Firstly, combat: according to a piece in the latest issue of Game Informer, you can now dual-wield weapons in the game. To many it will sound like a cheap take on a Halo/Modern Warfare staple, but where in those shooters it's a part-time indulgence, in Skyrim it forms the cornerstone of your approach to the game, as you can allocate which weapon or tool goes in which hand.
So, for example, you can put a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. Or two daggers. Or a staff and a shield. Or a shield and a mace. For magic users, a different spell can be cast from each hand, or for a multiplying effect, the same spell can be thrown from both hands.
Another change to the way Skyrim plays compared to its predecessor, Oblivion, is in how you gain new powers and abilities. This game does entirely away with the concept of class creation, Bethesda's thinking being it's a bit naff asking people to predict how they're going to play a game when they haven't played it yet.
Replacing this, then, is an organic system of attribute growth based on use: the more you do something, the better you get at it. While this has long been a staple of RPG games, even dating back to the Quest for Glory series, but in Skyrim it's not just complementing a class structure, it's replacing it. So you won't be cast in stone as a mage if you use lots of magic, you'll just be some adventurer with a higher magic number in their stats.
You level up according to how you progress your most-used skills. "Raising one skill from 34 to 35 is going to level you faster than raising one from 11 to 12", Bethesda's Todd Howard tells Game Informer. If you stick to what you like/do best, you'll level up quickly. Conversely, if you want to take things slowly, you can raise all or most of your skills, as not focusing on one or two in particular will mean a slower rise through the levels.
One wildly unpopular aspect of Oblivion was the fact basic enemies levelled up alongside you, meaning even the most powerful warriors could sometimes be undone by sewer rats or angry crabs. In Skyrim, though, your opponent's levelling is more like that found in Fallout 3.
Continuing Bethesda's work with Fallout 3, each new level you gain in Skyrim will also give you a perk, which you can apply to give you added bonuses relative to how you want to play the game.
The levelling sounds like an interesting experiment, one I like the sounds of since I always hate choosing an "archetype" in a game before I know how I'm going to play it. The combat also sounds like a welcome piece of customisation for the series, but how well they actually work in the game, we'll just have to wait until we get some time with it!
[Game Informer Magazine]
Skyrim‘s level system works on a 1-50 scale. Though, level 50 isn’t the limit; when you reach level 50, you’ll gain experience much slower, making leveling a much more difficult process.
Each time a player levels, they’ll earn extra health. Additionally, they can also pick one of the following traits to boost: stamina, health, or magic.
There’s no class selection at the start of the game. Every skill a player earns will help contribute to their overall level. Every time a player levels, new perks (a la Fallout 3) are unlocked.
Level-scaling makes a return. Meaning: “The game eventually logs a huge storehouse of knowledge about how you’ve played, and subsequently tailors content to your capabilities and experiences. Entering a city, a young woman might approach you and beg you to save her daughter from kidnappers. The game will look at the nearby dungeons you’ve explored, automatically set the mission in a place you’ve never visited, and designate opponents that are appropriately matched to your strengths and weaknesses.”
There are 18 skills for players to learn, which is three down from Oblivion and eleven down from Morrowind.
Skills will try and accommodate the player who wants to put their focus into a single profession, as well as allow room for players who prefer to do a little bit of everything.
The mysticism skill is gone. The enchanting skill is still present.
The game is set in the Nord region of Skyrim, 200 years after the events ofOblivion. The player, as one of the dragonborn, is called upon to stop the prophetic return of the dragons. The player’s mentor is one of the last blades.
The world includes five massive cities. Its dungeons — caves, underground areas, etcetera — will have more variation than past games.
Conversations do not zoom into the person’s face, anymore. They’re more realistic in Skyrim; the person you’re talking to will do things such as walk around, perform tasks whilst in conversation, glance at you every now and then, etc.
Faces are heavily improved. They don’t look like crap, anymore.
Combat is more dynamic and tactical; each hand is assigned a function (ex: magic in one hand, a weapon in the other). The team is putting a lot of care into the different feel of each weapon in the player’s hands. They’re also putting a heavy emphasis on improving combat in Skyrim.
Enemies include: zombies, skeletons, trolls, giants, ice wraiths, giant spiders, dragons, wolves, horses, mammoth, saber-toothed cats, and other creatures.
Quests, like combat, also boast a more dynamic feel. You’ll be assigned quests depending on how you develop your character. For example: a frequent magic user may be approached by another mage and assign you a quest. Had you been a frequent melee fighter, the mage would not have approached you.
To better suit the player, quests will be modified depending on what you’ve done (see level scaling above, or the following example). An example: you must rescue a girl from a certain location. This location will be in an area you’ve yet to visit with enemies that are of or near your level in order to have the player visit a new location and be combatant with challenging enemies.
Also of note: in Oblivion, if you dropped an item, it would stay there forever. Depending on where you drop items in Skyrim, different events could happen. Another example: if you drop a dagger in a town, a young boy might pick it up and find you to return. Or in a different situation: a group of men could find it and fight over who gets to keep it.
The engine is completely new. Snow falls dynamically, trees and branches move independently according to the wind, and water flows beautifully.
There are dynamic shadows, as well.
The third-person view has been improved. These improvements are clearly displayed in the screenshots the magazine provides (which we cannot publish).
There is an option to remove the heads-up-display (HUD) for players who want the entire screen to be taken advantage of.
Players can sprint if they feel like going fast. Or they could fast-travel, allowing them to transport to any previously visited location on the map.
Dragons can attack a town, meaning that towns may (we’re guessing) also be open to other creature attacks. You can also duel an NPC in town, western style, if you’d like.