Skyrim’s wolves (at least in the demo) are almost comically
easy to beat. Since I already had the bow equipped, I fired a few more shots
into a wolf’s head until it slumped over, giving me a chance to not only grab
its pelt, but quickly steal back the arrows. That’s also when I found out I’d
managed to hit the hawk after all, as its body lay right next to the wolf’s. Quickly
scavenging its corpse, I pocketed a few feathers and its beak. Gross.
That left one wolf still to deal with, so I re-equipped the
flamethrower-like fire spell (this time pairing it with a hand axe for
variety), and shot a jet of flame into the poor creature’s face, eventually
causing it to crumple mid-lunge and crash to the ground in a sad, smoldering
Pleased with my wildlife-thinning exploits, I continued
following the path until it led me to a huge valley, at the center of which was
the towering city of Whiterun. And after exploring a few small farms on its
outskirts, I came across something I’d been hoping to see: one of those
caveman-looking, mammoth-herding giants, who was currently locked in combat
with what appeared to be a couple of guards.
This time, I decided to lend a helping hand. Readying the
bow, I took a few potshots at the giant, enraging it enough to come charging in
my direction. Fortunately, this also caused it to ignore the people fighting
it, and they brought it down before it ever came within striking distance.
Walking up to meet my new friends, I got a lecture on how I should go and join
the Companions, Skyrim’s version of the Fighter’s Guild.
Yeah, no. Time limit. Let’s
go wreck some shit.
Wandering away from my new friends mid-sentence, I found a
stable – which, happily, contained a horse that I immediately stole. Ignoring
the stablehand’s shouts of “You can’t do that!” and nimbly dodging a few
guards, I rode out into the open countryside to get a feel for my new mount.
Above: HELL YEAH I'M ON A HORSE
Some time ago, Skyrim’s director, Todd Howard, told us that
Skyrim’s horses would feel more like actual horses, rather than jeeps. And
while my new friend wasn’t quite as “realistic” and willful as, say, Shadow of
the Colossus’ Agro, it definitely had a more organic feel than Oblivion’s mounts,
putting it closer to how horses handle in Red Dead Redemption or Assassin’s
Creed. They’re pretty easy to control and fun to ride, but sadly, they’re not
any better at climbing.
Not that I had much of a chance to try and force them up the
slopes. Riding out a little further, I came upon a blazing farmhouse that
appeared to have been set on fire by another one of those bone-wielding giants (at
least, he was busy smashing things while the place burned, so it was easy to
lay blame). Feeling suddenly vengeful, I rode straight at him – at which point
he killed my horse with one blow, knocking me to the ground. Undeterred, I
tried to run up and cut him down – at which point he brought his massive
femur-club crashing down on my orc’s head, instantly killing him.
OK, so that was a bad idea. Restarting from the path where I’d
killed the wolves, I retraced my steps and, this time, crouched in the brush a
safe distance from the giant (who had a friend with him this time). Unseen, I
notched an arrow and let fly at the giant’s head, scoring a direct hit.
Unfortunately, this also tipped the giant off to my position, and as he and his
friend charged, I backpedaled furiously, sinking at least five more arrows into
the giant’s flesh as I ran.
It didn’t do any good, though, and after the club came down
again, I found myself back on the mountain path. Clearly, these giants were
Skyrim’s equivalent of Fallout’s Deathclaws, in that I wasn’t meant to take them
on just yet.
Heading back one more time (but in a slightly different
direction), I chose instead to enter a small, log-fenced fort occupied by a few
bandits, who did a pretty good job attacking as a team but were nonetheless
easy to put down. As any decent player would, I stripped everything from their
corpses, regardless of value, and experimentally hit buttons to see if one
would “grab” their bodies and allow me to drag them around. Sure enough, the
feature’s still there, and I spent a good two minutes laboriously dragging the
bandits’ loincloth-clad bodies to the center of the fort and attempting to pose
them in a sexually suggestive pile.