The Elder Scrolls 6: everything we know about the next return to Tamriel
Searching for details about the Elder Scrolls 6? Though it was announced all the way back in 2018 at E3, we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of the Skyrim sequel since. We do have plenty of rumours, though, ranging from the possible region of Tamriel that the next installment could be set in, to potential release dates based on what info has been revealed so far.
Bethesda History Class
That said, it’s likely that we won’t hear anything of too much significance until Bethesda’s sci-fi RPG, Starfield, is released later this year on November 11. It’s been confirmed that the game is the studio’s primary developmental focus, so any reveals for Elder Scrolls will likely come later, though Starfield might whet your appetite in the meantime if you’re into sci-fi settings.
With the Skyrim Anniversary Edition release not so long ago, there are also options for revisiting the older games in the meantime, though like most of us, you’ve probably had your fill of Skyrim, even with the added survival mode and fishing. Either way, in this guide we’ll do our best to answer your burning questions about the Elder Scrolls 6 based on recent rumours and interviews, from where it’s set, to when you can likely expect to play it for yourself.
What is The Elder Scrolls 6 release date?
Don’t hold your breath. It will probably be sometime this decade. Probably.
We know that Starfield, launching in November 2022, is going to be finished before Elder Scrolls 6. Phil Spencer has also said that the next Fable game will be finished before TES6, which we don’t know the release date for. So hunker down.
Todd Howard himself introduced The Elder Scrolls 6 teaser trailer at E3 in 2018. Study it as close as you dare, because this is the first and last official look at the next game in the series we’ll be getting for quite a while. If you want to take a deeper look, we’ve gotten into a bit of fan speculation based on the teaser down below.
Todd Howard put a blessing and curse on us by announcing Elder Scrolls 6 at E3 2018 despite Starfield (ahead of ES6 in Bethesda’s pipeline) still being in development. We are very patient so we’re just going to casually tally the years of E3 in which we haven’t heard any more about Elder Scrolls 6.
E3 2019: “I think everyone should be very patient,” Todd Howard told IGN.
“E3” 2020: “If you’re coming at me for details now and not years from now, I’m failing to properly manage your expectations,” said Pete Hines.
E3 2021: “It’s good to think of The Elder Scrolls 6 as still being in a design [phase],” Todd Howard said in an interview shortly after E3 2021.
With so little information, Elder Scrolls fans have taken to picking apart anything Elder Scrolls related to find clues, starting with the original teaser trailer from 2018. Todd Howard suggested that clues do indeed exist, saying the teaser contains “hints at where it’s set.” The community has run with that. Todd Howard himself has confirmed that The Elder Scrolls 6’s location has already been decided, and that this decision was made a while ago.
We’ve taken a crack at figuring out the setting of The Elder Scrolls 6 ourselves.
It’s a reasonable thing to guess, and currently the most popular theory. The original teaser trailer shows rocks, and appears to be high. There you go—High Rock. That’s not quite enough to be sure, though. TES geography changes quite a bit over time, and High Rock has already been covered by the early games. So have Hammerfell, Morrowind, Cyrodiil, and Skyrim.
Adding to the speculation, the Starfield trailer from E3 2021 included a possible Elder Scrolls teaser. A very small scratch on the interior of a spaceship looks suspiciously like a drawing of a landmass. It also looks suspiciously like Tamriel’s Illiac Bay, which sits between High Rock and Hammerfell. It’s a very tiny detail that could be nothing, but it sure is a distinct shape. Speaking of Hammerfell, Bethesda already might have teased it as a location as well. Maybe things are coming together.
Thanks to a New Year’s post by Bethesda at the very end of 2020, Hammerfell is another possible destination. No one is quite sure if the image posted is really a clue about Elder Scrolls 6, but the message about “mapping the future” sure does seem like it could be. Fans have speculated that the placement of candles on the image is a clue, most notably the one placed beneath the word “Hammerfell” in the undrawn area of the map West of Skyrim. Hammerfell is home to the Redguard people and its Alik’r Desert could line up with the rocky, arid environment shown in the original teaser trailer.
Transcribe the past and map the future. 📖Here’s to a Happy New Year!🕯 pic.twitter.com/bL44CzLDIEDecember 31, 2020
Elsweyr is a tiny possibility. For one thing, it doesn’t show up a lot, so there’s lots of room to fill in blanks. Secondly, it’s the Khajiit’s homeland, and it might make sense to focus on one of Skyrim’s most popular races. That said, we’re doubtful, given that Elsweyr has been explored in an Elder Scrolls online expansion from 2019.
Black Marsh or Valenwood
Black Marsh is probably a no. The teaser looks nothing like it. Valenwood also feels unlikely, as we know it to be full of swampland. Granted, the teaser could’ve been intentionally misleading.
We can’t rule out that we might be headed back to somewhere already covered, of course. Thanks to The Elder Scrolls Online, the range of uncharted territory in Tamriel is shrinking. That could either prompt TES6 to boldly cast its direction overseas, such as to the mysterious continent of Akavir, an exotic land hosting friendly-sounding races such as the Snow Demons of Kamal and the vampiric, snake-like Tsaesci. Or it could drive Bethesda to revisit a previous province, like High Rock, which again is the most popular guess.
