Real Life Dragon: Skyrim Live Action Trailer

Now I wish it were a film instead of a game.

At RPS we absolutely cannot fathom the purpose of live action videos. It’s like a new movie advertising itself as a theatre performance, or BBC 1 trailing the new series of Strictly Dr Who Lottery as a book. Games are made of game, not film. But, still the nonsense continues, and the latest is an incredibly high-value production for Skyrim, featuring live-action dragons.

What do live action trailers say about the game? I don’t think it can be anything good. It was in the 80s that games last advertised themselves in such a way, printing full-page ads of ladies in barbarian bikinis, because showing the six-pixel pink blob wouldn’t woo the crowds. Are we to take from it that the game itself just isn’t good enough to advertise itself? Or is the lavish demonstration of wealth supposed to give us a reassured feeling that the people behind this are so affluent that the game can only be brilliant? I’ve no idea. Anyway, here it is:


  1. ZIGS says:

    At least it looks awesome

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Well, until the end with the cheap prop Dragonborn armor, and the 1990s-looking CG dragon.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      his hat looks too big

    • ynamite says:

      I never asked for this.

      Hmmm, the production values, the CGI and almost everything else looks better than most medieval based tv shows imo … I don’t know where you get the cheap dragonborn armor prop notion from but coming from you, that’s no real surprise (no offense, but ya know).

      What irks me is that this ad looks miles better than the game will. The way the crowd behaves and reacts to the dragon is no representation of what crowds will act like in the actual game. Considering the AI and the behaviour of NPCs in Oblivion, I cannot help but have a bad feeling about Skyrims peoples. If only villages and cities looked half as good as the one in the video …

    • Berzee says:

      What if they made a live action trailer but where the people reacted like people in the game will? That would be the best thing, that’s what.

    • Sigh says:

      How do you know that is a CG dragon?

    • ynamite says:


      I concur! That would be epic, it really would.


      What else would it be? An extremely computer generated looking costume?

    • Valvarexart says:

      The point IS that it should be directed and scripted and look like real life. It’s just a god-damn trailer. The trailers are, except for a few cases, ALWAYS better than the games. What I really liked about the trailer was the costumes for the villagers and the music.

    • Sic says:

      True. A bit more work on that armour and dragon, and this would have been rather good.

    • Wulf says:

      Dragon Commander’s in-game dragon looks better. :|

      That’s what I’m going to be playing in the place of Skyrim, right there, because bloody hell that game is unnaturally beautiful, and that trailer rests somewhere between sublime and enthralling. Art direction matters? Fantasy but definitely not the same old? I am interested. I am so, so very interested. I am all of the interested.

      (Gods damn you Defender and your ‘ALL OF THE’ meme.)

    • Demiath says:

      Have to agree 100% with TillEulenspiegel on this one. The trailer was fine as far as “live” action goes right up until the suspiciously light-weight armor and embarrassing, Merlin TV series-esque dragon. I don’t know if it ever occured to Bethesda or not (if the TES series is any indication, they’re not known for thinking things through to the logical conclusions), but the armor and dragons they have in-game are nice-looking and could be put to pretty good use in a “non-live” action trailer….

    • Burning Man says:


      “VeeYAHA! I’ve fought mudcrabs more fearsome than you!”

    • ynamite says:


      That dragon in the Dragon Commander trailer looks better? Aha.


      Hmm. My eyes must truly be failing me. When I said “tv-shows” that’s exactly what I meant, Merlin and co. Not that the CG is top notch or anything, but the little bit of the dragon that is in the trailer, seems way better than those afore mentioned tv shows. Also, I don’t think the armor looks THAT cheap, like, at all. But hey, I’m obviously in the minority, so go figure.

    • Beanbee says:

      We are not arguing about the quality of a CGI dragon in a one-off trailer. Seriously guys, they could have used origami and I wouldn’t care because it has no relevance to the game. In fact, I would be damned impressed by building sized origami. Fuck this game, I’m going to go make an epic crane.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Its hard to find a trailer for any game or movie without the obligatory roar into the camera.




    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      What exactly is a dragon that looks better?

