Nearly eight years after release, Skryim and The Elders Scrolls' fanbase is as passionate as ever. As excitement mounts and the masses grow restless for details of The Elder Scrolls VI, first teased as last year's E3, it's time to turn a critical eye towards one of the biggest gaming releases of the 2010 era.
Skyrim invited fans into a world that was bigger and more immersive than any Elder Scrolls game before it, but it was by no means perfect. Here's a recap of five upgrades we'd like to see in its forthcoming sequel, as well as five tried and true features we hope make a return.
10 Bugs, Glitches, And Broken Quests
With a game as massive and detailed as Skyrim, there's always bound to be at least a few bugs that aren't discovered until the throes of release. Even the best QA team can't replicate the experience of thousands of players interacting with the game in thousands of different ways; the possibilities are just too vast.
Skryim's problems happen to be bigger than just a few glitches, however. Almost eight years after release, the game is still plagued by bugged quest lines, glitched dungeons, and a host of other technical issues that have never been resolved. Frustrated PC fans have even taken it upon themselves to create a number of unofficial patches in an attempt to address these long-lingering problems.
It would be easy to write this off as a by-product of the game's size, but unfortunately, these kinds of unresolved difficulties have become par for the course with Bethesda. With the release of The Elder Scrolls VI, fans can only hope for a deviation from the form.
9 Hope To See: Atmospheric Immersion
The look and feel of Skyrim is not only beautiful, but cohesive. The visual and auditory language across the holds remains coherent while still allowing for variations that allow Whiterun to feel different from Riften to feel different from Solitude. Norse architecture reads as distinct from Dwarven and Dwarven as distinct from Falmer.
Skyrim's audiovisual world is complete and compelling, allowing players to feel fully transported into the world of the game. It sparks wonder and curiosity, even as it quietly pays homage to its real-world influences. This top-notch world building has helped give Skyrim its staying power, and Bethesda would do well to keep up the good world in its sequel.
8 Meaningful Player Choice
It's not that Skyrim is short on player choice. You can join the Legion, the Stormcloaks, or remain neutral. You can join or exterminate almost all of the guilds. You can choose to restore Azura's Star or bastardize it for your own dark ends.
There's lots of choices; it's just that these choices don't feel like they have a meaningful impact. They don't seriously affect how your character is perceived by the world around them and there's little consequence for what you choose to do. Sure, robbing a store blind may get you sent to jail, but it's not as if your actions linger with your character beyond their time in the clink. Rob a shop, get arrested, pay your dues, and be welcomed back into the very same establishment the next day.
Not every choice needs to have long-lasting life-or-death consequences, but a move towards more impactful choices in TES VI would be an exciting development.
7 Hope To See: Alchemy
Skyrim's alchemy system rewards curiosity and creativity. While it can be frustrating to squander a rare ingredient on a bum recipe, the joy of finding just the right combination is unparalleled. Now, with the help of extensive guides and sites like Skyrim Alchemy, it remains one of the best ways to quickly make money in the game.
Alchemy also benefits from Skryim's visual storytelling. There's something magical about it right off the bat, from the abundance of dried herbs hanging from rafters nearby the mixing stations to the arcane symbols and glowing alembic — even when all your character can do is juice some wheat and mountain flowers together for a quick and cheap health potion.
6 A Greater Variety of Voice Actors
Voice actors can be a major expense for a game, especially when the volume of dialogue to be recorded is so great. Bethesda has some truly talented individuals in its stable, and almost all of them make an appearance in Skyrim.
The use and re-use of the same voices flattens the word and can help push material from memorable to meme-worthy. It degrades players' sense of immersion and serves as a jarring reminder of the artifice inherent to the gaming experience. With any luck, TES VI will find ways to include fan favorites and game staples while still adding more variety.
After all, Stephen Russell deserves better than 'sleazy shopkeeper #47.'
5 Hope To See: Combat
Skryim's 'play your way' commitment permeates everything, including its combat system. From the variety of one- and two-handed weapons to the swath of damage-dealing and aid-summoning magics, there's any number of way to solve a combat problem. Though some builds are certainly stronger than others, there's fun to be had no matter which route you choose to go.
This also means that even first-time gamers can pick up and enjoy Skyrim with minimal frustration. Sure, wildly swinging at your foes with a battle axe may not be the most efficient or expedient way of dealing with them, but it's hard to deny the fun of it.
4 Customizable Houses
As long as you played your cards right and did the right favors for the right people, owning a vacation home in each of Skyrim's holds was an attainable goal. While these houses had some small level of customization, it came mostly through buying expansions from the local steward. This idea, however, was expanded with real promise in the Hearthfire DLC, which added the ability to build and decorate houses. This building system was expanded yet again with Fallout 4, albeit with some mixed results.
With the core programming already completed, a further refinement of customizable living space creation and decoration would be a strong addition to the next Elder Scrolls game.
3 Hope to See: Full Dialogue Trees
When Fallout 4 debuted, Bethesda fans found themselves with a simplified dialogue system that failed to convey the detail or nuance of the options at hand. This quickly became a point of frustration for players as well as the source of more than a few unflattering memes.
While TES VI would certainly benefit from more robust conversation choices, it should absolutely preserve Skyrim's intact dialogue interface. Allowing players to see just what it is they're expressing helps to reduce frustration and ensures that the choice they've selected is the one they meant to make. Though a fully-voice main character might be a fun concept, it shouldn't come at the expense of a complete dialogue tree.
2 Child NPCs Who Aren't Quite So Annoying
It's safe to say that while Skyrim delivered an incredible gaming experience unmanly fronts, its child NPCs weren't one of the game's strong features. Suffering from a limited selection of dialogue and with a gift for being truly obnoxious, many players quickly grew frustrated with Tamriel's youngest citizens. It wasn't long before some resorted to violence. Mods that allow child NPCs to be killed are fairly common, and with thousands of downloads, clearly appreciated by a segment of the community.
As it seems unlikely that TES VI will be a child-free world, let's all hope they're handled with a little more tact and some seriously improved manners.
Of course, Skryim hasn't remained popular almost eight years after its initial release for no reason.
Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness and ruler of the Shivering Isles, automatically makes any Elder Scrolls game better. He's delightfully off-beat, mixing menace and merriment and his extended vacation from his duties leads to one of Skryim's most entertaining quests. If you've never ventured into the mind of the long-dead Mad Emperor to do battle with his nightmares or turned an attacking foe into a chicken with the Wabbajack, you haven't fully experienced all that the game has to offer.
Having made appearances in Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, and The Elder Scrolls Online, Sheogorath would be a terrible omission from The Elder Scrolls VI.