Bethesda has shown itself to be the master of crafting immersive, living, breathing open worlds, allowing you to insert yourself into a lore-rich environment. Worlds in which you can create a character to explore these digital landscapes and leave a mark, for better or worse.
Throughout the years Bethesda has managed to pull these feats off in a number of different genres, from the high-fantasy setting of the Elder Scrolls series to the harsh post-apocalyptic survival of Fallout. In the next 12 months, we’ll also be galavanting around the vastness of space thanks to the much-hyped Starfield.
But one genre of science fiction Bethesda hasn’t attempted, however, is the dystopian future of cyberpunk - a setting I believe would be perfect for Bethesda to create a world from.
Do we need more cyberpunk?
Now before you all scream out in chaotic harmony, yes. There has already been a AAA cyberpunk game in the past 2 years - the aptly named Cyberpunk 2077. But, and this is a big but, that game, in all honesty, did not live up to the hype.
Sure, there have been updates to make it more stable, updates to improve how police respond, and updates to make the world more believable and less of a glitchy mess. But, at its core, it’s just not a world you can truly lose yourself in, become what you want, and do what you want. It honestly feels more like GTA crossed with Borderlands than anything else.
No, in my humble opinion, what is needed is something akin to Fallout: New Vegas or Oblivion, where you are just chucked into this unknown land and are left to your own devices. Sure, there’s a story to follow and a set path you can go, but role-playing games as a whole aren’t about that. They’re about crafting your story, with your choices and your consequences from your actions.
This is something Cyberpunk 2077 never truly managed to do and it is something Bethesda excels at. They may have had a missed step from time to time (the awful, awful original ending of Fallout 3 and the middling Fallout 4 being two high-profile examples) but in general, they are unbeatable at pulling off freedom of choice.
What would a Bethesda cyberpunk game be like?
Now let's get the elephant in the room out of the way first and foremost - the game at launch would be an absolute glitchfest of NPC issues, broken quests and game-breaking bugs - so honestly extremely similar to that of Cyberpunk 2077. However, give it a few weeks, and a little help from the modding community, and we would have a mostly stable cyberpunk world to run around.
As for gameplay, it would land pretty close to that of the Fallout series. A dystopian world needing saving through a gargantuan amount of guns, bullets and explosives, on a backdrop of searing pink neon and cybernetic enhancements. Sprinkled over this would be Bethesda’s classic, twisted sense of humour seen throughout the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series.
The only major concern of a Bethesda cyberpunk game would be its lack of experience constructing built-up cities and populating them with enough NPCs to be believable. For example, Skyrim’s city of Solitude, the capital city of the province, the jewel of the northern lands, has a grand old population of 62. that's it. 62 living souls providing the backbone of Skyrim’s economy. Fallout 4 was the same, with the commonwealth’s biggest and safest population hub providing just 52 unique characters to converse with.
Even with the aforementioned population problems and terrible launch states, I believe Bethesda could still produce a fantastic cyberpunk title to rival both their Elder Scrolls and Fallout series.
Even if it turned out to be a flop, the modding community has proven time and time again that they can turn anything into gold dust, and we would be fighting a giant cybernetic Mr T, or a Winnie the Pooh grizzly bear, all with tiny heads, in no time at all.