Combat in an RPG can be a tricky thing, which very few have got right. The latest Elder Scrolls title, Skyrim, hopes to join that select bunch.
The details of how combat will function in the title come from GameInformer. It seems Bethesda want to change the pace of melee encounters, adding more bashing, barging and imbalancing of opponents. This can hopefully be achieved with the Havok Behaviour animation system (which is able to bring physics into the equation.)
Neglecting your defence might see you being knocked around and left vulnerable to a fatal blow. Likewise, you’ll be able to employ shield bashes and blocks to throw off foes. If Skyrim gets it right, it sounds like it could end up as a neat synthesis of the melee combat found in Mount & Blade or Dark Messiah (pretty much the pinnacle of first person melee combat mechanics.)
Players won’t be able to employ the RPG staple backpedal to get out of combat either. Faster enemies will just catch up and laugh at you, so it’ll be necessary to actually turn tail and flee from battles you don’t fancy fighting (which in turn will of course leave your back exposed.)
Spellcasters won’t be left out either, with the need to keep a ward spell on-hand in order to keep your defences up. Spells can be employed in different ways too, summarised as follows: “you could blast enemies with a flame ball from afar, hold the button down to wield the spell like a flame thrower [or] place a rune on the ground to create an environmental trap.”
Finally, Bethesda want to significantly increase the damage done by bows – to the point where one or two well-placed arrows can take down an enemy. To ensure this doesn’t end up too ridiculously overpowered, the amount of arrows available in Skyrim will be far scarcer than in previous titles. Similarly, sneak attacks from behind with daggers will received a significant damage boost.