Oblivion And On

By Alec Meer on October 29th, 2008 at 9:05 pm.

It’s almost as if Bethesda Softworks have just finished a game and so have decided to work on a new one. Imagine! Yes, a date for The Elder Scrolls V has been confirmed. Well, sort of confirmed. Well, mentioned. A bit.

“Potentially there’s a new Elder Scrolls title in 2010,” says Bethsoft exec Chris Oughton over at GI.biz. Woo!


Frankly, I’m going to go with reading that as “we’re definitely working on a new TES game, but we’re not quite sure about the release date yet” rather than “we’re only thinking about doing TES5.” It’s possible he wasn’t meant to let that slip, but let’s face it, it’s hardly a surprise. And with Fallout 3 scoring universally between Very Good and Really Bloody Very Good, riding that goodwill train seems a smart idea.

So, what do we want to see from TES 5? If you’d be so kind as to resist wholesale Oblivion-bashing that’d be nice (c’mon, we’ve done that to death already in other threads) – instead let’s nobly stick to constructive critique as to what can be improved, kept, removed, added, changed, funny-hatted, whatever. Let’s build TES5 right here, with the power of mere words. Strong, beautiful words.

Me, I want those bizarre insect taxi things from Morrowind to come back. Oh, and does anyone know the TES lore well enough to guess at what the setting/storyline could be? Again, I’m hoping for something closer to Morrowind’s weirdness (that ribcage city was extraordinary) rather than Oblivion’s somewhat vanilla Tolkieniess.

Edit – A helpful fellow named Luke drops me a line about the discovery that Bethesda’s owners Zenimax have apparently recently trademarked the following for clothing, video games, documentation and telecommunication respectively:

Serial Number Reg. Number
1 77051779 SKYRIM
2 77017500 SKYRIM
3 77044247 SKYRIM
4 77022291 SKYRIM

Which rather suggests TES5 will be set in Skyrim, chilly home of the fighty Nords. Which perhaps sounds a little plain, but hopefully a good opportunity for environments rather different to Oblivion’s lush forestry.

, .

115 Comments »

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  1. qrter says:

    As far as I remember Bethesda already said they were doing a fifth TES game quite quickly after Oblivion proved rather successful.

  2. Kestrel says:

    They should totally set it in the Asian analogue, forget what it’s called but it has kingdoms of monkeys and vampire snakes (? my lore is rusty) and dragons all fighting each other..and it’s where the protagonist of Morrowind disappeared…sounds pretty sweet

  3. Theoban says:

    I think the new one’s going to be set in Sumerset Isle, what with all the talk of Daedra worship and that.

    But I’d like to see one set in the land of the Khajit, or even the Argonians. Hell, a return to Daggerfall would be nice, I’d love to go through Sentinel with modern graphics.

  4. cyrenic says:

    Lame, this just looks like it’ll be Fallout 3 with swords.

  5. roryok says:

    @theoban

    hear hear, daggerfall’s setting in a new engine is something i’d love to see.

  6. Reid says:

    I loved my Argonian spearmen in Morrowind. The brief marsh cameo in oblivion whet my appetite for an appearance in some form in any new TES game.

    Having said that, Summerset Isle is pretty likely I think, especially with all the talk of it before. Plus, it can set up some more realistic “boundaries” which will shut up all those who aren’t fond of a game that plays up it’s roam anywhere abilities and then decides to suddenly shit on them with a pop-up.

  7. MtotheThird says:

    cyrenic:

    Lame, this just looks like it’ll be Fallout 3 with swords.

    /thread

  8. Alex says:

    Oblivion-bashing? I loved Oblivion. I really don’t know enough of the lore well enough to be able to speculate on things like the setting, though…

  9. subedii says:

    When I saw they were planning it for 2010 I automatically thought they were planning ridiculously far into the future. Then I realised that there’s in fact only two years until 2010.

    Grief I feel old now.

  10. MisterBritish says:

    I’d like to see melee combat closer to Dark Messiah’s. And spell vfx more like Dark Messiah’s. And some interesting bloody magic, as opposed to: Do X fire/cold/elec dmg to X people at X range.

