If you’ve been following The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at all, you may have noticed a whole lotta Nords running around the land of Skyrim. This, of course, makes sense, given that Skyrim is, like, the homeland of the Nords. But it raised many questions in fans’ minds as to whether or not we would be forced to play a Nord. Don’t get me wrong, I like my burly Nord warrior as much as the next, but a key component to the Elder Scrolls has always been the ability to choose your character from the varied races of Tamriel.
Bethesda thus hosted a brilliant community outreach program, asking fans to help design the first Dunmer (dark elf) character for the game. The results are fabulous, and truly a testament to the new engine on which Skyrim will appear, but it also shows the evolution of the dark elf race has taken through the course of the series. In fact, of all the races, I think it’s safe to argue that the dark elves have seen the most change — the Argonians (my personal favorite class) have changed very little, merely received sharper, finer tuning from the gift of improved graphics.
The Skyrim Dunmer thief actually looks as though it harkens back to the Daggerfall-era dark elves which were, unarguably, my favorite of the series. They had a bit of substance to them while still looking elven and non-human. (Plus, look at those pixels!) In Morrowind, the Dunmer were heavily featured since, much as Skyrim is the home of the Nords, Morrowind was the home of the Dunmer. They featured a far more severe, gaunt character design, with their red eyes far more pronounced. The nadir of the poor Dunmer race was easily Oblivion. The red eyes were far too pronounced, and their features were bloated-looking and, well, not very dark elf-y. It looks as though we are venturing close to realism.
Also, of note, was that the Dunmer have always had an air of superiority to them, in regards to other races, but they seemed more cold and aloof in Morrowind, where as in Oblivion I always felt as though they were aristocratic snots. But then, I’m judgmental of my in-game peers… it’ll be interesting to see if this new character design harkens back to their aloof, cold nature.
It is interesting to note that Bethesda chose to show a dark elf thief as opposed to, say, an assassin or battlemage. While they are one of the more well-balanced races of the Elder Scrolls universe, and can quite easily fulfill any class the player chooses, their attributes do tend to favor them towards fast melee fighters, with some magic thrown in for good measure. The Dunmer were one of the better classes to play in Oblivion (despite their not-so-attractive appearance) because of their natural fire resistance.
We should see a lot of the Dunmer in Skyrim, seeing as the provinces border one another to the West. In fact, much as Bloodmoon brought a bit of Skyrim into Morrowind, I would imagine that we may very well see a DLC involving the Dunmer, or even venture back into Morrowind. One of the interesting things about Morrowind as a game was that we, as players, really only got to explore the island of Vvardenfell, and left the majority of the continent unexplored.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released November, 11, 2011 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. As Bethesda continues to tease us with screens and races, I still have one burning question that remains unanswered: will my poor Argonian finally get to wear boots