Elder Scrolls V class system explained

Todd Howard justifies "elegant" revamp.

As you may have read, there'll be no classes in Bethesda's much anticipated RPG sequel Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. A controversial move, to be sure, but series creator Todd Howard insists the freewheeling new system is more "elegant".

Unlike prior entries in the long-running series, you won't be asked to pick a specific class earlier on in the game. Instead, you'll be free to pursue whichever skills you desire.

Speaking in a Game Informer podcast, as reported by PlayStation Universe, Howard explained how the move will liberate gamers, letting them play as they desire, not how they are told.

"What we found in Oblivion - you start the game, you pick your race and you play for a while," he said.

"Our intent was: you played for a while, you got to figure out some skills, and then depending on how you play... one of the characters asks you, 'Okay, what kind of class do you want to be? Here's my recommendation based on how you've been playing.'

"And sort of our thought process was, what if that guy never asked that? I was perfectly happy right before then, ya know, I was just playing the game and skills were going up, so we just got rid of that. You just play, and your skills go up as you play and the higher your skill, the more it affects your leveling. So it's a really, really nice elegant system that kind of self-balances itself."

Howard went on to argue that the new system also helps prevent players from picking a class that's not suited to their natural style of play.

"What we found in Oblivion is people would play, and even though they played for a half hour and then they picked their class, it's still - in the scheme of the games we make - not enough time to really understand all the skills and how they work," he explained.

"So people would play, and the general pattern would be they'd play for like, three hours and then 'oh I picked the wrong skills, I'm going to start over'

"They weren't necessarily upset about that, but to us, someone who's making a game you're like... 'is there a way we can solve that? Is there a better way of doing it?' And we think this is it."

You'll get to make your own mind up about Bethesda's new approach when the game launches for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 11th November.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton


Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.


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