Last night, Bethesda confirmed that Elder Scrolls VI is in production with a 36-second teaser of a rocky valley and nothing else. Is that going to stop us from strapping on our tinfoil hats and speculating on where it might take place?
No. No it will not. Let’s do this.
What we know from the trailer
The camera pans through a mountainous coast with some patches of vegetation dotting the landscape. Eventually, we come up on what appears to be a ruined castle or fort, which is the most promiment feature of the trailer. It seems to be the only building in a vast, untouched valley, but if you look closer. . .
There seems to be some sort of settlement built along the shoreline. Maybe it’s a town or a city. Maybe it’s actually a pile of rocks that we’re loading all of our dreams and expectations onto.
This is one game that Bethesda has clamped down pretty hard, so there aren’t even rumors to go on. However, Bethesda also wouldn’t release a teaser in 2018 without expecting millions of fans to tear it apart to find the barest clues. So maybe it’s enough.
The most likely candidate: High Rock
Even if you’ve never played an Elder Scrolls game before, you can probably imagine what a place called “High Rock” looks like. We get to see some of it in Elder Scrolls Online, where it’s shown as a predictably rocky and high place with mountains, a few trees, and a constant presence of clouds. It’s got a rugged beauty that’s in line with the coast shown in the Elder Scrolls VI teaser.
The magically adept Bretons share this province with the Orsimer (basically orcs). Most of their cities are along the borders of the peninsula, just like that possible settlement we saw in the trailer.
Other possibilities: Valenwood and Elsweyr
These places are in the running because (1) they’ve never been the subject of an Elder Scrolls game before, and (2) we don’t know much about them.
The southern province of Valenwood is the home of the Bosmer, wood elves who revere trees so much that they subsist purely on meat. The Green Pact forbids them from harming any sort of vegetation for any reason, including for food or building. As a result, Valenwood is covered in forests which gives way to swamps along the coast. The land we see in the trailer doesn’t look much like a swamp, but Valenwood is a big place, and the coasts in the north may not be as temperate.
Elsweyr is another southern province right next to Valenwood. The Khajit who hail from here are easily the most oppressed race in Tamriel, mostly because they look weird and sound funny to all the racists living in the other provinces. Like Valenwood, Elseweyr has never been the primary setting of an Elder Scrolls game. It’s also got a lot of geographic diversity. The south is said to be filled with jungles, while the north is more desert-like, so that area in the trailer could be somewhere in between.
The unlikely: Cyrodiil, Skyrim, Morrowind and Hammerfell
The reason to discount these places is simple: we’ve already explored the hell out of them. They’ve all been used as settings for the biggest titles in the franchise. To be honest, the coast in the trailer could be found in any of these four provinces, but Bethesda has established a tradition of moving to another province when it announces a numbered Elder Scrolls game.
That leaves two provinces unaccounted for, Black Marsh and the Summerset Isles. Black Marsh is tropical province with swamps and horny lizard people while the Summerset Isles are the Altmer (high elves), whose name literally means “Cultured People”. I think we can rule these two out based on the decidedly un-swamp-like trailer, and I don’t think bougie elves would enjoy roughing it on a rocky coast.
Which brings us to our final destination, a land which is repeatedly referenced in Elder Scrolls but we know very little about. . .
Peak tinfoil: Akavir
The far-off continent of Akavir has a long history with its western counterpart Tamriel. They have been both defenders and conquerors, each invading each other’s lands at various times, but we don’t even know what the Akaviri look like. All we have is vague legends of monkey people, vampiric snakes, and demons. There’s also Alduin’s Wall in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which depicts Akaviri soldiers as human-like.
Which is why Akavir would be an unexpected and exciting candidate for an Elder Scrolls game. We know that there were a few Imperial settlements on Akavir, Ionith and Septimia, that were ultimately wiped out by Akaviri troops.
So my crackpot theory is that the ruined building we see is an old Imperial fort or holdout in Akavir, and that small town is a burgeoning group of colonists (or even spicier, pirates) that have returned to Akavir for war, adventure, crime, or any other plot device that explains how we can end up there.
We’re very far (according to Pete Hines, several major releases away) from seeing Elder Scrolls VI, so get your crazy theories in now.