Content Type: Gaming News
Date: May 22, 2020
I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls games since they used the original Doom engine to make Daggerfall and all of the daedra, undead and vampires were 2D sprites. I have heard the word “Halt!” shouted at me many times, I’ve been called an outlander more times than I can count, I’ve listened to terrible dialogue about mud crabs, and I’ve even smiled when someone told me for the 100th time that they used to be an adventurer like me, before they took an arrow in the knee. In short, I’ve woken up as a prisoner many, many times in my life.
With the official announcement of Elder Scrolls 6 there is much to glean from the trailer and much more to speculate upon. Personally, I’m honestly kind of done with speculation at this point. What I’d like to talk about is not what I predict for Elder Scrolls 6, but what I, as a long-time fan of the series, WANT to see in the next ES title. Do you smell that? “sniffs” smells like entitlement to me. Praise Zenithar.
Speaking of commerce, just as a disclaimer, this article is going to strictly be about the game itself. I think we can all say that no one wants to see things like micro transactions (even though they kind of invented them), or loot crates in any ES title.
1.) A Less Urgent Main Quest That Doesn’t Dominate Your Experience
My favorite Elder Scrolls game is Morrowind and I could probably write a whole damn book about why, but one of the things that I miss from it, when compared to Oblivion and Skyrim is that the main quests was just not as big a deal from the start of the game.
Sure, the threat posed by Dagoth Ur was serious and ever present, but no one really knows that’s YOUR problem to deal with until well past the third, or fourth quest in the main storyline. Not to mention that your point of contact tells you at least twice to piss off and go do some adventuring, so that he can get high and go over some paperwork. He also wouldn’t let you continue in that quest chain if you weren’t powerful enough to do so. In short, the game made SURE you WERE the Chosen one, before telling you that you were.
Morrowind also didn’t pull you along by the hand down a storyline that you may, or may NOT have wanted to experience when you did. One of the things that I can’t stand about second playthroughs of both Oblivion and Skyrim is how intense and urgent the main storylines are. They make you feel like you either have to deliberately ignore them, or complete them at least to a certain point before going off to do your own thing. I want to save the world as much as anyone…well mostly anyone, but I also kind of just want to get my castle on, ya know?
This is especially true if you want to experience the more dire aspects of both the Oblivion and Dragon crises, alongside any of the other content in the game, but we’ll get to that later.
To sum up, I want to see a main quest that maybe just isn’t necessarily about you saving the world, but doing something of importance. Maybe building something? Yeah, what if, instead of a limited construction mechanic that is a side aspect of the game, put building something important in the forefront. It be fun, and would give players reason to go out and adventure for treasure beyond…you know getting Phat Lute. Plus, if you don’t like building in games, you can practice the time honored Elder Scrolls fan tradition of ignoring the main quest.
2.) Choices That Have Real Impact on the Game World
Every gamer whose played an ES game, especially those who go ito roleplaying, want to see that the choices they’ve made and the battles they’ve won (or lost) have an impact on the world around them. We all want “choices that matter” right? That being said, I’d like to see this concept go a bit further than a grateful, or fearful populace, that simply discuss the player’s exploits – or simply the lack of the presence of the main plot’s core antagonists.
In Skyrim, we were given, I would say, one of the series biggest moral dilemmas with regards to whether or not to slay Paarthurnax. It wasn’t really much of a dilemma either, because Paarthurnax is the coolest character in Skyrim, don’t even argue, because you’re wrong. The thing is though, whether you choose to spare Paarthurnax, or not, there aren’t any real repercussions – other than damning your soul to Oblivion for eternity by killing the best dragon next to Akatosh.
If he’s alive, he gives an epilogue after you return to Nirn from Soverngarde, if he’s dead…the Greybeards do it. That’s it. Bethesda could have done a lot here with a small addition, by making more dragons in the game world friendly if you spared him, and more hostile if you didn’t, or simply making fewer dragons even appear if you spared him, since the idea was that he took his followers away to teach them a better way.
