Bethesda unveils Elder Scrolls V, confirms direct sequel to Oblivion

Publisher and developer Bethesda Softworks officially unveiled the long-rumored next game in their Elder Scrolls franchise. Read on for the details known so far.

At the Spike channel's Video Game Awards, a lot of news was made, but the biggest reveal so far in HULIQ's estimation was the official reveal of a game that's only been rumored so far: Bethesda's Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Little detail is revealed in the game's premiere trailer, but several key facts can be gleaned:

  • As rumored, the game is a direct sequel to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, marking a departure from the previous direction of the franchise. Very clear mention is made in the trailer of "events happening after the opening of Oblivion".
  • Dragons will play a role in Tamriel for the first time. It's possible this is an intentional choice to imitation EA and Bioware's successful Dragon Age franchise, especially since both the premiere trailer and Dragon Age: Origins share references to ancient dragons that are suddenly awoken.
  • The subtitle "Skyrim" suggests that, despite the direct sequel nature of Elder Scrolls V, a new location will play a prominent role. In Elder Scrolls IV, players saw the influence of Skyrim in the architecture of Bruma at the northern edge of Cyrodil, but did not directly explore that province of Tamriel.
  • The game already has a scheduled release date: November 11th, 2011.

According to the unofficial Elder Scrolls wiki, the land of Skyrim "is a rugged, ravaged place, the site of many past battles." If the majority of Elder Scrolls V, this could mark a departure from the high fantasy setting of the previous games in the franchise, though it's unlikely that Bethesda will alter the franchise's distinctly methodical open world style of play in the favor of something more action-packed and linear in direction. That said, mention of "there is one they [the dragons] fear. In their tongue he is called. . . the 'dragon born' " suggests a hero with a more developed backstory than the franchise's past origin stories.

This will be a game to watch, since both Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion earned multiple "Game of the Year" awards and are still remembered fondly by RPG gamers. Oblivion was one of the early titles for the Xbox 360, debuting in 2006, so it's been quite some time since the franchise has last released a title, which will probably help sales. That said, many gamers will be skeptical of the title until actual gameplay footage is made available, as Bethesda's graphics technology is looking increasingly dated in contrast to other games. Reports from Bethesda that Skyrim is using a 'heavily-modified' version of the Oblivion engine, rather than using a brand-new (and more advanced) engine, will need to be put in context as footage inevitably leaks during 2011.

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