E3 2011: Day 3 Wrap-up and the drawing of the curtain on another Electronic Three
While E3 has long since packed up and moved on from the LA convention center, sometimes it just takes a few days to properly process all of the crazy sights and sounds a person must endure while on the show floor. So, too, is the case with this year’s show and my experiences on the final day the grand spectacle that is E3.
So, how was my final day of E3-ing? Well, let me start at the beginning.
Skyrim in the Morning
When E3 is moving at full speed, getting in the proper amount of sustenance is key to staying on your feet for longer than 5 hours at a stretch. Having scarfed down a chicken panini only moments before the start of day 3, I got in the massive line outside of the west hall and prepared to launch myself over to the Bethesda booth, for the second time in three days, in the hopes of seeing the walkthrough to Bethesda’s latest and greatest RPG, the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
To be quite frank, a lot of my excitement for Skyrim stems not from the fact that it’s the follow up to Oblivion. I’m rather apathetic about that game, overall. Instead it stems from the fact that, aside from the glorious new engine, Bethesda is taking great strides to overhaul the three areas of contention that several critics, including yours truly, had with Oblivion: the combat, the leveling, and the conversation system. After witnessing the Skyrim presentation, I can honestly say that this game is going to blow Oblivion out of the water in almost every way, and that’s before the dragons drop out of the sky to melt your face off. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
As far as combat is concerned, this is still and Elder Scrolls game. Even though it was mentioned to us during the demo that the third person perspective is no longer ‘just for show’, a first person approach still seems to be the de facto method of engagement if you want to slay anything bigger than a deer. That being said, the act of slaying things seems to have been markedly improved. Not only does magic finally seem like a viable option, Skyrim seems built around a philosophy that is quite different from earlier entries in the series: play how you want, when you want. During the demo, our fearless leader switched back and forth from sword and shield, to two handed, to the ‘Gandalf the Grey’ inspired sword and staff, to full on sorcerer, using two different spells, one for each hand, rather effortlessly. And in each case, the combat seemed both fun and effective. Finally having the ability to change play styles like that on the fly like that is probably the thing that excites me the most in Skyrim. Well, that and the ability to shout like a dragon. Don’t worry. I’m getting to the dragons.
But first off, let’s talk a little about that new engine of theirs. Aptly named the ‘Creation’ engine, Bethesda’s follow up to ‘Gamebryo’ does an excellent job of bringing the world of the Elder Scrolls out of the browns and greens of the previous game into the world of snow capped mountain peaks, lush rolling hills, and brightly lit vistas. Sure there’s also the dank, gray, murky underbelly of over 150 dungeons to rummage through. But that’s not what you want me talk about, right? No, you want to hear about the dragons. And let me tell you, these dragons are pretty pissed off at everybody, especially you. They’ll pluck enemies of the ground and hurl them off into the distance. They’ll crash land and impact the ground with the force of a falling meteor. And when they die, their inner flame will end up consuming them whole, at which point you, being attuned to dragon-kind, will be able to absorb their strength in order to gain new dragon shouts to use against your foes. After seeing all of aforementioned chaos run on ‘creation’, it’s almost impossible to think of this game running on ‘gamebryo’ in any way, shape, or form.
Furthermore, this new engine finally ends the long running technique of the ‘locked off’, head-on conversation perspective that made the odd looking characters of both Oblivion and Fallout look even more awkward and disturbing. Better still, if you’re bored with what someone’s saying to you, you can simply walk away mid-sentence. While I’m sure the dev team would prefer that we listen to as much of the dialog as possible, I’m sure a lot of people will find this feature a welcome addition as opposed to having to mash on the “skip dialog” button all the time. Now all that Bethesda needs to do is get this game out the door so they can start working on that Fallout 4 game we all know is coming.
So am I jazzed for Skryim? Absolutely. Though it would have been great to take the game for a test drive personally, the Skyrim demo left me with the sense that Bethesda is determined to make this new Elder Scrolls game something really special. And just the idea of climbing up to the very top of one of those huge mountains and looking out at the entire realm of Skyrim below sounds ridiculously exciting.
Next Up: 2K’s getting Irrational up in the clouds