Elder Scrolls fans all over the world were delighted when Bethesda’s Todd Howard used the spotlight of E3 2018 to confirm that the studio is working on a new instalment in the series, currently known only as The Elder Scrolls 6.
Since the initial reveal, we haven’t heard much about the game. There was no appearance at E3 2019 and Bethesda has been quite clear that it won’t be talking about it before it’s ready to do so. But we’re not going to let that stop us thinking about what the future holds for Elder Scrolls.
At the very least, we sincerely hope that Bethesda updates its engine, which is clunky and filled with awkward (and hilarious, meme-worthy) animations. Oblivion and Skyrim looked incredibly similar, despite the latter’s more fluid motion and updated graphics.
In our excitement, we’ve scoured the web to find and assess all the latest news and rumours about The Elder Scrolls 6 and collected it all here in this handy guide so that you can stay up to date. We’ll be updating regularly as news comes in so make sure you keep checking back.
[Update: PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has said that he still doesn’t know about The Elder Scrolls’ future on PS5. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The highly anticipated sequel to the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- When can I play it? Not anytime soon
- What can I play it on? PC is a safe bet, as is Xbox Series X but PlayStation 5 is less of a certainty
We might as well get the bad news out of the way first – you’re not likely to be playing The Elder Scrolls 6 any time soon.
The game was confirmed during Bethesda’s E3 2018 conference but nothing more than a logo was given. We don’t even have a subtitle or a release year. Todd Howard said that the game will be coming after Starfield, the company’s next big IP. But given Starfield is coming in 2021 at the very, very earliest, Elder Scrolls 6 is still years away.
Pete Hines, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Bethesda suggested that The Elder Scrolls 6 won’t appear until “after Starfield.”
The only footage we have of Elder Scrolls 6 is a very short clip of the game’s logo. Other than that, you might be waiting a while to see more.
Here’s the announcement trailer:
Even PlayStation isn’t sure about The Elder Scrolls’ PS5 future
PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has said that even he’s still unsure whether The Elder Scrolls 6 will come to PS5, following Microsoft’s acquisition of the publisher’s parent company ZeniMax.
In an interview with Russian publication TASS (via GamesRadar), Ryan said that it’s still uncertain as to whether The Elder Scrolls 6 will come to PlayStation or whether it’ll be a Microsoft exclusives.
“That’s a decision that is out of our hands,” Ryan said. “We’ll wait and see what happens. I look forward to learning about that.”
Ryan also explained that Sony approaches things differently to Microsoft when it comes to making studio acquisitions.
“We just take a different approach,” Ryan said. “Our emphasis has been to focus on really steady, slow, but constant organic growth of our studios, selectively bolstered by acquisitions. We respect the steps taken by our competition, they seem logical and sensible. But we’re equally happy and confident, we’ve got a better launch lineup than we’ve ever had at any of our console launches.”
It appears, then, that the ball is in Microsoft’s court when it comes to The Elder Scrolls 6’s release. At the very least, Todd Howard has said in an interview with Gamesindustry.biz that he finds it “hard to imagine” a title like The Elder Scrolls 6 not coming to multiple platforms. Though he also makes it clear that these kinds of decisions have not been made just yet as details of the deal have not been made final and the acquisition won’t actually complete until 2021.
What does Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda mean for The Elder Scrolls 6?
While it might be expected that The Elder Scrolls 6 would be an Xbox exclusive, it has since been noted after the acquisition that the future of Bethesda game “will be on Xbox, PC and other consoles on a case-by-case basis.”
This means that every future game by Bethesda will be on Xbox and PC first, and it will examine each title on a case by case basis on whether or not it will be released on other consoles.
Admittedly, this isn’t much to go on. However, it would seem likely that Microsoft would push for the Elder Scrolls 6 to be a console exclusive and PC exclusive, and eventually become available to other systems.
Starfield, a space-faring game which is still in development was mentioned specifically in the statement: “Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass”.
“This includes Microsoft’s intent to bring Bethesda’s future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC, like Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios”.
The Elder Scrolls 6 will use a brand new engine
Bethesda has confirmed it is overhauling its current engine specifically for Elder Scrolls 6.
