At the end of its E3 2018 press conference, Bethesda played not one but two tantalizing teaser trailers. The first was for Starfield, a science fiction epic that marks Bethesda’s first new franchise in 25 years. The teaser was vague, showing space, a planet, and an odd-looking object floating around that could be a satellite, ship, or perhaps even a space station. The second teaser trailer was for the game everyone knew was eventually coming: The Elder Scrolls VI. The brief trailer merely showed a vast rocky terrain and the title (but no subtitle), managing to be even more ambiguous than Starfield‘s trailer.
Considering Starfield is slated to launch before The Elder Scrolls VI, it will be at least several years before the next mainline entry in the fantasy RPG series lands on consoles and PC. The Elder Scrolls VI hasn’t been confirmed for any specific platforms, but it will likely launch on the current generation of consoles, specifically the Xbox Series X/S, with the PlayStation 5 still being a mystery.
We have a long road ahead before it launches, and this year’s E3 is another chance to learn more about this highly anticipated title, but here’s everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls VI, from concrete info to speculation.
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This is the question every fan wants to be answered. Unfortunately, you certainly won’t be able to play it any time soon, which is unfortunate given it’s been 10 years since the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. While no one at Bethesda has given a release window, we know that The Elder Scrolls VI isn’t too far along in development. At E3 2018, Bethesda Game Studios executive producer Todd Howard said that the game is currently in pre-production. That means it’s not playable yet.
Bethesda’s senior vice president, Pete Hines, reiterated that we won’t be seeing The Elder Scrolls VI until after Starfield, which we already knew. Even over two years after its announcement, it seems the company’s plan is the same. In response to a fan on Twitter, Hines explained, “[The Elder Scrolls VI will launch] after Starfield, which you pretty much know nothing about. So if you’re coming at me for details now and not years from now, I’m failing to properly manage your expectations.”
The Elder Scrolls VI also has to wait its turn. “Starfield is a game we’ve spent years thinking about and working on, something we feel uniquely positioned to pull off and we’re incredibly excited about,” Howard said on stage at E3 before showing the teaser for The Elder Scrolls VI.
Starfield is currently commanding the brunt of Bethesda’s development attention, and it doesn’t sound as if The Elder Scrolls VI will even enter production until Starfield launches. So, then, the question is: When does Starfield launch? It appears years away as well.
During an interview with GameSpot in 2019, Zenimax Online Studios game director Matt Firor said, “You can go back and count the years between Bethesda Game Studios releases, and you’ll get the idea that [The Elder Scrolls VI is] not coming anytime soon.” The smallest gap between Bethesda Game Studios major releases has been two years, between The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3. It’s usually at least three years, though.
The struggle of switching between two massive franchises could also be to blame. During an interview with IGN, Howard said, “We had done so many things, we were going Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Fallout … You have this Starfield game in your head, you sort of say, well, when? It can be never, you could say never. But look, we’re creatives, and it’s like we have to make this game, and this is the time. So Elder Scrolls VI is going to have to wait a little bit. And plus, again, Elder Scrolls Online is doing so well, it’s so vibrant, that this is the time, both for us creatively and our audience.”
Many rumors and supposed leaks have come out, placing Starfield as launching as early as this fall, all the way into the second half of 2022. In either case, Bethesda’s joint E3 presentation is expected to clear up at least some of this obscurity on when this new IP will launch. We have little hope of seeing The Elder Scrolls VI itself at E3, but knowing when to expect Starfield will be a good hint as to when we can generally expect the next fantasy epic.
Given what we know about Starfield and Bethesda’s game release history, it would appear that The Elder Scrolls VI is at least four years away. And considering Bethesda didn’t begin development until the latter half of 2017 at the earliest, we still have a long wait ahead of us.
Call us crazy, but we can see a scenario where The Elder Scrolls VI launches in the back half of the next console generation, somewhere between 2023 to 2025.
Given the fact that we need to wait on another game that has no firm release date to come out before The Elder Scrolls VI even enters full production, there’s no doubt that this is going to be an Xbox Series X generation game for consoles, with PC, of course, being a standard platform for the series. However, there is one new wrench thrown into this discussion, which is the acquisition of Zenimax and, by extension, Bethesda by Microsoft in 2020. This obviously has no bearing on anyone looking to play this on PC, and Xbox players who subscribe to Game Pass can expect to get the game for free on day one as part of the subscription unless the promise of all first-party games being available on the service changes by then. That just leaves the question of PS5 users, and at this point, there’s no concrete answer if Microsoft will opt to make this a console exclusive. They have been upfront since the purchase was announced that they weren’t interested in excluding gamers with this purchase, with Phil Spencer going so far as to say, “This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to play games.”
