It’s likely still years away, but E3 2018 gave us our first brief glimpse at Elder Scrolls 6, a game that senior developer Todd Howard promised would be coming after ‘Starfield‘, which is intended as a next-generation title. So don’t expect it for six years or so.
Seven years removed from the first time Skyrim graced store shelves, although with all the relaunches and remasters in the years since, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since we’ve had a new Elder Scrolls game.
E3 2018 gave us our first hints as to when we might finally get to see this long-awaited game. After showing off a teaser trailer for ‘Starfield’ — which Bethesda introduced as a next-generation title — senior developer Todd Howard then introduced TES6 as the game Bethesda would go on to produce after it.
Skyrim was proper lovely, but had a bit too much of the white stuff going around. Venturing across a snowy, uncompromising landscape was thrilling at first, but lacked in worthwhile variety the further you pushed forward. Every cave, mountain and bandit encampment felt the same, albeit with a few unique treasures and trinkets lying about for the taking. Even Oblivion felt more distinctive, and it came out almost six years earlier.
The setting of Elder Scrolls 6 is still unconfirmed, but we’d love for it to incorporate a generous palette of varied locations, visual motifs and weather systems. This could be achieved by giving the player different regions to explore, each with their own individual identity. This is a tall order, but one that would make the world of Elders Scroll 6 all the more memorable.
Challenging and meaningful combat
Combat in previous Elder Scrolls titles was merely a case of mashing the shoulder buttons as quickly as possible until the enemies hounding you dropped to the floor. It was serviceable yet undeniably simplistic in its execution. Focus was placed on the discovery of abilities and weapons instead of the way in which they were used.
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The Elder Scrolls 6 needs to completely overhaul this, crafting a combat system that focuses on deliberate strategy rather than artificial difficulty determined by the number of nasties on screen and how much health they possess. Imagine setting a bandit aflame, causing him to jump into the water out of painful desperation. You could charge in and finish him off with a well-timed sword slash or cast a lightning spell for a slower, more agonizing death.
The use of weapon augmentations and splicing together different spells would be another wonderful addition, providing layers of customization that has sorely been missed from the combat of Elder Scrolls. Every single weapon and spell you equip has a one-of-a-kind aesthetic, but they all the feel exactly the same when used in combat. The lack of satisfactory impact is hard to ignore after dozens of hours of playtime.
The basic framework of Skyrim and Oblivion allowed for several different gameplay styles. You could be a chivalrous knight or a mysterious ninja, approaching characters and questlines perfectly suited to your otherworldly persona. The vast selection of races and classes made this all the better, giving you a broad range of skills and abilities to pursue as you levelled up. It still works brilliantly today, although a few subtle refinements would make it all the better.
Being able to approach major questlines from multiple different directions would be fantastic, especially if it mimicked the open-ended nature of titles such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Far Cry. We’re in a vast fantasy world filled with morally diverse characters and factions, so why shouldn’t our actions reflect our personal interests in the matter. Taking down a corrupt king? You could assassinate him, launch an obvious assault of just sit down for a chat. Bethesda has shown its talent for diverse gameplay systems in the past, and here they could push them to the limit.
Have you ever randomly been shot in the chest with an arrow, only to ignore it and move on with your day. Guards in Skyrim have. Artificial intelligence in Bethesda games has always been notoriously silly, bordering on stupid at times. You could loot an entire house or throw a grenade into a settlement only to leave the area and have all your tribulations forgiven. Seldom did your actions in the bustling world you occupy ever have any lasting consequences.
The Elder Scrolls 6 could improve this maligned feature by adding subtle improvements to NPC routines and the way in which they react to your presence. If you’re an infamous killer they should recoil in fear as you prowl the town, looting shops and murdering beggars. On the flipside, a courageous hero should be showered with gifts and compliments as they perform yet another brave deed.
In many ways, the guild questlines in Skyrim felt like a step back from previous games. They lacked the distinctive characters and narrative depth of Morrowind and Oblivion, opting instead for smaller, less ambitious ventures that didn’t feel nearly as engrossing. We’d love for Bethesda to overhaul the guild system in its next game, giving us a wider selection of factions to choose from across the vast lands we explore. These could easily reflect our moral standing within the world, as well as providing us with a platform to experiment with different playstyles.
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The Elder Scrolls 6 would also benefit from a handful of truly memorable sidequests, giving players further incentive to abandon the main quest and random exploration that drove previous games. Disputes between rival factions and cities would provide the perfect backdrop for a seriously intense sidequest, complimented by new characters and motivations you can’t help but care for. Many of the miscellaneous quests in Skyrim bled into one another, lacking a sense of cohesion or uniqueness beyond their somewhat varying locations.