ByCallum Smith, writer at
Glued to Persona 5, humming aloud to 'Life Will Change'.
Callum Smith

Bethesda’s Game Of Thrones video game adaptation has purportedly leaked through a retailer listing, and even though the source has since been called into question the mere prospect has got many fans excited. After all, is the perfect to make an open world RPG based on the HBO property.

Bethesda, in spite of their faults, remains one of the most adored and respected developers in the gaming community. And with universally acclaimed treasures like Fallout 3 and Skyrim on their CV, how could a Game Of Thrones RPG from them possibly be a bad thing? I don’t think that it can.

However, as seen with Fallout 4, the developer can disappoint. People expect a certain level of quality from Bethesda, and with Fallout 4 they completely missed the mark. With Game Of Thrones, Bethesda has to both accurately represent the show and make one of the best RPGs of all time. It’s a heavy burden to bear, yet it is one they are capable of accomplishing. But, and this is a big but, they have to stay true to the show's tone, they have to get rid of the issues which have plagued their past games, and they have to make it distinguishable as their own.

8. Up-to-date Graphics

[Credit: CD Projekt Red]
[Credit: CD Projekt Red]

As much as the gaming community overemphasises the importance of insanely detailed graphics in the console and PC wars, good-looking visuals are undeniably a crucial component of any would be successful video game. For instance, many people still consider Fallout 4 a failure because it looked severely outdated. It doesn’t matter that the combat was fun, that there was plenty to do, and that the new side characters were interesting and charming. In the eyes of Fallout fans and casual beholders, its ugly textures and aged performance issues could not be ignored.

Bethesda cannot afford to have any more of their open-world games looking like expired and mouldy cheese found at the back of a fridge from 2011. Now, it would be unfair to demand that the game look like Uncharted 4, Hellblade, or even The Witcher 3. But, it is not irrational to want it to look significantly more polished than both Skyrim and Fallout 4, and to perform much better. No more textures popping in late in every single room, no more AIs refusing to get out of the way of doors, and no more dead-eyed characters looking even more soulless than when Khal Drogo was reincarnated.

Bethesda can no longer rely on the same engine which made Skyrim one of the best-looking games back in 2011.

7. Be Set In A Different Era From The TV Show

[Credit: HBO]
[Credit: HBO]

If you’ve watched the television show and read the books then you surely know that the world of Westeros is full of historically significant events and rich lore. Though never shown, Robert’s rebellion is just one of many key wars in A Song Of Ice And Fire’s history, and while this would not be the most ideal period of time for Bethesda to explore because of it being too close to the War of the Five Kings, it is an example of an off-screen battle that Bethesda could choose to put players in the middle of.

Preferably, the game’s story would take place before the War of the Five Kings and even Robert’s rebellion. Playing through everything and getting to know characters we are already fully aware of would not be nearly as exciting as getting to meet a new cast of Westerosi in an unpredictable and brutal tale from the past. That way you don’t who is trustworthy and who isn’t, making the ‘game of thrones’ as arduous as Eddard Stark found it to be.

Perhaps Bethesda, with a bit of guidance from King George R.R. Martin, could even come up with their own epic narrative. Still, although we know there’s enough material and gaps in the Westeros timeline for them to achieve this and not be burdened by canon, it would probably be best for them to stick to a moment of significance that Martin has already set down in the history books.

6. A Story Full Of Political Intrigue And Betrayal

[Credit: HBO]
[Credit: HBO]

Having stated that the game should take place before the War of the Five Kings, Bethesda must still include a ‘game of thrones.’ War has to be a reality, and with war comes politics. The realism and politics has always been the best aspect of Game Of Thrones, and while the politics have now been largely disregarded in favour of a unified battle against the Army of the Dead, Bethesda’s Game Of Thrones cannnot just be another game of good vs. evil, mankind vs. the dead.

Like The Witcher 3, the civilians in Bethesda’s Westeros have to be discussing a war and what’s happening; discussions like who has died, which army is likely to come out on top, and how they all feel about a certain king or queen. Plus, as it is in the show and books, the stories have to be told differently in different areas of the world. For instance, in King’s Landing Robb Stark was feared as someone who would turn into his Direwolf in the middle of a battlefield and rip people’s throats apart. People in the North knew this was not true, but the population of King’s Landing didn’t, and Bethesda’s Game Of Thrones has to reflect this sort of hysteria and distance from the truth.

