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The Elder Scrolls 6 level-up system will be similar to Skyrim’s, ex-lead designer bets

Bruce Nesmith talks about his long career at Bethesda
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Bruce Nesmith retired from making video games in 2021 after many years of working on RPGs for Bethesda. He was the lead designer of the iconic Skyrim, a senior systems designer on the recently released Starfield, Bethesda’s design director. Speaking to MinnMax, Nesmith shared a few tidbits about his time at the famous studio.

While he couldn’t talk about the details of many things, such as the upcoming The Elder Scrolls 6, he gave some interesting insights. Obviously, the studio was still focused on Starfield in 2021 when Nesmith left, but preliminary work on the Skyrim-successor had already been done – the former game designer stated that Bethesda’s chief creative, Todd Howard, already knew exactly what he wanted for the game.

The Elder Scrolls 6 teaser trailer screenshot showing a fantasy landscape.

The Elder Scrolls 6 was announced a bit prematurely in 2018, but active production has finally begun.

Nesmith bets that “some of the stuff that I worked on will still survive to the new one.” This goes especially for Skyrim’s level-up system for skills. Basically, the more a player uses a certain skill, the more experience they gain in it. They could increase their, say, lock-picking by cracking open more chests and doors. “The whole, ‘You do it to get better at it’… while that was not my unique idea, I had a large hand in that… That’s absolutely going to continue,” Nesmith said. He expects a fair amount of new additions as well, though.

Speaking about Todd Howard, Nesmith shared that every single game development decision at Bethesda goes through him, even though he likes to downplay his own importance. Howard has tried to share some of that responsibility with others, Nesmith said, but in the end didn’t want to give up all that creative control. Instead, Howard’s business-related responsibilities were shrunk to the bare minimum, allowing him to focus on creative endeavors.

Nesmith said that Howard is very good at putting himself in the shoes of the average gamer, which allows him to think about how the target audience would engage with content and if it would understand everything right from the start.

With Starfield now shipped and parts ofBethesda focusing on post-launch support as well as potential DLC, the majority of the workforce switched its attention to The Elder Scrolls 6 now, which was announced in 2018.