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    The Elder Scrolls VI

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    The sixth main entry in the Elder Scrolls series from Bethesda Game Studios.

    How good does Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield need to be?

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    cikame

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    When Bethesda released Oblivion it was pretty amazing, more polished than Morrowind with better graphics and easier to use systems that played well on the fancy new HD consoles, it was obviously better, despite some of the jank.

    When they put out Skyrim it was also amazing, not quite the jump from Morrowind to Oblivion but it looked better, performed better, characters were less weird, remember Skyrim originally released for PS3/360 but it still impressed when compared with Oblivion, still plenty of jank though.

    So, there's been an entire console generation since Skyrim, what are our expectations?
    Games like The Last of Us 2, Red Dead 2 and God of War (and others) show us open worlds with insane fidelity, near flawless character animation and performance capture, Elder Scrolls already had huge budgets but 6 and Starfield are now first party titles for Microsoft, are we expecting Sony levels of polish on a scale never before seen? Would Elder Scrolls lose some of its charm if it didn't have stiff characters and mammoths blasting off into space?

    I don't know what to expect, they still seem so far away, and the highest budget games are so expensive looking i feel like people would make fun of any amount of jank.

    Have you been to the cloud district?
    Have you been to the cloud district?

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    ALLTheDinos

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    I don’t think insane graphical fidelity on a Bethesda open world game is needed or a high priority for players. It needs to be fun and a hijinks generator. On the latter point, the biggest difference between now and 2011 is how insanely easier it is to share gameplay clips, and if what you’re sharing looks fun as hell, people will focus on that over “lol those graphics look 8 years old”.

    Personally speaking, I just want to feel the thrill of exploration with meaningful progress in RPG elements. One of the biggest weaknesses of the last two Fallout games (4 and 76) is that I just didn’t care about any of my characters after level 15 or so. Make me think about all the character builds I want to do, and I’ll be happy as a frustratingly-rendered-2-feet-beside-the-actual-point-of-interaction clam.

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    Brendan

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    I don't really feel expectations or hype for games anymore. When they're great I love playing them! I don't feel much until they're released.

    Assuming Elder Scrolls 6 doesn't release until 2024 at the earliest, the time span in between 5 and 6 will have been almost as long as the entire existence of the rest of the franchise (1994-2011). Pointless to have expectations at that point.

    How good either game "needs" to be for Bethesda? They both obviously need to be major sales hits because making one huge game every several years is how Bethesda is doing it, since Fallout 76 fell flat as a recurring revenue driver, and I don't know how meaningful the money they get from ES: Online is at this point.

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    Shindig

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    Elder Scrolls VI: Starfield

    Anyone remember Ryan talking about science fiction in the Elder Scrolls universe? This is how we get there.

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    BaneFireLord

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    #5  Edited By BaneFireLord

    Ideally I want them to be sufficiently good to give me the same feeling that playing Oblivion for the first time did, but that's probably impossible. I'll settle for them giving me enjoyable places to dump another thousand hours of my life.

    To the jank/graphics issue, I would much rather have them deliver on the claims Todd's been recently making about their future games being deeper RPGs and keep making fun sandboxes than overly focusing on chasing tech and polish dragons they'll probably never catch. The physical tactility and emergent clockwork world aspects of Bethesda's games are far more important to me than technical polish or best-in-class visuals. I have a strong suspicion a lot of Bethesda's janky reputation directly stems from those systems but I would hate to see any of them get sacrificed at the altar of fidelity and stability.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't do better--they absolutely need to do much better than Fallout 76, that shit was ridiculously embarrassing. But I'd much rather have a janky Starfield that's fully-featured and goes back to Bethesda's RPG roots than a bug-free Starfield with pared back systems that doesn't let me fill my space house with astronaut cheese wheels. I've seen a Bethesda game with all the physics and emergent open world weirdness sanded off, and it's called The Outer Worlds. Sure, in a lot of ways it was much more stable and polished than Fallout 4 or Skyrim (and infinitely moreso than 76), but the world felt like a static, soulless theme park and I hated being in it.

    @shindig:The Elder Scrolls lore gets sufficiently weird that this is more likely than you'd think. I vaguely recall some obscure corner of the lore wiki talking about canonical dwemer astronauts.

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    ThePanzini

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    #6  Edited By ThePanzini

    I'm not expecting Starfield to be a looker by any means if it has less jank than Fallout 4 that'll be a massive win, but what I really wants to see is better writing especially with the main quest which was really poor in Fallout 4. I also don't want to see a reliance on procedural content like the radiance quests or base building.

    I don't expect The Elder Scrolls VI any time soon might not even be this generation.

