While The Elder Scrolls Online and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition may be getting all the media attention right now, one topic is inescapable among gamers when it comes to Bethesda's beloved open-world high fantasy RPG series: Elder Scrolls VI. Unfortunately, considering how long it took the company to put out Skyrim after the smash hit of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - no less than five years – and given how recently the long-awaited Fallout 4 was released, we can only assume that Elder Scrolls VI is still a long, long way away.
But even if it will be a while before we can see Bethesda's sprawling open-world single-player fantasy world again, that doesn't mean we can't start to dream, right? What we know about Elder Scrolls VI is made largely of thrown-together rumors and internet gossip; even the title and location are not confirmed. But we've seen the series make dramatic leaps in its history over the past twenty-three years, to the point where even the beloved Oblivion now seems dated. Bethesda will be looking to top Skyrim's legendary status, but can the new installment deliver? Enough time has passed to make a truly revolutionary RPG, if Bethesda listens to the voices of fans.
Here are 20 things we need to see in Elder Scrolls VI.
20 Survival Simulators
One of the best mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was the Frostfall mod, which gave you the ability to set up a camp and required you to seek shelter from the rain and the cold in order to avoid hypothermia. This, combined with the many other survival mods out there that require you to eat and drink at least once or twice a day as well as sleep regularly added a deep, immersive play to Skyrim. It made the world of Elder Scrolls feel more real and also gave players new challenges; if you didn't eat and sleep your stats would gradually get worse and worse until eventually you died.
A survival mode could work if Bethesda puts in a toggled mode after the character creation in a new game, much like "hardcore" mode in Fallout: New Vegas which also required you to eat and sleep. After all, it's kind of strange how your character can stay awake indefinitely, never eat, drink 20 bottles of mead standing, and walk across an arctic tundra naked with no effect. Given the popularity of mods like Frostfall and iNeed, there already exists a demand and it would only require minimal changes to systems already in the game.
For example, fishing equipment is seen in the game, but fish can only be caught bare-handed, meaning you have to swim into the water and pick them up. NPC hunters are also abound in Skyrim, but what if hunting and fishing were more vital to your character's survival? The possibilities of hunting in Valenwood or Black Marsh are endless. Speaking of which...
19 Uncharted Territory (Valenwood, Elseweyr, Black Marsh, etc.)
Skyrim, Cyrodil, and Morrowind were all big, continent-sized places that were amazing to explore, but considering the release of Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), which contains much of Tamriel if not eventually all of it, there's no reason Bethesda won't take us to previously unexplored provinces of Tamriel for Elder Scrolls VI. The best thing to do would be to present contrasts to what we've seen so far in the series by setting the game in provinces like Valenwood, Black Marsh, or Elseweyr. Perhaps even several provinces at a time; imagine the contrast between the lush forests of Valenwood (in the lore the most beautiful province in Tamriel) and Black Marsh's swamps, or neighboring Elseweyr's deserts.
False rumors have long been spread about the setting of the next Elder Scrolls game, but the consensus is that Valenwood and Black Marsh are the leading contenders. Valenwood and Elseweyr would also be interesting, since both provinces are aligned with the Aldmeri Dominion. Imagine being able to choose between joining the Dominion or joining rebellion against them, not to mention exploring the new provinces and getting to know the place, its people, cultures, and customs.
Another possibility is the majestic cities of Summerset Isles, land of Altmer, who are a huge cultural force in Tamriel and extremely relevant to the story. Some players have even expressed a desire to leave the continent of Tamriel altogether and see other places on Nirn, such as the distant continent of Akavir. A fair amount of lore exists about Akavir, but the place remains mysterious. In addition, the ability to explore more planes of Oblivion such as Azura's realm of Moonshadow would be a real crowd-pleaser.
18 Dynamic World Events
What if the world completely changed when you completed quests? In Skyrim, completing the Civil War questline makes certain cities (depending on which side you chose) get permanent damage and a replacement guard, and defeating Alduin makes dragon appearances much more rare. But what if there were much more? We'd love to see the world of Elder Scrolls come alive with more random encounters, perhaps with warring factions doing battle at random times or creatures going about their day and night cycles. Remember how cool the sieges were in the Civil War questline? Imagine them happening all the time, regardless of your presence or input (this was the original idea for the Civil War storyline, but was cut to save space). It would make it feel much more like a living world.
