The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim - Xbox 360

Game Description: The Elder Scrolls saga continues with Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim from Bethesda Softworks.
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The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Updated Hands-On Part 1 -- Go South, Young Khajiit

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Updated Hands-On Part 1 -- Go South, Young Khajiit

By Nikole Zivalich - Posted Oct 17, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was only announced less than a year ago and Bethesda is already gearing up to release the game to the masses. Despite only being official for some 10 months, I feel like I've been inundated with screenshots, trailers, and previews. Not that there's been too much media for it though. On the contrary, I'm eagerly anticipating the RPG. But the surplus of media has meant I feel like I've played the game; truth is, I haven't.


During (probably) the last playsession for the media before its launch, I got to finally play Skyrim. The file I played began 45 minutes into the main story, meaning all of the vital backstory setting up the overarching story of Skyrim was missing. I didn't care. Despite starting off nearly an hour into the game, I was able to access the famed character creator menu. All of the races we there: Nords, Bretons, Dark Elves, and more. I decided to be Khajiit, the cat people. When I get my retail copy of the game, I'll probably be something that looks more like me, so for the purposes of this preview I went full cat. The character I started out as was named Prisoner, but I quickly renamed her Meowth. I'm predictable, what do you want?

I started out in a tunnel, no direction, no quests, no idea where I was. As I ventured out into the open, I realized the world was just that, open. Maybe too open at first. Siting next to me was another G4 writer Jake "Kajagoogoo" Gaskill. We decided to go in opposite directions. He went to the town north of the tunnel. I went south to Falkreath. By pressing B, I was able to equip armor, weapons, spells, and access my map to set way-point. I was off.

There wasn’t a clear path to my destination. There were mountains, rivers, and an abundance of wolves who always attacked me no matter how much I stayed away. I went into this game knowing I was going to “national geographic” it; meaning I would just watch the wildlife AI from afar. Maybe it was because I was a cat, but those wolves were d*cks. Overly aggressive or not, I appreciated their programming. From a distance, I could see them find prey, stalk it, hunt it down, and then howl to call other wolves.

The long trek south was made easier by catching copious amounts of butterflies, lighting enchanted skeletons called “draugrs” on fire, and listening to my own footsteps. I say long trek, because Christ you walk a lot in this game. Walking what seemed like inches on the map ended up taking me 10 minutes. Going through an unnamed mountain pass would turn up undiscovered tombs, caves, and such. One area of I stumbled upon was called the South Shreikwind Bastion. It led me into a cave and down a tunnel that was inhabited by armored skeletons and “Vampire Fledglings.” There were no visual indications that these enemies were the blood-thirsty kind, but I lit their bodies on fire just the same.


Hidden caves were just some of the many distractions nestled in the mountainside. Eventually I made my way to Falkreath. The small town lacked any characteristics that would set it apart from any other fantasy RPG town. It did have a “ruler” for lack of a better word called a Jarl. The Jarl of Falkreath would have been just the NPC I was looking for but instead of being grateful I was offering to help around town, he demanded I proved myself worthy by finding him good booze. Seriously, I walked all that way, in the snow, uphill, both ways, without shoes, and the only quest I could get was to walk even farther north for some mead?! North it was.

By this point, the day had turned to night. It began to rain as I set forth for my new way-point: The Shrine of Azura. This shrine was easily four times as far as the first town, and as expected, it took longer to get there. The biggest challenge I faced during the journey was following the way-point up to a steep mountain I couldn’t climb. I’d have to backtrack and find a way around them. I’d only been playing for an hour so it wasn’t as if I was bored of the world or anything, but I could foresee myself farther down the line being frustrated with giant geographical bodies blocking my path.

Lone bandits are scattered throughout Skyrim. You won’t need to give them a reason to attack you, but they usually carry gold so you won’t mind. It was during one of my encounters with them I noticed my character had finishing moves. I only saw it happen twice in my three hours of playing. In occasional battles, the final blow would be delivered with a quick cinematic finisher with the camera slowly panning out so I could see the enemy dramatically die.

As I began to venture into my second hour, I noticed I couldn’t kill many of the enemies I discovered. This always resulted in me running away as fast as my stamina could carry me. I ran away from mages, trolls, fire monsters, all of them. Being a coward suits me; I die way less. Some enemies are easier to run from than others. I wandered up to a giant to see if we could be friends, but he wasn’t feeling that. He ended up chasing me for minutes (a long time in games).


