By Adam Rolf
The first Elder Scrolls game I played was Oblivion. Almost immediately, I found my favorite series of games. I must have spent 30 minutes creating my character before being plunged into what seemed like an endless world of magic, medieval weapons, daedric cults, and a myriad of intertwining quests.
Yes! This was what I was searching for in an open-world fantasy game! To me, Elder Scrolls was the next step up from my beloved Fable series that I so desperately craved!.
Then came Skyrim with its breathtaking scenery, crafting and enchanting system, dual-casting spells, and dragons! Who doesn’t love slaying dragons? The next-gen Elder Scrolls certainly was an impressive follow up.
All was well within my little mini-verse as I grew to become a true fanboy of the Elder Scrolls series. However, after many playthroughs, I noticed there are a few things missing that’s holding the games back from perfection.
Here are 5 improvements we absolutely need in the next Elder Scrolls:
Show some more love to magic users
Magic was always the redheaded stepchild of the Elder Scrolls series (mages, hear me out). Spells ended up lackluster; the animations were so basic you’d think mages wore ugg boots and ordered macchiatos from Starbucks.
The equipment for mages also lacked a creative design unlike with the melee and ranged-focused classes. Even though it was a relative flop at launch, Zenimax’s Elderscrolls Online basically embarrassed Bethesda in robe and staff design with a vibrant array of designs. For example, here is ESO robes(light armor) and here is Skyrim’s robes. See what I mean? Mage equipment could use a complete overhaul.
For those who know how to use it properly, magic in Skyrim could be really strong, especially mid-game. However, if you maxed out your blacksmithing and enchanting skills along with a weapon skill of your choice, magic could become easily outclassed.
In Skyrim, you could only enchant staffs after completing a certain side quest available only in the Dragonborn DLC, but you couldn’t craft staffs without the use of mods.
Speaking of mods, only through them could you access a wider list of spells with different animations, actual synergy, and damage that competed with souped up weapons, making an all-powerful wizard feel like an all-powerful wizard.
The vanilla spells were bland and most seemed to be carried over from Oblivion with their basic animations and underwhelming effects. What we need is a wide variety of spells with beautiful animations that put the next generation consoles to work.
Spells should also focus on synergy allowing for a greater potential of chained combos rather than just raw damage or basic effects.
Finally, let’s throw in some wands. Wingardium leviosa, am I right fellas? *que crickets* Seriously though, dual wielding staffs never seemed practical unless you’re Saruman flexing on Gandalf, so let’s add some wands.
Give them slightly weaker damage and a smaller charge tank, but with shorter casting times and the ability to dual wield them. Staffs could be treated as more powerful two-handed weapons that can block and bash when needed.
Bethesda has already proved they can pull off a respectable survival mode in Fallout 4. Modders have created the wet and cold mod and the campfire mod for Skyrim, which makes Skyrim’s bitter climate an unignorable factor and actually creates a lot of entertaining immersion.
If you haven’t downloaded them, I strongly suggest it. Coupled together they’re two of my favorite mods. So why not add something similar to Elder Scrolls 6?
The Elder Scrolls series received a lot of criticism from nay-sayers much because of the countless hours spent traveling to unknown locations with only a few brief encounters to keep players immersed along the way.
With a survival mode, factors like hydration, heat, and fatigue could give you a better reason for wearing light armor. A fierce storm could urge players to seek shelter within ominous caves otherwise avoided.
Like the campfire mod, a cold night will make the idea of a campsite and roaring fire much more appealing. This ensures you’re not just mindlessly travelling from point A to point B all the time with only random bears or bandits to encounter.
More dynamic NPC dialogue based on reputation
While the NPCs’ dialogue in previous games adapt to your progression in the game, it can be pretty shallow. It didn’t really matter whether you were champion of Cyrodil or the Dragonborn, slayer of Alduin – there’s always the same snide remarks from those damn guards.
“Let me guess, someone stole your sweetroll?”
Uhm, no dude, fuck off. I was actually just walking by minding my own business. I could literally one-shot you with my breath. Did no one tell you I’m the Thane, Dragonborn, and pretty much the defender of the realm?
Or how about Nazeem’s toxic ass?
“Do you go to the Cloud district very often? Oh what am I saying, of course you don’t.” AXE TO THE FACE!
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve killed Nazeem out of sheer annoyance. However, this goes both ways because if you run through a city and murder as many people as you want, you could just pay off your bounty in thieves guild and people don’t even bat an eye the next time they see you.
Now don’t get me wrong, NPCs seemed to remember you if you slighted them to an extent.
A merchant might hire a band of thugs to attack you for stealing, or a random civilian might glare at you when you talk to them, but there was no real way to track the character’s prestige and popularity within the towns.
The next Elder Scrolls needs to incorporate a reputation-based system where each city and their territories know the character based off worldly and local deeds similar to how Fable or World of Warcraft’s reputation systems work.
This way, NPCs could base what they say to the character off the character’s fame or infamy as well as worldly deeds.
This should also lead to new side quests, discounts, surcharges, rivalries, and confrontation – a much better system for dialogue immersion.
Better character perks
Let’s face it, pretty much everyone who played Skyrim on PC eventually downloaded the Ordinator perk mod. And if you haven’t, you need to.
The vanilla perk system for Skyrim was extremely limited and seemed to mostly reward stat increases with little circumstantial bonuses. Because of this, some skills were useless to invest in, such as lockpicking, speech, and pickpocketing.
In hindsight having high skill levels in those didn’t change the gameplay experience too much. If you were a boss in lockpicking, you literally didn’t need a single perk in lockpicking.
However, if you look at the Ordinator perk mod, it offers increased stats but also focuses on circumstantial bonuses to different attacks with each weapon. Take Swaying Cobra for example: Sideways power attacks with a dagger inflict distracting wounds, draining 100 points of Magicka and Stamina and halting regeneration for 5 seconds.
Ordinator also makes skills such as lockpicking and pickpocket more relevant by adding such perks as Bear Traps: Able to pick up Bear Traps or create them at a Forge or Anvil, and drop them from your inventory to place them. The teeth of placed Bear Traps deal 2 points of damage per level of Lockpicking.
Now compare that to vanilla’s lockpicking perks which literally only made lockpicking certain locks easier and increased the gold value of what’s in a chest. *Cue the sad trombone*
I think the perk system was a great idea, but I would like to see something more robust like with Ordinator Perks, which offered relevant and strategic bonuses to each skill. The idea is to make each skill tree just as rewarding as the next.
For years now fans of Elder Scrolls have been calling for multiplayer capability. Programmer Max Griot already proved it’s doable with his mod, Skyrim Together, which allows two players to explore the country of Skyrim simultaneously.
If Bethesda pulled this off it would truly become the crème de la crème of all Elder Scrolls. I know there are players out there who enjoy such games, but get bored easily without being able to explore with a friend.
Think of how many new players would join the community once their friends insisted on them buying the game. Cha ching, Bethesda! Cha ching!
Maybe this can be handled like Dark Souls, where players can port into other player’s worlds and help, sabotage, or PVP. Or maybe it can be like Borderlands, where players work together and only fight by accepting duel requests. Id’ be happy with either, but one thing is for certain, players have wanted multiplayer for a long time now. So why not?
I have high hopes for the next Elder Scrolls, and I’m interested in how well they utilize next gen console capabilities. Hell, we’ve been waiting nearly a decade just for a release date, so it better be good!
Oh I’m only kidding. Let the developers breathe a little. A masterpiece takes time.
*Proceeds to poke Bethesda with a stick* Come onnn! Do something!