Skyrim DLC Will Feel More Like Expansion Packs

Skyrim DLC Will Feel More Like Expansion Packs

We’ve been promised substantial downloadable content for last year’s blockbuster Skyrim, but it sounds like Bethesda is thinking really big.

“For Fallout 3 we did five DLCs,” Howard told me during an interview last week at the DICE Summit. “That was a very aggressive path for us. Our plan now is to take more time, to have more meat on them [for Skyrim]. They’ll feel closer to an expansion pack.”

Some of Fallout 3‘s expansions, such as Operation Anchorage were slender, linear mission sequences that lasted a few hours, but others, such as Point Lookout were entire new regions filled with quests.

It does sound like there will be fewer than five of these expansion-pack additions to Skyrim.

“With Fallout 3, it was, ‘Ten dollars is the sweet spot for us and we know we want to put out five of them. And we had overlapping teams. We were coming off Fallout 3 and right back in.” He describes that development cycle as “a real hardcore loop” but adds, “we just think we can do better content if we approach it a different way.”

In between those expansions, Howard is committed to releasing smaller pieces of content for the game.

“Because that gap is going to be bigger, we want to put litle things out for free in between. We’ve already done that for PC with the high-res pack. We’re trying to figure out what those things are.”

How big should a Bethesda role-playing game be? All this talk of Skyrim expansions shouldn’t distract from the fact that Skyrim is already gargantuan. How do they know how long to make these games, in terms of play time? Howard explained: “It was similar with Fallout 3 and Oblivion. We want it to be around 20 hours. That’s where we start. I want to feel like I finished the main thing in 20ish hours. That’s us day one saying that. After that, we rarely look at the target. It’s just more of a gut for: ‘it should be about this long.’ After that, it’s purely: ‘Does it feel too fast right here?’, ‘Does it feel too slow?’ It’s purely a gut thing for us. After the initial point, it’s purely: ‘How does the momentum feel? ‘” He says Skyrim got longer. He thinks it takes the average player about 30 hours to get through, if they’re trying to reach the end and not necessarily exploring all the side stuff.

Even if you don’t factor in the DLC, Bethesda has bigger plans for tweaking and enhancing Skyrim post-release than they have had for other big games they’ve released. The game was destined to be more organic. “We knew before release that we were going to support it in a larger way, with lots of updates every month,” Howard said. “We knew we wanted to do more stuff to bring mods to people.

“So I think we had more of a plan and thought process of ‘We want to make the game better after it’s out.’ We don’t know what that means yet. People will tell us. But maybe we want to rebalance it. Maybe we want to add some features and patch them in, whereas in previous games, like Oblivion or Fallout 3, our thinking was just to patch it, fix the big problems. Our bandwidth at that time was that we needed to work on Skyrim. But now, with the game’s popularity, we really want to do all that stuff.”

Shortly before Howard and I talked last week, he showed a video featuring all sorts of wonderful additions to Skyrim that his developers had cooked up in one week after the game shipped. They had characters riding dragons, guards re-lighting torches, water arrows, fat giants, players as vampire lords and so much more.

Some of that — Howard would stress the “some” — could be coming as part of all of this expanded content.

“There are definitely things in there that we are planning on exploring,” he said.

“It looks like a ton of stuff that could ship right now,” he admitted, “but it’s in a sizzle video. It’s, you know, it’s not bug-tested, polished, balanced.” He thinks it shows off the creativity of his team and says that some of it is being worked on, but don’t take that as the blueprint for the expansions.

Of course, he couldn’t resist teasing more: “That wasn’t all of it. It’s probably 60 per cent of it. The other 40 per cent doesn’t show as well in a video or we didn’t have good footage.”

We have no actual release dates for the Skyrim expansions. No specific plans. But we do have what sounds like a long-term commitment to beefing up this game. Howard says his team is “very early” into the development of the DLC, but it’s happening. Skyrim will be getting bigger — much bigger, it sounds like.


  • Oh cool, expansion pac- oh wait Skyrim has shitloads of bugs that haven’t been fixed since it came out 4 months ago.

    Oh well, nothing to see here.

    • None of the bugs are game breaking if you play on PC or XBOX. There have also been official patches released and modders who release unofficial patches to fix problems… So in the end. Fuck you.

