We have two exclusive articles written by Andrew Reiner of Game Informer and Maxwell McGee of GameSpot including full-blown previews and in-depth hands on articles of their Skyrim gameplay testing.
“After years of waiting, the next installment of The Elder Scrolls finally lands in our hands. Follow my journey from Riverwood to Whiterun.
As we mentioned in yesterday’s quick look at the QuakeCon Skyrim demo, my experience started in the character creator. My Twitter followers wanted to know about the Argonian race, the reptilian race that hails from the Black Marsh swampland. This race looks much like it did in Oblivion and Morrowind, with green scaled skin that sometimes gives off a bluish tint, and yellow, cat-like eyes. For my character, however, I chose the cat-like Khajiit race. The level of customization with this race was impressive. I could alter the eyeliner, change the color of the speckles on the nose, add earrings, and even apply a hairdo on top of my Khajiit’s furry dome. As in the previous games, the Khajiit have long, humanoid-like legs and a tail.
My journey started with my character bound in a dreary cave, which Todd Howard said is roughly 30 minutes after the start of the game. When I exited the cave I immediately equipped a destruction spell on one hand and a restoration spell on the other. The button layout is very similar to the previous Elder Scrolls games. The X button sheathes and unsheathes your weapon, the B button gives you access to the menu system, the Y button jumps, the A button interacts, and pressing L3 triggers stealth mode.
While the general controls are familiar, the cEldombat controls have evolved considerably. If you have shield equipped you can bash enemies with it to cause them to stagger, opening them up for attack. If you hold down the attack button with a melee weapon, you trigger a powerful attack that is often accompanied by a cool animation. When I stabbed a wolf with this attack, my character drove the sword deep into the beast and then used the shield as leverage to pry the sword out of the dead animal. You also must actively block oncoming attacks.
The spells also have varying attacks. As I walked down a path toward the village of Riverwood, I spotted two wolves on a nearby hill. When they caught my scent they came charging down the hill and I met them with a powerful flamethrower attack by holding down the spell button. It didn’t take long to burn these gorgeous animals, which look much more lifelike than the animals in Oblivion.
Since Riverwood was in the previous Skyrim demos, I didn’t spend much time in the village. Instead I headed north alongside a babbling stream that had salmon jumping out of the water and stumbled upon a small farm populated by a cow and hen. I watched the hen for a bit as it walked around aimlessly while clucking, and then stole the egg that was sitting in its nest.
I then made my way into the farmhouse, which only took a couple of seconds to load. Judging from the spread on his table – goat cheese and Nord mead – this farmer is living the good life. When I went back outside I met a woman named Sigrid, whose first words to me were “I’m spoken for, don’t get any ideas.” She kept on farming while telling me about herself and her daughter. After she shared five or so details, she started delivering the canned responses of “Yes?”, “Good Afternoon”, and “What do you need?”
Leaving Sigrid and the farm behind, I made my way further north to a large murky river. I could have crossed using a bridge, but I decided to test out the swimming instead. The animations are a little rough, but as I swam across to the other bank I was able to grab a few salmon as they passed by. Who needs a fishing rod when you can just grab them with your fist? As I approached the bank I saw a large elk wade into the river. When I moved in too close for the beast’s comfort, he made a run for it.
Continuing down the path on the other side of the river, I stumbled across a group of Stormcloak soldiers escorting a prisoner. When I approached the group a hostile soldier blurted out, “Citizen, I’m warning you.” Then I was presented three of choices. I could do nothing, free the prisoner, or free the prisoner and give him an item, which I assumed in this case would be a weapon so he could defend himself against his captors. Considering that there were three guards with their swords drawn and I was a mere level one character, I opted to stay out of it. As soon as I moved away, the soldiers returned their weapons to their sheathes.
Heading north again, I ran into another farm. This was a much bigger plot of land, with several gardens. In the middle of this farm a group of three humans were battling a massive giant. Rather than joining the fray, I decided to just sit back and watch. The battle raged back and forth, but eventually the humans prevailed. Afterwards I met Alea the huntress and her sidekicks Farkas and Ria. My first interaction with her was a statement about the battle – I could say “You don’t look like you need any help,” or “I tried to help.” When I chose the flattering option, she thanked me and explained that her band was a part of the Shield-Brothers. I was then prompted to inquire about joining the group or wryly responding “Sounds like a waste of time.” Alea told me that if I wanted to join the group I would have to ask the leader of the Companions.
After going our separate ways, I ventured north again, picking items like lavender and tundra cotton on my way toward…