More and better random encounters are another good idea. There are a few random encounters in Skyrim, but they feel minimal and frequently repeat themselves (how many times did you meet the Dunmer on his way to Solitude, or Talsgar the wandering bard?). Fallout 3 had more interesting random encounters and most of them could only happen once. Elder Scrolls VI should take note of that system. Another thing Elder Scrolls VI should definitely do is re-introduce the "fame meter" system from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which increases as you complete high profile quests, so over time people go from cursing you as a foreign pauper to respecting you.
17 More In-Depth Dialogue Trees
The speech-related things and the speech skill tree in Skyrim in general is just fine, but it needs more in-depth content to draw people in. The conversations in Skyrim are serviceable, but there's nothing as mind-blowing and memorable as the Nerevarine's final dialogue with Dagoth Ur in Morrowind. Games like Mass Effect and Fable had deep conversations that flowed, with things like the player's personality and choices affecting context and dialogue options. We've yet to see Elder Scrolls display a similar strategy, though it was briefly touched on in New Vegas, with certain dialogues changing and some only open to you depending on where you've been, who you're aligned with and what actions you've taken in certain locations.
In general, Elder Scrolls VI can't go wrong with more and deeper dialogue, more reputation with the NPCs of the world surrounding your history, and a greater sense of your actions in the world. While Morrowind gave you a sense of going from complete scum to the Messiah, Skyrim at the end of the game felt more or less the same. Seeing your actions impact the world would be a big plus.
16 Enchanting System
Enchanting has always been a favorite pastime of the Elder Scrolls series. With the proper knowledge, a piece of armor can become more effective, a sword can give fire or shock damage, and a helmet can enable you to breathe underwater. However, the process of enchanting in ESO has faced criticism for its new rune-gathering system, which players said was too random and levels too slow compared to other crafting professions. While it's clear a lot of work went into this new system, the solution to the issues facing the ESO system is to completely change enchanting in Elder Scrolls VI to be more like Skyrim's system.
Skyrim had the best enchanting system, where learning an enchantment requires a weapon or armor with an enchant that needs to be destroyed to learn the research and the object must be taken to an enchanting table to apply it. Enchantments will be soul gems to power themselves, and the strength of the enchantment will depend on the skill level of the player and the power of the soul gem with a slider to add more charge or effect. All in all, the runes system can be kept in the game, but whatever enchanting system is in Elder Scrolls VI should take more inspiration from Skyrim than ESO.
15 Reveal the Outcome of Skyrim Civil War
In Elder Scrolls, the games always talk about what happened in years previous: we see lore books about the outcome of the eruption of Red Mountain, the Great War, the Oblivion Crisis, and many more. No doubt Elder Scrolls VI will talk of the Dragonborn's fight with Alduin, but it will surely have to address the canon outcome of the Skyrim Civil War between the Empire and the Stormcloaks as well. The Civil War is a pivotal point in the history of Tamriel and ignoring it is simply not an option. If you sided with the Stormcloaks, you probably also want to know if Ulfric Stormcloak became High King of Skyrim and what his rule was like. If you sided with the Empire, you'll want to know how it's holding together.
Regardless of your chosen side, the question of how they dealt with the Thalmor also remains. Many players guess no matter who wins the Civil War, the Dominion will attack again, and whether facing the Empire or independent kingdoms, the outcomes of such a war will need to be addressed. Then again, Bethesda may do what they did with The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, when they had multiple outcomes and needed to establish a canon: something like the Warp in the West, where the laws of reality don't apply and time is flexible, somehow giving you all the endings at once.
14 Companion/Follower Overhaul
Fallout 4 was met with widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Though some fans felt it departed in style too much from previous entries, one aspect that received nearly universal praise was its followers. Companions like Nick Valentine and Piper felt like real people, with real personalities and backstories and things they liked and disliked. In contrast, most of the companions from Skyrim end up looking rather lifeless and more like pack mules and cannon fodder than actual friends, with Serana being the notable exception. Elder Scrolls VI can shake up the series' follower system by taking a page out of that book.
