Why I’m Not Worried About The Elder Scrolls VI
I think it’s fair to say that Bethesda’s reputation has taken a bit of a self-inflicted wallop in recent months.
With seemingly controversy after controversy, and countless missteps in the wake of Fallout 76, fans have reasonable calls for concern about the company going forward. With projects like Starfield, or more importantly, The Elder Scrolls VI in the coming years from the developer, 76 was a shakeup none of us asked for.
With that still-ongoing trainwreck in mind, I’m personally not worried about the overall quality of The Elder Scrolls VI. The Elder Scrolls franchise is essentially the life-blood of Bethesda Softworks. From 1994’s flagship title Arena, to the eternally re-released entry of Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls is Bethesda.
With every entry, they’ve shown it great love and care during development and production. Meanwhile, Bethesda has a tendency of using the acquired Fallout franchise as a guinea pig to test new ideas, to varying degrees of success. The Elder Scrolls is the golden child to the company, while Fallout is the periodically neglected younger sibling.
I want you to think back to 2008. Do you remember how Fallout 3 was often described as “Oblivion with guns”? That’s essentially what it was, as Bethesda’s first dive into the post-apocalypse. Rather than the fantasy settings we were all used to, Bethesda used the mix of open wastelands and tattered urban sprawls as a well disguised testing ground for new animation styles for more complex enemy types, as well as gore following critical hits. It also allowed the studio to draw a new audience, siphoning in many players of the original Fallout titles as well as appealing to players who wanted something other than fantasy from an RPG.
Bethesda would carry over many new animations to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for use with both friend and foe, the most obvious similarities being seen in the giant spiders and werewolves which share striking similarity to the movements of Fallout 3‘s Radscorpions and Deathclaws. Gore would also be applied, though more sparingly than in Fallout 3, in the form of decapitations under certain circumstances.
With Fallout 4, Fallout Shelter, and Fallout 76 Bethesda has been making their guinea pig approach for more obvious, shoving many new systems in our face as well as streamlining many aspects of the game. They’ve experimented by making the dialogue tree be boiled down to four choices. They’ve experimented heavily with home and settlement building. They’ve egregiously experimented with how far they can poke and prod people for DLC investment. To call how they treat the Fallout series their own Bikini Atoll would be an apt comparison. Make no mistake, they’ve been watching user feedback on these titles to determine what will stick and what is better being scrapped going forward.
I think in The Elder Scrolls VI we are likely to see home and settlement building expanded upon further, but I think they will return to a more traditional dialogue system to allow creative-freedom to the player to build up a character as good or evil as they want (in Fallout 4, it seemed as though your options were to either be pure-good or sarcastic-neutral).
I also think that what we see of DLC is going to be greatly determined by how well the Atom Shop does in Fallout 76 as far as the nickle-and-diming type of content goes. I think we can still expect to see major pieces of content at reasonable prices, but at this rate I still won’t be surprised to see things like home decor sold at pin-prick pricing so that the total sneaks up on the unwary.
Yes, Fallout 76 left a bad taste in my mouth. But sitting back and watching it play out, the more I pondered, the more I considered that The Elder Scrolls VI has no release window even remotely in sight has lead me to speculate that this was another testing ground.
Perhaps they were considering at one point of implementing a co-op mechanic. I now find that unlikely. It may be an idea they return to later, but after 76 falling face first, I expect we will see them abandon the things that failed for now. It’s because of this that I’m not worried about the future of The Elder Scrolls or of Fallout.
Another major mistake is not something they can afford any time soon, especially not with their main franchise.
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