Upcoming Releases: Rumors of Argonia for Elder Scrolls 6
It does not matter if you are an old school gamer or one who started out with the current and last generations of console gaming, one way or another, the name Elder Scrolls will instantly evoke images of an epic, open world fantasy game –and one that is a familiar title for those who are not even fans of the genre. Bethesda’s great work on Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, and most recently, Elder Scrolls Online, has shown gamers around the world that they have what it takes to pull off a great game. And setting aside the MMORPG that is ESO, the rest of the franchises’ open world environments show are some of the most amazing vistas that gamers have ever explored. So the big question remains, with the cold and frosty lands of Skyrim behind us, what awaits?
The big buzz in most gaming circles is that the next Elder Scrolls game will be focusing on the Black Marsh –more properly known as Argonia. Well, that’s the big direction that most rumors are pointing to, though with Bethesda still not making anything final, it feels a little too early to be ruling out the remaining provinces of Tamriel that have yet to see the spotlight. The bottom line: anything still goes at this point in time and with a big long wait until the alleged 2016 release date, the folks at Zenimax and Bethesda can take their sweet time before making anything official.
Location, Location, Location
Aside from being the three big L’s of many businesses, Elder Scroll’s gameplay mechanics are based heavily on the setting it is based on. While the standard open world mechanics has not really changed much since Morrowind (Oblivion and Skyrim has polished and improved greatly on it though), the fact remains that where you will be determines the overall feel of the game. Take Morrowind for example, with its’ extremely distant location from Cyrodil and very provincial approach, it made for a great location to set up a fantasy story dealing a more-horror inclined storyline involving vampires. Later expansions delved into werewolves as well. The overall feel for this game was a tad bit darker and scarier than the two sequels that followed it.
Oblivion, which focused on the province of Cyrodil, gave adventurers plenty of missions that revolved around the politics of the central imperial city. With the large castles, scheming nobles, and of course, an untimely assassination of the empire’s ruler, this game gave players the closest thing to a kingdoms-and-knights themed story to delve into.
Skyrim’s far-north setting placed it high up among frost-covered mountains and ancient dragon shrines. And players lived in a world that was basically a snow-top version of Conan the Barbarian. The Nordic province served as both an ancient capital for human civilization and a keeper of many long forgotten secrets related to the dragons.
As the three previous games prove, the initial setting of an Elder Scrolls installment will be determinant of the theme and appeal of the game’s entire storyline. With that said, what should we expect from the potential options?
Taking to the Seas with Hammerfell
This location was first featured in the second Elder Scrolls game, Daggerfall. Known as the home of the Red Guard and a province of trade and commerce, it is not surprising that there are plenty of merchant ports in this land. This makes Hammerfell a great setting for a swords and ships style storyline that offers players a chance to have their own seafaring vessel and possibly even do new ship-combat mechanics never before implemented in order Elder Scrolls title. In fact, this is the closest that the ES series can get to a full-on pirates and plunder kind of game. Exploring Hammerfell’s desert locations (such as Alik’r) is likely to invoke the use of new survival mechanics –requiring players to stock up on proper supplies and gear before wandering off to dangerous environments. There is also a great focus on the merchant’s guilds here as well, so the players would be likely to be involved in many storylines that will have them engaging in various forms of business practices –and most often the ones that require the pointy end of a sword.
Players should expect to be able to wear lighter types of armor –allowing them to be protected in combat and yet still be able to swim. There will also be gear and accessories designed for desert travel as well –large capes and robes designed to keep the players safe from the blistering sun.
To match up with the rest of the series (where the protagonist is always some sort of unfortunate prisoner), it would be great if Hammerfell opens with a sequence that has the player walking the plank.
The Top Contender, Argonia
Most rumors are saying that the Black Marsh of Argonia will be the next setting for the series and it certainly has a lot of great things that players can look forward to –especially if tribal style fantasy settings are your kind of thing. The lands of Argonia offer little for proper settlements –after all, the marshes do not do well with crops that can be cultivated. The end result is a world full of Argonian tribes, legendary Hists (hopefully, these tree creatures get shown), and of course, plenty of anti-Dummer sentiment (in following with the mythos of Elder Scrolls). It is likely that Argonian-themed gear will be made available, light strappy pieces of armor instead of the heavy full plate gear that is commonly seen in Cyrodil. And the more classy-looking mage staves will be traded in for the more garish and edgy skulls-on-sticks type scepters. Player clothing should have more color options and possibly even ways to put on ornate beads and necklaces.
This is what makes Argonia a very likely choice for the next Elder Scrolls game, the fact that it offers a brand new direction that very few other games have (Assassin’s Creed has already done the whole pirates thing after all). Considering what Bethesda has done with Point Lookout (a Fallout 3 expansion that involves a swamp-themed area), it is likely that several parts of Argonia share similar features. It will not be all about bogs however, as Elder Scrolls online has shown that many parts of Argonia are quite green and bright and not entirely suited to the term, Black Marsh.
What About the Rest?
Tamriel is composed of 9 provinces and so far, Morrowind, Cyrodil, and Skyrim have gotten to be main areas of the games. And while Hammerfell and Argonia make for good possibilities, it still leaves several other locations open. Well, as interesting as the other areas are, none are on the same level of potential (in the exploration and storytelling sense) as the two mentioned above. High Rock comes as a cross between Cyrodil and Skyrim –which has already been seen in two previous games. Summerset Isles and Valenwood are quiet idyllic spots (more particularly with Valenwood), and while these are going to be nice to visit, they do not hold the same amount of new content that a desert island or a marsh can show (and by new, we mean stuff that has not already been done in the previous games). The only other place that would be interesting would be the lands of Elsweyr, full of the Khajiit –though maybe the world is not quite ready for the awesome Tamriel province full of nomadic humanoid cats.