First of all, go for quality over quantity by giving fewer followers, but with much more personality, backstories, and dialogue. Provide additional dialogue and quest options with certain companions, and bring back the useful "companion wheel" menu from New Vegas. To increase immersion without making life too difficult, give players the ability to toggle their immortality on and off. Followers should add to the story more, as well as talk and engage the player.
13 Better Magic System
Let's face it: magic needs a complete do-over in Elder Scrolls VI. While Skyrim showed us graphically impressive spells, they felt underwhelming as far as sheer power was concerned. Only the Master-level Destruction spells really packed a punch, and even then they were difficult to obtain (level 100 Destruction and a quest required) and too specialized to specific situations. In addition, the streamlined system in Skyrim was rather rigid and had very limited options for progression to more powerful spells. Magic should be something that takes a while to master, but rewards you with being very powerful once you conquer it.
Many gamers found that the older magic system in Morrowind and Oblivion, which used magicka cost in exchange for spell duration, range, element and other components, allowed much more flexibility. Another idea is that the level of magicka should determine the strength of the magic available and the spells cast, and there should be a greater variety of offensive spells to balance with defensive/stealth spells. Players are asking for more customization and choice when it comes to magic for Elder Scrolls VI, and we hope that Bethesda listens.
12 Multiplayer or Cooperative Play
Elder Scrolls fans got a taste of this with ESO, but instead of combining multiplayer and cooperative options with regular gameplay, it went too far the other way, pushing a massive multiplayer world at the expense of immersion. The Elder Scrolls series works best when it puts you and a small band of friends against the entire fantasy world it creates, and this sense of wonder is broken with World of Warcraft- style chat logs and swarms of players. This model also allows for limited impact on the main world and story. Therefore, a cooperative mode should be limited to around two to four players.
That way, it would capture the sense of adventure and wonder that you get from Oblivion and Skyrim, preserving the feeling of a ragtag gang of adventurers against the world. Such a multiplayer option would also allow for key decisions and the chance for players to change the storyline in a big way. A two to four player option in Elder Scrolls VI would preserve the series' best qualities while giving gamers the co-op they've so desperately wanted.
11 More Moral Ambiguity and Consequences
The Elder Scrolls series does a good job in conveying a sense of moral choices, especially when it comes to the Daedric quests, the Civil War questline from Skyrim, and the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves' Guild quests. There's a sense of freedom in being able to do whatever combination of good and wicked deeds you want. But it's less effective when you really start talking to people. By day, you can be a virtuous savior and protector of all things good, and at night you can murder shopkeepers for the Dark Brotherhood, while facing virtually no problems whatsoever. And if the guards see you, all that happens is you plunk down some gold coins and maybe serve some jail time, and you're back to normal life. While some players might like this teflon-like shield from the consequences of your actions, it makes the games feel less real.
In Elder Scrolls VI, your actions should mean something and have long-term consequences; people's lives can change, new people can show up, factions can come into conflict with one another, and new dialogue can become available for everyone, all depending on your choices. If influential or famous characters die, it should affect the world and you can talk to people about it all the way from city to city, and that's just the beginning of the gameplay possibilities.
10 Dynamic Travel
Even now, I remember feeling disappointed that the Silt Striders in Morrowind functionally did nothing but stand there and let loose whale-like bellows. While there's always fast travel, that's a simple click and go to any place around the map you've already visited. In most Elder Scrolls games you have to fast travel or hoof it. In Skyrim we had the carriages that would take you to any of the nine capital holds, but really performed no different than the Silt Striders – both cut immediately to a load screen. We also got the horses to get around, which were marginally faster than walking and rarely around when you need them.
In Elder Scrolls VI, why not let players see long travels between destinations? If you're playing Elder Scrolls, chances are you want to see and explore the world fully without having to deal with a slow trudge across the wilderness. That way, gamers could enjoy the exotic environments from the equivalent of a leisurely taxi ride. It worked for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, and it can work for Bethesda's fine open-world fantasy series. Maybe even throw in some mobility spells for the magically-inclined.
