Skyrim is the fifth main game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, and undeniably the series finest accomplishment to date. Featuring an abundance of side-plots, a huge amount of character customizations and a plethora of NPCs to recruit, marry, or otherwise interact with. The game essentially plays out as a sandbox in which the player can explore their RPG fantasies and follow whichever path they want.
A large component of the sandbox players can inhabit is the map, which is one of Skyrim's most critically lauded and impressive features. The maps in Elder Scrolls games get continuously larger with each release, and Skyrim's map is bigger than half of its predecessors combined, ranging from snow-capped mountains to murky swamps to wide expanses of ocean and barren plains of rock. It’s almost a sure thing that any future Elder Scrolls game would expand on the map even more.
But what do fans want to see in a Skyrim sequel? Skyrim, Morrowind, Cyrodiil, Hammerfell, and High Rock are all pretty well-trod areas by now, but there are several places left in Tamriel which have been mentioned extensively in the game's lore but which have yet to make an appearance. On top of that, there are other locations that would be great for branching the game out into other aesthetics or types of gameplay.
In this list, we’ll be looking at eight of the former and seven of the latter. Let’s hope that Bethesda is listening.
15 Should Go: Back In Time, To The Era Of The Snow Elves
One of the great things about Skyrim is just how detailed and thought out its lore is. By reading books, listening to stories, and completing quests players can learn almost an entire history of the world, and it would be a shame not to capitalize on some of this history in a future installment.
For instance, it could be interesting to return back to the time of the enigmatic Snow Elves. The Snow Elves were once the main inhabitants of Skyrim, but after the Nordic-Falmer war, they sought refuge with the Dwemer. In exchange, they had to serve the Dwemer and eat toxic fungus that would blind and degenerate them, over time becoming the vicious Falmer that were battled in Skyrim. Playing a Snow Elf on the run from the tyrannical Dwemer would be sure to make for a brilliant story.
14 Should Avoid: No More Freaking Ruins
If another Elder Scrolls game were to go back in time, we’d hope that we’d get to explore locales in their prime rather than the way they looked after hundreds of years of neglect and environmental damage. While the ruins, mausoleums, and tombs in Skyrim are fun to explore the first few times, they quickly become repetitive thanks to their overused assets and enemies. If I have to kill a Draughr Wight one more time I think I might go crazy.
In fact, the only way I think I might be interested in exploring more ruins would be if Bethesda went all out Tomb Raider and introduced some fun puzzles that didn’t just involve turning big stones around. Give the main character some short shorts, and a crossbow and you’ll have a recipe for success!
13 Should Go: The High Seas
When franchises become stagnant, it’s pretty much common practice at this point to send them to the seas. The Legend of Zelda did it successfully with The Wind Waker, and Assassin's Creed did it more recently with Black Flag, so there’s no reason why The Elder Scrolls couldn’t do the same thing.
Imagine sailing around an open world the size of Skyrim, fighting off the occasional dragon from the skies or deep-sea demon from below. Entire game mechanics could be built around selecting a crew that’s experienced enough to maneuver around hard obstacles but strong enough to fight off enemy ships. And making port at different destinations would always provide new characters, fresh loot, and plentiful side-quests to complete. Why has no-one made this game yet?
12 Should Avoid: The Prison Cell
So far, every Elder Scrolls game has followed a very specific formula in terms of their opening chapters. Each one (bar Daggerfall, which was a spin-off) features the player character trapped in prison looking for a way to escape a crime they may or may not have committed. This opening chapter sets up the basic concept of good and evil, forcing the player to evaluate how they’ll shape their character through the choices they’ll make.
But what if we had a game that didn’t start off in a prison cell? What if the main character was a wealthy socialite who’s kidnapped for ransom and has to find their own place in the world outside their city walls? Or a soldier left for dead on the battlefield who wakes up with amnesia and has to retrace their steps? There’s plenty of ideas for great beginnings, but the prison cell restricts all but one of them.
