After looking through articles on the different games and their histories, as well as playing them all, I think it's clear that the individual games can be grouped into two categories; The Elder Scrolls: Arena, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, and The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard all can be grouped together by the years they were made and the size of the fanbase at the time. As I understand it, during these times, the Elder Scrolls was only semi-popular, really only having a cult following, and it seems that the creators had generally the same mentality, with only a light and relatively basic lore behind it and some features that could be considered "cutting corners".
However, few would argue against the fact that The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind not only changed the game series itself, but changed the fantasy-roleplaying genre as a whole, setting a whole new standard for fantasy rpgs to have to bring themselves up to. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, while perhaps not as cutting-edge, proved that the company wasn't going downhill yet, and then The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim blew away its competition and has since become the standard of how to make a fantasy rpg "right". These giants represent an entire separate grouping from the earlier titles, a second era for TES if you will, but to bring up a question some are beginning to ask; is this the end?
The Elder Scrolls: Online has begun to raise some questions. While true, this title was not made by Bethesda but Zeni Max, some fans are worried that this may start a new trend in the later and much anticipated titles in the future. While they may not be MMOs like Online, could this mean that Bethesda will start to sell out in some was? Could it mean that they will start to cut corners simply to put out new titles faster? This is all possible, but this user does not believe it to be true.
The Elder Scrolls, despite its shakiness in recent times, has proven to be very loyal to its fanbase. Sure, it takes risks sometimes, but they know that if something is missing from their game, they will hear plenty about it on their forums, blogs, and other assorted sites. I think that they pay attention to that, and they will utilize that for a very big TES: VI. This third era of the Elder Scrolls could be a golden age for the series, perhaps reshaping the genre once again. There is no doubt that games are getting deeper and deeper, more and more focused on bringing the player in, and future TES titles could lead that charge and not just reshape the genre, but reshape gaming in general. And on another note; what was the last rep you really got excited about? I suppose I am a bit conservative when it comes to gaming, but really, Skyrim holds that spot still, three years later (unless, of course, you consider GTA 5 an rpg, which owing to its depth, it practically is). TES VI could take advantage of that, and act as another Morrowind, a game with no competition.
So what do you say about the third era of this gaming series: A dark, depressing path of cliched stories, bad writing, and bugs, or a new golden era which could single-handedly revive the genre?