It’s pretty certain at this point that the next Elder Scrolls game will be landing on the next-gen consoles. In many ways, this is a good thing because it allows for an almost unlimited set of possibilities when it comes to TES VI, one of which includes a huge, robust, and possibly even compelling, online element. That’s what I’m going to talk about today and I’ll try to give you some idea of why I think Bethesda might be heading in that direction for a gameplay mode in TES VI.
First off, it’s certain that TES VI will be a next-gen game simply because Skyrim awkwardly straddled the previous console generation as well as this one and, as those of you with a long memory will remember, it led to a sub-optimal experience for some gamers. Pour one out for those poor souls that stuck with the PS3 version.
Further, Bethesda’s recent games, namely Fallout IV and Fallout 76, have really shown how aged and decrepit the engine that runs these games is becoming. Nonetheless, Bethesda shoehorned an online game into it and has some rather uneven success with Fallout 76. That game was probably a test for bigger things to come in the future and that’s where TES VI, the next-gen consoles, and online gaming come into play.
It is starting to look like Bethesda will try to incorporate some kind of online element in TES VI. How this will be done remains to be seen but we suspect there will be separate single-player and multiplayer modes. A lot of big-name devs are feeling the pressure to do this, with Cyberpunk 2077 being among the latest to announce an online mode for a game that is being heavily touted as a single-player experience.
There’s little reason to believe that TES VI will be different in this regard. For one, it allows Bethesda to utilize the games-as-a-service platform for TES VI that is the goal of almost every modern publisher. Establishing TES VI as both an epic single-player experience and some kind of compelling multiplayer game as well gives Bethesda a lot more bang for their buck when it comes to development dollars and allows them to spin frequent, iterative content to the platform for consumption by gamers. Need evidence of this? Look no further than the consistently high sales of Skyrim. Need more proof positive that a games-as-a-service platform prints money? Take a hard look at GTA V, a game that also came out in the last generation but which has kept itself relevant through constant updates to an online mode.
What impact this kind of shift will have on TES VI as a narrative game remains to be seen but it could be a huge sea change – and one that many people will not like. It would be different if Fallout 76 were handled differently but, as it stands, we’re pretty safe in assuming that a game so janky and unloved is a petri dish for testing out concepts that will later be implemented in a grander, hopefully more enticing, way in the next Elder Scrolls game.