Elder Scrolls Online’s next-gen update isn’t Xbox Series X exclusive.
Earlier in March, Microsoft’s ZeniMax acquisition finally completed, bring Bethesda and franchises like Elder Scrolls under Xbox’s wing. At the time, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer clarified his stance on the exclusivity of Bethesda games, which has been the subject of much debate since its announcement.
During a livestream previewing the Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood update, ZeniMax Online Studios also unveiled Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced, a next-gen upgrade for the long-running MMO. While you might think that this upgrade would be Xbox Series X exclusive because of the acquisition, that’s not the case.
Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced will also come to PS5 when it launches on June 8. While this announcement isn’t too shocking for ESO fans, it does show that Microsoft is following their exclusivity plan that Spencer laid out earlier this month. In turn, it adds more credibility to the thought that Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 will be Xbox exclusive at launch.
What happened? The next-gen port of the MMO will get some impressive upgrades on both platforms. First off, ESO: Console Enhanced will let players choose between a “Fidelity Mode” that makes the game run at a 4K resolution and 30 frames per second and a “Performance Mode” that will finally make the console port run at 60FPS.
ZeniMax Online Studios also promises that ESO: Console Enhanced will have better load times, lighting enhancements, and other upgrades to textures, antialiasing, textures, reflections, and shadows, thanks to the added power of PS5 and Series X. On top of all of that, the draw distance is drastically increased so players can see more of Tamriel as they explore.
Bethesda doesn’t seem to be keeping any major aspects of the upgrade Xbox Series X exclusive.
Obviously, this PS5 version of Elder Scrolls Online was in the works before Microsoft’s acquisition was completed in March. Still, this announcement backs up previous messaging from both Bethesda and Xbox.
What they said: When the acquisition was announced in September 2020, ZeniMax Online Studio Director Matt Firor put out a statement on the acquisition:
“ESO will continue to be supported exactly as it was, and we expect it to keep growing and thriving on the platforms that are currently supported.”
Xbox head Phil Spencer has also acknowledged that some Bethesda games will be available on other platforms in the months and years ahead.
“I can’t sit here and say that every Bethesda game is exclusive because obviously, that’s not true. We have games that exist on other platforms and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. Even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things or legacy on other platforms that we’ll go do.”
What does it mean? While the reveal of console enhanced is a good sign of multiplatform Bethesda games to come, what does it mean for unreleased games like Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield?
While the ESO announcement didn’t officially tease Elder Scrolls 6 or Starfield, it does show that Microsoft is sticking to its word when it comes to how exclusivity works. Spencer explained in the March showcase that the acquisition was about “delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists.”
That suggests major Bethesda games that aren’t already wrapped up with other systems will be Xbox exclusives, or timed exclusives. The announcement of ESO: Console Enhanced is another subtle reminder that those hoping to play Starfield or Elder Scrolls 6 on PS5 could be disappointed, even if it’s just for a few months.
Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced will be released for PS5 and Xbox Series X on June 8.