The lights are on
The Elder Scrolls franchise rolls out new entries every few years, and each one gains new steam with the gaming public. Last year’s Skyrim was one of the most critically and commercially successful games of the year, and the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online promises to further expand the fanbase.
Today, we’re leaping into the future to concoct a formula for what we’d like to see in The Elder Scrolls VI. Culled from the Game Informer editorial staff, we've come up with our favorite additions and improvements we'd love to see in the Elder Scrolls series.
All these ideas are complete conjecture. While the ambitious game we’re positing here may never come to be, we can cross our fingers that at least some of our dream scenarios might be included in the inevitable follow-up entry to the series. Check out our ideas, and share your thoughts in the comments below.
The worst kept secret in the gaming industry is the impending arrival of next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Bethesda’s next Elder Scrolls entry will be one of the premiere titles on both platforms, as well as next-gen PC. Real-time global illumination will dramatically enhance the visual presentation; the scene of a moonlit forest glade will be all the more magical with light filtering through leaves, dynamically moving shadows, and moonlight reflecting off other objects in the environment. In addition, next-gen processors and memory advancements assure a game without long load times between locations and increased detail on objects and faces. Expanded automation of basic programming elements allowed by next-gen engines should give the development team extra time to hammer out bugs that might otherwise hurt the gaming experience.
The Elder Scrolls series has a wealth of lore, history, and geography about Tamriel, the continent that houses the nations of Cyrodiil, Skyrim, Morrowind, and all of the other previously seen locations in the Elder Scrolls games. However, the planet Nirn has other continents that have been mentioned in the existing games. The fact that Bethesda has opened up all of Tamriel for exploration in The Elder Scrolls Online is all the evidence we need to conclude that the next numbered entry will likely head to a new locale. Most notably, far to the east of Tamriel lies Akavir. This exotic and as-yet unexplored part of the game world is the homeland of the dragons and includes a wealth of new races already mentioned in the fiction.
The Elder Scrolls VI: Akavir would offer Bethesda the chance to flesh out a new landmass filled with its own geography, culture, and history. Akavir draws on other cultural traditions beyond the western and northern medieval Europe vibe of Skyrim and Oblivion. Instead, Akavir could mix in themes of Asian culture while maintaining the deep fantasy core. The architecture, weapons, and dress of the Blades (an important group throughout the series) are based on Akaviri design, so that offers a sense of where things could be headed.
Within the existing fiction of the franchise, Akavir is populated by several brand new races. The monkey-people of Tang Mo, the tiger people of Ka Po’Tun, the demons of Kamal, and the snake people of Tsaesci could all be fleshed out into new playable races. Unwilling to alienate longtime fans, Bethesda could also include many, if not all, of the existing Tamrielic races. Perhaps an invasion from Tamriel brings these races to Akavir, or an expedition to find the origins of the Dragon Guard (the predecessors of the Blades) could offer a good reason to bring races like orcs and dark elves over to the new continent.
The Elder Scrolls games have always offered a dedicated single-player experience, but The Elder Scrolls VI should finally offer cooperative play with not just one partner, but many friends in the same world. Dynamic difficulty adjustment would make the system viable, and some quests and locations in the world could be designed with more than one person in mind.
After listening to fans’ desires about flying dragons in Skyrim, the technology of next-gen consoles could allow Bethesda to implement flying mounts. The dragons that returned to the world in Skyrim remain behind for this new game, and while some of them are still militantly against humanity, others follow the path of Paarthurnax to maintain peace and even allow some mortal partners to ride them into battle. Beyond dragons, the game could introduce other flying mounts native to Akavir that can be tamed and flown across the countryside.
New Narrative Style
Leaping past the improvements made in Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls VI should have a more sophisticated approach to narrative and storytelling to bring it on par with games like Mass Effect. Individual choices made by your character should have a more dramatic outward effect on the game world, echoing changes to the world that were apparent in the Civil War storyline of Skyrim. In addition, major events should feel more epic, thanks to the next-gen capability to include battles with dozens or even hundreds of combatants.
Talking to NPCs could be a major area of improvement, using cinematic camera angles to deepen the drama and offer an increased opportunity to see what your character looks like. Main characters should be fully voiced. In addition, NPCs should be more aware of your accomplishments, with the game keeping track of your fame so individuals accord you the proper respect (or disdain) when talking to you.
Giving interactions with important characters increased flexibility could open the door to developing (or destroying) close friendships. Romantic relationships could offer fleshed-out choices for letting your character meet, court, and marry individuals within the game world. Your romantic partner could ultimately play a more important role in your life than other individuals.
The Elder Scrolls VI should maintain multiple autosave slots every few minutes of play so you don’t accidentally lose progress. This could supplement a designated button to autosave that allows you to protect your progress without pausing the game and drilling into the menus.
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Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.