New Skyrim Info Blowout

The latest issue of Edge magazine has brought us a slew of new details on Bethesda's next entry in the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim.

Perhaps most interesting is the revelation that nothing in the game, from the expansive landscape to the facial features of NPCs, has been procedurally generated. Everything you see in Skyrim has been hand crafted by Bethesda’s artists.

To help tie together the sense that Skyrim is a fully realized world, Bethesda has gone to great lengths to make sure the creatures you’ll encounter are more diverse than ever before. A new type of creature was also confirmed, an “ice golem.”

We've also got more details on the game's complex reputation system, which will work like an expanded version of what we saw Fallout: New Vegas. The article describes befriending the heads of local militias by completing the quests they ask of you. Being on good terms with these officials, known in the game as Jarls, will carry an added benefit: the guards under their command will be nicer to you. Apparently your reputation can even impact the way you're treated after crimes. Details are scarce, but it sounds like being close buddies with a faction might help them turn a blind eye to your 

It'll also be possible to turn the game's factions against one another. According to the article, someone playing the demo at a recent press event wandered into a forbidden fort and wound up starting a small war between local enemies.

The perk system, a Fallout-inspired addition to the series, was also discussed in brief. One new perk will allow you to sprint forward with your shield raised, knocking any enemies in your way off to the side. You’ll also be able to unlock the ability to decapitate people in combat. Skyrim’s director, Todd Howard, commented on the feature, stating, “It's not super-gory, but it's a surprise when you get it and heads start flying off."

Quests will be providing a few surprises of their own too. One section of the article described being tasked with apprehending bandits for a local Jarl. On the way, the player encountered a wagon that the bandits had raided and set ablaze. Shortly afterwards, he made a wrong turn only to find himself ambushed by the bandits themselves. This brief walkthrough also revealed a new kill animation, where your enemy falls to his hands and knees and tries to crawl away. Spoiler alert: He’s not going to make it.

Additionally, the article gives us some brief tidbits on the game's locations. The Thieves Guild will be making a return in Skyrim, with their headquarters based in the sewers beneath the town of Riften. There will also be a Shrine of Talos, the first Dragonborn, located in Whiterun.

Finally, gourds have been confirmed as an ingredient in the game's alchemy and cooking systems. I know a lot of you were losing sleep over that one, so I'm happy to put your mind at ease.

Global productivity is expected to decline sharply when Skyrim releases on November 11 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.