The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Previews

An embargo has clearly been lifted seeing how a new flood of preview has been let out of the gates for Bethesda's highly anticipated open-world RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the pieces are all predictably extremely positive in tone.

Alec Meer kicks off things with a preview for Eurogamer:
So most of my 180 minutes playing Skyrim from the start (with the introductory, storyline-setting quest neatly excised) was spent crafting and cooking. Underground, overground, scavenging free. A few simple recipes were achievable from the off, but soon I ran into the Dilemma of Dilemmas - to focus my level-up points into becoming more of a powerhouse mage, or into being able to build bigger and better items.

Having been beaten to death by bandits and Norse zombies more times than I could count because I'd been creeping around dungeons with the sole intent of finding crafting stations so I could make better shoes, it wasn't long before I reflected that I may have made the wrong decision. Sure, my shoes had a higher armour rating and my dagger was that much pointier due to the iron ingot I'd found, but shoes and cutlery only get you so far.

Perhaps it would be best if I got someone else to do my fighting for me. And so it was that I refocused my energies on the dark art of zombie-summoning. So long as I could fell one opponent safely (and my upgraded dagger made that significantly easier than it was), I could resurrect it as a servile shadow of itself, duty bound to attack anyone who attacked me. Then I could sit back and mop up whatever was left afterwards.

So I was some sort of tailor-necromancer (though you shouldn't use the 'N' word in Skyrim - technically, what I did was Conjuration), and that, truly, is the joy of Skyrim. It's an open canvas to roleplay on: if you want to be Big Bad Mr Dragon Hunter, go for it. If you want to be a necrom. uh, conjuring kleptomaniac, go for it. The game won't get in your way.

He then goes to share anecdotes on Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
I was barely out of character creation (I was playing a female Khajiit, partially because I find the see in the dark racial ability incredibly useful but mostly because I own a female cat) when I saw him. Well, I heard his dog first and thought '╦ťoh, a dog! How cute!' Then I saw the dog's owner, a poacher. I saw his bow raised aloft. I saw the hand released. I saw the arrow fly. I saw the arrow thwack into the side of a fox. And I saw myself, before I entirely knew what I was doing, plunge a knife into Poacher's back.

Why did I do that, I asked myself, already knowing the answer. I did it because I am a lily-livered, animal rights-supporting vegetarian, and my first experience of this wonderful world being someone being a bit of a dick to an animal was rather distressing. On the other hand, I was impressed that the game featured NPC poachers and animals who were frightened of NPC poachers. Still, this was going to be my world, and I wasn't go to stand for that kind of thing. It was in my power to make it a better place, and so I would. Take that, poacher. No more poaching for you, poacher. Yes, I was aware of the irony of being a murderer in order to prevent murder. But this appeared to be the only way I could stop him. So, I felt bad about my dark deed, but good that the world was down one rotter.

The Guardian is clearly impressed by what has been shown so far, although it doesn't seem like they can offer any new information for people that have followed the pre-release coverage of the title so far:
And Lord knows they'll have ample opportunity to do so in the land of Skyrim. During the time we spent at the game's controls, we passed through the small town of Riverwood, where we used a smithy to craft a couple of weapons, aided the wronged party in a love triangle, and picked up a quest, which sent us into the snow-capped hills surrounding the settlement. Some bandits had made off with a golden artefact owned by the local storekeeper and with the aid of a new found ally a Wood Elf archer we ventured into Black Falls Sanctum to find them.

As it turned out, the bandits were horribly out of their depth; the leader of the gang had seized the artefact in the knowledge that it unlocked secret areas of the sanctum, and had taken it to Black Falls in search of treasure. What the artefact unlocked, however, was a tomb populated by sword-wielding skeletons and a giant Frostbite Spider. By the end of the quest, we had also uncovered some runes which, as Dorahkiin the Dragon Born our character could note down for use as a later date.

In just three hours, we had battled monsters, solved puzzles, sorted out relationships, traded items, fashioned weapons and armour and traversed acres of Skyrim's magical expanse. In that time, we also know that we barely scratched the surface of the game. A quick look at the relatively small area of the map we'd been gallivanting through was evidence enough to back up the developers' claims that Skyrim offers around 300 hours worth of playing time, if every nook and cranny of it is explored, and every quest is taken up.

VideoGamer:
My first attempt at chasing down an NPC inside the mountain encampment ended in a wipeout: he made a left turn into a burial chamber of skeletal zombies, which began a fight-within-a-fight. His attention turned from an instinct to run away to combating enemies by my side - something I briefly found interesting before he tripped a pressure button that triggered the armoured door behind us to burst shut on us like an upright mousetrap.

My second attempt involved the more aggressive strategy of hitting him with a fire spell as he ran away. While he kept running regardless, this time he waited for me at the end of the corridor with weapon drawn, bypassing our earlier team-up against the skeletons.

The environment provides an additional strategic partner. The pressure button on the floor of the burial chamber, in particular, provided a one-hit manoeuvre to ridding the room of an entire collective of zombies. The result is ragdoll carnage as they fling across the room in pieces, but it's the simple pleasures that make the game.

Dual Shockers:
What would I do with these precious 180 minutes with the title? I reached out for suggestions from our readers and afterwards had a pretty good idea. Combining those ideas with some internal consulting amongst the team here, I decided I'd play the same way our very own John Colaw handled things at PAX Prime, which meant picking a spot in the distance and get moving in that direction.

I entered the swanky hotel suite where the demo would take place. Yep, because Bethesda's baller like that. I set down my personal inventory while anticipating the management of my digital one. And then it was time to get my Skyrim on, in what will be our final preview of the title before it releases on November 11th. Read on for details on my full adventure.

...

When I asked readers of the site what I should do with my play time a lot of them told me to be a thief. Why the hell did I listen to them? Let me be the first to tell you that if there's one thing you don't want to do in Skyrim, that thing would be stealing.

For starters, all of the NPC's have eagle eye vision and they're all relentless when you get them mad. I tried multiple scenarios with items of different value and my results were never different. As soon as I stole something within an NPC's field of vision it was on like donkey kong; within seconds I was running for my life. And when I thought that going through a door with a loading screen would help me when someone was giving chase, let's just say I had one inn keeper chase me not just past the loading screen but to another town altogether.

Don't think for a second that because it's open world game that you'll be playing this like a fantasy version of GTA. Crime doesn't pay in Skyrim. Don't be a statistic like me.

We conclude with a piece from Computer and Videogames:
One of the first characters we met in the town was a spiteful little snob called Sven. He wanted us to help him win over his love interest Camilla, by handing her a rather venomous letter he'd forged in his rival suitor's hand-writing. Being the noble the folk we are, we told Camilla of the plot, who then told us to look in on the wronged party - a wood elf archer called Faendael.

Not only did our good deed for the day give us a warm fuzzy feeling, it enabled us to recruit Faendael as an ally, which came in very handy when we ventured into the hills around Riverwood to retrieve a Golden Claw artefact, stolen from Camilla's brother Lucen by bandits.

Between embarking on the quest and returning to Riverwood victorious, we had to make our way through the subterranean caverns of the nearby Bleak Falls Sanctum. As things progressed we found that the Golden Claw was in fact a key which unlocked a tomb deep with the mountain, and that the bandits who hoped to capitalise on this were the least of our worries.

In short order, we were set upon by a giant Frostbite Spider and a small horde of Draugr - that's sword and spell wielding skeletons to you. By the end of our quest, we'd pocketed a fair few gold pieces, weapons, armour and even some mystic runes relating to the Dovahkiin - the race of Dragon-born humans of which the player's character is a member.