The Elder Scrolls 6 faces a major gameplay challenge after Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls 6 faces a major gameplay challenge after Skyrim

It’s been years since old scrolls fans got their first confirmation that The Elder Scrolls 6 is under construction. Taking the stage at E3 2018, Bethesda’s Todd Howard confirmed that a new entry in the acclaimed fantasy series is coming, but warned it’s still a long way off. Fans assumed that meant two or three years later, but the reality is much harder to bear. All odds point to The Elder Scrolls 6 be years away, although that time may help answer a big question.

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It’s hard to overstate how much Skyrim made for Ancient Scrolls franchise and the fantasy RPG genre as a whole. Refining its design with a more accessible mindset, Bethesda went on to create one of the most critically and commercially successful games of all time, which has received a slew of ports and re-releases since its debut. Skyrim is a game with real impact, although one of its biggest innovations was Thu’um, otherwise known as Shouts. This innovation could cause problems for The Elder Scrolls 6, although.

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skyrim-shout-zoomed

As for the new game mechanics, Skyrim’The addition of Shouts was quite a shake-up. While magic has always been a staple of the franchise, Shouts provided character archetypes other than mages with the ability to wield magical power. Where a warrior would struggle with something as simple as a fire spell in the normal course of play, shouts would allow them to breathe fire in an exceptionally cool way.

The cries are now anchored in the composition of the old scrolls franchise to the point that it’s strange to play without them. It’s not uncommon or unusual for fans to run races that ignore the main story to avoid learning the screams, but that’s generally an exception to how most people play. Skyrim, rather than something players constantly do.


The question is whether The Elder Scrolls 6 will also feel strange without Shouts being easily accessible. They are unlikely to return as a game mechanic for lore reasons, as the Dragonborn is the only character who can learn them easily by absorbing dragon souls. It’s a tricky situation to be in because missing such an interesting power hurts gameplay, but it would take a bit of tweaking to get shouts to work otherwise.

Removing the screaming altogether, however, might be the only realistic answer. Skyrim clearly shows how special the Dragonborn is, and reversing that uniqueness might not sit well with fans. However, Ancient Scrolls has always played fast and loose with its lore, going the “unreliable narrator” route and tweaking details where necessary rather than committing to a single dogmatic storyline. In a way, this is the franchise’s biggest selling point, as it leaves more room for Bethesda to tell stories in Tamriel. With the right maneuver, Bethesda could fit the screams into the context of The Elder Scrolls 6.



Skyrim's dragonborn in front of the Elder Scrolls 6 teaser image.

If Bethesda really wants screams The Elder Scrolls 6, he will find a way to implement them. If there are any major roadblocks for the company to move on for lore, Bethesda’s writing team will no doubt find a way to make things work. There are many possibilities for the screams to return after the events of Skyrim, too much.

An obvious, but far from ideal, method would be to put players back in the shoes of the Dragonborn. Even years after the announcement, it’s still unclear where or when The Elder Scrolls 6 is set, so it’s possible that Bethesda decides to pick things up where Skyrim leave behind. This begs the question of how Bethesda can meaningfully reset the Dragonborn to Tier 1, which would be a huge hurdle.


Alternatively, Bethesda could simply change the way the world views Thu’um. Skyrim proves that it is possible to learn shouts without being Dragonborn, as evidenced by the Greybeards and Ulfric Stormcloak. If the Elder Scrolls 6 takes place a few hundred years after the events of Skyrim, it is possible that a new method of learning the Way of the Voice has been created, making it more accessible to adventurers in Tamriel. This wouldn’t need to be something players can achieve immediately, but rather something to work toward in the late game.


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It’s a happy medium between the next game’s two options of suppressing screams and doing the Dragonborn a disservice by making them easily accessible. Ancient Scrolls has always had a problem with its power curve, turning the player into a real demigod by the time he has a few dozen levels under his belt. It doesn’t make sense for a humble adventurer – most likely an escaped prisoner, given the franchise’s history – to use shouts, but it could be a rewarding way for Bethesda to give players one last challenge. when they approach demigod status.


With The Elder Scrolls 6 setting uncertain, it is difficult to speculate. However, many fans believe it will resume shortly after the events of Skyrim and perhaps detail the fall of Thalmor. If so, it’s unlikely that Bethesda could logically explain how the Thu’um spread so quickly, and Bethesda is likely hoping fans will readjust to not having the screaming.

Either way, Shouts presents an interesting hurdle for Bethesda to overcome. They were one of the best gameplay innovations that Skyrim featured, and it can be hard to let them go. However, it will be well over a decade since Skyrim launched at the time The Elder Scrolls 6 versions, and maybe more than a decade and a half. Given this, it is possible that most of Skyrim players – many of whom probably don’t replay it over and over again like dedicated fans do – will have given up on the mechanic.

The Elder Scrolls 6 is currently in development.

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