Five ways The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim can top Oblivion

For all your fantasy RPG do’s and don’ts, developers needn’t look any further than The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. On one hand, Bethesda’s 2006 opus is a technical master class, a smorgasbord of eye-watering aesthetics backed up by a sumptuous open-ended landscape ripe for the picking. Its core narrative—which sees players tracking down Tamriel’s lost heir and driving the dastardly Daedric forces back their fiery pits—serves as a mere toe-dipper in the fantasy romp’s rich, sprawling ocean of ample side quests, level-building and exploration.

Ostensibly, The Elder Scrolls IV is your story; stitched and woven together by a series of irrevocable, life-changing decisions that ultimately concocts the compelling tapestry that is your life. The bifurcation of good and evil lies at your very feet for you to tread as you see fit. Do you adhere to the righteous rituals of a noble Knight or the unscrupulous antics of a slippery Thief? Is fame or infamy the name of your game? Does slitting someone’s throat in the dead of night come as natural to you as helping out some poor sod dispose of a gaggle of pesky Goblins? After dunking yourself in to Cyrodiil’s sprawling sandbox for a few days, you’re sure to find the answer to these questions and more.

Conversely, however, those of you who have racked up considerable time in Tamriel will concede that Oblivion’s far from the polished paradigm of fantasy escapism it could have been. Suffice to say, there’s a few flies in the ointment. From nasty niggles attributed to the game’s engine to repetitive quests, voice-overs and ugly design decisions, Bethesda’s magnum opus could have done with a slight trimming around the edges to say the least. As such, with the announcement of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim fresh on the old grey matter, here’s our pick of five ways Bethesda can ensure the follow-up delivers an even more competent adventure than its predecessor.

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1) Polish the engine

Oblivion’s game engine proved a fertile breeding ground for a myriad of technical hiccups. Not surprising, considering the sprawling RPG marked Bethesda’s inaugural next-gen offering and the team had roughly six months to acquaint themselves with the intricacies of new hardware. Nonetheless, the atrocities committed were less than bearable at the best of times. Games would inexplicably freeze up, slow down would make even the most rudimentary of maneuvering a task in itself, and pop-up and clipping reared its head in abundance. Needless to say, anyone busy pottering away in their little greenhouse of immersion would find their world well and truly shattered. If Skyrim is to enjoy a successful launch, then we can’t have a repeat performance of its predecessor’s tumultuous entry to market. Fortunately, Bethesda has already confirmed it’s been chiseling away on a fresh engine for The Elder Scrolls V, which means a meaty overhaul in all departments—providing they can weed out any potential bugs, we should have a glitch-free ticket to Skyrim come November 11. Sure, there’s bound to be a few nuts and bolts that need tightening under the hood, but as long as the Skyrim sports car isn’t coughing and spluttering along like an old banger, we’ll call it a definitive improvement.

2) Spice up the combat

In our humble opinion, Bethesda did a pucker job with Oblivion’s combat. Intuitive and rewardingly tactical at times, the game offered a fine balance between mindless mashing and meticulously timed mauling. If you liked slicing foes up with pointy-ended objects and serenading them with spells, Oblivion had you covered. However, one area the game was conspicuously lacking in was ranged attacks, specifically of the non-zapping variety. Sure, you had the bow and arrow, but it played a distinct second fiddle to the game’s deafening orchestra of proximity-based attacks, and was only really effective when enchanted. As such, we’d like to see Bethesda incorporate a meaty selection ... (continued on next page) ----

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