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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim combat detailed

Perks! Spells! Stealth! Arrows! Shouting!

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Combat in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be more brutal, tactile and intricate than ever before, according to the latest nuggets of information spilling out of Bethesda Game Studios.

The game's basic two-handed combat system will allow you to equip any weapon or spell to either of your character's hands - or a two-handed weapon to both at once - and a quick-select menu will be available to swap between loadouts you've preconfigured, game director Todd Howard told Game Informer.

Weapons will include swords, shields, maces, axes or two-handed weapons, and you will be able to specialise in each to improve it or receive specific perks. The axe perk, for example, hits enemies with residual bleeding damage per blow. The bow and arrow, meanwhile, will take longer to charge up but do much more damage.

On the spell-casting side, Bethesda was apparently inspired by the fast-paced plasmid-slinging action in BioShock. There will be over 85 spells across the five schools of magic - destruction, restoration, illusion, alteration and conjuration. The old school of mysticism was deemed redundant and those spells go into other schools of magic.

Bethesda isn't saying whether it will be possible to combine spells yet, but Howard indicated it was under consideration. "We'd like to," he said. "It'd be awesome."

Stealth gameplay is described as basically the same except enemies go into an alert state when they think they see or hear something. When this happens players with a higher sneak skill have a little time to hide. With a much more powerful dagger to hand, it will also be possible to take people out from behind if you get close enough.

"Now when you sneak up behind guys, the dagger does something like 10x damage. I don't know if we're going to keep that, but you feel like you should be killing the guy if you've gotten that close and you have a dagger," Howard explained.

Since you're dragonborn, you should be able to use dragon shouts during battle too - and these will do things like slowing down time or summoning a dragon to assist.

The defensive side of the game has received attention too. Block and strike timings are very important now, and there's also a block bash move that exposes an enemy to a counter. And while it's still possible to dodge attacks, you won't be able to whack someone then just leg it to escape the encounter.

Visually combat should be more interesting too, with various staggering effects and camera shake in close quarters, and special kill animations for each weapon and enemy - and indeed battle conditions. Havok physics will be more obvious in spell-casting too, apparently.

Skyrim is due out for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on 11th November and is powered by Bethesda's new Creation Engine.

For more on the game, check out leaked details from last week and look out for our own take on it in the nearish future.

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