Taking a leaf out of Dark Souls’ book.
I absolutely love and adore The Elder Scrolls– it is one of my favorite RPG franchises, and Skyrim is probably one of my all time favorite games. One of the reasons the games work as well as they do is because of their sheer openness right from the start, which allows players to go wherever they want, and do what they want, whenever they want.
The problem with something like that is that it makes the late- and end-game a slog. Once you reach a certain in game level, you’re powerful enough that combat in all areas of the game becomes trivialized. There are no stakes to quests or dungeons, simply because you’re so strong that nothing can kill you. and not in a good ‘power fantasy’ kind of way- in the sense that there is nothing that can keep you engaged in the game’s world anymore.
Bethesda are definitely aware of the problem, evidenced by the fact that they have tried to resolve it through level scaling in the enemies. But that’s a band aid, not an actual solution, and I don’t think that that’s the route Bethesda should look into taking with The Elder Scrolls 6. Instead, what i think they should do is take some cues from Zelda and Dark Souls, which ostensibly allow players to go wherever they want in the game world, too- but instead passively corral them into specific areas by gating the world via difficulty.
In other words, all areas of the world are open to the player right from the start- but if the player tries going into an area they shouldn’t be in, they will encounter enemies significantly higher leveled than themselves, and probably be beaten back into some other area of the world that they can handle. Having something like this in the game will maintain its openness, give players something to work towards in terms of exploration of the world, make sure that the endgame doesn’t become trivialized, and even reward players who venture into higher leveled areas of the world before time with a unique sense of accomplishement, and presumably higher leveled and better gear than they would be able to get anywhere else in the game. I don’t see why Bethesda wouldn’t do something like this.
This article is part of our weekly series on Bethesda’s next big entry into the world of The Elder Scrolls. Through this series we take a look at the possible new features that Bethesda can add into the next The Elder Scrolls game, based on what they implemented in the previous entries and player feedback.