Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - What we want to see
5th Mar 2011 | 16:40
The long awaited sequel to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is now well underway and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has quickly become one of the most anticipated games in all that's pixelated.
There was a lot to love about Oblivion and many still spend hours on the 6 year old RPG today. But there was also definite room for improvement.
Plus, as far as consoles are concerned, we're well into the lifespan of this generation and developers seem to have really hit their stride with the hardware and - in many cases - are now producing some of the best games we've ever seen by some way. We've every reason to expect a killer title from Bethesda.
Skyrim looks like it could be one of those titles, absolutely stunning and pretty ambitious from what we've seen so far. Here are some of the specific things we want to see in the upcoming Bethesda game, let us know what you think and what you want.
Let's start off with a basic, ever so slightly boring but absolutely crucial improvement on Oblivion: We need faster loading times and, actually, fewer load points altogether.
Oblivion was a massive RPG world with graphics that were standard setting back in 2006 but boy did we spend a chunk of time ranging around waiting to access it. When you have such a large world to roam around and get immersed in there's nothing like a lengthy loading screen to remind you you're just playing a game.
It was worse when you took a wrong turn and went through a door you didn't mean to, which basically meant you were going to have to endure two grinding loading screens back to back. Not fun.
We're pretty confident this will be improved in Skyrim, Oblivion did hit this generation of consoles right at the beginning of their life - considering the five year wait, developers have had plenty of time to optimise the basics and by and large, we don't have too many loading time complaints elsewhere. Skyrim should be no different.
Speaking of getting immersed in an RPG world like the one offered in Oblivion, there's no better way of giving hardcore players an extra level of depth than with a hardcore mode.
What's hardcore mode when it's in a game like Elder Scrolls? It's a mode takes the role-playing element of the game and simply widens your responsibility. Where as normally you'd only have to think about keeping your ammo and health supplies plentiful (easy enough), Hardcore Mode makes eating, drinking, sleeping and healing more realistic in terms of application and effect, and then dumps them on your lap and says "Here are some other things you have to deal with if you don't want to die."
Fallout: New Vegas had a Hardcore Mode that required you to keep eating, drinking and sleeping if you wanted to stay alive (you only had to think about doing any of those if you needed a health top up in Normal Mode).
New Vegas' Hardcore Mode also made it so that Stimpaks weren't instant healers, instead the process was gradual. It's all about adding an extra layer of realism to add depth and challenge for the seriously H-core.
This is another way that Bethesda can make the Skyrim world feel more real and alive. It's also an idea that was nicely executed in the Fallout series: random encounters.
We love random encounters in open world games - whether we stumble upon two NPCs duking it out, stumble upon a gang hunting or even get caught up in an unprovoked ambush, it just makes us smile.
It doesn't have to be NPC activity either, the Fallout games have all kinds of quirky, semi-hidden little locations for players to stumble upon if they happen upon the entrance. Sometimes they contain stashes of ammo or a particularly rare gun, for example, but more often than not we like them simply because they make us feel like we've discovered something no-one has.
Mostly though, these random encounters and hidden locations aren't in anyway connected to the main quest, which is crucial. They make the world feel lived and give the player a sense of being a part of something bigger rather than being the centre of the universe. We want to see loads of them in Skyrim; big and little, epic, emotional, funny and quirky - more is definitely more.
Oblivion mods, courtesy of those clever bedroom programmers, added the ability to slice and dice from the loft heights of your trusty steed to Elder Scrolls IV, but we think this time around mounted combat should be in the mix from the get go.
Depending on the mod, we've been able to trample foes or zap them with a spell while horsing around on a horse and we think Bethesda has the ability to take this a whole lot further.
And, since dragons have been announced for Skyrim, by "a whole lot further" we're thinking about soaring through the skies on dragon back, casting spells through the clouds as we pursuit an enemy. From the little bits and pieces we've seen of Skyrim so far, it's looking visually enchanting and we think that some sky-based combat would not only make for an exciting and freeing mechanic, it'd make for some epic and beautiful scenes as well.