Elder Scrolls 6: My Theories and Predictions
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
The following is a reproduction, and was originally posted on July 7, 2018. The original article, and many more, can be found at RemptonGames.com.
This year’s E3 was full of exciting trailers and previews for upcoming games. Nintendo gave us an extended look at Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Sony had an incredible trailer for The Last of Us II, and Microsoft unveiled over 50 new games coming soon to Xbox and PC.
However, while all of these presentations were full of exciting (and cringy) moments, the most exciting presentation of the whole conference had to be Bethesda. We got more information about Fallout 76, the first look at Starfield, and new Doom and Wolfenstein games. Bethesda gave fans pretty much everything that they were hoping for, but the moment that stole the entire conference was definitely the reveal of Elder Scrolls 6.
We still know very little about this game other than that it exists and is currently in development, but that hasn’t stopped the internet (and me) from wildly speculating about what could be contained in this newest entry in the Elder Scrolls series. Today, I share these wild speculations with you!
Because we know almost nothing about this game, there is very little that we can say about it definitively. That being said, the last Elder Scrolls game came out 7 years ago, and the gaming industry has changed a lot since then. Here are a few things that I can almost guarantee are going to be in the next Elder Scrolls game.
In many ways, Skyrim has held up incredibly well these past seven years. Unfortunately, it’s visuals are not one of them. When Skyrim first came out it was considered to be one of the most beautiful games of all time, but that is no longer the case. While it doesn’t look horrible, I think that we are guaranteed a pretty significant visual upgrade from previous entries.
Improved Character Creation
Similar to the previous entry, I believe that this is all but guaranteed to be in this next entry. While Skyrim’s character creation is not bad, there is no doubt that Bethesda has improved it’s character creation significantly in more recent games such as Fallout 4.
More Realistic NPCs
One thing that Skyrim does a great job with is making the world feel real and lived-in. Tamriel feels full of history, and the cities are bustling with life. The amount of NPCs to interact with is very impressive even by today’s standards, but over time they begin to feel a bit…off. A piece of dialogue that felt very natural the first time you hear if becomes robotic and off-putting the tenth time you hear it repeated by a different character.
I understand that creating that many characters is a monumental feat, and I applaud Bethesda for doing as much as they did. That being said, I expect the NPCs in the next installment to behave much more realistically, not only in their dialogue but their actions.
An important subset of this is the companion characters. I find the companion characters in Fallout 4 to be very compelling – they all feel unique, and have different backstories and personalities. They react differently to your actions and dialogue options, add their own thoughts about different situations, and slowly grow to trust and admire the player (or distrust them, if they disapprove of your choices). Skyrim companions, on the other hand, just tend to repeat the same five phrases and block doorways.
By modern standards, Skyrim’s loading screen feels like an eternity. To make matters worse, dungeons are usually broken up into several different pieces so the player has to sit through the loading screen far more frequently than they otherwise would. For the next game, I hope that they not only speed up the loading process but make it so that players can seamlessly transition between different parts of the same dungeon.
Like to Haves
Skyrim, and the Elder Scrolls games in general, are notoriously buggy. While playing, in fact, I have actually been forced to exploit potentially game-breaking bugs for the sole purpose of fixing something that had been broken by a bug! For this next installment, I would simply like for the game to work how it is supposed to a larger percentage of the time. As much as I want to put this in the “Must Haves” category, I simply do not have faith that this wish is going to come true, and I already know I’m going to buy the game regardless.
When playing Skyrim after completing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the single thing that most bothered me was the inability to climb. The entire world is covered in steep, impassible mountains and yet the game gives the player absolutely no way to climb them. I believe that the addition of climbing to this series would be a huge improvement, and would make traversing the world much more enjoyable.
More Terrain Variety
As far as terrain goes, Skyrim basically has two options: Snowy mountains, and less snowy mountains. Sure, there is one really cool underground area full of glowing mushrooms and the player will occasionally get transported to another plane of existence to break up the monotony, but most of the game is spent in a pretty dull environment.
Going back to Breath of the Wild, the map is broken up into a number of different sections that all have very unique landscapes. There are snowy mountains and volcanoes, deserts and beaches, rainforests and wide open plains. While I definitely don’t expect Elder Scrolls 6 to have the same level of variety, I do hope there is at least a little more.
