Fus Ro… Who?
I recently read the news that there would be, well, no news on The Elder Scrolls VI for several years. This shouldn’t come as a massive surprise to anyone who is up to date with what their teams are working on - Their long-gestating, new IP Starfield is the priority for the moment. Honestly, this is all perfectly okay with me. Skyrim was a smash hit and still boasts an incredibly active community, nearly 9 years after it’s original release on 11/11/11. The worst thing that Bethesda could do would be to try and replicate the success of Skyrim. No, the world of RPGs has moved on. In the wake of the fifth game, we have seen the Soulsbourne and Witcher franchises explode in popularity, and change the game, so to speak. How does the next entry in this beloved series evolve? There are some things that in my estimation need to be adopted as essential parts of the modern action role-playing game, and for some things the developer should be looking back into the series’ own history.
I feel it’s important to note that I have not read the supposed leaks for this game, and none of what I mention is influenced off of frankly baseless rumour that has been floating about. Simply just the collected thoughts of a fan.
Here is what I want to see in The Elder Scrolls VI.
All mod cons
The world has moved on and changed. It’s long overdue for the melee combat to receive an overhaul. In the wake of Dark Souls and The Witcher, meatier, weightier combat is needed. When you struck an enemy with a two handed sword in Dark Souls, you felt every ounce of the damage it caused. In The Elder Scrolls so far by comparison, most melee weapons feel like wielding empty tins of Pringles. This is certainly the first thing I would address to bring it “up to speed” as such with contemporary games - Having light-feeling and indistinguishable weapons is not going to cut it anymore and some modernisation in this department is essential.
Looking at The Witcher, this is a great example in how you can handle your protagonist taking on multiple enemies at once. It’s very nimble combat, almost like a dance in how you can jump around, slashing different enemies. It’s rhythmic and infectious, if designed well. In third-person views especially, I always found myself thinking it looked strange in these games, when engaging multiple enemies in melee. The enemies just kind of stand there attacking you and occasionally burst into strange movements, often disappearing and running off elsewhere, for some reason. These skirmishes are better experienced when you can feel the weapon you’re using, and feel like your character can use it well.
Variety is the spice of life
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this game will be set in the region of Hammerfell. This location is home to the Redguards, and mostly features mountains, grassland and more excitingly - Huge, vast deserts. Much like Oblivion inferred Skyrim was coming next (with Bruma, and the cryptic teasings of M’aiq the liar), I feel as though Hammerfell was hinted at in the fifth game. This comes to me from the quest In My Time of Need, which features a Redguard woman and warriors from the same region. This province, south-west of it’s frosty cousin, would be the perfect setting. Firstly, it’s huge! Perhaps not quite as big as Cyrodil, however because of the landscape there is far more scope of a varied environment and thus, a nice mix of missions and also some different enemy types. There would be great familiarity as well with the mountainous and grassy areas.
A commonly held complaint about Oblivion and Skyrim specifically, is the repetitive nature of the dungeons. The fourth game had more limited staff on that side of the design, so it makes more sense that the dungeons found there are unfortunately mundane. TES V had more resources in this area and the dungeons are overall better and perhaps slightly less tedious, but it wears thin. The objectives for the related quests in these locations aren’t the problem, I feel it is more likely the layout and visual design. The two base types you’ll see are Dwemer ruins and your regular cave and not much outside of this. Perhaps a way to address this would be to create a few more base types like this, or even cut down on the number of them featured if there is little opportunity for a bit more diversity, in respect to the province.
Speaking of variety, one thing I certainly want to see is a story where you do not play “the chosen one” archetype. At this point it is tired and overdone in all forms of media. Look to Die Hard - A person thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and they deal with it the best they can. There is no reason to see another Dragonborn type protagonist. There is room here for a more personal story, much like what was attempted with Fallout 4, however this is a fine line to tread here between alienating your existing fanbase and venturing into new territory. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine anything more dull than being an over-powered, prophesied savior once again.
