast, twinkling star field populated by stellar patterns in the shape of this world’s various gods. The idea is your character looks to the very heavens for inspiration and power, rather than to some out of game list of stats. As you pick a perk the chart slowly lights up. “You’re creating this custom constellation just drawn for you.” It’s epic, strange and beautiful, and it makes character-tailoring visually part of the game rather than a bunch of statistics strewn across the menu screen.

20. All this, and we haven’t even been told about the guilds, the factions, crime, the major cities, the conversation system and so much more. It’s going to be an enormous game. It seems so much bigger, so much meatier, so much stranger than Oblivion. I can’t wait, I really can’t.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is released on 11 November this year.


  1. McDan says:

    Cat people! Giant spiders! Dragons! (and they shout.. or whatever). I’m already looking forward to this too much anyway.

  2. terry says:

    1. Mudcrabs.
    2. No cliffracers.

  3. pakoito says:

    Where did you see the ingame menues? I cannot find them.

  4. Vivi says:

    “18 skills”

    Fine, whatever.

    “3 attributes”

    What the hell, Bethesda?

    • Epsilon Naught says:

      Weeell, it’s better than blatantly rehashing the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system.

      Wait, what am I saying, please just blatantly rehash the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system, it’s awesome

    • unimural says:

      IMO the character system has never been all that great in the Elder Scrolls series. Cutting it down to smarts, speed and strength (whatever they will be called) does raise the risk of really going overboard with the simplification, but I do feel this might be more in line what they’ve been after all along. The only strength the systems have had (and it’s been a major one) is the versatility of the skills.

      The skills have been limited by stat progression, true. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other workable solutions to guiding character growth.

      It’s an action rpg, and having direct, simple effects for a limited number of stats is more in line with that. Personally I do consider it a loss, even if I’ve never liked their system. I would quite enjoy an excel sheet character system.

    • Scotterius says:

      Has there ever been a case where reducing the player character variables actually resulted in more diverse tactical combat? Morrowind was wonderful because you could essentially fool around and make your character simply godlike. My brother would take single jumps across the continent! It seriously rewarded player exploration and character optimization, I am afraid this is more of a lobotomy than an upgrade.

    • Vivi says:

      According to the article, the attributes are Health, Magic, and Fatigue (I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense, Morrowind called it fatigue so that’s what it is).

      Thing is, those aren’t attributes, at least not in the Elder Scrolls sense. So what determines those now, since that used to be the job of the attributes? Skills? That makes no sense. Or does everyone just have the same health, magic and so on?

    • Xocrates says:

      While I agree that the 8 attributes had some degree of redundancy, it does seem that 3 is cutting it out too low, to the point that’s essentially saying that your character will be decided by perks.

      That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but having the stats as health, magic, and stamina seems both reductionist and ambiguous.

    • Jesse L says:

      I must confess, one of my favorite things about Morrowind was the ability to become overpowered.

      During the mid-game I had a lot of money lying around, so I spent a big chunk of it on training up my unarmored and hand-to-hand skills. Then I took off everything but my magic Pants of Regeneration and Boots of Blinding Speed and ran up into the mountains to beat cliff racers to death with my bare hands.

      Even with the Boots (hand-to-hand was linked to your speed attribute, so with the boots on it seemed like you could punch three times a second) it took a long time to kill anything, but it was still fun. I liked it when the cliff racers would faint, recover conscious, try to start flying again, and immediately faint again under the onslaught of my Blind Hundred Fist technique.

    • BigJonno says:

      To be fair, the levelling and stats in Oblivion were bloody terrible. Now, I like me some stats and I’ll reserve judgement until I play the thing, but I certainly won’t mourn the loss of the Oblivion system.

    • Wizardry says:

      Bethesda will eventually remove all statistics and skills entirely because it’s apparently difficult to understand what “strength”, “speed” and “intelligence” means. What I can’t stand is their reasoning for removing the statistics. If the statistics only affected the derived statistics (such as health and mana) then make the connection more complex. Stripping away poorly implemented mechanics because they were poorly implemented is the BioWare school of CRPG design. Fixing things that were crap is the proper way.

    • Archonsod says:

      Sounds like they’re going for something similar to Alpha Protocol with perks dictating your abilities. Worked quite well there, so it’s really just a question of whether Beth can pull off something as good here.

    • Bremze says:

      Strength – probably split into two perks
      Intelligence = Mana
      Willpower == Stamina (+ a mana regen perk)
      Endurance == Health
      Speed – perk
      Agility – somewhat useless, melee works differently now, + a stamina regen perk
      Personality – perk
      Luck – might be split up into different perks

      Perks will actually make character advancement much deeper, than it has been in Morrowind/Oblivion.

    • Wizardry says:

      And perks plus statistics would make things even better. Especially if statistics can be “fixed” so that they actually have far more complex effects on your character and their ability to pull off interactions in the game world.

    • Maktaka says:

      @Archonsod I really hope you’re right about taking AP for inspiration. It’s about time Obsidian got enough respect as a developer to have their ideas lifted for other games.

    • Hammurabi says:

      It seemed to me that there may be implicit stats based on your what you have done. Use a sword a lot and get stronger, use a bow get more dexterous, magic would make you more smarterer or wizened. Something like that. I mean, I could be off, but it does seem that what they are going for is to hide the numbers away from the interface. I mean, you don’t know how agile you are, right? I can look at something and tell if I can vault it or not because of experience. As usual we just have to wait and play, see how the whole thing works together.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Hammurabi: And if the player doesn’t have to think about the statistics of their characters any more, what makes the game play any differently from an open world action game? The difference may be that your underlying statistics and skills are changing behind the scenes, but how is the experience any different for the player? To the player, all you do is go around killing things, talking to NPCs and completing quests in both types of games. Without actively being able to control the progression of your character, it doesn’t play like an RPG. Hide all sorts of character advancement from Mass Effect and you get Gears of War with a dialogue wheel. Hide all the statistics and equipment from Oblivion and you get a first person open world hack & slash action game.