  11. Morte says:

    I too would like to see TES5 go back to being mysterious and atmospheric, with thousand year old clues prised out of nomadic oral tradition, or secret church libraries, or monasteries with doors only visible at dawn and dusk. I think this is more about the writers deciding not to be mundane than specific locations on the map. But certain locations would help. They could set it in and around Black Marsh/Elsweyr/Valenwood where the Wood Elves and Khajiit eat each other and everybody enslaves the lizardmen. All very druidic, wild hunts in the night, weird architecture, strange nature gods ready to be awoken and whatnot. Or they could use the Summerset Isles, home to the high elves and the biggest source of heavyweight magic in the setting.

    I’d also like to see them come up with a better answer to the levelling/scaling issue than the last two games, which were both rather broken unless you earned exactly as many skillpoints as they assumed would be normal.

    I think it wouldn’t hurt to make TES5 smaller — let’s have 50 unique dungeons instead of 200 samey dungeons, or whatever the numbers were.

    And I’d really like to get away from their “one string of unrelated inconsequential microquests per faction” model, and string together a bunch of story arcs with engaging persistent NPCs that invest the player in the story and the world. I’d avoid a straight line interactive movie structure that leaves players feeling railroaded (hello Bioware/Obsidian post 2003), and avoid a “these quests may as well be randomly generated” model like the bulk of TES3/4 which leaves me wondering exactly why I’m risking my neck. I’d prefer a “multilinear” approach like Fallout 1, one story but several paths through it and several endings, giving the player freedom to choose and putting some weight on the choices.

  12. Reid says:

    This is the other Reid:

    Heck, I’d like to see something set in Highwood. Cities in moving trees sounds awesome, as would moving from tree to tree without touching the ground; a true 3D experience.

    Elsweyr, could also be cool, with a Hero’s Quest 2 vibe. I was always bummed that I couldn’t become a skooma/moon sugar dealer.

    But I would really like to see a main quest that isn’t about daedra. How about the war for independence that the Orcs are waging in Hammerfell? Who wouldn’t want to be the warlord of a breakaway province?

    But yes, I vote more weirdness. And warmth — the whole series has always played like a glass doll cabinet.

  13. Reid says:

    err . . . Valenwood, not Highwood.

  14. Lacero says:

    I’d like levitation to make a comeback. I know it makes gameplay balance harder, but surely they can restrict access in some way. Null magic zones or dispel fields or something. The Telvanni mushrooms towers in morrowind were really inventive.

    Also, and I’ve not played fallout3 yet, I think they should drop their keyphrase based conversation system. Even if it was implemented well it would be odd, and it usually isn’t. Solstheim for instance.

    Finally they really need to sort out their balancing. I’m not talking about the scaling, I mean if you get three 5x attribute increases a level you’re a god by level 20 and always far more powerful than anone else. If you get 1x increaes you’re gimped forever. The levelling system shouldn’t be a hard to understand and time consuming difficulty setting.

    /marks Nov 2010 in his diary.

  15. Dr. 1006 says:

    I’m hoping for Skyrim. Those Nords know how to have a good time. Oooh… Or Elsweyr: crazy cats doing drugs.

  16. Jonas says:

    I’d really love it if Bethesda would spend some more time implementing more lasting consequences of your actions. I know better than most fans how complicated that can become, but frankly Bethesda has the resources to give it a shot, and if they pull it off, they’ll once again be guaranteed all those Game of the Year awards they’ve grown accustomed to getting.

    For example, it would be fantastic if the different guild quest lines were affected by each other, so you’d get a different treatment from the Mage’s Guild if you’re already well into the Thieves’ Guild quest line by the time you show up looking for membership. I’d also really like to see some Fable 2-style permanent environmental changes such as bandit camps disappearing if you clear them out or towns growing larger if you support them.

    Finally, I’d really love an Elder Scrolls game with actual dialogue options a’la Bioware, but I know it’s not a fair thing to ask – it’s just not the style of the series :)

    Oh but at least do away with the “procedurally generated” (ie. computer-mangled) dialogue, please. Clearly it did not work as intended.

