Up until now, Bethesda Game Studios has been known for two big RPG franchises: The Elder Scrolls and Fallout(Starting with Fallout 3). Naturally, fans expect these two franchises from Bethesda, but as it was put in a recent interview, Bethesda isn’t content to just cycle between those two franchises for the rest of eternity and that’s why, to stave off fatigue, they’ve decided to put The Elder Scrolls VI on the backburner and work on two brand new IP’s first. But where does that leave fans of Elder Scrolls and Fallout? Well Fallout fans got Fallout 4 a year and a half ago, they’re fine and the modding scene is still getting up to speed, but fans of the singleplayer Elder Scrolls games are stuck with a last-gen title that has been out since 2011, and needless to say, but there’s only so much that can be done mod-wise to prolong Skyrim’s life. The recently released Special Edition adds a little extra breathing room, but otherwise it’s still the same 2011 game. So what are Elder Scrolls fans to do while they wait for the next game? I think the answer is simpler(but by no means easier) than some might expect.
The modding community surrounding The Elder Scrolls is one of the largest modding communities out there, and twice now a team of modders have created a separate game using the modding tools that were released for Oblivion(Nehrim) and Skyrim(Enderal). A large undertaking to be sure, one that took many years to come to fruition, but they did it. And it came to me that the solution to TES fans woes is lying right under their noses: Modders.
Within the Skyrim modding community, there are two large groups of modders working on two separate projects to expand the available game world of Skyrim. The first is the Beyond Skyrim team whose goal is to create all of the other provinces of Tamriel(and the continent of Atmora thanks to a separate team they’ve partnered with.) and update the ones we’ve seen for the Fourth Era. After a few years of work, their first release, Beyond Skyrim: Bruma, is set for a full release next month.
And the second team is the TESRenewal team, a group known for rebuilding past TES games in the most recent ones, starting with Morroblivion, a port of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind into The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. And now they’re bringing Morrowind into Skyrim as Skywind and Oblivion into Skyrim as Skyblivion. Unlike Beyond Skyrim, these are not reimaginings of the past provinces in a new time period, they’re the original games essentially brought forward into Skyrim for players to play, a fan-made remaster essentially.
So what you might be thinking is that I’m going to suggest building a new TES game in Skyrim’s Creation Kit. However, that is incorrect. Skyrim is, to some extent, dated by todays standards, both graphically and functionality wise. Skyrim Special Edition upgraded the game from 32bit to 64bit, making the game more stable when modded and it featured some graphical improvements, but otherwise it was still the same game it was in 2011, and any game built using its modding tools has the same limits that it does. So what I would suggest, then, is to build the game using a different set of modding tools: Fallout 4's.
Obviously, building an Elder Scrolls game in Fallout 4's Creation Kit is different, but not impossible, and as shown above, modders have been going above and beyond to bring players new experiences even though its been 6 years since Skyrim landed on store shelves and the community just continues to grow. There’s a lot of talent there and I would imagine more than one modder who’d be up for such a challenge.
Skyrim Special Edition is not a fully next-gen title like Fallout 4 is. I know that may sound like a stupid thing to say since Special Edition is a remaster of a last-gen title as I mentioned before, but it’s engine isn’t entirely the same. Special Edition was originally used back in 2012/2013 by Bethesda to get a feel for the new consoles, what they could do, and that required that the engine be updated to 64bit and ported. It was a testbed essentially, but they didn’t go all the way with it. They did, however, go all the way with Fallout 4's version of the Creation Engine. The engine is more advanced than it was in Skyrim and thus it presents new possibilities for modders. If a decently-sized group of modders were to use Fallout 4's Creation Kit to build one of Elder Scrolls’ provinces, they could create an entirely new Elder Scrolls adventure that isn’t shackled to what Skyrim could do. And that fan-made Elder Scrolls game could be treated as its own game by the modding community despite technically being a mod for Fallout 4. It could serve as a stop-gap title to hold fans over until the real Elder Scrolls VI is out.
(Author’s Note: This article was written with no actual knowledge of how modding, or the Creation Kit in particular, works. It could be possible that none of this is at all possible, but given that modders have been able to create entirely new world spaces and even entirely new games within those modding tools, it does not seem out of the question and that is what this article is based on. I hope to get in touch with the Beyond Skyrim team and ascertain if this is indeed a possibility since they would likely have some semblance of an idea.)
UPDATE: I managed to talk with not the only some of the team leads behind Beyond Skyrim, but also a bunch of other Skyrim modders and the general consensus is that yes, building a TES game in Fallout 4's modding tools is theoretically possible, however the time investment needed to do so would likely put the TES game mod in competition with Bethesda’s actual TESVI(5 years or more.). As a result, any modders with the current knowledge to produce such a project are more interested in pursuing Beyond Skyrim and other projects along those same lines for Skyrim.