The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Combat Detailed

GameInformer's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim coverage continues with some welcome details about changes Bethesda will be making to melee, magic, and ranged combat in the next installment to the venerable RPG series.
Ranged weapons could be effective in Oblivion once you improved your skill level, but you had to pierce enemies with several arrows to take them down. After playing an Oblivion mod that turned the bow and arrow into a formidable weapon capable of one-hit kills, Bethesda decided to adopt that approach. It now takes a lot longer to get off a shot, but the arrows are much more powerful than before.

As in Oblivion, you can zoom to aim, and the longer you keep the bow drawn the more powerful your shot will be. Unlike Oblivion, the arrows now violently impact enemies with a satisfying thud. To keep players from coasting through the world plucking enemies from afar, Bethesda has significantly altered the arrow economy to make them a valuable but limited option. You won't be rolling into combat stacked with 50 Daedric arrows anymore. Though you don't have much defense when using the bow and arrow, if an enemy gets too close for comfort you can still execute a bash move, which knocks your foe off balance and gives you time to create distance between you and your target.

Stealth basically works the same as it did in Oblivion, but Bethesda has slightly altered what happens once enemies detect your presence. Now when NPCs think they see or heard something, they go into an alert state. Characters with a higher sneak skill will have more time to duck back around the corner or find sanctuary in the shadows. This new system eliminates the sudden attacks that sometimes caught players off guard in Oblivion.

Once you successfully sneak up behind an unsuspecting victim, you can unleash a deadly blow with the dagger, an almost useless weapon in previous Elder Scrolls games that is receiving a major boost in Skyrim. (Now when you sneak up behind guys, the dagger does something like 10x damage,) Howard says. (I don't know if we're going to keep that, but you feel like you should be killing the guy if you've gotten that close and you have a dagger.)