Imagine if Elder Scrolls 6 looked and ran like Skyrim. This is a thought which belongs somewhere firmly shut behind the Gates of Oblivion.
According to GamesRadar, the engine reportedly has the same name, but it will bring new renders, lighting, animations (hallelujah), landscape system and photogrammetry.
Todd Howard spoke about the engine after the announcement of the Microsoft merger, saying “it’s led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls 6.”
Speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference, Howard gave more information on the overhauled Creation Engine, saying that it’s been “a significant overhaul,” adding that “It’s taken us longer than we would have liked, but it’s going to power everything we’re doing with Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6. When people see the results, they’ll hopefully be as happy as we are with what’s on the screen and also how we can go about making our games.”
Bethesda skipping E3 replacement stream
E3 2020 was cancelled this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with most developers and publishers making announcements by themselves, or through replacement events like Summer Games Fest or, for example, like how Ubisoft held multiple Forward broadcasts this year.
Bethesda, however, didn’t announce anything and has remained relatively silent until the Microsoft merger was announced.
Pete Hines used Twitter to say that the company would be skipping any June showcase altogether due to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
Given the many challenges we’re facing due to the pandemic, we will not host a digital Showcase in June. We have lots of exciting things to share about our games and look forward to telling you more in the coming months.April 1, 2020
Bethesda could have held its own showcase, but it seems likely that The Elder Scrolls 6 isn’t anywhere near ready to be shown off in full.
Doing so at such an early stage would only mount up pressure from fans who are ravenously calling for any information.
The Elder Scrolls 6 will be coming after Starfield
There’s no release date for Starfield at the moment and it is Bethesda’s next big game to come out and it seems to be prioritised ahead of The Elder Scrolls 6.
“Starfield is a game that we have spent years thinking about and working on,” Todd Howard told the crowd at Bethesda’s E3 2018 conference.
Even now, in 2020, we have no inkling as to when the game will be released, but we would expect it to be in 2021, simply because the next-generation consoles will be home to the game.
Todd Howard again explained in 2019 that Bethesda is “still hard at work” on both The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield. He said that “Starfield is playable, Elder Scrolls VI not in that way yet.”
The prime focus for Bethesda is Starfield. In an interview with Bethesda Game Studios, executive producer Tom Howard spoke to IGN, who warned “I think everyone should be very patient.”
“The gap in between [Elder Scrolls games] is going to be long, It already is,” continued Howard.
Some job listings for Bethesda Game Studios have led to rumours that work on Starfield could be wrapping up and that The Elder Scrolls 6 could be heading into full production soon. As of October 23, 2020, it seems like the position is still taking applicants.
First spotted by a Reddit user, a job listing for Gameplay Programmers at the studio calls for “talented programmers to join our team that is pushing the bleeding-edge of RPG development for the PC and consoles”. As part of the team, they’ll “Collaborate on the implementation of new gameplay features: player and characters’ behaviours, combat and powers mechanics, user interface, etc.”
While there’s no mention of The Elder Scrolls in this listing, it does seem to be a recruitment call for something in its early stages, rather than a project that’s been underway for a while like Starfield.
Adding fuel to the fire, there’s also a listing for a Video Editor on the Bethesda site which some have taken as a sign that work on Starfield is in its final stages and that the developer will soon be looking to create video marketing material such as trailers.
We already know that Skyrim Grandma, also known as Shirley Curry, will be coming to The Elder Scrolls 6 as an NPC. But it looks like she’ll be brought into The Elder Scrolls V, her namesake game, first thanks to a new mod. The mod, due early this year, will make Shirley a follower in Skyrim with unique commentary and interactions and the plan is that down the line she’ll have her very own quest. It’ll even have Shirley’s voice as she worked with the creators of the mod. You can get a look at the mod itself in its teaser trailer. The creators are aiming for an Xbox release for both the classic and special editions of Skyrim.
The Redfall trademark dispute has been resolved
ZeniMax Media’s dispute with Bookbreeze over the trademark of Redfall has now been resolved. Bethesda’s parent company had attempted to trademark the name back in 2018 leading fans to believe that The Elder Scrolls 6 could finally have a name. Redfall is also, however, the name of a science fiction series published by Bookbreeze so the claim was naturally contested in February 2019.
