Bethesda is returning to the world of Tamriel for The Elder Scrolls 6… well, it is at some point at least. The hunger for a new Elder Scrolls entry has been real, and after years of teases and Skyrim re-releases, Bethesda finally dropped the curtain on The Elder Scrolls 6 at E3 2018.
Unfortunately, we haven't really heard much since then. Bethesda has kept awfully hush-hush about the game since its announcement, resisting any prompt to dive into specifics. It's clear that The Elder Scrolls 6 is still a fair few years out, even with the extra money and manpower inevitably being pumped into the game from Microsoft's big buyout.
With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim being one of the best RPGs of all time, it's only natural people have been wanting a fresh sequel to sink their teeth into. The desire for The Elder Scrolls 6 hasn't gone unnoticed, but Todd Howard has firmly reminded us that Starfield is Bethesda's current priority before setting sights on Tamriel.
Starfield has a release date now, but that doesn't mean The Elder Scrolls 6 is ready. Despite a big joint presentation between Microsoft and Bethesda at this year's E3, there was not a high elf or sprawling mountain landscape in sight. We weren't exactly expecting to hear anything about the game any time soon, but it still stings that it's yet another announcement season without any new nuggets of info.
So we continue to ask: what is its release date? Where in Tamriel will it take place? Bethesda hasn't said much, but here's everything we know about The Elder Scrolls 6 so far, based on rumors and interviews about the release date, setting, and more.
Was The Elder Scrolls 6 shown at E3 2021?
Unfortunately… no, it wasn't. While we didn't get any new information during the joint Microsoft/Bethesda presentation, Pete Hines told fans that the teams "are continuing to work on the projects that have been in development since well before we joined the Xbox family. So rest assured, the games you've been expecting and hoping for are still in the works." The Elder Scrolls 6 wasn't mentioned by name, but it's safe to assume Hines was alluding to it.
Xbox head Phil Spencer, however, did very briefly mention the game by name, saying "some of the industry's best RPG storytellers" are currently working on it. So there's some assurance that the wheels are still turning!
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 is going to be finished before Elder Scrolls 6. We also know that Starfield has no release date or gameplay trailer of its own yet. So hunker down.
Here's the Elder Scrolls 6 teaser trailer
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.
How many years of E3 has it been since we've heard about Elder Scrolls 6?
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 says to IGN.
E(not)3 2020: "If you’re coming at me for details now and not years from now, I’m failing to properly manage your expectations," says Pete Hines.
E3 2021: Bethesda will join Microsoft's summer showcase this summer. What will this year's Elder Scrolls 6 line be?
Does Microsoft's Bethesda purchase change anything?
As far as PC gamers are concerned, not really. 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.
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.
What is the setting for The Elder Scrolls 6?
With so little information, Elder Scrolls fans have taken to picking apart the very brief E3 2018 teaser for clues. 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 trailer shows rocks, and appears to be high. 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. If TES6 is to take us somewhere new, which it may not, that mainly leaves Valenwood, Elsweyr, and Black Marsh, home of the Wood Elves, Khajiit, and Argonians, respectively. (We're not counting The Elder Scrolls Online here.)
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.
The Elder Scrolls 6 could be called "Redfall"
Not too long ago, Betehsda's parent company ZeniMax Media got into a trademark dispute trying to claim the word "Redfall." The dispute has since been settled and ZeniMax is now the proud owner of the mark. We don't know for sure that the name has anything to do with TES6 but it certainly sounds Scrolls-y doesn't it?
So what is Redfall? It's not a place in Tamriel, at least that we know of. This is all speculation mind, but some folks on Reddit are theorizing that Redfall could potentially be a plague. A particular quest in Skyrim follows an affliction that causes victims to projectile vomit and develop red skin. The plague is tied to Daedric prince Peryite who owns the domains of (among other things) pestilence. Late in the quest an NPC mentions "returning to High Rock" which might suggest the plague began there. Maybe even in the city of Daggerfall.
It's all just educated guesses, but Elder Scrolls lore buffs really know their stuff so it's as compelling a theory as we're likely to get for a while.
How far along is The Elder Scrolls 6's development?
Before showing the teaser for The Elder Scrolls 6 at E3, Todd Howard showed another trailer for Starfield, Bethesda's first new wholly original franchise in 25 years (Fallout was originally an Interplay joint, remember). We don't know much about Starfield, but we know that it's coming before The Elder Scrolls 6.
"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. "But we're also building toward the game after that… and it's the one you keep asking about."
That means Bethesda likely won't be devoted to full work on The Elder Scrolls 6 until after Starfield ships, which puts it many years away. Howard backed that up a little further into E3 2018, saying that The Elder Scrolls 6 is in pre-production, while Starfield is currently playable. "We can't wait to have everybody be able to play this game," he said. "But that's us, too. We want to play it."
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 last year. "They wanted to be able to self-determine things they worked on next, whether it was existing stuff or whether it was new IP."
Clearly, as much as they may want to get back to TES, the team at Bethesda Game Studios is excited about its singleplayer space RPG. But there's another reason it's taking so long. In 2016, Howard suggested that the technology needed to create Bethesda's vision for The Elder Scrolls 6 just isn't here yet.
"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 may be 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."
When will we see more of The Elder Scrolls 6?
It's years away—not coming until after Starfield, Bethesda's next big project, which itself has no release date and only a teaser trailer. 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."
Will The Elder Scrolls 6 support mods?
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 standalone game being produced based off one of Skyrim's most popular mods.
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."