You’re not busy, right? Why not kill a third of an hour watching the E3 demo for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?

Courtesy publisher Bethesda Softworks, the footage is essentially just game director Todd Howard narrating a lightly choreographed block of gameplay. It’s simultaneously a chance to see the game itself in action, and get a bit of insight on what went into the creation of Skyrim.

The footage itself has been broken up into three pieces, lest YouTube start crying salty, electronic tears. The first part is embedded at right, while parts two and three can be found below my obligatory text wall.

While most people will be attracted to the gorgeous graphics, or the addition of Fallout 3-style kill cinematics, I’m most impressed by the game’s new menu system. The player menu and that spell selection menu are a huge step up from the clunky interface in Oblivion and the semi-transparent, clean font work is far more novel than seeing more overwrought “Medieval” (read: like “Papyrus,” but not trademarked) script.

That said, there’s also a moment in the third clip that I find just hilariously awesome. The protagonist has decided to throw down with some gigantic, half-naked dude, and is holding his own (despite a notable size disadvantage) with a combination of shield blocking and mace strikes. Typical stuff, really.

Then, out of nowhere, the half-naked dude is snatched by a dragon who carries him 50 feet into the air, drops him to his death, and wheels around to strafe the protagonist.

I was fully expecting dragons from this game. I was fully expecting them to fly and be totally scary and dangerous. However, I was not expecting them to swoop in out of nowhere, destroy unrelated NPCs purely for entertainment value, then blast you with a gout of aerial flame.

Dragons have been a staple of gaming since the 1970s, but I can’t recall any other game casting them in such a malevolent, chaotic light. I very much like the idea of giant winged lizards that get off on wrecking up the place at random.

Hopefully this pervasive sense of drakonophobia will be enough to distract me from Skyrim’s disappointing lack of radscorpions.

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