E3 2011: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Impressions)

by: John -
More On: E3 2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Developer: Bethesda
Release Date: 11/11/2011
What's polished: Environments look great, the trigger as each hand is nice, animation are good, dynamic color lighting
What needs polished: Still some minor pop ins in the environment, character models don't seem too much improved over Fallout 3

After the development of Fallout 3 ended, the team at Bethesda started work on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Continuing the ever popular Elder Scroll series, Skyrim brings forth a brand new engine that Bethesda's using to bring the world of Skyrim to life. The new engine gives you new scripting abilities and new rendering abilities among other features.

One thing about the demo of Skyrim shows, the world is awesome. Bethesda has really taken advantage of the new engine in giving the user a great lush and open world to travel in. See that really tall mountain in the background? You can go climb it. The water effects as demonstrated by a nearby stream was amazing and you could see salmon swimming upstream. Dynamic weather will affect the environment around you and the engine is capable of dynamically layering snow on rocks realistically. Like Fallout 3, Bethesda really knows how to present a vast and interesting world to walk through. I did see some occasional minor pop in, but it was very minor.

The one thing that I wasn't as impressed with though was with the character models. From the NPCs I saw, the designs seemed only like a minor improvement over Fallout 3. I didn't get that feeling of, hey the new engine makes the characters look gorgeous. I do think the animations are better though watching the characters go about their chores as well as watching some of the monsters attack. Still, the designs of the humans, at least, weren't that impressive for me.

Bethesda has implemented a nice menu system for Skyrim that they demonstrated. A map of the stars represents your skills with each grouping forming a star system. You can zoom into each system and see more detail on the skill and leveling possibilities. Pulling up the map in the menu system gives you a detailed overheard view of the world.

Bethesda has gone and made controlling the main character in Skyrim a little different. Each trigger represents a hand so the left trigger is the left hand and the right trigger is the right hand. You can dual equip any single handed weapon or assign a spell to each hand. If you have two spells, pressing both triggers will generate more powerful spell. You have many possibilities with the combination of shields, weapons, and spells available to customize how your character plays as you go along.

The main character also has a shout power that can perform various thing with the power of his voice. These shout abilities can be enhanced greatly by killing dragons and absorbing their essence.

Speaking of dragons, these babies are visually impressive on screen. They are unscripted so what you see is what the AI has come up with on the fly. The dragons soar through the air and perform impressive attacks with their fiery breath. The way they move and fly remind me of the dragon in the movie Dragonslayer. When they are forced to the ground, they crawl just like how I imagined. Dragons are an impressive addition to The Elder Scrolls series and one that should provide many memories for gamers.

While dragons are hostile, the world is inhabited by some creatures that will only attack when provoked. The demo showed a band of giants and mammoths walking through, minding their own business. They walked around ignoring the player character until the demonstrator decided to attack the mammoth. That's when the giants and mammoths turned and attack the player. Then all hell broke loose when the dragon came and lifted a giant in the air.

At towns, you can use a forge to craft your own weapons and armor. Towns have NPCs, of course, for your conversation and trading needs. Plenty of towns are hand for you to explore in Skyrim.

Another requisite area of RPGs are dungeons. In fact, there are over 150 dungeons to discover and explore. The dungeons shown were beautifully rendered environments that should offer up a great deal of action and loot.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks to be a pretty ambitious title and I know there are plenty of fans that just can't wait to get their hands on it. With Bethesda's track record for RPGs, they probably have another huge hit on their hands. Look for Skyrim to be released on 11-11-11.