    • gwathdring says:

      Huh. I always thought the statistics were a necessary evil that facilitated certain types of tabletop role-playing games. I felt the goal was to take a character, enjoy the role, and become immersed in a fantasy world while mucking about with friends. Depending on how good the GM is and what the player group feels like doing, the immersion and mucking about take turns being more or less important. Zoom to computer RPGs. I’m far more interested in exploring a vastly detailed world, crawling through zombie-filled caverns, firing bolts of fire, and making a name for myself in a living, breathing world of NPC’s that have genuinely interesting things to say. If I wanted pure action, sure I’d play something else. But I’ve never played a single RPG for the number crunching.

      I’ve always thought that advancing specific skills and abilities based on general adventuring experience and arbitrary levels of said general experience was an inelegant way of setting up character advancement that allows for the sense of development that makes RPGs more than pure exploration and action. You develop a character over time, rather than observing the story as a static piece of the landscape. I don’t think the specific numerical system is or has ever been an important part of that process. I recognize that many people do feel this way, but I don’t quite understand why beyond nostalgia.

      I’m into things like D&D for the communal storytelling, and the “dungeons and dragons.” The romp through a fantasy world. I don’t want it to be all action, no. But my character advancing by the numbers isn’t all that much better. A use-based skill system makes a lot more sense to me and seems a far more elegant way to add flavor to a character in a personal way. I like perks, too, for the same reason that I really wanted to like SCION the first time I played it: a few context sensitive special abilities and items laid out with the rest mostly up to the character feels so much more natural than a tabulated list of all items and abilities the character may use. I’ve always been of the opinion that even in a system that has more detailed charts and tabulations, a good GM rewards creativity and good sense over spread-sheet optimization.

      That said, the Skyrim system won’t necessarily do a better job of meeting my stated preferences than oblivion. But as Health, Magicka, and Stamina are used in the action-oriented part of the game it makes perfect sense to me that action-oriented decisions and mechanics determine these values. If you want to play as a muscle-less magic user who has contempt for mundane weapons and can barely figure out how to use them anyway, it makes a fair bit of sense that a game system would decide how to award your stamina and weapon skills based on the fact that you don’t actually use a weapon very often. Seems fine in theory as far as I can tell.

    • Wizardry says:

      I’m far more interested in exploring a vastly detailed world, crawling through zombie-filled caverns, firing bolts of fire, and making a name for myself in a living, breathing world of NPC’s that have genuinely interesting things to say.

      But you can experience all of those things in other genres of video games. Zombie filled caverns can be found in first person shooters. Vastly detailed worlds can be found in action adventures. Firing bolts of fire can be done in any game with magic. Making a name for yourself can be achieved in any game with a personal plot. A living, breathing world with NPCs can be found in The Sims.

      My point is that what you enjoyed from RPGs was what RPGs allowed you to experience. RPGs allowed you to experience all of the above, for example. But if you remove all the rules that make up RPGs you aren’t left with an RPG any more. You might, however, be left with a game in which you can role-play in.

      Let’s create a game. Let’s have a huge open world full of interesting locations. Let’s then populate this world with NPCs and monsters. Let’s then attach dialogue to the NPCs and add quests to the game world. We then make monsters drop equipment on death. Let’s drop the player in the world when they start up this game.

      What would the player experience? Exploration, check! NPC interaction, check! Real-time combat, check! Looting, check! Is this game a CRPG though? If so, what made it a CRPG? If not, what needs to be added to make it a CRPG?

      Yep. If the player never has to deal with statistical progression then, from a gameplay perspective, they aren’t playing a CRPG. If you remove the levelling system from Baldur’s Gate you are left with a real-time-with-pause tactics game. If you remove the levelling system from Mass Effect you get a character focused Gears of War. If you remove augmentations and skills from Deus Ex you get a non-linear FPS. If you remove the character progression from Pool of Radiance you get turn-based tactics game. And even if the statistics are still there, being modified as you play, yet hidden from view, you don’t get a CRPG back because the player never spends any of their game time dealing with the statistics.

    • gwathdring says:

      I suppose. Personally I’ve always found the story and role play to be the key components of RPGs. It’s what I’ve liked about the genre. The games that pack the most of those features all together tend to be table-top of western CRPGs. Yes all of those games have statistics and leveling systems. But the less those systems get in the way of the dynamic progression and world interaction, the happier I am as a gamer. I don’t want to get rid of progression. And as long as there are numbers in the background it’s nice to see them and be aware of how they work. I like that level of transparency that comes out of CRPGs.

      But I also don’t need the numbers to work in a specific way as long as I still get the same experience. It doesn’t sound like Skyrim takes away the access to numbers any more than Oblivion’s auto-leveling skill system did. It just changes what makes the numbers move, just as various CRPGs and table top RPGs have different loot and experience point systems.

      In essence: yes you can have all of these features without having the statistical experience. But I’d still call it a Role Playing game because as genres go there isn’t really another place to put it and a lot of those features have become associated with RPGs in the game industry. It’s a matter of definition at that point, and I don’t feel the need to define an RPG. And I’d love the game just as much with less fiddly numbers. I don’t want the game to be “simpler” or “easier.” But I don’t need the complexity to come from the numerical tallying system, nor want it to. As such, as long as Skyrim delivers all the features listed here and then some … I’ve got everything I need to be happy in a CRPG, whether or not anyone else would call it that.

      P.S. I think a large part of this is that I don’t think genre matters at all. I don’t need all of the trappings of a specific genre to enjoy the meat of the game. If the game is primarily good because of it’s genre savy, then it’s probably not the sort of game I’d enjoy playing. I’m not saying you’d enjoy playing it either, but rather that changing the name to “real-time-tactics-with-pausing” ignores a fair bit of what made it memorable. Justified or no, people remember the characters being engaging, the story being interesting, the sensation of character and choice alluring. Mass Effect 2 didn’t just attract people because it was a shooter (though it attracted some pure shooter fans, I’d wager … they may have been somewhat disappointed though); again whether or not it was empirically “a good game” people loved the characters, the story, the interactivity with the story, the sense of choice … these are feature that have nothing to do with the “gameplay segments” if you try to pigeonhole gameplay into genres. But for better or worse (worse, surely) the mining sequences are also gameplay. The conversation sequences are also gameplay.