  17. M_the_C says:

    @MisterBritish
    Nooo, by all means try to come up with some improvements for the magick system, but I really hope they don’t follow other RPGs lead. Yes you end up with interesting spells, but you never use them, you just stick to one or two.

    Black Marsh would be awesome, but the devs are sort-of moving away from the more interesting lore. Oh, sorry, you said no Oblivion bashing…

    My main want for TESV is probably In-game fast travel. By all means, keep the map fast travel for people who aren’t into RP’ing, but it makes everything take so long for those of us who are. Also, storage bags or carts for whatever mount they’ll use. Pretty please. :)

  18. Gorgeras says:

    Oblivion remains virtually untouched on my shelf due to the unfuriating consolised level system making the game impossibly hard unless you min/max with thorough knowledge of stat building. Don’t you dare run, swim, jump, fight, cast spells or make potions without an unreasonable level of clarivoyance.

    Even with the changes to it in Fallout 3, I’ve been put completely off the game merely by it being included at all. That would be the second game this past month I long planned to buy but now won’t due to information discovered at the last minute.

    Now I hear GTA 4 will only accept the 360 USB controller. It’s like developers are begging me to make death threats to them.

  19. Stick says:

    Yeah, oddball like Morrowind (without the Hideously Ugly Characters) would be cool. Also, as mentioned, more focus and detail rather than umpteen square miles of drab. And… damnit, you’ve all stolen my points.

    I’d like a little less freeform sandbox and a bit more actual narrative to blunder through. NPCs that play more of a part. (It doesn’t have to reach BioWare/Obsidian level of integration, just… some important, involved characters not voiced by high-profile cameo actors.)

    Oh, and a combat system that doesn’t lose all fun and challenge once you figure out how to make a 100% Chameleon armor.

  20. Trithemius says:

    More Ken Rolston, and his Glorantha-influenced mythological insanity.

    (I know Ken is (apparently) working for BHG on a CRPG now but you did ask…)

  21. Larington says:

    I don’t mean this to sound like a bashing attempt, but I really hope that they do their best to improve upon the weakness’ of Oblivion, in particular the sore points certain people will inevitably mention – The skill system is a smart idea, but needs definite adjustment so its less a case of manipulating the major/minor skills system to make the difficulty bearable.

    Also, I’d like them to move away from the zoom in on character conversation thing and move to something far more free-form. Partly because I just don’t like that design, but also because it doesn’t work for a conversation involving you and multiple NPCs. (I’m still fond of the way its done in DX1)

    @Gorgeras
    About that GTA4 controller thing, where did you read it?

  22. malkav11 says:

    I would like them to ditch the levelling system they’ve used in every Elder Scrolls game to date. I’ve never liked it at all, and none of the changes they’ve made have significantly improved it. Ideally I’d like something a bit more like Fallout 3’s incarnation of the SPECIAL system except of course setting-appropriate and with a few things like traits added back in. (Hell, the TES Sign system would be an acceptable substitute, if made a little more clearly interesting.)

    And yes, a more original, interesting setting. Morrowind’s Vvardenfell was an amazing place to explore, and by all lore accounts they’ve got other such places to draw on. As for a main quest that isn’t about Daedra, they’ve done plenty of those – none of the main quests in Morrowind or expansions are particularly daedra-centric. The daedra give artifact quests, but they’ve always done that. I think Oblivion is actually the only one that’s had the daedra front and center, and I tend to agree that it should stay that way. Those Oblivion gates were hellatiously dull.

    Finally, I’d like them to add back in stuff like levitate, teleport, and the more flexible enchantment system from Morrowind. I’m fine with them being tweaked to make them a bit easier to deal with and more intuitive, and they should interact with that new levelling system I want, but pulling those from Oblivion markedly reduced player freedom in unfun ways.

    Oh! And leave off the damned minigames. Minigames are lame. They always have been.

