The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Preview

We have a new hands-on preview for Bethesda's highly anticipated open-world action-RPG, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, based on the build that was available at Eurogamer Expo and coming from the folks at Wanderson75. Here's a sampling:
Although visually stunning, graphics are not the only element in Skyrim that has undergone a radical overhaul. The most prevalent improvement is player movement. Vastly improved over Oblivion's rather blocky and awkward mechanics, movement in Skyrim feels fluid and lifelike, making exploration a simpler and more rewarding pastime. Bethesda has also included a sprint mechanic that is activated using the LB/L1 button, giving your character a limited period of faster movement. It's a masterful inclusion, as anyone who has played Oblivion knows crossing Tamriel on foot was much more time consuming than it needed to be. From the time I had with the Skyrim, it seems that the improvements to movement will make navigating the vast expanses of the game a pleasure rather than the chore that traversing the rugged, mountainous terrain could have been.

After a short walk, and jump, around I realised that I hadn't equipped armour; since I didn't know what might be waiting for me around the corner, I decided to remedy my attire. This gave me the chance to take a look at the overhauled user interface. Gone is the cumbersome and inept U.I. of Oblivion, replaced with a slick, crisp and clean interface that makes everything from equipping armour and spells to looking at items and levelling up much simpler. This easy-to-navigate system is split up into four sections: items, magicka, level up, and map which are mapped to the left, right, up and down buttons respectively. After equipping some armour, a sword in my right hand, and a fire spell in my left hand, I continued down the road and was greeted by the town of Riverwood.

Towns and cities in Oblivion were strange, to say the least. They were always busy and there was always lots going on, but they felt overly scripted. After playing Oblivion for more than a few hours you begin to see the repetition of the townspeople's actions. However, Riverwood seemed more organic and natural, as a result of the Radiant AI systems, with people going about their business, having conversations, and doing their jobs. In Riverwood, I also got the chance to see the improvements Bethesda made to facial animations. While those in Oblivion were impressive, they never seemed to sync up with the voice acting. Conversely, in Skyrim, you get the sensation that you are actually having a conversation with a complex A.I., rather than a scripted bot. With time ticking away faster than I wanted, my stay in Riverwood ended with a quick look to the sky, showcasing the silhouette of a mountain and what looked like a giant's cracked rib-cage in the distance. I wanted to climb that mountain!