The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim may be able to boast that it still has “millions” of daily players, but we’re willing to bet that despite their ongoing love of the game these players would be very much interested in news of Elder Scrolls 6. Probably because we are some of these very players ourselves.
The Elder Scrolls is one of the biggest RPG franchises around and though it’s recently moved into MMORPG territory with the Elder Scrolls Online, we haven’t seen a new mainline title since the launch of Skyrim in 2011.
It hasn’t felt like six years since we first played Skyrim thanks to the numerous DLC packs, the recent remaster, and the incredible mods that are out there but while we continue to enjoy them, it’s always fun to speculate about what will be coming next.
Clearly we’re not the only ones – we’ve traversed the internet to uncover all the rumors it holds and we’ve gathered all the most plausible news right here for your perusal.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The highly anticipated sequel to the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- When can I play it? Not soon
- What can I play it on? PC is a safe bet, as well as the latest console generations
Elder Scrolls 6 release date – when can I play it?
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 good news, however, is that it’s been confirmed you will be able to…eventually.
In August 2016, marketing executive Pete Hines said that though Bethesda would be making the game, it wasn’t in active development at that moment.
“This studio is not a vending machine,” he said. “They're not a two-button vending machine, where first we press Elder Scrolls and then we press Fallout, and then we press Elder Scrolls and then we press Fallout. They're an incredibly talented studio of creative people. They've now made four games in a row, all of which were named Game of the Year, and they have a right to decide what they're interested in working on next and which direction they want to go.”
More recently executive producer and developer Todd Howard said that the studio is currently working on three games, one of which is a mobile title while the other two are larger and more “classically Bethesda” games.
Howard said nothing that would point towards Elder Scrolls 6 being in active development, though. In fact, he actually said these titles were going to be a bit “different” from Bethesda’s usual offerings so it’s unlikely that either of them is going to turn out to be the sixth Elder Scrolls. That doesn’t, however, mean plans aren’t being made at the very least.
Considering the studio is just adding to Elder Scrolls Online with an entirely new standalone Morrowind game and it’s still building up to the release of the Skyrim port for Nintendo Switch it’s not surprising that Bethesda would want to take a short breather away from Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
Basically, though we can take comfort in the knowledge that Bethesda is planning to continue the Elder Scrolls series, it’s looking highly unlikely we’re going to be playing it before 2020.
Elder Scrolls 6 trailer – when can I watch it?
Since we’re fairly sure Elder Scrolls 6 is still nothing but a twinkle in Bethesda’s eye we wouldn’t expect a trailer in the near future. Even if it’s entered the pre-production stages any actual footage is a long time away.
Even when a trailer is created you can bet that it’s going to be more heavily protected than a Daedric artifact. Bethesda won’t drop this trailer until it’s ready, and when it does, trust us, you’ll know about it.
Elder Scrolls 6 – what do we know so far?
Bethesda is a busy studio: not only is it working on the Nintendo Switch port of Skyrim, it's also continuing to develop for Elder Scrolls Online and it's working on Fallout 4 VR. 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.
There's no confirmation on whether or not either of these titles are the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls 6. If they're not we imagine Bethesda would be struggling to fit such a massive title's development into its immediate schedule.
That said, large studios plan decades in advance (Peter Hines himself said he knows Bethesda's own plans for the next ten years) so can assume the game is being actively discussed if it's not being actively developed.
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.
Where will it be set?
We’re also willing to bet that like all the other games in the series it’s 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? Rumors 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 rumor, 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 rumor 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 rumor 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 rumor 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.
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.
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 a recent 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 is working on a full game virtual reality experience for Fallout 4 at least indicates it's a possibility for a future Elder Scrolls game.
Todd Howard said that at the moment you can play the entirety of Fallout 4 on VR, so we're expecting its release soon. Once it's in the wild and players are using it, Bethesda will have the chance to receive feedback and improve upon it. Elder Scrolls 6 would be a good time to showcase these improvements.
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.
There’s actually a fairly good chance that the game could be created using an entirely new game engine – after it created an entirely new engine for Skyrim we don’t think it’s unlikely Bethesda will do the same for Elder Scrolls 6 and any Fallout sequels.
The Bethesda game studio in Montreal is currently looking to hire an engine programmer so it’s well worth watching this space.