Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V

Since current MMORPGs seem to become more boring every day, I decided to have a look at The Elder Scrolls series. It turned out that there's actually TES:V coming out in November this year, if everything goes as planned, that is.
I found this preview interview.

And here's my review of the preview:

1) "Exploring temples, helping townspeople, and dueling dragons are all part of a typical day in Skyrim."
That's 0/10 points for the headline. Either it is a marketing lie or it is true. A marketing lie would be ok. But if it is true, than chances are good I won't buy the game. The last thing I want in a fantasy world is to fight dragons on a regular basis. That's like Christmas every day.

2) "In brief, you character's left and right arms are mapped to two separate buttons; in this case, the left and right triggers on the Xbox 360 controller because the demo was on an Xbox 360."
I know they like consoles. I don't. Let's hope that they make use of the sophisticated interface that is a keyboard.

3) "Compared to previous Elder Scrolls games, combat in Skyrim seemed much more involved"
Marketing non-sense. This is what you get from professional game magazines.

4) "Our Nordic-looking hero was constantly sidestepping around his opponent to better position his shield against oncoming attacks or to find a way around the enemy's own defenses."
Let's see how it works with more than one enemy

5) "Once the first bandit was dispatched, a second appeared to avenge his friend's death."
Ah, that makes sense. Instead of helping his friend, he waited in the shadows to avenge his death once it happened. Moreover, it allows us to fight one enemy at a time. A win-win situation .. not.

6) "In her weakened state, the bandit could do little to defend herself when our character swooped in for the kill with a stylish execution move, which involved a sword through the chest."
Finishing moves. Never liked them. They make you feel like flourishing in the humiliation of your opponents instead of paying them respect and being happy to have survived the fight.

7) "Instead of just being a spreadsheet that comprises names and numbers, the skill screen displays your skills as star constellations in the sky above"
What ?? Does that mean that I descended from heaven and my growing skill changes the stellar constellations? That's getting ever worse..

8) "Basically there are a number of skeleton quests that have been planned out in broad strokes, but have some of their characters or plot points left blank. The system then dynamically populates these blank areas with people or objects you've encountered during your journey."
That must be the first thing I liked.

9) "He also noted that the number of voice actors featured in the game has been greatly expanded, so that players won't run into the same handful of voices time and again."
That's also good. Either you don't do voice acting, or you do it right.

10) "Our journey took us up along a mountain pass where we learned that some creatures--such as a lumbering giant--aren't out to kill and won't attack on sight."
Credible monsters? Yes, please!

11) "Others--such as an angry frost troll--still wanted to rip our head from our shoulders but were easily dispatched with a blast of fire magic."
Grea.. - what? Does it say "easily" ??? I hope not!

12) "We weren't sure what they were discussing, but it mattered little after we blew one of them away with a headshot from our longbow."
Except for the fact that it seems too easy, I like it.

13) "The second jumped to her feet and began frantically searching for our hiding spot in the shadows. Stealth in Skyrim has been tweaked from previous games so that the transition from the alert state of enemies (where they are looking for you) to their danger state (where they are attacking you) is more gradual depending on what you do."

14) "At this point, our character decided to forgo melee weapons altogether and rely solely on his magical abilities. In one hand, he equipped the circle of protection, which warded off the undead foes; in the other, he equipped chain lighting, which blasted foes to pieces."
I know a lot of players like this flexibility. But for me it always diminishes my character's identity. However, I know that TES games have always been like that. I would just hope that specializing actually pays off.

15) "Once the Draugr were defeated, our character studied the tome and mastered the fireball spell, which he then paired up with a one-handed axe."
Learning skills in a (more or less) credible way, instead of 'going to a trainer'. Great.

16) "Items in your character's inventory can be viewed as 3D models, from the simplest herb to a shining elven glass sword. Certain books, such as the journal we recovered, can even be read page by page in this mode"

17) "Once the creature was killed, our character--being a dragonborn--absorbed its soul."
Why do I always have to be special by heritage or developers' arbitrariness? Can't I just become special due to my deeds for once?

18) "From what we've seen, it doesn't look like Bethesda Softworks is trying reinvent everything we know about The Elder Scrolls with this game. Instead, it has listened to the comments and complaints from the community and has crafted a sequel to be more of what fans want."
Seems like that sentence describes the entire games industry nowadays.

19) It's not in the review, but only in the interview video: They will stick to their scaling difficulty. That is, enemy mobs scale in power with you. I can't say how much I hate this. In fact, this was one of the reasons I liked MMOROGs so much. The nature of MMORPGs forces the developers to put monsters in the world that have a fixed strength.

Concluding, The Elder Scrolls is still the best shot for an open-world RPG. I will buy it, I will probably enjoy it. But I already know that it could be so much better *sigh*.


  1. While "new" Elder Scrolls (starting with morrowind) are certainly not about the world simulation they are still quality games. And they do provide great support for modders. Modded oblivion was great and Fallout3 was great out of the box already.

    Bethesda makes quality games with best modders support in market. world or not .

  2. TES was my first "modern day" adventure game. At 42, I convinced my wife that we "needed" an Xbox 360 to play DVD's.

    Then I went on a game hunt. I knew said wife would be a bit miffed If I bought a bunch of games. I just wanted one. One looooong one.

    The electronics store guy was only 17, but he totally got me. He told me Oblivion was the only game I would need for a long time.

    Eight months later, I still hadn't completely finished the main questline, but had bought one of those console "rocking chairs" with speakers, and played 10 or so hours a week chasing sunsets and picking plants. I had the pirate's cave and the wizard's tower.

    I still remember getting the cave and thinking "this is mine!!!"

    Although the late-night loneliness kind of got to me.

    Then I met someone at work who played WoW, bought it, and my Xbox has been untouched for over 3 years...

    It's totally about OTHER PEOPLE being out there. Single player games are achingly lonely to me.

  3. You should definitely play Morrowind and Oblivion if you haven't already. They're some of the best games around for open-world exploration, although the storytelling isn't that great.

    From what I've heard, I'm guessing Skyrim will be very similar to Oblivion, i.e. FPS style combat with your left and right arms mapped to the two mouse buttons. Playing Oblivion should give you a good idea of whether you'll like Skyrim.

    And both Morrowind and Oblivion are better with mods. If you do play Oblivion, I'd suggest at least using the mod "Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul," which makes it much more convincing as a virtual world.

  4. "That's also good. Either you don't do voice acting, or you do it right."

    So you're not a fan of those games where all the NPCs whine: "Why are you bothering me?" (Turbine please note) even when you've just saved their only daughter from a fate worse than death?

  5. Tolthir, I played every TES game, including Arena. I liked all of them. ;)