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    • Demiath says:

      @Beanbee You’ve got a point, although I’d say we’re discussing it simply because this is how Bethesda specifically chose to represent their game as a way to continue building hype and brand awareness very close to Skyrim’s release (it would perhaps have been another matter entirely if this was, say, sort of a pre-announcement teaser or anything like that), and their choice in the matter is what’s really silly here….

    • Konil says:


      link to

      It’s just as you imagined it.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @Ultra Superior

      Yes, that has gotten incredibly old. Also the big=dangerous thing in games. I want a boss fight against a small, nimble and smart opponent for once.

  2. Flobulon says:

    Oooooh, very nice.

    [insert obligatory “Mojang done good” joke here]

  3. RianXD says:

    I find this very easy to masturbate too. thanks.

  4. Pani says:

    As much as I loved the trailer, I wanted it to go on just another 30 seconds to see the dragon gobble him up with one quick bite.

    • ossah says:

      Maybe… but I think it is better to keep Live Action trailers short. The last thing you want is for it to “drag on”……. Oh god! Oh god! People are gonna hate me!

    • DarkFenix says:

      No, we don’t hate you. Rest assured when the lynch-mob arrives they’ll be stringing you up for your own good.

    • nimnio says:

      I hate you for ruining a great pun by drawing so much attention to it.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Agree. First the warrior needs to do a 20 second martial arts sword demonstration with lots of woosh swish noises, and then the Inception music gets record needle slid as the dragon gulps him down with a single burp.

  5. Basilicus says:

    Why did someone leave a bucket of clearly flammable liquid right next to the fire? I mean, it sure looks flamey being knocked right in, but that was some bad thinking on the part of the bucketmaster.

    • Jake says:

      Oh sure, blame the bucketmaster. He’s been keeping that bucket there without incident for years. If we must go assigning blame then I think it is fair to say that this entire fire is the fault of whoever it was that was having a cigarette in the pile of dry straw.

    • 12kill4 says:

      ah, but you forgot that the fire was the retarded bucketmaster’s pet, and the bucket of flammable liquid merely its daily meal. How valiant is it then, that our poor retarded bucketmaster used precious seconds to lay down, within his fire’s reach, the vital sustainence it needed to survive- and only then tending to his own safety. So as you can now see, the retarded bucketmaster is not referred to as thusly retarded for his now apparent heroism, but rather because of a brain injury he tragicly recieved at a young age- a brain injury which caused him to think that a fire is a suitable pet.

    • ossah says:

      Well whoever is to blame, they made a complete hASH of the whole situation?…. :s…… I’ll get my coat.

    • LTK says:

      From how it looks, I’d say the dragon had very little hand in setting fire to the town. It’s all the stupied humies fault.

    • Dozer says:

      Bucketmaster = my new favourite term. I think I’ll change my job title in my email signature to Bucketmaster. It’s hardly worse than “Clerical/Admin Bank”.

      Edit: of course, I mean Retarded Bucketmaster

    • OJ287 says:

      Scape-dragon blamed again.

    • Bioluminescence says:

      Sounds better as Eimermeister. Sounds like a real surname now. Thanks, Google translate!

  6. Mormacil says:

    ILooking cool seems to justify it.

  7. Eggy says:

    I thought Lineage for Assassins Creed was an excellent form of advertising. Not only was it well acted, it gave some interesting background information as well. I would have loved to see an entire miniseries of it.

    Don’t know about this one yet though.

  8. ossah says:

    Holy crap!…. That new tessalation stuff is amazing! Looks sooooo life like.
    Hope it looks like like this on my 6970.
    (fast forward to release day + 1 hour)…. erm….. Did I just buy Minecraft with Dragons?

    • roryok says:

      And that would be bad?

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Minecraft has dragons now, don’t you know? It even has INFINITE DRAGONS!

    • ossah says:

      Bad? Yes it would be but in a Micheal Jackson way…. So as in good!
      Yay Notch!

    • stillwater says:

      Hehe. Exactly.