In Elder Scrolls 6, I’d like to see more choices that have an impact, and that doesn’t have to mean that it has far reaching implications either, though it could. It’s true that when you help out the citizens of a given town, or settlement, they like you more, but Id like to see your help translate into something more tangible. If you do a significant amount of work to help a town, or faction accomplish their goals, you should be able to see the fruits of your labor actively in the world. Perhaps this could be expressed through the town’s economy improving and the hobos that are in EVERY TOWN IN A FANTASY GAME getting a damned bed to sleep in, or your guild’s influence having greater reach. Speaking of guilds…
3.) Better Faction Interaction
First and foremost – BRING BACK THE GUILDS! All of them! When I play and ES game, I want to be able to quickly find the local branch of the Mages, or Fighters guild and sign up without a lot of fuss and I know that some of you newer players are thinking that the Companions and the College of Winterhold are the same thing, BUT THEY’RE FLIPPIN’ NOT! I could literally write an entire article about why the College of Winterhold is not only the worst faction in all of ES, but is the single worst institution of magical learning ever.
In past ES games, faction quest lines have been at times; a series of slightly related side quests that culminate into a sort of intrigue plot towards the end, an endless stream of random radiant quests, one long ridiculously convoluted storyline that rivals the main quest of the game for its urgency and perceived potential impact on the world, or a combination of all three of these things. None of that is actually bad at all, well maybe the third one (Sphere of frickin’ Magnus), but given what we’ve already gotten from Elder Scrolls in the past and based on what some other games have done with factions, it would be really cool to have them be a little bit more.
It would be really REALLY cool if factions had basic skill requirements to join, because it’s annoying when someone can be a petty thief, while also being the Archmage. Another cool way to expand factions would be to create sub factions. The thieves guild achieved this to great success in Skyrim with the Nightingales and I’d love to see something similar in ES6. More specifically, I’d love to be able to play as a Knight of the Lamp, and have an entire quest chain devoted to that. I know that eliminating the skill requirements in Skyrim was supposed to allow you to join factions with skills you weren’t that effective with to facilitate that kind of RP, but I don’t want to just have to RP it. Not to mention that that only works if you keep the right factions in the game!
It would also be great to have more than just like three class factions and a couple political factions. One of the things that always makes Morrowind so much richer an experience is the cultural, political and religious factions you can join. If ES6 takes place in either Hammerfall, or Elsweyr – especially given all of the lore and mapping that’s been fleshed out with ESO, there are plenty of options for local guilds and factions that would make the experience that much more engaging.
Another cool idea would be to have membership and rank in a given faction open up options and quests within the main storyline. A good example from a previous game: You have just been told that you need to acquire a daedric artifact to open a portal to the Mankar Cammeron’s Paradise, but you’re also a high ranking member of the Mage’s Guild and they likely have one lying around, so boom – you don’t have to go fight your way through a dungeon to get it. Again, we’re looking at taking another page out of Bioware’s book, but that’s a really good thing to me. You could also have low rank offer minor perks; like a discount from weapon vendors if you are in the fighter’s guild.
I’d even go so far as to say that it would be refreshing to have a faction quest, or perhaps even all of them, be MORE important to the greater world than the main quest, but that might be too outside the box for some. Having interaction, or perhaps some kind of diplomacy between factions that allowed you to unlock companions, items, and other quests, would be really great though. Even just having factions open up more dialogue options could be cool and not just in the big conversations either.
Thug: “Alright, no funny business, just give me all you’ve got, or I’ll gut you like a fish.”
Player: “Ah, Sweet Mother has sent me another gift?”