The resolution is reported (via Gamasutra) as being amicable and “mutually beneficial” for both parties but it remains confidential. If Redfall is to be a focus for The Elder Scrolls 6, which isn’t confirmed, progress can now continue to the relief of anxious fans.
Elder Scrolls 6 didn’t appear at E3 2019
Although Elder Scrolls 6 was a big highlight of E3 2018, it didn’t make any kind of appearance at Bethesda’s E3 2019 conference. During a PAX East Panel celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls franchise, when asked about Elder Scrolls 6 and some of the new tech being used in its development, Todd Howard said that Bethesda’s highly anticipated titles Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield (which is slated for release first) are “going to be a long time! It’s not something we’re going to be talking about, either of those games, at E3 this year, and so patience, please”.
Photogrammetry technology will be used
In that 25th anniversary panel which dashed the E3 dreams of so many, Bethesda did at the very least give fans a glimpse of some of the technology that will be used in the development of The Elder Scrolls 6. We got a peek at the use of photogrammetry which involves scanning real-life objects and environments to bring them into the game in detailed 3D. The technology will make its first outing in Starfield before the latest iteration is used for Elder Scrolls.
Elder Scrolls 6 goes official
Bethesda is a busy studio: not only is it working on Starfield, it’s also continuing to develop for Elder Scrolls Online and it’s taking on the long commitment of Fallout 76. And that’s only in its main RPG franchises. It’s still got plenty going on elsewhere with mobile games, Dishonored, Prey and others.
Thanks to Todd Howard, we know Bethesda is working on two huge new titles simultaneously, though their developments are staggered.
Having returned to Skyrim after some time away, Howard compared it to seeing an old friend from high school, adding that the time away had given him the chance to see Skyrim as a gamer for the first time.
This, to us, would be the perfect time to start applying this new perspective to the next title in the series.
At the very least we can say we know it won’t just be called Elder Scrolls 6. There’s going to be a colon and another word to round the title off if previous releases are anything to go by.
We’re willing to bet that like all the other games in the series The Elder Scrolls 6 is going to be set in the continent of Tamriel, the map of which is below.
Previous games have taken us to Highrock, Hammerfell, Morrowind, Cyrodil, and Skyrim. Valenwood, Elsweyr and Black Marsh are the biggest places left to explore. Though there’s still much of Morrowind left to explore, we imagine much of that will be covered in the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online title.
So, Valenwood, Elsweyr or Black Marsh. Which looks most likely? Rumours online are heavily pointing towards Black Marsh, the home of the world’s reptilian Argonian race.
There isn’t actually any solid reason for this rumour, but its swampy marshlands and network of islands would make for an interesting geographic change for the series, though it’s a geography that would leave itself open to comparison with the Witcher 3. It’s probably the region of Tamriel that we know the least about so Bethesda would have plenty of room to be creative.
That said, Elsweyr would also be an interesting geography change with its dry plains and harsh badlands that the Khajit call home.
It would certainly be nice to find out more about the culture of either the Khajit or the Argonians so both of these extremely different settings have an understandable appeal to fans.
There is, however, weight to a rumour that Elder Scrolls 6 could be set in Valenwood. Valenwood is the home of the Bosmer and it’s an area of Tamriel that Bethesda hasn’t explored much.
The rumour that the game will be set here is based on a reported internal Bethesda memo from all the way back in 2014. In this memo, Bethesda employees were reportedly wanted against using the terms Fallout: Nuka World, Elder Scrolls VI or Project Greenheart.
Though it was initially believed to be a fake, Fallout: Nuka World ended up being a big DLC release for Fallout 4 which gives slightly more weight to rumour that Project Greenheart is in fact the codename for the next Elder Scrolls title. The fact that Greenheart is a city in the verdant region of Valenwood makes this even more interesting.
The current Reddit page dedicated to all things Elder Scrolls 6 has discussed the location the game will be set in at length. Bear in mind, this is all speculation at this point considering all we have to go on is an extremely short teaser.
One user commented: “I thought for sure it was Hammerfell but I recently saw some YouTubers and comments here saying the evidence points towards highrock.”
Forest and jungle settings are hard to get right in games and it’d be really interesting to see Bethesda get creative with the part of Tamriel that’s said to have rejected civilization and embraced the wilderness.
