I know the title will have fellow diehard fans of The Elder Scrolls raging, and for the record I wouldn’t ever want to see The Elder Scrolls handled by anyone other than Bethesda. But that doesn’t stop my imagination from flowing, imagining what Skyrim would be if it was handled by perhaps one of Bethesda’s most respected competitor studios, Bioware.
Bioware are the studio behind the blockbuster space RPG Mass Effect, and the dark fantasy title often compared with Skyrim, Dragon Age. Comparisons have already been drawn between Dragon Age: Inquisition and Skyrim, as Bioware were on record stating that Bethesda inspired them with Skyrim.
But what if Skyrim was actually handled by Bioware? How would it differ? Follow me as I re-imagine The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim as an EA / Bioware title.
The Frostbite Engine
Imagine you’re participating in the intense battle for Windhelm, and catapults are dispersing projectiles at the fortress. Fixtures and walls are collapsing everywhere and all you see is dust and debris in the air. As you pull forward and corner the Stormcloak’s a dragon falls from the sky and shatters parts of the Windhelm fortress to pieces. All of this made possible with the Frostbite 3 engine in all it’s glory.
We’ve yet to see how the engine benefits a real fantasy RPG, but with how awesome Dragon Age: Inquisition is looking I’m sure it would do wonders for Skyrim.
Complex Dialogue Decisions
How about this, instead of NPC’s only reacting to you as and when you engage them in dialog (and then completely forgetting that they despise you later on in the game), you leave a permanent mark on them with your words and actions. Not only that, but selecting specific dialogue choices opens up a completely new set of conversations that weren’t available to you otherwise. This has been the case in many Bioware titles, and it’s the reason I enjoy playing them over and over.
Of course Skyrim already gives you dialogue options, but I’m sure everyone can agree that Bioware has excelled at making dialogue choices actually matter to the outcome of the story. They have a talent for making the player feel the impact of their decisions, whereas in The Elder Scrolls games, not much changes.
Yes you can marry in Bethesda’s Skyrim, but the build up is emotionless. It’s pretty much this:
“Would you like to marry me?”
“Yes of course you strong hansom mysterious warrior. But will you please kill this man for for me first?”
*Returns after completing quest (and fighting 4 Dragons on the way)*
“Okay let’s get married now. Be at the church at this time please.”
Bioware and their talented writers know how to do romance the right way. And there’s nothing like that feeling of payoff you get after courting your RPG crush for 20+ hours. The Elder Scroll’s has many interesting NPC’s of different races, so there would be infinite potential for interesting relationships.
One of the great things about Skyrim was the improvements to the companion system, you actually had some level of control over your companions equipment and actions. But Bioware knows how to streamline companion combat so that it’s almost zero effort to command your team (voice commands anyone?). They also have a knack for making you feel a connection to your squad, instead of them just being ‘there’.
Not everyone is a fan of online play in their RPG games, and I’m one of those people. But I can’t deny that the online co-op gameplay in Mass Effect 3 was fun. So I can clearly see an Arena style online mode in Skyrim if Bioware were at the helm.
It would be like the Arena sub-plot in Oblivion where you have to work your way up the ranks. They could also have different types of battles, like one on ones, two on twos and three on three’s. Be prepared for purchasable DLC equipment though, yikes!
Blood Dragon Armour
This awesome armour has made it’s way in so many Dragon Age and Mass Effect games that it would be a welcomed edition to Skyrim. No doubt there’s already mods for this on the PC version of Skyrim.
Fun Dragon Slaying
What kind of asshole would I be if I didn’t actually mention Dragons? Dragons are one of the main reasons comparisons are drawn between Dragon Age and Skyrim, and while I prefer Skyrim’s random Dragon encounter system. I much preferred fighting Dragons in Dragon Age: Origins. Bioware made Dragon fighting feel like an overwhelming (and draining) experience, but it felt rewarding to slay one.
Dragon slaying eventually became tedious in Skyrim after the first few times. It’s extremely tiresome when you’re focus is elsewhere and you’re forced to fight one. So there’s no denying that Bioware would make Dragon encounters both rare and rewarding.
I’m aware that I might be making EA/Bioware seem like a better studio than Bethesda. This is not the case at all, both of them have their strength’s and weaknesses. And I’ve already pointed out some of Skyrim’s weaknesses, so it’s only fair to show what some of the weaknesses would be if Skyrim was indeed a Bioware game.
Recycled Environments & Textures
I’ve you’ve played Mass Effect or Dragon Age 2 then you know what I mean. The first Mass Effect had many recycled interior’s and planet templates. But Dragon Age 2 was damned near an insult to consumers with how recycling was handled. Bethesda have always had a strength when it comes to crafting their environments, and every cave or dungeon is a mystery, this is something we would be missing out on if Bioware called the shots.
A Linear Experience
It’s inevitable that we play a Bioware game expecting it to be story driven, and we play The Elder Scrolls expecting an open-ended experience with the choice to go anywhere we want and do things in our own time.
So with Bioware at the steering wheel, Skyrim would be transformed into a much more linear experience to accommodate the enhanced story driven experience. Bioware has never given us an open experience on the scale that an Elder Scrolls game warrants, so it’s safe to say that we’d be playing a vastly different version of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
I have to say that this is enough of a turn off in itself. If you’re a console gamer then you may have already felt the annoyance of signing into origin for certain EA games. If you’re a PC gamer, then you’ll know that Origin isn’t as enjoyable as playing on Steam. Plus you’d miss out on all the Steam workshop content, which brings me to my next point.
The modding community has been known to extend the already lengthy shelf life of The Elder Scrolls games. Not only that but every flaw I’ve mentioned about The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim has been addressed by modders. What’s even better is that Bethesda basically encourages modders, and makes it easier for them.
EA on the other hand aren’t as open to modders, which would automatically make Skyrim less appealing to the PC market.
DLC Nickel and Diming
Bethesda are one of the best when it comes to giving us extra content, to the point I don’t even class it as DLC and prefer to use the term expansions. EA on the other hand have been known to sell us content that should have already been in the game (Mass Effect 3: From Ashes for example). The only time EA / Bioware have done DLC correctly is with the Awakening expansion in Dragon Age: Origins, since then their DLC content offerings have been borderline insulting.
Would You Buy This Version of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim?
So with all this in mind, would you have bought Skyrim if it was developed by Bioware and published by EA? Let us know your thoughts below.