Skyrim is one of those rare games that is as eagerly anticipated on PC as it is on consoles. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is still incredibly popular on PC with the modding crowd and on consoles it almost single-handedly brought Western RPGs to the attention of what the mouse and keyboard crew ‘lovingly’ refer to as casual gamers.
By managing to remove the feeling that you’re playing an electronic version of Dungeons and Dragons, while retaining the depth and complexity the genre demands, Oblivion carved itself a home among the masses. The competition could only look on in envy from within the less profitable, less sexy, realms of the ‘hardcore’ RPG-er.
So, needless to say, Bethesda has got their work cut out in trying to match their previous achievements.
The world of Skyrim is apparently no larger than that seen in Oblivion, but it will likely feel larger due to the many mountains that dot the landscape and must be worked over, through or around. The mountains are there to enclose each area and bestow a unique quality to the various towns and villages that sit in their shadow, acting as a natural boundary between each.
Bethesda have announced that the XP system will be getting a serious overhaul. Gone is the standard levelling procedure that has been a staple of the genre since time began, replaced by a system in which ‘Skill’ is the important factor to your character’s makeup. The higher your Skill in a certain category (say Magic) the faster your XP will raise when you utilise it. But, if you decide you’ve gotten bored of using Magic, you can equip a sword and start raising your Skill for that – leading to more XP and faster levelling up.
The idea seems to revolve around the fact that most RPGs make it very difficult for you to change paths once you’ve started out down a specific route. Skill will hopefully change that by providing an XP incentive if you do decide to master a new form of attack. Dual-wielding will allow you to mix and match skills for the best possible effect and speedy levelling up.
Accompanying the 18 skills are three attribute stats; magicka, stamina and health. Oblivion had eight attributes for your character and, again, the decision to scale the number back seems to revolve around accessibility. Minor stats have been removed to rid the player of the need to raise them in order to positiviely affect their major stats. Bethesda has spoken about the reasoning behind the decision being related to stopping players quickly levelling up through loopholes in the old, more complex system.
To be honest, we’re not sure we completely understand what they’re trying to achieve at this point and how its going to play. Hopefully E3 will enlighten us.