Towns Need to Change from Skyrim to Elder Scrolls 6

The towns and cities in The Elder Scrolls series have often been one of the biggest draws to the large worlds that make up titles like Skyrim and Oblivion. While Skyrim‘s Whiterun has become an icon for starting cities in games in general and the open-world genre specifically, the ten-or-more-year gap before The Elder Scrolls 6 releases is going to require an equally iconic first town.

In the time since Skyrim launched, several other titles have shown different ways that the next Elder Scrolls can improve on the formula for crafting towns and cities. This includes other games in the open-world genre made specifically by Bethesda as well, such as Fallout 4.


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What Makes Skyrim’s Cities Iconic

It’s important to break down the ways that Skyrim succeeded in this field. There are plenty of aspects from art design to the writing of storylines that help create exciting and lived-in worlds, but most important is the initial approach to people. Some of this success doesn’t remain over the dozens or hundreds of hours in a Skyrim playthrough, instead leaving an important first impression on the player that influences the perception of these cities moving forward.

A perfect example of how the approach to one of Skyrim‘s cities sets the stage for its location is Whiterun, generally the first major city players visit. At this point, players may or may not have fought their way through Bleak Falls Barrow, but either way the first view of Whiterun comes from getting around the mountain in one way or another, with Dragonsreach climbing into the sky. As the player gets closer, the tight roads along rivers and forests make way for open plains full of NPCs farming and going about their lives until arriving at the gate.

Once inside the gates, the city comes to life, and not by having a greeting party approach the player – although some storylines start that way. Instead, it’s just full of people going about their day. Some NPCs will talk among themselves as they meet up, and either greet each other kindly or bicker about the two main families. While Skyrim cities like Whiterun are full of things to steal, these locations aren’t made for the player to build up; instead being lived-in spaces for players to discover.

The Player’s Effect on Cities in Skyrim

In many cases, the way a player interacts with cities like Whiterun, Winterhold, or Riften is on a subtler level. This is accomplished by doing quests for NPCs, some of which will improve the lives of the people, others might cause increased conflict or drama. However, aside from some notable exceptions like Skyrim‘s Civil War subplot, there are few times that players will make drastic changes to the layout of the city or its leadership.

The player can become a hero of the town, with friendly NPCs commenting on their deeds as they walk by, but even in the case of the siege of Whiterun there is little in the environment that can change. A new NPC might be playing the part of Jarl, or some allied characters might stick around or leave the city. However, regardless of who the player sides with in the Civil War or how many guards they kill on a random rampage, the city never appears to change from the beginning to the end of the game.

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Improving How Players Interact with Towns

One way The Elder Scrolls 6 could improve on the formula that Skyrim established could be pulling from a different title in Bethesda’s catalog. Specifically, Fallout 4‘s settlement system and the ability to build a base or rebuild certain locations could be a smart inclusion. While Fallout 4‘s settlements aren’t perfect, often missing out on that first impression that larger cities have in Skyrima dialed-back version of this feature could go toward making the player’s actions feel impactful.

Instead of having the ability to fully tear down a town and rebuild it from scratch, The Elder Scrolls 6 could give the player a plot of land within a city to build upon. This way the player might have the option for some premade housing if they don’t care too much about decorating, or could build their own home from scratch if they would prefer to have more control. It would be a step forward from Skyrim‘s Breezehome, which acts as a solid base but doesn’t offer much in the way of customization.

Investing in a City’s Infrastructure and Defenses

In real life, infrastructure planning and development can be difficult to draw an audience. Yet in gaming, laying out infrastructure has become such a draw that entire city and neighborhood simulators sell on being able to build a customizable town. While deciding the exact placement of roads and buildings might be best left to Fallout 4 or Starfielda more simple investment system could work for the more established world of The Elder Scrolls 6.

As the in-game economy starts to lean in the player’s favor, giving them more money as the game goes on, they could take that gold and invest it directly into the cities they visit. This could be used to fix existing structures that have fallen into disrepair before the player arrived, or open entirely new trade routes between towns and cities. The result would have the same effect that brings Skyrim‘s cities and citizens to life, while also giving players some control over the lives of the characters that inhabit them. It would also set some milestones and achievements that could keep players motivated across dozens of hours.

The Elder Scrolls 6 is currently in development.

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