The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim has been anticipated by fans of Oblivion since its release in March of 2006. Bethesda is aware of the high expectations fans have due to the success of The Elder Scrolls IV and Fallout 3. To make sure every tree has leaves, every glacier sparkles and every arrow is sharp Bethesda is building Skyrim on a new engine dubbed the Creation Engine. In a recent Game Informer article Bethesda Studios' creative director Todd Howard explained the new engine as well as what to expect from The Elder Scrolls V.
The Elder Scrolls 5's setting will be a vast Nordic backdrop; Bethesda's creative director knew the importance of a picturesque surrounding, “The big things for us were to draw a lot of stuff in the distance so we have a really sophisticated level of detail, more so than what we've had in the past for how things stream in and how detail gets added to them as they get closer to the camera.” Skyrim's artists can create any type of tree they see fit, where as in previous games they licensed SpeedTree to render their forests. They even built a new precipitation system to dictate how much snow will fall on specific objects. Is anyone else impressed they have precipitation system at all, let alone one they can customize?
If you're easily impressed by snow falling on rocks then you're going to be amazed with the updated artificial intelligence. The Radiant AI technology you saw used in Oblivion has been improved; villagers won't walk aimlessly unaware of your actions. Mills, farms, and mines have also been added to give the NPCs something to do. People dwelling in the forest spend their time chopping wood, running logs through mills and then carrying their items around. That's NPC synergy, folks. Not only do the NPCs have new tasks they are also capable of developing feelings about you based of off your actions towards them. If you befriend a NPC and then enter his house at night he will offer you a place to stay for the night. But if you're mean to an NPC, maybe kill his horse, he will be hostile towards you.
To make sure the movement of characters and creatures were realistic Bethesda used the "tippy-top state-of-the-art stuff" from Havok's new Behavior technology. Havok Behavior is an animation tool that allows seamless animation with just a few clicks. Another appreciated addition is with the dialogue camera angles. The camera will no longer zoom in of the character while they are speaking, instead the camera stays at the same angle it would for fighting or exploring.
All these technological advancements are swell and all but the heart of The Elder Scrolls series is in its story. Skyrim employs a new story management system called Radiant Story. The system aids in randomizing side quests. Rather than being assigned seemingly arbitrary tasks you will go on quests that suit your character and what he has accomplished. “Now there is a template for an assassination mission and the game can conditionalize all the roles – where it happens, under what conditions does it take place, who wants someone assassinated, and who they want assassinated. All this can be generated based on where the character is, who he's met." They even took into consideration the murderous way many gamers play. If you befriend then kill a shop keeper before he can give you all his quests his sister may take over the shop and then assign you the quests.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is shaping up to be everything we've come to expect from Bethesda. Do these new upgrades sound promising to you?
Skyrim will be released on November 11, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.