It’s been years since Skyrim was released (almost a decade!) and the only information we have on its sequel is a short teaser to let us know it at least exists.
While Skyrim had many things going for it that we hope carries through to its sequel- the breathtaking music, the sense of adventure, the freedom, the accessibility of creating and sharing mods-- there are also things that it could improve on in its successor, which we lay out below. Before we move on, however, check out the teaser trailer below if you haven’t already:
Here are some things we would like to see in the mysterious sequel to Skyrim:
1. A better UI
Skyrim’s UI is notoriously bad, and you don’t need to be a veteran in the game to figure out why. From a clunky inventory system to having to go through several screens just to get where you need to, the UI is not user friendly and you, the player, end have having to spend way too much time navigating menus and sorting through items rather than playing the game. It’s not intuitive, it’s cluttered and a mess in general. There’s a reason some of the most popular mods are UI overhauls. In this day and age, clunky UIs shouldn’t be a thing, and we expect the sequel to Skyrim to at least have an inventory system where your items are listed alphabetically.
2. Compelling Companions
Skyrim introduced companions, which was a nice feature and a new addition to the series. However, most of the time these companions either required you to babysit them (How many people were excited to get Lydia, who was promptly killed by that frost troll on the way to High Hrothgar?) or they spouted the same generic lines as each other, their personalities blurring so they became one indistinguishable mass. There’s even a quest where you have to sacrifice a companion, and the hardest choice was figuring out if your chosen victim had been flagged as invulnerable for plot reasons.
Sometimes the companions are introduced well enough, but once they’re delegated to teammate status their personalities are wiped in a way that’s kind of creepy, and they become like every other generic mercenary you can hire for 20 septims. As the sequel to Skyrim, the next Elder Scrolls game is going to be created with next gen technology, and the companion system (and, let’s be real, the NPCs in general) could do with a serious overhaul in terms of AI, personality and dialogue, even if that means getting a smaller pool of companions to select from so more resources could be pooled to each one. But there is hope!
In the Dawnguard DLC, you get a companion named Serana, who has her own set of unique ambient dialogue, who you can talk to about your past, your families, your dreams and what you want from the future. Serana was well received by fans and definitely a step in the right direction for companions, and is what we want to see more of in the sequel to Skyrim.
3. Better Guild Quests
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is often roasted for its awkward dialogue, hilarious bugs and the camera that zooms into the NPCs face at an uncomfortable distance during dialogue.
The game, however, is also well known for its guild quests, which were fun, interesting and, overall, well-crafted and focused on their area of expertise. Want to join the Thieves’ Guild? Steal your way to the top and prepare to commit the heist of the century, along with being rewarded with a very cool daedric item.
In the Mages’ Guild, you use magic on your assignments and the story builds around your magical development, until you face a threat to both Cyrodiil and the Mages’ Guild.
In Skyrim, the use of magic is frowned upon and there’s only one place in the province to study it, which is fair enough, but you literally only need to perform one basic spell at the beginning of the story and afterwards can continue with all the quests as a strictly sword and shield Nord with no inclination for magic whatsoever if you wish. One spell to get in, the rest of the College of MAGES storyline does not require you to be a mage.
The other guilds suffer from other problems. When you join Skyrim’s equivalent of the Fighter’s Guild, the Companions, you’re told of the Circle of Jorrvaskr, where only an elite few of the best and most proven warriors of the Companions are allowed in this inner circle. You, the player, are granted this honour after… two quests. No, really, that’s it. And you don’t even do anything exceptional to earn it. What’s worse is most of the inner circle regard you with suspicion when you first show up. Two generic quests later and you’re a highly respected sibling and member of the pack, someone for whom they would raise their blade and to die for. Talk about whiplash.
The guilds aren’t a small part of the game: they form a large part of the content of the story, worldbuilding and characters. Skyrim’s sequel needs guilds that correspond to the type of guild they’re depicting. These storylines need to be reactive to the player and their level in the guild. They need to be an opportunity for role-playing, for new ways to interact with the world, to meet new characters and to develop skills. There’s so much potential here that Skyrim just didn’t tap into, and its sequel needs to do that.
4. A Reactive Environment
You’re the Harbinger of the Companions, and some guard says to you, “You’re that new recruit in the Companions. So, what, you fetch the mead?”
You’ve defeated Alduin the World Eater, and have saved the whole of Tamriel from certain doom, yet no one around you recognises you as such and still treats you like a nobody who still needs to prove themselves.
You’ve broken the imprisoned leader of the Forsworn out of prison and he’s declared you to be an ally to his people, but run past the first Forsworn camp you see and they immediately attack.
Sure, having every second guard gasp in elation as you walk past would be annoying, but having people mock you as a low-level member of a guild when you’re the actual leader of said guild is extremely jarring and weird. This is mostly a Skyrim problem; its prequels had the world respond to your actions. This is one of the most basic of RPG mechanics- a reactive world that changes in small (or large) but meaningful ways depending on your decisions and actions.
In addition to this, previous games in the Elder Scrolls series had a fame/infamy reputation system, which changed the way people responded to you. Much like the light/dark side of Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic, or their paragon/renegade system of Mass Effect, your level of fame or infamy changed the way nondescript NPCs and more prominent characters responded to you. This system doesn’t come without its drawbacks; indeed, having such a system creates a binary that’s often cartoonishly black and white. However, with the new generation of gaming technology, hopefully writers and narrative designers will be able to implement a more nuanced system into Skyrim’s sequel, which will make the world richer, immersive and create a better framing for roleplaying.