      Baldur’s Gate is as much “real-time-tactics-with-pausing- when you leave in the statistics as when you remove them, and just as much about role and character when you leave them in as when you remove them. A game is, in short, at least a sum of it’s parts. Sometimes it’s more than that, but it is unfair to consider a game a sum of those parts which fit within a given genre.

      Skyrim seems generally to be a game that is marketed towards people who like the genre video game players and developers consider RPGs. It contains many features most often found and most often asked for in games dubbed RPGs. It’s about taking a character from the ground up, from rags to riches, from peon to warlord, gaining power, allies, enemies, and skill along the way. The specifics are different, but the sentiment is there. If you stripped away the transparency of the statistics (or played a tabletop RPG that doesn’t have many numbers and uses a perk/talent system instead of skills/ACs/DCs), those features and that sense of industry history and origin would still exist.

      But I’m not going to compel you to call it an RPG. Mostly I’m curious as to what is so attractive about the statistical aspect, and what makes it better than a system that still has numbers and such, but holds you and your numbers accountable in part for your in game actions rather than your out of game decisions?

    • JerryAKAGerry says:

      In real life if you want to get better at say playing basket ball, what do you do? You go play basketball. If you want to get better at sword fighting in Skyrim, you go kill things with your sword (or swords :) . Why is that a bad thing? It makes character progression seem more real, less desensitized. I like to be emersed into a game, without having to stare at charts and numbers and progress bars. And I’m sure that this won’t feel like a hack and slash game, you’ll know when you get stronger and you’ll get the gratification of working on some skill.

    • Wizardry says:

      I really don’t mind statistically watered down games existing. Not one bit. However, the fact of the matter is that no big developers are making the games that we used to call CRPGs. One of the reasons for this is that the definition of the CRPG has changed among modern gamers and developers. Completely.

      In fact, if you give a modern console gamer a game like Champions of Krynn they wouldn’t know what to call it. It doesn’t match up with the experience they get from Mass Effect at all. It doesn’t have cut-scenes with dialogue options. Your party members don’t talk to you and aren’t romanceable. There is no cover-based third person shooter combat. There aren’t tonnes of side quests to do. There is a far greater difference in terms of gameplay between Champions of Krynn and Mass Effect than between Gears of War and Mass Effect.

      What I want is a game that has no action elements and therefore does not require fast actions by the player. I want a game where I can develop the skills of either a single character or a small party of characters over the course of the game. I want the skills I develop in them to be tested frequently by all types of interaction from dialogue to combat, swimming to climbing, kicking down doors to picking locks, foraging for food to hunting animals. I want specialisation to reward me by allowing me to play through the game in a manner that makes the most of the specialisation.

      Is this what a CRPG is? Well, yes, at least partially, because I know for a fact that I can experience that with a good RPG system. Similarly, you can experience everything you want with a good RPG system. But once you start removing statistics, perhaps you are left satisfied, but I’m certainly not, and neither are all those gamers who grew up on statistics heavy CRPGs such as Champions of Krynn (as an odd example).

      When Wizardry is only connected to modern CRPGs such as Oblivion and Mass Effect because of player developed character statistics, you can’t then remove that final link and still use the genre name. It makes no sense. Not only is it misleading, it’s also damaging for the future of games that resemble the origins of the genre rather than modern games.

    • Berzee says:

      One major reason to do the “click on the plus sign to level” instead of the “it goes up as you use it” approach is because…well…practice is boring. Having just spent some time grinding skills in Oblivion, it is definitely boring. =P I decided to stop grinding and only level by doing what seems funnest and most immersive at the time, but for a while the zombies were stopping my fun. I like that your character has to practice his skills to get good, but the whole point of clicking that plus sign is so that you can enjoy your character *at* every skill level, but not *between* every skill level while he does boring practice. =)

      If a game depends on *player skill* then practice is great. But having to make the player do a repetitive action to allow his character to learn something, is the origin of the grind.

      So with something like Wizardry wants, you get to play the action-packed sections of a character’s life (his dungeon dives, his quests and battles, even those times where he is creating a great work of craftsmanship or having interesting conversations) — but you don’t have to play those sections where he is whacking the practice dummy or practicing disarming expressions in the mirror (because they didn’t put anything *fun* in the game to represent those activities).

      Of course the level-with-use system is another way of abstracting practice time (by saying, okay, whatever he spends his time doing, let’s assume he spends his practice time doing that too). That can be a great way to let people who want to ignore the numbers do so…but it has the downside of making it so that if you do want to pick up a new skill late in the game, you’re gonna have to grind to bring it up to speed. Or pay for training – that’s a good way around that issue.

      What I think actually has the spreadsheet crowd (not said disparagingly or even without a degree or self-identification) up in arms, though, is NOT the actions that must be taken to progress. I don’t think people, even Wizardry ;), cares very much about whether you increase your Kung Fu skill by clicking a plus sign or by repeatedly clicking a practice dummy.

      What he/they/we DO/DOES care about is…we don’t want things to progress until there IS NO LONGER a Kung Fu skill. Because TES games have historically had, not the most, but a lot of character customization, we hope that by the time we play the 10th game in the series, they haven’t reduced all weapons skills to “Enemies Explode”.

      It is the lack of meaningful/strategic development choices, not the lack of visible plus signs, that’s feared. The lack of a way to give your character some individuality and personality (since, after all, they want everyone to have a unique Skyrim experience ;), or to invent interesting ways to beat the game. Even in Oblivion, if you want to, you could make a choice between having tons of Magicka, or having tons of Magicka Regeneration…the former lets you cast whoppin’ big spells, while the latter lets you cast weaker spells basically infinitely. But if they remove Intelligence and Willpower, this is no longer an option. Perks could give you that choice, but it would feel a lot more artificial instead of something you figured out or invented or naturally arrived at yourself.

      This is partly guesswork, since I’m not as upset as some others about the potential of the skill system, but I think I can understand why they are. =)

    • Wizardry says:

      Yep. You’re right. I might not like use-based skill systems in my CRPGs but they are perfectly fine as CRPG systems.

