So before anyone starts flaming or trolling or anything else... This is just an idea that popped into my head a while back and I couldn't help but expand on it. I realize that TESO is already in production and Bethesda is (likely) working on Fallout 4. I would also like to say that Bethesda should NEVER diverge from their current pattern of Fallout and singleplayer, direct-sequel Elder Scrolls games.
So this is something that: A. Will likely never be done. B. Would be done by another sister studio rather than Bethesda.
So, to get started, it seems that the biggest complaint about Skyrim and the past few entries in the Elder Scrolls is a lack of choice in the game and how you really don't seem to affect the world around you. This game would pretty much be made to combat both of those issues.
It starts out with a resource-rich island being discovered somewhere between Tamriel and the supposed site of Altmora. The island's landscape itself is somewhat odd in that it is like a Meditteranean jungle. You and your best friend are the owners of the Southern Coast Mercenary Company and decide to travel to the island and stake a claim before anyone else does.
On your way there, you are intercepted by a rival company's ship and you are boarded. Throughout the following sequence, in which your sergeant-at-arms helps you to gear up, you are presented with several choices that determine your character's initial gear and skills. For example you have a choice between heavy armor, light armor, mage robes, or to just say "We don't have time!" and remain in regular clothes. You can then pick between one-handed weapons and two-handed weapons. Then you move on to choosing a shield or a bow. Once you're done with that, you move on to a brief tutorial where you fight back against the rival mercenaries and end up sinking their ship.
Immediately after that, you go to meet with your best friend. As you lean on the railing and speak with him, you get your first view of the island just on the horizon. Before you have time to celebrate, however, he betrays you. You are stabbed in the gut and thrown overboard. Your last sight is your sergeant-at-arms jumping over the railing after you.
You awaken on shore to find your sergeant-at-arms and just a handful of men who remained loyal to you standing on the beach. As you recuperate, you must build up a small camp with whatever you can. Soon, however, you encounter a tribe of indigenous people. They are an odd race of elves that are not known to inhabit Tamriel. Their seclusion has forced them to be behind in technology and you are far more advanced than them. At this point, your first major choice appears.
You can: A. Attempt to befriend the elves only to have them scurry away back into the jungle. B. Assault the elves, leading to sporadic conflicts with them in the near future. C. Ignore the elves, leading to mixed interactions with them in the near future.
For the time being, your biggest source of weapons, armor, and other gear/resources are crates from the sunken enemy ship that have washed up on the island. Because your current company is all soldiers, they are more adept at fighting and scavenging than collecting resources and building.
Once you regain your strength, you attempt to find your FORMER friend, only to find that he has gained too much of a foothold on the island. You realize that your only chance is to join with the native elves, who have been targeted for harsh treatment by your "friend". You seek out their chieftain and are confronted with your next big choice.
You can: A. Forge a strong alliance that requires a lot of maintenance but can lead to large profits in the end. B. Usurp the chief and put a puppet chieftain in place to gain undying obediance immediately but with a very volatile situation in the foreseeable future. C. Forge an uneasy, but low-maintenance, alliance that is only out of necessity to defeat a common enemy.
Your previous actions towards the elves will also determine on how easily each of the choices can be made.
With the natives supporting you, you assault your former friend's stronghold. Depending on your previous actions, some of his men may join your cause or fight to the death to defend him. Your own men may choose to slaughter the settlers mercilessly or spare them if possible.
Utlimately, you confront your "friend" and can choose to: A. Kill him, resulting in a boost of respect from your men and the natives. B. Spare him, resulting in a gain of respect from the Southern Coast Mercenary Company, but a big loss of respect from the natives.
Just as the fight seems to be over, however, a small fleet of ships from the rival company arrives and you realize that the game is only just beginning.
At this point, the result of your choice will become quite apparent. - If you chose to spare your friend, he will return to Tamriel and help to easily coordinate the SCMC and get you vital supplies. - If you chose to kill him, however, then your sergeant-at-arms will return and do the same, but with a much weaker link.
You can now receive shipments from the mainland with supplies, soldiers, and settlers. At this point, the game gains quite a bit of strategy in that you must decide how and when to fight and gain resources while building up your colony. You can choose every little detail of your settlers and soldiers, from their race to their specialty. Your past actions can lead to the native elves being friendly, hostile, or indifferent of you.
The more shipments you request from the mainland, the less resources your company will have to spend on jobs on the mainland. The jobs, however, can lead to more revenue to use on better shipments. This means that you must choose wisely when to call in shipments.
Specific locations around the island allow for strategic structures to be built for both economic and military purposes. The enemy, however, can always capture or destroy these structures (just as you can do to them), so you must take opportunity cost into account.
You can personally lead raids, assaults, scouting parties, and other operations against the enemy or leave your men to do it on their own.
The more of the same race you have for settlers and soldiers, the more unified and resolute they will be. Having more mixed races, however, will lead to a more cosmoplitan colony and garner more support from the Empire, which means faster expansion.
At a certain point, the Empire sends an expeditionary force to the island. Depending on your past actions, they may favor you or the enemy company. If they favor you, you will have the backing of the Legion and your colony will expand rapidly, but the natives will not be too happy, unless you've really been kind to them. If they favor the enemy, the fight may be tougher, but the natives will be more than happy to lend a very supportive hand, so long as you haven't completely lost all respect from them.
The main goal is to push your rival off the island by killing their commander, destroying or stealing their supplies, and decimating their forces enough to send them into a retreat.
The basic idea of the choice system is that just about everything has an opportunity cost that you must take into account. The enemy will fight back ruthlessly and is not defeatable on your own as a player character. So you MUST use your resources, colony, and alliances to the fullest. You ultimately decide the fate of the island, it's inhabitants, and your company.
When you are not organizing your forces, you can explore the island and complete side quests/the dreaded radiant quests just as you would in any other Elder Scrolls game and uncover an innumerable amount of secrets and wonders that the island holds. You cannot, however, beat the enemy simply by leveling your character and making them overpowered, or by just growing your colony. You MUST balance them carefully or face a crushing defeat. You must be able to lead from the front while also relying on your men to get the job done.
So, that's pretty much all I came up with. As you can see, it has a lot of elements from the strategy genre, but the gameplay would be all Elder Scrolls. The world and people around you would change depending on your actions and choices. The colony management system would have to be very complex, yet streamlined at the same time so that you do not spend hours on end sitting in a menu, directing your forces. You could go out and explore, stop by your colony to check on it, make a few changes, then move on. Or, if you wanted to just sit back and relax in the commander's seat for awhile, you could do that as well.
Like I said before, I know this will likely never happen for a hundred and one different reasons. This idea just popped into my head one day and I couldn't help but expand it out. What do you guys think? Would you play this Elder Scrolls?