11 Should Go: A Tropical Paradise
If Bethesda really wanted to switch it up, they could take The Elder Scrolls to the tropics and explore the different cultures that may be found there. Whether it’s a noble and stoic indigenous tribe, a group of bandits on the run or a savage group of pirates, an island getaway would definitely broaden the types of cultures that you could encounter, and introduce a whole new lore that we haven’t yet heard of.
Really what excites me most about this idea is the potential for graphical innovation it has. Skyrim’s endless snow-tipped mountains and stretches of barren land really got to me after a while, and a sunnier, lighter landscape could change not only the aesthetics but also the whole atmosphere of the game. This could be just what the franchise needs for a new lease on life.
10 Should Avoid: Yet More Snowy Mountains
One of the most tedious parts of Skyrim is the endless mountain ranges that you have to cross to get to certain locations. Every one looks the same, and it is at times almost impossible to find the correct path to reach them, which leaves players jumping up and down hoping to glitch themselves to the peak.
If and when The Elder Scrolls gets its long awaited new installment, we hope that those bleak mountains won’t make a reappearance; or that if they do, they take up only a small portion of the map. While I like that Bethesda made the map verticalized instead of just long, I’d much rather the ability to go deep-sea diving if we’re looking at creative ways to make the world larger. I’ve had enough Snow Wolves to last a lifetime.
9 Should Go: The Elvish Homeland Of Valenwood
In traditional RPGs, elves are almost synonymous with forests, bows and arrows, and insane good looks; but Skyrim subverts that, setting elves up as a subhuman race who can come from almost anywhere on the continent. The closest we come to seeing traditional elves is the Wood Elves, who come from the walking forests of Valenwood.
Valenwood was teased for a long time, but only made its first appearance as a playable location in The Elder Scrolls Online. Exploring the winding paths of the forest and dealing with the wily, agile Wood Elves was one of the best things about that game, and it would make total sense for Bethesda to bring Valenwood - or another area like that - back for any sequel they may be working on.
8 Should Avoid: The Battlefield
Much of Skyrim’s plot focuses around the war between the Imperials and the Storrmcloaks, fronted by General Tullius and Ulfric Stormcloak respectively. Players can choose which legion to follow, and spend a large amount of time garnering supplies, taking over cities and running other odd jobs to appease their generals.
Sadly, the actual battlefield scenes in the game are a little lacklustre. Enemies respawn endlessly, but they’re super easy to get through, and all you have to do to end the battle is achieve a simple goal such as reaching a location. There’s never any real stakes to these battles as you know your side will win in the end. If another Elder Scrolls game does want to explore the terrors of war, we hope that they do so without the boredom of the battlefield.
7 Should Go: Bustling Futuristic Cities
The Elder Scrolls has had some pretty big settlements so far, from the majestic and grand Whiterun to the corrupt underworld of Markarth. But players have yet to come across the kind of grand, busy city that would take their breath away on entry. Imagine a city five times the size of Dawnstar with a tier each for the working class, the middle class and the nobility you aim to reach. The population could be larger than ever before, and the shopping could be a thing of legend.
Even better, why not have this city be home to some of the best technology in the world? We’ve already seen the Dwarves build some pretty great machines, so there’s no reason why architects or scientists in this new metropolis couldn’t reimagine some of that in their own way. A shiny, mechanized city pumping away all hours of the day would definitely be a sight to see.
6 Should Avoid: The Realms Of Sci-Fi
While a little technology is always good, a lot of technology can be bad, and the last thing we’d want is for The Elder Scrolls to slip into the realms of science fiction.
The closest we come to anything sci-fi in Skyrim is probably Hermaeus Mora, the god of knowledge and memory who appears to the Dragonborn as a mass of dark tentacles. Looking just like something out of the movie Alien, Mora instructs the Dragonborn to kill their ally before bestowing them with a book of insane knowledge that transports them to another dimension when reading it. Mora’s plotline was always weirdly out of place and disjointed with the rest of the plot, and ultimately added nothing but a stats upgrade. Unless they’re going to do it right and introduce astrologists and scientists to the plot, we’d rather The Elder Scrolls stay out of sci-fi territory altogether.
