The Elder Scrolls V - what we want to see


Better (or no) encumbrance

Encumbrance is always annoying in games. Nothing like the stupid reality of gravity to make a game unfun. We understand that it adds an element of strategy as the player must carefully consider what to carry on adventures, and that it feels a bit silly if you can carry twenty full suits of armor, a feast fit for a banquet hall, and more herbs than a medicinal marijuana facility, but at the same time, if you really want to use an encumbrance system, at least make it reasonable. We couldn’t count how many times we were deep in a dungeon, discovered some amazing piece of armor, picked it up, and suddenly couldn’t move. Then we had to shower pots, pans, and cheese wheels like a shoplifter at Costco.

Above: He may look all fancy-pants in that armor, until he realizes he can’t move

At the other end of the scale, Oblivion also lets you craft spells that make encumbrance meaningless. So what’s the point of even having it? Either don’t put it in there at all, or make the standard encumbrance more reasonable, and don’t let the player circumvent it. Hell, even Demon’s Souls, one of the hardest damn games ever made, had a more forgiving encumbrance system than Oblivion.

Pallet swapping of armor

This is a simple one. Mass Effect lets you customize the color of your armor. In Oblivion, if you wanted the Glass armor, it had to be green. What if you don’t like green? It can’t be that hard to add a menu with a simple palette to choose from (or even sliders to customize the hue). Let the players have a unique-looking hero instead of the same, green fighter everyone else has, which sort of defeats the purpose of the deep customization allowed at the game’s beginning, since you can’t see your face or hair so well under all the armor.

Above: Maybe we don’t want that foppish gold finish?

A better map

An annoying thing about Oblivion’s map is how vague it is. It’s easy to forget where important landmarks are (like your wizard’s tower), so we’d like to see a way we can make notations on the map, or barring that, just more information. More detailed descriptions of locations would help us go, “Oh yeah, that’s the town with the houses built into the side of a mountain,” or “Ah, that’s the tower where I snuck in, stole and smashed everything I could, and then murdered all the residents one by one.” Also, make it big and obvious which house in a town is the one we own, so we don’t go walking to someone else’s house by mistake and end up getting arrested. And if we discover a particular guild, put it on our map so we don’t have to run back and forth across town trying to find it again.

Above: A big map full of icons. Icons are not necessarily useful

A smaller world (or more level designers)

Whoa, whoa, feel free to keep that tomato-slinging arm cocked, but hear us out. Here’s the typical exploratory experience in Oblivion: after emerging from the opening prison-escape dungeon, the massive world stretches out before you. The options for exploration are staggering, even terrifying. You traipse through wildflower-speckled hills and shadow-dappled forests. Then you discover a small hatch in a hillside. What’s this? A huge dungeon, full of creatures and treasure, and it’s not tied to any quest? It’s just there for you to find and delve through? Amazing!

And what’s this? Another dungeon hidden in the snowy wastes? How did they ever create such a massive, dense game world? And look here – yet another dungeo – wait a minute. This hallway looks familiar. This room has the same exact ramps as the last dungeon. Oh, we see. All the dungeons are just swappable, randomly snapped together cloned pieces.

Above: Something about this cavern reminds us of something else…

Like the limited NPCs, Oblivion’s rinse-repeat dungeons took away from the hugeness of the world. Who cares if the world is big if it’s just more of the same, but rearranged? So, if you can’t hire a ton of more level designers to give us actual, unique dungeons in the same size world, just shrink the world so the level designers you do have can concentrate on making more details and varied areas to discover. Okay, commence tomato slinging.

A bit less crashing?

This one may be a shot in the dark, but holy moly did Oblivion crash on us. If we played for more than an hour, it was going to crash. It crashed so much we got in the habit of saving so damn often we almost spent more time saving than playing. Often it seemed as if Oblivion was too much for the 360/PS3 (or not monster-muscled PC) to handle. We’d be tromping along a wooden bridge, and then suddenly the framerate would start chugging, and oh, god, here it comes again… FREEZE.

Above: Uh, oh. Draw distance limit achieved. Hard lockup in three… two… one…

Yeah, we know the game will be huge and complicated, and so bugs will be inevitable, but please try to make it run for two hours without a hard lockup. If they can do that, along with the other improvements above, we’ll be happy to spend another 150 hours practicing genocide on the hapless creatures of The Elder Scrolls V.

Jul 27, 2010


  • Casualgamer - December 25, 2013 6:32 p.m.

    Im surprised that variation between the different races hasn't been mentioned. How come my wood elf handles just like an ork? I think that an assassins creed style of agility for the more nimble races would be a huge plus, this could even be an improvable skill. and different fighting styles... each race should feel completely different to play with. just a thought.
  • BossADC - January 14, 2011 9:52 p.m.

