The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Previews and Video Interview

There's quite a bit of new Skyrim coverage that we'd like to bring to your attention this morning, including a two-and-a-half-minute video interview with lead designer Todd Howard, courtesy of Ve3tro:

Then we move to Rock, Paper, Shotgun for a hands-on preview:
While wandering around, icons pop-up on the slim, subtle top-of-screen compass to denote nearby locations of possible interest, which is how we find ourselves in this dungeon. (There's a crazy amount of dungeons,) claims Hines, (all hand-crafted) by Bethesda's new phalanx of level designers. The idea is that, as well as being a more characterful, designed adventure, each dungeon has an undertone of incidental backstory, conveyed by decoration rather than exposition. In this one, we find a crucified skeleton hanging over a shallow lake. A knapsack waits at its feet, containing a journal. The journal tells of a fisherman who'd been having trouble catching much in his usual stomping grounds, so he'd roamed further afield. Top tip for fishermen: don't roam into necromancers' dens.

The Necromancers themselves aren't far off, nor are they pleased to see us. We dispatch the first one sharipish with a fire spell each and every new Skyrim character starts off with basic fire and healing magic, but from there it's up to you what you use (and on what you find or buy, of course). Fire isn't a shot-by-shot fireball, but a steady steam of flame that makes short work of these cloth-wearing dead-botherers. As one falls, another immediately turns and starts resurrecting him. His body lifts off the ground, his back arching, surround by blue energy. We pepper the would-be resurrector with shots from our newly-found Orcish bow (I couldn't tell you what its stats are; Hines looked at them briefly, muttered something positive to himself and immediately equipped it), and as he falls his undead servant dissipates into a shower of ash. Meanwhile, another Necro starts resurrecting the one we downed with the bow as his body rises in the air, we can see the arrows we filled him with sticking out of him, almost comically.

Before turning to IGN UK for a preview that focuses primarily on crafting and alchemy:
Alchemy and crafting play a much more significant role in Skyrim than in any Elder Scrolls game. Every plant and animal seems to serve a purpose for potion-making, armour-crafting or weapons forging, or the new cooking system. Raw ingredients like meats and plants have small effects on your character's wellbeing when you eat them, but combine them together over in a cauldron over a fire and the benefits are more pronounced. You find recipes through natural experimentation not from a menu, not from an entry in a quest log telling you exactly how many of each ingredient to collect and where to find them. It relies on your natural curiosity.

It's an incredibly enticing prospect for the natural gaming hunter-gatherer when every collectible thing has its uses. You can even swim in Skyrim's rivers, plucking fish out of the water and roasting them on a campfire spit later. A familiar alchemy lab, meanwhile, lets you magic things like bonemeal and plants into potions to help you or hurt your enemies, experimenting with different combinations of ingredients to negate or catalyse their negative effects.