Considering it will be at least 2 years from its release date, it's still reasonable to have some hopes fulfilled.
A while ago, Bethesda teased us with a tweet about Elder Scrolls 6. I know it will be a long wait before we can dive into a new adventure in Tamriel again since Elder Scrolls 6 will be released after Starfield, which we know nothing about either. Nevertheless, I still have some hopes and some concerns about Elder Scrolls 6 considering Skyrim is one of my most favourite games ever.
I have to disclose that I am a fanboy of Bethesda games, particularly the single-player ones (yes, no Fallout 76). I know most people don’t like Fallout 4 but I love it so much. I also like Fallout 3 and think it’s on par with New Vegas, even many people will disagree with me.
Considering it will be at least 2 years from its release date, it’s still reasonable to have some hopes fulfilled– if by any chance someone from Bethesda Game Studios read this. With that being said, these are some hopes that I have about Elder Scrolls 6 (ES6).
1. Modding Access Tradition
I’m not sure if Bethesda agrees with me on this, but the main reason why people are still playing Skyrim almost 10 years after its release date is modding and its communities. This is also the case with Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 4, and Fallout 3. Those games are still being played years after its release date despite being single-player games. Usually, single-player games will have a shorter life-cycle compared to competitive multiplayer games or successful esports titles. However, with good modding access and its communities, we can have endless new contents to try as long as the communities are still active.
I might not be as worried as of right now if Bethesda, or rather ZeniMax (Bethesda’s parent company), hasn’t been acquired by Microsoft. Under Microsoft, it’s a hit or miss regarding modding access. Minecraft is still moddable. State of Decay 1 and 2 are also moddable. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 even has its official SDK to create mods.
However, modding access for The Outer Worlds (by Obsidian) is really pathetic when its previous game (Pillars of Eternity 2) — before acquired by Microsoft — have official mod support. To be fair, modding access also depends on the publishers too. Yet, Gears 5, made by Coalition, is not moddable and it’s published by Microsoft.
Fortunately, the jury is still out on this and, as far as I know, Microsoft does not actively forbid its developers to block any access to modding. That’s why I still have hopes regarding official modding access & support. Of course, it will be so much better if Bethesda could deliver a more comprehensive Creation Kit compared to the one for Skyrim. Yet, I will be content with the same level of Skyrim Creation Kit.
Bethesda already has a good tradition with modding for Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. Let’s hope it keeps the terrific tradition with Elder Scrolls 6.
2. Focus on Singleplayer
In my mind, giant game companies prefer to build multiplayer games rather than singleplayer ones. With Bethesda and ZeniMax under Microsoft and the latest terrible decision regarding Fallout 76, I honestly worried that Bethesda will force Elder Scrolls 6 to be a multiplayer game.
Surely, multiplayer games look more promising on the surface. However, singleplayer games could still make a lot of profit. The latest example comes from Cyberpunk 2077. Cyberpunk 2077 is a singleplayer game and its marketing team really do their job excellently — despite its product team couldn’t deliver the same level of excellence. Latest 3 games of Assassin’s Creed are also singleplayer games. Spider-Man (2018), Ghost of Tsushima, God of War (2018), and Horizon Zero Dawn are the most notable PS4 games and all of them focus on the singleplayer experience.
Meanwhile, there are also numerous multiplayer games that failed to impress many players — including Fallout 76. Battleborn is also another failed multiplayer game that comes to my mind. I do believe that the key is not that simple. It’s not just about singleplayer or multiplayer — it’s about the quality (idea and execution) of the product.
Moreover, the fact is, some developers have their own expertise and specialization. Bethesda is actually a very good example of that hypothesis. It is superior and should be included in the highest tier of singleplayer game developers. In contrast, it should be ignored if talking about multiplayer games. Obsidian is also a good example of a great singleplayer developer but not multiplayer. Meanwhile, Valve, Blizzard, and Riot Games are the superior developers in the multiplayer field.
If Bethesda is forced to make a multiplayer game with Elder Scrolls 6, I think it should take a look at Rockstar Games. GTA V and RDR 2, for me, are the perfect example to make use of both singleplayer and multiplayer modes. It’s perfect because the two modes are like different entities in a single game.
