The long awaited sequel to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is now well underway and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has quickly become one of the most anticipated games in all that's pixelated.
There was a lot to love about Oblivion and many still spend hours on the 6 year old RPG today. But there was also definite room for improvement.
Plus, as far as consoles are concerned, we're well into the lifespan of this generation and developers seem to have really hit their stride with the hardware and - in many cases - are now producing some of the best games we've ever seen by some way. We've every reason to expect a killer title from Bethesda.
Skyrim looks like it could be one of those titles, absolutely stunning and pretty ambitious from what we've seen so far. Here are some of the specific things we want to see in the upcoming Bethesda game, let us know what you think and what you want.
Let's start off with a basic, ever so slightly boring but absolutely crucial improvement on Oblivion: We need faster loading times and, actually, fewer load points altogether.
Oblivion was a massive RPG world with graphics that were standard setting back in 2006 but boy did we spend a chunk of time ranging around waiting to access it. When you have such a large world to roam around and get immersed in there's nothing like a lengthy loading screen to remind you you're just playing a game.
It was worse when you took a wrong turn and went through a door you didn't mean to, which basically meant you were going to have to endure two grinding loading screens back to back. Not fun.
We're pretty confident this will be improved in Skyrim, Oblivion did hit this generation of consoles right at the beginning of their life - considering the five year wait, developers have had plenty of time to optimise the basics and by and large, we don't have too many loading time complaints elsewhere. Skyrim should be no different.
Speaking of getting immersed in an RPG world like the one offered in Oblivion, there's no better way of giving hardcore players an extra level of depth than with a hardcore mode.
What's hardcore mode when it's in a game like Elder Scrolls? It's a mode takes the role-playing element of the game and simply widens your responsibility. Where as normally you'd only have to think about keeping your ammo and health supplies plentiful (easy enough), Hardcore Mode makes eating, drinking, sleeping and healing more realistic in terms of application and effect, and then dumps them on your lap and says "Here are some other things you have to deal with if you don't want to die."
Fallout: New Vegas had a Hardcore Mode that required you to keep eating, drinking and sleeping if you wanted to stay alive (you only had to think about doing any of those if you needed a health top up in Normal Mode).
New Vegas' Hardcore Mode also made it so that Stimpaks weren't instant healers, instead the process was gradual. It's all about adding an extra layer of realism to add depth and challenge for the seriously H-core.
This is another way that Bethesda can make the Skyrim world feel more real and alive. It's also an idea that was nicely executed in the Fallout series: random encounters.
We love random encounters in open world games - whether we stumble upon two NPCs duking it out, stumble upon a gang hunting or even get caught up in an unprovoked ambush, it just makes us smile.