That’s why Obsidian’s Avowed is in the unique position to learn a few lessons from Skyrim, which we’re not entirely sure will be addressed by The Elder Scrolls 6. After all, Bethesda doesn’t strike us as a company that’s willing to change the formula for a game that has sold well over 30 million copies to date solely in the interest of mixing things up. Even if they were, who is to say they should? Skyrim allowed millions of gamers of varying experience levels to live out their Lord of the Rings fantasies.
Yet, Skyrim is also the game that took The Elder Scrolls series further away from its RPG roots then it’s ever been before. Much like Fallout 4, Skyrim sacrificed certain role-playing elements spearheaded by its predecessors in favor of mechanics that would appeal to a wider audience. While Skyrim arguably maintained more of its RPG spirit in the transition than Fallout 4 did, the difference was nonetheless felt by long-time fans.
Consider Skyrim’s character building options. In previous Elder Scrolls games, there was an emphasis on ensuring that certain character types could experience the game in different ways. In Morrowind, there were towers built for mages that had no stairs to the top. As such, only characters skilled enough in magic to learn levitation could truly explore them. In Oblivion, an illusionist could learn to enchant their gear with a stealth effect so powerful that it would hilariously result in most enemies being completely unable to detect them.
Such specializations still exist in Skyrim, but they tend to offer fewer unique experiences. If you want to play a hulking melee warrior in Skyrim who wears nothing but the most durable plate armor, you’ll still be able to effectively use a bow and access a variety of spells. The floor of the character building was raised while the ceiling was lowered slightly. This gave you less room for “error” but also less room to creatively explore.
A similar problem burdens Skyrim’s combat. For the most part, Skyrim was the first Elder Scrolls game that featured a combat system that felt actively engaging. You were no longer forced to mash a button or fire off spells or arrows in the hopes that invisible dice rolled your way and granted you an often awkwardly animated hit. Skyrim’s combat was visceral, lively, and often cinematic.