by Chris Priestman
previewed on X360
Fire At Dawn
The year 2011 is a big one for RPG’s. Some of the biggest modern series in the genre are seeing releases this year, making it a real scrap for the top spot. Bioware have already tested the water with Dragon Age II but it seems their lazy design philosophy has not gone down well with the community. This only goes to prove that the majority of players still want to see their RPG’s made with plenty of love and care.
One of the most anticipated titles of the year is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. With long-time competitors Bioware being shunned by players, Bethesda has an opportunity to seize the day. The pressure is on them more than ever to deliver the game that players are hoping for. Failure to do so could potentially mean that this year will see the fall of not just one, but two heavenly figures from the sky.
But There Is One They Feared…
Skyrim concerns itself with the last of the events prophesized by the ancient Elder Scrolls. Foretold in the interpretation of the text was the rise of Alduin, the Nordic God of Destruction. After the king was assassinated during Oblivion 200 years prior, the Empire was given back to the Elven nations it once ruled as there was no apparent heir to the kingdom. The natives of Skyrim were divided between remaining as part of the Empire and a chance at independence. It is out of this chaotic divide that Alduin arises and threatens the safety of Skyrim as well as the entire continent of Tamriel. Without intervention, Alduin is expected to take the form of a huge dragon and henceforth consume the entirety of the world accompanied by his black dragon servants known as ‘Jills’.
The dragons fear only one thing as they proceed in their apocalyptic turmoil, and that is the last of the Dragonborn. The title of Dragonborn is granted to a favoured individual of any race by the Nine Divines. More than just a name, the Dragonborn has a variety of unique abilities capable of thwarting the almighty power of the dragons. Unbeknownst to a prisoner that has been arrested for crossing the border into Skyrim, the gods have anointed them as the last of the Dragonborn. Although the Blades had perished along with the kingdom, one last member of the order, a man known as Esbern, finds the Dragonborn and aids them in their world-saving quest. The player takes control of the Dragonborn as they learn the daunting task they have been assigned with, and travel across Skyrim to quell the dragon tyrant.
To succeed in their quest, the Dragonborn must learn the ancient language of the dragons. The primary way of learning the dragon tongue is to slay a dragon and absorb their soul. Another way is to seek out the ancient runes gathered in Nordic temples where the dragons used to be worshipped. When the Dragonborn recites the words of the Draconian language, they will be projected as powerful ‘Dragon shouts’. This is an arcane art that the Dragonborn, the dragons, and only a few other NPC’s are able to grasp. There will be between 20 and 24 Dragon shouts to learn that will greatly enhance the player’s capabilities. Confirmed so far are shouts that enable the player to slow down time, breathe fire, teleport short distances, create a force push, and summon a dragon to fight by their side. The shouts are made up of three separate “words of power” and the strength of the shout is determined by how many of these words are recited. Partially reciting the shout will result in a less powerful effect, but will beneficially consume less power. Fighting dragons has been described as boss fights, but they are completely random encounters that can happen at anytime. Dragons can even land in the middle of towns and engulf houses in flames – their behaviour is totally unpredictable. The player will need to be ready at all times for an encounter with a dragon, and fighting is not always going to be the best option.