As a long-term Bethesda fanboy, one of the defining moments of my gaming life was my first time playing Morrowind. Having never played an RPG and being oblivious to the concept of an open word game, I was excited and a little shocked when I murdered an innocent dark elf after accidentally clicking on him. I know this sounds like Dylan Kleebold’s origin story, but this formative gaming experience (unlike what Fox News would like you to believe) was a psychological release rather than the trigger of a crazed killing spree.
Over the next few months I spent embarrassing amounts of time killing Daedra, trekking through lush wilderness and terrorizing villagers, often neglecting basic needs (eating, sleeping) in favor of a night of exploring Dwemer ruins. Little did I know that this was only a precursor of things to come.
When Oblivion and (later) Fallout 3 were released it was the same story; way too many hours sunk into a Bethesda product. And Skyrim has been the same. If anything, Skyrim has been more addictive than any previous Bethesda game, the clear result of one studio’s experience with a certain style of RPG.
Playing Skyrim after a two-year hiatus from Bethesda games is like falling in love again. It’s reminiscent enough of Morrowind to satisfy long-time fans (myself included), but cuts away the clutter that was present in past Elder Scrolls games to create an accessible yet deep experience.
I have no idea what will be next for Bethesda Softworks, but I would love to see a new IP. Given that Todd Howard’s team has only worked on sequels for the last decade, they are long overdue for something original.