How (not) to lose fans and alienate people
Fallout 4 could be used as a cautionary tale in the practice of casualisation. Streamlined conversations, no reputation or karma systems, and it was very possible to become skilled in nearly everything, thus harming replayability. The latter point was very true for Skyrim as well - Over time (a lot of time) it was possible to become an almighty killing machine. It would be advisable in my view, to venture no further into the more casual action/RPG realm. While Fallout 4 isn’t in any way a bad game and can be quite a lot of fun, it for the most part feels like a shooter with stats added for s**ts and giggles. A suggestion for the direction of the (hopefully) Hammerfell set game? Let’s look into the past.
A quick look at the skills throughout the franchise, will show how many there have been and how many are no longer utilised. Now I am not saying to make this akin to a pen and paper game, but certainly bringing back some skills will allow for more unique playthroughs and make each character feel that bit more special. I actually loved the perk system in the last entry, it was really smart to allow players to level what they-re actually using - Using Stealth a lot, will increase this skill and at certain milestones you can improve and modify your abilities with Stealth. A combination of this system, and a renewed look at what skills to include could be to everyone’s benefit.
What might be worth looking at again for Bethesda, is the use of classes. The class-less system worked great, but let’s examine what could be possible with using classes once again. You choose your class, which determines your skills. If for example you choose to play as a warrior class, you would get access to the skill for One-Handed. This starts off strong as you’re trained in it. If you were to look at using Destruction magic, that’s entirely possible to do, however your progress with this “untrained skill”. This is a combination of different mechanics that have been used historically and could work well. Again, this is simply an idea though it’s one I feel that could be widely appreciated, bringing the best of the different systems.
So this is a story all about how...
I admittedly don’t have much to offer, in terms of what to suggest for the story. This to me is a positive thing, as I find the main story for each game is generally very enjoyable, though rarely my favourite aspect. I feel as though if the main boxes are ticked - Gods, an Elder Scroll, conspiracies and plots etc - Then we shouldn’t be too disappointed. One thing to note that was done especially well and probably contributed to the sales being so ridiculously good - Dragons.
The introduction of dragons was huge and a wild card. Even after the first trailer, the anticipation was feverish. The whole story was built off of these mythical creatures and they carried it to success. Similarly, in VI, there needs to be a new addition that can help carry the game. The name value alone is there and will guarantee great sales, but to push it further there needs to be something new that will help it craft it’s own identity. Should the setting be as I suggest above, there are a host of new dangers you could face including harpies, giant wasps and scorpions, that will certainly help give the game it’s own flavour, but there needs to be a hook - Who or what is the central enemy?
The Aldmeri Dominion are a very credible antagonistic faction that could be featured. They’re goal is to seek the end of man’s rule and are essentially supremacists. They’re built-in and ready to go for conflict. These High Elves have extensive magical ability and are knowledgeable, more so than others, regarding the planes of Oblivion. This could be a way of tying the more recent games together. Have these elves be up to no good, throw in an Elder Scroll, and there is a strong backbone to build a story from.
I used to be an adventurer like you, then I… *Sneak attack x32 damage*
With every new game in this series, there has been something new brough to the table and I am sure that no matter what direction is taken for VI, it will be enjoyable. There are some pitfalls to be avoided for sure, especially in the wake of the damage done to Bethesda’s reputation. This is not only an opportunity to craft an excellent game but also to repair said damage. Regardless of their more recent practices, they are still one of the most preeminent and recognisable companies in the world of gaming and they should be able to offer up something great.
Like basically all sequels, they need to look to their past and at contemporary rivals, and then we have a recipe for something great.
All images taken from the following press kits:
Be sure to sign up on the site for all things Casual, and create your own Casual Game Community profile.
Have a great content idea that would be perfect for CGC? Contact us here and we’d be happy to chat!