      I don’t see the point of these live action things either. For gamers, it just highlights how far graphics still have to go, even in 2011. And for the rest of the population, it’s probably like: “Wow! That looks awesome……(fast forward)….Oh, this isn’t a cool movie at all, it’s a computer game for bearded geeks :( “

  9. lhzr says:

    wow, that was pretty awful. that being said it wasn’t worse than most other stuff with “live action” in the title.

  10. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Can we call a CGI dragon live action? I was expecting a real dragon, and John Walker lied to me! Again!

  11. talon03 says:

    Normally, I’m in the Nay camp for Live Action Trailers (with the exception that proves the rule being the Halo franchise) but that is flipping well awesome.

    • Cunzy1 1 says:

      Come on that recent “Michael” ad was pretty cool.

    • stillwater says:


      If I were you, I’d wait a bit longer, until they’ve had time to patch/mod some of the main bugs out.

  12. Roshin says:

    So, Bethesda have their own pet dragon now?


    • Wulf says:

      I wouldn’t trust Bethesda with a pet, frankly. Hines sounds like a right maladjusted bugger. :P

  13. akeso says:

    Want…. want…. WANT!!!

    At least it’s cooler than the CGI stuff they did for Dragon Age.

    It seems the only functions these things servers though is to remind me how badly I want to play them.
    Not sure they would convince any but the most ignorant gamers to check it out.
    Honestly though…. are ignorant gamers the type that would like Skyrim? Seems to me it doesn’t fit well with the COD crowd.

    • Highstorm says:

      I disagree. I thought the DA:O “Sacred Ashes” trailer was rather awesome. Wholly misrepresentative of the actual gameplay, but fun to watch nonetheless.

      What this is better than is Dragon Age: Redemption.

  14. The Hammer says:

    Oh wow, I can’t wait to get Scrolls! I love virtual card games!

  15. Anthile says:

    Really makes you wonder how he hopes to kill that dragon with that toothpick. This is like trying to destroy a tank with a pistol. I’m no expert in regards to dragonslaying but I think I would use a polearm or better, stay completely out of reach and get a ballista. Well, that’s fantasy for you, I guess.

    • Puppetmast0r says:

      [Dragon Explode], surely

    • Jajusha says:

      Dragon(lvl1) hits you for 2.
      You(lvl89) hit Dragon for 1120(+540 ice damage)

      Dragon dies

    • ossah says:

      Actually what happens is, the dragon mortally wounds him. He pulls out his pistol and starts shooting in the general direction of the dragon. Us as the viewer want to cry at our hero dying but also laugh at his puny attempt to kill the dragon with such weak weapon.
      Next thing! BOOM! Dragon asplodes as P51 Mustang flies overhead…. just like in that movie….Armageddon…..
      And on the note… armageddon hungry! (leaves for lunch)

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      @ossah: Wow, it’s like you actually read my mind. I love that movie. Armageddon. Especially the bit where Nathan Fillion cries because of the raw emotion of that Aerosmith song. Powerful stuff.

    • Wulf says:


      All of the facepalming, ever.

      That’s a nice way to treat the dragon who just stopped over to see if he could help put out the fire that some idiot started. >_>

    • ossah says:

      Nathan Fillion in Armageddon? Think you have the wrong movie. You are probably thinking of Independence Day with Samuel Jackson…. Yeah I think that is what you are thinking of… The one where the old lady throws it into the ocean at the end.

  16. brulleks says:

    Someone forgot to call Felicia Day.

    • Roshin says:

      Who do you think is playing the dragon?

    • Mattressi says:

      I already did my daily call out of “Felicia Day”, so it definitely wasn’t me. Who were you thinking it was?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      she’s also providing the voice of the bucket

  17. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I don’t think the purpose of live action trailers is much different from Valve’s “Meet The …” series. It’s there to explore the world and characters and build the atmosphere without necessarily reflecting actual gameplay or narrative from the game…

    Also not unlike most of the cinematics in the original Starcraft.

    • Myles says:

      Exactly, and it’s also probably an attempt to draw in the casual / non-gamer / cinema-going / Game of Thrones-watching audiences more by pretending that Skyrim isn’t just for geeky Dungeons & Dragons types.

  18. Triangulon says:

    I have to say, the ‘Sacred Ashes’ trailer for Dragon Age: Origins was miles better. Speaking of good trailers; Dawn of War anyone?

