While it’s likely still years and years away, The Elder Scrolls 6 is on the way. That’s an exciting prospect, especially since fans have had the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours with Skyrim spread across countless rereleases, Creation Club quests, and a VR port. Since the next mainline game is so far away though, fans are obviously going to speculate about the follow-up to one of the best-selling RPGs of all time. Sometimes, a series should look back to its roots for inspiration, and that’s exactly what The Elder Scrolls 6 should do with Daggerfall.
Daggerfall is the Most Ambitious Elder Scrolls Game of All
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was released in 1996 and featured a mind-blowing scale for its time. Set in the regions of High Rock and Hammerfell in the northwest of Tamriel, it boasts the largest video game world of all time even to this day, covering a whopping 62,394 square miles with 15,000 towns, villages, and dungeons to explore.
This feat was accomplished through procedural generation and left most of the world barren, empty, and boring, but that’s still a remarkable achievement for a 1996 game, especially compared to its contemporaries. Next to Super Mario RPG, Pokemon Red & Blue, and Diablo, Daggerfall seemed like a next-generation achievement.
Even looking at it today, Daggerfall is where The Elder Scrolls series truly found its footing. This is where the franchise’s focus on player freedom was born. Players could brew custom potions, manage their reputation with the game’s factions, become a vampire or a werewolf, and many more things that are taken for granted in modern RPGs.
However, unlike its predecessor, Arena, Daggerfall featured a fully 3D world that allowed players to explore Tamriel on a new level. To take advantage of this, Bethesda included a climbing mechanic that let players scale buildings and climb walls both in and out of combat. If The Elder Scrolls 6 takes anything from Daggerfall, it should be the climbing system.
Climbing Should Return in The Elder Scrolls 6
There’s an inherent joy in climbing things, and that’s why so many games let you do it. Assassin’s Creed is the most obvious example, but climbing has seeped its way into more and more games over the years following the release of influential titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With a world as massive as the one that will be featured in The Elder Scrolls 6, players should be able to climb buildings and glide across the map.
Even without a dedicated climbing system, Elder Scrolls fans have already spent years scaling mountainsides in Skyrim with various strategies. Whether they’re slowly shifting up a cliff with reverse jumps or using a horse that seems like it can defy gravity, Elder Scrolls players will try anything to brute force their way over an obstacle. Adding a built-in climbing system would just make this a feature, not a bug.
Plus, in a series that’s so focused on player freedom and expression, climbing could add an all-new layer to combat, stealth, and exploration. Imagine scrambling to a rooftop to get an angle with your bow or mantling over a wall to lose a guard after committing a crime. Dungeons could also become vastly more interesting, requiring players to scale walls, climb ledges, and more to solve puzzles and find treasure.
Plus, with The Elder Scrolls 6 rumored to take place in either Hammerfell or High Rock, it wouldn’t be surprising for Bethesda to look to Daggerfall for ideas since it was the only mainline Elder Scrolls game to take place in that part of Tamriel. Also, The Elder Scrolls Online includes fully-realized zones in those regions as well, so maybe the Zenimax-led MMO could hint at the next game’s look and feel.
The Elder Scrolls 6 Needs to Feel Fresh
There’s a lot to look forward to with the Elder Scrolls 6, but one thing is abundantly clear: the game has to be groundbreaking. There’s a mountain of hype higher than the Throat of the World for this game, and Bethesda would do well to look at the most ambitious game in the series for inspiration. Bethesda needs a hit on their hands, especially since the wait has been so long and other disasters like Fallout 76 have been released in the meantime. The Elder Scrolls 6 will release in a very different era than Skyrim, and the game needs to reflect that.
Looking to Daggerfall instead of a game like Skyrim (which would be the obvious corporate choice for a huge sequel) would also bode well for The Elder Scrolls 6 as a whole. Daggerfall represents a lot for Bethesda. It represents a time before the studio had blown up, before they had their first hit. It came at a time when The Elder Scrolls was not a household name and Fallout was still in other hands.
Most importantly, it represents a time of unbridled passion and creativity for the studio. It was a game with so many ideas that it caused the technology of the time to nearly burst at the seams. That’s the kind of passion that made The Elder Scrolls into the phenomenon that it is today, and The Elder Scrolls 6 needs to bring some of that to the table.
If you’re hoping to see The Elder Scrolls VI anytime soon though, you may be disappointed. The game is still early in development, but there’s plenty of Elder Scrolls goodness to experience in the meantime. If you want to jump into Daggerfall or its predecessor, Arena, then both games are free on Steam. The Elder Scrolls Online’s new High Isle chapter also launches soon, and Obsidian’s upcoming Xbox exclusive Avowed seems to be another take on The Elder Scrolls formula.
The Elder Scrolls VI is currently in development for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.