Everything We Know About Skyrim

Out in the World

A good deal of your time playing Skyrim will likely be spent wandering around getting into trouble. Travel can be accomplished on foot, by horse, or by using fast travel. Similar to Fallout 3, you can only fast travel to a location you’ve already discovered.

Finding your away around this gigantic world will be a cinch thanks to Skyrim’s beautiful map, which deploys as a seamless zoom into a bird’s-eye view of wherever your character happens to be standing. Additionally, in contrast to Fallout 3′s canonically accurate but often awkward system, Skyrim’s menus have been praised for their design and ease of use.

When you’re out in the wild, expect to contend with mammoths, giants, vampires, wolves, draugr (creepy, undead, formerly cannibalistic Norseman) and all sorts of other adversaries. Most importantly, however you’ll have to contend with dragons. Dragons follow no preset pattern. Instead, thanks to Radiant AI, they wander the skies, burninating anything unlucky enough to get caught in their path. To take down a dragon, you’ll first have to bring it out of the sky, then win the battle on the land and help yourself to its fiery soul.

Skyrim’s not all danger and massive, fire-breathing beasts, however. The game is a truly living world, with animals hunting other animals and NPC’s in every nook and cranny, going about their business. Some are friendly enough to do favors for you; others, friendlier still, are willing to become “Followers” comrades-in-arms who will assist you on your quest. The game even has a fully-functional economy — destroy a local industry like a lumber mill, and expect to pay more for wooden items like arrows in the local area.

Johnny Quest

Bethesda has seeded their massive gameworld with hundreds upon hundreds of quests. These range from simple retrieval tasks to epic, multi-part adventures, but one feature sets them apart from the quests in every other game — Skyrim’s quests are randomly reconfigured on the fly by the game engine. A quest might have a basic framework that dictates where it begins and what must be done to end it, but after that, the game takes over to throw in relevant NPC’s and locations. Not only will two players have totally different experiences with the game — they’ll have two totally different experiences of the same quest.

The game also compiles data about player behavior, and changes things around to avoid monotony. Say you’ve spent the last three dungeons fighting vampires. When you’re on the way to the next dungeon, the game will decide on the fly to populate it with living bandits, providing a new, unexpected challenge.

Occasionally, an NPC will have a crucial item or piece of information you’ll need to complete a quest. Skyrim provides new options for dealing with this situation. You can attempt to persuade the NPC — this is a straight skill check, rather than a mini-game. Or you can intimidate them, if your character level is high enough. Or bribe them, if your pockets are fat. Finally, if all else fails, you can attempt to beat what you want out the NPC by using a new “brawl” feature. Knuckle sandwiches for all!

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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