When Oblivion was released in 2006, it quickly became one of the most critically acclaimed and groundbreaking RPG games of all time. The fourth entry in the Elder Scrolls series; Oblivion was a truly stunning achievement, putting players in the beautiful world of Cyrodiil. A world full of endless possibility, making it fun to explore and discover all of its secrets. It not only entranced PC gamers, but was notable for becoming one of the must have early titles for the Xbox 360. The game showed off the capability of the console, but also served as an introduction for many console gamers to a far more intricate role-playing experience than they were perhaps used to.
There was a tiny downside to all this…. It was unstoppably addictive.
While playing Oblivion, time would just slip away, with players unaware of the fact that they were spending hour upon hour, traversing the landscape and exploring dungeons. It was all too easy to start playing early in the evening and before you knew it, it was 6am and you’d been playing for hours. Outside the world was preparing for the day ahead, whilst you sat in your pants trying to find a cure for vampirism.
Bethesda followed up Oblivion with the equally time-consuming Fallout 3. Some argued that it lacked Oblvion’s beauty with its depressing apocalyptic setting, but it also improved upon the gameplay in many areas. Some of these refinements have now made their way into Skyrim, with the same team working on the game and introducing features such as the popular perks. Skyrim has as much of a chance of being as groundbreaking in 2011 as its predecessor was in 2006.
On the 11th of November, you can probably say goodbye to your friends, family and career. You are going on an epic adventure. Maybe one day you’ll return, but it’s likely that you’ll never be the same again.
Mostly because you’ve been dumped, fired and presumed dead.
Here’s a look at some of the reasons why Skyrim is set to be this year’s most addictive game.
A Whole New World To Explore
Skyrim features a vast and interactive open-world; full of lush forests, populated towns and huge scalable mountains. After players have created their character and played through a brief introductory sequence, they are free to roam the beautiful landscape, following whichever path they desire. As before there are countless side-missions and quests to complete alongside the games main storyline. Much like Oblivion, there’s so much to do, it’ll probably be quite easy to forget about the main quest.
There are five large cities to explore, as well as several smaller villages and towns that the player will discover. These towns are full of quests and side missions to be undertaken, as well as jobs and lodgings. In true role-playing tradition however, more sadistic players are free to ignore a hospitable welcome, and instead choose to murder inhabitants and steal valuable items. It’s also great to know that several of the guilds are returning, including thieves and warriors.
With such a large world at the player’s disposal, it’s once again possible to traverse on horseback or for those looking for complete immersion, entirely on-foot. The world has been described by Bethesda as roughly the same size as Oblivions, but they have also promised more variation in the scenery and locations. Not only this, but the dungeons and caves have been given a complete overhaul. Repetitive dungeons were one of Oblivion’s only weak points. Effort has been made to make the dungeons all uniquely different from the last, with many having their own handcrafted atmosphere.
When released in 2006, Oblivion looked amazing and was easily one of the best looking games of its time. Sadly, when the engine was recently reused for Obsidian’s Fallout New Vegas, it was starting to show its age badly. As well as numerous crippling bugs and glitches, the stiff animations, lifeless character models and clunky combat found many hoping that Bethesda’s next game would solve these issues. They were clearly thinking ahead, with Skyrim running on a brand new engine, developed for the game from the ground up.
Early gameplay footage has shown that the game looks absolutely stunning. The environments are lavish and feature a far greater draw-distance before; but players are also just as likely to be taken in by the small details as they are the stunning scenery. Thankfully, the awful third person animations from Oblvion and Fallout are a thing of the past, with Skyrim offering a more competent switch between first and third person views. Finally players with a fondness for third person will now be able to do so without feeling like they are controlling a floating puppet with invisible strings.
The combat system in Oblivion was functional but hardly perfect. Bethesda have worked hard to make sure that skirmishes in Skyrim are far more fluid. While role-playing fanatics are generally used to clunky combat, Skyrim with its refined fighting system should help it appeal to a larger audience. The emphasis here is on the ability to duel-wield, with it being possible to assign different weapons and spells to each hand. This allows for endless experimentation. It’s entirely possible to equip two different spell combinations to each trigger and combine the two to create hybrid magic spells. Or, if you’re more of a hack and slash person, equipping various swords and shields.
Blocking has also been redefined, now being a timed challenge with players unable to simply hide behind a shield during combat. Whereas in previous Elder Scrolls games combat was somewhat dictated by the class chosen at the beginning of the game, Skyrim has taken away this defined choice. Instead, decisions and choices led by the player throughout the game will dictate the style of combat. It’s also possible to specialise in weaponry and magic, through both repeated use and unlocking perks.
Spells are spread across a variety of different areas including destruction, illusion and conjuration. These spells, as well as being able to be combined to create new combinations, can be used in a variety of different ways other than simply being thrown at enemies. The fire spell, can also be laid down on the ground to create a trap for enemies and attackers.
Big Scary Dragons
I was a little apprehensive when I first heard about the inclusion of dragons in Skyrim. Simply because the use of the creatures in the fantasy genre, evokes memories of Eragon and Dragonheart. Not that Skyrim has much of a chance of being that bad; in fact its looking like the inclusion of dragons in the game will be pretty astonishing. The world is populated by these huge fire breathing beasts, with random encounters forcing the player to be constantly prepared for having to defeat the creatures. They might only form part of a world which is full of vicious creatures and savage beasts, but the dragon encounters look to be a particularly scary highlight.
Dragons are also sure to feature prominently in the story itself, with the mysterious main protagonist being referred to as a Dragonborn. This status gives the player the ability to absorb the souls of defeated dragons, earning dragon shouts. Essentially these discovered shouts will give the player access to unique abilities, skills and attacks. Bethesda have yet to confirm rumours that Duncan Bannatyne from BBC hit Dragon’s Den will be voicing several of the in-game dragons.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is released on the 11th November 2011 for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. For a look at the game in action, watch the video below.
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