5 Reasons Why Skyrim Rocked E3
The left trigger controls your left hand, the right trigger controls your right hand. What that means is while you can go for a traditional sword and shield combo, you can mix things up a bit. Spell-casting in your left hand, shield in your right. Spear in left, staff in right. Or axes in both.
Bethesda also added in a ‘favourites’ system, allowing you to dive in the menus to choose your favourite spells and weapons. Then you can quickly scroll through your favourites without having to bother messing about with menus when the battle begins. Clever and a nice touch.
Have another clever and nice touch. When you have both hands set to spell-casting, using them both at the same time makes the spell more powerful.
Dragons Are Awesome
It’s a fact that dragons are awesome, so you haven’t learnt anything new by reading that alone. In particular, the dragons in Skyrim are awesome. During a battle you’re having with wandering giants, a dragon swoops in and before you have a chance to react, picks up the giant up and pulls him hundreds of feet in the air before dropping him to his death.
The dragon then flies off, slowly arcs around and thuds down in front of you before snorting fire your way while the screen is still shaking. A nearby adventurer gets involved and while the fight is going on, the dragon snaps at him, eats him and throws the body away with a quick yank of his head, the adventurer’s shield and sword sent flying. All this happens while the battle continues in real time without any obvious sign of the scripting. It is a genuinely jaw-dropping moment.
The Graphics Are Unbelievable
It had always been presumed that open-world games had to sacrifice top-shelf graphics as a compromise of building a world that’s simply too big to fill with lush detail and jaw dropping visuals around every corner. Morrowind was functional. Oblivion was functional. Skyrim is… gorgeous?
The rocky mountains look like real rocky mountains with an organic formation, rather than something a level designer slapped together. Trees are dense with foliage rather than skinny saplings. Enemies have detail you wouldn’t expect of an RPG with more square miles to fill in than a top-level FPS can even dream of. No frame-rate drops, no glitches, no let-up in the quality and we’re still miles away from release.
The Spells Are Ridiculous
As expected, the standard spells have been bolstered in both how they look and their function. Fireballs pack an explosive punch which sends enemies flying, a big step up from the fiery farts of Oblivion. Frostbite slows enemies down and stops them using special moves, Chain Lightning sees your thunderous attack spread to other nearby assailants and so on.
Those are the spells you grab from tones, with new Runes allowing you to set spell traps, the medieval equivalent of mines. A Frostrune spell sets an icy circle on the floor, which then explodes with ice as soon as anyone passes over it.
But it’s the new shouts which are the most impressive. Unlocked by reading dragon words to form full shouts, we’re shown Whirlwind Sprint, which carries you past a swinging blades trap in an underground cavern. But it’s later when you’re battling a frost dragon that it really comes into its own. One of the shouts is a storm spell and when cast, it turns the sky grey as rain pours and lightning starts to strike the frost dragon. A brilliant moment and one of the most impressive looking spells we’ve seen in a Western RPG.
The Side-Quests Are Better
To give you the quick walkthrough of a quest – you’re exploring underground tunnels when you enter a cavern full of cobwebs and hear pleas for help. Sure enough, you’ve stumbled into the lair of a giant spider, who drops from the ceiling to greet you. A battle ensues, with the sound of scorch spells blasts accompanied by the dark elf trapped in the web shouting for you not to bring the spider near. Eventually, it falls and you free the dark elf.
The dark elf, Arvel The Swift, isn’t thankful for the help and wants to ‘keep the treasure’. As he runs off, you can catch up with him and run your sword through his back, an execution move that’s new to the game. Arvel leaves behind some gold coins and a journal.
Carrying on, you eventually come across a door with three symbols on it and a claw shape underneath. It’s clear you use the golden claw to activate the door but what do the symbols mean? Arvel’s journal tells you the clue is something to do with the golden claw. You know you have to use it but what if…
One of the new options to play around with in the menu is to look at items and examine them from all angles. Looking at the golden claw, you can rotate it to see the order of the symbols required to open the door. Do so, use the claw and it pops open. Success! The fresh injection of puzzles into the magic and melee mixture that Oblivion did so well looks like it’ll help main the Elder Scrolls reputation for quality. And if that fails, at least it has another four pillars to rely on.