You may remember that post I wrote back in March (it went through a phase about a month back where people just picked it up and commented again) where I said that three niggling things would disappoint me in Skyrim, and was then proven wrong by a lot of trailers. Last weekend it was the Eurogamer Expo in London, and they were showing Skyrim. I played it and I’m still unsure what to think.
I’d better throw a quick disclaimer in here, which is that I’ve only played it for 10 minutes. I’d hoped to play it for longer, but I had to rush off for a press appointment at 11:30 and they only started the session at 11:20. Then the queue became massive, and I decided it wasn’t worth it. So this is based on a very brief play and it shouldn’t be taken as a proper preview.
I’m sorry, but I think I’m right for a lot of what I wrote before. I never actually got into proper combat (though I did shoot a chicken and then giggled like a madman for a few minutes), but I watched some other people play and it’s exactly the same as Oblivion: Keep walking backwards and hit the button to make the enemy die. It just doesn’t feel right, at least to watch.
What’s more worrying is how much the trailers massively over-emphasized the killing blow things. Granted, trailers are allowed to pick and choose the best bits, since that’s what they’re for, but the killing blows worked just like they do in Fable 3: occasionally, something fancy happens, and I don’t know how to do it again.
Speaking of fancy things, dual wielding is an idea which I think will make Skyrim, even with the above. Having a flamethrower spell while hacking at something is a brilliant idea, and one that completely changes the way combat works. If it isn’t copied and becomes mainstream, then designers are doing it wrong.
Voice work seems to be markedly improved, and the Grey Fox/Mudcrabs weren’t mentioned once; I didn’t hear much repeated voice acting, either. The new talking isn’t bad, either, since it locks you in place and lets the NPC move around while speaking to you without zooming in on their face.
It does however, look horrible on a console. It just does, and there is no getting around it. Playing it on a 360 on a 60 million inch TV 12 inches away from where you’re sitting means you can see all the work they’re had to do so it can run at all, let alone at 30fps. It’ll look a lot sharper on a PC for sure, but I’m kind of annoyed that it was a console demo, though that rant is for another time. I think it’ll be playable from a distance, but a large screen up close? Nah.
I’m frustrated I don’t have more to say, and I’m disappointed by how much I didn’t get grabbed by it. What I’m praying is that I just didn’t have long enough to sit and take the world as it is and just go off and get lost. It’s obvious that the world will be brilliant and much better than the main quest, especially when you see things like a wolf attacking an elk because it can. I’m unlikely to get another chance to see it before it comes out on 11/11/11 (Have I done the whole American date thing right? Damn your date system being different). Will I preorder it? I don’t know. Those niggling doubts are massive barriers that are still unknown.
UPDATE: The comment section appears to be railing on a couple of points, so I think I should probably do some explaining.
- You are all correct. 10 minutes isn’t enough time to play a game of Skyrim’s magnitude. But, this is a big game, and one that I’ve written about for Nerdist before so I needed to give you something. If I hadn’t been trying to do the PSVita and other stuff while I was in early entry, I would have gotten less done overall. I had to deal with 10 minutes play because there wasn’t time to get another go without missing out on the other stuff.
- The new ability system, I didn’t get any look at. The new star system looks amazingly pretty, but you’d need a good 40 minutes of play to see it working properly.
- Combat isn’t a massive part of my play style either. I’m a sneak person, but my memory of Oblivion still ended up with me getting a sneak attack in and then walking backwards firing arrows at them. The only combat I really had was me following an elk, the elk swimming across the river, and then the elk being attacked by two wolves.
- I don’t hate Skyrim. I’m really excited for it, because the whole world of Tamriel is brilliant. Treat Oblivion as an open world and ignore the fact that there’s a main quest and suddenly it becomes a much better game. I’m willing to believe that the same thing will happen with Skyrim.
For more Eurogamer Expo coverage, check How To Play over the next few days. We already have details about a game where you can as play a monkey with a jetpack. If that hasn’t sold it to you, you’re dead inside.