Skrim is set 200 years after the events of Oblivion in a land north of Cyrodil. It takes place during a Civil War between two brothers who accidentally cause the world-destroying dragon Alduin, the Nordic god of destruction, to be born.
It will feature five large and unique cities (said to be more unique than Oblivion and Fallout 3) and nine holds (or governed counties).
The game begins with the player in prison (again) captured by the Imperials.
Marketh Side is set into a cliffside and Haarfingar is the largest trading port in Skyrim. Another city is inspired by Dunmer architecture.
Each Nord faction will have it’s own customs and styles. There are ten races to choose from and you may edit the body and face. In cities you can blacksmith, farm, cook and mine.
Instant traveling to locations that you have been to is still an option and there is a “carriage system” to take you to some major locations that you haven’t been to yet.
You are a dovakiin or dragonborn (born with the soul of a dragon) and have been trained by the last living Blade Esbern (voiced by Max von Sydow).
You have unique abilities gifted to you by the Gods called dragon shouts which are a type of battle cry that gives you abilities such as: teleportation, slowing down time (similar to bullet time) and summoning a dragon to aid the player.
There are two dozen dragon shouts which are three words each. There are 60 words to “collect”. It makes more sense to me for 72 to exist, unless some shouts are meant to consist of less than three words. Todd Howard says, “Each shout is formed with up to three dragon words” so that would make sense.
Articles are not entirely clear on the exact details for the dragon shout system. You either must collect all three words in a shout for it to be used or you are able to use a shout with only one word (can anyone confirm this?). If that is the case, each additional word is what increases the power of a shout.
You find additional words in ruin wall carvings that are deciphered with knowledge that you gain by slaying a dragon and absorbing it’s soul. Or you can be “taught” a word, I assume by these other characters that exist in Skyrim which are said to possess knowledge of dragon shouts. Carvings are said to exist in dungeons and likely also across the landscape itself.
Some shouts are crucial to progressing in the game. Others just provide you with more interesting abilities.
If anyone has a clearer picture of the exact mechanics of the dragon shout system, please let me know.
There are 130 dungeons in Skyrim. When the player enters a dungeon that dungeon locks to the players level. I don’t agree with the way this is handled in Oblivion and Skyrim. Why? It’s always interesting (and possible) to neglect common sense and enter a dungeon where odds are against you. If you get lucky, you might leave with superior loot that reflects your achievement.
This makes combat more interesting and life like. I prefer that levels are not set according to your own, but are set according to things like the type of creature and it’s location. Location will thankfully play a part in Skyrim. For example, creatures in the mountain areas may be too powerful for you.
Bethesda is attempting to make Skyrim more life-like and natural. So thank you for that Bethesda.
There is no level cap, but assume about level 50 for most games (with a likely mathematical cap of about 70). The leveling system will be similar to Fallout 3 with perks.
You will not always be attacked on sight by enemies. A towering troll may simply pass you by, ignoring you entirely if it has other business to attend to. Living things go about their business with a purpose in Skyrim. Since inhabitants of Skyrim have a mind of their own, their decisions to do as they please won’t always be pleasant. Dragons will attack cities and towns at random (non-scripted encounters) and march through city streets breathing fire and damaging structures.
In the mountains of Skyrim you will encounter different, more powerful creatures such as: ice wraiths, crystal serpents and trolls. Other creatures you will encounter in Skyrim: zombies, trolls, frost giants, giant spiders, wolves, sabertooth cats and mammoths.
Hunting (deer for example) supposedly plays a more interesting role in Skyrim.
The new engine (Creation Engine) makes for a variable and natural weather system with six or seven environment types. For example: snowy mountains, grassy tundras, pine forests, fall forest, glacial areas and volcanic tundras. Snow is dynamic and can cover different areas at different times. Trees are detailed with branches that sway in the wind differently depending on branch weight. Water/stream flow and snow drift is also effected by wind direction. Clouds can cluster around mountaintops.
The PC will have high resolution texture sizes and level of detail is improved over long distances.
