The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim preview

Shacknews plays The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for three hours and encounters everything from vampires to thieves. Read all about our adventures before the game launches on November 11.

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Last week, I spent three hours slaying vampires, traversing the blistering cold wilderness of a mountain-side trail, and putting my morals aside to join a guild of thieves. Yes, I played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and I cannot stop thinking about it. Weekend Confirmed co-host Jeff Cannata and I were handed controllers, and we made a pact to go off in completely different directions in our respective games. After the event, we discussed our progress and only had original stories to tell each other. For my latest hands-on, I decided to venture as far Northeast as possible. A small, lonesome town, was plodded a great distance away on the map, and I made the decision to seek its shelter within my three hour gameplay session window. I had decided to play as an Argonian, the lizard-like race that can breathe underwater. I thought that he would be able to easily swim between the little islands scattered atop the watered areas. Little did I know almost the entirety of the North is covered in thick snow and ice. I stumbled upon a caravan of Khajiit farmers, slayed and pillaged from an unknown attack. Soon, the attackers made themselves known. Confronted by a handful of bandits, I reached into my inventory and extracted a weak sword and shield. The battle would be a difficult one against the heavily armored horde, but I managed to thin their lines by running deep into the nearby forest. As they spread out across the land to hunt me down, I systematically cut them down--one by one. An hour and a half into the session, I realized that I had yet to speak to a single soul. The world, at this point, seemed as silent as my own creation. Soon, I make it into a snow-covered canyon between two large rock walls and spot a lone horse. Its saddle tells me it is not wild, but I see no living people in the area. Rather than steal the horse and continue to the town set on my map, I explore. "Where did your owner go?" I think to myself, staring at the horse. A large hole etched into the side of one rock wall houses a mine. Haemar's Cavern is its name. I ready my favorite spells and weapons, hot-linking them to my quick-launch menu and step inside. Sadly, I didn't have the only weapon that could have made the journey much easier: garlic. The caverns are winding, vampires recount tales of conquests inside. Some discuss what sounds like a rebellion. Inside I find all of the amenities of a regular town: blacksmith and alchemy stations, a cookery to combine ingredients and make food, tan hide to combine bits to create leather strips. Inside I come face-to-face with hordes of vampires, some with the ability to summon minions into battle. I best them all, with the exception on one. A master vampire destroys me, again and again. I try for a dozen minutes to get the upper hand but he sucks away my energy quickly and without remorse. Inside his lair I notice a large, fancy chest, undoubtedly filled with goods that will help my quest. Using a potion of swiftness, I run into the lair and free the master vampire of his belongs and rush out. Eventually I make it back to the horse and ride off to the town knowing that one day I'll be back to finish the bloodsucker off for good. The city to the northeast is a lakeside property called Riften. The town is controlled by the iron fist of the Black-Briars and their harsh leader, Maven. At the gate I'm told I'm required to pay a "visitor's tax" to enter. I refuse and wonder aloud whether or not the guards of the city know people are being shaken down for spare gold at the entrance, the "tax man" reconsiders his stance and lets me enter. Inside, Maven's right-hand man Maul tells me not to stir trouble in Maven's town. She doesn't take kindly to conflict, he implies, but seems more than willing to have a battle of his own. Eventually I meet Brynjolf, the leader of what is essentially the Thieves Guild. It isn't as blatant as it was in Oblivion. There is no flags outside of a clubhouse signifying their association, it's something and someone you must seek out for yourself. In the market, I'm given a task to steal a ring from one merchant and plant it on another. Unfortunately, I'm unable to keep to the shadows and am caught.

Nearly six hours of playing Skyrim and I've yet to encounter a dragon.

Approaching my final fifteen minutes of the play session, Brynjolf tells me that he is still interested in my recruitment despite my failed mission. A hidden bar within the sewers of Riften houses the guild and Brynjolf assures me that if I make my way through the trap and enemy infested area, more opportunity awaits. That's what Skyrim has done to draw me in each time I play it. It's the opportunities that exist at every turn. I've played the game for nearly six hours over the last few months and have yet to see a dragon, one of the game's biggest additions. I'm constantly impressed with what Bethesda is able to do in terms of storytelling and gameplay and Skyrim is no exception. It looks outstanding and has so much attention to detail and respect for its world, such as the stacks of books that are included in the game available for people to read. I will gladly replay every one of the quests I've completed and failed throughout my preview time with the game. Very few games get such a charge of excitement out of me, but Skyrim is probably my most anticipated game of the year. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launches on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 11.
From The Chatty
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    October 17, 2011 11:00 AM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim preview.

    Shacknews plays The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for three hours and encounters everything from vampires to thieves. Read all about our adventures before the game launches on November 11.

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      October 17, 2011 11:12 AM

      Nothing to see here, just another GOTY from Bethesda :)

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      October 17, 2011 11:24 AM

      Slight typo, seem seek. Awesome preview, it's going to be a very fun November.

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      October 17, 2011 11:27 AM

      Lots of spelling errors Xav :D
      Got a question for you though you lucky ^@#**@^. Does the game scale to your level like Oblivion did? Besting vampires shortly after you start kind of bums me out yet at least the master sent you packing.

      Or did they give you some decent gear for playing?

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        October 17, 2011 11:39 AM

        It scales to some degree as evidenced by the fact that the Bethesda QA testers were able to finish the game in a little over two hours.

        I asked Xav about this though and he said some of the vampires he encountered early on were able to kill him with one hit, so it seems the level scaling isn't quite as bad as it was in Oblivion.

