I’m sure you’ve already seen the wondrous previews of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was previewed to the lucky bastards who have successful video game websites a few weeks ago. As a huge fan of Oblivion, I eagerly await this juggernaut to claim all free-time come November 11. It seems, though, that Tamriel’s grasp on my life is much stronger than I knew. With my salivary glands working overdrive in anticipation of Skyrim, I’ve been sucked in–nay, absorbed–once again by Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. With this occurring, I can’t help but wonder how Skyrim could be even better. A near-perfect game, Oblivion still had many flaws and annoyances–small in terms of overall satisfaction, but areas to improve upon, for sure. And a seizure-free game would be great, too!
Oblivion is beautiful–stunning, even. But it was also released on the 360 in March of 2006 (over five years ago for you non-math majors). In that time developers have been able to better utilize the hardware, which will certainly lead to a prettier game.
Oblivion really was able to showcase the 360’s graphical potential, and Skyrim looks to stretch this potential even further. These screens show just a fraction of the excellence that can be expected. And maybe its just me, but I see a lot of Tolkien in these screens, specifically Peter Jackson’s interpretation of The Lord of the Rings.
Skyrim will feature a wholly-rebuilt game engine (The Creation Engine) that will throw realistic visuals and weather effects at you in a moment’s notice on your journey. Draw distance has also been greatly enhanced due to the revitalized Creation Engine, allowing great detail to locations on the horizon as well as directly in front of you. One thing is for certain, this game will be beautiful, and it will be visually dynamic.
Speaking of dynamic visuals: Oblivion featured a crazy amount of dungeons and caves laying across Cyrodil’s landscape. There were so many to explore, but once you got inside, you couldn’t help but feel you had already been there many times before. That’s because each dungeon and cave looked eerily similar to one another. Now, I do realize that caves don’t often feature a great deal of uniqueness in reality, but humanity hasn’t yet figured out how to contort the earth to satisfy its own passing fancy. In a video game, especially one that focuses so much on player exploration, the want for a variety of environments is very real.
Fortunately all indications from Bethesda point to this issue being resolved. Various previews have noted the intense environment changes from the dungeons they saw.
Level Perks and Other Skills
As much as I love Oblivion, I think I love Fallout 3 just a smidge more for reasons like the perks a character can acquire when leveling up. Oblivion and Fallout 3 are both very similar, but both were just different enough in their gameplay mechanics that one could not help but wonder: “What if you combined the two games greatnesses?” It’s been done; Skyrim will feature character perks, which allows a deeper customization of a player’s character, suited to the style they deem most comfortable and fun.
Bethesda has also shored up their skill set from Oblivion, lessening the list of abilities by three. Rather than a case of stripping a part of what made Oblivion great, the developers instead made it more efficient, assimilating Intelligence into Magicka, and removing the need for constant jumping by removing Athletics and Acrobatics.
Finally, the dev team has added an all new ability for your character in the way of a Dune-esque, Weirding Module-type Shout command. These Shouts represent the language of the dragons, capable of altering the environment through various magical properties.
The gene pool in the realm of Cyrodil must be extremely shallow because EVERYONE looks the same. With so many different characters in the game, you always feel like you know exactly who you’re talking to.
Hey! Even Barack Obama is present! A red guard Mage from Cheydinhal, he’ll happily sell you any spells you desire while also selling you on universal health care.
This is really just being nitpicky, but with a game so near-perfect, a sequel begs to have its smallest details improved upon to create an even more-rich experience than the previous iteration.
We need to see MORE horse armor in Skyrim. My advice: double the price! And don’t give in to the pressure of actually making the horse armor provide any statistical upgrades. My character DESERVES to have a flashy ride, and a iron-decked steed is just the medicine.