It’s hard to tell from the short E3 clip we have of the game but our first impression is that the game world looks a lot more like Valenwood or Elsweyr than Black Marsh.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Todd Howard confirmed the team has settled on the location – but he won’t tell us where yet.
Details are, of course, exceptionally sparse at the moment. All we have is rumours to go off of, which doesn’t form the basis of, well, anything really.
Obviously those of us who know the world of Tamriel thanks to Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim and yes, even Elder Scrolls Online, the entire world is a veritable expanse of different lands and settings where the game could be set.
We do know one thing for certain; wherever it does end up being set, we can expect to be fulfilling a great many side quests.
What features can we expect?
A feature that we’re fairly certain will be included in the game to some degree is house building or town creation. Skyrim introduced the idea of designing and maintaining a homestead with its Hearthfire DLC, which Fallout 4 expanded upon with the introduction of its settlement mechanic and the Elder Scrolls online built upon again with its Homestead DLC. This leads neatly into a further expansion of such features in the next Elder Scrolls title as it felt not-quite-finished in Fallout.
It would be a feature that would actually fit in particularly well with the rumored Valenwood setting, if it involved the player adapting to the wilderness in the way the resident Bosmer have with their treetop cities. In a similar way the player used debris and junk to craft their settlement in Fallout, they could use their natural environment to do so in Elder Scrolls in a nice contrast.
A whole new story
In an interview with Gamespot, Todd Howard said that Bethesda is looking into how exactly it tells stories in its games.
Howard noted that Skyrim and Fallout 4 take slightly different approaches to stories, with Skyrim leaving things more open to the player’s vision and Fallout guiding them more firmly through a story
Now he says the studio are looking how to “tell a better story in an open world.” He said “each of our games we’ve had successes and failures and if you ask us internally, we have new ideas that we want to explore in the future because we feel like we haven’t really cracked it yet the way we think it could be.”
Being aware of the differences between Skyrim and Fallout’s approaches to storytelling and the fact that both have positives and negatives suggests that the next Elder Scrolls title could strike some kind of balance between giving the player completely free reign and telling a story around their character.
It’s hard to deny that The Witcher 3 has had a massive impact on what players expect in terms of including an engaging story in an open world game.
Though we don’t in any way want Bethesda to just churn out a Witcher copy (we’re not sure it’d be possible anyway) it does put a certain amount of pressure on Bethesda when it comes to achieving high-quality environmental and quest-based story telling.
Something we don’t expect to see, though, is multiplayer. Skyrim certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of multiplayer and it wouldn’t really make all that much sense to incorporate any online multiplayer gameplay with the Elder Scrolls Online still rolling along.
It’s not a certainty by any means but the fact that Bethesda released a full VR experience for Skyrim means it’s not out of the question down the line if not immediately.
What would we like to see?
Well, something we’d like to see and fully expect to see is improved graphics and reduced bugginess. The remastered version of Skyrim showed just how far things have come visually since the game’s first release so we fully expect any title following on from it to be of that standard if not much higher, depending on how far away the game is.
We know that the new engine will be used, thankfully, giving Bethesda’s games a much-needed boost in its delivery.
Everyone knows and love the animations delivered from Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout, but seeing them on an Xbox Series X or PS5 or high-end PCs would be nothing short of embarrassing. To this end, we expect to see a far more fluid combat experience and, considering how powerful the new consoles are purporting to be, a richly detailed open world to explore.
Anything that could make the Elder Scrolls a bit more like, for example, Lord of The Rings, which is the pinnacle of fantasy in our humble opinion, would be a step in the right direction for Elder Scrolls.
During an interview with IGN Howard gave a small update on what people can expect from the game.
He said: “I think when they 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… We’re 8 years post-Skyrim. It lets us know going into Elder Scrolls 6 that this is a game we need to design for people to play for a decade at least.”
From this, we know that Elder Scrolls 6 is being developed with longevity in mind. Of course, games like Skyrim and Oblivion are kept alive to this day purely by fans who make mods or those who simply can’t get enough of it.
If this means there’s more emphasis on replayability with branching and far-reaching consequences from certain decisions remains to be seen, but this could be one of the ways to keep the game interesting overtime.