It’s fair to say that The Elder Scrolls 6 is one of the most anticipated games on the horizon – if not ever. Since its reveal at E3 2018, with a teaser trailer showing little more than a logo and some rolling hills, speculation has been rampant about just what Bethesda has up its sleeve for the next entry in the beloved Elder Scrolls series. After all, ten years on from its release, The Elder Scrolls 6’s predecessor, Skyrim, remains one of the most-loved, and continually played role playing games of all time.
But it looks like it will be some time before we find out what awaits us in The Elder Scrolls 6, given the recent revelation that the latest entry in the open world RPG series is only in “the design phase” – meaning we likely won’t get our hands on it for a few years yet.
Regardless, that hasn’t stopped us from speculating about The Elder Scrolls 6 and how it could differ from its predecessors – in particular, Skyrim, the lauded last entry in the series. Despite its decade-old age, there are still a few lessons that can be learned from Bethesda’s critically acclaimed fantasy adventure that we hope will be improved upon for The Elder Scrolls 6.
Retain the sense of adventure
From the moment you emerge from the cave into the hills of Skyrim, the sense of freedom is staggering. While the game gently directs you towards the local logging village of Riverwood, you’re more than free to do a ‘Bilbo Baggins’ and go your own way. Opening the map in Skyrim reveals a vast, mysterious plain, shrouded in fog. It’s almost impossible to resist picking a random direction and seeing what you find. What Skyrim player doesn’t have a story of a detour they took and the battle, quest or hilarious death they faced as a result? While it’s unlikely that The Elder Scrolls 6 will be a significantly more linear game, we hope that the developers don’t sacrifice the mystery of exploration in order to make sure more players experience all of the content.
Though not quite as impenetrable as the Souls series in terms of lore, there’s a mountain of characters, quest lines and stories that most players have probably missed across the Elder Scrolls series. But for those willing to read every book and scour every house, there’s a rich amount of backstory and history to be found. Let’s hope The Elder Scrolls 6 holds on to that sense of adventure, exploration and discovery for those who love to seek it out.
Brighten the place up a bit
While the look of Skyrim may be iconic, from the snowy peaks to the green fields of Whiterun, after ten years it looks a bit… drab. Unlike The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which even now shines with its colorful flowers and vibrant towns, Skyrim’s nordic-inspired art style can feel a little one-note. This isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of the game’s dungeons are dark caves. While we don’t know anything concrete about the location for The Elder Scrolls 6, outside of a potential teaser in the Starfield trailer, we hope that it takes us to a brighter and more colorful corner of Tamriel.
Since The Elder Scrolls 6 will be harnessing the power of the next gen consoles, this is the perfect opportunity for Bethesda to show off what they can do with a significant upgrade in hardware. 2019’s Ghost of Tsushima is an open world game with a world that absolutely sparkles in every screenshot because it juxtaposes the bright colours of the Japanese countryside with the brutality of war and burned down villages. We’d love The Elder Scrolls 6 to take the same direction and leave the grey hills of Skyrim behind.
Jack of all guilds, master of none
One thing Skyrim really lacked was a sense of repercussions for how you role-played your characters. By the time you finish the game you can easily be the boss of the Dark Brotherhood, the Thieves Guild and the Archmage of Winterhold. You’re already the Dragonborn that was tasked to save the world, and allowing you to basically do everything kills any sense of experiencing your unique story.
Plenty of RPGs have an issue with making the player character an all powerful God that is the main character of every story, but for The Elder Scrolls VI, we hope more attention is paid to facilitating unique stories. Sure, giving decisions more weight means that some players will miss some content, but we think it’ll make for a more memorable experience.
The character creator in Skyrim leaves a lot to be desired. While not the most limited creator ever, it pales in comparison to even Oblivion. While most players played Skyrim in first person, we think that if we were able to create a warrior, mage or archer more in our own image, or whatever horrific image we’d like, more players would prefer experiencing the world in third person.
The last Bethesda Game Studios title, Fallout 4, shifted the perspective of conversations, meaning that both the player character and the NPC were shown in third person, ditching the intense eye contact of the past. We think this also encouraged players to take the way their character looked more seriously, or, more keen to make the kind of monster that’ll give you nightmares. But where Fallout 4 funnelled players towards a relatively defined role and purpose in its world, we’d hope The Elder Scrolls 6 would let a wider array of customisation options inform an equally wide array of digital lives to be led in its game world.
Who are you again, anyway?
The NPC dialogue in Skyrim was one of the things that was memed quickest when the game originally released in 2011. You couldn’t move for horribly-compressed images adorned with jokes about taking arrows to the knee. While the internet grasped hold of this due to the frequency with which it was said, the bigger problem was that that guard who was so keen to tell you of his adventures was just one of hundreds of NPCs that didn’t remotely care or react to what you did.
You could kill a dragon and save an entire farm, only for the farmer to barely acknowledge your existence. It made the towns feel sterile, like amusement park attractions, filled with animatronics that spit out their line and nothing else. While we know The Elder Scrolls 6 can’t possibly make every single NPC have something relevant to say after every choice you make, it’d be nice to feel like we’re having some impact on the world we’re exploring, other than merely reducing the average life expectancy of dragons.