I finally made it to the highest peak. The Shrine of Azura was a monumental statue of a woman, or the Goddess of Dawn and Dusk according to the lone worshiper at the base. Aronea Lenith was a follower of Azura. According to her: Azura lead their people out of Morrowind to safety. Aroenea knew I was coming. She had visions I would one day meet her here at the Shrine to take on my role as the chosen one. Me? A lowly cowardly cat woman? I of course agreed with her, and she sent me on my way to Winterhold in search of an Elven mage who had power of the stars. I could find him at the magic college, which I assume is Hogwarts Graduate School (I have a confession to make here, it’s possible I clicked the wrong location because I never did find the mead).

As the name suggests, Winterhold is pretty damn wintery. The weather mechanics implemented into Skyrim are the best I’ve ever seen. The blizzard I walked through looked like snow, milky white diamonds plummeting to the ground. To drive the point home, Bethesda made sure the room we were playing in was a cool -40 degrees. I explored the town until I found a weird and pointy looking woman at the top of some stairs. I followed her through some stone arches as she answered questions about the college and the mage I was looking for, an elf named Nelacar.  In order to enter the college, I had to prove my magic ability by using the spell fireball, a skill I didn’t have. When I told the woman I lacked that skill, she offered to sell it to me for 30 gold. What a deal! Once I equipped Fireball to L, all I had to do was shoot the fire at a symbol on the ground. “Dear Meowth, you’ve been accepted to the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

Just like in real life, I didn’t have much interest in actually going to college, so I set my marker for the mysterious mage. I found him in the town’s inn bothering a patron. He wasn’t happy a stranger was asking questions about him. I exhausted my dialogue options and was unable to continue a conversation with him. As an avid gamer, I figured I hadn’t unlocked the key piece of dialogue I needed yet. I left the inn and continued to explore.

The college was full of mages, each with their own dialogue choices. I know these mages are students, but they really did act like petty high school girls. One female mage thought another woman was jealous of her and was trying to shake her confidence. Another woman thought she wasn’t appreciated, and even though no one was mean to her, she could tell others were talking behind her back. An elder male mage was arguing with another mage. I didn’t know I was in an episode of Winterhold, 90201.

Winterhold has a Jarl of its own, and this one was fairly nice guy. He whined a bit about how no one took Winterhold seriously and the college had lost respect amongst the people of Skyrim. Once he was done complaining, I went back to the inn to see if Nelacar would be more cooperative. Sure enough he was.


Nelacar explained that he had been asked to leave the college due to some failed experiments. He told me the story of Maylon, a man who wanted to harness the power of soul gems or more specifically, the soul gem featured in Azura’s staff. This gem could hold an infinite amount of souls making its owner immortal. So yeah, it’s the Sorcerer's Stone. The stone, known as Azura’s Star, is the ultimate soul gem. Nelacar went on to say the stone only accepted white souls, not black souls. I don’t know what that means, but it’s racist. Two-hundred years have passed since the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, haven’t we, as a society, overcome such ignorance? Then again it’s possible I’m missing the point.

The conversation ended with Nelacar’s request for me to retrieve Azura’s Star. My next quest? You guessed it, on the other side of the map. It might be time to get some better shoes.

Remember how I said that Jake and I went in completely opposite directions at the start of our playthroughs? Well, be sure to check back tomorrow for part 2 of our hands-on impressions to hear his side of the story, and to see why Skyrim is on track to be one of the greatest water cooler games of all time.

Comments are Closed

  • Dikard_von_Doom

    The black/white soul racist joke seems to have gone over a few peoples heads. I thought it was pretty funny. Made me chuckle.

    Vampire assassin khajit FTW!

    Posted: October 20, 2011 2:13 PM
  • Joe_Ray27

    I cannot wait for this game!!!

    Posted: October 20, 2011 1:17 AM
  • religionisballs

    "As a Christian - I find the language offensive" So forgive her.

    Posted: October 19, 2011 10:33 PM
  • Corakus323

    That's not white/black souls mean.White souls are the souls monsters/creatures/animals, pretty much any unintelligent life.Black souls are the souls of humans, elves, orcs, and the beast races, retaining a black soul is necromancy, and terrible sin and crime.He's saying that the azura star is perfectly acceptable within normal society.

