Everything We Know About Skyrim

City Living

Each of Skyrim’s five urban centers has a distinct architectural feel.

  • Riften: A rundown lake town, set in a beautiful fall forest area.
  • Markarth: Built in an ancient dwarven ruin in cliff sides.
  • Solitude: A castle city, influenced by an Imperial style.
  • Windhelm: An ancient Nordic fortress, full of old Nordic architecture.
  • Whiterun: A more classic Viking-style – almost mountain-style – city in the tundra.

Paint the Town Red

Oblivion made headlines with groundbreaking AI behavior. The NPC’s players encountered went about their business according to predefined routines, lending an air of believability to the game’s teeming population centers. Skyrim’s Radiant AI system expands and improves on this template. Instead of simply ticking off a list of tasks, NPC’s will behave in a more randomized, natural fashion, responding to external stimuli and changing their habits from day to day.

It should come as no surprise that you can interact with these augmented NPC’s in a vast number of ways. The basics, of course, are there. You can barter to acquire new items and get rid of old ones. You can accept quests to help NPC’s with problems. You can glean information about the story and the local area — the game has a neat feature that enables you to go on a walk with a character while listening to this information, rather than simply clicking through a series of dialogue boxes.

This feature is supported by an improved cast of voice actors. In addition to series veteran Max Von Sydow, the game’s cast includes Joan Allen, Christopher Plummer, Lynda Carter, and Michael Hogan. Bethesda also promises to avoid constantly re-using voice actors like they did — to immersion-breaking effect — in Oblivion.

Apart from its more traditional RPG features, Skyrim is all about letting the player do what he or she wants, and to that end, Skyrim players will be able to engage in drinking contests, get married (including same-sex marriage!), and maybe even visit prostitutes, among a multitude of other things.

Each city will have opportunities to buy and decorate property, in case you need to indulge your inner Martha Stewart in between bouts of bloody carnage. You can also infiltrate other people’s property — Skyrim will have a streamlined lockpicking system that more closely resembles Fallout 3′s. Pickpocketing is also slightly altered: NPC’s are now more protective of valuable or heavy items, so if you try to steal a ring or a broadsword, expect to get caught.

If you are caught by the municipal authorities, you’ll have to spend some time in jail. Skyrim has dispensed with Oblivion’s incarceration system, which punished players by having their skills deteriorate during the time they spent in lock-up. In Skyrim, you’ll lose the progress you made towards your next skill, but you won’t get worse at anything. If you manage to temporarily escape the long arm of the law, you might get a price put on your head, though if you manage to kill all the people who witnessed your crime, the bounty will be removed.

If you murder a private citizen, there’s a chance that his or her family might try to track you down and take revenge. If you roll a six-fingered character, the chances of this happening are greatly increased (just kidding).

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9 Comments on Everything We Know About Skyrim


On November 9, 2011 at 8:09 am

Excellent article. It has temporarily sated my pre-Skyrim jitters.

Kind of mentioned but not detailed, I seem to recall that Skyrim has varying degrees of stealth detection, letting players know when an NPC thinks something strange is afoot, but don’t yet know what it is. This lets players hide deeper in the shadows until their prey returns once again to their oblivious state of vulnerability.

Mark Burnham

On November 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’m particularly looking forward to Dragon shouts, and fighting dragons in general.

zomg dragons!

Ben Richardson

On November 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I’m excited for getting stuck in blizzards. Lots of games have dynamic rain, but something about trudging forward through impenetrable snow as frost crusts on my beard and on my battle-axe…so epic.


On November 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Soooooo you can summon a dragon to fight a dragon. Just how does this dragon feel about that? Maybe he’s fighting his mom..won’t that cause zombies? Zombie dragons in Skyrim! You heard it here first folks. Bring your silver swords and crossbows.


On November 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I’d like to point out that while this article may indeed have momentarily staved off my crazed jittering for Skyrim, I am a complete junky and this fix can only delay the inevitable: a complete and utter meltdown if I don’t have this game within 3 days.

Captain Nemo

On November 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Skyrim players will be able to engage in drinking contests, get married (including same-sex marriage!),


If you are caught by the municipal authorities, you’ll have to spend some time in jail.

In our never ending search for realism and political correctness, do you have to worry about your cellmate?

Gordon Freeman

On November 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I’m going to need my silver crow bar…

Angry Gamer

On November 10, 2011 at 5:08 am

*compares TES3, TES4 and TES5 and then COD:MW2, COD:BO ans COD:MW3* right… Glen, here’s a prime example how to make a NEW game, if that doesn’t work, then you’re allowed to whine at how poorly your game is received by the target public.
Bethesda is probably the only company I have any respect left for given the recent id’s Rage flop (shame on you, Carmack! now get your together and give us a proper hit with Doom 4), and the only company I would trust to deliver quality over quantity (yup, you guessed it – another Activision/EA reference).

Great article, guys! The the modding tools, they’ve done it before with raving success – Morrowind PC was being shipped with TES Construction Set, the tool Bethesda themselves used to craft the game. Can’t remember if the did the same for Oblivion though (going to have to find that box now. Damn you, curiosity).

@Nemo: I would, knowing how crazy those Bethesda guys are