by Ryan D Lowe
previewed on X360
Lights, Camera, Action
The lights dimmed and every one of us all huddled closer together in an already over-packed room. As Todd Howard (creator of all things Elder Scrolls) took the podium, I knew I was about to see something that MAYBE hundreds had seen before. With a button press on the 360 controller, the familiar logo dimmed and one short loading screen later, our iron-clad warrior appeared in all his glory.
The world that appeared before us was just jaw dropping beautiful. Gorgeous vistas as far as the eye could see, and of course as any Elder Scrolls player can tell you, completely traversable if need be. The engine is once again more advanced and easily the benchmark that will be set for a few years. Shaders are incredibly detailed, and the dynamic lighting and foliage play is a wonder to behold.
A Truly Innovative System
Todd demonstrates that within this world you can set up shortcuts that cycle through in vertical menus on the left, and right side of the screen. You can set these main commands to any command, spell, or weapon. Upon opening the menu you are presented with a simple compass-like design of four different options. Todd reveals the inventory system within one and the spell/skill menu within another. He selects the uppermost option and the camera raises to the stars in-game. From there you stare at a giant blanket of constellations. Here the player can design his skill tree in any manner he chooses, with each new skill being a new star in each constellations. This is very reminiscent of the Crystarium from Final Fantasy XIII minus the fancy constellation idea. Finally Todd brings up the map system and with a simple press, the world shrinks as the game's camera zooms out to dizzying heights and shows the entirety of the world in complete scale. This is incredible and you've never seen a game do it on this level. It seemed as if you could explore anywhere and also select any location to traverse to in a fast travel-type system. Todd finds the small village built next to the lake just up the path.
Our hero begins his trek towards the small village just up the river. He runs into a wolf or two on the way but nothing that the new dual wielding system of magic and weaponry can't remedy. One step later and we are in the small village. Our hero chats up the local blacksmith as Howard explains that everything in the game can be interacted with, and even performed as a skill or technique. If you want to sharpen your weapons and increase your skills, you can do so within this world. Think Fable II and you'll have a good idea where this type of mechanic is headed.
With the quest revealed, our character heads north up the precipice to the forgotten snow ruins nestled in the highest bluffs. The snow starts to fall as we close in on the top of the world. We see the ruins just up the ancient stone carved stairs. As the hero approaches, a giant, lightning fast figure blocks out the sun high in the sky. The warrior retreats against a tall pillar. Slowly he walks around the embankment searching for...something. After a short search, he turns up nothing and proceeds toward the ruin's enormous entrance. Just half a step from the mouth of the ruins, a creature the size of a semi-truck suddenly slams down right behind our hero. It is a dragon, ferocious and terrifying. Our hero raises his sword as the dragon rears back it's claws. Just then, the hero decides fleeing is the better part of valor and hurries into the cave.