by Zee Salahuddin
previewed on PC
It has been five years since Bethesda released a new Elder Scrolls title. The last one, Oblivion, is recognized as one of the most accomplished RPGs of our times. The new arrival, Skyrim, is just around the corner. But is the new title going to be able to respond to expectations, that have been set so high by its predecessors?
Perhaps one of the most defining features of the Elder Scrolls series is its focus on story, lore and the conceptualization of the massive game worlds the studio has built in the series. Set 200 years after the events that transpire in Oblivion, and set in the land of Skyrim, the latest title is no exception. If you are a series fan, you would know that Skyrim is by no means a “sequel” to Oblivion. Each successive game is set in a new environment featuring new stories, challenges and map, largely and loosely tied together by the legend of the Elder Scrolls.
In Skyrim, Uriel Septim and his Dragonborn bloodline are things of distant past, leaving the land susceptible to the wrath of the dragons. The king has been assassinated, resulting in an all out civil war, with the Nords, denizens of Northern Skyrim, looking to secede from the Empire. Their counterparts in Southern Skyrim still believe in continued rule under the Empire. This political turmoil lies at the very heart of Skyrim lore.
If this wasn’t enough to warrant the forging of daring heroes to seek adventure and set the shape of things to come, Alduin, the Nordic god of destruction, has taken the form of a massive dragon and plans to take over the world with the help of his many minions. The dormant dragons thus return to the world of Skyrim, wrecking havoc across the land, just as the Elder Scrolls had predicted. Fortunately, the Scrolls also predicted the return of the Dragonborn, thought to be extinct with the end of the Septim bloodline, and a lone champion who will vanquish Alduin and thwart his plans.
And this is where you come in.
How Radiant is My Tale?
The heart of the Elder Scrolls series has always been a sense of exploration and questing, and naturally Skyrim will further expand on this formula. As always, there will be a main story, the ending of which will be (in part) determined by the decisions you make and the path you follow. In addition, there will be a seemingly unending supply of quests for you to complete throughout your stay in Skyrim, and the path you choose to complete each individual quest will be entirely up to you. While the main story has little wiggle room in terms of linearity and plot impact, the side quests will allow the freedom that comes from a true RPG. The choice, as they say, is yours.
All of the quests in Skyrim are tied together by a new in-game system called Radiant Story. This is where Skyrim really sets itself apart in terms of emergent gameplay. Depending on your character, your play style, and the nature of the decisions you make during your play, the game will create custom-made quests and random encounters for you. As an example, if you are an exploration gung-ho and wiped out the inhabitants of a dungeon long before you received a quest for the same dungeon, the game will dynamically change the objective location to another dungeon.
As your skills develop, you will start getting random encounters that fit your play style. For instance, if you are good with two-handed weapons, a villager may approach you and ask to duel you in two-handed weapon combat. If you killed an NPC in a town, other NPCs related to that character may change their disposition towards you upon a revisit. In short, the world is organic and responds to the actions you take and the decisions you make.