  23. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    I’d actually much prefer then narrow their scope so that you cost some of the open ended stuff for a much more polished and clever approach. Yes Oblivion was great, but only in certain parts like the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves guild stuff. The rest of it was rather pants (for me). So I’d rather they focus more on giving a set of really good experiences than trying to ecompass everything. They just end up overstretched then. And please, get rid of the blood ghosts. And the fiery gates.

  24. Larington says:

    Also, not necessarily fewer dungeons, but all of them should be more specifically purposed. In particular, all those ayleid ruins in Oblivion for which it wasn’t exactly clear how the race lived, slept, maintained themselves (Washing, (Wow an excuse to use the word) defacating, etc.).

    I did like the idea of having characters going about their life, but maybe they ought to go a little bit further than that. Like characters actually prepare and consume the meals, you see a dinner dissapear properly instead of just a random eating animation and thats it.
    For purely immersion reasons, of course.

  25. Thiefsie says:

    Hire an animator

  26. Mister Yuck says:

    My biggest complaint with Oblivion was that the game made me choose most major aspects of my character before I started playing. My first character ended up completely useless because I chose skills that sounded cool to me, but weren’t worth shit in game. Archery? Yeck.

  27. PHeMoX says:

    I’m probably about the only one, but while Fallout 3 seems like a bullseye product, ie. top notch .. I am not at all interested in yet another Oblivion-like game.

    I know I’m not supposed to bash Oblivion (anymore), but I found it really was a disappointing game.

  28. StarmanCyrus says:

    I’d like to see a return to the moral ambiguity prevalent throughout Morrowind. There was never really a “we’re the good guys/they’re the bad guys” situation, even in quests, so much as an “us/them” situation. Vvardenfell was a very bleak environment, which put a heavy strain between the factions and made the lore very intriguing for me. Cyrodil was way too stable to really carry that mood off.

    On that note, I’d like to see more factions available to the player. Like, LOTS of factions. And your progress in one story’s faction should affect the entire region; in both Morrowind and Oblivion, once you became the grandmaster of any guild, you could basically just move on and pretend nothing had happened (aside from enjoying the reward perks). I’d actually like to see a set up where joining certain factions precludes you from joining others, and at the same time picking your class skills also severely limits your other skills, encouraging players to try out a ton of different characters rather than just make one uber-toon.

    The leveling system needs a bit of work too. Maybe so much as the stats you pick at the start of the game are static, or level up through quest rewards with your faction, or magic enhancements, and the only way you really level up is by improving your skills. And they also need to scale back the level-scaling from the silliness in Oblivion. I want to be able to walk into a dungeon and immediately have my head handed to me, not just go in and fight everything on par with my level. The scaling also made playing a hybrid character really hard: if you don’t level up your skills in the right way, every dungeon becomes an impossibility for you unless you play with the difficulty scaler.

  29. Ergates says:

    I’m hoping for the return of Corky, everyone’s favourate Guar

  30. garren says:

    Let’s see:
    More choices and consequences.
    Get rid of any level scaling.
    Fire your dialogue team and hire people who have actually proven to make good dialogue in their previous games.
    Hire better animators and voice actors too.
    Fast travel sucks, think of something else. (I liked Morrowind style)
    No, don’t give players the option to be master of everything and the head of every guild.
    Tone down the bloom, seriously.
    As for location, I’d love to see Black Marsh.

    I know I’m forgetting stuff, but that’s it off the top of my head.

  31. Mattress says:

    Y’know what would be class?
    If Bethesda hired a writer whose area of expertise wasn’t Tolkien-Slash-fiction. That would be really sweet.

    Also, I remember reading review praising Oblivion for how excellent a job they did recording every line of dialogue in the game (more dialogue than you could ever imagine hearing!) … this is indeed a commendable feat – if only all the dialogue was said by same five voice actors…

  32. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    Most of my suggestions have already been made, but I’ll reiterate them again anyway.

    A tighter designed would with more variation would probably be my number one priority, especially if applied to dungeons. Also, I think it would be great if they turn the imagination up a bit, and have a few areas that are off-the-wall in a non-wacky kind of way.

