Elder Scrolls III
This game was a true role playing game. You could virtually do almost anything you wanted and go anywhere on the island of Vvardenfell (or Mournhold and Solstheim if you had GOTY). The sky was basically, and literally, the limit in this game. You could have a rat for a travel companion in Mournhold, fight against wolverines in Solstheim, and save Vvardenfell from the clutches of a sinister bearded man (Osama Bin Laden?) named Dagoth Ur. Game play was amazing; spell casting and the multiple types of swords and armor added to the game. Clothing type could have been a bit better, but you don’t always get what you want. Leveling was quite easy in this game and there were even cheats to boost your stats in an instant (my favorite was the increase intelligence potion cheat). There were near limitless possibilities in this game from the myriad missions you could complete to the legendary weapons that could be collected. The game did lack realistic engines like gravity and the inability of NPC’s to give accurate directions (most of your time spent on that game was trying to figure out where in the world the NPC was telling you to go). Those are easily overlooked because of how amazing this game was; however, Oblivion the next generation game brought a few new things to the table but was left in the shadow of its older brother.
Elder Scrolls IV
Oblivion brought more shiny graphics and a gravity engine to the game. But, the game seemed to throw you into situations that were way over your level when starting off. I think fighting Fire Atronachs and Frost Atronachs is not a good way to start out between levels 1-10. Leveling was more difficult in this game and spells seemed to be less effective. Making spells was also a bit nigh impossible because you couldn’t cast a decent healing spell until you were a much higher level (which was nigh impossible to obtain). Also, the level oriented chests were a problem because leveling was difficult, so good loot was basically out of your grasp. The expansion packs Knights of the Nine and the Shivering Isles were great albeit the aforementioned problems. The enchanted armor you receive in Knights of the Nine quest was quite impressive. Also, becoming the Mad God of the Shivering Isles was quite interesting as well; Sheogorath’s staff was quite a nice piece of equipment as well. The missions in this game were of the same quality as in Morrowind, except once you achieved the highest rank you could have lower ranking members follow you and receive perks from the guild (Mages Guild: chest that duplicates alchemical items Dark Brotherhood: Weekly gold stipend etc.) However, it would still have been nice to be able to either do some more missions on occasion or be able to actually send lower ranking recruits to do your bidding. All in all, the game had a lot of kinks that needed to be worked out, and so hopefully Skyrim has taken all of this into consideration.
Elder Scrolls V
One word: DRAGONS. We’ve seen Akatosh in Oblivion and a statue of one in Ebonheart in Morrowind, even M’aiq the Liar babbles on about them, but they have never been an actual mob in the Elder Scrolls games. Fighting something exponentially larger than you in a game usually consists of the large enemy being in a controlled area, i.e. Jack of Blades the Dragon, Sigma, etc. However, these dragons are in a three dimensional game and can be anywhere and go anywhere. Usually in Elder Scrolls games you just swing your sword and kill the enemy. However, Dragons breathe fire and are heavy hitters, so a good amount of strategy possibly has to go into fighting these beasts. Also, duel wielding comes into play in this game. Best. Idea. Ever. You can duel wield swords, or wield magic and a weapon. You can also throw magic instead of just blandly casting it like in Morrowind. The leveling mechanics are also being changed around. No longer will you be bound to the character class system, but the more you use a skill the more it levels up, and the more you level up. The “Perks” system also seems like a neat little feature, giving you bonuses for every level. This game seems to be a colossal overhaul of win. Hopefully, when it finally comes out on 11/11/11, the game will not disappoint.