    Posted: October 18, 2011 7:38 AM
  • D1sc1pl3

    *Philosopher's Stone... #justsayin

    Posted: October 17, 2011 11:25 PM
  • Altsune

    I couldn't help but laugh maniacally at the white soul/black soul 'racism' comment xD
    I'm tickled

    Posted: October 17, 2011 7:00 PM
  • NinJaeSque

    I can see why G4 is the most trusted gaming site. I don't really feel they have a gaming platform bias. I feel different members flow different ways. I also dont seem to read "flamer" articles nearly as much as other sites. Even sites that I actually like better. I can appreciate this authors writing style even if it isn't my thing. She's kinda funny.

    All that being said... I reeeeeally wish I could jump a year or so ahead and snag the GOTY(oh and the powerball numbers along the way... might as well if I'm up there) which is my usual M.O. I might not be able to wait THAT long on Skyrim.

    Posted: October 17, 2011 5:25 PM
  • Jackt

    finally an lovely review of skyrim to my ears.

    Posted: October 17, 2011 5:04 PM
  • MonkeyFeet117

    Winter is coming!

    Posted: October 17, 2011 4:50 PM
  • bobthebaptist

    Am I the only one that's going to make an epic Viking like the one on the homepage?...That beard.

    Posted: October 17, 2011 4:03 PM
  • Lacking_Fractal


    Posted: October 17, 2011 1:43 PM
  • CasualVader

    "Nelacar went on to say the stone only accepted white souls, not black souls. I don t know what that means, but it s racist. Two-hundred years have passed since the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, haven t we, as a society, overcome such ignorance? Then again it s possible I m missing the point."

    Yes you are. Any soul of a human is considered a "black" soul. I've never heard creature souls called "white" but it seems that's the case now.

    Posted: October 17, 2011 1:37 PM
  • Fb62


    Posted: October 17, 2011 1:37 PM
  • psykitv

    As someone who gets paid to play games and write about them she doesn't seem to do either very well. Nikole also always interrupts during Feedback offering up bits of ill informed information that bring nothing to the conversation. It is only when she is working on a project or assigned to cover a particular game that she ever know anything beyond that of the other members knowledge. She has to be corrected on almost anythingshe brings up, and her insistently referring to herself as a gamer is annoying.

    Posted: October 17, 2011 1:09 PM
  • psykitv

    "As an avid gamer, I figured I hadn t unlocked the key piece of dialogue I needed yet. I left the inn and continued to explore." you write like your a freshman in college writing I

    Posted: October 17, 2011 12:58 PM
  • TheDragonBorn

    11-11-11 The end of my ridiculously boring and sad social life, and the beginning of my Epic one! Skyrim is going to be the greatest game ever made! I cannot wait! Ever since I pre-ordered the game back in December, I've been looking at my receipt every day just anticipating handing it to the Gamestop employee hopefully at a midnight launch on 11/10. You guys are so luck you could play the demo! I ENVY YOU! 11-11-11 CANNOT GET HERE SOON ENOUGH!!!!

    Posted: October 17, 2011 12:34 PM
  • roxorz14

    Hey G4! The lead in pic on the main page is from Guild Wars! You should know better :)

    Posted: October 17, 2011 11:51 AM
  • MinecraftTheSequel

    Muzzle, you must be joking. Even Jesus wouldn't be offended. WWJD? He would agree with Nikole in her enthusiasm for the amount of walking in the game!

    Posted: October 17, 2011 11:44 AM
  • Ryan.Marinoff

    Good article Nikole, and it is a bummer that MuzzleKZN was the first to comment on your article. In my own opinion, you took no deity's name in vain, for the definition that I have found states "Using the name of the Lord in vain means that you do damage to His reputation and character through false and unsure claims." I believe no damage has been done to His reputation and character, and thus the edit of the article is not necessary. I am for one very anxious for the game's release. And crabcakes_&_football, please settle it some, MuzzleKZN's concern is not out of line. It was asked kindly and non offensively. I don't agree with the statement, but I don't see where it is out of line. Hopefully these comments will be buried very soon with a lot more more exciting Skyrim comments!
    Anyway, I have two copies already ordered, one for XBOX and one for PC. I am going to add content through modding with the PC version, good content, not game breaking cheats. I would love to read Jake's take of the game, and see how his experience is different from yours.

    Posted: October 17, 2011 11:05 AM
  • Kirakoz

    @MuzzleKZN Grow up, I'm Christian and was not offended at all, didn't even notice it, and they capitalized the name so they showed as much respect as was necessary you should get out more and I agree with the other guy that this is indeed petty!!!

    As for skyrim, ILOVEYOU:) and plan to marry skyrim ingame

    Posted: October 17, 2011 10:31 AM