When The Elder Scrolls VI was announced at Bethesda’s E3 2018 presentation, it instantly became one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the next generation of consoles. It has big shoes to fill. Almost eight years after its debut, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is still as popular as ever, thanks to DLC, excellent mods, and just about every kind of re-release imaginable. While fans have had The Elder Scrolls Online to fill the void between main installments in the series, the next numbered installment is on a level of anticipation all its own. Will it meet and perhaps surpass the fandom’s expectations? Will it enjoy the longevity of its predecessor?
Speaking to IGN, Bethesda Game Studios boss Todd Howard said this about the lengthy break between Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls VI: “The gap in between is obviously going to be long, it already is. On one hand, I think it’s good to miss things. I think that makes people come to it with really fresh eyes. And I think when they eventually see the game and what we have in mind, they’ll understand the gap more in terms of technology and what we want it to do.”
Howard went on to talk about the longevity of Skyrim, and how he hopes that Elder Scrolls 6 will have a similarly long lifespan: “The one thing [the gap] does is people are still playing Skyrim, it’s still one of the best-selling games. I know people joke about it online, but it’s one of the best-selling games on Switch. Anything we put it out on, it becomes a hit game. And they love it, they still play it, it’s almost infinitely playable, all of the mods and everything like that. And we’re eight years post-Skyrim. It lets us know going into Elder Scrolls VI that this is a game we need to design for people to play for a decade at least, at least.”
Fans should be excited that Bethesda is proposing a 10-year lifespan for Elder Scrolls VI, but also a little wary of the modern connotation of that proposal. After all, “longevity” in today’s games industry often means studios adopting a “game as a service” model, where developers trickle out content little by little over months and years, sometimes leaving initial releases to feel a bit barren. Bethesda’s own Fallout 76 suffered from this very thing when it released last year, and is only now preparing to add NPCs (!!) to the experience. Certainly, no one would want this for Elder Scrolls VI.
After all, players haven’t kept returning to Skyrim because Bethesda has added new content to the game for eight years. In fact, the studio hasn’t supported the game content-wise for a while. So what’s made this RPG a title that will likely be played for a decade? The fact that Bethesda put so much content into the original experience — so much lore, quests, interesting characters, incredible settings, and secrets — as to make it feel infinite. It really does feel like you could play Skyrim forever, like the possibilities are endless, every time you enter its snowy take on Tamriel.
We’re hopeful Elder Scrolls VI will be as great as its predecessors, and there are obviously still a few years before we finally get to see what it even is. Next on BGS’s docket, besides supporting Fallout 76, is the space RPG Starfield, which is also coming to next-gen consoles.
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