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Which was the first Elder Scrolls game you played?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

McBraas responds: Thoughts on the 20 minute demo video - Part I

It is the inevitable truth that we will all have regrets at some point in our lives and I think one of mine is not speaking out enough. First due to being 5, then due to low confidence and now because most people are so incredibly stupid on atomic levels that I don't even want to bother. With that in mind, I will now express my feelings on the Skyrim demo video that Bethesda just released.

It's not footage we haven't seen before, 'cause it's the same video at QuakeCon, although there were some small parts I missed. Plus, it's in HD, so it's easier to pay attention to detail, which I dare say is stunning.

That aside, lets start at the beginning and work our way forward on the longest literary journey since The Lord of The Rings.

The first thing we see, is Todd, our chaotic neutral deity, prancing around, down a road in the hills. Throughout the video, Lord Todd will occasionally narrate, making sure that we focus on what he probably think we'll leave out, as well as making us understand what's going on. All of the stuff he says are already known facts, but his narration is still welcome, since he has a soothing voice that we, not I, we want to hear as much of as possible.
But where was I? He was walking in the hills, showing us the detail in every plant, log and rock, and you know what? Saying that they are beautiful would be wrong, since it's an incredible understatement. Every little piece of anything looks absolutely hand-crafted and carefully placed in as stunning a way as possible, ensuring not only that they won't pull an Oblivion, making everything look like the same dull piece of land, but also that it looks as real and engaging as a fantasy world can get. I am seriously serious: I actually want to walk around to every dark corner and every rock, log and flower, in order to properly examine every little minuscule particle of beauty.

As Lord Todd journeys on, he passes by, but ignores, a fox chasing a rabbit, showing off their new ecological system, which is clearly not getting enough attention. A thing I don't quite understand is why he can ignore such an opportunity - if it was me, I'd have chased the fox, sending a steel arrow to its skull, saving the rabbit in the process. The rabbit would most definitely thank me by offering me its treasure in such a situation, I think; Alas, I don't know if they included such a realistic feature. Not unlike what you may have guessed, I would then brutally murder the rabbit in order to acquire its foot, for luck; But I digress.

So far I've covered about 1:30 minutes of the video, so I should move on to the wolves. First off, Todd engages the fierce "Alpha Wolf." If you know anything about etymology, you'll instantly recognize the 'alpha' as a pretty good sign that this wolf is the pack leader. Todd takes it down and kills 2 more and much to our amusement, he use a finish move to remove one o' them. Unlike previous games, especially Oblivion, Bethesda is making engaging enemies more fun, by putting them in groups that match your strength. Now, lone wolves do exist, but they are extremely rare and most often die, so to have them in packs is a gift not to be neglected. 

Im'a skip some time and just say that before he reaches Riverwood, the things worth noticing is the branches which are rustling in the wind, the incredible water effects, that he came by some guardian stones and took care of a bandit who turned out to have an unlucky day, running into our lord and all. Eventually he reaches the little, cozy town and if we pay attention, we can hear an old lady claiming that she saw a dragon, but she is quickly hushed by her either concerned or embarrassed son, whom doesn't want the townsfolk to think of her as a crazy old hag. Passing by conversations like that is an incredibly effective immersion tool; Bethesda is known for making the world look alive and they are surely perfecting this with their creativity! It's even better than in Oblivion, where they just spewed the same random nonsense all the time.

I am ending this article and continuing later, but lets just sum up what we've seen:

  • Impressively and beautifully hand-crafted world
  • New dynamic features
  • Wolves :D And they're in packs!
  • Townsfolk having conversations
  • Fox chasing a rabbit (The best part)


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