New details on Elder Scrolls IV

Next entry in Bethesda's RPG series in development for PC and "future generation consoles."

Bethesda Softworks today announced new details on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the sequel to 2002's The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Intriguingly enough, the game is in development for PC "and future generation consoles" and has been in development since 2002.

“Since starting this project two years ago, our goal has been to create the quintessential RPG of the next generation,” said series executive producer Todd Howard in today's announcement. Bethesda promises a "combination of freeform gameplay and cutting-edge graphics."

As in Morrowind, the player will be able to go through the game's main storyline at his own pace, either blazing straight through or leisurely exploring the world. The player will be able to join any one of a number of factions and guilds, each of which will contain its own story arc.

A new artificial intelligence system, called Radiant AI, will see non-player characters make choices based on the world around them. NPCs will do different things during the day--eat, sleep, go to church, steal things--depending on their personalities and environment. Everyone in the game's world will sport full facial animations, lip synching, and full speech for all dialogue.

Story-wise, the game takes place in the country of Tamriel and its capital province Cyrodiil. The emperor has been assassinated, and the player is charged with finding the heir to his throne. Of course, with no emperor to guard the populace, the gates to Oblivion (Tamriel's version of hell) open up and demons begin to invade the city.

Bethesda has not announced any specifics regarding the game's release window. Of course, since details on the title's target platforms are currently few and far between, this is not surprising.

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