The Next Elder Scrolls Has New Combat & Levelling

The next Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, will be making some big changes to the way the series handles things like combat and levelling-up.

Firstly, combat: you can now dual-wield weapons in the game. It sounds like a cheap take on a Halo/Modern Warfare staple, but where in those shooters it's a part-time indulgence, in Skyrim it forms the cornerstone of your approach to the game, as you can allocate which weapon or tool goes in which hand.

So, for example, you can put a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. Or two daggers. Or a staff and a shield. Or a shield and a mace. For magic users, a different spell can be cast from each hand, or for a multiplying effect, the same spell can be thrown from both hands.

Another change to the way Skyrim plays compared to its predecessor, Oblivion, is in how you gain new powers and abilities. This game does entirely away with the concept of class creation, Bethesda's thinking being it's a bit naff asking people to predict how they're going to play a game when they haven't played it yet.

Replacing this, then, is an organic system of attribute growth based on use: the more you do something, the better you get at it. While this has long been a staple of RPG games, even dating back to the Quest for Glory series, but in Skyrim it's not just complementing a class structure, it's replacing it. So you won't be cast in stone as a mage if you use lots of magic, you'll just be some adventurer with a higher magic number in their stats.

You level up according to how you progress your most-used skills. "Raising one skill from 34 to 35 is going to level you faster than raising one from 11 to 12", Bethesda's Todd Howard tells Game Informer. If you stick to what you like/do best, you'll level up quickly. Conversely, if you want to take things slowly, you can raise all or most of your skills, as not focusing on one or two in particular will mean a slower rise through the levels.

One wildly unpopular aspect of Oblivion was the fact basic enemies levelled up alongside you, meaning even the most powerful warriors could sometimes be undone by sewer rats or angry crabs. In Skyrim, though, your opponent's levelling is more like that found in Fallout 3.

Continuing Bethesda's work with Fallout 3, each new level you gain in Skyrim will also give you a perk, which you can apply to give you added bonuses relative to how you want to play the game.

The levelling sounds like an interesting experiment, one I like the sounds of since I always hate choosing an "archetype" in a game before I know how I'm going to play it. The combat also sounds like a welcome piece of customisation for the series, but how well they actually work in the game, we'll just have to wait until we get some time with it!

[Game Informer Magazine]


    I like the idea of dual wielding. Can't wait for my Theif character with two daggers >:D (Not that there will be a classes... but you know).

    Back to the Daggerfall system? Heres hoping they don't the unnecessary running/jumping skills!

    Don't quite like the perks idea, it was ported over from Fallout 1 and 2 which were isometric turn based RPGs. Suffice to say it wasn't meant for the TES game style. And hopefully the dragon cries don't let you abuse them, because summoning a dragon is something that seems pretty abusable.

    Otherwise, sounds good. Hell there's even sword sheathes now and a buckle on your mace.

    This new skill system that they have reminds me of Dungeon Siege.

    As much as I despise scaled levelling and encounters, I'm intrigued by the removal of classes. Will it lead to more natural character development, or the completed destruction of roleplaying by turning every PC into an ultimate jack-of-all-trades.


    The 'new leveling' sounds a lot like Oblivion - use a skill more to level it up and level your character. How is this new?

    While I understand the rationale behind this, I've never felt that Bethesda implement it very well, particularly the abovementioned useless running and jumping. Hopefully the changes make leveling a bit more intuitive. I've always felt (and have mentioned here before) that leveling up in Bethesda games (from Morrowind to Oblivion to Fallout 3) feels more like grinding against the system rather than just enjoying the game.

    I tend to shy away from cheap ways to get around a games mechanics, but Bethesda games just cry out to be exploited (put sneak to the right mouse button, find a passive animal that stays in one spot, put a book on the mouse button and walk away from the computer. come back an hour later to 4 levels of sneak). Usually in RPG's, it's fun leveling, so you don't mind the grind, and it feels more like you're developing as well as your avatar. In Bethesda games, its just a grind.

    Well, they hardly even had classes in Oblivion, now they're just shedding the last vestiges. Nice to hear they're doing away with the poor levelling system and adding at least a little depth to combat, although I suspect it's still ultimately going to boil down to the same block-riposte or hit-and-run stuff even with dual wielding and dual-spell casting.

    To my mind, Bioware has set a big bar for Bethesda to reach with the combat systems, characters and writing on the Dragon Age and the Mass Effect series. Oblivion has a great sandbox world, bigger and better than anything Bioware has done, but was shallow in pretty much every other department: Skyrim needs to sigificantly improve on that for me to care.

      Totally agree. I remember when Fallout was coming out and they said that the guy who wrote the quest series for the Assassiins Guild (cant recall the name right now) for Oblivion was writing the quests for Fallout, it seemed like an acknowledgement that the majority of quests in Oblivion were pretty forgettable.

      Heres hoping Bethesda step up their game.

    Can't wait!

    Sounds interesting. Though I dont remember there being strict classes in Oblivion. I faintly remember my character being a badass mage warrior ninja that led a double life of flower picking.

    Also more brotherhood quests please. God they were epic. I still remember the quest where I broke into a house and pushed the loose brick on the wall onto the targets head, or the quest where I successfully manipulated the party guests against each other.

    Shield in the right hand.
    Shield in the left hand.
    Let's rock baby.

    Sounds like what I thought Oblivion was going to be...I am happy!

    So back to Morrowinds gain XP based on how you naturally play - awesome! One thing I do hope is they make the world more dynamic (with lots of incidental details) and also get rid of the selling of stolen items only to a fence - how would the shopkeeper know if its stolen or not - unless you sell them their own items back (like morrowind) and also that glitch where if you drop a stolen item on the ground and pick it up again, the guards arrest you for stealing...

    Sounds great so far! Now I'm just hoping for a Hardcore mode similar (maybe improved a little) to the one in FNV to add to the immersion.

    I just hope combat feels more like combat instead of lightly brushing your weapon against an enemy until they turn into a ragdoll.

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