When it comes to console gaming and most especially, within the RPG genre, long-time gamers often dread hearing the words “more accessible” and “wider audience.” What that typically means, is that a publisher comes down on a developer to force the oversimplification of certain games, games whose predecessors offered more depth. We saw this with BioWare recently on their two big franchises: Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2.
Needless to say, with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim introducing such a large array of changes to the HUD, leveling mechanic and other gameplay features – and knowing Oblivion removed some cool stuff from Morrowind before it – some long time Elder Scrolls fans are a tad concerned. But need not worry, fellow mages, rogues and warriors! For Skyrim will not do such a thing.
The fifth installment in the consistently amazing Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim, takes players to the northern most province of Tamriel where civil war has broken out in result of the king being assassinated. Dragons are introduced for the first time in the series with the god Alduin taking the form of one of the wing beasts in an attempt to destroy the world.
Having got up close and personal with Skyrim at E3 last month, the Game Rant crew had it easy in selecting the game as the ‘Best RPG’ for the Game Rant E3 2011 Awards. We can vouch for the RPG elements when it comes to selecting, upgrading and using spells and weapons. When it comes to armor, Lead Artist Matt Carofano promised that Skyrim will offer more types and styles of armor than any previous game in the series.
When it comes to the overall game and whether or not it’s “dumbed down,” game director Todd Howard says that was not a goal for them in developing the game and instead, they simply aimed to remove any “confusion” when it comes to player progress.
“Honestly, it’s not something that we think about a lot, in that we’ve found that we’re getting a pretty big audience making a game that we want to make. We want to make it for whoever it is — even if you’ve played Elder Scrolls before, you haven’t played this one, so you don’t understand what a skill does yet.
… We want to remove confusion, that’s what I’d say. As opposed to making it more accessible, we’d like to remove confusion for anyone who’s playing. What we’re trying to do now is lead you into it more… In our games or others’ games, they give you a character menu and say, “Who do you want to be, what powers do you want?” [Players think,] “I don’t know, I haven’t played yet!”
What happens in Oblivion is you start the game, play for three hours, and then think “I want to start over, I chose wrong.” So we’d like to sort of alleviate some of that. I also think the controls work better [too] … it’s more elegant.
You look at Call of Duty, the most popular game in the world, and that’s actually pretty hardcore. At the end of the day, it’s a hardcore game, has RPG elements in multiplayer, making classes, picking perks. I think the audiences are there, and we tend to make our game more for ourselves and other people who play a lot of games.”
Hardcore gamers and Elder Scrolls veterans (like me) should feel relief in knowing this and Howard is spot on when it comes to the challenge in defining your character before actually venturing into the game. One of the most rewarding, yet challenging aspects of the Elder Scrolls titles is creating the look, class and attributes of your custom character at the very beginning and feeling obligated to follow that path even if you’re interested in something different once you start playing. Skyrim fixes all of that.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim releases November 11, 2011 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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