      You see, when CRPGs were character skill driven rather than player skill (action) driven, everything was abstracted. When you told your character to pick a lock, he/she either succeeded or failed. Now you get lock picking mini-games with a high degree of player skill involved. With an abstracted system, getting trained in a skill is automatic. You could go to the local magic trainer and spend 1 year of your character’s life boosting your magic skill. Time would pass instantly and you’d be back in control of your character, aged a year, but with a whole host of more powerful spells. In Oblivion you also had trainers which did the same job (but without ageing your character), but because there were action mini-games and action combat, it made sense to level your abilities up on use.

      In other words, use-based levelling does work well with certain types of games, such as action CRPGs like The Elder Scrolls series. That’s not really my issue. My issue is with the removal of statistics such as the 8 attributes and the skills (Skyrim has 18, down from the 35 of Daggerfall, 27 of Morrowind and 21 of Oblivion).

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Having just spent some time grinding skills in Oblivion, it is definitely boring.

      Yes, and it’s also boring farming monsters for experience in Baldur’s Gate. Neither of those is something you’d do in a tabletop roleplaying game, because a good DM doesn’t allow you to game the system.

      Anyway, the key things for me in a CRPG are character progression and choices & consequences, and neither of those are present in non-CRPG open world games.

    • Jambe says:

      Alec Meer: master forecaster.

    • Wizardry says:

      What kind of idiot grinds in Baldur’s Gate?

      Also, there is nothing stopping choices and consequences from popping up in non-CRPGs. Choices and consequences, as you probably mean them, do not make a CRPG. They are a good thing to have, of course, and I’m a big fan, especially when choices are affected by your character’s skills and the consequences are more than flavour text. There are so many games with choices and consequences out there that have nothing to do with the CRPG genre. Even open world games. Even GTA IV had some.

    • Josh W says:

      Baldur’s Gate is a hybrid rpg/strategy game, in my book.

      I agree that we are coming to the point where genres are becoming outdated names, because two people can go “I love rpgs” and mean completely different things, but I don’t think that is because one side are leaving behind the history of rpgs.

      There are games that have complex mechanical customisation to suit the situation.

      There are games that shift around challenges to suit your playstyle.

      These are opposites!

      Would you call gratuitous space battles an rpg? Probably not, but it involves customisation of your team to better face threats, along a campaign structure that unlocks new elements.

      In contrast, we have a school of games like elder scrolls or even left for dead that twist around according to how you play, trying to replace a certain kind of GM from the tabletop games.

      Choice and consequence is only part of it, that’s just a subtle feedback loop, it’s subdivided in a continuum from modern Warren Spector: “playstyle matters” to “learn the system and craft the perfect solution”.

      Then there’s the interface style, the pace. Broad view? Local view? Tactical? Impressionistic?

      The term rpg has represented a huge spectrum of aspiration for developers, in making games that have a world, in making characters that feel complex, in representing change and improvement, in letting players tell a story with your game, in putting depth and variety into the possibilities for your character, and the enemies you’ll face.

      In the olden days, most games on the other side of the spectrum from you broke, because we didn’t have the processing power or the insight into player feedback needed to get them to work. The other thing was easier.

      Just like pen and paper rpg makers have started to reach beyond that to those specific things they really wanted most, I hope we can do the same. So you want more character crafting and customisation, a slower pace of action. Maybe something that brings back nostalgia and allows you to use your old reflexes, or maybe you want something else that older games have almost delivered.

      This is an interesting and important thing, people can make games for you, and probably on smaller budgets too because they can do it on less processor intensive systems. If you’re not getting served, don’t mask your complaints by putting specific personal meanings on general terms, find a new way to describe it.

      This is 2011, games have been developed which take on multiple sides of the legacy of rpgs, something that is both a culture of game designers, a body of techniques, and an aspiration. The idea has become pluralised since when you or I played with a small circle of people before the internet. It seems reasonable for language to change as the situation does, and now it’s at lot easier to put something in the rpg box than push it out. If you want exclusive defintions, I suggest you make some new ones, to fit the broader spectrum of games we find.

    • swest666 says:

      You guys are reading too far into this. Attributes, Skills and Stats are three completely different things.

      The three Attributes we will have are Health, Magicka, and Fatigue. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and it will stay that way.

      I’d say there would be a minor re-work on Stats because Willpower and Intelligence are both related to Magicka (Regen vs. Max Amount). “So I have X amount of magicka, but I can’t regen it fast enough? WTF?! *FACEPALM* ”

      Skills, as far as I’ve heard, are the only real things that have been given a re-work, because the effects of Alteration and Illusion almost go hand-in-hand when you look at the similarities of each respective skill. I’d say they’ll combine Acrobatics and Athletics into one, if any (because the ability to jump really high and run really fast does not determine your ability to kill things).

      I can only see just little common sense adjustments like that being done.

  5. Kaira- says:

    I for one greet our new confused turtle-overlords.

  6. Epsilon Naught says:

    Why must you do this to us? The game’s still 8 months away, you horrible person! Looking forward to this SO BLOODY MUCH
    Oblivion but better looking and with competent combat, levelling and dialogue? DO WANT

    • Dajs says:

      I find myself more drawn to the fact that they are connecting character building with the world in a seamless way (constelations, new revamped attributes, dragon battles). I think it’s gonna do wonders for immersion.

      Looking forward to this and GW2… god why are they so far away!?

  7. Laneford says:

    Time to finally get a new PC I guess. (aka, this game will cost me £500)

  8. cqdemal says:

    If this is as good as it sounds on paper, then I’ll probably die in front of my PC on November 14 or so after a proper marathon session.

  9. TheApologist says:

    ‘The menus are pure sex’

    That is quite the claim for a menu. :)

    • Benjamin L. says:

      The Skyrim menus may be “pure sex” but that’s not what I wanted to know.

      How *useable* are they long term with a mouse?

    • RaytraceRat says:

      I want to see those sexy menus! pix plx!!111 – I think its a proper way to communicate with a cRPG player, isn’t it?

    • Wizardry says:

      Why the hell do they list the skill bars horizontally? That’s the most retarded thing I’ve ever seen. You have to bloody scroll the screen left and right to see all your skills. Horrible, horrible console game interface.

    • Nick says:

      don’t worry, mod tools will give us a not as pretty but actually useable interface.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I’ll always prefer utility to beauty in menu systems.

      Only the first couple of times will you think “wow, that looks nice”, all other times you’ll be far more concerned with how easy it is to navigate, and getting the most information (and most useful information) with the least number of button presses.

