Saturday, 16 June 2012
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Skyrims main story revolves around the player character's efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon god who is prophesied to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn. The open world gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely. Skyrim was a critical and commercial success, receiving universal acclaim and shipping over 7 million copies to retailers within the first week of release.
The nonlinear gameplay traditional in the Elder Scrolls series is incorporated in Skyrim. The player can explore the open world of Skyrim on foot or on horse, and fast-travel to cities, towns, and dungeons after they have been discovered. Quests are given to the player by non-player characters in the world, and through the Radiant Story system, the quests can be dynamically altered to accommodate for player actions which may influence the quest's characters and objectives. The Radiant Story then further directs the player's interaction with the world by setting unexplored dungeons as quest locations. In addition to scripted quests certain ones will be dynamically generated, providing a limitless number to the player. Some NPCs can become companions to the player to aid in combat. The player may choose to join factions, which are organized groups of NPCs such as the Dark Brotherhood, a band of assassins. Each of the factions has a headquarters, and they have their own quest paths which the player can progress through. The economy of cities and towns can be stimulated by completing jobs such as farming and mining, or spending large amounts of gold in the stores. Alternatively, the economy may be harmed by forging business ledgers and robbing the safes of stores.
When exploring the game world, the player may encounter wildlife. Many wilderness monsters are immediately hostile towards the player and thus can be slain. When their character levels, the player may choose to select a skill-specific ability called a perk, or store perks for later use. Upon levelling fifty times, the player character can continue to level and earn perks, but the rate of levelling is slowed significantly.
A heads-up display appears when any one of the player's three attributes are being depleted. Health is depleted primarily through combat and can be restored by spells, potions, or resting; the loss of all health results in death. Magicka allows for and is depleted by the use of spells; it is regenerated naturally over time, but it can be restored in similar ways to health. Stamina determines the player's effectiveness in combat and is depleted by sprinting, jumping, and power attacking, but can be restored in similar ways to health and magicka. The player's inventory can be accessed from the menu and items can be viewed in 3D, which may be essential in solving puzzles found in dungeons. The player's effectiveness in combat relies on the use of weapons and armor, which may be bought or created at forges, and magic, which may also be bought or unlocked. Weapons and magic are assigned to each hand, allowing for dual-wielding, and can be swapped out through a quick-access menu of favorite items. Shields can be used either to fend off enemy attacks and reduce the damage intake, or offensively through bashing attacks. Blunt, bladed and hacking weapons can be used in close combat and each have specific advantages and roles; as an example, the player can perform power attacks with each weapon. Magic can be used in the form of spells; each of the eighty-five spells has a different function, such as the regeneration of health or the depletion of enemy health. The bow and arrow may be utilized in long-range combat, but the bow can be used as a defensive melee weapon in close combat. Another change from previous games in the series is the elimination of weapon and armor durability; in which a player would periodically have to repair or pay to have items repaired or risk rendering them broken and unusable.
The player can enter a sneak mode and pickpocket, or deliver sneak attacks to unsuspecting enemies. If the player drops unwanted loot, such as a shield or item of clothing, some NPCs will attempt to pick the item up, some even asking the player's permission to take the item.
During the game's development, a team was set aside to work on Dragons and their interactions with the world. A regeneration period limits the player's use of Shouts in gameplay.
Skyrim is not a direct sequel to Oblivion, but a new chapter in the Elder Scrolls series, set 200 years after the events of Oblivion. Work on Skyrim did not begin until Fallout 3's release in 2008; developers considered the game to be a spiritual successor to both Fallout 3 and previous Elder Scrolls games. The game was developed by a team of roughly 100 people composed of new talent as well as of the series's veterans. Bethesda has officially stated that the engine will be used at least in one more project apart from Skyrim. After Fallout 3s release, the team devised numerous design objectives to meet for Skyrim, and as Howard described, the team "got all those done and kept going". Had the team not been able to meet their design goals with current hardware, they would have waited for the next generation and released Skyrim then, but, as Howard felt, the current technology did not hold the team back at all. Dynamic lighting affords shadows to be created by any structure or item in the game world, and while Bethesda utilized SpeedTree to produce flora in previous games, the Creation Engine utilized by Skyrim allowed for greater detail than what had been allowed by SpeedTree. The toolset allowed interactions between the player and NPCs to take place in real-time; in Oblivion, when the player went to interact with an NPC, time would freeze and the camera would zoom in on the NPC's face. In Skyrim, NPCs can move around and make body gestures while conversing with the player. Children are present in the game, and their presence is handled similarly as in Fallout 3 in that they cannot be harmed by the player in any way Skyrim makes use of the Radiant AI artificial intelligence system that was created for Oblivion, and it has been updated to allow NPCs to "do what they want under extra parameters". The updated system allows for greater interaction between NPCs and their environments; NPCs can perform tasks such as farming, milling and mining in the game world, and will react with each other.
The team set the game in the province of Skyrim, designing it by hand. While similar in size to Oblivions game world Cyrodiil, the mountainous topography of the world inflates the game space and makes it more difficult to traverse than the relatively flat Cyrodiil. Howard expressed the team's desire to re-encapsulate the "wonder of discovery" of Morrowinds game world in Skyrim, as the return to the classic fantasy of Arena and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall in Oblivion meant sacrificing a world with a unique culture. Bethesda employed over seventy voice actors to record the voices of NPCs in the game; the total number of lines recorded for NPCs is over 60,000. The cast includes Christopher Plummer, Max von Sydow, Joan Allen, Lynda Carter, Vladimir Kulich and Michael Hogan. Skyrim features 244 quests and over 300 points of interest.
The team employed Jeremy Soule to compose music for Skyrim after his work on Morrowind and Oblivion. He composed "Dragonborn", the game's main theme. "Dragonborn" was recorded with a choir of over thirty people, singing in the game world's dragon language. Creative director Todd Howard envisioned the theme for Skyrim as the Elder Scrolls theme sung by a choir of barbarians. This became a reality when the idea was passed by Soule, who recorded the 30-man choir and layered three separate recordings to create the effect of 90 voices. The language, Draconic, was created by Bethesda's concept artist Adam Adamowicz, and he developed a 34-character runic alphabet for the game. The lexicon of Draconic was expanded as needed; as lead designer Bruce Nesmith explained, words were introduced to the lexicon "every time to say something". Following an October 17 tweet from Pete Hines, vice president of public relations and marketing at Bethesda, stating "The OST would take 4 CDs", a 4-disc CD set release was spotted by Digital Song customers during an account display error. "Day One" preorders from Amazon.de also include a 5-track promotional Skyrim soundtrack sampler.
Skyrim was first announced at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2010. The center was the host of Spike's annual Video Game Awards; Howard appeared on stage during the awards and presented its announcement trailer, which introduced the game's story and revealed its "11–11–11" release date. It was the cover story for the February 2011 issue of the Game Informer magazine, wherein journalist Matt Miller wrote a fifteen-page article that revealed the first details about the game's story and gameplay. Via a press release, the team announced that the first two planned DLC packages would release on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live a month ahead of PCs and the PlayStation 3 system.