It may only be the 8th January, but the February issue of massive games magazine Game Informer is already dropping into the hands of subscribers, bringing with it a wealth of new information on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. We're not in the business of posting scans - we want you to go out and buy the magazine - but we thought you'd want to hear some of the larger developments featured in the magazine right away.
The guys at NeoGAF have been also working hard to compile a text list summarizing what can be found in the issue, as they don't allow scans either. Thanks to them and some detective work of our own, we can now tell you a little about the systems that will drive Skyrim when it hits in November.
First up, levelling up - it's been completely overhauled from Oblivion, with class selection at the game's outset ditched in exchange for a system where you level individual skills. Your overall level is then determined by the level of each individual power and skill, those adding up to become one 'main' level number. As that overall character level rises, your health will increase and you'll also be given the opportunity to select a bonus of more Magicka, Stamina, or even more Health.
Each level will also award you with a new perk of a sort, which presumably will be a little similar to those offered in Fallout 3, Bethesda's other big open-world RPG. The level cap and scaling from Oblivion return, but both are changed significantly: The cap is a soft cap at 50, meaning that once you hit level 50 you can still keep moving up but it'll take much, much longer to do so. Scaling is described by Bethesda staff as being more similar to Fallout 3 than the scaling of Oblivion which would lead to all-powerful warriors dying at the claws of a high-level rat.
In terms of the skills you'll be pouring those experience points into, there'll be 18 different skills in Skyrim - slimming down from the 21 on offer in Oblivion and 27 on offer in Morrowind. The setup of the skills is designed in such a manner to allow players to specialize in a style such as Mage or Warriors or be more diverse with a wide range of skills.
How you build and level your character will also have an effect on the quests you recieve - the quest system in Skyrim will change depending on what type of character you are and how you've played the game. If you've mercilessly murdered someone who was going to give a quest, it might not disappear - it might pass on to another character, who might refuse to help you at first because of your prior actions.
A heavy magic user might get a quest off a fellow magician that a warrior might not, too. Once you get a quest, the game will modify it based on your in-game history. The location of an objective might move to another location in order to show you a new area that you've been to, or to give you more of a challenge. Enemies, likewise, will change based on the game's past log of your strengths, weak
Once you get to a quest, Bethesda tell Game Informer that they've worked to make the combat more dynamic and more tactically involving. There's a 'dual wield' of sorts - each hand has to have something equipped. For example, you could carry a sword in one hand and a shield in another - traditional - or carry a different weapon in each hand or wield a different spell in your left and right hands. Bethesda are putting a large emphasis on making different weapons feel different when in use.
Traversing the overworld should be a little quicker on foot this time, as there's a sprint function in the game - though Sprinting uses stamina. The overworld will feature five large cities, with a larger emphasis placed on variety in dungeons, caves and other areas that'll provide the bulk of the combat situations.
In terms of the setting, the game is set 200 years after Oblivion, and tells the story of fighting off the evil Dragon God in the return of the Dragons. You play Dragonborn, a Dragon Hunter.
You can find more details on the contents of Game Informer's Skyrim exclusive over on the NeoGAF forums, but stick with us for the latest on the game as and when we get it. Based on this info, we're getting more and more excited... let's home Bethesda get it all right!