    I aggree completely on all topics, especially for armor customization. I would really like for them to impove the NPC's too. I dont care much for the looks, but making them smarter would be helpful. One thing I would kill to see in Skyrim though are the werewolves from Morrowind:Bloodmoon. We see vampires in Elder Scrolls games all the time, but the werewolves of Solstheim really caught me. If they added them into the game, id sell my left nut to play.
  • dropdeadjames - December 20, 2010 2:43 a.m.

    "I ran into some mudcrabs the other day. Nasty creatures..."
  • MrBossMan - December 17, 2010 1:05 a.m.

    I agree with pretty much everything said here.. one thing i would change that wasnt mentioned was the lack of variety in the weapons and armor. Sure you had iron, steel, silver, dwarven, elven, glass, ebony, and daedric and yes there were many different weapon types. But in the real world no 2 swords are the same. maybe its too much to ask the developers to make every weapon and piece of armor unique but what about the enchanted weapons and armors? I dont mind every iron short sword looking identical but i thought it was a little annoying that i could find an enchanted weapon and it looked no different than any other plain weapon. finding an enchanted weapon or set of armor or earning it through a quest is rewarding and it definitely gives the player something fun to work towards other than leveling up and completing quests. If you have a very powerful character then why shouldnt they look as powerful and badass as they are?
  • asmund-havnas - November 21, 2013 12:48 a.m.

    Because many of the shitty enchanted weapons you find are just ordinary weapons some mage picked up and practiced his Enchanting-skils on. "powerfull and badass" artefacts are often unique, and that's what makes it extra fun to collect them.
  • BurntToShreds - December 16, 2010 9:32 a.m.

    The best thing Bethesda could do is ask the modders if they can use their mods, and pay them royalties if they agree. Also, I want to see better physics. For example I want them to fix the gravity so that dead bodies fall at the same rate as living PCs and NPCs. I also want to see some clockwork and steampunk stuff.
  • asmund-havnas - November 21, 2013 5:15 a.m.

    You mean Dwemer ruins?
  • luke1608 - December 13, 2010 6:16 p.m.

    You forgot to add that if you look down you can actually see your feet, most frustrating thing for me in the whole game (with the exception of finding that bastard the count of Skringrad when it was actually legal for me too talk to him!)
  • foxyexplosion - December 13, 2010 3:02 a.m.

    This is mostly wrong, play morrowind to see how to make a good elder scrolls, the leveling system works fine you just have to know what youre doing or not want to create an overpowered character, simple shit. The cool spells are also what make the game, things like invis and life drain, the point is to get strong and be badass. The rest is pretty on top of it but the armor thing is that it should just go back to the morrowind number of armor slots and give you more options, pallete swap is a solid idea
  • theking909 - December 12, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    if bethesda pay attention to their own map of Tamriel, the game world should be smaller than oblivion as Skyrim is smaller than Cyrodiil. Yes, im really sad...
  • oryandymackie - November 22, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    I would just advise Bethesda to give it their all and make it an absolute masterpiece.
  • Nerevarine7 - November 5, 2010 8:41 p.m.

    Again levitation, there's so much potential... Stealth entries into high castles from the roof, Flying battles with wizards and sorcerers. If they did it in Morrowind, I'm sure they could do it and make it even better for the 5th installment. Oh more books too! Oh and make it Scarier, more suspense and set pieces in dungeons. Ha Ha, I don't ask for much do I!
  • Nerevarine7 - November 5, 2010 8:32 p.m.

    I agree 100%. I also agree with Johnny Maverick. After playing for 150+ hours it would be nice to feel a bit invincible, just like in Morrowind. I spent alot of time getting to that level so why am I struggling against the same enemies I was fighting 20 levels earlier? Also can you not level the artifacts and special weapons, its such a shame if you get a powerful weapon early to be set at a weak level. Having super powerful monsters protecting a super powerful weapon is the best way to lower levels obtaining it. Don't allow me to get it and then make it rubbish because I'm a lower level. Thats cheating! Also please can we have levitation back together with seamless integrations between towns and wilderness. Also allow more training per level, you can make training more expensive as a barrier to players levelling too fast. Theres nothing to spend my money on in Oblivion. Oh And please can you make the spells look more interesting. Apart from that and the other points mentioned, its all great, especially the changing light and distance, even now still holds ok I think. Not sure I agree with better looking women though, Kinda reminds me that I shouldn't be playing computer games on a Saturday night!
  • MissPeanut - October 31, 2010 11:26 a.m.