5 Should Go: A Pleasure Palace
This one might sound a little dodgy, but hear us out. So far, The Elder Scrolls has shown us a lot about the lives of the peasants and working poor that make up the world of Tamriel: but little time has been spent on the upper classes. Sure, you can visit their palaces, but 90% of the time they’re just sitting around in their rooms or at their dining tables barely touching their food.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what these people do in their free time? Surely there has to be a place they go for fun and to spend all that gold they have laying around. We’ve love to see an establishment which is entirely devoted to having fun, gambling, betting, and other X rated activities that can’t be mentioned here. Let the good times roll!
4 Should Avoid: The Realms Of The Daedric Princes
The Daedric Princes pop up regularly throughout The Elder Scrolls, where the play the role of "benevolent" (although mostly evil) gods who interact with the player as they search for a mortal presence to carry out their will. There are seventeen Princes in all, and each holds a degree of power over a concept such as 'knowledge,' 'dreams,' or 'hunting.'
Sadly, we can’t help but feel as though the Princes have overstayed their welcome. Their sub-plots are overplayed and boring in Skyrim and have no relevance to the main quest, which you'd think they'd take notice of. And there’s something disingenuous about the idea of a mortal strolling into the realms of gods and taking them on in an easy battle, as happened with Mehrunes Dagon. In future games, we’d prefer the Daedric Princes remain nothing but background knowledge, and leave their cringeworthy voice acting in the past.
3 Should Go: The Khajiit Desert Of Elsweyr
Elsewyr (pronounced ‘elsewhere’), was another locale introduced in The Elder Scrolls Online; but like Valenwood, it was only explorable in a limited capacity. The homeland of the Khajiit, Elsweyr is populated by nomadic tribes who roam a vast desert landscape, and it also has an Asian vibe to it that’s different from anything else in The Elder Scrolls.
It’s these eastern influences that make Elsweyr such a fun place to discover. The majority of Tamriel is pretty typical RPG territory, taking influence from western medieval locales; but introducing Asian architecture and cultures into the world makes it much more diverse and interesting to explore. The Khajiit are also a minority in Skyrim, so to see them in their natural habitat running the show and to learn more about their history would be an interesting turn of the tables.
2 Should Avoid: The Third Aldmeri Dominion & Direct Sequels
The Third Aldmeri Dominion is a political union of Valenwood, Elsewyr, and the Summerset Isles, an archipelago located in Tamriel. They played a supporting role in Skyrim, when their representatives the Thalmor travelled to the land to enforce the White-Gold Concordat, a law which bans the worship of Talos.
While all of the Dominion locations singularly would make super fun locations to visit in a future game, we don't particularly want to visit them when they're united, largely because a game with the Dominion would most likely be a direct sequel to Skyrim. Direct sequels have so far been avoided in the series, with titles generally set centuries apart, allowing for new players to join without playing past titles and making for a unique experience every time. Instead of working the Dominion in through a direct sequel, why not jump into the future when they’ve succeeded in their goal of elvish domination? That’s a game we would play.
1 Should Go: The Heavens, Umbriel, And Beyond
For a game which features dragons as a main plot point, Skyrim has relatively little exploration of the skies. If the Dragonborn DLC is installed, the player can mount dragons and have a limited experience circling them around and using them in combat, but any dreams you might have had of riding dragon-back across the continent will go unfulfilled.
Any future Elder Scrolls game would do well to make dragon riding a main part of the plot. Even better, developers could look to one of the game's official novelisations for inspiration and build a city in the sky, Skyward Sword style. The official Elder Scrolls book The Infernal City features the floating city of Umbriel which collects souls as it travels and where people are born in cocoons. If that isn't a good starting point for an adventure we don't know what is.