“It’s good to think of The Elder Scrolls 6 as still being in a design [phase],” Todd Howard said in a June 2021 interview. “But we’re checking the tech: ‘Is this going to handle the things we want to do in that game?’ Every game will have some new suites of technology so Elder Scrolls 6 will have some additions on to Creation Engine 2 that that game is going to require.”
Howard has previously mentioned work being done on Bethesda’s Creation Engine as the required foundation for The Elder Scrolls 6. In 2016, Howard suggested that the technology needed to create Bethesda’s vision for it just wasn’t there yet at the time.
“I could sit here and explain the game to you, and you would say, ‘That sounds like you don’t even have the technology—how long is that going to take?'” he said. “And so it’s something that’s going to take a lot of time, what we have in mind for that game.”
In another different interview, Todd Howard referred to a “major engine rewrite” being worked on for Starfield. ES6 will almost certainly benefit from the same new engine tech but there’s clearly a lot of time being spent up front on Bethesda’s next generation of RPGs.
Just before E3 2019, in an interview with IGN, Todd Howard cautioned that fans would need to be very patient for Elder Scrolls 6. By the time the next single-player adventure in Tamriel is released, it will be over a decade since Skyrim’s first launch.
“The gap in between is going to be long. It already is. On one hand, I think it’s good to miss things. I think that makes people come to it with really, really fresh eyes, and I think when they eventually—eventually—see the game and what we have in mind, they’ll understand the gap more in terms of technology and what we want it to do.”
Another factor prolonging TES6’s debut is that Howard’s crew doesn’t want to be known as just the Elder Fallout Guys. “I think Todd and his team have earned the right, given the quality of this stuff, to be able to say, ‘We know everybody really wants [TES6], but we as creative people want to be able to do stuff that we’re really passionate about,'” Hines explained to GameSpot in 2017. “They wanted to be able to self-determine things they worked on next, whether it was existing stuff or whether it was new IP.”
(Almost) Everything Elder Scrolls
It’s years away—not coming until after Starfield, Bethesda’s next big project, which is being released in November 2022. Full development on The Elder Scrolls 6 likely won’t start until that project is finished, which likely puts The Elder Scrolls 6’s release date sometime in the mid 2020s.
Oblivion, Fallout 4, and Skyrim were shown off in near-finished states with relatively small waits leading up to their launches (Oblivion was scheduled for a November 2005 release; it was delayed to March 2006), and Bethesda is probably priming TES6 for a similar sequence. Hines told us in 2016 that the next Elder Scrolls won’t be teased along both as a mark of quality and as a balm for the development team to craft the game proper instead of diverting resources for vertical slice demos. That means the shot of some mountains could be the last we see of The Elder Scrolls 6 until much of the game is actually built.
If you’re wondering why The Elder Scrolls 6 got announced at E3 when we know Starfield is coming first, Bethesda’s VP of marketing Pete Hines discussed this in an interview with FZ.se. “So it was just in conversations with him [and] folks on my team to say, look, why don’t we consider putting out a little bit more of a roadmap for the studio that explains to folks, ‘Here’s what we’re doing—yes, we’re making this game called Starfield and here’s what it is, and yes, we’re going to make Elder Scrolls 6, but we have these other two games to develop and make first.’ It’s just so that folks have a better sense of where we are and where we’re headed.”
By now, we’ve all heard that Microsoft bought Bethesda. For PC gamers, this news probably won’t have any immediate downsides. If history is any judge, Microsoft will be more than happy to release Elder Scrolls 6 on PC, maybe even Steam. At worst, you’ll have to trudge through the Windows 10 store to pick up a copy, while PS5 owners will be left out in the cold.
Budget-wise, The Elder Scrolls 6 was likely going to receive every penny it needed to be the next big Bethesda RPG, but the boost of Microsoft’s wallet probably won’t hurt either. The game probably won’t come to PS5 when the time comes, but it will be a day-one Game Pass offer. That will be a pretty good reason to sign up.
The news about the Elder Scrolls 6 Xbox exclusive comes during Microsoft’s 20th anniversary celebration for the original console. Xbox boss Phil Spencer was a little indirect, saying “in order to be on Xbox, I want us to be able to bring the full complete package of what we have. And that would be true when I think about Elder Scrolls 6.” The message received is that, yes, The Elder Scrolls 6 won’t be on PlayStation.
Modding Bethesda RPGs is kind of a crucial cornerstone of PC gaming. There’s just something about a player community given the freedom to create some truly spectacular works that makes everything feel right in the world. There’s even a finished game based on a Skyrim mod released called The Forgotten City.
While the ripples of Bethesda’s rocky Creation Club rollout still haven’t fully subsided, we can very safely bet that The Elder Scrolls 6 will be moddable. Even Fallout 76, an online game, will eventually be moddable, says Bethesda.
Look forward to the continued legacy of Thomas the Tank Engine, Destroyer of Worlds.
‘Skyrim Grandma’ Shirley Curry will appear as an NPC
Fans petitioned Bethesda to include the beloved YouTuber in The Elder Scrolls 6, and now it’s official: Shirley Curry, aka ‘Skyrim Grandma’ will appear in The Elder Scrolls 6 as an NPC.
“This means a lot to me,” Curry said in the Elder Scrolls 25th anniversary video (at the 8:40 mark), “because I would be extremely happy to know that somebody else was playing with my character in a future Elder Scrolls game.”