9 Return of Custom Spells
This might be our most missed feature from Morrowind. While Skyrim rendered the spells beautifully and gratefully introduced dual-wielding and more rapid casting, it took away the pleasure of experimenting and crafting player-made spells of your own choosing. Remember when you discovered that combining a high level jump spell with a slow falling spell basically made you a human grasshopper? Or how about when you figured out combining shock damage with soul trap or health drain made a long-range vampire beam? We miss that.
It seems likely the custom spells builds were removed due to players breaking the game via godly nuke spells, but overpowered spells could be curbed by limiting the force of the spells based on a particular player's level and rank with certain schools of magic. Plus as we mentioned before, magic in Skyrim pales in comparison to the melee aspects of the game. Bringing back custom spells could be the great equalizer Elder Scrolls VI needs.
8 Destructible Environments
So here you are: the mighty Nerevarine, the Hero of Kvatch, the Dragonborn, swinging a huge sword at tables, pots, and trees, but nothing happens. Spells leave marks on surfaces and that's about it. Of course, it doesn't stop you from trying, but your axe will always swing fruitlessly at invincible walls and rocks...or will it? Games like Red Faction: Guerrilla already showed years ago how much fun destructible environments can be, so why not give the idea a spin in Elder Scrolls VI? This way, if you swing an axe at a tree you'd chop it down, if you hit a locked door or chest enough you'd bust it open, and if you strike a stone you'd chip it.
Smashing stuff in games is fun. New technology could allow for the real destruction of objects, fortresses, or swaths of trees. Destroying someone else's property could even be an in-game crime. Accidentally destroy something you didn't mean to? There could always be the option to repair.
7 Update on the Thalmor and the Aldmeri Dominion
Skyrim introduced us to the Third Aldmeri Dominion and the Thalmor, compelling villains akin to an Elven Nazi Germany. Their motives have long been debated, but there's no doubt they are becoming a big part of Tamriel, especially since they're the saviors of the moons after the Void Nights to the Khajiit, claimed that they ended the Oblivion Crisis, and are also allied with their brother elves the Bosmer of Valenwood. Elder Scrolls VI should pick up the story of the Thalmor and what they've been up to since the end of Skyrim, and show them in other parts of the world. How the newest power in Tamriel interacts with other races would be fascinating to see, and opens up interesting story possibilities.
There could be a massive war zone all over Nirn between the High Elves and other races, as well as conflicts and rebellions within Elseweyr, Valenwood, and even Summerset Isle over whether to expel the Dominion or stay within it. Gamers could encounter rebels and Thalmor agents, and the Altmer could be using extremely powerful magic to affect world events. The protagonist could get involved in this enormous war, perhaps to help gather armies from all the different corners of Tamriel for a final showdown in Alinor.
6 Job and Property Management
Sure, adventuring is one way you can always pay the bills. But imagine actually being able to get a job, setting up your own stand in the town square, or working your way up to owning and running your own business empire. The Hearthfire DLC for Skyrim was an excellent step in the right direction, giving players the ability to buy land and build their own custom houses. But imagine owning a blacksmith, a shop, a brewery, a hunting lodge, or even your own town or city.
Hearthfire gave us a taste of what property management in the Elder Scrolls universe can be like and the base-building mechanic in Fallout 4 showed us how extensive it could really get, constructing whole buildings from raw materials. In Elder Scrolls VI, it would also be cool if you could join the city guard, become a traveling merchant and business owner, or even invest in existing properties. There are plenty of successful mods out there for Skyrim where you can do this, from house-building to town-building.
5 Wider Variety of Monsters
One thing all the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games have in common is that there's never a shortage of dangerous wildlife or bandits/raiders just waiting to kill you. But after a while, the endless waves of feral bears and wolves grow stale, especially when you're level 75 and can kill them in one hit. The fantastical alien world of Elder Scrolls and the post-nuclear apocalypse of Fallout have the potential for an endless variety of enemies. With all the different creatures and enemies we've seen so far on Nirn, just bringing back some from the past may be enough – who doesn't want to see Deadroths, Scamps, Giants, Guars, Atronachs and the countless others we've seen all in the same place?
