In a fan interview for the official Bethesda forums, Skyrim game director Todd Howard, lead designer Bruce Nesmith, and lead artist Matt Carofano shared some new details about some of the finer points of the upcoming RPG. Having seen the game a few times now, I sifted through their answers and found the following highlights:
Armor in Skyrim will be handled similarly to how it was in Oblivion. There are two types--heavy and light. This design choice ensures the player gets a strong sense of the difference between the two. "Having a 3rd one in the middle just muddles it up in how it plays, as well as visually. And even now we have to tweak those two armor types so they feel different, while remaining fun," Howard explained.
Armor also combines the upper and lower pieces into one piece. Carofano wrote that doing this worked best to achieve the desired look for Skyrim. "In most of the Nordic designs we created, the upper armor would completely cover the lower armor, making it unnecessary. We get much better visual results combining those pieces, and it renders a lot faster too, so we can put more people on screen, so that was an easy tradeoff for us." They also plan to have more armor with greater variation than ever before.
Quest structure also resembles that in Oblivion more than their more recent RPG, Fallout 3 according to Nesmith. That equates to more quests, but with fewer branches within them. "We’ve focused on telling one story well. There are decision points in all the quest lines that can change things, but overall it’s a single story," he writes.
PC players can expect benefits that reflect the strength of the platform, beginning with the Creation Kit allowing modders to customize the game. Other PC-specific upgrades include a richer keyboard-and-mouse control scheme, higher res textures, larger render models, and effects that scale based on the power of the machine being played on. But don't look for a 64-bit version of the game. That's not in the plans at this time.
And though it sounds like bludgeoning enemies in a non-lethal way isn't part of the normal combat system, Howard did add, "Oh, and we now have tavern brawls that are non-lethal! I love those." So if you happen to wind up at the Skyrim wrap party be sure you know where the door is. You never know when a bar fight might break out.