With the fifth TES game announced and due out next year, one can safely assume that PC RPG fans are excited. I’m one of those who are pumped for Skyrim, but I am a little bit cautious of the game since Bethesda seems to be a bit behind others in the industry when it comes to giving their gamers a lot of substance and variety in their games. Actually, they used to be able to stand toe to toe with other developers when it comes to nailing game design, and Morrowind is proof of that. Oblivion, despite improving upon Morrowind’s combat, graphics, and physics, was an inferior game in most other areas. With each new game release, Bethesda seems to be losing something and it is apparent in their games.
This article is not about Bethesda’s games becoming lower and lower quality though. This is about Skyrim, a game that could potentially kick ass.
Below is my “wishlist” of what I’d like to see in Skyrim. Most of these are issues I had with Oblivion, while others are things that bothered me in both Morrowind and Oblivion.
1. User-Friendly Menus
First and foremost, Bethesda needs to make sure that the menus in Skyrim are not difficult to navigate. Morrowind’s menu was about as good as a TES game required, and the grid-based inventory system was fantastic. Oblivion messed with a good thing though, forcing the players to click and scroll far more often than they did in Morrowind. The menu was very bulky and, more often than not, didn’t explain itself well. For instance, in Morrowind I quickly learned that to dispose of an item, you just had to click it and drag it outside of the menu. Oblivion did not allow this since you could not drag items in the list-based inventory. I believe that you had to hold shift and right click an item? I forget, as it’s been a while.
The point I’m trying to make is that Bethesda needs to re-think their menu design. Morrowind had a good menu, and I feel that Skyrim’s menu should be more similar to that than Oblivion’s. Simplicity is key, but so is user-friendliness. Minimize the amount of clicking and scrolling that the player has to do and everyone will be happy.
2. No More Auto-Leveling NPCs
In Oblivion, everything leveled with you. The only other game I can think of that did this was Final Fantasy 8 on the Playstation, but even that game only leveled it’s creatures a significantly small amount. Oblivion did not do this and decided to match the levels and stats of NPCs with those of the player. This made playing Oblivion a chore, since you never had the feeling of growing stronger. What was the point of even leveling when a mud crab that was challenging at level 1 could still put up a good fight at level 20? There was no feeling of progression, and every item that the player obtained just didn’t matter much. There was no reason to get the best armors and weapons in the game because, inevitably, the monsters would just match them.
Skyrim should return to have static stats for the majority of encounters the player will face. A mud crab should be a good fight at level 1, but by level 3 or 4, the player should honestly be overcoming them with ease. Leveled lists should also go away. The player should be at risk of encountering daedroths right off the bat. If the player wanders into a tough cave or ruin, let them die I say! To create a believable world, there should be lots of variety right at the beginning in terms of what the player can encounter and where.
3. Better Armor/Weapon Model Variety
In Oblivion, there was a significant lack of models for armors and weapons. Aside from a few unique items and such, there were many shared models and textures. Oblivion felt really backwards in comparison to Morrowind, which had quite a staggering amount of models after playing for even two or three hours. Oblivion was different, as it kept a lot of the models hidden away until higher levels. Even when they were all revealed, it wasn’t uncommon to see countless NPCs wearing the same armors, or for player characters to fall into the “same looks” quite often, as various armor sets shared models and such.
Every armor and weapon should have distinct and unique models in Skyrim. Not only does it give each item a personality of their own, but it also enhances immersion. Can anyone honestly say that it is immersive for there to be a suit of plain iron armor that looks the same as a high level suit of armor that is significantly better? No physical markings or textures on the models indicate any difference between the two. This is silly and was acceptable back in the 1990s, but today? I don’t think so. Bethesda needs to step their game up. Skyrim needs to have diverse armors and weapons, much like Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Don’t be lazy or skimpy, Bethesda.
And the following are more minor issues that I don’t feel like writing detailed paragraphs about, but they are more or less just as legit.
Diverse Terrain: When it is up to modders to make your gameworld diverse and interesting, there’s a problem. Morrowind did a good job of having diverse landscapes, but Oblivion was essentially just a gigantic forest. Skyrim needs to have diverse landscapes. I fully expect to find snowy mountains, tundras, ridges, thick forests, serene lakes, and maybe even a few highlands in Skyrim. If I don’t see diversity, I will be disappointed.
Moddability: I don’t expect this to be a problem much, and it’s not a complaint. I really only want to see Bethesda include their typical modding tools which are, quite honestly, among the best in the industry.
Voice Acting: Oblivion had some weird moments. I recall a beggar once talking to me in a frail and weak voice as I walked by, but when I stopped and initiated a conversation, he had a healthy, strong voice. It destroyed immersion. Issues like that need to be avoided, and facial animations need to sync up better with the voices as well. I recall a few times when characters would laugh hysterically, but the on-screen character model wouldn’t even be cracking a smile. It is important to also hire more voice actors this time around. I would really enjoy it if there are several actors for each race, since having just one voice per race is pretty stale and harms immersion.
So those are a few things that I hope to see improved in Skyrim, and hopefully Bethesda will deliver. I’m sure that we’ll get an idea in the next few months.