Citizens perform tasks that make sense in their environment. There are mills, farms and mines that give NPCs tasks to occupy their day. They may chop wood, run logs through the mill and carry goods through the town.
They develop feelings about you depending on how you treat them. If you enter a friend’s home during the night, he may offer you a bed rather than demand that you leave. He may also allow you to eat his food. Brandishing a weapon near an NPC, knocking items off a table or stealing an item of value will result in NPCs reacting accordingly. Your current relationship with the NPC will effect the response.
Dropping an item may result in NPCs feuding over the item, returning it to you or using it against you. That character’s disposition may factor into what happens. I was told that this was promised for Oblivion too, so hopefully this feature makes it’s way into the release of Skyrim as promised.
You will overhear conversations, collect rumors, begin quests and acquire information in taverns.
The Radiant Story system tailors quests based on who your character is, where you are, what you are currently doing and what you have done in the past. You may receive a quest to assassinate an NPC with which you have developed a relationship.
Killing a shop owner will result in a family member taking his or her place. That family member will react to the fact that you murdered his or her family member. I assume this will also have other consequences such as effecting the price of items sold by that shop owner. It’s possible the shop owner might even trying to kill you at some point.
Quests will purposely direct you to new areas that you have never been. An NPC may request a favor from you using a skill that are you proficient in. Quests are intentionally tailored and randomly generated to your style of play, giving you appropriate challenges. The amount of information that a character gives you pertaining to a quest will depend on that character’s disposition towards you.
There are random encounters such as a mammoth or NPC being attacked by a pack of wolves.
Dialogue no longer forces you into a face to face staring session. NPCs will move around. You will also be allowed more freedom of movement and can stop dialogue by moving away.
You are free to wield whatever you want in each free hand (melee or ranged weapons, magic in one or both hands, shields, etc). Each hand is mapped to the left and right mouse button. Using the same spell in both hands allows you to cast a more powerful spell.
Unique weapons will possess hidden effects that you will only discover by using the weapon. Archers will be able to hold their breath (consuming stamina) while aiming to improve accuracy.
First and third person view is still in and third person view has been improved. Developers have said that some testers now prefer third person view for combat.
There are no classes to choose from in Skyrim. You simply pick a race and your character is defined according to your armor, weapons, magic, three base stats, skills, dragon shouts and perks. You get to be who you want to be and are not confined by a choice which you made in the first few minutes of the game.
Stats are: Health, Magicka and Stamina. At first this change served to make many fans angry, but once you see the logic behind it, it makes sense. Using stamina, you can now sprint.
Other stats have been replaced with 18 skills which are improved by using those skills. Gaining ranks in skills allows you to level up and earn points for perks. The higher a skill, the more it effects level gain. It is possible to raise all skills to the maximum level, but it isn’t possible to obtain every perk in a single game.
When you level you pick a main stat to increase and then a perk. Each skill has it’s own “perk tree”. Perks include: zoom, slow time, holding your breath and steadying bow aim, bleed damage with axes and ignoring body armor with maces.
Magic schools: destruction, alteration, conjuration, restoration and illusion. Enchantment is a skill now, allowing you to forge your own magic items and tweak their properties. Using magic in one hand will prevent you from blocking attacks, even when using a melee weapon in the other hand.
There are new area-of-effect spells such as “ice trap” that is triggered by walking over it. Other area-of-effect attacks exist such as the ability to repel attackers or cause enemies to fight among themselves.
You are now able to switch between weapon loadouts using a quick-select menu which allows you to bookmark your favorite shouts, weapons and spells.
You will feel each blow in a fight much like in Oblivion. Depending on your weapon, the enemy and conditions of the fight you may execute a finishing move such as plunging your sword into the enemies chest.
And now I will retire from my extremely long session of compiling Skyrim information. Enjoy.
Update: Additional (newer) Skyrim Details
Gameinformer.com: New Skyrim Details Surface
VG247.com: New Skyrim details: Injured Dragons can’t fly, much more