The Acrobatics and Athletic skills have been removed so traveling won't consist of you jumping around like a drunken jackrabbit to gain XP. Instead, Todd Howard and Bethesda have given you a Sprint Button. I see you thumbs start to perk up already.
Taking away such a staple of Oblivion as the horse was, it is scary to think how travel would differ. But Bethesda has assured its fans that, unlike Oblivion, Skyrim is not barren; there are many occurrences in between point A and point B.
Many dragons will try to fry you with fire. Some might speak English. Rounding the corner of a mountain range to see one of these spiny beasts perched atop a crumbling piece of ancient architecture is a terrifying sight. Running away isn't always the best option, though, since killing a dragon allows you to absorb its essence and power up.
Because your character in Skyrim can speak the language of dragons, you'll also be able to use dragon shouts. These are learned in the depths of caverns on stone slabs called word walls. When you string words together, it produces magical abilities. You can scream out force waves, slow time and crazier stuff depending on how much effort you're willing to put into finding word walls. The shout system is on a separate resource system from magic, which means even if you decided to play as a ropey muscular monstrosity who only knows how to crush things with heavy stuff, you should still be able to take full advantage of this system.
#3- Rural Vs. Suburban
Skyrim has five major cities, each with their own culture and architecture, and eight or nine smaller towns. Though the system still sounds like it's in its early stages, it sounds like you'll be able to mess up the economies of the individual population centers if you want. The idea is for your actions to affect products and services available in each town. All of this just adds the the sandbox of possibilities within the game making it a great re-playable title.
"You make it too granular and the player can't tell those arrows are a gold piece cheaper. So what we're trying to do is actually remove things from the economy. That tends to impact it more."
That means instead of cheaper arrows, there simply wouldn't be any arrows left in town.
"The lumber mill, we have mines and smelters for iron that affects weapons, then we have farms that affect food and ingredients that affect alchemy. We have all that working but we haven't found the gameplay sweet spot."
You really could end a whole town if you wanted to. Topple a city to its knees or create a lustrous city of wealth and prosperity.
#4- Radiant Story
"We really have no control. It's a big playground, and for certain players it goes great but there's still a lot of players it goes poorly for. This allows us to control that some. Now we're at a good point where we know where we want to use it.
We can use it for miscellaneous quests, you go into town, you want to make friends with somebody, we'll generate a little quest for him that seems simple and that it's ok to go through the radiant story system. For a bigger quest, we want somebody who you're enemies with.
We want to use him in that quest in some way. We'll pick the closest person who hates the player. He fills in that role."
This system can pull in dragons too. So if you've been a terrible adventurer and tried your best to avoid clashing with a dragon, one of your quests might soon include one. And if you're a pitiless pyromancer and delight in covering the living in lethal flame, ideally you'll still be able to continue to quest even after setting the world on fire.
#5- Skills & Attributes
"In Oblivion you have your eight attributes and 21 skills. Now you have 18 skills and three attributes. What we found is that all those attributes actually did something else. A fan may say 'You removed my eight attributes!', and my answer is, which ones do you want? They're all a trickle down to something else. Now when you level up you can just raise your Magicka. In Oblivion you have to raise your Intelligence knowing that you're Intelligence raises your Magicka."
Like in previous Elder Scrolls games, skill levels increase with use. The more you use a sword, the better you're able to wield it. In Skyrim, each skill increase contributes to your overall character level, sort of like experience points. If you boost a skill that's at a higher level, you'll see a bigger increase on your character level gauge.