    • Jeremy says:


      They’re not horizontal so much as circular. The constellations are attributed to certain skill sets, so it makes sense to have it look like that. Doesn’t make it “console”.

  10. Caleb367 says:

    Aw hell. This, Witcher 2, AND Mass Effect 3. I’m gonna explode from raw RPG-ness.

    • Bloodloss says:

      Why? Were you planning on playing some RPGs in addition to those action/FPS games? ;)

    • Durkonkell says:

      I too am looking forward very much to these three games that are categorised as RPGs. Because they are RPGs. And I like RPGs.

    • Balerion says:

      @Bloodloss: Surely you meant TPS as in Third Person Shooter and not FPS as in First Person Shooter, right? If you want to be a smart***, do it properly ;)

    • Wizardry says:

      Yep. The three biggest “RPGs” of the year are all action game hybrids. Get used to it.

    • Orija says:

      After the DA2 boogaloo, I wouldn’t really get mighty excited for ME3.

  11. Mike says:

    So, Alec, what was your favourite bit of Skyrim?

  12. bwion says:

    “13. Character creation only involves choosing what you look like and which of 10 races you are. “After that it’s all about what you play. We want to minimise the initial decision point when you start the game.””

    If they can really make this work, this could be phenomenal. I’m a huge fan of ‘generate your character by playing the game’, when it’s done well.

  13. Lewie Procter says:

    I am such a nerd, the economy and the menus are the two most exciting things to me there.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      You’re not the only one. That, and the randomised quests.

      This does look phenomenally good, unlike Oblivion and Fallout 3. That said, it’s waaaay too soon to tell for real. :(

  14. cqdemal says:

    Looks like Alec fixed that. I thought it was intentional and found it pretty funny. Hell, magic zombie vikings!

    EDIT: Awww, now my comment no longer makes any sense.

  15. Shazbut says:

    Sounds wonderful.

  16. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Damnit Alec! Damn you and all of RPS Towers to heck!

    Another $100 Day one release game on the must have list; Also one which will probably strain my (not so old) computer, meaning I will want another Upgrade, bah!


  17. Scotterius says:

    What about that terrible auto leveling system that Oblivion had? You know the one where the goblins and bandits are always the same level, and gear only appeared according to level of player. Fallout 3 had a little of this, Morrowind had none of it. Please tell me its gone or truncated.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Morrowind did have a tiny bit of it actually. Mostly down to the wildlife you encounter e.g. at higher levels you’d start running into Winged Twilights in the grasslands and Golden Saints always seem to show up in the mountains.

      They didn’t just equip the ashlander bandits with Glass and Daedric armour though.

    • Scotterius says:

      That does sound right. I use to hunt those golden saints to enchant my pants :) I miss Morrowind.

    • Archonsod says:

      Yeah, Morrowind utilised level lists for random monster and loot spawns too. The only real difference being they were actual lists rather than just increasing the level of whatever it generated.

      Dunno though. On the plus side it meant you kept variety. On the negative side, every damn list included cliff racers.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I think the main irk with Oblivion is that; at lvl 1 your fighting bandits in leather armour etc, fairly ‘normal’ weapons, but then as you get stronger, they obtain Glass and Daedric armour? excuse me, Mr Bandit, that is a nice fine set of Glass armour you have there, why not sell it at the markets and buy a property and become an aristocrat or somesuch.

      I prefer the old school sorts of RPG levelling, where, you know, your not supposed to be there when that giant monster strolls along and swipes off your head with one flick, or you get murdered by millions off little but eye poppingly strong cave leapers etc.

      ^^I can’t quite remember which RPG punished me like this, ie; smacking you around the head and saying NOT THERE YET, MORON. I was thinking Diablo 2, as in, if you got your friend to rush you, so you ended up being level 15 and stuck fighting Diablo. But I’m sure there are other examples..

    • Wizardry says:

      @Corrupt_Tiki: Might & Magic?

    • Aedrill says:


      The Witcher was like that, and The Witcher 2 will be like that as well. CDProjekt guys said they will never make an RPG with autolevelling which is heartwarming, if you ask me.

      One thing I’d like to know about Skyrim is somewhat related to The Witcher. Will the main quest be about saving the world again (I didn’t finish Oblivion because of this stupid, cliche story), and what about non-linearity? Whithout the latter it ain’t RPG, it’s hack n’ slash with advanced dialogues.

    • ceriphim says:

      THIS. Honestly the only thing I’m still nervous about is the leveling system. I HATED how useless and underpowered it made me feel.
      If I’m a level 30 well, anything, I want to be able to commit genocide on my starting town (or at least what I was hunting at levels 1-20). Eff you for making me totally useless, Oblivion.

      @Corrupt_Tiki I was just talking about this in another thread, but Demon’s Souls did that. You took on the wrong guy before you were ready and would get straight murdered.

  18. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Sounds delicious.

  19. Jacques says:

    Combat is debate eh? Are there any silence spells in the Elder Scrolls series?

    I wonder if that’s been inspired by any of Bakker’s literature.

  20. Robert says:


    Forget dragons. We Shall Have Tiger-Dragons. They Eat Everything.

    There Shall Be Truly Original Quests: Every Tiger Will be Randomly Generated So People Won’t Have the Same Meal/Experience Twice.

    We Have Done Away With The Old Attribute System, They All Trickle Down To One Thing Anyway: POWERLEVEL. This Is Currently The Only Attribute And Will Bring More Clarity Yet Diversity. All Skills Have Been Removed As Well, For There Shall Only Be Your Eating Skill.

  21. DrGonzo says:

    Yeah what a strange article. I read it as being incredibly sarcastic, and why we shouldn’t bother with Skyrim. But knowing RPS that’s unlikely.

    EDIT- Oh it’s been edited now, but before it just had this underneath every pic
    “You get to fight magic zombie vikings. (Dragur, ancient undead Nord warriors). They look like muscle-bound, bearded skeletons, and they’re proper eerie.”

    Which is of course a great reason as to why Skyrim sounds pretty generic and pants.

    I’m hopeful on this game though, I think they will have learned from their mistakes in Oblivion.

