So there is a new Elder Scrolls title just around the corner, and I am finding myself more and more sadly optimistic. I remember my time spent on the last game, Oblivion, roaming the country side and being murdered by wolves. Always wolves, you’d think there would be a roaming band of hunters formed or something to keep wandering adventurers safe. After talking with a friend, I decided to do a quick run down of things from Oblivion that really stuck out in my mind after all this time and things I would like to see for Skyrim when it releases. Some of these things may have already been confirmed by Bethesda and it’s slipped my, but if that’s the case then hey, I just got one point off the wish list fulfilled. Speaking of…

Wish List- Things I’d personally like to see in the next game:

  • Better Spell Creation- This is by far the most important thing for me, as the most common thing I do in any video game is roll up a mage and set to burning everything that moves. Spell creation was straight forward, but I never felt like I was creating something truly magical. Likewise, of the few spells I did feel proud of, few of them ever saw the light of day because of an associated gold cost. Uhm… what? Why am I paying an alter to make a spell? Is the Mage’s Guild broke or something? There were better ways to pay for spell creation that would have made sense in game. Why not just use soulstones as, say, a focus? The greater the soul, the more powerful the spell. Whatever goes in after that is up to the caster, with no silly gold fee.
  • Weapon Choice- This might just be me, but what ever happened to either picking a weapon to get the job done, or specializing in one type of arms? One thing I remember most (And this is something in just about any game, really) is getting a new piece of gear, checking to see if it’s better than my old one, and then either upgrading if it is or vendoring it off if it wasn’t. I never noticed if it was a similar type because there was no real incentive to stick with one weapon type. Yeah, you can focus on blunt weapons or whatever, but surely using a mace and shield is different to hulking around a two-handed war-mace.  No, leveling Shield/Block/etc as a second skill doesn’t count. I’m not asking to break down all the weapons into individual skills, that would be a nightmare. Just a small bonus here are there, or a skill or two for sticking with a certain type. Nothing that would ruin your character if you wanted to change from, say, war-mace to a good old fashioned sword-and-board, but something to reward a player character for ‘learning’ through time  and experience how to best use a weapon.
  • More Fun Quests- I’ll say it right now: I played the crap out of both the Shivering Isles and the Dark Brotherhood quest lines, often to the exclusion of anything else. For the Dark Brotherhood, it ignited a special  love I have for playing an assassin that handled the theme in a way few games had. You had a mark and basic information on how to get to them. If you should chose, the Brotherhood would reward you for completing the quest in a specific manor, but it was never required. You could stealth in, sticking to the shadows and patiently wait to strike out, or just go in guns-blazing and make sure the mark is one of the many, many resulting casualties. It was fun to know that I had control in the mission for once, that if I was seen it wasn’t an automatic fail, and that I could still salvage a stealthy kill if I was quick on my toes. More quests like that! Multiple paths to take, and rewards for players who want a little extra challenge. And who ever did the writing for Shivering Isles, give them a promotion. That was one of the few times I actively ran around talking to people, not to see if they had quests or hints for me, but just to see what they would say. Sheogorath still remains one of my favorite NPCs of all time just for his personality and charisma alone, not to mention a suitable ending to the whole story.

Alright, now that we have the wish list out of the way, let’s move on to the things I don’t ever want to see again, or that need a serious look at for the next game. Things from the last game that had me bashing my face into a wall for a hour or so.

  • Psychic Guards- Guards that always know what crime you’ve committed (Well, sometimes all of them), and where, and what if anything you stole. I’ve actually heard that the PSI-Police won’t be returning for Skyrim, so that’s one major “Yay!” if they stay like that in the final game. Mark me now, the first time I rob a house with no witnesses and get busted by Big Brother, some one is going to die. Painfully. With fire. Then possibly resurrected as my eternal undead servant. Depends on the mood, really.
  • Mob Scaling- This was another deal breaker for me. I remember very clearly ignoring the main story with my lovingly tailored assassin and roaming about, until I became an extension of death itself, always on the hunt. At least, until I had the bad misfortune to try the main story line. All of Daedra had auto-leveled to ludicrous points and my actual combat ability against anything beyond a 1-vs-1 fight was laughable.  Every play-through after I abandoned that one involved a custom class where I tagged whatever skills I was sure to use the absolute least to keep the game at a manageable level. Who needs roleplay talents like lockpick or stealth? You have monsters to murder and should have tagged accordingly! No thanks, I’ll just take my toys and play with the nice Assassin guild again.
  • Main Story- Now, this is an odd one, but I never actually beat Oblivion. Not the main story line, anyways. I just couldn’t really bring myself to care for it. I never felt any real incentive to go do the main quest line. The forces of Oblivion never got in my way or ever seemed to do more than burn down that one town, so I didn’t really begrudge them for it. I mean, after some experiences with the guards I wanted to burn down a town too. It’s just the Daedra never felt like a threat and never seemed to do anything outside the main quest, so I just forgot entirely about it. Hey, Emperor, next time you decided someone is the ‘Chosen One’ try to make sure they aren’t a convict. In the Imperial Jail. Bail shouldn’t be that easy to come by.

I know, I know, Skyrim has a different plot and enemies and whatever, but that doesn’t mean it’s exempt from the list. If I find the main story line not engaging, I’ll just skip it again. Maybe murder a few people,  burn a town down and get to know my Daedric buddies. Or go explore the world. Maybe not that last one if wolves somehow manage to always be able to maul me into oblivion regardless of our power differences. So that’s my list of things from Oblivion, a game I played for dozens and dozens of hours without ever really advancing the main quest line. We’ll have to see how many of these things make it into Skyrim, but as an RPG lover I’m cautiously optimistic.

Now if only we could do something about all these tolkien-esq rpgs…