On this front, ESO was definitely a step in the right direction is giving us a larger number of animals and enemies to encounter. One way to improve on that in Elder Scrolls VI would be to make faction affiliation matter more; in the wild in Skyrim, it mostly only makes a difference if you stumble upon some Imperials or Stormcloaks, and factions like the Silver Hand and the Vampires attack you even if you're not a Werewolf and side with the Volkihar vampires. This might also be a good time to show us all how creative Bethesda can be with their monster design, maybe even feature the vampiric serpent folk of the Tsaesci.
4 Diverse Quest Options
It's one of the oldest jokes about Skyrim: though it deserves credit for the endless radiant quests that ensure there's always something new to do and explore, many of the quests start to get rather samey after a while: go here, kill Draugr, fetch an item, bring it back for a sum of gold. The problem isn't limited to radiants though: it's all side quests. Even many of the College of Winterhold quests ended up being dungeon-diving into caves or Dwemer ruins. There's room for improvement in Elder Scrolls VI for a wider variety of side quests.
Some examples might be adding more incentive to do side quests by offering new and different ones depending on which follower you have, access to unique leveled loot that can only be obtained by side questing, and more Daedric-style unique quests like Skyrim's "A Night to Remember," or the Thieves Guild's "The Ultimate Heist" from Oblivion where you steal an actual Elder Scroll. Fetch quests are just fine and a part of any open-world game, but players thirst for more unique experiences in their side quests, too. And in locations like Elseweyr or Valenwood, imagine how much variety there could be!
3 More Realistic NPCs
There's a marked need for improved intelligence among NPCs in the world of Elder Scrolls. In the next Elder Scrolls game, NPCs could have their own private lives that you don't always see. This extends not only to followers, but other inhabitants of the world. They could go adventuring, fight with other NPCs, attend social functions such as prayers, weddings, funerals, etc. The world should change with their stories - how many times did we hear Ysolda in Whiterun say she wants to buy the Bannered Mare? Imagine if the stories of the NPCs you've befriended advanced with your level and progress, and by later levels you can help her in her business and she buys the tavern, redoing the interior completely.
More interesting NPCs with more advanced AI would add color and life to the world of Nirn, and create more three-dimensional characters to interact with. This could combine with the more advanced dialogue trees to create NPCs with backstories and action and location-dependent conversation options, providing humor and depth to each conversation.
2 More Fleshed-Out Family System
One of the greatest innovations of Skyrim was finally allowing your character to marry and start a family. Currently, when you add together the vanilla game plus all expansions, the Divines blessed us with a total of 30 female marriage candidates and 37 male marriage candidates. You can also marry any of them regardless of your Dragonborn's race or gender as long as you've done their relevant quest or task. There's no doubt that this represents an advance in the mechanics of Elder Scrolls.
Yet, the family system as it stands still has its limits. Currently, you can't get divorced in-game and only one marriage is allowed per game – you can't remarry even if your partner dies. Skyrim also doesn't let you marry Serana, even though she's probably the only one who develops an actual relationship with the Dragonborn. The only interactions you can have with your spouse after getting married are getting the "lover's comfort" bonus, money from the home shop, and one homecooked meal a day. Beyond that, there's no further interaction you can have. In Elder Scrolls VI, the adoption and marriage system could be expanded to be more interactive, including more ways to raise your children.
1 What Happened to the Dwemer?
I know some Elder Scrolls fans are going to disagree with us on this one – after all, the disappearance of the Dwemer is one of the most compelling mysteries of the series. Some feel it would be the biggest mistake Bethesda could make to reveal what happened to them. But five games in, I think at least giving some clues as to the ultimate fate of Nirn's most advanced race could fit in nicely with the story of Elder Scrolls VI, particularly if there's a Tamriel-wide conflict with the Thalmor involved.
It goes without saying that the disappearance of the Dwemer is one of the most discussed topics of Elder Scrolls lore and has given birth to many fan theories: some say they became the skin of the brass god Numidium, others say they became automatons, were transported to their own plane of Oblivion, were destroyed by the angered Divines, or perhaps were stuck in time similar to Alduin. And if the Dwemer themselves are not directly involved in Elder Scrolls VI, their most powerful technology certainly should be. Imagine the Elder Scrolls equivalent of a world war, complete with a godly Dwemer construct on par with Numidium. Talk about an epic end to the main quest.