At the time, he admitted that it was announced so that fans would stop asking about it, but in reality, it’s done the opposite. There’s a hunger for The Elder Scrolls 6 that is unique to Bethesda. A developer that holds the keys to so many of the biggest franchises in modern gaming.
However, recently, Bethesda Softworks had endured a bit of a rough patch. Between Fallout 4’s terrible console versions and the Fallout 76 saga, it’s not quite at the peak of its powers, like it was when The Elder Scrolls 6 was first announced.
In 2022, Skyrim is hanging about like that guy you always see in the pub when you go back to your home town. Sure, at first it’s fun to reminisce about what it was like in 2011, but soon there’s this lingering feeling that we all should have moved on, and no matter how rose-tinted the stories are, all you can remember is the five times your save has been lost, or the PS3 version that would break in bigger and more explosive ways the more you played it.
Starfield will really set the table for Bethesda in terms of how this game is going to be received. If Starfield is a triumph, a genuine leap forward and doesn’t feel like a suped-up Bethesda game, then it will have all the goodwill in the world going into The Elder Scrolls 6. However, if it’s a buggy mess, which has very much been the MO of Bethesda on consoles, will players put up with it?
What if it’s not actually that different? A big reason that Fallout 4 is (harshly) looked back upon with disappointment is that despite the superficial changes that Bethesda made, it’s not all that different from the games that came before it. It’s also clear that the Bethesda story-telling style is wearing thin. Dialogue options have never felt thinner or more inconsequential. That’s what The Elder Scrolls 6 needs to course correct.
Elder Scrolls 6 Wishlist: The Art of War
For us, one of the key things that will set The Elder Scrolls 6 apart from its predecessor is the combat. This can’t simply be the clumsy melee combat of Bethesda games past. Two competitors wiggle their swords at each other until one of their souls leaves their body and they crumble in a heap like a mannequin that’s been pushed from a tenth-floor window.
Chivalry 2 provides the perfect template for how high-fantasy combat could work in an RPG. If you’re unfamiliar, on the surface Chivalry 2 presents itself as a somewhat serious game about armies of knights battling it out over a series of control points. In reality, it’s a bit more like “I’m King Arthur, welcome to Jackass” as players have a penchant to simply run in and throw their swords blindly into groups of soldiers.
However, if you manage to find yourself in a 1v1 situation in Chivalry 2, you’ll be plunged into an incredibly fun rock-paper-scissors style battle of parrying, blocking and reposting. It’s also brutally gorey, with limbs and heads flying everywhere. Every battle is genuinely engaging, and as you get better at it, you feel like a threat to anyone. While a new player will swing wildly at you, if you know what you’re doing, you can parry with one movement and then divorce their head from their shoulders with the next.
If the combat in The Elder Scrolls 6 was anywhere near that fun, there wouldn’t be a bandit camp in the entire game that would be safe. One of the best elements of Skyrim’s levelling system was that if the player used a certain skill over and over again, the character would get better at it. You sneak a lot, your sneaking improves. With an entirely skill-based combat system, the player would improve their character’s skill by literally getting better at the game.
Elder Scrolls 6 Wishlist: HBO-ification
It’s hard to predict what the landscape of fantasy media will be when The Elder Scrolls 6 releases. It’s strange to think that when Skyrim was first released, there was only one series of Game Of Thrones and the hundreds of also-ran series that followed hadn’t reached our screens. When Skyrim was being developed and written, the mainstream point of reference with high fantasy was The Lord of the Rings.
This will undoubtedly change the tone of The Elder Scrolls 6. While The Elder Scrolls games have always dabbled with darker tones and political intrigue, we expect this to be a much larger focus in The Elder Scrolls 6. Sure, by the time that Game Of Thrones had ended, the fanbase had completely turned on it, but it’s impossible to deny that for a few series in the middle, the world was gripped by it in a way that fantasy rarely does.
It’s also impossible to ignore the mammoth impact that The Witcher 3 had on the fantasy RPG genre. With incredible writing and long, involved side quests that people are still talking about half a decade later, the bar has forever been raised by CD Project.
Bethesda Game Studios will be keenly aware of this and desperate to retake their crown. We’d love a focus on these long side stories and less disposable, single objective quests. While these were fine in 2011, “Go here, collect X” feels antiquated now, never mind how it will feel when The Elder Scrolls 6 launches.
When is The Elder Scrolls 6 coming out?
It feels weird thinking about a game that literally only existed as a GIF when it was announced. Bethesda is fully focused on Starfield, and whatever expansions and DLC that will likely follow. If Starfield makes it out this year, and it gets a year of support, it’s probably going to be late 2023 before we really start seeing The Elder Scrolls 6.
Is it a 2025 game? How will the landscape of gaming have changed by then? There’s certainly a feeling in the air that the open-world game is in dire need of a revamp. There’s not been a genuine revolution in the space, outside of arguably Red Dead Redemption 2. The Elder Scrolls 6 could provide that.
Will we be looking at mid-generation refreshes for the PS5 and Xbox Series X? It certainly seems possible. Bethesda knows that, with the exception of GTA VI, it has the most anticipated game in recent memory on its hands. Remember the hype for Cyberpunk? The road to The Elder Scrolls 6 is going to be just as unhinged.
But how will Bethesda respond? Will it attempt to move the genre in a completely new direction, or will Starfield form the basis of the new Bethesda Game Studios, and The Elder Scrolls 6 will improve upon it, just like you can see the roots of Skyrim in Fallout 3? You’ll only be waiting another 20 years to find out.