With politics comes betrayal, as exemplified by Littlefinger. Of course, Bethesda cannot have you getting betrayed and dying in the opening or middle of the game, but they can kill companions you’ve gotten to know and enjoy. It’s the core of Game Of Thrones. Before season 6, it was the television show everyone was oddly enamoured with because it would take away all the characters you loved, leaving you upset and traumatised. Bethesda has to reflect this unconventional approach to storytelling and if they want to get even the most basic part of Game Of Thrones right.

5. Decisions That Actually Matter And Shape The Story

[Credit: Ubisoft]
[Credit: Ubisoft]

How many times have we all played an open world RPG that supposedly features a large variety of choices that will shape the game’s story and world dramatically, only for a slightly different ending to be the reward? Too many times! The Witcher 3 was the best at avoiding this and being true to the developer’s words, and Bethesda must follow them. No longer will gamers accept being lied to. Have multiple different endings based around an array of morally grey decisions, not just one or two options presented at the narrative’s grand finale.

These cannot just be easy choices like “save the world” or “let everyone die.” Game Of Thrones is like Sophie’s choice… there are no good options. Every decision has possible pros, but also a lot of cons. Stannis was an honourable man who decided to let Melisandre burn his daughter Shireen alive because it seemed like the only choice available to him. It was not easy sacrifice to make, but it is challenging choices like this that players have to be confronted with. Ones which make you stroke your beard in thought for ages.

The choices you make must also affect the game’s story and world. This could be achieved through the perception people in different capitals have of you, a feature which should extend to your very own army. There should be some sort of loyalty mechanic; every decision you make should have consequences, and if they’re bad, then the loyalty of your army or peers should dwindle, adding an extra layer to the game which would result in decision making being even more difficult.

4. Have An Open World Map Like The Witcher 3

[Credit: CD Projekt Red]
[Credit: CD Projekt Red]

Something Dan Weiss and David Benioff have forgotten about with Game Of Thrones is that Westeros is ginormous. It is not a small world in which Ravens are able to travel from the North to Dragonstone in less than 12 hours. To avoid the mistakes Dan and David have made by rushing the final two seasons, Bethesda must reflect how big George R.R Martin’s Westeros is laid out. This can only be achieved by having an open world map with massive areas divided into separate sandboxes.

3. An Even Deeper Character Creation System

[Credit: Bethesda]
[Credit: Bethesda]

The best part of Fallout 4 was its character creation suite. Being able to design both your character and their wife/husband was a delight, especially when it was accompanied with them ribbing each other’s features like their nose and eyes. From now on, in all of their open world games, Bethesda has to include the same in-depth level of customisation. It was so easy to make a detailed and accurate looking character with the game’s moulding component, and every other customisation system has since paled in comparison.

An obvious strategy would be Bethesda having you design yourself, your house symbol, and your family members. But, instead of designing your siblings, it is more about the backstory of your character and house that Bethesda needs to provide depth for.

What is your character doing? Is he at the Wall? If he’s at the Wall, what was he sent there for? Is he a bastard? If he’s a bastard, is he a Snow, Sand, Pyke or Storm? Questions like these are what players should be confronted with when designing their own character. That way, there are more opportunities to make their protagonist unique from everyone else’s.

2. Different Beginnings For Different Races

[Credit: HBO}
[Credit: HBO}

In a Game Of Thrones open world RPG, you should be able to choose which family your character belongs to or is loyal to: Targaryen, Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Greyjoy etc. From there on, every protagonist could eventually come to the same narrative, but the openings should be different for every one of the distinct races and house names.

Dragon Age: Origins was able to pull it off, and Bethesda should manage to do the same. If the game opens with players in the middle of a war, say between the Targaryens and the Baratheons, then all Bethesda would need to do is put players on the side of the house they are loyal to. Who wins and who loses needn’t change, but it would provide more replayability, especially if it resulted in changes to the overall narrative such as how the population of Westeros perceives its King.

Regardless, just please don’t have another opening in which we all need to escape from another prison. I can’t take them anymore!

1. An 18 Age Rating

[Credit: HBO]
[Credit: HBO]

It is crucial that the game be rated 18 so that Bethesda is not forced not hold back from portraying gruesome and bloody deaths, sex scenes, and controversial scenarios such as children being brutally murdered. That is Game Of Thrones. It’s harsh and unapologetic. You can’t have a tame and safe video game based on a show in which thousands of offended people officially complained about the depicted death of a burning girl. It won’t feel suitable.

Horror must be depicted. There has to be controversial moments in which players watch on in shock and revulsion. You can’t accurately represent the product, or the period its world takes place in, if you don’t implement every single one of them. Nudity and sex is a must, and so is barbaric violence. And to include all of these, the game has to be rated 18, just like The Witcher 3 was.

What do you want to see from a Game of Thrones video game?


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