The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Impressions [E3 2011]

During this year’s E3, Bethesda Softworks gave us the opportunity to check out the next game in The Elder Scrolls series, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. For those of you that are unfamiliar with The Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim is the latest in a long line of open world Western RPGs, in which the player can create their own unique character and embark on a journey filled with tons of enemies and quests that will keep them occupied for months.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim actually received an upgrade compared to the last The Elder Scrolls game (Oblivion). Bethesda is using a whole new engine this time around and it’s looking mighty impressive. Smooth textures and some amazing detail in everything from the plants and rocks down to each individual piece of armor that can be equipped by the main character make the game stand out visually and it really is wonderful to look at.

For the most part, the combat looked good in both the third and first person perspectives but it is difficult to say for sure how the controls handle as we didn’t get to go hands on. While the fighting didn’t take on the Fallout 3 V.A.T.S. system, one thing that did cross over was the kill cam. Like in Fallout 3, players can expect to get a slow motion kill that looks a bit more graphic and up close than the regular ones.

Another interesting feature about combat is that players will be able to dual wield any single-handed weapons as well as magic, making for a more interesting experience. Using the same type of magic on both hands will allow the player to deal out an even more powerful version of that spell, though we didn’t get to see if it was possible to combine magic. Rune Magic was another magic type shown, which works like setting a mine trap for enemies and makes for some interesting gameplay scenarios.

Players will also be pleased to see a vicious new enemy that adds a whole new challenge to the game, dragons. In the demo, two different dragons swooped down from the sky in impressive fashion and offered an exciting battle as they switched from up close combat on the ground to distant combat when they took flight.

When the dragons were killed, a new ability called shouts was revealed, which are dragon abilities that can be strengthened by slaying the flying beasts and absorbing their power. These let the player use powerful attacks, like summoning lightning bolts from the sky to decimate the enemy.

The user interface in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks a little bit easier to navigate than in previous game and at first glance the inventory resembled the Fable inventory system, although it still maintains the depth of previous Elder Scrolls titles and isn’t too dumbed down. We were also given a glimpse of the perk tree, which is the skill tree in the game. As the player uses certain items or abilities, that skill will gradually level up even without experience from killing the enemy.

The game does suffer one flaw that is in a way expected with an RPG of this size. There are lengthy load times and the player will likely be seeing a lot of different load screens throughout their game as one will appear each time you enter a new area. Also, since this was an unfinished demo, a couple minor issues did arise but they consisted mainly of small RPG bugs that are quite common in the genre and they will likely be patched or fixed before the game releases.

All-in-all The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim looks really promising and while it does have its issues, the game isn’t complete just yet and there is still time to work out any little quirks before it hits stores. Visually the game looks great and just what you would expect from Bethesda. Gamers that enjoy magic and myth filled Western RPGs will definitely want to give this game a play once it hits stores on November 11th, 2011.