The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - Preview

Dragon age

Release Date: 13/10/2011

Dragon age

The follow-up to the brilliant Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Skyrim is the latest role playing game from the team also responsible for the much-loved Fallout series. Set 200 years after its predecessor, the events of Skyrim take place in the northernmost province of Tamriel, a massive open world with a chilly Nordic flavour to it.

You play as Dovakin (literal meaning - Dragon Born), a hero destined to rid the world of an ancient, evil Dragon God and bring peace to a land suffering at the hands of civil war. According to the game makers, you can expect to spend about 30 hours completing the main quest, but for explorers keen to see all the fantasy world has to offer there's roughly 300 hours of content to experience.

World of beauty

Skyrim world is as beautiful and varied as it is vast. From cities to hamlets, marshland to open plains, secret forests to snow-capped mountains and over 150 dungeons, most players are unlikely to see it in its entirety given its epic scale.

Subjected to every weather system conceivable, the environments are stunning, from the rocky landscapes to the swaying grass and leaves on trees, all of which capture the light perfectly and create a deep sense of immersion, while fast-flowing rivers and tumbling waterfalls display some of the best water effects wee ever seen.

Just as impressive are the overbearing mountains that make up the background to Skyrim, each of which is completely scalable. You can travel anywhere the eye can see and the biggest mountain has 7,000 steps carved into it on the way to its peak.

Day-to-day life

Skyrim world is populated by hundreds of characters living their own lives, with their own motivations and loyalties. Wee introduced to day-to-day happenings in a small town called Riverwood, where one worker goes about his work in a lumberard. It suggested to us that, unlike in most games, character actions won follow a simple loop. Instead, theyl carry out natural, realistic daily routines.

Everything you see Skyrim characters do, you can do too, if it takes your fancy. You can befriend others by offering your services to the community, or opt to be a destructive force by sabotaging their work for your own ends, negatively impacting the economy. As in previous games, townsfolk are also a source of mission starters, offering up quests for you to pursue.

Getting physical

From sword-wielding, armour-clad hulks to werewolves, vampires, giant spiders and mystical beasts, Skyrim serves up many hostile foes. Not everyone out to get you, but some characters you encounter on your journey will take exception to you just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, meaning youl need to master a combination of weapons and magic to survive.

Traditional combat feels meaty as you trade blows with your sword, batter opponents with your shield and pepper them with arrows from your bow. Thankfully you can now dual wield weapons and spells, with an impressive range of approaches on offer to suit your chosen play style. You can summon a circle of protection, turn invisible, send enemies flying with lightning strikes, torch them with charged-up fireballs or freeze them with ice bolts.

Promising to take players on a journey from lowly beginnings to powerful dragon tamer, wee seen only a mere fraction of what Skyrim has to offer, but even from guarded showings it clear this is a world many will be willing to invest months of play time in. It may be releasing at the busiest time of the year, placing it in direct competition with the likes of Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 and Uncharted 3, but it will be tough to prise this jaw dropping game from your disc tray once youe booted it up for the first time.

Preview by: Tom 'Dragon Slayer' Ivan
Platform: Xbox 360
Release date: 11/11/2011
Preview Published: 13.10.10

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