Spelunking, giant-hunting, swimming and looting in Skyrim

Mindful of the PR handlers (who I imagined were watching me with concealed disgust at this point), I abandoned my ghoulish fun and ducked inside a nearby cave, charged the unsuspecting bandit within and immediately heard a deep rumble from behind me. Assuming the entrance had been blocked off, I put down the bandit and turned to see that I’d actually triggered a trap, which had dropped a pile of boulders from the ceiling. Fortunately, I’d been too quick to get caught in it, and after ransacking the place for more treasure, I left, accidentally caught the attention of some other giants, and met with predictable results.

Breathing a heavy sigh, I set off in the opposite direction and attempted to scale the mountains near Riverwood. I had limited success, at one point stumbling onto a tower inhabited by a few Nord bandits, who made a point of yelling something about Skyrim belonging to the Nords. (Clearly, they didn’t think orcs should be allowed to just wander through their mountains, stealing things and killing indiscriminately. Racists.)  Their anti-orc sentiments did nothing to stop them from being hacked to death, though. Just to see what it was like, I tackled this fight with a sword in my orc’s left hand, and a small axe in his right. Not only was I able to attack twice as often, but holding down both triggers let me unleash a devastating cross-slash that probably would have decapitated my foes if there’d been dismemberment.

During the fight, I also tried switching between first- and third-person perspectives. It turns out that this time around, fighting in third-person actually feels a little different; where Oblivion’s third-person view was a clumsy novelty during combat, here the action’s adjusted to feel a little more like a hack-and-slasher, with more useful camera angles and occasional slow-motion kill moves, just for the hell of it.

Once I’d looted their corpses and pressed a bit higher onto the mountain, it eventually became clear that I couldn’t climb any higher on the path I was on – the ground had become too steep. Unfazed, I found a cliff overlooking the river far below and – with a running start – plunged hundreds of feet into shallow water, emerging unscathed next to one of the farms on the outskirts of Whiterun.

All this wandering through breathtakingly pretty landscapes had built up an appetite for more mayhem, and so – after crouching low to avoid detection – I crept up behind a guard and attempted to pickpocket him. As any novice Elder Scrolls player who’s ever tried to pick a guard’s pocket can guess, this didn’t go so well. Annoyed, the guard immediately turned around and demanded I either pay a fine or accompany him to prison.

Eff that. Politely declaring my intention to resist arrest, I immediately took a swing at him with my axe and caught him by surprise. The advantage didn’t last for long, though, and he retaliated, devastating my health with a few quick strikes. Luckily, I had a healing spell and had a sizable stock of health potions, and quick use of these kept me alive long enough to nearly finish the guard off. Sadly, one of his friends noticed what I was doing, and before I knew what was happening, my orc fell dead, three arrows sticking out of his back. At least he went down swinging.

It was around that time that I was shooed off the game so that the next demo could start, but the things I’d been able to do and see in the span of 60 minutes didn’t just leave me impressed or excited for the game; they reminded me why I loved playing through the last two. Things like plot, “radiant story” and structured missions are great, but it’s the ability to make your own fun and explore the world on your own terms that keeps fans coming back to Elder Scrolls games for months and even years after their release, and so far Skyrim looks ready to deliver.

Sep 9, 2011


  • nikrusty - September 16, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    "attempting to pose them in a sexually suggestive pile." LOL
  • raWfodoG - September 13, 2011 12:19 p.m.

    Great preview, Mikel. You were both funny and informative. I remember playing Oblivion and, even after playing for over 100 hours, I only closed one Oblivion gate. There was just so much to do in that game, it was crazy. I'm looking forward to more of the same from Skyrim.
  • MurderInTheBarn - September 13, 2011 5:42 a.m.

    wow, Mikel. You had an hour to get a lot of questions answered for us and you spent it running around like my six year old son would. You are one heck of a journalist.
  • fadedlinevigil - September 12, 2011 1:48 p.m.

    What exactly is the point of this 3 page preview? No new screens and nothing interesting to say that we wouldn't already assume. More than a couple comparisons to Oblivion would have been welcomed.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - September 12, 2011 7 a.m.

    As long as they've hired more than two voice actors this time round...
  • matt-nold - October 7, 2011 4 p.m.

    There is 70 voice actors, ranging from award winning actors/actresses to newbies. Many names you may know coming from many shows. You will have a much wider variety in Voice Actors this time around.
  • Taxtm - September 11, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    Man, I can't wait to play this. Having a bit of a conundrum though, in that I can't decide between getting the PC version, since my laptop likely can't handle it well, and will probably lag out the ass, but with mod access, or the Console version, which will definitely run smoother, but with no chance to ever mod the game, and truly bend the world of Skyrim to my will.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - September 11, 2011 7:16 p.m.

    Well... when I met with Todd Howard and co. a few months ago, he mentioned that the team was looking into ways to bring modding to the console versions. Supposedly the architecture for it is there - you could theoretically apply a PC mod to the console version of the game if you had the right debug hardware - but enabling it in a way guaranteed not to break the game and/or piss off Microsoft or Sony is apparently a big hurdle. No word yet on whether it'll actually happen (and it seems unlikely), but I wouldn't be 100% sure about "no chance to ever mod the game."
  • matt-nold - October 7, 2011 4:02 p.m.

    I think they were talking about how they want Consoles to be able to mod, but its impossible on the current Gen consoles... wait till next gen.
  • Yeager1122 - September 10, 2011 10:15 p.m.

    Cant wait to do my own dicking around in skyrim.
  • BurningChrome - September 10, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    Excellent review! Also, there`s a mod for Oblivion called Nehrim. Totally different storyline, characters and lore. I`m 70+ hours in and have only done two main quests. It`s beautiful, more gothic, with a Grimm`s Fairy Tales feel. A German team took 4 years to make it and it shows. Check it out! XD
  • jackthemenace - September 10, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    Wow, super excited for it now. Hopefully, RAGE can keep me tranquillised for the month and a bit between it's release and Skyrim's. Otherwise, I may be picking up an axe and a sword and engaging in some first person combat of my own...
  • MCN2011 - September 10, 2011 8:20 a.m.

    This is pretty much exactly how I'll be playing the game!
  • mothbanquet - September 10, 2011 4:09 a.m.

    Mikel Reparaz knows you need detailed previews and first impressions; reliable ones! So he writes them and posts them here!
  • JoeMulvihill1 - September 10, 2011 3:27 a.m.

    best preview i have ever read on here. well done GR. cant wait for this so bad!
  • Vordhosbn - September 10, 2011 3:12 a.m.

    I keep getting tempted to go back on Morrowind everytime I see these previews, but I think I'll wait. It's been literally a few years since I touched an Elder Scrolls game and I can't wait to see how this one turns out, they've had a while to improve on Oblivion and I don't think they're going to dissapoint at all.
  • MeabhieD - September 10, 2011 2:53 a.m.

    :O Awesome preveiw... now i long for Skyrim even more... *sigh*
  • chrisat928 - September 10, 2011 2:38 a.m.

    Please stop posting Skyrim articles. It hurts.

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