5. A Better Magic System
Magic took a backseat in Skyrim. On the one hand, this made sense on a lore level as the Nords, the dominant race in Skyrim, traditionally have a mistrust of magic and mages. The Thalmor, the High Elves who went to war against the Empire, are magic users and their policing of Nord tradition, religion and culture exacerbated the Nords’ natural mistrust of magic. Fair enough.
However, it’s not so great if you’re playing as a magic wielder. If you’re a High Elf with bonuses to magic, playing as a mage with a downgraded magic system is not rewarding and feels limiting. Every game that came before Skyrim had customisable spells, and magic played a role that just doesn’t exist in Skyrim. It makes sense for certain types of characters, but for others it just makes the game boring and stifling, and is probably one of the reasons why the High Elf was the least popular race to play as in Skyrim, as if people needed more reasons beyond the Thalmor to avoid the race. Skyrim’s sequel could definitely use a magic overhaul.
6. More Dynamic Crafting
Crafting was introduced to Elder Scrolls in Skyrim, but could use an upgrade in its sequel. Rather than being left with just the basics, more customisation would be welcomed, including the ability to change the colour of items through dyes, or to craft upgrades to improve items.
7. Features from DLC in the Base Game
Skyrim’s DLC overall was a breath of fresh air in the game. Each of them brought new elements to the game: Dawnguard brought much needed complexity to vampirism and crossbows were a fun addition, Hearthfire was an unexpected surprise and allowed one to build their own home, along with adoption; and Dragonborn brought back Morrowind, added more shouts and gave us lore on both the dragonborn and the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. Seeing the developers improve on the base game through DLC is heartening, but for Skyrim’s sequel it would be good to see some of these as a part of the game right from the start. House building and adoption, for example, would be a great addition to the base game, as well as a defined vampire/werewolf system.
8. Marriage and Romance
True, marriage was a feature in Skyrim that people could take or leave. The ones that took it all have their faves (Vilkas for me), and some options were definitely better than others.
Unfortunately, no matter how interesting your love interest was before marriage, they all get some sort of personality wipe during the ceremony as they’re turned into your loving partner who waits on you at home, saying the same generic lines over and over again.
In my case, Vilkas turns from a strong and opinionated leader, to someone who sits at home making you dinner. On the other hand, Vilkas and others who are part of a guild revert back to their default lines if you speak to them about guild business, so your spouse jumps from Stepford Wife to staff sergeant in the space of moments. A typical conversation with my Skyrim spouse goes like this:
“Hello, love! How was your day adventuring? Please be careful while you’re out there. I made you dinner while you were away! Someone has a rat in their basement and I’m making you take care of it. What are you waiting for? I gave you a job, so do it!”
There’s that whiplash again.
While that may be wish fulfillment for some (being waited on hand-and-foot), it would be nice to overhaul the entire system to accommodate different personalities. This goes hand in hand with point number 2: if the companions and major characters in the game were better written and had more resources poured into fewer characters rather than across endless multitudes, having romance and marriage that feels meaningful and not a lobotomy for the poor NPC you’ve chosen is most definitely possible.
9. More Daedric Lord Content
The Daedric Lords bring some of the best content in Elder Scrolls, and their quests are, for the most part, pretty great in Skyrim. Continuing that tradition and making them even better for Skyrim’s sequel would be great, especially expanding on the lesser known Daedric Lords. The Daedric quests are great opportunities for content that’s more lighthearted and fun, and there’s so much potential for these godlike beings that’s yet to be explored.
10. More Opportunities for Role-Playing
As an RPG, roleplaying is, of course, the bread and butter of Elder Scrolls, and most of the points on this list all wind back to having more opportunities to roleplay. How you interact with people, how they respond to you, how the world changes as you live in it.
Skyrim succeeded in many regards, but more acknowledgement of your character and their choices would make for a richer gaming experience. Take the civil war, for example: the Stormcloaks are anti-Empire and anti-Thalmor, and are notorious for only allowing Nords in their ranks, yet anyone of any race can join. Even High Elves who the Nords are fighting against. You aren’t given any reason to join the Stormcloaks as a non-Nord, and something more concrete than being anti-Empire would be nice.
Another example is the law that Khajiit aren’t permitted in Skyrim’s cities. This law holds true for every Khajiit but the player character, which would be a game breaking feature if implemented, but having this part of the game going mostly unacknowledged breaks immersion, when confronting it gives the opportunity for roleplaying. There are many more examples, from being a Dunmer in segregated Windhelm, to being a High Elf and speaking to the Thalmor.
The choices you make in the game, from your race and gender at the start of the game, to your choices and actions, are all opportunities to roleplay, and isn’t that ultimately what these games are about (aside from slaying dragons and marrying Vilkas)?
Do you agree with our list? What else would you like to see in Skyrim’s sequel?
If you want to get back into Skyrim but aren’t sure where to start, check out our Ten Tips for Returning to Skyrim article!
Any Skyrim lingo in this article confusing? Our article on 8 Must-Know Skyrim Words and Phrases explains them.