Five years ago, Bethesda Softworks released The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, an open-world role-playing game that quickly became one of the most popular RPGs ever released thanks to the hundreds of hours of gameplay included and its ability to be enhanced with thousands of player-made additions. The sequel, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is set for release on November 11th.
Set two-hundred years after the events of Oblivion, the eponymous land of Skyrim faces a magical, world-ending threat whilst also experiencing a civil war, and it’s up to the player-made hero or heroine to save the day. That is, if you follow the main story. Once again, Bethesda allows players to partake in any number of side quests, or forego questing altogether to roam the land, role-playing and causing mischief, a central tenet of any Elder Scrolls game. In line with this free-roaming belief players can be mages, warriors, thieves and marksmen, or any combination thereof. In conjunction with spells, special abilities, armor, weapons, the possibilities are innumerable.
Technologically, Skyrim was built using a new game engine, dubbed the Creation Engine, based on the older Gamebryo engine used for Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The switch to the Creation Engine has allowed Bethesda to increase graphical fidelity, draw distances and object level of detail, and has allowed them to implement new dynamic lighting and shadowing able to affect any object within the game. The new engine has also allowed the team to develop more interesting in-game events and scripted sequences, helping to enhance that epic fantasy feeling. Furthermore, character animation has been improved, tackling a major criticism of Oblivion.
With the switch to a new engine Bethesda has been able to heavily optimize proceedings, ensuring that the Recommended System Requirements remain within reach for those using systems several years old. And for those with more-recent, more powerful configs, Skyrim’s in-game options can be set to Ultra, ensuring that your nice new kit doesn’t go to waste.