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    GTxForza

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    These two games are better to be so good in order to keep Bethesda's reputation up.

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    FacelessVixen

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    Technically, they have to be as "good" as Skyrim. ...or Fallout New Vegas. ...or Fallout 4 depending on who you ask. ...or Oblivion, or Morrowind. ...or even Fallout 76 after the fallout (no pun intended) of it's initial launch period; at least, I gave it 100 hours last year and I thought it was good.

    Yeah, I know; semantics, fun.

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    Secular_Strateg

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    I think games like Witcher 3, Outer Wilds, and Elden Ring have done a lot to reshape how we think an open world game can work, particularly in terms of player freedom and depth of quest experience/narrative. For contrast, my most prevalent memories of Skyrim involve hundreds of side quests where I went up to the waypoint and pressed the use key. The simplest mistake Bethesda can make would be to think that they can stick to iterating on the same old formula that the series has been using for several decades.

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    TheRealTurk

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    I think it's less about technical quality and more about game design. They've said they're trying to move the game back towards being a harder core RPG, which I think is a good choice. It's been a long time since Skyrim was released and I don't know that the big open world with a bunch of same-y dynamic quests and a map with a bunch of questions marks is really going to fly in the same way anymore.

    For example, I've been playing through Forbidden West having just come from Elden Ring, and all I can think about while playing FW is "this style of open world is dead." And not in a "I prefer the Elden Ring style open world to the FW/Ubisoft style" kind of way, but more in a "we should not be making open worlds like this anymore" kind of way.

    I'd love it if Bethesda tipped back in the Morrowind direction. Bring back a bunch of more niche skills like thrown weapons and spears. Have a map that doesn't spoon-feed you the location of dungeons when you get close. I'd love it if the quest chains were less linear too, but I know that might be a bridge too far for some people.

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    mellotronrules

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    #11  Edited By mellotronrules

    speaking truthfully, my expectations are low because my tastes have changed. i've really come to prefer narrative-driven, linear experiences where the intent of the designer is fairly specific- and i'm not sure that's what Bethesda is selling. these days i'm finding character-driven stories and games' ability to flesh those characters out experientially is truly what i find engaging- and i'm just not sure that's a strong point for Bethesda.

    don't get me wrong- i was a Skyrim kid like the rest of em on 11.11.11 and like others was blown away by the scale, fidelity and breadth of that world. but when you're talking about the void of space- i think it gets much harder to make that void interesting unless there's specific intent- and i'm not sure if Bethesda is doing that or just making their typical sandbox to scoot around and shoot stuff in.

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    Brendan

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    @banefirelord: I would love to have that same feeling as when I first played Obvilion but I don't know if that's possible for me anymore. My feelings for that game come from experiencing the technology of that wide open world for the first time which I can't recreate and Skyrim got me in the same way but since then the giant open world has become almost standard for AAA games.

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    Capt_Blakhelm

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    I think fans and regular players of Bethesda RPGs are willing to forgive alot with their games due to the scopes and possibility. That's why even though Fallout 4 and Skyrim are considered to be the least deep of their mainline series, players mod the heck out of them to get the game closer to what they envision them to be.

    I remembered being hyped for Fallout 4 and pre-ordering the Pip-boy edition DESPITE having some huge performance issues with Fallout 3 and New Vegas. I was more nostalgic for the good times with them and also being a fan of Fallout since the first game, I REALLY wanted that Pip=boy. A part of my fandom died when I played Fallout 4 just to find out it still has the same kind of bugs and performance issues that their Gamebryo games ALWAYS had. with quests not working properly, physics going out of whack, and framerates dropping terribly in the big city and around explosions. Even with these problems AND less robust dialog and skills systems, I still enjoyed about 250 hours of gameplay from and still haven't actually finished the main quest (I didn't want to be disappointed/annoyed by it - so I quit when I basically found the character's dad).

    My point is that fans and enjoyer of the series are probably going to still like the game, especially as long as they are still moddable like previous game and unlike F76. The bigger problem are the non-fans and casual gamers that only play a few games. Will the casuals still be as forgiving to the Bethesda Jank in a TES6? Will TES6 do anything for the non-fans that might bring them in. AssistMeDoom from the YoVideogames streaming group gave me good insight I believe, since he and YoVG don't play alot of Western RPGs or Bethesda RPGs - after games like Ghost of Tsushima, Breath of the Wild, and specifically and Elden Ring, Bethesda can't just "make another Skyrim but with better graphics". He found the combat to be terrible and the bugginess to be a joke. It also took help from the stream chat to help him understand the game (I had to point he was ready to level up and when he did, he had 3-4 unused level ups). How bad will players like that who are willing to play TES6, but not ready to love it are going to trash it if it isn't significantly better or as good as more recent open world RPGS like Witcher 3 and Elden Ring? How much did the discourse of Cyberpunk 2077 and the praise of Elden Ring affect Bethesda's willingness to release TES6 at it's current state and instead give it the delays it probably needs? I'm watching a LONG retrospective of TES2: Daggerfall and Bethesda has LONG history of releasing buggy games, patching them later, and still needing bug fixes by fans long after they're done with it (This has been a problem since TES: Arena!).