  22. Brumisator says:

    The best part of any RPG for me is staring at the character creation screen for a long long time, so I’m a bit irked that it’s been streamlined out of the game.
    However, a bigger part of me embraces that this is the natural evolution of the elder scrolls.

    SO MANY goo things in this list, hooray!

    • squareking says:

      The word “streamlined” always carries a negative connotation in my mind. Hopefully it’s all for the better in this case. I’m super excited for this.

    • Scotterius says:

      Yep, choosing the kind of character is a favorite part of mine too. Probably stems from pen and paper.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      I think I’m one of the few people who spent more time at the power selection of City of Heroes than with the costume design.
      I love character creations, and the more I can point-buy, random-roll or distribute, the happier I am.
      I must have played Temple of Elemental Evil through at least 10 times, just because designing parties was so fun.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, I agree: I generally play an RPG to completion far far fewer times than I start a new character. I think I finished Morrowind once and I’ve yet to finish Oblivion – I just love creating characters (and mucking about with random side things…and ignoring the boring main plot).

      However, while I lament the loss of character creation, I do not lament the loss of TES horrible stats/skills/levelling. It irritated me to have so many stats that they were all kinda useless. About the only stat I ever really used was strength for the carry weight increase and intelligence for more magicka if I was playing a mage (except in Morrowind – I also increased agility so that I could hit things). Willpower was stupid and really didn’t need to be there at all (the bonus to efficiency/potency of spells should have been given simply by increasing skill proficiency), speed and athletics should have been combined into a stat or a skill (though, I don’t agree with entirely leaving a speed stat/skill out, like it sounds like they have), luck was relatively useful in Morrowind and relatively useless in Oblivion and I never bothered with it because I could just raise my skills instead, endurance is just a combination stat to increase health/energy (I refuse to call it fatigue – restore fatigue spells are ridiculous!), and personality was implemented the same as speechcraft – again, another stat/skill combo which should either be a stat or a skill.

      Maybe my hatred for a large number of stats is misdirected though – I think my true rage arises from the absolutely disgusting levelling system; the system which made me steal ridiculous amounts of gold in Morrowind so I could afford trainers just to get those 5x multipliers and the system which made me go to that woman with the scamp-spawning-staff’s house and run around bashing the stupid scamps just to get my bloody multiplier (of course, the bashing was done with a weapon which I had no primary skill with – lest I level without attaining 3 sets of 5x multiplier and get raped by high level rats).

      I shall end my replant (reply which turns into a rant) here. Good day, gentlemen.

    • Mo says:

      I’ve always hated character creation screens because they ask you to make a series of very critical mechanical decisions before you’ve even started playing the game. By the time I’ve figured out that I don’t really enjoy playing the class I’ve chosen, I’m not arsed to start over and play the (often mediocre) opening area again.

    • bill says:

      What Mo said. Or you’re forced to search on the internet to find out what are the recommended builds.
      I don’t remember what it was, but after i’d started playing i discovered that i’d started Planescape with the most useless type of character. :-(

      And it was worse in morrowind where the insane leveling/attributes system meant that the best way to create a character was the opposite of what you’d expect.

  23. groovychainsaw says:

    Sounds brilliant! And scarily close to my idea of an ideal RPG, with procedurally generated quests and an economy you can affect through your actions granting consequence to ‘messing around’ in the world(I expect it won’t be as full-featured as that, but its a step in the right direction for me).

    Its preaching to the converted really, as I’ve loved all of the elder scrolls games, but nonetheless, nice to see they’re continuing to try new ideas and mechanics out.

    • Jac says:

      The procedurally generated quests is the thing that actually worries me. Hopefully they won’t be obviously distinguishable from the hand-made ones. Might be a bit soulless.

    • groovychainsaw says:

      It’s not like the oblivion quest givers were well realised, well voiced and scripted and full of life, though, were they? ;-) Anything that makes the world feel a bit more random (and by extension, natural and emergent) is welcome for me. I kinda want things to go wrong and seem a bit odd rather than uber-slick and scripted the whole time.

  24. Urael says:

    This is going to be bloody brilliant. Cannot wait.

  25. Gnomad says:

    Sure wish I could watch that hour’s worth of Skyrimness.

  26. Novotny says:

    No unicorns = no buy.

    • kikito says:

      I’m sure they will release a DLC if enough people voice the same opinion. Otherwise, it’s moddable, so unicorns will surely appear. Pink ones.

  27. Vinraith says:

    Largely interesting, though I agree with others that the stat simplification is concerning. Ah well, like any other flaws, the mod community will likely pick up the slack. It’d be easier to be picky about these sorts of things if massive open-world single player RPG’s were more common than they are, as it stands I’ll take what I can get and fix it as best I can.

  28. KingKrapp says:

    Your use of ‘ooze’ gave me a wide grin. Well played, sir.

  29. kikito says:

    I prefer single player games to multiplayer ones.
    Among other reasons, I don’t have to stand people voicing their “obviously true because I think it is true” opinions.

  30. Pathetic Phallacy says:

    What, no promise of Radiant AI this time?

    Also, what the hell is the combat like? I wish the people from Elder Scrolls would play some Mount and Blade or Demon’s Souls and just rip off their combat mechanics.

    • Wizardry says:

      Or Blade of Darkness.

    • Wilson says:

      Hehe, yeah. Still, this stuff sounds interesting. We’ll just see how the execution is.

    • Kaira- says:

      Or even better: Dark Messiah of Might & Magic.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Might and Magic would be nice, for sure. But nothing, in terms of melee mechanics, is a step up from Mount and Blade. But I know that type of combat system would not fly on consoles.

    • Davie says:

      @Kaira: Bethesda bought Arkane Studios a couple years ago, so it is actually possible some of their talent is being applied to Skyrim.

    • sinister agent says:

      I don’t see how M&B style combat wouldn’t work on a console. In fact, I’d argue that it could be even better, with less confusion of movement vs. aim direction. It’s pretty simple – map left mouse to right trigger and right m ouse to left trigger. Bang. Exactly the same combat, different controller.

  31. reticulate says:

    I’m really liking the idea of these semi-procedurally generated quests. I’d assume once the base mechanism is in place, they can essentially just feed it a bunch of variables (all the way through to voice acting, etc) and output a completed quest. That means less time fiddling with stupid little broken quest things and more time spent on stuff like an economy or Radiant AI (For Reals This Time).

