Preview: In Elder Scrolls V, the Skyrim’s the limit

June 16, 2011

As you walk outside, you see a bright, cloudless sky that stretches from peak to peak. The snowy mountains cutting short the endless vista you would otherwise be able to look out upon. Ascending the nearest mountain, you are attacked by bandits, whom you quickly dispatch with fireballs and arrows. Climbing higher still, you hear a loud roar as you come across a clearing with a large stone building in it. Alighted atop the topmost tower is a dragon. It sees you and swoops down to attack. Welcome to Skyrim.

Hundreds of years after the events of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Bethesda takes us back to the iconic land of Tamriel. The king of the Nords is dead, and all Skyrim is involved in a civil war over the future of their land. Additionally, the dragons have returned, as prophesied by the Elder Scrolls, and are being led by Alduin in an attempt to destroy the world.

You are the last-born Dovahkiin, or dragon-born. You have the power to, not only kill dragons, but absorb their souls and learn their language. This language is a language of power. Speaking words in dragon brings with it various abilities and powers, such as time manipulation, teleportation, and even control over the elements. This is a good thing because dragons are tough, and they can attack at any moment of the game. You’ll definitely need to learn those dragon words in order to defeat them.

Aside from the main quest, you can do pretty much whatever else strikes your fancy in Skyrim. Want to earn a little extra cash? Join the blacksmith in making weapons or help the lumberjack chop up logs. There are over 150 dungeons for you to find and explore, and dozens of dynamic quests that will change depending on how you’ve played and where you’ve been throughout the game.

Gone is the somewhat rigid leveling system from Oblivion. You’ll continue to earn experience in skills the more you use them, but you no longer pick a class at the beginning of the game that will determine what skills are most important to your overall level. Instead, all skills will have an influence on it, and the game will naturally adapt to your chosen style of play, enhancing how you play, rather than shoehorning your play into a class. Perks, a la Fallout 3 and New Vegas, will be making an appearance as well. These will allow you to specialize yourself in any way you see fit as you grow in level and power.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was our Game of the Show at E3 this year, and you’ll get to see it yourself when it comes out on November 11, 2011 on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.