We’ve had a lot of Skyrim coverage lately, and for good reason: It’s kind of a big deal. Few developers do open-world games as well as Bethesda, and the Elder Scrolls series has a huge following. At Gamescom today, Bethesda’s Pete Hines took the controller and gave us an hour-long look at what Skyrim has to offer.

While I’ve seen demos of the game before, this was the first time that I’ve had a chance to see a character built from scratch. I was a little surprised to see how quickly the process can go. Unlike previous versions of the game, where you have to navigate through options such as your character’s birthsign and skills immediately, your main task in Skyrim is to choose your race, gender, and appearance. Every character starts off with a couple of spells—an offensive fire spell and a healing spell—and you can choose to continue along that path or focus on weapons-based combat.

After a short walk through an underground passage, our female Khajiit was free to explore the world of Skyrim. We walked down a path, picking up flowers along the way. The game’s world is gorgeous. The snowy mountains and pine forests were a nice departure from the beautiful but bland world of Oblivion.

Eventually, she came upon a mine, which was guarded by a bandit. After fending him off with an ax, she stripped his corpse of loot and his shabby armor, and ventured inside.

Hines says that the development team wanted to make sure that every dungeon in Skyrim had its own personality and didn’t feel the same—another of Oblivion’s faults. That means that players will encounter different puzzles, traps, and architecture in different lairs. In this case, a shackled skeleton hung near the entrance, with a backpack at his feet. Reading a note from inside, we learned that the deceased was once a fisherman. While looking for a new fishing spot, he learned of this mine, which was supposedly haunted by creatures who stole children. Whatever was in there, it didn’t seem to like him.

Moving deeper in the mine, Abby, our character, picked off bandits with her bow, and demonstrated the effectiveness of dual-wielding melee weapons. While she couldn’t block as she held a sword and ax, enemies rarely lasted long enough while facing her flurries of attacks to make it much of an issue.

One of the treasures she found while exploring was a tome that teaches a clairvoyance spell. Hines says that this is a low-level spell that anyone can learn that will come in handy for explorers. If you’re looking for an NPC for a mission or are trying to find a way across a mountain, casting the clairvoyance spell creates a glowing path for your character to follow.

Abby also found some ore and ingots, which she took to a series of smithing stations to make a sword.

Eventually, we came upon the source of those horrible rumors: necromancers. These magic users are deadly when they’re in groups. If you kill one, their partners are likely to resurrect them if you’re not fast enough. Sure enough, Abby had to kill several of the foes multiple times before they fell for the last time. Looting one of the corpses, Abby found a staff that summoned a wolf companion.

After working our way back out through the passageways, our bulging inventory made one thing clear: This beginner-level dungeon should probably be one of the first stops you make when you play the game on November 11.