Friday, November 4, 2011

Skyrim: 'The Elder Scrolls Told of Their Return'

By Stewart Berg, Guest Writer

A largely formulaic adherence to past successes combined with minor tweaks and improvements, as well as an estimated 300 hours of game play, will ensure that the fallout from Skyrim’s release will be far reaching.

The “Elder Scrolls” series became a role-playing game standard with the releases of its last two games, “Morrowind” and “Oblivion.” Developer Bethesda has now returned to the series after five years for a much anticipated fifth installment.

While not a direct sequel to any of the previous games in the series in conventional terms, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is more its own story, but is still a new chapter of the “Elder Scrolls” world.

Skyrim begins during a civil war in the land following the assassination of a king. However, a far greater threat to the world emerges by way of a prophecy that has been slowly fulfilled by the events of all previous games in the series.

The prophecy predicts the return of the thought-to-be-extinct dragons and Alduin, the World Eater and harbinger of the apocalypse. A series staple, the game will begin with the player as a prisoner with no knowledge of his or her destiny.

The development team began the creation process for Skyrim by building an entirely new game engine called the Creation Engine. The Creation Engine is a major improvement from the company’s older Gamebryo engine. The new engine allows for an incredible amount of realism to be added to the world. Snow lightly catches on and falls off of tree branches and stiff breezes affect the surface of water.

Skyrim will continue the series’ emphasis on player freedom. A firm commitment to an open world will allow the player the ability to explore the entirety of the game’s world immediately while forgoing the main quest indefinitely. A starting amount of side quests and activities will ensure that each player has a unique and equally engaging experience.

Bethesda’s primary addition to its franchise’s newest incarnation is the inclusion of dragons. Dragons are randomly-generated in the game’s world – meaning that their behavior is not predetermined – and they will randomly attack towns and characters. Also, the game’s story is closely tied to this addition.

As the player learns he or she is a Dovahkiin, which means he or she is born with the soul of a dragon and able to obtain special abilities from defeated dragons.

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” will be released Nov. 11 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.