We recently had the chance to check out the latest pre-alpha build of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which allowed us to go hands-on with the game. Our demo began about 45 minutes into the game, which gave us an idea of what kind of events may have happened previously but without getting too much into it, to retain the surprise. After creating our character, we ventured outside of a cave that lead us out to Skyrim.
A short trek down some snowy hills, led us to a fork in the road. I decided to hang a right and made my way down to Riverwood, a small village that was home to a wood mill. There I met up with a blacksmith who allowed me to use his workbench to enhance my weapons and armor. It seems we’ll be able to meet up with blacksmiths in other villages along the way in order to upgrade and enhance our equipment. After forging my dagger to increase its strength, and talking to a few of the locals. Two of the villagers were fighting over the same girl and kept asking me to intervene on their behalves. After settling their squabble, I made my way up the mountainside for the real adventure.
It was difficult to see due to the amount of snow falling, but I finally came across a large structure known as the Bleak Falls Temple. I made my way in and took care of some obviously upset bandits that didn’t like my presence one bit. This temple was dark, but far from being abandoned. It was clear that it was being visited on a fairly regular basis. There were chests, bonfires, broken supplies and dastardly rats everywhere. In one particular area, I was forced to solve a puzzle involving a few broken stone statues and rotating pillars with various symbols on them in order to open a gate. I’ll leave the solution out so I don’t ruin the fun.
After making my way to the lower section of the temple, I came across a massive spider that was holding someone captive. Fighting off the spider was not easy and it’s what I would have considered a mini-boss battle. Fortunately, after dying a few times, I managed to fend it off, thus saving the captured man. Apparently, he knew the location of an item called the Golden Claw, which I was to retrieve, but he proved to be ungrateful and ran away. He was not to escape however and his ultimate demise proved to be my gain. It wasn’t without a battle though as the temple hosts some pissed off skeleton warriors.
The Golden Claw was soon mine and I ended up finding the diary of the man I had tried to save, Valur, which informed me that this claw is a power of the ancient Nordic heroes. It was supped to be taken to the Hall of Stories to unlock a door. But what lies beyond this door, and what powers do the Golden Claw yield? Only time will tell.
From what I saw from playing nearly three hours of Skyrim, I was impressed with what I experienced. It was pretty familiar for me, having played Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and while returning players will be treated to some mentions of the previous game, it’s not necessary to have played it. New players can jump straight into Skyrim and enjoy it by itself.
Your character’s health, stamina and Magicka can be upgraded during the game, with each of those categories being presented in a separate screen with constellations (think astronomy). The constellation screen is broken down into 18 categories (pertaining to either health, stamina or Magicka), such as lock picking, one-handed attacks, blocks, restoration and more. There are 6 categories for each type of upgrade and within each category are 6 related skills to upgrade. At first, this new way of upgrading appeared somewhat confusing but after a couple of upgrades, I managed to figure it out.
One of the cool additions I saw during my demo was the inclusion of final blows. Basically in the right circumstances, a final blow can be dealt to enemies. It’s shown in dramatic slow motion and can be quite fulfilling. They won’t happen all the time, but when they do, it feels good.
Though the game is still pre-alpha, the art style seems pretty polished and simply looks good. Voice acting, from what was shown is still as good as ever and hearing conversations from some of the citizens in Riverwood, made me anxious to learn about how the early part of the game is set up.
Needless to say, there’s still plenty of time for the development team to continue to make improvements to the game, and we can’t wait to see how the story unfolds. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is set to launch on November 11th 2011 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.