    TL:DR I've been burned by their games too many times - getting deeply invested in them just not being able to finish or fully experience them thanks to the game just not working properly. I'll wait until WELL after the game is released before I consider buying and see what the state of the game is then. It has to be good or at least not shitty for players like me.

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    Topcyclist

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    Ideally I want them to be sufficiently good to give me the same feeling that playing Oblivion for the first time did, but that's probably impossible. I'll settle for them giving me enjoyable places to dump another thousand hours of my life.

    To the jank/graphics issue, I would much rather have them deliver on the claims Todd's been recently making about their future games being deeper RPGs and keep making fun sandboxes than overly focusing on chasing tech and polish dragons they'll probably never catch. The physical tactility and emergent clockwork world aspects of Bethesda's games are far more important to me than technical polish or best-in-class visuals. I have a strong suspicion a lot of Bethesda's janky reputation directly stems from those systems but I would hate to see any of them get sacrificed at the altar of fidelity and stability.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't do better--they absolutely need to do much better than Fallout 76, that shit was ridiculously embarrassing. But I'd much rather have a janky Starfield that's fully-featured and goes back to Bethesda's RPG roots than a bug-free Starfield with pared back systems that doesn't let me fill my space house with astronaut cheese wheels. I've seen a Bethesda game with all the physics and emergent open world weirdness sanded off, and it's called The Outer Worlds. Sure, in a lot of ways it was much more stable and polished than Fallout 4 or Skyrim (and infinitely moreso than 76), but the world felt like a static, soulless theme park and I hated being in it.

    @shindig:The Elder Scrolls lore gets sufficiently weird that this is more likely than you'd think. I vaguely recall some obscure corner of the lore wiki talking about canonical dwemer astronauts.

    Yeah, Outer worlds must have gotten large sales boost from the meme of, "this is how you do it bethesda, this is how you make a large open world with few glitches/jank/whatever," and it all made me scratch my head. I watched the quick look with jeff and I think brad and they were so into it and discussing how it did this or that right, and i kept playing it to try find what was so amazing about it, then the credits abruptly hit and I was like...ok where's the rest that people are talking about. Plus i think people keep mixing up outer worlds and wilds. That said, i thought it was good but in a B game type good. Like the edges sanded off is exactly what i think rubbed me wrong. I know jeff was tired of bethesda's bugs but i'll take it if it still has a soul, like this messy soul of a game where they're just trying their best to cram in the best they can do, budget be damned. Im sure outer worlds did the same but something about oblivion and skyrim at the time was magical. I know its a joke to go back and state old games that were well-received are now bad and vise versa...but I think Skyrim gets too much hate for streamlining morriwind or oblivion for mainstream. It worked out and that's all that matters for money i guess. I think a new elder scrolls would impress if it had really unique locations, a host of deep intertwined setting and story, a bit of jank for old time sake, and quest that find new ways to do quest besides just go there press x or hold out till timer stops. I like the illusion elden ring gives in that the people all feel like they progress as you do on their own quest. Skyrim sorta had that but the people still felt like dolls going through their routines. I will say it wasn't as soulless as the dolls in outer worlds where yeah they lived for me not with me, and only for my entertainment.

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    Lab392

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    #15  Edited By Lab392

    morrowind was the peak of the series for me, and i burned out on skyrim hard. i'm not really looking forward to new bethesda open world games because they don't make games for weird freaks anymore, so the next games won't be able to create the same sense of valuable progression and authentic exploration that morrowind did.

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    Justin258

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    The Elder Scrolls VI just needs to make its connections to Skyrim clear. People around the world need to understand that this is a follow-up to Skyrim and I think it will just sell a zillion copies regardless of quality or bugginess.

    Starfield doesn't quite have that advantage. It has "from the developers of Fallout and Skyrim" going for it, but it's still a new IP and they still have to work hard to make sure people know that this game has the Fallout and Skyrim pedigree.

