E3 2011: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Served on a Platter of Gold

Is this some kind of new Collector’s Edition that I’m talking about? Is Bethesda actually putting Skyrim on a platter of gold, laced with diamonds, to be placed ever so gently on the mantle above the fireplace? Though that would be amazing, and pre-orders would skyrocket, that is not happening. What I mean is that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is crammed to the brim with all kinds of things it doesn’t need, but they’re there to greatly increase the presentation and enjoyment of the game.

Bethesda's new engine is looking fantastic.

The dungeons in Skyrim are seeing a multitude of improvements over those seen in previous games. The stale dungeons, caves, and ruins of Oblivion are no more. Skyrim’s caves will have openings in their tops from which sunlight seeps into the darkness. There are vines which seem to have naturally crawled their way across, around, and over the walls, floors, ceilings, and doorways. Where players used to feel like simple textures and objects were simply pasted everywhere, Skyrim gives the feeling as though they are inside of a living, natural underground lair. The same could be said about the spiderwebs in another section of the game. Closely examining them, it didn’t seem like any of them were copies of another. Even though one particular hall was full of spiderwebs hanging from all sides of the wall, they all felt very natural. In the outside world, we could see that moss and flowers seemed to be carefully placed on a log, and a butterfly fluttered away to the left. Aside from the visuals of the world, Skyrim is also seeing improvements in the enemies and neutral characters.


These Draugr are not happy you woke them up.

In Skyrim, players will see that NPCs seem to have lives of their own. While Bethesda hasn’t said to what extent they’ve gone to liven up the NPCs, at the very least, they will be working at saw mills, among other places. Another part of the demo had Skyrim’s new king of the sky, a dragon, flying overhead. Not wanting to fight the dragon on his own, the player quickly ran towards a small tower that had one NPC guarding it. Even though the dragon was quite far away, the NPC realized there was a dragon nearby, and started shooting arrows at it. There was another great touch that should add to players’ immersion in Skyrim: Enemies that act naturally. In one section, Dovahkiin (the protagonist) walked into a section of a dungeon where some dead warriors (Draugr) were resting. Sensing that something had intruded upon their territory, the dead warriors awoke and attacked Dovahkiin. In past games, enemies would just be standing around, eternally waiting for players to approach. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more interesting scenarios like this in the final game.


Mammoths and Giants roam the land.

The point of all of this is that while Bethesda has created over 150 dungeons, and could have kept Skyrim a simple dungeon-crawling game, they’ve gone much further than that. They’ve crafted an entire world, by hand, to ensure that players feel immersed as they role play their new customized virtual self.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be available on November 11th, 2011 for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.

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