Winter Isn't Coming: Why I Don't Believe Skyrim Is Cold

That's the title of a new editorial on Gameranx that points out why the author feels that Bethesda didn't go far enough in convincing us that Skyrim is the unrelenting frozen tundra that the game's snow-filled environment would have us believe. It's pretty difficult not to agree with the points he makes:
I was told that Skyrim was a harsh, desolate region, whose terrifying weather chiseled the toughest men and women in all of Tamriel. But then I walk its mountains and cities and I see adults and children alike strolling through a blizzard in sleeveless attire, not even flinching. My character swims in arctic conditions and doesn't even gasp. I've come across bandit camps that are bedrolls completely exposed to the elements beside a campfire that couldn't possibly be burning without an unhealthy dose of napalm. There is a whole heap of snow in Skyrim but there is no cold.


In Morrowind, the third Elder Scrolls game, much of the continent of Vvardenfell was blighted by ash storms. The city of Ald'ruhn, in particular, got smashed by these storms on a regular basis. The sky would turn the dark crimson of a blood clot, and Morrowind's already short draw distance would be nigh cut in half. Crucially, when an NPC (or the player's own character if playing from a third-person perspective) faced into the wind during such a storm, they'd raise an arm to their forehead to shield their eyes from the dust and ash. It was a simple animation that every NPC did exactly the same, but it added so much. It made it clear to the player that this ash storm wasn't just some sprites spiraling around on the TV for the player's benefit; it was an actual storm that was actually affecting the citizens of Vvardenfell. It fleshed out the provinces living in the shadow of Red Mountain and the hardships they faced on a daily basis.