That’s right good folks of the internet, the next Elder Scrolls game is going to be called Stugonia and it will be based on and inspired by the life and whimsies of yours truly. Well it may as well be. The amount of times I have seen so called ‘announcements’ so far about the release of the Elder Scrolls VI, from Valenwood to Argonia and other possibilities, it is clear that there are many people who really want to delve into the next iteration of this beloved game series. I am one of those slightly impatient and ever so ES lore loving persons.
As many of you may probably know, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was a massive critical and commercial success. It has been estimated that it has sold well over 20 million copies and maintains a Metacritic average of 94 across Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, so not too shabby. This success is not exactly undeserving either. I lost hundreds of hours myself to this world when I canvassed and strode the land of Skyrim as I cut a bloody swathe through the plains of Whiterun, the marshes of Morthal, the ever-winter of Windhelm and the forests of Riften. I commanded legions, destroyed dragons and decimated countless draugr. Except for the giants anyway, I kept my distance until I hit the higher levels just so that they wouldn’t try to pummel me into the stratosphere. Needless to say, I know my stuff when it comes to scouring the scrolls of tales to be told.
It would then not be too much of a stretch to assume that I am incredibly looking forward to any official announcement regarding the next installment in the series, the Elder Scrolls VI and wherever it may take place. This article is my own personal wish list of preferable dos and don’ts for what I will want from the next game.
- High Rock – I have enjoyed my treks throughout Cyrodiil in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Skyrim as well as that of Elder Scrolls Online’s one thousand year prior variants of the areas of Tamriel, but the place that intrigues me the most so much that I would like an entire game dedicated to it is the province of High Rock. With many kings, courts and class hierarchies as a potent source of political issues as well as a deep pool of potential conflicts that may arise from the lineage of the native Bretons, their stance on the war with the Dominion and the fact that magic runs rampant throughout this land, there is much here that could set up many interesting quest lines with satisfying conclusions and far reaching consequences. I know it is too far along in the development cycle for the game that we all know will eventually see the light of day for Bethesda to read this and think ‘Sod it, let’s scrap everything and start fresh’ if they most likely haven’t chosen this place to set their title entry, but every time I think of roaming a new land in Tamriel or beyond, my mind always inevitably wanders to what High Rock may have to offer.
- Destruction Magic – Speaking of the magic of the Bretons, I have a tendency to make most of my own characters built around some sort of mage build. Whether that is in the form of a Battlemage or a pure out and out Mage, I love wielding the powers of magic. During my previous playthroughs I have enjoyed building an arsenal of spells from the schools of Illusion, Restoration, Conjuration and Alteration but the school that has failed to captivate me quite as much is Destruction. From underwhelming looking attack animations to pitiful damage outputs on high level enemies, I found my desire to wield this power waning as time passed. It seemed like I was mildly irritating that Frost Troll with my flickering flames rather than searing his face off with a barrage of raging fire. I am looking forward to a monumental improvement in this area.
- My Own Stronghold – From one Fallout game to the next Elder Scrolls offering it is becoming increasingly obvious that the development of one has an effect on the creation of the other. Design choices and progression systems are overlapping as the inspirations and choices that work in one title seem to influence what happens in the next to varying degrees. With Fallout 4 we saw the option to craft and create our own phenomenal fortress replete with settlers, defensibility and the need to oversee and manage the needs of the folk under your protection. I would like to see this trend continue in the next Elder Scrolls. One of my biggest desires in Skyrim was that I wanted to become the Jarl (leader) of my own town, a village that I could craft and manipulate to my own designs and whims. I wanted to solidify my own settlement as a significant marker on the map of the land. I would love nothing more to be able to do just that to any extent in the Elder Scrolls VI.
- Additional Race Options – Did you know that within the lore of this game series there are actually references to races of Tropical Elves, Bi-pedal Tigers, Monkey folk and Foxes, other races of human descent as well as Amphibious Slugs with a penchant for Necromancy. From long lost history to faraway lands, there are opportunities here to expand upon the current roster of ten races that we are used to for developing a truly unique character. Don’t get me wrong, ten is quite a lot of options but this is still a choice between four variants of human, four variants of elf (mer) and two races of beast. I don’t think I am alone in wanting to create a half dragon, half man, all bad-ass magic wielding war wizard with a fondness for crippling foes and rescuing helpless strangers. I also think it would add to the richness of the lore and world to provide npc’s representing these races to add a little more diversity and possibility into the game.
- Actual Cities – With the exception of the Imperial City in Oblivion, I have never stepped into a ‘city’ and thought to myself ‘Damn, this is truly a bustling capital that is a bloody fine representation of what this land is all about.’ I liked the look and the allure of locations like Solitude, Windhelm, Skingrad and Anvil but let’s face it, they were largish towns and not proper cities, at least as far as I am concerned. Doubling the size of these places would be a start and then adding a place full of life and hustly, bustly folk going about their business would be a true step forward in the development of the game world. ESO’s cities felt larger and more alive, which is understandable given its MMO requirements, but this has shown me that a large and stable city is possible in an Elder Scrolls game. CD Projekt Red has also proved it can be done in their own game, the Witcher 3, so I have high hopes and admittedly, likely unreasonable expectations for a truly massive settlement or two for the next one.
- Bugs/Glitches – And finally, the thing that irks me the most when I play a game of this magnitude is the possibility of encountering an immersion destroying glitch or even worse, a game breaking bug whilst I am knee deep in quests, gold and loot. I am very aware that is would likely take a couple of years of almost constant QA testing to remove most of the bugs in any game of this undertaking and it will be nigh on impossible for any Elder Scrolls game to release in the future without them. But Bethesda Game Studios made great strides between the release of Skyrim and Fallout 4 to the point where the latter was relatively well ironed out with only a couple of major problems to contend with, and as of writing this article, the patches released to shore up the game data hasn’t broken anything new as far as I am aware. There is nothing worse for a gamer with a love of open worlds and character development than reaching the sixty hour mark only to realise that everything you have done up until that point is for naught as a broken glitch in the code prevents you from proceeding any further. I personally do not care how long the QA process takes. I am a patient man and I can wait for the most pristine working order version of the next Elder Scrolls game possible. Bethesda are known for taking their time with game development and not bowing to industry, publisher or fanboy pressures, so here’s to hoping.
So that concludes my take on some of what I want and some of what I do not want. I could write for hours about every little change I would personally like to make but I think that to have an entire game tailored to my own personal desires would be missing the point. The fact that I love the Elder Scrolls games so much is because of the decisions and design choices that have already been made. For now I am very content with my journeys through the likes of Fallout, the Witcher, Dragon Age and others of a similar ilk but there will always be a special place in my soul (until some pesky dragonborn comes along with a soul gem and claims he needs it more than I do!) for the Elder Scrolls. Bring on them quests Bethesda!
Forged From Reverie.
Cover photograph provided by Anthony Nicholas.