    In order to be good, though, I think they need to do several things. Primarily, they need to work reasonably well out of the gate. Jank isn't my primary concern, if you're expecting these games to be less janky out of the gate then I'm sorry. Bethesda's trademark systems and interactions and so on and so forth are naturally going to be janky. But they need to be functional and far less buggy right out of the gate. They need to run at a stable framerate, their physics can't be tied to framerate any more, there needs to be no fear of corrupted saves, there needs to be no fear of random crashes, I need to be able to fire the game up and play it for five hours in a row without ever fearing loss of progress.

    Beyond that, I think the games themselves need to be more involved than Skyrim or Fallout 4. For as much as I loved Skyrim, its quest design still relies on "pick up a bunch of quests, go to the objective markers, kill guy or push button to activate cutscene, finish quest, continue". That's not going to compare favorably to Breath of the Wild or Elden Ring at all. Speaking of, its combat needs to be more interesting this time around. I don't know exactly how, but maybe they could work with stances, parries, dodges, make enemy AI work better, make magic more interesting, rework the sneaky archer archetype such that it's not so overpowered, something needs to make this combat more involved. If you're OK with just swinging a sword haphazardly at everything in the room for another Elder Scrolls game, fine, but I don't think most people are going to be. Not after some of the highlight open world games of the past decade. Skyrim has a lot of options for approaching any given situation but a handful of them are extremely viable and the rest fall far behind in usefulness.

    The writing needs to be at least on Skyrim's level. Not that Skyrim has a high bar to pass, but Fallout 4's writing is mostly abysmal. Its characters just constantly spout bullshit that I couldn't care less about and I never found myself interested in anyone or anything in that world. Skyrim was a different story - it wasn't great but at least it didn't feel incredibly lazy or stupid. Just way too player-centric, and it rarely took into account your past actions. It always treated the player character like a stereotypical fantasy hero no matter where he or she went, like they were obviously the most important person in the room no matter what.

    This post is very TESVI specific because I honestly don't know enough about Starfield to make a call. What do you do in this game? Fly a spaceship? Do you shoot guns at things? Is this more Mass Effect or more Elite Dangerous? I'm mostly sure it's going to be Fallout in space! but I'm not a hundred percent sure. If it is going to be Fallout in space, then mostly it needs better writing. More interesting characters, more and better sidequests, and so on.

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    NameRedacted

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    Considering an absolute dumpster fire like Cyberpunk 2077 (pre)sold 13+ million copies at launch, despite being an absolute dumpster fire / shitshow of a broken game, loaded with a decade of hype and lies... Bethesda will be fine.

    Hell! People like to forget Skyrim (and every Bethesda game after it) launched totally broken! There's still an Unofficial Skyrim Patch for all the bugs / problems Bethesda couldn't be arsed to fix themselves (letting their modding community work for free to fix their broken game or create content for it)... over a decade post-launch. A decade.

    Here's the thing: Bethesda could literally shit in a box and slap Elder Scrolls on the outside and it will still sell millions and journalists / media outlets will still hail it as "Game of the Year / Decade."

    Gamers are apologists and addicts with short attention spans: they don't care how they get their fix or how it gets made, only that it gets made. For every consumer with integrity enough to boycott broken products, there are 10's or 100's of thousands of others who will gladly give Bethesda (now Microsoft) free money for a product that may not even work at launch, with only the promise it might one day.

    The question of how "good" Elder Scrolls and Starfield need to be? "Good enough" to meet sales projections for shareholders, regardless of the game's quality.

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    ThePanzini

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    #18  Edited By ThePanzini

    @nameredacted: Word of mouth absolutely killed Cyberpunks 2077 sales tale, 13m maybe a lot of copies but its a long way of 40m Witcher 3 currently 2077 is a massive disappointment in this regard.

    I've spent hundreds of hours in Skyrim & Fallout 4 and never encountered any game breaking bugs most of the jank has always been really minor stupid stuff, and theirs still no games around like them you have giant open world and freedom to role play however you like.

    If someone does a better job then Bethesda will be judged more harshly until then Starfield will get a lot of rope from fans.

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    cikame

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    #19  Edited By cikame

    @nameredacted: I was thinking less about its sales and more the legacy of the series, always being super impressive and we're ok with the jank because of it, on the technical side Skyrim isn't that different from Oblivion being on the same consoles it's just on a better engine with expected advances, but a lot has changed since Skyrim and i'm wondering how big an advancement people are expecting or are ok with.

    I don't really care about graphics my requirements of a game are pretty low, as long as it's entertaining, rewarding, surprising or just fun, i just wonder where everyone else is at, maybe also how it would be received by critics if it's still pretty similar to Skyrim.

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