Todd Howard also made a comment about the possibility of The Elder Scrolls VI being limited to Xbox consoles, stating, “I would agree that is hard to imagine.” While that is somewhat comforting, he also added, “We haven’t gone through all of that, to be honest … We’ll do that as part of Microsoft as well. They’ve been pretty open on other platforms and not just within Xbox. This is an outside perspective, but if you go back 10 years at Microsoft, you wouldn’t expect them to have a full Office suite on an iPhone either.” While this all sounds hopeful for a multi-platform release, we will have to wait and see.
The only trailer — and that’s using the term as loosely as possible — we have is the barely 30-second announcement teaser shown way back at E3 2018. More of a glorified title drop, this teaser simply shows us a landscape and the title backed by a thumping orchestral soundtrack somewhat reminiscent of the one used to promote Skyrim. Even with such a brief glimpse at the land, the most hardcore Elder Scrolls fans have already picked it apart and theorized where this future game will be set in the world of Tamriel.
The teaser appears to show an elevated landmass filled with large rocks. Right out of the gate, we can pretty safely remove Morrowind, Skyrim, Cyrodiil, and the Summerset Isles from contention. Not because the topography isn’t similar in some cases, but because it seems unlikely Bethesda would revisit heavily-covered lands in Tamriel from the recent mainline games.
That leaves us with High Rock, Hammerfell, Valenwood, Elsweyr, and Black Marsh as potential Elder Scrolls VI locations. Black Marsh, Elsweyr, and Valenwood would appear to have too low of a sea level to fit the trailer. There’s also a relative lack of vast mountain ranges in the teaser.
By process of elimination, it would appear that Hammerfell or High Rock are the most likely settings for The Elder Scrolls VI.
High Rock has only been mentioned by name in mainline Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind. It has, however, appeared in Elder Scrolls Online. Likewise, for Hammerfell, which has been a location in the Elder Scrolls Online but only mentioned by name since Morrowind in the mainline series.
If it’s not set in High Rock or Hammerfell, perhaps Bethesda will move out of Tamriel altogether for the Elder Scrolls VI‘s location. The continent located to the east of Tamriel, Akavir, could prove to be great fodder. Very little is known about Akavir’s topography, though.
GamesRadar’s Leon Hurley offered an interesting theory of his own, mentioning the sunken island of Yokuda, which is said to have featured “rocky barren hills.” A setting of Yokuda would mean The Elder Scrolls VI is a prequel.
Still, based on the minimal information we have, we think that Hammerfell or High Rock are the most likely locations. But who knows, really, as Howard has also said some aspects of the trailer aren’t in line with the region at large. Bethesda probably wants to keep fans guessing until the full reveal.
Gameplay has remained largely the same for the past few iterations of The Elder Scrolls games, and if that trend remains true, then we can probably guess the basics of how it will play. Odds are we will make our new character and control them from either a first- or third-person perspective with the ability to change between them and build ourselves to use a large range of weapons and skills, from fists and blades to bows and magic. Hopefully, Bethesda has some new ideas for how to spice up the variety of combat, but the core they are starting with is at least solid.
There will no doubt be a new version of the skills and leveling system to dive into as well. Again, we expect some new additions we can’t predict just yet, but things like lock-picking, speech, and smithing will likely make a return. As far as any completely new gameplay systems are concerned, and this is pure speculation, we would love to see a more robust relationship system between your character and companions and other NPCs for more realistic and evolving interactions. Skyrim did have a marriage system in place, but it was extremely barebones and limited.
The only Elder Scrolls game to have any kind of multiplayer is the MMO Elder Scrolls Online. With that game going strong, we expect Bethesda to keep the mainline, numbered entries in the series as dedicated single-player RPG experiences. Considering Bethesda is one of the few companies still willing to give us these large, solo experiences, we hope that stays true for VI.
You can bet this game will have plenty of DLC to keep you adventuring for hundreds of hours if you so choose. Ever since Fallout 3, Bethesda has supported their single-player RPGs with larger and more numerous DLC packs that add new areas, skills, classes, enemies, stories, side quests, and basically everything else you could want if you liked the base game. Again, without even knowing much concrete info about the game itself, it is impossible to speculate on what to expect from any DLC except for the fact that it will exist.
Pre-orders are still a long way off for this game, so no need to save up just yet. We expect pre-orders to go live sometime around when the game gets its first release date announcement, along with several tiers to choose from. However, we may be cautious about some of the higher-level ones if they include physical goods. We all remember the debacle that happened with Fallout 76‘s pre-order incentives, after all.
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