Developer and writer Chris Avellone, formerly of Interplay and Obsidian Entertainment, has recently been musing on Twitter about some of the roads not travelled during his time at the latter studio. One of Avellone’s biggest credits is his work on Fallout: New Vegas, regarded by some as the finest 3D Fallout and the closest in spirit to the original isometric games, and—as spotted by GamesRadar+—he says after that Obsidian wanted to do the same: but for The Elder Scrolls.
After Fallout: New Vegas, Avellone was involved in the proposals Obsidian was making to Bethesda, and says “one of the Elder Scrolls proposals (which I pitched) was intended to serve the same function as Fallout: New Vegas did between Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, to provide more adventures in the setting during the years before the next Bethesda release.”
Inspiration came from an unlikely quarter: “I thought it couldn’t hurt to try and push a similar system to what Treyarch/Activision had going with Call of Duty at the time (but hopefully less rushed),” writes Avellone. “Bethesda could do a core release, then we’d release a TES title (in same world or a divergent timeline/era) before the next big Bethesda push.” Avellone reckons this idea is “probably less relevant now that Elder Scrolls Online is going, but at the time, it seemed to be something that could benefit both studios.”
Given that we never got TES: New Skyrim it will be no surprise that the idea “didn’t gain much traction” with Bethesda. “I never got the impression Bethesda was happy with FNV’s reception (good and bad),” writes Avellone. When someone pointed out that New Vegas launched in an infamously poor state, Avellone admits “That was one of the bad points, yes. It had numerous issues at launch that we could have worked harder to resolve.”
So it didn’t happen. But Avellone did have a particular concept in mind and, perhaps not surprisingly from the designer of Planescape: Torment, it all started with catastrophe. “If Bethesda didn’t want us messing with their core world, one was a spinoff where you adventured in an alternate TES world [that] the last hero had failed to save in the last round of Elder Scroll titles,” explains Avellone.
New Vegas itself began as “a big expansion pack for Fallout 3,” in the words of Todd Howard, who said that idea didn’t last for long: “I felt really strongly it should be its own game.” Thanks to leaks we know that, eventually, we’ll be getting remasters of Fallout 3 and Oblivion, though there’s no indication of whether New Vegas will ever receive similar treatment. Luckily the modders have your back. If you want to play the best game in the series, there are an absolute plethora of ways to give it the glow-up it deserves.