Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to benefit from an all-new engine, and Bethesda has detailed some of the improvements we can expect from the much-anticipated fantasy RPG.
Dubbed the Creation Engine, Skyrim’s new powerhouse brings with it a suite of new tools and tricks that’ll ensure this will be Bethesda’s most technically impressive game to date.
“The big things for us were to draw a lot of stuff in the distance so we have a really sophisticated level of detail, more so than what we’ve had in the past for how things stream in and how detail gets added to them as they get closer to the camera,” Bethesda Studio’s creative director Todd Howard told Game Informer.
“Because our worlds are so big all of the lighting has to be dynamic,” he said. “That’s something we had a little bit of in the past with shadowing, but not on everything. Now we have it on everything. It just makes the whole thing a lot more believable when you’re there.”
The visual pass carries on to the minutiae of Skyrim’s world; as it’s set in a more Northern region that Oblivion’s Cyrodiil, there’ll be a more severe climate and the Creation Engine is well-equipped to deal with snow and rock-faces, while the foliage benefits from a bespoke engine for Skyrim’s trees.
The improvements stretch beyond the visuals, and Skyrim’s AI also promises to be a step up. The overhauled Radiant AI will deliver more believable NPC behaviour , with distinctive personalities being played out in the actions of Skyrim’s inhabitants.
There’ll also look more believable than before thanks to the implementation of Havok Behavior. “I think we’re the first real big game to use it,” boasted Howard, before explaining what the tech brings to the game. New animations make the characters much more lifelike, and that has various repercussions. “We definitely have made a significant jump in how it plays [in third person perspective],” said Howard, before cryptically declining to comment whether the technology could possibly be applied to player mounts in the game.
Finally, Skyrim’s new technologies will also have an impact on the way the game plays out, having a bearing on player quests. “Traditionally in an assassination quest, we would pick someone of interest and have you assassinate them,” Howard explained. “Now there is a template for an assassination mission and the game can conditionalize all the roles – where it happens, under what conditions does it take place, who wants someone assassinated, and who they want assassinated. All this can be generated based on where the character is, who he’s met. They can conditionalize that someone who you’ve done a quest for before wants someone assassinated, and the target could be someone with whom you’ve spent a lot of time before.”
Skyrim is down for release on November 11 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, and we’ll have much more on the game for you over the coming months.
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