3. More Dynamic NPCs
One of the things from Skyim that impresses me is its dynamic NPCs. A city guard could say different comments depend on your character’s conditions (race, equipment, skill level, etc.). I also remember a quest where you have to save a child from a cult and she will notice the dead body.
It’s a great feature indeed but I think Bethesda could take this one step further. On Skyrim, you could become the leader of 5 factions but each faction is contained from each other. For example, members of The Companions don’t notice if you are the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.
It certainly would be more immersive and exciting if all of the story elements could be interwoven and connected to each other for, at least, each major side quests (including faction or Daedra quests) and main story quests.
Considering the complexity and the sheer number of quests Skyrim has, it’s not an easy task to make all of them connected. However, I do think if someone could do it, it’s Bethesda. I won’t hope the similar feature from Ubisoft or CD Projekt, for example, because they have never done it before.
4. Fully Voiced-Acted Main Character
Some people might disagree with me on this but I love how Fallout 4 have a fully voiced-acted main character. Given how Skyrim has good character customization and quest complexities, I realize it’s an overwhelming task to do. They have to record so much more lines compared with other simpler RPGs.
However, for me, it’s so much better for the storytelling aspect when the main character could speak. Characters such as Cassandra (Odyssey), female V (Cyberpunk 2077), Commander Shepard (Mass Effect), the female Sole Survivor in Fallout 4, Geralt (The Witcher 3) and Alloy (Horizon Zero Dawn) are unforgettable because of their voice actors.
I don’t mind if Bethesda sacrifices some options in character customization in order to give a fully voiced protagonist. Skyrim has 10 playable races with 2 sex options. Which means if ES6 will have fully voiced protagonist with the Skyrim’s level of character customization, there will be 20 voices/speech varieties just for the main character. That hasn’t included all the possible lines from every side quests — if the main character is fully voiced. That’s why, if a sacrifice has to be made, I don’t mind lesser options for the character customization since quest complexity is more crucial.
Indeed, a fully voiced-acted protagonist could ruin the game too if they choose the wrong actors/actresses. However, in contrast, a marvellous voice acting could improve the storytelling aspect tremendously. I do believe that Ashly Burch’s voice acting is a significant factor in how HZD delivers its impressive story.
5. Better Skill, Build, or Battle Mechanics
Although Skyrim has a good framework of gameplay for the modders to play around, in its original/vanilla state, Skyrim doesn’t have excellent skill/build mechanics. For example, when you take a look at its skill tree, you only have a few game-changing options. A game-changing perk that I mean is like Shadow Warrior in the Sneak skill that allows you to disappear when you are crouching even in the middle of combat.
Skyrim’s enchantment is also lacking. Compare the enchantment list from the default game with this enchantment mods by EnaiSiaion. Another game that I think has good mechanics in its equipment is Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. There, a weapon could have an x% to proc a certain effect when hitting an enemy and that effect could trigger another secondary effect.
Right now, playing Skyrim in its vanilla state is just boring because it doesn’t have complex mechanics offered by the mods. Sure, if ES6 has a better modding capability, the modding community could create better mechanics for skills and equipment. However, if ES6 already has interesting mechanics from the start, it would make the game more exciting for the people who don’t want to (or can’t) use mods. In addition, interesting mechanics in its vanilla state could be an excellent framework too for modders — like what I did when modding new equipment in PoE2: Deadfire.
There are some features and strengths from Skyrim that just need to be kept or improved a little bit. Great modding access and singleplayer focus are a splendid tradition of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Please, Bethesda (and Microsoft) don’t change that. Meanwhile, dynamic NPCs is a feature that could be pushed a little further.
A fully voiced-acted protagonist should be added as well since it could improve its storytelling aspect and, ideally, no sacrifice has to be made to implement this. Last but not least, I don’t think Skyrim has terrible gameplay mechanics in its vanilla state compared to many other RPGs. However, compared to its mods, it starts looking bland.
Feat Image: GTXFAN via Nexus Mods