    It all looks fabulous, and I’m sure it’ll be huge and a wonder to explore. But I’m still wary of Bethesda’s history of somewhat over-promising with these things.

    Obviously I’ll still buy the bloody thing though. They already have my monies, regardless.

    • kikito says:

      I would point out that “procedurally generated” doesn’t imply “bug-free”. I would not underestimate Bethesda’s cunningness in bug-writing.

  32. Vexing Vision says:

    Disappointed on character creation. I LOVE designing my own character and trying out different skill-combinations. Spent ages in Daggerfall.

    Very excited about everything else.

  33. JFS says:

    Khajit! Somehow I thought they’d be excluded from Skyrim, God knows why, but now I’m a happy moon sugar addict.

  34. Basilicus says:

    I just hope it’s a little more difficult to bank thousands upon thousands in gold. I don’t want to be able to make that in a week. I want to struggle as any of a thousand like warriors, barely being able to afford enough potions and being swindled by expert merchants who’ve been at this for years.

    It’s why I installed the enhanced economy mod in Oblivion and set the buy/sell to screw me royally. I want to achieve because of my ambition and exploration, not because I have all the best items on an entire continent just a month after being released from prison.

  35. Vandell says:

    Hey, look. The character models are actually decent for once! And the khajiit look badass!

  36. Coins says:

    I really hope they can live up to these promises. I want Bethesda to be awesome again.

  37. Wizardry says:

    So to summarise, Skyrim will be more immersive and a better action game but a worse CRPG. Got it.

    • Berzee says:

      Let me just say, with no hint of hostility at all — it’s so weird how you always say “CRPG” instead of just “RPG”.
      Thank you.

      (I agree with your assessment, btw — although, Oblivion requires so many wiki-tricks to level and design your guy properly, I don’t mind *that* system being changed)

    • Wizardry says:

      Yep. The whole grinding up a select few skills in order to get +5’s on your chosen statistics upon levelling up is one of the poorest levelling mechanics I’ve ever seen in a CRPG. Laughably bad. But, like I always say, fix crappy mechanics rather than strip them out.

    • noerartnoe says:

      My theory: because a (proper) RPG is of the PnP variety and “controlled” by a GM/DM/ST/? capable of adapting the story and not a bunch of circuits.

      Or it could be something else entirely, what do I know. *shrug*

    • Berzee says:

      Likewise when he says “action game” I assume he means like real-life boxing or karate or something, because he didn’t say “computer action game”.

  38. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. says:

    Even pulling up the map involves seamlessly zooming up and above the world to look down at a full 3D rendering of it.

    This is awesome.

    • Jad says:

      Yes it is. I actually almost wish I hadn’t read that, as I’d love to have that experience the first time I press the map button and “whoosh” I’m flying. I’m sure I would have let out an expletive.

      Ah, but what could have been …

    • Serenegoose says:

      Just for the cartographical record, my favourite sort of in-game map is the one that you hit a button and then your character pulls out a map and looks at it, like in far cry 2. I like that sort of immersive touch.

    • Doesntmeananything says:

      Yes, would very much prefer the Serenegoose’s version of a cool in-game map instead of this.

  39. Scilantius says:

    Wow. Today seems to be awesome-news day. And the day I comment on two different articles, both comments starting with “Wow.” This sounds pretty nice, although even further “streamlining” doesn’t really sound all that cool, but hey, I’m willing to keep an open mind after reading all the other cool things. Definately looking forward to this, though,…

    • Scilantius says:

      Oh, and I almost forgot,… if they slap on dynamic leveling, so I can go and topple those wandering giants and swat dragons out of the sky at the start of the game, I’m going to be pissed. Very pissed.

  40. bildo says:

    “The idea is your character looks to the very heavens for inspiration and power, rather than to some out of game list of stats. As you pick a perk the chart slowly lights up”

    They did this in Daggerfall :D

  41. Tizoc says:

    I am excited.

  42. thegooseking says:

    Are the stories actually randomly generated? As I heard it, the quests would be templates which would be filled in based on where you were and what you had done in the past and so on. Which is, um, not random. It actually sounds a lot better than random. Random wouldn’t be very good at all.

    • Berzee says:

      Agreed! With a story or a quest, you want to know there was a person behind it, to give it a personal meaning. Randomly generated, however detailed and convincing, would still feel Programmed To Happen, instead of as if it had actually happened. =)

      (Although…I might still feel this way about filling in the templates. I realize that lots of quests are generic, but I do like to feel as though it’s important that *that particular kid* got kidnapped, and that particular mother is worried sick. That’s why I haven’t tried Din’s Curse, yet :) )

      Maybe it will be better if I only think of the immutable important missions as “Quests”…and think of the templated ones as simply “Troubles”. Yes, I like that…Quests and Troubles. :) The reason I try to do every quest in a game is because you never know when you might encounter a very fine plot or character…but the reason I might take care of some Troubles is simply to feel like a hero.

  43. Sonny B says:

    Gotta say this game is gonna be like a joygasm But “which add multiple new abilities – such as a slow-time mode for arrow shooting” made me cringe just a little I’m sure It’ll still be Orgasmic. (/Enough of orgasm puns)

  44. Joshua says:

    Wasn’t oblivion going to be completely awesome as well?

    • Arglebargle says:

      Yeah, they sure suckered the reviewers on that one. I guess the 4-6 hours that they got to actually play on it didn’t tell them everything they needed to know. About the mudcrabs. And the levelling. And….

      I don’t have expectations that they are suddenly going to do anything other than their usual.

      While this seems to be bringing fits of joy to many, I haven’t spent a single gold coin on a Bethesda game since Oblivion. They are really going to have to produce before they get me back, and I’m much more likely to wait til it goes on sale cheap.

  45. Casimir's Blake says:

    Only the fifth reason interests me. They can have hundreds of miles of beautifully-articulated tundra, the rolliest of rolling hills and trees that make Crysis look old.

    But all of that is a waste of time if there aren’t any good dungeons to crawl in.

