by Joseph Christ on March 11, 2011
It’s usually custom for there to be three meals in ones day. A breakfast, lunch, and dinner, possibly with some small snacks in-between. Or should I say was custom. Since the release of the Skyrim gameplay trailer I would categorize my custom as having 4-6 meals a day; the usual intake of food compounded with 1-3 doses of that marvelous trailer. I’m sure I’m not alone, and I’m also quite sure that throughout each subsequent play-through we all tried to fine one more hint of what might be in store for us on 11.11.11.
The pacing of the trailer is quick, but one can still find small glimpses of detail within the action. There is one detail however which is not so much shown as it is implied. Appearing at the beginning and at the very end of the trailer, it is subtle enough for us to use in making grand statements out of nothing more than a gut feeling, tempered in ignorance and fed a few moments of cinematic flair.
I think you can fly in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Not at the beginning, and probably not for a very long time in the game. But I’ll dare to say the evidence for such a thing exists…even if its form is as cryptic as they come.
The first hint comes at the very beginning of the trailer. Our hero is being hunted by something airborne and frightening. The perspective remains in the first person throughout the entire ordeal, first running on the ground, then flying by air, the perspective never straying the entire time. One could dismiss this as simple cinematic finesse but I feel that it’s something more. The Elder Scroll’s games are partially defined by their emphasis at keeping the main characters viewpoint as primarily first person, and by switching back and forth between these two views during this action scene they are suggesting two things. First they are creating a relationship between the flying and running viewpoints, conveying that they are symbiotic, even conjoined in their nature. Secondly, since the entire gameplay trailer was taken in-game they are showing that the Skyrim graphics engine is fully capable of rendering in-flight panoramas.
This second point is important since I would argue that the Gamebryo Engine as used in Oblivion simply wasn’t capable of such displays, and would have rendered far-away geography as flat, low-resolution tiles even if it happened to be directly underneath the player. In Oblivion’s, and even Fallout 3’s, case it would never have been able to sufficiently handle the job.
The second hint comes at the end of the trailer when the hero has defeated the dragon and we are shown him slowly taking in the soul of the creature. The camera pans over his shoulder to a great expanding vista behind him. A dragon is seen perched out in the distance. As the camera continues to pan upward, the dragon majestically takes flight into the sky. Is Bethesda creating a coriliation between the hero taking in the soul of the dragon and the creature taking flight in the background? It’s possible, and there is some reporting done by Game Informer that could back this up. The dragonborn themselves (your character) are described as “a unique group of mortals, gifted by the gods with the same power as the dragons.” It’s explained that this power is harnessed through the use of shouts which act as extra abilities. You are able to get these powers through a lengthy quest and by the act of slaying dragons.
“Dragon shouts give the player the same overwhelming might that drives the resurgent dragon population, and the same source of power that launched the last line of emperors…Upon defeating a dragon, Skyrim’s hero absorbs the soul of the fallen creature, which fuels his ability to learn a new shout.”
Could it be possible that one of these shouts gives the dragonborn the ability to temporarily fly? The trailer seems to suggest so, but it still is nothing more than a suggestion; or perhaps only cinematic flair after all. Needless to say, the idea of enhanced movement is not a foreign idea to Oblivion or Fallout, with fast-travel being the primary tool of speedy relocation. But flying would be the type of huge step we’ve been waiting for from the series and it would have the beneficial side effect of making Fast-Travel seem like a completely senescent affair. I dare say, who would look at a loading screen when they can fly?