For a while now I’ve been swapping, inserting and deleting ideas from the technological advanced machine known as my brain, about a list of things that the next Elder Scrolls game could use to improve upon its gameplay and replay factor.
The fifth Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, was released last November on the 11th, a date universally recognised to be the point date of good things to come. Skyrim is set in northern Tamriel where it is cold, rough and raw, the homeland for the vikings and the Nordic race. It is, in contrast, different to the previous world of the fourth Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion, which took place in Cyrodiil. That’s two i’s. Its “next-gen” graphics was what brought the game into the mainsteam audience as it reached out to gamers needing their open world RPG fix, and also applied to those looking for a fun, casual but rewarding experience in which you control the conclusion of a magnitude of different events with the tips of your fingers. And who can forget the revolutionary, and most renowned, Elder Scrolls game: Morrowind? Back in 2002, it set the industry standards incredibly high, even to these days’ standards in the year 2012, it was a major step-up from its predecessor, Daggerfall, despite alot of fans complaining on the official Bethsoft forums how Morrowind was going to be dumbed down to enlighten a wider variety of players.
Despite the ever-growing legendary series, each game is proving that there is still a market and place for purely single-player experiences, the official mod support for PC plays a large part in this too. To this day, a decade after its initial release, Morrowind is still being modded, it goes to show that it does not take an online experience, such as an MMO, to retain customer relations.
But that’s enough about the history, let’s get on topic. The time has come for me to list the features that I want in the next Elder Scrolls game, whichever province it will be set in (Hammerfell, please).
5 — Cooperative Multiplayer
Co-op play, but do not mistake this for massively multiplayer online play. Just imagine, how cool would it be to explore the beautifully-rendered and life-like world of a Tamriel province with a great friend of yours? Just you and him/her, tackling side issues, defeating bosses, exploring a variety of landscapes, together?
My idea is that instead of having a poorly programmed AI bot following you, well, I say following you, but most of the time they never respond to your commands. But to have your companion replaced as a character controlled by a real person, your friend, with full voice chat support, it will be an exciting day to adventure together. You may import your character in to their world, and vice versa, and be ready to go. I was thinking that a drop-in drop-out system would be too easy and immersive breaking, so perhaps you can only summon your friend in non-hostile environments such as a town’s inn, which would make perfect sense from a realistic point of view, too.
4 — Individual Armour Pieces
What made Morrowind so engrossing and rich in detail, for me, was that you could equip individual, single-piece armour items to your avatar. You could equip a single left pauldron, a single right-hand bracer, a belt if you wish, and just one boot on the foot. It really brought out the role playing in the RPG, alot of customisation, and fun. You could make yourself look like a clown, to a fully-fledged knight, or somewhere in between. In vanilla Skyrim, you’re limited to just a head slot, body, arms, legs, two ring slots and a necklace slot. Bethesda’s statement on this was that it is quicker to render a smaller number of models than it does multiple times, which is true for poorer hardware and tech, but The Elder Scrolls series is, at heart, a PC game. A PC game that unfortunately suffers the consequences due to hardware limitations from a console.
3 — More Complex Battle System
As it stands, the combat is fun, but simple. Skyrim’s combat is an improvement over Oblivion’s and definitely Morrowind’s, but I feel there is still alot of untapped potential waiting to jump out from the box. For melee, you simply rapidly tap the attack button until your foe is defeated, for magic, you line-up your spell and cast it with the attack button, and the same goes for archery and other types of ranged combat.
What I think could improve the fighting aspect of the series is to encourage players to use more tactics in their battles and structure a less-balancing tablet where you will be required to equip a certain type of weapon to defeat a certain type of enemy. Like in Daggerfall, you needed Myth weapons to defeat flying magical imps. After a while, it gets boring just bum-rushing enemies and swinging your weapon in their face and destroying everything in your path effortlessly. Now, aside from the tactical side, I also want a generally better combat system, a tough and rewarding design to it.
The realistic tone to the Elder Scrolls series combat is a personal preference of mine but it does not hurt to try to go in a more superficial direction, I want to be able to counter-attack, and enemies could counter-attack me back, and I could counter their counter-attack, and so forth… but also the ability to dodge incoming attacks and the return of limb detection, I should be able to swing at an enemy’s hand and see them drop their weapon because so. Or of I swing at their legs they will be unable to flee.
2 — Harsher World
Skyrim is obviously dumbed down alot in comparison to its previous games, the design philosophy has switched to a more casual and relaxing experience, even on its so-called master difficulty. You can become overpowered very quickly and very easily, the game sets you up to be a powerful Rambo like how a river only flows in one direction at a very fast rate, where no matter what stands in its way, it continues its current and speed.
What I am asking for are large boulders to stop the flow of the water, forcing it to overflow around and above it. When I first start the game I want to be hated by everything and everybody, and as I finish more quests, I slowly earn the respect of the citizens, which will open more possibilities, I am being rewarded for that.
As for the difficulty of the game itself, I want very tough boss fights and beefier enemies that stand in my way, I want to use the one-hundred plus healing potions I brought with me, I want to apply that fire resistant, I want to use that magicka poison to help defeat necromancers and mages, I want to be forced to use certain weapons against certain enemies, I want to feel weak and challenged at lower levels and I don’t want the entire world to level-up and scale with me – it makes me feel like I am in control of the entire game.
I want the world to dynamically play out, with or without my input, moving at an overall independent pace where I need to adapt my ways to be accepted into it, whilst still allowing player choice to come into play.
1 — More Interesting Storyline Elements
The weakness of the series, its storyline, quest and dialogue. In my opinion are all very poorly written, thought-out and full of cliches and even stereotypes. Don’t even get me started on The Greybeards and The Blades. For the storyline, I want a reason as to why I should follow it, in Skyrim, you have to follow it because you’re the last dragonborn, it’s your destiny to fulfill the need to defeat Alduin, The World Eater. But I want a reason that goes beyond being forced into the prophecy, I want the game to connect me, the player, into the world and entice me into wanting to fight off the evil, or whatever needs to be done to purge the land from chaos.
Daggerfall is my favourite Elder Scrolls game which had the most interesting story, you’re a nobody, stranded in a cave from a ship wreck. You fight your way out of the cave and the world is open to you and you need to find your way to deliver the message you received. But what I liked was that you weren’t special, you was just like any other person, finding a living and making your way into the big wide world.
As for quests, it’s 2012, and it’s about time writers stop asking players to collect bear pelts and some jewellery items for some ring that nobody gives a monkey’s behind about. We want memorable, multiple-ending, dynamic quests that hold a reason for it to be there. We want quests that gives the player something to do that they otherwise could not do without speaking to said character in the first place. We don’t want to be some idiot’s errand boy/girl, delivering poxy letters, and killing wolves just up the road in some cave, we want well-crafted stories and likeable characters with believable voice acting, we want to hear the emotion in their voices.
So that’s the end of my list, do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.