      • Why defend Bethesda? I payed the same amount for my PS3 copy and got a lesser product than the xbox version. I understand PC has mods and is a lot better. I got ripped off, and they wont fix it and they wont accept returns. No other developer in the industry releases a game in this condition and still receives universal praise. It’s pathetic to defend them.

        • Actually, I lot of companies do. There have been so many games released over the past few years that have been absolutely astounding on the PS3 and 360, yet all we got on PC were clunky ports full of bugs and crappy controls.
          One platform being gimped when it comes to multi-platform games isn’t new., it’s pretty much always been the case. And more times than not with recent games, it’s been the PC version been left behind.

          • The key term is “and still receives universal praise”.

            This won game of the year before it came out. People sang its praises like Jesus returned. But it is far from perfect.

        • Lol, jokes on you for having an inferior console in the first place. Dont bitch when your weaboo shit doesnt play good games.

      • Not quite game breaking, but my fiancee has many quests on the xbox version that cannot be completed because of bugs. We hoped the newest patch would fix it, but hasn’t.

        • patches usually won’t fix a bug/glitch that already occurred. Only prevent them from happening. You should probably start over.

    • Never happen – Microsoft and Sony wouldn’t allow for people to tinker with their console games – besides they both enjoy having their customers bent over the bedpost with a mouthful of pillow while they do to their customers some pretty horrific things.

      I don’t understand why people put up with consoles, I just shake my head and consider console owners as lead drinking window lickers unable to figure out that their only purpose is to shower MS or Sony with money for just being MS or Sony

    • Agreed. It is somehow less impressive when you visit the new area by stepping through some sort of portal. One thing I’ve always loved about Elder Scrolls is travelling to a new area for the first time, for example, knowing you need to go to a certain city and seeing it in the distance as you approach.

      Trouble is, portals is they way they’ve always added new areas as far as I’m aware, at least since Mournhold in Morrowind which was not connected to the main landmass.

      Maybe, since they’ve drawn at least the silhouette of other areas on the borders of Skyrim they can, this time, give us the illusion of travelling to the new location.

      But I’m just being picky.

  • Developers that haven’t started creating or even planning DLC until after the game was released? Get out of here!

      • what do you mean all of tamriel is already made! You mean from other games? Because the areas outside of the map in Skyrim are nothing. Its not built up whatsoever. it was meant purely for viewing from atop the mountains in Skyrim.

  • I just hope we don’t have any of the DA:O stuff, where you had to start a new character if you’d finished the game before DLC came out to play it. Let me take “myself” to the dlc, thanks.

    • Or DLC where you have to use an entirely different character, or start completely over! I missed dragging Alistair around.

    • Except that’s not really true. Both Stone Prisoner and Warden’s Keep were available from the start, and Return to Ostagar was the only one where you could “miss out” if you’d already finished the game with a character.

      Other DLCs had you playing a different character, or importing your Warden to continue his/her adventures.

  • So glad I got skyrim at Xmas sale. Looks like they are really treating their PC customers to the full experience. Well done. Will definetly get the DLC.

    Well worth the 90US they are asking. 95 hours since Xmas and not even getting close to getting bored with everything you can do and explore. Only problem is I now want to upgrade my computer so I can enjoy it even more!

  • Anyone who buys an ElderScrolls Game on a con-soul needs to take it back and get it on PC.

    1. ITS CHEEPER on PC, and 2, Mods. lol

    • Most people like myself for instance, would LOVE to own it on PC, but a new computer doesn’t agree with my funds atm. The statement that the PC version is “cheaper” depends if you A. already have a beast computer, or B. have the funds to get a better one, which will take a big chunk out of your pocket anyway.

      As a financially unstable person, Xbox has shown me love more than a PC would have. I’d like to have a PC that could run Skyrim, but I’m not going to spend the money on something I’d enjoy just as much on console. Besides, this is a thread on the DLC expansions right?

    • Now now, we don’t need any PC elitism.

      Console owners already know they’re getting the raw deal, but they chose it because
      A) they can’t afford/don’t have a good enough PC
      and that’s fine, because we can’t all have top of the line PCs. One day, maybe they’ll get a good PC and be able to do everything with Skyrim ever, but until then they’ll happily make do with the console versions, unless they’re on the PS3 where they’ll made do with the console versions, just not happily.

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