    • Wulf says:

      The trailers of DoW and especially II were pretty good, weren’t they?

    • Davie says:

      I still think the Dawn of War trailers were just about the best game-related CG animation I’ve ever seen. Their combined seven minutes constitutes a better Warhammer 40,000 movie than the entirety of the pathetic Ultramarines film.

  19. Urthman says:

    Apparently you haven’t seen the trend in movie trailers for new books.

    For instance, here’s a trailer for Neal Stephenson’s book Anathem.

    • Wulf says:

      Okay, if we’re doing that… I have to link the Machine Man trailer by Max Barry. I’m not sure if he’s acting passive-aggressive or ironic about film trailers for books, really. Either way, it’s hilarious, and a great ad.

  20. Puppetmast0r says:

    God it must be fun to play in one of these.

    I would so love to be [Man sounding bell] or even [Woman looking up]
    But to play [Man shouting “Run”]… To actually have 100% of the dialogue in a production of this quality….

    I guess it will always remain a dream.

  21. Hendar23 says:

    Is the new dragon update for Minecraft? Wait….I’m confused….

  22. qptain Nemo says:

    I agree with John Walker’s point. It’ll sound cheesy but… I think that humiliates the gaminess of games and worth of game graphics a bit. Because I for one prefer games to movies/live filmed whatever as a medium in most cases and to me such trailer doesn’t speak in the “look how epic it is” way, it rather tells me “we’re making this quite pretty looking game but we’re sort of ashamed of its graphics and wish that it was a movie instead” or something. And as a gamer/indiedev I don’t like that even though I care very little about Skyrim to begin with.

  23. nootron says:

    This trailer made me realize just how utterly ridiculous it would be, magic-wielding or not, for a human being to go toe-to-toe with a giant fire-breathing dragon.

    They should have cut to a close up a small stream of pee trickling down his right leg. Then my suspension of disbelief would have remained in tact.

    • Wulf says:

      See, with Guild Wars 2 I can buy it. The dragons are massive, and really powerful, and not something that a guy could take down with a toothpick. So enter the charr, an organised militaristic force with a factory city. They build airships (which we’ve seen in-game models of), helicopters, and they most likely have ooze-based bombs for bombardment.

      Now, the fun thing with oozes is that they never stop burning. It’s like Greek fire on steroids. It’d probably have plutonium-like properties in large amounts. So, you have at least mildly nuclear bombardments from airships and helicopters versus a massive dragon that can take it and dish it out.

      Now that is a people vs. dragon battle scenario that I can buy.

      Man with toothpick vs. amazingly stupid flying lizard? That depresses me.

    • Azradesh says:

      That’s really not how it works in game Wulf. Guild Wars 2 is still very much an MMO and plays very much like an MMO. Apart from the content scaling don’t expect it to be that much different from WoW in terms of large fights.

    • Metonymy says:

      I’m thinking they are feather-weight animals, with hollow bones and so forth, which is why they need the scales. Something weighing 5 times as much as an elephant just couldn’t fly on wings. Also, the heavier they are, the slower they are, so this works for the smaller fighter on both ends of the scale.

      Their only instant kill is a powerful mouth clamp. I’m not saying it’s a fight that could be realistically won by a single guy, but they would have weaknesses if they had to obey real physics.

    • Fiatil says:

      Has anyone signed up to pick up the sad broken shards of Wulf once Guild Wars 2 comes out and he realizes it’s not the Holy Grail? Or even once it becomes sort of irrelevant and he can’t mention it in every single story about an MMO, RPG, or fantasy themed game?

    • alseT says:

      Wulf haven’t you seen the dragon fight in TotalBiscuit’s GW2 preview? There wasn’t any bombardment, but at least there was some static artillery and a giant laser you could help fix up and use. It was properly epic.

  24. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I’m disappointed that there are not infinite live-action dragons. This is not a true reflection of the game, therefore I will sue for false advertising.

