So as you may have heard already, Bethesda has announced that they will be releasing Kinect integration for Skyrim at the end of this month. This means over 200 voice commands, from Axe to Zun Haal Viik. Some voice commands are simply cool, more intuitive new approaches to old tricks: Now you’ll be able to actually sit in your living room yelling FUS RO DAH at the TV like the nerd you are and have your character fus her enemies down in response.
Other commands add not only the verbal dimension to the game, but also functionality that hasn’t previously been available on the XBox. Players will now be able to hotkey weapons or magic and then switch to them by simply saying their name. No awkward menu opening in the middle of battle (No word yet on whether the act of eating 50 apples while shooting fireballs at draugr will be streamlined at all). There will be other neat voice commands available, some seemingly more useful than others. You can see them all in the trailer posted below.
Some people may feel that the integration is lacking without motion detection, but I’m not convinced that that would be useful in a game like Skyrim. If Bethesda were to add motion detection to the Kinect support, they would have to switch all the controls over, or not at all. Having one hand on the controller to move while you have the other wielding an imaginary sword is just not a possibility. The voice integration seems elegantly done and makes sense. I think we’ve all been waiting for the option of yelling dragon shouts at the screen. Motion detection seems like it would just encumber the game unnecessarily.
Of course, as Jp said to me as we watched the trailer, this is the perfect opportunity for him to mess with my game. (Darn, I didn’t even think of that!) I exploited this to the best of my ability with the Kinect voice integration in Halo Anniversary, and I think I may have had him ready to wring my neck as I yelled GRENADE GRENADE GRENADE at the screen as he tried to play. (Though, due to the fact that the XBox apparently doesn’t like my voice, his character only responded by throwing a grenade about half the time.) I can just see it now: I will be deep in conversation with our great commander, Ulfric Stormcloak, when, from the depths of the dining room… FUS RO DAH! Aaaand I will watch in horror as my unwilling character shows Mr. Stormcloak the real meaning of “unrelenting force.” Still, despite (and perhaps in part, because of) the likelihood of this being used to troll me, I think this update is going to be a positive addition to the game.