The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available Nov. 11, for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC platforms.
Finally, it’s over. Children are packed inside their rightful homes, unable to interrupt the tedious search for Riddler trophies in Batman: Arkham City with their cries for candy. Sure, there may be egg on my windows, but at least I’ve collected all 400 trophies and have a big bowl of candy to myself. Lucky for us, we shouldn’t be interrupted again, and if anyone dares attempt to interrupt us on Nov.11, the day The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is released, they’ll have much more than egg to worry about.
Skyrim, from fan-favorite developer Bethesda, offers up a cacophony of nerd bait that would be considered illegal if it were a controlled substance. It’s a fantasy RPG based around a warrior with the soul of a dragon traveling the far reaches of a mountainous, snowy land to fight dragons and solve mysteries using the tip of a sword or magic projectile.
A lot of RPGs claim to have an open world experience — that is, the ability to roam freely and choose how the story progresses rather than being led down a set path. (Dragon Age II and Final Fantasy XIII are both examples of how not to make an open world.) In Skyrim, open world means open world. There is nothing wrong with taking the path to town, speaking to a person in need and providing henceforth, but what if running through the forest slaying deer and picking berries to use in alchemy is something that interests you? Skyrim says, by all means.
Let’s say you choose to complete some missions rather than turn into Little Red Riding Hood. Like its online counterpart World of Warcraft, many quests require the player to complete a certain task or collect a number of items, but the real cream of the crop are the dragons. Not just one, but many. Dragon battles define Skyrim, and are at the top of the list of reasons why gamers everywhere are squealing in anticipation.
In an early demo, a developer led me through a short survey of the countryside. As we rounded a mountain, we came across a peaceful group of gentle giants herding their gentle giant bison, either completely unaware of our presence or ambivalent.
Of course, peace is no fun, so we hurled a projectile into a gentle giant’s gentle groin. While battling the giant, our chances for survival looked bad — he had his club raised, ready to strike; and just as it was coming down, a dragon swooped in, grabbed him by the shoulders and launched him into the air to come crashing down in a broken heap.
In my naiveté, I immediately thought of a name for my new dragon friend. Our demo guide quickly took up his shield and ran for a tower, where we took shelter as the dragon assaulted us with its flames. Many moments later, after traversing the ruins of said tower, we were able to slay the dragon by taking the higher ground. We all sighed in relief, only to gasp in panic as, over the horizon, we could see the distinct wings of another, larger dragon on its way
It was then that we fled, flailing swords and shields like school girls running from a spider.
Does that sound like fun? It was, and nothing says Game of the Year like fighting a giant and two dragons in the span of 10 minutes.
Skyrim is the byproduct of years of begging from the fans of The Elder Scrolls, a long-running series of RPGs that have more or less helped to define the RPG genre. All signs point to this being a defining moment, not just in RPG history, but in the annals of gaming lore.
Who needs Thanksgiving when you can carve a dragon instead of a turkey? Ignore all relatives, lock your doors and turn up the gas; Skyrim will own you for the next month.
Chris O’Neal is just a dog chasing cars; he wouldn’t know what to do with one if he caught it. Follow him on Twitter @AgentONeal.