Bethesda Softworks unveiled a surprise for fans of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on April 12. The open-roam role-playing game phenomenon will be making its way to Kinect for Xbox 360 at the end of April, allowing for new game-play possibilities with its voice-operated commands.
This appears in line with the recently reported attempt to trademark the dragon shout term Fus Ro Dah by the company's parent ZeniMax Media Inc.
VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi got some hands-on experience with the newest Skyrim addition, describing it as an interesting way to keep fans occupied with the game.
The Kinect add-on will be available for Xbox 360 players as a free update to the Elder Scrolls release that gamers are locked in to for 80 to 85 hours on average.
Anything that makes it easier to play, given those long hours, would be welcome for hardcore fans, wrote Takahashi. It should be a new source of entertainment for the 10-million-plus people who bought the game.
Pete Hines, Bethesda's vice president of public relations and marketing, told Takahashi the main point is to make it easier for players to navigate through the game. Skyrim is also breaking the mold in a sense when it comes to game-play style on the Kinect. The motion-activated gaming device is widely recognized for its gesture-based commands, adding a physical element to playing video games. However, that's not what Skyrim for the Kinect is about. The new add-on relies heavily on voice operation rather than movement, making it easier for gamers to scroll through menus and perform other tasks.
One reason the action-adventure RPG doesn't feature many movement-related elements is because the Kinect doesn't typically suit game play for that genre.
But judging from most other titles, developers have found that Kinect's gestures aren't accurate enough to use reliably in hardcore games, Takahashi wrote. He went on to say that the voice-recognition feature and the microphones included in the Kinect's 3-D camera did work well.
This is similar to the route that BioWare took with its integrated voice commands in Mass Effect 3. This assisted in certain game-play elements, such as the ability to issue orders to two companions using voice commands, rather than having to stop and select the action.
Some of the most notable Kinect tasks involve navigating through the complex user interface. A player can simply say, Quick map, and Kinect will bring up the map of Skyrim. When a gamer says White Run, he or she will automatically be taken to that town. A player can also go into his or her journals and ask where the quest destination is.
Some fans seem to like Skyrim's new voice integration, while others are feeling a bit uncertain.
Coolest thing about 'Skyrim's' integration with Kinect is you can command your inventory to sort by weight or value! one player posted on Twitter.
I'm skeptical- 'Skyrim' Kinect Xbox 360 Support Detailed, another fan wrote.
The Verge's Russ Frushtick noted that although players won't be swinging around a giant invisible sword while they're playing, the voice controls are pretty diverse. In addition to dragon shouts and swift menu scrolls, players can also save or quit a game by saying those commands.
Although Kinect integration makes game play more convenient for some gamers, this is not the unveiling most fans have been waiting for. Skyrim fanatics are still eagerly waiting for Bethesda to release a downloadable content package for the Elder Scrolls game. Although no official announcement has been made, Bethesda Senior Community Manager Matt Grandstaff dropped some hints about the additional content's release.
I think you're going to hear stuff pretty soon, Grandstaff told The Verge. It's not too far off. They are looking at sizable content that they want to do. [Fallout 3's] 'Point Lookout' was referenced as a benchmark. It might be a little bit bigger or around that size.
For those who haven't already seen it, check out what Kinect can bring to Skyrim.