The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Kinect Previews and Video Interview

An update adding Kinect support to the Xbox 360 version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim should be rolling out any day now, but in the meantime we have several hands-on previews and a video interview on the Kinect implementation to bring to your attention. We start with Destructoid's chat with Pete Hines:

And then move to Joystiq:
The first obvious addition is the ability to yell Skyrim's "dragon shouts" at your television, both in English and Dragonspeak. It's neat at first being able to control the intensity of the shout by speaking as many words of the shout as you'd like is handy but the novelty wears thin pretty quickly. Ultimately it becomes a utilitarian function.

That's a good way to sum up pretty much the entire update. The available voice commands are utilitarian, allowing you to favorite inventory and spells and speak a command mid-game to equip or perform the appropriate action. Set a fire spell as a favorite then say, "equip fire spell" and it'll go into the default left hand. Favorite an axe or sword and a shield, say, "equip axe and shield" and you'll pull out the gear.

You'll also be able to bark orders at followers. (Bethesda says it will reveal a full list of all available Kinect voice commands at some point in the near future.)

This is all especially fun when you want to fuck with your friends. Wait until they're up against a tricky dragon or surrounded by undead draugr, then shout something like "equip bow" while they're in melee combat. They'll be really annoyed for like, ten seconds. Until they turn off the Kinect features and defriend you on Facebook.

The Verge:
Beyond shouts, you can navigate Skyrim's menu, saying things like "Quick Magic, Destruction, Fireball" to select your fire spell. You can also assign favorites to voice. For example, saying "Assign shield" while highlighting your favorite shield will cause the game to equip that shield whenever you say "Equip shield." You can do this with a number of different categories, from swords to bows to magic types.

Other handy additions include being able to quick save or quick load by just saying those words. I was actually able to quick load with my voice while I was falling off a cliff. Theoretically you could do the same with the "Become Ethereal" shout to save yourself from a nasty fall.

Speaking of Dragonshouts, you can utter them in English if your Dragonese isn't all that sharp, but there's a catch - you won't be able to unleash the first or second forms of a Shout unless you employ the original language. English is evidently too mighty for anything short of a full-length Fus Ro Dah.

Getting back to the fiddly stuff, you'll be able to rearrange your inventory via commands like "Sort by weight" or "Sort by value". We're particularly keen on the idea of setting loot limits: call out "set loot limit 100", for instance, to automatically collect only those treasures that are worth 100 gold or above. Pillaging is now officially less of a headache. Perhaps best of all, you can also use voice commands to quick save.

You won't find yourself using your Kinect to swing a battle ax or target specific enemies in the the middle of a fracas. In fact, Skyrim doesn't even make use of the technology's camera function whatsoever, instead focusing on the use of voice commands to streamline the experience and help maintain a steady tempo to the game. You can assign specific arms to every class of weapon, allowing you to pull out out your favorite sword when you say, "sword," and equip your favorite bow when you say, "bow." This simple shortcut does an amazing job of maintaining the tempo and rhythm of the game in the middle of combat by not forcing you to navigate a series of menus as soon as you spot a tough enemy on the horizon.

It may sound strange, but the most exciting use of Kinect in Skyrim is through the use of voice commands in menu navigation. Anyone who's played an RPG of Skyrim's magnitude knows the pain that stems from having to thumb through pages upon pages of doodads and nicknacks until you find exactly what you're looking for. One of the few gripes I have against Dark Souls is the cumbersome and time-consuming act of rummaging through my stash in order to find the single piece of armor that I was looking for. Couple this with the fact that the game-world never paused when you entered a menu, and what you're left with was a frustrating system that was the cause of a couple dozen Blighttown deaths. Bethesda has attempted to circumnavigate this headache by giving users a wealth of simple voice commands to leaf through menus and organize information. You can now rearrange your items by simply saying phrases like "sort by weight" and "sort by value."

And MTV Multiplayer:
Maps and items and saves are all great but you came here because like me and everyone else way too into '˜Skyrim'- you practiced your dragon shouts in the bathroom mirror. The Kinect provides the best opportunity to put that hard work to the test. However, you don't need to memorize an entire language to use the powers. For instance, just say '˜Unrelenting Force' and your dovahkiin will perform the shout. Though, one of the neatest features deals with actually speaking the dragon language. If you want to keep with spirit of the game, simply hold down the right bumper and you'll notice that a little dragon icon appears at the top right. You're now in a mode which allows you to speak the dragon's tongue as it's spelled. It's as simple as 1, 2, 3; or in this case '˜Fus, Ro, Dah'. Additionally, you're no longer bound to any single shout as the full vocabulary of the powers can be accessed on the fly.

The last major point is ally interaction. For those of you who loath having to open a series of dialogue choice just to get your follower to attack or stay, you can now simply command the with speech. Point you reticule over an object or enemy and with the proper voice prompt, your follower will pick up, move, or attack. It's very handy to have this has it saves you a few moments so you keep playing without stopping and starting. I could see it work great in sneaking situations a your ally often gets in the way.