How new is Elder Scrolls V's engine?

Are we talking Gamebryo or id Tech 5?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be powered by a new engine, Bethesda has said. But there are some important points to consider before you get carried away.

"We can now confirm that the TES V: Skyrim engine is all-new. And it looks fantastic," Bethesda community man Nick Breckon tweeted.

"It's a new graphics/gameplay engine built internally. We'll have more details down the road," he added.

What he did not say was, "Skyrim will not use Gamebryo", nor did he specify that, "Skyrim will use id Tech 5."

Simply, this could be Bethesda's way of saying it has heavily modified or revamped the existing Gamebryo Oblivion/Fallout 3 engine. Todd Howard suggested this to be the case when talking to Eurogamer in August.

"Fallout 3 technically does a lot more than Oblivion. The new stuff is an even bigger jump from that," he said. "I can say it is on the existing platforms, which we're really happy with. You almost feel like you have a new console when you see the game."

Fallout: New Vegas was the last of Bethesda's games (developed by Obsidian) to use Gamebyro: "outdated tech", according to Eurogamer's Fallout: New Vegas review.

Less likely, but also tantalisingly possible, is that Bethesda has opted to use new sibling studio id Software's muscular id Tech 5 engine. However, Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax didn't buy id Software until the summer of 2009, and work on a fifth Elder Scrolls game, we presume, started long before then; such a transition would have required scrapping a lot of work before doing, again, a lot of work.

The Elder Scrolls V was unveiled at the weekend, through a trailer with requisite gravelly-toned narration and dramatic prophecy to herald a "Dragon-born" hero. The game will be released on unknown formats - presumably PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 - on 11th November 2011.

Many had considered the next Elder Scrolls game to be an MMO and, although that doesn't immediately appear to be the case, there could be a significant multiplayer part to the game that led speculators down the wrong path.

Now Skyrim has been announced we can expect a flurry of meaty game-reveals to follow.

"One thing I can say is that from when you first hear about it to when it's out will be the shortest it's been for us. It's pretty far along. When we show it, we want to show a lot, because there's a lot of game there to play right now," said Todd Howard earlier this year.

The reveal.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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