The Elder Scrolls 6 Shouldn’t Ignore a Huge Chunk of the Map Like Skyrim Did (2024)


  • The Elder Scrolls 6 needs to improve on Skyrim's shortcomings in terms of exploration and ocean content.
  • Bethesda can learn from Subnautica to create a more immersive underwater experience.
  • Expanding underwater exploration can make waterbreathing features relevant and exciting in The Elder Scrolls 6.

When it finally comes out, The Elder Scrolls 6 has some big shoes to fill. For all its faults and many, many re-releases, Skyrim remains one of the most fondly remembered RPGs of the last few console generations, offering players a vast open world to explore and navigate. Dungeons, caves, ancient ruins, and temples litter the entire map, just waiting to be discovered and plundered for loot. And while it’s been many years since the game dropped, millions of fans remember their first time exploring the land of the Nords.

With The Elder Scrolls 6 coming out (at some point), there’s still time for Bethesda to correct one of Skyrim’s biggest shortcomings in terms of its exploration. For a title that prides itself so heavily on its seemingly endless supply of places to see and things to do, there’s a massive chunk of the map that’s more or less dead space. And there’s more than a few cool things Bethesda can do with all that free real estate.


How Skyrim May Have Prematurely Spoiled The Elder Scrolls 6's Plot

The plot threads for The Elder Scrolls 6 may already be in place for Hammerfell's political situation thanks to Skyrim's quests and lore.

What’s in The Oceans in Skyrim?

To the north of Skyrim lies a vast, deep, and confusingly empty ocean. Despite stretching the entirety of the map from Solitude to Winterhold, there’s really nothing in the water. Of course, there’s the occasional treasure chest scattered here and there, but for a game as ambitious as Skyrim was at the time, the lack of content on/under the sea seems like a missed opportunity. Skyrim isn’t the only Bethesda title with this specific issue.

It’s not just playable content either; there’s a shocking lack of visible wildlife in Skyrim’s ocean as well. It doesn’t take a marine biologist to know that oceans, be they on Earth or Tamriel, are teeming with life of all sorts. The most ocean life found in Skyrim’s section of the Padomaic Ocean is some seaweed at the bottom and some mudcrabs and horkers that stick to the shoreline.

The Elder Scrolls 6 Can Learn From Subnautica

Ocean exploration games are a genre to themselves, and the great blue sea has always been a bit of a blindspot for The Elder Scrolls, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. If Bethesda wants to be truly ambitious and groundbreaking with its next fantasy RPG, taking some notes from Subnautica devs Unknown Worlds might just be the way to go. Though Subnautica is a completely different beast than a game like The Elder Scrolls, Tamriel’s oceans should be more in line with the oceans of Planet 4546B: an abundance of underwater caves and caverns, plenty of sunken treasure/shipwrecks, and plenty of interesting, strange, and frightening sea life.

Fantasy settings like The Elder Scrolls are ripe environments for underwater dangers. Sea monsters and undersea horrors are no strangers to Elder Scrolls lore; all Bethesda has to do in its next entry is to dip into that well and create an experience that can trigger any gamers’ thalassophobia. A sea monster would make for an excellent late game boss, especially if it’s something players have to go out of their way to track down and slay. A titanic ocean-bound enemy could be The Elder Scrolls 6’s answer to the Ebony Warrior, who only appears after the player character reaches a high enough level, presenting himself as one last final challenge to a Dragonborn who’s conquered everything the game had to throw at them.


Why The Elder Scrolls 6's Rumored Hammerfell Setting Could Be the Perfect Next Step

TES6 is rumored to be set in Hammerfell, and depending on the direction regarding its map size, could be a natural evolution for the series.

More Underwater Exploration Can Make Waterbreathing Actually Useful

An expanded underwater element to The Elder Scrolls 6 can make certain redundant features from Skyrim relevant again, like the underwater breathing ability. Enchantments and options that let the player breathe underwater sound cool on the surface, but when faced with the stark reality of how little there is to see and do down there, bothering with water breathing magic can seem incredibly useless. That's a real shame, because it’s one of the core benefits of playing as an Argonian in Skyrim.

Ultimately, the best reason for Bethesda to pick up the slack with its water environments is because The Elder Scrolls games are about exploration. And there is no greater, more exciting, or more dangerous place to explore than the open seas. There’s nothing more exciting in a game than finding something new in an unlikely place, and those first few intrepid gamers to brave the depths should be rewarded with some of the most unexpected surprises of their gaming careers.

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The Elder Scrolls 6 Shouldn’t Ignore a Huge Chunk of the Map Like Skyrim Did (2024)
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