(Considering that automate Emails tell me to come back, I might as well be active for once)
On the Mount and Blade thing, yes the game does that, and it works well, but it still gives you specific skills, which are based on specific attributes. It also gives you a boon in specific attributes, so really it is still like choosing your attributes, but in an indirect and more realistic way. The game never removed attributes, and said attributes exist for a reason.
I do not agree on the removal of attributes in general. There is a reason that they have existed since almost the beginning of RPG's, they are a simple and easy to use way to track a persons strength/Weakness. You can also use them for much more specific things rather then just the HP/mana/stamina combo they are going with now.
Strength can be used to see how strong the character is in plain muscle power, aka how much he can carry or how much force he can use on an object.(swinging of sword or use of bow)
Endurance on the other hand is not the same thing as strength, so combining both and saying 'HP boon equals picking those' is just silly.
At least my view on the whole attribute removal, I don't understand why they did it.
Very simple. Weaknesses are bad. Why? They make the game more difficult. Difficulty is a cardinal sin these days in AAA gaming. If a two-year-old can't play it, you screwed up. You can only ever make the game easier nowadays, never harder.
I recently got a major breath of fresh air when my new copy of Forza Motorsport 3 came in, because they did accessibility right. EVERYTHING that alters the difficulty of the game can be toggled. Need help finding brake points? Turn on the line assist. Don't need it anymore? Just turn it off again and you are set. The game is built for BOTH crowds, casual and hardcore, and it works. The game is perfectly willing to hold your hand, but only if you tell it to.
Bethesda is just assuming everyone wants their hands held. This, in turn, is alienating their hardcore followers. There is nothing wrong with providing accessibility options and allowing players to essentially create their own difficulty. Wouldn't that fit in an Elder Scrolls game? Aren't we all about freedom here? I can already think of several things that could be done this way:
Injuries: Allow for sustained injuries to be obtained that negatively affect your character alongside health loss.
Equipment degradation: Weapons and armor gradually wear out over time and need to be repaired.
Stamina loss from encumbrance: Carrying a heavy load reduces your total stamina.
Stamina loss from jogging: You slowly lose stamina while jogging instead of slowly regaining it.
Exhaustion: You collapse to the ground when your stamina reaches zero.
Spell failure: Casting more powerful spells can fail.
Health regeneration: Health slowly regenerates over time, or only if you have more than 75% of your health remaining, or not at all. (three options)
Just a few here. No doubt there is more.