The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Previews

The week kicks off with a trio of new European previews for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - three articles that should go nicely with the screenshots and interview we shared with you earlier today.

CVG calls it "the most beautiful game of the generation":
Even the menus feel expensive; the inventory system, for example, displays every weapon and item in full 360 rotational, zoom-tastic 3D so that you can really study everything you pick up. Not just for the hell of it either; there's a strong sense of culture in the design of a lot of the weapons which can be learned about and traced from one item to the next and, without giving too much away, you might find hints and tips buried in the things you pick up. Okay, you will, so being able to cast your beady eye over you haul comes in useful every now and then.

The XP and skill menu is even better. If you want to check up on your progression or see the best route to fulfilling your full potential, well, the answers in the stars. Skill trees are mapped across star-signs in a cosmic nebula that's both beautiful to look at and strangely relaxing. It's a luxurious display for something that most developers have been jotting down on a scrap of pixel-paper for years.

Our first hint of what Skyrim offers in terms of actual gaming comes when a scallywag with a sword and a smattering of armour comes ambling along the road, sees our humble face and takes exception. We should point out that not everyone in Skyrim is out to get you, even the most intimidating of folk (we'll come on to that) but in this case, apparently, the penalty for walking down a public path is a fight.

The combat, this time around, is what Howard describes as more "visceral", a term which is thrown around so much in video games that it's hard to know what it actually means, but what it translates to is a more physical affair.

Eurogamer takes us through their own Todd Howard-led demonstration:
As you wander around Riverwood you may be given a random side mission. All of the objective content in Skyrim is built around hand-written dialogue and events, of course, but a clever bit of programming means the individuals and locations involved are determined by the things you've done.

For example, the mission may involve rescuing a child from some bandits. That's all preset, but the game will try to make sure that the specific child, bandits and dungeon you enter to take on the quest will be acquaintances you haven't made yet and locations you haven't visited, or at least some that you have not encountered for a while.

The mission we get to see starts as you wander past a woman doing some sweeping. She remarks that there was a robbery at the general store recently, but says the proprietor, Lucan, doesn't appear to have lost anything. Your interest piqued (and the quest opened in your log), you enter the store to see what's up.

Inside there's a roaring fire. Ivory horns are scattered around as candle-holders. (I know I've banged on about how pretty Skyrim is already, but it's worth adding that it's also fantastically and consistently well-lit. The interior of the store is appreciably warm - there's an ambient glow and the flames cast flickering shadows. Outdoors the spring air is as crisp and fresh as an iceberg lettuce.)

And then Rock, Paper, Shotgun covers 20 of the best things about Skyrim before diving into their own skill-focused preview:
(There's no level cap. there's no mathematical level cap, But it's however it works out, we don't set it. Levelling is faster. if oblivion was a level 25 game this is level 50. we wanted to get it faster going because there are so many perks.)

(The levelling system is very much like Fallout 3. There were definitely moments in Oblivion were it was a rollercoaster of pain because the world levelled faster than you.)

An example of perks, for the bow and arrow: (one to zoom in, one that also slows down time when you zoom in. Perks also have ranks; maybe there's two levels of the zoom.) Other perks on-show included being able to bypass armour with maces, and causing heavy bleeding with one-handed weapons.

On constellation-based perk-picking system: ) I was designing the interface and I wanted it to make it very visual rather than like Excel. I look to the stars to see who I am.) The star patterns are based on (birth signs from previous games.)