        The official line is that the level scaling is more like Fallout 3 than Oblivion:

        http://www.bethblog.com/index.php/2011/10/13/jeff-vs-sam-ii-the-skyrim-speedrun/comment-page-1/#comment-211552

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          October 17, 2011 2:14 PM

          I love FO3 so I guess i can rest easy. Thanks for the link too.

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        October 17, 2011 11:44 AM

        From what I remember hearing; it's going to work similarly to Fallout 3. In general, enemies will scale with you and when you enter a cave/temple/etc, that area will lock to the level you were when you first entered.

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          October 17, 2011 1:20 PM

          I liked how FO3 handled leveling in relation to enemies (introducing new enemy types like supermutants) while keeping old ones around), so that bodes well.

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          October 17, 2011 3:34 PM

          umm.. wow...

          Do you get more exp if you come back after 5 levels or so and kill the guys you missed?

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            October 18, 2011 10:03 AM

            Shouldn't you get less XP for killing enemies that are lower level than you?

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          October 17, 2011 3:38 PM

          then why do they say in these reviews they go into a cave and some giant troll thats many levels above them is in there. do mobs just have a minimum level and scale up from there?

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            October 17, 2011 5:10 PM

            I don't think the game tells you the level of your enemies, but on top of that, the "level" of the area doesn't necessarily mean each enemy is that level but that it's an appropriate challenge for that character, which might mean you'll face "boss" level monsters that are hard. Fallout 3 and Oblivion both had boss level creatures as well, so that's probably what's happening there.

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        October 17, 2011 11:58 AM

        It looks like a few things slipped through the cracks at edit. Only spotted two. Fixed them.

        Thanks for pointing them out.

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        October 17, 2011 3:05 PM

        Dungeons will have a 5 level range which locks in as close to your level as possible upon first entry.

        Example 1:
        Dungeon X has a level range of 10-15. You enter it as a level 8 character. The monsters will all be level 10 and remain that way even if you leave and come back at level 20.

        Example 2:
        Dungeon Y has a level range of 10-15. You enter it as a level 12 character. The monsters will all be level 12 and remain that way even if you leave and come back at level 20.

        Example 3:
        Dungeon Z has a level range of 10-15. You enter it as a level 18 character. The monsters will all be level 15 and remain that way even if you leave and come back at level 20.

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          October 17, 2011 3:39 PM

          bipolar is the man with all the answers! thx little buddy

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      October 17, 2011 11:31 AM

      november 11 can't come soon enough

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      October 17, 2011 11:36 AM

      Can't wait. I hope Amazon has a pre order sale on this thing.

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      October 17, 2011 11:52 AM

      Cool, thanks for this. 11:11:11 will be INSANE.

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        October 17, 2011 1:38 PM

        I got the day off pre approved! I'm ready for action!

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          October 17, 2011 3:20 PM

          Same :) I am going to go see that 300 like movie [Immortals] as well at lunch time, make a whole day out of the Elder Scrolls festivities.

          Going to be awesome.

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          October 17, 2011 3:28 PM

          i also got my day off for a doctor checkup approved.

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        October 17, 2011 3:31 PM

        I'm pretty excited that the date is a Friday instead of a Tuesday.

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      October 17, 2011 12:45 PM

      any word as to how well the game scales to weaker systems?

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        October 17, 2011 1:02 PM

        Bethesda has yet to show the game off running on PC.

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          October 17, 2011 1:05 PM

          Skyrim running on the PC is so much more advanced we are all NPCs inside it right now

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            October 17, 2011 1:06 PM

            Mudcrubs really are disgusting creatures.

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            October 17, 2011 1:15 PM

            NOW you tell me! I've been trying to get this green shit off my skin for hours.

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          October 17, 2011 3:37 PM

          This makes me sad. They've done OK with multi-platform in the past but I can't feel good about spending $60 on something that no one has seen before release, especially since there is no way to return or exchange it once bought.

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      October 17, 2011 1:11 PM

      I want to fuck this game.

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      October 17, 2011 1:45 PM

      "slayed?" This ain't no Buffy, man. slain.

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      October 17, 2011 2:11 PM

      It's all those goddamn Elder Trolls you see...

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      October 17, 2011 2:31 PM

      It's so close!!! And yet so far ;_;

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      October 17, 2011 2:45 PM

      How many bugs/glitches did you guys run into? You were handed controllers... does this mean it was xbox, ps3, or pc?

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      October 17, 2011 3:20 PM

      I've got the week after the releases booked off and the previous week is only four days long, so all in all i've got 11 days of Skyrim starting 11.11.11. November seriously can't get here fast enough.

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      October 17, 2011 4:51 PM

      :) yeah it's gonna 0wn.

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      October 17, 2011 8:58 PM

      The new screenshots released today are amazing as well... that marsh with the town on the top of a cliff obscured by fog? Incredible.

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      October 18, 2011 1:21 PM

      Regarding the books in the game...I still have fresh memories on times when I was amazed by going through libraries in TES:Daggerfall and reading all the stories and history and bestiaries. Loved it. I believe that had the major influence on my English skills.

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      October 18, 2011 3:15 PM

      I really liked this review. I suppose it helped that it was positive, but it was a good length and gave me a great understanding of what the game is like. My gripes from the Deus Ex HR review have been sufficiently addressed. Thanks Xav.

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      October 19, 2011 2:07 AM

      Think you're thinking of Morrowind, Xav. In Oblivion the Thieve's Guild was discovered by bribing beggars for information and quests were obtained by meeting your Doyen in a garden at midnight in the Waterfront, then selling privately stolen goods to Fences in other towns. There were no guildhalls or anything of the sort.

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