    I’d also love to see them throw away the concept of a main quest line, and instead have the various side-quests feed in and out of this. When you first begin the game, disembarking from a boat say, or with a trade caravan, you have very little in the way of pointers to any major quest lines. Instead, the quest would reveal itself through interaction with the world and the people in it. This would allow players to forge their own paths to the end-game, possibly with different results. As such an approach would require a tight integration of the main plot into the structure of the world, and lasting effects of the quests you decide to complete, I can understand that it may be difficult to implement.

    I’d also like more ‘secrets; within the game, which probably tied in with my first point. In Oblivion it was rare that you came across something that surprised you, or made you think that you had discovered something significant. For example, most of the kit you found was randomly generated, and although it may be powerful, it never felt very special.

  33. McCool says:

    @Gorgeras

    Don’t want to start an argument or anything, but the very nature of TES’s leveling system is that you can completely change what your character is like at any point – ie, there are no real lasting effects to any of your choices in the game. Even the skills you choose at the beginging are just ones you get a headstart in. If there is one thing the system needs, it’s lasting concequences to in-game choices.
    Oh, and Fallout 3 uses a completely different leveling system – Fallout’s, to be precise.

    I concur with what the rest have been saying in this thread, IE, moar delicious Morrowind-style mystery and depth. Personally I’m up for some Summerset Isle, and that seems the most likely option, too. The only choice that’d disapoint me would be Skyrim. After all, we’ve just played through it not long ago in Bloodmoon. I want new!

  34. garren says:

    Oh yeah, never again use the same voice actors from your previous games, unless some familiar character makes a cameo appearance.

  35. simonkaye says:

    I think Jonas has it right. We need to be getting to the point where we feel like our actions and decisions in the game world have really big ramifications. Like, if I save a village, I want a discount when I visit, or maybe a friendly greeting. Kvatch should get rebuilt over time. People should comment if I do something morally ambiguous. Otherwise it feels a lot like moving systematically around a map and ‘fixing’ various problems. Deus Ex managed it about a million years ago, why can’t Bethesda?

    I’d also like to see something close to the ‘Radiant AI’ that Oblivion originally promised, a far more complex magic system that interacts properly with the in-game physics, and more than three voice actors.

    As for setting, I’m going to guess another island – easier to explain away having a bordered game world. What’s the name of the High Elves’ place?

  36. McCool says:

    @garren

    Can’t we have the Morrowind Dark Elf actor back? He was awesome.
    To this day, when I turn my computer on it growls “We’re watching you, scum” at me.

  37. McCool says:

    Beth need to take a long, hard look at Fable II. The way the NPCs act in that – from how they turn to look at you, comment based on anything from your reputation, your attire, or maybe how they personally feel about you. Then your ability to make these simple expressions, each with appropriate reactions. It’s magical, really. If I run into an NPC in a hurry I want him to push me away and swear at me. If I stand there staring at him I want him to get concerned. Who cares about Radiant AI scheduals? I want NPCs that act like they have some awareness of whats going on around them.

    oh, and NO LEVEL SCALING ARGHJ SRKASJHDFAJKSHDKASHDKJLASHLDJKH

  38. Pags says:

    Stick in Mount&Blade’s combat system for a start, unless they can honestly do something better. Also, like everyone else said, magic needs to be more physical, otherwise it’s all a little Pokemon-ish: “Dark elf used fireball! It’s super-effective!” “Nord used frost! It isn’t very effective”

    Also, and I’d like to see them move towards actions making real impacts on the game world, which comes in brief snatches in Fallout 3. I don’t care that there’s a million ways to do a quest if all those different paths lead to one outcome. I mentioned it before about Deus Ex, and really the only other games I can think of which did it as well were Omikron and Fahrenheit, but I’m willing to concede to a set plotline as long as how I go about doing it will actually change things down the line.

  39. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised at the positive things I’m hearing about Fable 2. I had pretty much written it off as going to be another so-so title from an over enthusiastic Molyneux (Molyneux*, promises the World, delivers Milton Keynes. It may still be impressive on some level, but its not what was promised, and its Milton Keynes). However all the feedback I’ve heard about it so far has been positive. I expect I’ll pick this one up when it comes to be PC, assuming its not a poor quality port.

