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PAX Prime 2011: An Hour With Skyrim

Posted on Thursday, September 8 @ 20:33:20 PST by

What's wrong with me? Why haven't I ever played an Elder Scrolls game? Did I lose all gamer-cred when I revealed that fact? Let's be honest, Oblivion was an ugly game, despite the leap it made to next-generation platforms. It wasn't until Fallout 3's post-apocalyptic setting did I jump into the Bethesda RPG.

Having been converted by radiation fire in the nation's capitol and New Vegas, I was excited to try my hand at the already fantastic looking Skyrim. Bethesda offered journalists an hour long hands-on at PAX Prime and I jumped at the early impressions of 2011's biggest RPG. So what's the verdict? Am I ready to be dragonborn again?

With a resounding yes, I'll confirm that Skyrim appears to be every bit as good as you'd hope and dream, but it's a good idea to temper your excitement with the reality of it all. As visceral as the combat is now, as detailed as the environments are, and as open-ended as the world is, it's still a Bethesda game. The section I played had been polished and polished again, but don't expect an experience without glitches, at least at first.

The demo started players off in character creation, letting us check out each race and every derivation there of. I quickly selected the Argonians and set out. The trail leading from the cave took me past a river, over a bridge, and into a settlement where I could take up jobs and watch the townspeople set about their work. These NPCs didn't just sit around either. Most of them interacted at great length with the environment. I'm sure I could have found a quest or two, but I decided my time would be better spent exploring.

I promptly got lost and fell off the edge of a cliff.

This brought me back to my cave. While revisiting the river path, I noticed fish jumping upstream. I couldn't help but jump in and swim after them. Quickly caught in the current, my character struggled to find the shore again.

Focusing on an icon on my HUD's compass brought me to a dungeon filled with enemies. I dispatched the first two with stealth attacks, each resulting in some pretty fancy animations. Without a full list of spells to play with, I stuck to a flame spell in one hand for attacking enemies at a distance and a war-axe in the other for anyone who got too close.

Players will control each hand with the trigger buttons and run with the left bumper. Holding an attack trigger will trigger a stronger attack. Weapons and spells are selected with the direction buttons while a more detailed menu can be accessed with the B button. Players will level up their skill trees via constellations and explore the map in a grand sweep up and away from the player.

As much as I'd like to tell you more, I really can't. Looting is quick and easy. Combat is brutish and fluid. Exploring the environment is just as good as it's always been. Despite an entire hour with the game, I felt like I had only scratched the surface. Everyone with previous experience in the Elder Scrolls universe would confirm that for me throughout PAX Prime.

Be sure to pick up Skyrim when it lands on store shelves for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC this November 11th, 2011.
Related Games:   The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
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