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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim detailed

Finishers! Duels! Perks! Dual-wielding!

Perks (unique abilities) will be offered when levels are gained in the fifth and new Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim - much as they were in Fallout 3.

There will also be finishing moves relevant to the weapon you carry, as well as dual-wielding and duelling, according to a Skyrim preview by Game Informer (digested and regurgitated orderly on NeoGAF).

There are even kids, although this point isn't expanded upon - are they the hero's children? Does that mean there will be romances?

Enemy level-scaling - that is, enemies that keep pace with your character level - returns. "Since people are asking, wanted to briefly touch on level scaling. All our games have had some amount of randomness/levelling based on player level. Skyrim's is similar to Fallout 3's, not Oblivion's," commented Bethesda.

Skyrim apparently has no classes to pick from, so you're free to pursue whichever skills you wish (Oblivion had class templates to help newcomers). With a significant enough rise in skill comes a rise in your character's level, although it's not clear if this is tied to a major/minor skill grouping as in Oblivion. The number of skills, incidentally, has been reduced from Oblivion's 21 down to 18.

The Mysticism spell school has been dropped, too, which leaves Destruction, Alteration, Conjuration, Restoration and Illusion.

Each time you do rise a level, you'll be asked to allocate points into either health, stamina or magicka.

Skyrim has a bamboozling 10 races to pick your hero from, and character creation has been universally improved. You can even customise body features in Skyrim, although quite what that entails we can only imagine.

Bethesda's ability to dynamically populate a huge open world has been taken a step further, too. The Skyrim engine considers your past actions; if you depend upon magic then magic-related quests will find you. Skyrim will also try to send you places you haven't been, dynamically altering quest locations depending on how you've filled your journal. Even something as simple as dumping a weapon in the streets to free inventory space can trigger a quest, as a child picks the blade up and seeks to return it to its master.

Oh, and if you decide to kill a shopkeeper, whoever inherits the store will develop an unfavourable disposition towards you because of your actions. Hilarity potential noted.

Skyrim is said to present a more varied landscape both above and below ground, which we hope means less reliance on caves for quests. Enemies mentioned are skeletons, zombies, trolls, giants, ice wraiths, giant spiders, wolves, horses Elk, mammoth and sabre-toothed cats.

Also, dragons! Dragons that can attack cities! There are five of those cities, by the way, and you can do plenty within them: make weapons, enchant, create spells, cook - possibly more. There are additional gathering skills too, such as chopping wood, farming and mining.

Talking to an NPC no longer freezes the world around you; AI-brained people go about their tasks as they speak to your hero.

There's the option of hiding the HUD while exploring the world in first-person view, and the third-person view has also improved in some unspecified way.

The story of Skyrim takes place 200 years after Oblivion and to the north of the map. The dragons are returning and you, as a dragonborn - a dragon-hunter - must fight the most evil of the reptilian beasts. Your mentor through all this will be "some old dude from Shutter Island and Minority Report", which sounds a lot like Max von Sydow, who's ace. As well as all that, the world of Skyrim will be torn by civil war, following the King's death.

Wrapping that up will be the the requisite visual improvements. Oblivion had gobsmacking vistas and Skyrim hopes to replicate that. To that end, character's faces have been a seeing to and promise to convey subtleties such as a emotion - let's hope Bethesda hires a few more voice actors, too.

That's all the information we can glean so far. If you see anything else, please say so below.