@bowley and anyone else curious: Skyrim is the bomb diggity. Combat does seem to be improved quite a bit — or perhaps I was just rubbish at it in Oblivion. There seems to be less “wild flailing” and more “block, then strike at an appropriate opening” in close combat, and archery is as satisfying as ever, with all-new added bullet time perks. Not sure about the dual-wielding facility — that does seem to degenerate into “hack hack hack hack hack” but perhaps I haven’t figured out the nuances to it as yet. Finishing moves are cool, though I haven’t figured out what triggers them as yet. At least they provide a reason to spend some time on the appearance of your character, however.

Haven’t done much with the magic yet, but the ability to wield a spell in each hand is nice. I believe you can also equip the same one in both hands for super-powerful boomy justice, though I’m not sure if you can do any sort of “crossing the streams” deal with two different spells at once.

There are many Vikings. All the women are called things like Ysolde and Holda, and men are all called hairy, manly names like Hrothgar and Ulfgart. A lot of them sound a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m not sure if that’s intentional, but it’s entertaining. You don’t have to be a Viking-type character to appreciate the amount of beards around the world.

Dungeon-crawling has been rewarding so far. There appears to be a nice mix of “quick delve” dungeons and more lengthy ones with actual puzzles in them. Even underground, the environments appear to be a lot more varied than in Oblivion, which is nice, and I’ve seen little to no evidence of the stupid levelling system, either. You gain a level point every time you raise any skill now, so no more having to focus on things which might turn out to be useless. There are also fixed-level enemies around, too, who will kick your ass (and, in the case of a killing blow from a giant’s club, amusingly whack you into the upper stratosphere — I really hope they don’t patch that out) until you’ve gained a suitable amount of awesomeness to take them on. I made the mistake of pissing off a mammoth a short while ago, and didn’t realise it was being herded by the nearby camp of giants. I was trampled, gored, and then hit for a homerun roughly halfway across Tamriel. I learned not to do it again.