Me? I like being crafty with spells. I take great delight when I see Howard use a mix of Detect Life and Fury near a bandit spire to incite a pack of rogues to fight one another, and then ready a bow to headshot the last man standing - with a few points invested in the archery skill tree, your character can hold his breath when aiming a shot. Part of Skyrim's potential seems to stem from the ability to create balanced character builds by simply playing the game as you like.
When Howard's character reaches the Black Falls Barrow there's a dragon waiting outside, so he flees into the temple while I bask in the ornate fire-lit structures and architecture. Spiders, skeletons, and bandits are fought, including a massive frostbite spider that's dispatched with a few thorough blasts of Chain Lightning, then Howard progresses into a cobweb-infested crypt where he runs into Arvel the Swift - the guy who ran off with the Golden Claw in the first place.
Arvel promises to let you know about the secret of the treasure but he is, quite literally, caught in a web, so you have to cut him down and then kill him when he inevitably decides to backpedal on his promise.
Deciding to investigate Arvel's claims, Howard heads through the crypt, back out into the mountains, and enters a sanctum where he's required to solve a puzzle to get through a locked door. Inside the hall is a Word Wall, which teaches the player a chunk of the dragons' language - with this one allowing you to slow down time. Your character has been anointed by the scaly creatures, and by learning their language can make 'shouts' of up to three words (once unlocked). These are activated by holding down the right bumper, though the more powerful the shout the longer its cooldown.
Heading back down the mountain, Howard encounters the dragon from earlier and uses his newfound ability to freeze time. I'm going to spoil it here and reveal that Todd Howard slays the dragon, and as it dies the poor thing ignites into flames leaving only the skeleton visible before Howard feasts on the creature's soul - presumably for some sweet stat boosts and abilities.
One thing Bethesda is keen to push is Skyrim's Radiant story system, which might subtly affect the way quests play out. If you've killed Lucan Valerius before accepting the quest, for instance, his sister will become the one that tasks you with retrieving the item, and there might be other changes along the way, too - Bethesda isn't saying much at this point. Other quests might turn the villain into somebody you've offended earlier in the game, and Howard also uses an example of one quest involving children randomly abducted from the game's towns.
Even a small taste is enough to show that Skyrim is overflowing with tantalising options and a more refined focus than Oblivion. And did I mention the gorgeous UI? There are a few months to go before the game makes its debut, but this introduction to Skyrim's world has left me so excited that I got through this entire preview without making a reference to Horse Armou-- oh, bugger.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released on November 11 for PC, PS3 and Xbpx 360