Released in 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was one of the most iconic and popular games of the last console generation. The game rekindled interest in massive, open world AAA RPGs and was considered one of the most immersive and technically impressive games ever released. After receiving countless “game of the year” awards, millions of sales, ports to every modern system, and thousands of mods, Skyrim has cemented its place in gaming history.
Now, nearly 10 years after Skyrim’s release, Bethesda has revealed that The Elder Scrolls 6 is in development. The game is likely many years from release and the lofty goal of surpassing Skyrim is looming over the developers’ heads. Here are a few ways The Elder Scrolls 6 can improve upon the solid framework laid out by Skyrim.
5 biggest ways Elder Scrolls 6 can improve over Skyrim
5. Have a unique setting
One of the biggest strengths Skyrim had versus other games in the series was its distinct setting. The snowy landscapes of Skyrim and its uniquely Viking architecture helped the game’s setting stand out against the more generic high-fantasy, Tolkien-esque settings of Oblivion and Daggerfall. TES 6 needs to have a similarly distinctive setting.
One of the most highly requested settings is Hammerfell, a desert region that borders Skyrim. The area is home to the Redguards, an adventurous and nomadic race of humans who often work as mercenaries, sailors, and adventurers. Hammerfell itself is made up of massive port cities that contradict the deserts that make up most of the region.
The region also features massive abandoned Dwemer cities; advanced mechanical cities filled with gigantic gears and other machinations. The setting’s architecture is based on real-life ancient Arabian and African aesthetics, which would provide a fresh change of scenery for the series.
To stand out, The Elder Scrolls 6 needs to continue to stray from high fantasy and more towards surreal and unique settings not found in any other fantasy game.
4. A more in-depth combat system
One of the most consistent complaints of the Elder Scrolls series is its flimsy combat. Fights often feel like simple button mashing, and when attacks connect there is no sense of power or weight. While Skyrim featured the best combat in the series so far, it was still incredibly simple and repetitive.
The combat system needs a complete rehaul in TES 6. First and foremost, keep the real-combat of Skyrim and Oblivion, and do not include Morrowind’s dice rolls. Visibly hitting an enemy with your sword and then rolling a miss was incredibly frustrating and immersion breaking.
Second, increase the number of available moves in combat. Allow for feints, thrusts, and parries, in addition to the normal and power attacks. A well-timed shield or two-handed weapon block should do more than just prevent you from taking damage, it should open an opportunity for you to strike back.
Third, adding more options on how or if to fight can improve the roleplaying experience. Give players an option to knock enemies out or restrain them instead of killing them. Conversely, giving the ability to enact brutal executions on command can help immerse players in their bloodthirsty character.
Beyond this, improved hit detection, more detailed animations, and more gruesome sound design can all help combat from feeling floaty and week. By featuring an advanced combat system, TES 6 can avoid one of the series’ most common complaints.
3. Make guilds make sense
In Skyrim, the way that the player interacted with the game’s various guilds was nonsensical. Not only did every guild make the player the leader too easily, but the player could serve as the leader of every single guild in Skyrim at the same time. It was unrealistic (in the context of a fantasy game) that somebody could serve as the brutal warrior leader of the Companions while also serving as the shadowy leader of the Dark Brotherhood and so on. Forcing the player into only joining one or two guilds (with the ability to only become the leader of one) would help force the player into creating a more distinct story for themselves.
It was also far too easy to advance through the ranks of a guild in Skyrim. To become head of the College of Winterhold (Mage’s Guild), the player technically only needs to know a handful of spells. Instead, the player should have to repeatedly demonstrate their magical aptitude with a wide variety of difficult spells. The fact that any old warrior with basic flame and ice spells could become the leader of the most powerful faction of mages in Skyrim was absurd. Rising through the ranks of a guild should be a matter of aptitude, networking, and shrewd inner politics.
2. Allow players to craft their own spells
One of the most missed features in Skyrim was the ability to craft your own spells. The spellcrafting system featured in Oblivion gave the players a ton of freedom to be creative, allowing them to assign various properties to their spells like range, self/touch/on target/, area of effect, buffs and debuffs, and various elements. Depending on the player’s magical abilities, these spells would be weaker or stronger or be easier or more difficult to cast.
Players found plenty of interesting ways to craft spells, such as combining invisibility with the Frenzy effect, which would cause enemies to kill each other while the player remains safely hidden. Bringing back this highly requested feature would go a long way in making longtime fans happy.
1. Use a new engine
It’s finally time to address the elephant in the room: Bethesda’s Creation Engine, used in Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76, has become outdated. Here are a few ways the Creation Engine limits the game designer’s ability for player interaction with the environment:
- 3D objects can’t interact well with the environment, which prevents contextual environmental actions like vaulting over a ledge of climbing a ladder.
- Physics and game speed are tied to FPS, which could cause the game to become unplayable on certain hardware or settings
- Interiors and exteriors are completely separated by loading screens. Other games like Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 have already achieved seamless transitions between interiors and exteriors
For as good as the Creation Engine is in creating a world that interacts with itself (with NPC schedules, Radiant Quests, etc), the engine is in dire need of a retooling or an overhaul. Unfortunately, since the code dates back to the ’90s, a retrofitting may be out of the question, and a new engine is needed entirely.
What would you like to see in the next Elder Scrolls? Let us know!