If there’s one staple of fantasy mythology that has been underrepresented in recent years, it’s dragons. So when Bethesda revealed that the winged creatures would be playing a major role in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it goes without saying that many fans of the series were delighted. What no one stopped to ask was, how can a person fight a dragon in anything resembling a believable fashion?
Now the developers have revealed the secret weapon that you, as the last of the dragonborn will be unleashing upon your mighty foes. They’re called ‘dragon shouts,’ and with more than a dozen to learn, your character’s voice may be the most powerful and promising facet of Skyrim‘s gameplay we have seen yet.
Game Informer has the newest details on how the power of the dragons is a powerful punch, and your protagonist’s birthright. We’ve already heard the game’s story, taking your lost heir to the line of Emperors to receive training from a mysterious group known as the Greybeards.
Now their home at the top of a mountain known as ‘the Throat of the World’ makes a bit more sense, as it is they who will teach you to shout like a dragon.
The shouts themselves will be learned skills, and to acquire the knowledge you will first need to scour the game world to learn them one word at a time. Once learned, the words can be used quickly in combat, but holding down the attack button will produce the entire spell for maximum impact. Weaponry and magic are useful tools, but this gift, known as ‘the Voice’ will likely prove to be your knockout punch.
This may seem like a brand new addition to The Elder Scrolls, but the game’s director Todd Howard points out that they’ve gotten the idea out of the world’s mythology:
“It’s in the lore..It was like the classic barbarian battle cry. I’m not sure if it showed up in a book in Daggerfall, but it’s definitely mentioned in this pocket guide to the empire that we did for Redguard. It was the idea that the Nords had these battle cries, and they would shout at their enemies.”
Anyone can learn the shouts, but only the dragonborn can use them to fight the mighty beasts themselves. Once learning of his heritage, the game’s protagonist will need to make his way to Skyrim to learn the art from the Greybeards if you have any hope of stopping the game’s terrifying prophecy from coming true.
Howard explains that while the trek will be a form of leveling for the player, it is also a connection to his ancestors:
“In the lore, Tiber Septim was the first main emperor. He could shout. His way of the Voice was unmatched…He is the original guy who walks the seven thousand steps and talks to the Greybeards. And the idea is, at that time, that they were so powerful they had to have all the villages flee for miles. This little kid is walking up this snowy mountain, and all these people are packed up and they’re walking down and away. Because they know the kid is going up to talk to these guys, and when they talk there’s going to be avalanches.”
The language of the dragon tongue was on display in the game’s announcement trailer, and eagle-eyed readers will now understand what’s being signified by the dragonborn’s gaping mouth. Whether it causes the face of our characters to be physically deformed or not, the dragon language will continue to play a major part in the story of Skyrim. Bethesda not only had to create the entire language from scratch, but had to make it feel at home in the harsh environments of the Norse culture.
Now that we know what holding ‘the power of the dragons’ really means, how will that play out in combat? Once gathering and assembling spells from ancient murals across the game world – there are over 20 shouts in all – it is up to the player to choose which to employ against his winged enemies.
Game Informer has gotten the inside info, and according to them, Bethesda is going to have a few surprises in store:
“One power used in the game acts like a sort of invisible push of staggering power. Spoken in the game, your hero will intone the three words for the full shout: “Fus, Ro, Dah!” Translated into English, “Fus” means force, “Ro” means balance, and “Dah” means push.
“He’ll be able to slow down time around him with one shout, or use a special whispered dragon shout to stealthily move close to an enemy in a mere instant. And while they’re cagey about the details, Bethesda says that one shout will let a player summon an actual dragon, calling him by name to fight.”
Whenever a dragon is dispatched by your character, your heritage gives you the ability to absorb the soul of the creature, making your spells even more potent. Bethesda is clearly intent on providing the most fully-realized game we’ve seen to date, and if these details are what they have in mind then combat, collection, and leveling may follow suit.
We would normally be skeptical about the use of voice as a major weapon, but given the amount of time and energy that the developers have put into the smallest details of the game, we’re on board. Who knows, maybe we could use the confirmed modding tools to form our own spells with unique effects.
The developers still have the better part of a year to finish the game, so we’ll keep you posted on all the bits and pieces of information along the way.
Players around the world will have the chance to shout it out when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is released on November 11, 2011.
Source: Game Informer