    • Unaco says:

      Please, direct all legal complaints to:

      Markus Persson,
      Mojang AB,

  25. Unaco says:

    I don’t really see the difference between a Live Action trailer, and a fully CGI trailer (like Blizzard’s 2 latest offerings for D3 and SC2). Both are equally as disconnected from the actual game. I actually prefer the live action over Blizzard’s uncanny valleys.

    It’s promotional, it’s marketing, it’s for generating hype, creating atmosphere and expectations. They help to fire a gamers imagination… so we can apply that imagineering to the game as we play.

  26. Berzee says:

    If there were actually scenes in Skyrim where you are walking slowly against the rush of fleeing crowds to face what they’re all running from — that would be quite exciting. I doubt it will happen though =T but it’d be nice.

    (and then it turns out to be a mudcrab)

    This trailer has a distinct lack of live-action mudcrabs.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Live action mudcrabs would require a mudcrab wrangler – which is above and beyond even the remotest stretch of the imagination. There is no wrangling mudcrabs. Like wizards, they do as and when they please.

  27. Steven Hutton says:

    What’s your transmedia strategy?

    I hate marketing guys but this is the kind of question they ask. Which leads in turn to stuff like this.

    Also, possibly a reaction to the Dragon’s Age web series?

  28. amorpheous says:

    They have to make sure they spend shedloads of money on “promotional” tripe in order to justify the price of the game at launch.

    I’m still on the fence about pre-ordering or buying at release. Quite tempting, but a couple of months and it’ll be on sale. Decisions, decisions.

    • Wulf says:

      Give it a year, mods will make it interesting. The way Hines (of Bethesda) describes the game, it sounds as dull as dishwater. It’s going to be Oblivion II, mark my words, you’ll be bored within ten minutes. And it’s going to take modders to add any content worth playing. Just like with Oblivion.

      If it wasn’t for modders, Oblivion would have been damned to mediocrity years ago, like it deserves, but there’s mod content for it which rises so, so far above anything that Bethesda is capable of that it makes it worth owning Bethesda’s game just to play those imaginative, clever, well written mods. I swear that Ruined-Tail’s Tale is still one of the best stories I’ve seen in an RPG, and that’s a mod.

      Then there’s the puce moose stuff. But I won’t get into that again.

      And the community will have had a chance to fix most of the bugs. Not to mention that they’ll probably have started fixing how Uncanny Valley the NPCs look. There’ll be so many reasons to get it once the modders have had some time with it. But at launch? Eh. The only games with dragons in them that I’m interested in getting at launch are Dragon Commander and Guild Wars 2.

  29. Thirith says:

    I think this is a lot about reaching audiences that would look at in-game graphics, say, “It’s a video game” and turn away because they’re not interested – whereas they might watch this, think “Wow, I’m interested” and then, once they find out it’s a video game, decide perhaps they could be interested in those after all. Can’t say whether that approach is likely to pay off, mind you.

  30. xGryfter says:

    You all seem to be mistaken, this is obviously gameplay footage from the PC version of the game. The only reason they hadn’t shown it earlier is because they were still working on the dragon animations and textures. What we saw in the trailer was just the early “place holder” model some stupid intern probably cut into the final version on accident.

  31. Aedrill says:

    Where are the Starks when we need them?!

  32. roryok says:

    It’s funny how live action is a complete no-no, but CGI that looks nothing like the game is fine.

    • Wulf says:

      You didn’t pay attention to the people (myself included) sighing in disappointment at Bioware’s CGI trailer spamming for TOR then, eh, did you? No, you did not.

      Frankly, I’m getting tired of live action and CGI trailer spamming. Just show us the game and let us decide for ourselves. Gameplay footage is the best thing to show, and if the gameplay is boring, then false advertising isn’t going to do anything for anyone other than the incredibly weak-willed.

    • rollermint says:

      And they haven’t shown us any sort of in-game videos whatsoever, for both Skyrim and TOR?

      Oh, wait, they already did. This came pretty late after quite a number of previews by various websites and hands-on experiences so I don’t really see the complaint, then.

      Its meant to create excitement and though, you aren’t impressed, I’m pretty sure many others are. Trailer actually looked a bit weak to me (nice production values but lacking impact, imho) but I actually like the idea. To jaded gamers, it might be a harder sell but for casuals or those just dabbling into games, I can see how these marketing strategy can work.