    * Post-Bullfrog

  40. Haplo says:

    It’s going to be set in Skyrim; Bethesda went around somewhat recently copyrighting Skyrim and all things to do with that, so I’m betting my money on the land of the Nords. Everyone in the ES community is buzzing about it, and Skyrim has the most ‘I bet it’s gonna be this’ votes, by far.

  41. TheFool says:

    I’ll mainly discuss location as the rest have covered gameplay well enough.
    My key desires are (1) variety of geography/culture/architecture/etc., (2) a world far closer to 1:1 than that of Oblivion (at least in the population centers. None of this “The greatest city of all Tamriel is 2 square kilometers and has 200 inhabitants!” nonsense), and (3) this varied geography/architecture/culture must be interesting and not betray the batshit genius of the lore (*cough*Cyrodiil*cough*). With that in mind, I propose the border between Valenwood (walking tree cities ftw, and also a chance to make the wood elves something other than annoying) and Elsewyr (desert in the north, lush jungle/rainforest to the south). To hint at the High Elf lifestyle, the coast can feature a few highly-developed High Elf trade settlements. Plot can be about a potential rekindling of the Wood Elf/Kahjiiti wars in the restructuring/fall of the Second Empire.

    As for the engine, my key wish: NO LOADS LONGER THAN FIVE TO TEN SECONDS DURING GAMEPLAY, DAMMIT. Exceptions for large interior areas, fast travel and extreme transitions as required, obviously, but Far Cry 2 has made all other games pale by comparison.

  42. Oli says:

    It has been confirmed quietlythat it is set in Skyrim.

  43. Jonas says:

    Fable 2 was positive surprise of the year for me. Got it the day after I got the highly anticipated Far Cry 2, and proceeded to entirely forget about FC2. Fable 2 is probably my favourite game of the year for the way it makes your choices really change the world, the way it delivers its emotional points, and the dog.

    I’m fanatically a cat person, but Fable 2 made me want to get a dog.

    But yeah, oddly my biggest problem with Oblivion (and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the game immensely, especially the brilliant Dark Brotherhood quest line) wasn’t the outrageously unbalanced levelling system or the immersion-disrupting procedural dialogue recorded by 8 voice actors, but the fact that I became arch mage and was still made to grovel my way up from the bottom of the Thieves’s Guild. And was then made to steal my own staff from my own tower. That was just not good enough for an RPG :P

  44. Pags says:

    Oooh, just remembered.

    Crowds. I want crowds. I don’t want to interact with each and every one of them, but I do want them to be there. If they could implement the whole Fable reputation thing with the crowds too that’d be grand. Also, no more ruins. Ruins are boring.

  45. TheFool says:

    oh boo. I find the Nords to be the single most boring race in the series. Hopefully they play up the crazy voice shaman lore up as the “wind-based people who destroy mountains with a whisper” thing’s all they’ve got

  46. Bananaphone says:

    More unique dungeons, please. Fill them with traps and mysteries. More quests like the thieves guild, brotherhood and Mehrune’s Razor DLC.

    Improved combat would be nice too. Look at how Dark Messiah did it. Something like that, where you can use the environment to your advantage, would be awesome.

  47. McCool says:

    @Jonas

    I was EXACTLY the same with Far Cry 2/Fable. I’m even a cynophobe – mortal fear of dogs. I wanted to kick my dog in the sea, until we got to the first bit of the open game. Immediately he started barking, I duly followed him, he wanted me to dig something up.
    Turned out to be a rubber cricket ball.
    Moments later he recieves his “Flintoff” dog-tag and becomes my most loved animal in all fiction.

  48. rei says:

    Too bad if it’s indeed set in Skyrim. I was hoping for something more exotic again, such as Akavir or even Pyandonea.

  49. Reid says:

    This is Reid:

    Alec, you sound like one of those ineffectual teachers giving the “hey guys let’s get along” speech right before they have a breakdown in front of the class. :>

  50. Pags says:

    Goddamn, Skyrim. What if they overdo it with the HDR again and we end up being snowblinded by our monitors?