Thug: “Bollocks…” [runs away]
4.) Bring Back Good Gameplay and Lose Bad Gameplay
With the evolution of the Elder Scrolls, there have come some aspects of gameplay, mechanics, graphics and story that worked, some that didn’t, and some that were just odd. There always seemed to be an odd trade off from game to game as well. If a new game got better graphics or an interesting gameplay aspect, or even just the correction of a mechanic that didn’t work, it also invariably lost something else that had made the previous game fun and the loss was always noticeable.
An example of this is in Oblivion, where we gained the ability to ready spells and weapons at the same time, and even sort of cast spells with our weapons while blocking with a shield, but also completely lost the use of the levitation and jumps spells. Speaking of jumping, Skyrim offered us some really long sought after options, like actual blacksmithing, and dual wielding, but we also lost both the acrobatics and athletics skills in their entirety and dual wielding was a joke.
We gain a greater land mass, but also gain invisible walls and non-traversable terrain. We get quest markers to help figure out where the hell we’re supposed to go, but then have to constantly turn them off when the game forces us into a quest we didn’t know about the minute we walk into a cave. We gain fast travel, but we lose teleport. Don’t get me wrong, being able to attempt to pick any lock at any skill level is cool, but being able to unlock something with magic is WAY cooler and doesn’t make me want to bite my controller, or mouse.
What I’d like to see from Elder Scrolls 6 is simple. While holding on to some of the more sought after and appreciated aspects of ES games past, like crafting, let go of some of the ones that didn’t work so well, like terrible level scaling, and please bring back the ones that were left by the wayside for no reason, like pack animals. Nine Divines I miss my Pack Rat.
I know that a lot of this gets chalked up to the amazing and talented modding community of Elder Scrolls fans, that seem fix all of the myriad of issues that invariably pop up in every release, but honestly, that shouldn’t be necessary. Bethesda has kind of made it part of their plan to allow the modders to fix all of their mistakes and that’s just being lazy. It also brings me to my next point.
5.) A Finished Game
This one’s kind of self explanatory, nut it needs to be talked about. Releasing half of a game, one that’s also full of bugs, is a practice that not just Bethesda is guilty of, but that needs to stop immediately. I’ve honestly taken to waiting a whole year for the GOTY, or Special Edition of a game to come out before I buy it, pretty much since Fallout 4. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE an expansion pack – The Shivering Isles is probably the best part of Oblivion at all – but if the game isn’t finished, then it just isn’t.
There were numerous abandoned and unfinished quests, assets and scripts that modders wind up fixing with “unofficial” patches and it’s just another example of laziness and greed on the part of the devs. I literally just ran into one the other day and stopped playing to trying and figure out how to complete the quest, only to read that it was broken. THIS is what I mean by unfinished.
I also register that I’m still playing a game now that’s almost a decade old, which means that, flaws and all, it still holds up. While that is very true, it makes the fact that it’s released with problems all the more frustrating, because it might have taken them another 3-6 months to get the game out with most of the bugs worked out an it wouldn’t have made much of a difference since we’re STILL playing it.
Bethesda delayed Doom Eternal only a couple of months to make sure all of the kinks were ironed out, and when I played through it last month, I honestly didn’t find one glitch, or problem. Granted, I wasn’t LOOKING for any, mostly because I was busy trying to not have my heart explode, but there wasn’t anything that jumped out at me at all, besides the demons. My hope is that Bethesda will make Doom Eternal the exemplar, and release ES6 when the game is actually ready.
These are five things that I want to see in ES6, but honestly, I’ll be happy if they have housing options in every town. It would also be nice if they kept with the current trend and had modding and mod support for both PC and console, but I won’t hold my breath, because if we GET it, we’ll likely loose Water Breathing as a spell.
The End of the Words is ALMSIVI.
[Spoilers ahead] Don’t forget the amazing storyline in Morrowind. From the ancient Dwemer to the betrayal by the self-made “gods” the player felt like they were unraveling a story that few should know. Bonus was the last Dwemer living in the blight hospice. Never played a game like it or since…the Dragonborn is cool, but not the savior in part of an ancient mystery.