    So come on Bethesda, make it happen! From Software can’t be bothered to make King’s Field V so you’re the only devs left making first person RPGs worth playing! (Well, pre-Fallout 3. Or maybe pre-Oblivion. Hmm.)

  46. Bureaucrat says:

    I suspect that the randomized quests thing is either going to be so lightly done that it boils down to a handful of minor quests randomly picking one of 2 or 3 possible NPCs to use, or it’s going to generate some first-class unitentional hilarity.

    Anyhow, what is it with Bethesda and their persistent attempts to ‘evolve’ their games beyond any but the most gamist of interactions with non-hostile NPCs? (Morrowind’s wiki-dialogue and Oblivion’s ridiculous joke/threaten minigame come to mind.) Whatever happened to writing interesting characters and using structured sidequests to illustrate why and how they’re interesting? That should be one of the strengths of a single-player RPG. Instead, Bethesda seems quite eager to abandon any attempt at authorship in the name of creating a “varied experience” for players. But really, why should somebody playing a single-player RPG even care whether somebody else experiences the game the same way they do?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Because it feels more alive? More like a unique fantasy world rather than a written experience? The simulationist* has always been one of the RPG’s appeal.


      *Go with me here.

    • thegooseking says:

      Abandoning authorship (to an extent) is a good thing. Anyone who thinks otherwise wants the moon on a stick.

      There is an inherent conflict between authorial control and player agency, and there is an inherent conflict between authorial control and any kind of emergent simulation. Those conflicts are simply not going to go away. The more you try to hold on to traditional authoring techniques, the worse these problems become, and the more you get absurdities that ruin the experience for you.

      For example, my most memorable moment in Oblivion was when I was head of the Mages’ Guild and was given a Thieves’ Guild quest to steal something… from the head of the Mages’ Guild! It’s not good for the most memorable moment to be something that ridiculous.

    • Bureaucrat says:

      I don’t really see how “unique fantasy world” is exclusive of “written experiences.” The most unique fantasy worlds I’ve seen have all been authored experiences.

      As I see it, a quest that is generated by an RNG might be an appeal for people who expect to replay a game several times, but for a more typical one-and-done player, a quest written by a human is almost always going to be a more cohesive, satisfying experience.

    • Wizardry says:

      Perhaps because interestingly written characters and exciting quest plots have absolutely nothing to do with CRPGs? All that matters is that the statistics and skills of your character(s) are tested in all interactions they take part in, while those interactions also feed back into the advancement of the statistics and skills. Having brilliantly well written dialogue with lots of player choices would not make the game any better as a CRPG. It would, on the other hand, make it a better video game. Dialogue is only a very small portion of a CRPG. It’s one type of interaction out of possibly thousands you could have.

    • Basilicus says:

      You’re acting like the quests won’t be written. They’ll still be written as precisely before; it’s not as if the dialogue is thought up by randomly combining words. They’ll just have variable values in them based on how you’ve explored the world up till then.

    • Nick says:

      “You’re acting like the quests won’t be written.”

      Well, it is Bethesda..

    • Berzee says:

      I agree with OP =)

  47. Doesntmeananything says:

    Stop eating my comments!

    Sounds just like the usual Howard-talk. Taking into account what he had said about Oblivion and Fallout 3, and how those game actually turned out to be, we can safely strike off more that half of those reasons. And some of those sound like absolutely terrific small touches, but on second thoughts start to make no sense, like NPCs picking up your sword (honestly, why would anyone drop a sword in an RPG if not to get rid of it?). And that bit about economy – I bet it’d be implemented in some sort of superficial way, perhaps like many of these promises.

    I can’t argue that they don’t know what was bad about their previous games. They absolutely do, and I think they know how to make this one a much better experience. Of all things, I’m particularly enthralled by the new coversation system, though I’m almost certain that most of the talking would still be quite static, with the protagonist indeed being able to run around a stuffed dummy of an NPC who would move, however, only on scripted occasions.

    Some more fishy stuff:

    “It’s a much bigger jump even from Fallout in terms of VO and the amount of people we have…”

    If he means Fallout 3, then this is painfully hilarious. If he’s talking about New Vegas, then it still doesn’t quite assure me that there will indeed be necessary changes in that department. Both games lacked variety in voice acting for me, albeit New Vegas did a lot to cover up for that. And apart from companions, I’ve found the overall voice acting lacklustre.

    “Bethesda have also been influenced by a few mods for earlier games – for instance, bows have been tweaked as a result of finding an Oblivion balance mod that did ‘em better.”

    Yeah, Howard mentioned that earlier. But it’s tragic that took hints only from a simple rebalance mod (it upped arrows damage, good God!), or at least that it’s the only mod that they openly admitted to have taken hints from. Clearly, they’ve been influenced my magic and combat enhancing mods for Oblivion, why not give them proper credit?

    I guess I just can’t take Howard seriously. Better to ignore all the information about the game before the release and plunge into Skyrim withouth hoping that this time it will live up to the expectations.

  48. Foosnark says:

    People excited about the fancy new technology in Skyrim may not be remembering how “well” Radiant AI worked..

  49. Doesntmeananything says:


    • Doesntmeananything says:

      Sounds just like the usual Howard-talk. Taking into account what he had said about Oblivion and Fallout 3, and how those game actually turned out to be, we can safely strike off more that half of those reasons. And some of those sound like absolutely terrific small touches, but on second thoughts start to make no sense, like NPCs picking up your sword (honestly, why would anyone drop a sword in an RPG if not to get rid of it?). And that bit about economy – I bet it’d be implemented in some sort of superficial way, perhaps like many of these promises.

      I can’t argue that they don’t know what was bad about their previous games. They absolutely do, and I think they know how to make this one a much better experience. Of all things, I’m particularly enthralled by the new coversation system, though I’m almost certain that most of the talking would still be quite static, with the protagonist indeed being able to run around a stuffed dummy of an NPC who would move, however, only on scripted occasions.

    • Doesntmeananything says:


    • Doesntmeananything says:


    • Grape Flavor says:

      was a quality album, sure, but you didn’t really need to post it 3 times.

  50. StingingVelvet says:

    My main issues with Oblivion sound like they might just be getting addressed, so that’s good news.

    The most important thing however is: do the Argonians and Khajit have their Morrowind feet back?