    I love oblivion, it's a great game even though it does have many flaws, I agree with everything you have said in the article. I hope they do make a new one as I will defiantly buy it. I also think that they should change the fact that the music changes the second an enemy spots you because that then means no enemy can sneak up on you which I would like to happen occasionally as it would make it more fun. I'm also one of those people who have spent 150+ hours on the game but I only ever do all the side quests as I find the gates really boring as well as the tasks in the main quest. If they where to make a new one I would hope that they make it more realistic so that while bein able to bash in goblins and what not you can have a family and do normal chores such as farming etc... I would also love to be able to give my character a personality because then when talking to people I can ethier be nice to the people I like and mean to the obnoxious snobby people you meet. :)
  • nosajdrof - October 31, 2010 8:14 a.m.

    sorry for bad english
  • nosajdrof - October 31, 2010 8:11 a.m.

    i whole heartily agree with the coment about the leveling system. so i have a solution. basically keep the major minor skills, get rid of the way leveling minor skills affect your stat increases, but the major determines when u level, and replace it with a skill unlock system which allows people to create say an assassin, or a battle mage, etc. basically if u give the player unlockable skill choices from achieved the characters major skill herdles. This would add more customization and reduce the ability to create a character that has 100 everthing and all level 10 stats. this would create a way to make more diverse classes by developing the unlocked skill choices without having every skill at 100. this would only work with a fallout style skill point allocation skill point system.
  • fibetr - October 26, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    Someone should really make sure Bethesda reads this thread. I agree 100% with every negative/constructive comment in the past five pages. Oblivion can't even compare to the quality of game Morrowind is. Sad, but true. Change will have to come, even though I have little or no faith.
  • Big_K - October 21, 2010 9:08 p.m.

    This article is too right. In addition to this article I wish in the next game Bethesda could use some of the things from Morrowind. Especially all the guilds. Now in Oblivion you had Fighters, Mages, Dark Brotherhood, and Thieves. Yet in Morrowind you had Fighters, Mages, Morag Tong, Blades, Thieves, Legion, and a few others. (which i cant recall) Plus you could be apart of one of three house: Hlaalu, Redoran, and Telvanni. What happened to that? I liked all the things I could do in that games. Especially levitation. In my opinion the ruins of the Dwemers were a lot cooler that the Ayelids. The customization of armor by color schemes would definitely be a plus. Also the ability to wear cloaks over armor again. Lastly, cool masks and armor. The armor in Oblivion seemed bland especially the glass and ebony. In Morrowind the glass had the shards sticking out which was awesome. The ebony had a cool mask that covered your face. In Oblivion it just didnt seem right. It didnt have the cool Clavicus Vile masks and such. Just saying.
  • Gorpus - October 18, 2010 2:58 a.m.

    i disagree with changing armor color, changing encumbrance, and the game crashing. the armor color makes the stuff easy to identify, your character can carry over 200 lbs, and simply get a faster computer if you dont want it to crash.
  • cannon4est - October 18, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    I agree with all of this. I would also like to see a more living environment, both nature and city/town. For instance perhaps random civil events like musicians, artists, dancers etc. I like how people follow a schedule like how six or so people always go to the Merchants' Inn after they've closed shop and leave around midnight and go to bed. If they could build on this system it could be very neat. I want to feel like I'm in a city: lights, noise, smoke and lots of people. When I approach a city, I want to see the glow of lights in the smoke above the city. I mean, if the Imperial City is the hub of Tamriel, shouldn't there be some more traffic on the roads and waterways around it? There are very few people traveling on the roads; it's generally you, the occasional guard, on the very rare occasion some other type of NPC and usually a crap load of creatures and monsters. You would think that on major roads like between Chorrol and the Imperial city or Skingrad to Kvatch and Anvil there would be people traveling from city to city, trading goods or buying items. More remote roads would have fewer travelers. The economy should be ramped up. Prices should flux and items should cycle more often, perhaps the characters actions could effect the economy. Also, if I can buy some super expensive shield at the Best Defense, I should be able to sneak in and steal it somewhere from in the store. One more thing: your life and relationships. I want to be able to get married and raise a family, similar to fable II but perhaps more in depth and drawn out. The relationship could flux or whatever but It would be cool to have a homestead somewhere, (or a cheap apartment) that you have to manage or pay someone to manage while your off on quests bashing in goblins' heads, trying to make money for your family while also saving the world from doom. I want to decide to be benevolent or cruel, honorable or greedy, virtuous or pessimistic and have these behaviors attract or detract compatible or uncompatible characters respectively. Some people may be too honorable to accept bribes. Overall, I want the next Elder Scrolls environment to feel more lived in/livable and more useful and diverse.

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