GamesCom 2011 – The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

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Taking place behind closed doors at the Xbox party at GamesCom, we got treated to some live gameplay of the upcoming Skyrim game. from none other than Bethesdas very own Vice President Pete Hines. What he went onto demonstrate for us was some wild and intense action from the upcoming game, which is looking like a serious contender for game of the year.

The demo starts out with our warrior, a high level Norn busy questing in some caverns, and so far, the visuals are amazing. We’ve got access to all the usual Elder Scrolls gear, such as a decent sword and shield, as well as access to several spells, which Hines pulls up from a long list on the pause menu.

Its here where we do see a chink in the armour, at least for those of us playing on console, as constant swopping of powers is going to slow down the action for those who want variety. There is an option obviously to link a few powers to the D-pad for quick access, but you’re going to want one of the newer control pads for that if you’re playing on Xbox, as the regular D-pad on the controller is notoriously terrible.

Moving on, its not long before we encounter some bandits, and we get treated to some sword and shield gameplay. Its classic Elder Scrolls action, with positioning being just as important as bring the right weapon to the job. Somehow, the combat feels meatier now, and every time a bandit hits our shield, we can see how the impact almost forces us off our feet, as the camera whirls around.

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Eventually, with a combination of spells and sword thrusts, Hines gets past the bandits and their leader, and we grab a few items off their corpses. We head further down into the catacombs, when a raspy voice draws our attention, and we wander into a web-lined hall. Yep, its giant-spider killing time. The battle is brutal, and the arachnid is quick, lunging at us and trying to trap us with its webs.

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Eventually, Hines switches his swords for dual-handed flame spell-casting, and begins powering up his spells for massive damage, finally finishing by flambéing the spider to death. We then proceeded to free the old man from his cocoony prison, and he revealed that he had been trapped there, while searching for a legendary treasure, and that he also had no intention of sharing it. So we did the only honourable thing that we could, and killed the old man, and took the treasure key and clues from him.

The next bit of the catacombs was home to several undead warriors, who were quite strong, truth be told. But after hitting them with a bit of fear spells, we then took our time to blast them some lightning, charging it up for maximum effect.

While all these battles were raging, we got notifications on screen of how our abilities were constantly increasing, with a handy meter showing us how they were growing towards the next level. Its an unobtrusive method of player progress, and it works well, even during the most intense battles.

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After vanquishing an undead captain who was stronger than the others, and using the (dead) old mans key to quickly decipher a puzzle, we found ourselves battling another undead creature, but this time it was a warlock that we had awakened from his sleep. He wanted our soul, and was determined to get it, and kept summoning beasts to distract us while he rained magic down on us. Hines prevailed in the end, scored some nice loot, and then went outside into the game, where we were really amazed.

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Massive open worlds are par for the course in an Elder Scrolls game, but looking at the landscape in Skyrim feels like a brand new experience. Hines showed us how the world was now teeming with wildlife and natives, steering us towards some Giants as they were busy herding some massive mammoths around.

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“The giants wont attack you unless you provoke them, they have a truce with the other races”, Hines says. At which point he decides to ignore said truce and go on a rampage, attacking one of their mammoths. The giant swiftly responds and comes after Hines, when all of a sudden, a dragon appears, snatches the giant and throws him to his doom. And then he turns his sights on us.

We begin blasting him with arrows and lightning spells, but we’re clearly outmatched. Fortunately, a garrison of humans have nearby have noticed the dragon, and they rush in to help, while we battle the beast from a nearby, derelict fortress. The dragon is defeated, and erupts into flames, taking its secrets with it.

But then, we hear a roar, and there’s another dragon that has been watching, perched atop the tower of the fortress. Another battle begins, and the humans are being wiped out. Hines races to the top of the stair case, draws his axe, and leaps onto the dragon, scoring some massive damage and forcing it down onto the ground, where he finally finishes it with a brutal fatality.

But just before the dragon can burn itself away, Hines selects one of the shout options for the game, taking the dragons soul and power for himself, while a massive crescendo of orchestral music hits while the screen fades to black, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and excited for this upcoming game.

Last Updated: August 24, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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