Don’t Make the World Bigger
I know this may be a controversial point, but I actually don’t think that the next Elder Scrolls game needs to have a larger open world than it’s predecessors. Skyrim is plenty big, and adding more space doesn’t necessarily make the game any better. Traveling from place to place was probably my least favorite part of playing Skyrim, and while some of the previous suggestions would make travel better I simply do not think that making the world significantly larger would make for a better game.
Make your Actions Matter
Instead of making the world big, I would rather Bethesda focus on making the world feel even more rich and alive. One thing that bothers me about Skyrim is the lack of feeling that your actions matter. I have killed the Emperor of Tamriel, decided who the high king of Skyrim is, became head of the Thieves Guild and the Mages College, and yet aside from a few muttering guards nothing seems different.
I think that a big reason for why your actions don’t seem to affect much of the world is the way Bethesda tried to implement the open world. In a game where you are supposed to be able to do anything at any time in any order, it’s difficult to make any major changes to the world. However, I don’t necessarily think that it needs to be this way.
One way to make your actions matter is to have order of events matter more. As it is, quests can be done in pretty much any order unless they are part of a specific storyline, which must be done in order. However, as these storylines don’t really affect one another, this is less “order matters” and more “following a predetermined path”.
However, what if different questlines could affect eachother? What if the decisions you made in one quest affect what other quests are available, or what choices they have? What if certain quests only get unlocked if you have done a particular set of other actions, while others become inaccessible? This would make it feel like the decisions you make actually have some affect on the world around you.
Another way to do this is to allow for more visual changes to take place. Perhaps new buildings can be constructed where there previously were none? Or perhaps others can be destroyed, leaving nothing but rubble? If the player’s actions could cause real, permanent changes to the world it would help to increase the feeling of immersion in the world.
More Interesting Dungeons
Skyrim dungeons come in three flavors – ancient Nord burial chamber, cave, or Dwarven ruin. That’s about it. While some games go out of their way to make every dungeon distinctive, Skyrim pretty much does the opposite – it seems like they actively try to avoid making any dungeon feel unique. However, in addition to making the dungeons more visually distinct, I think that there are a few other ways to improve the dungeons:
Skyrim puzzles are, simply put, absolutely abysmal. They are either blindingly obvious (like most dragon claws or statue turning puzzles) or completely impossible to figure out. Solving the puzzles never felt like a fun challenge, but an annoying chore. I generally love puzzles, but whenever I got stuck on a Skyrim puzzle I immediately looked up the solution online because trying to figure it out on my own was just such a painful experience.
When I think of great bosses, I think of games like The Legend of Zelda, Dark Souls, or God of War. In those games each boss feels unique and challenging, and requires a certain amount of cunning to defeat. In Skyrim, all of the bosses blend together and most are just higher-level versions of regular enemies. In the next installment I hope they can do better.
As a side-note, I hate the way that Skyrim handled dragons. At first, dragons were rare occurrences, and each dragon attack felt pretty special. Before long, however, dragon attacks became just another mundane occurrence to be dealt with. In my opinion, fighting a dragon should always feel like a rare treat, not a monotonous grind.
Better Home / Community Building
I love building homes and communities in games. In Fallout 4 I spent far too much time building up all of my settlements, and establishing trade routes between them, and I enjoyed every minute of it. In Skyrim I liked building my homesteads, but I found the options to be pretty lacking.
While you have a few different options of what types of rooms to build, you have
absolutely no control over where to place them. You cannot expand past a predefined limit, every room type can only be built in one spot, and you cannot build past a certain point. You also have no control over what the outside of the home looks like, and every homestead looks exactly the same. Finally, all of the furniture is pre-determined and in a fixed position, so the customization is pretty much limited to which swords you want to hang on the wall.
For the next game, I simply hope that the player has more options on how to build their home. They should have more location options, different architecture styles, and more control over what rooms they build and where. They should also be able to buy / build different types of furniture and place it wherever they want. And if there is an option to build an entire settlement and fill it with people, even better.
Until Next Week
That is all I have for this week! Of course, there are a lot more things that I would love to see in the next Elder Scrolls game, but I think I have covered all of my most pressing concerns. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments or on social media. What do you want to see in the next Elder Scrolls game? Do you agree or disagree with my choices here?
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