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Hands and mountains. Those are the two things that immediately caught our attention when we first laid eyes upon The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – the craggy, jagged peaks that dominate this open world’s realistic topography, and the main character’s own two hands. But that’s okay, because hands and mountains are the perfect symbols for the improvements Skyrim makes over the last Elder Scrolls game, the massive, magnificent Oblivion. We’ve got two hours of details to walk you through, but here’s the summary: Set 200 years after Oblivion, Skyrim’s world is more rugged and visceral, yet also more majestic and beautiful. Its citizens are more realistic. And both combat and your character’s evolution are deeper, but vastly streamlined.
Oh – and also, there are dragons and you eat their souls...
Thank the gods we weren’t killing rats. The first thing we encountered during our hands-on with the can’t-be-more-hyped The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was a pair of wolves. Not quite a dragon, but hey, the game has to build up to something, right? We got nearly an hour to play the game, and we weren’t guided: we simply created a character and were free to do whatever we wanted...
It’s true: we’ve already reported on a demo of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim once before. And the demo we played most recently technically wasn’t any different from the one we’ve already written about. The neat thing about Skyrim, however, is that it’s being presented to journalists in a unique way: rather than a standard hand-holding, forced-march demo, we’ve simply been set loose on a more or less complete version of the game, and given an hour to get as far as possible. And while Matt Keast did his best to have a complete, dungeon-themed adventure in our last preview, that’s not how or why I play Elder Scrolls games. Not for the first few hours, anyway.
For me, the beauty of Oblivion, Morrowind and the rest is that you can wander randomly in any direction and find endless interesting things to do before ever settling down and concerning yourself with the mundanities of plot. And given an hour of free rein, you can bet your ass I’m not going to waste any time crawling into dungeons or listening to long-winded exposition. If Skyrim is a real Elder Scrolls game, I should be able to have plenty of fun just dicking around – and, happily, it didn’t disappoint...
The Elder Scrolls games may be famous for their incredible side quests. But I wouldn't even call Pinewatch Sanctuary a side quest. Granted, it is something that you complete, appearing checked off on the map as 'cleared' alongside more potential adventures in Falkreath, Riverwood and Whiterun. But to demystify this into a mere video game completion statistic is to do Bethesda a monumental injustice. So let me tell you about the secret of Pinewatch Sanctuary – and why Skyrim is very likely Game of the Year.
Everyone who plays The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim will have a different experience based on how they want to play. Some players will cruise through the story missions without going off the beaten path; others will complete everything there is to complete; while many will simply mess around, exploring and enjoying the brilliant world Bethesda has created. For those willing to wander there are a lot of interesting things to see and find, and that's how we approached a recent session with the game. What sort of things will they discover? Well, after sitting down with the game for a few hours, we’ve assembled a list of some of the things we did, so that you might be able to get a good idea of what you can do when the game releases next month…
From the nanosecond Skyrim was announced, the one question on everybody’s lips has been “Giants: Are they strong?” Well, we’ve been working tirelessly all week to find out and we think we just might finally have the answer.
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