General: Battlespire Pre-Release Interview

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This is a pre-release interview for An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, conducted by (Online Game Reviews)

Bethesda Software Speaks

About Their Latest: Battlespire

Bethesda Software, creators of the immensely popular Arena series, has plans to branch the series out in a wide variety of areas. One of the first to arrive will be An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, representing an interesting departure that may surprise some readers. Stay tuned, as Bethesda will soon be discussing their other project, Redguard and Arena III.

Chris Jensen: An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire has more focus on action than previous Elder Scrolls titles. Care to elaborate?

Bethesda: The real-time combat was one of the highlights for Arena and Daggerfall, and the Battlespire system takes it a step further. You still have the basic system, where you use your mouse to control your weapons' movement, ie. an up down mouse movement translates to an overhead swing of the sword. But the system we use now makes for faster and more intuitive combat. You can assign hotkeys to all the spells, so that you can toss fireballs with one stroke. The system isn't as basic as Quake per se, but it does make for a more intense feel for the game. There's still a great deal of exploration, quest and puzzle solving, and there are traps to avoid.

Chris Jensen: Instead of a massive gameworld with hundreds of towns, will Battlespire be focused on a central location?

Bethesda: Instead of this sprawling world where you are free to explore where ever you want, Battlespire is level based. There are several massive domains, of which you have to progress from one to the next. It's a nice mix of dungeons, castle towers, and outdoors scenarios. The reason for this is because of the storyline for Battlespire, which focuses on you escaping from this outer worldly realm.

Chris Jensen: Will players be able to create their own characters? If so, what will be the available classes? Will they be able to advance levels?

Bethesda: Those who loved the Daggerfall character design system will love the Battlespire one. There are no classes, since you create your character from scratch, choosing your birthplace, assigning strengths, weaknesses, special skills, etc. You will be able to advance in levels, and the advancement is point-based. So if you use your spell casting skills more often, that skill will advance faster.

Chris Jensen: Will Battlespire be utilizing a brand new graphical engine, or is this an enhanced Daggerfall engine?

Bethesda: The engine used for Battlespire is quite advanced. In fact, visually, it is on par with the next crop of games like Unreal and Hexen 2. The hi res and hi color combo really create a stunning atmosphere. The level designs are quite intricate and sinister. Because our engine can do both indoor dungeon and outdoors environments quite well, we take full advantage of that.

Chris Jensen: In regards to the graphics engine, I'm sure many readers will be interested in your plans for 3D card support. Which ones, if any, do you currently plan on implementing?

Bethesda: Let's just say, we are quite impressed with what the 3Dfx card can do.

Chris Jensen: How about telling us a little background on the Battlespire history?

Bethesda: The storyline goes like this: During the time of Arena, the Emperor's personal guards were the greatest warrior-mages of Tamriel. Only those who could master Battlespire were chosen for the guard. Battlespire was the ultimate proving ground used to train the guards. It's located in a secure pocket universe, sort of an astal plane void.

You're eager to test your skills and prove your worth. But when you arrive upon Battlespire, you find no one alive and everything seriously wrong. This mighty Daedra Prince Mehrunes Dagon and allied daedra clans have taken the supposedly-secure Battlespire as their own dominion. And to make it worse the magical portal has been sealed behind you, preventing your return to Tamriel.

Basically, you realize at this point that if the evil Prince and his minions can so casually brush aside the defenders of this citadel, you face a more desperate test of your skills than you bargained for.

Chris Jensen: Who is handling this project?

Bethesda: Julian Lefay is leading the project. He is considered the father of The Elder Scrolls series and worked on all previous titles.

Chris Jensen: Why the change in focus from a hardcore RPG to something a little more focused and narrowed?

Bethesda: Both Battlespire and Redguard give us an opportunity to tell specific stories in the Elder Scrolls series and help develop the rich history and cultures of Tamriel. This doesn't mean that we have abandoned TES3 (The Elder Scrolls 3). That project is going to take some time to work on, and it's still in the early design stages.

Chris Jensen: Does Battlespire run the chance of being singled out by our government as something detrimental to the well-being of our youth? : )

Bethesda: Where did you get this idea? I plead the 5th again! Actually, Julian is not a believer of throwing in violence and sex just to get a cheap thrill, or to boost sales and exposure. He's quite the artiste', and as such, he wants to express his vision. Battlespire will have some blood and nudity, but it's not gratuitous. Its adds depth to the atmosphere of the game. But in other words: Yes.

Chris Jensen: Will Battlespire offer multiplayer support?

Bethesda: Actually, multiplayer is a HUGE part of the game. The advanced multiplayer options let you sneak around and batter and fry your pals in deathmatch bloodbaths. Or play cooperatively, and pit your teamwork and strategies against the Battlespire's antagonists. Most intriguing of all is that you can play team vs. team, racing to complete objectives.

Chris Jensen: Tell me some things your graphic engine can do that none of the competition can...

Bethesda: The most impressive thing is that it can do both indoor and outdoor scenarios quite well. SkyNET was a great example of this. With Battlespire, some levels are complex dungeons and towers, similar to those of Unreal and Hexen 2. Other levels include one where you must sail a boat around a castle surrounded by rolling hills. Others have you exploring graveyards and such. This is something the Quake engine can't do, and Carmack has readily admitted in public.

Chris Jensen: Is Battlespire fairly open ended with different plot branches or does it follow closely with a central plot?

Bethesda: Because there is a specific story we are telling and you must progress from one domain to the next, the plot is focused.

Chris Jensen: Will you be pushing the morality envelope with this title, i.e., offering a Child Guard feature like you did with Daggerfall?

Bethesda: Yes, we will include a Child Guard feature.

Chris Jensen: What about interaction with NPC's? Will this be as important as it was with Daggerfall?

Bethesda: Like any good RPG, there is NPC interaction. Battlespire has NPC interaction, but not like you would expect it. Imagine dealing with daedra lords and clans, who are not only out to get you, but also out to get each other!

Chris Jensen: Do you see this game reaching the hard core Daggerfall fans or is your intended audience a fresh new crop of players?

Bethesda: The Daggerfall fans will obviously be intrigued by this game. It features quite a number of enhancements that they have been clamoring for like stunning visuals, multiplayer, and challenging quests. Interestingly enough, if you combine Redguard and Battlespire, you get an interesting picture of what the future of TES 3 could hold. But Battlespire is a hybrid of RPG and action. It's got the hardcore elements that our fans expect, but it isn't the monolithic experience that Daggerfall was. A casual gamer would be intimidated and freaked out by Daggerfall. We do want to bring new people into the world of Tamriel, because there's so much to experience in it, and Battlespire and Redguard will help ease these folks in.

Chris Jensen: When can we expect to see Battlespire sitting on store shelves?

Bethesda: Battlespire is slated for August 1997