At Quakecon, Bethesda Game Studios, the developers of the award winning Oblivion and Fallout 3, held the first public demonstration of their new big hitter (and one of the most eagerly awaited games in years), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In an obvious bid to keep things under wraps, Bethesda asked no-one to record the footage of the game…but since when has that ever stopped eager gamers and convention goers? Today, several videos hit entertainment sites such as Youtube and Dailymotion showcasing a whole 30 minutes of live gameplay footage from the show….and most of them promptly got removed due to copyright stuff. Fortunately, I was quick enough to see one of the videos in its entirety on Dailymotion; I have posted the link below, so if you want to try your luck at watching it then go right ahead, but if not I made notes on the video highlighting what I thought were the most impressive things Todd Howard had to show the delighted Quakecon crowd.
Here’s the link (I take no credit for the video):
And here are the notes:
- First things first, the majority of this demo followed the footage that was shown at E3, with the character starting at the near a mountain range and finishing up fighting a Frost Dragon. However, this was a LIVE performance, as demonstrated by Todd reacting to simple demands from the fans such as asking him to walk into a pool of water…which he did, showing off the water effects in the process. This means that the game is practically complete, and wont require much more honing, making the 11th November release date almost certain…even if the release date is pretentious (on Remembrance Day? Really?)
- This game is gorgeous…the levels of detail that has gone into the development are obvious. From the small plants by the riverside to the towering mountains in the distance, the game oozes class. Also, the stiff animations of Oblivion are long gone – the character you control now runs like a human being, and there are new attacks animations as well…in the third person mode we saw the character kick a panther in the face and then behead it, and also when fighting the dragon he jumped on its neck and thrust an axe into its neck, accompanied by lots of delicious blood. The spells also give of all sorts of colours and effects which looked stunning (my personal favourite being the ability to summon a lightning storm), the dungeon design was so far improved on Oblivion it was unreal (i.e. it didn’t all look the same), and my favourite feature is that you can view all the items you collect in game, from swords to salmon meat and even the spells themselves, in a 3D viewer in the menu screen, allowing you to rotate and zoom in as you wish. You can even read books page to page. Seriously impressive stuff.
- Oh yeah, the map is in 3D as well instead of a 2D plane. The world is about the same size as Oblivion, but packed with much more detail to compensate.
- The Dark Brotherhood was confirmed to be in the game to the crowd, along with three other guilds: the Fighters Guild, the Thieves Guild, and a magic guild. Todd Howard promised the Brotherhood storyline would be full of twists and turns again – I don’t doubt it for some reason
- The levelling up mechanic was on full display in game – using certain skills, like one armed combat repeatedly, builds up your experience with that skill, and once you gain enough experience you can level that ability up and activate a perk (making it a hybrid of the levelling system from Oblivion and Fallout 3). The perk trees are in the form of constellations, all of which looked to have a fair few perks attached to their skill trees. This game could well swallow up your life it seems.
- We also saw the character walk around a small settlement in Skyrim, where the villagers went about their merry way. Talking to NPC’s is no longer a ‘zoom in on their face and speak motion’ as conversations happen in real time. We were also told that everything that you can see the villagers do, like chopping wood or running a lumbermill (which was demonstrated by a man lifting bloody huge logs), the player can do to. I look forward to being able to dictate a town’s economy all on my own. We also saw the character leave the town on a horse, which looked much more horse-like in its animation and easier to control. Maybe Red Dead Redemption is soon to be replaced as king of the horse-simulators.
- The weather in the game is dynamic – there was a random pattern of snow fall as Todd headed higher into the mountains, and claimed that weather will dynamically change all across the map without the need for texturing of environments.
Otherwise, there wasn’t a massive difference to the E3 demo, as clearly Bethesda don’t want to play all their aces before the games release – I would still recommend all Skyrim fans to give the footage a look to see the small things that the game does so well, like the ability to favourite equipment and quickly assign it to either trigger (in a humorous moment, Todd equipped a sword and a staff at the same time, eliciting shouts of ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!’ from the Gandalf fans in the crowd). I often try not to hype myself up over games because I end up disappointed…but surely this game can do no wrong when it gets released?
Cheers for reading, and keep an eye out this week for my review of Final Fantasy 9.
EDIT – 13th September – Bethesda have FINALLY made some HD footage of the demo for people to watch. It is split into three parts on Youtube, accessible via these links