SKYRIM: the delicious details have finally arrived.

ORIGINALLY POSTED 11 JANUARY 2011

Yesterday I opened my mailbox and was surprised to see a black magazine hiding amongst the bills.  As I peered into the darkness I could faintly make out a gray text upon what appeared to be the back cover which instantly brought images of the Elder Scrolls flashing into my mind.  “Skyrim?”  I said aloud as I brushed the archaic physical bills aside as if to say ‘shame on you’ to the companies for not offering auto-pay online.  After cleansing the sacred text of useless paper debt collectors I gently lifted the light tome and removed it from the mailbox.  Turning the magazine over the silver emblem of the new Elder Scrolls game “Skyrim” was prominently displayed upon a solid black background with the gameinformer logo at the top secondary.  Even Game Informer knows how to pay their respects to Bethesda Softworks.  I gasped and said “SKYRIM!  Fuck yeah!” and ran into the house leaving the wind to blow my bills into the road.  (Not really, but I felt like it!)  I never appreciated Gamestop’s lame new buyer rewards program until the day this magazine graced my physical inbox.

After dumping my bags of miniatures and batman shirt upon the floor (thanks Jack!) I shot into the magazine like a silver bullet into a were-beast.  My brain was already 5 steps ahead of my physical being and was imagining a full spread of maybe 2-3 pages of screenshots and text detailing the new role-playing game.  Table of content, page #, BOOM! SKYRIM!!! What an amazing sight!  Screenshots that look better than anything I have ever seen on the Xbox 360, wolves, raiders, viking helmets, fire burst spell, detailed magical weapons, sylvan glades, treacherous jagged mountain peaks spotted with ancient ruins, and a dragon.  This game looks better than anything I have ever seen.  This just might be Bethesda’s Magnum Opus, although they have a knack for surprising me and breaking new barriers with each Elder Scrolls release.  I love how they take their time on a game, I waited for what seemed like forever for Oblivion after playing Morrowind and now Skyrim sure seems like it has taken a decade to come out!  (It’s actually been about 6 years)  It is more important to take time making a game truly a work of art and a game you want to play over and over again than trying to rush out some bullshit just to beat the competitors or sell more copies for the holiday season.

What blew me away about this article was the amount of detail that was provided.  After watching the Skyrim trailer provided by Bethesda Softworks, I honestly thought I would be waiting until just a couple weeks before the release date of 11-11-11 before I saw or heard another thing about Skyrim.  To see 14 pages in FULL mind blowing color on this game with detailed accounts of how the game plays, spells, abilities, the world, and basically a very detailed account of the game in general- I was BLOWN AWAY.  My final bit of praise on the subject is the way the author presented the world and interviewed his victim.  Everything felt very smooth and it was one of the first articles I have read where the sidebars had useful facts while the central content really kept with the feel of the story wielding adjectives like a magical blade forged deep in dwarven lava caves and cooled in the sea of dragons.  Obviously I highly recommend reading this article.

Without delving into a 10 page tirade on how much I love the Elder Scrolls, let me sum up some of the high points of the article here.  First- NPCs will no longer talk with you in some zoomed in frame where the rest of the world freezes.  Instead they will continue chopping firewood, rocking in their chair, or serving drinks to their customers.  The world will move around you as you converse and you may even overhear other conversations which will give you new topics.  On top of this, AI really comes alive and the NPCs will actually interact with each other in new and interesting ways.  If you drop an item two people may get in a fight over it, someone may grab it and run off, or a kid might pick it up and try to return it to you even if you don’t want it.  The world also shapes itself around the way you play.   If you kill an important person, others in his family may seek you out to kill or imprison you or hire thugs to kill you.  What you do actually affects the world around you and it reacts to what you do.  Bethesda also removed the class system- something I had thought about while playing Oblivion.  You now start out with all your skills at the lowest level.  When you use a certain skill like blades a lot, it goes up.  So if you start out intending to be a brute warrior and tank through the game, but halfway through you join the thieves guild and start using security and magic more often your character will begin to change.  Apparently you will level slower the more abilities you take on which makes sense; So you may specialize in a few skills and level up like crazy or become a jack of all trades, master of none and level up quite slowly.

Another welcome change comes in the menus; Bethesda’s development team told their employees to look at Apple as an example of a user friendly interface and apply that to the game’s menus.  Now you can hit a button and are presented with four distinct choices all with a nice GUI to navigate.  The screenshots of this look so cool I can’t wait just to progress through the various menus to watch the effects and enjoy the pleasant graphics.

Combat is going to be a lot more realistic.  Gone is the hacking over and over until your enemy is dead.  Now, strategy is a key element in battles.  Block, parry, move and attack; If you use your brain along with your brawn you will conquer your enemies without losing a lot of blood.  You can now dual wield, use a sword and shield, shoot fireballs from one hand while crushing skulls with a scepter in the other.  The sky is the limit with combinations- you can even use two different spells at the same time!  Think about the possibilities!  Combat just might become one of the most enjoyable elements of this game.

The world of Skyrim is the land of men- think Conan the barbarian.  Brutal life amongst saber toothed tigers and woolly mammoths, exploring ruins and traversing dangerous mountain passes.  This place is unforgiving and beautiful all at once with graphics that make you feel like you are actually there.  The new graphics engine is rumored to be the best that has ever been released which will be a treat even to those not interested in a RPG game.  If you enjoy eye candy you will have a good time just watching your friends play this game and will probably get sucked in.  Even my wife who was not interested in RPGs and video games now plays Oblivion religiously and freaked out when our laptop when in for service and she forgot to get her saves off the HDD!  I turned her into a nerd and I love her!  😉

Bethesda Softwork’s release date for SKYRIM is 11-11-11 and it’s sure to be one of those nights with a line out the door and into the cold November air where we can see our own breath and imagine if this is what it would be like to live in the cold realm of Skyrim where Man was born and Dragons now rule.

As I read more I will be reporting on this game, and as I said- I have a good feeling this will be Bethesda’s Magnum Opus.  I am pre-ordering right now and I HIGHLY suggest doing the same.  Here’s a link to search for Skyrim or if you never had the chance to play Oblivion or Morrowind pop those in there and give them a shot.  This searches the Gamestop catalog of games.  You can use the code 15GAME for 15% off new game purchases.  I don’t know why their link images are dead, but trust me- it’s legit.  If it’s not I’ll eat my Imperial Knight boxer shorts, you have my Daedric word.

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.