The Elder Scrolls 6: What If Bethesda Focused On Narrative And De-Emphasized The Open World?
Is this even something anyone really wants?
The Elder Scrolls series has always been characterized by one thing- the vast, open world that it provides, and the complete agency that the player has to make their way in the game’s world in their own way, at their own pace. However, with Bethesda beginning to be outdone at their game by other players in the market, one must raise the question- what if they changed their approach to how they design games in the first place?
By which we mean, what if instead of making the open world in the game the central focus, what if they made exploration incidental, and instead sought to focus on narrative and characterization? Think of it like The Witcher 2 or Mass Effect– exploration would still be a thing, and it would be rewarded. But the emphasis would be shifted to telling a story, and the game would be designed around that expectation.
There are multiple tantalizing possibilities to this approach- for one, Bethesda have crafted extremely rich lore for the world of Tamriel, and a story focused game would let them do justice to that lore in the game’s main narrative. Then too, a game that was focused on telling a story wouldn’t have to restrict itself to just one locale within Tamriel, as has traditionally been the case with the franchise, but instead could take the player all through the continent- just imagine a game where the player got to start in Morrowind, go to Cyrodil, and maybe have an epic climactic battle in the frozen hills of Skyrim!
Of course, if a story focused game is what Bethesda is aiming to strive for with The Elder Scrolls 6, then they have a lot of work to do- their writing and story presentation has only degenerated over time, and it is absolutely laughable right now. Bethesda are incapable of selling a story and its stakes to the players. If this is the direction they choose to take, they will have to ensure that they are capable of delivering on a well written story, told well- not something that I can trust them with much, frankly.
Ultimately, I suppose the most we should hope from The Elder Scrolls 6 is that it doesn’t casualize itself more beyond what Fallout 4 already did.