      Sure, whine that its not accurate but so are those damn movie trailers that were generally better than the movies themselves. The fact is, the marketing strategy is effective.

  33. 20thCB says:

    Release date: Armistice Day…. lest we forget…

  34. Kefren says:

    I hate that corny ‘shing’ noise you hear when a sword is unsheather in cliche-ridden media.

    I have a sword and it doesn’t make that noise when you unsheathe it in real life, whether it is because of a dragon or because someone has knocked on my door trying to sell me DRM.

    • Wulf says:

      My worryingly functional and sturdily built claymore does not make that sound, either.

  35. Kefren says:

    Where did my comment go?

    • Wulf says:

      Don’t worry. The comments system always hides the most recent comment. This is a thing that it does. It only displays it when someone else posts, and then their comment is hidden. It’s a bug. And a bug I’m entirely too fascinated by.

    • Kefren says:

      Ah, that explains why I sometimes don’t see my comment at all. Probably because I post after things have moved on. I assumed that a spam filter disliked me.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      You still see it in the little box on the side, though.

  36. Koozer says:

    Look at all that voice actor money gone forever :|

  37. roguewombat says:

    I want to see that movie.

  38. DeathCarrot says:

    Looks good, but why are they all Nords, Imperials and Bretons?

  39. Zenicetus says:

    The “why?” of live action is because it’s actually not that expensive now to produce high-def video. This was probably shot on a DSLR. There are no fancy crane shots, the costumes are generic, and they used a pre-existing set. No voice acting or live sound. Possibly an Eastern European cast and crew to keep costs down.

    The directing, camera work, art direction and editing is VERY good — and something Bioware could learn from, with the DA live action stuff — which is why it looks impressive. But this isn’t an expensive production. It probably cost less, and was done more quickly than that Bioware CGI trailer for SWOR.

    • Varjohukka says:

      Actually I spot several crane and dolly shots, crowds, a rather big setpiece, practical effects, animals, at least one greenscreen stunt, pyroeffects and I’m pretty sure it’s not shot on a DSLR. Though I have to agree that ten years ago a trailer like this would surely have cost a lot more. Tools become less expensive and more sophisticated every year.

  40. CharlO says:

    Good tesselation it has.

    Also, it cames the same as Minecraft, I think Notch should sue for 11.11.11 rights.

  41. Saiko Kila says:

    I think they waste money on this, instead of increasing the game’s production values. Even if the video is kind of fun, I still want to punish them by waiting and buying the game only when it’s dirt cheap.

  42. JFS says:

    Oh well. Why do big monsters always have to scream at their opponent before attacking? And why do those people wear next to nothing when it’s about 5 degrees Celsius (or below)?

    • Kleppy says:

      That actually makes sense as a warning. Most animals wont just attack you quietly. Sound and appearance are a big factor in animals’ defense mechanisms.

    • wssw4000 says:

      Animals do that when they are defending themselves. That dragon however was quite clearly attacking. What it should have done was to come flying low, burn as much as it could on its first pass, land and just kill off what remained or didn’t run away.

  43. Hensler says:

    Why does the dragon just not airstrike the little guy with the sword, or at the very least land on him? I thought Skyrim dragons were supposed to be smart.

    • Wulf says:

      Not according to the gameplay videos, quite frankly. They’re just particularly unintelligent flying lizards, nothing more.

    • wssw4000 says:

      It is, like everyone else in the game, controlled by the AI which comes in various levels of dumb.

  44. AmateurScience says:

    Anyone else reminded of Knightmare by the protagonists oversized bonce armour?

  45. kud13 says:

    this is the Bethesda game, right?

    why aren’t any of those horses wearing armour?

  46. Tams80 says:

    That was a pathetic dragon. He should have been toast.

  47. Arglebargle says:

    The artist responsible for the the ‘horned helmet’ meme should be battered in butter and tossed to the nearest dragon for his just desserts.

  48. Adekan says:

    I saw a Mud Crab today, horrible creatures.

    Yes, Indeed.


    Good day.

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