There’s been an inconsistent trickle of The Elder Scrolls VI news since the teaser was unveiled in 2018. While no gameplay or new trailer has been released yet, Bethesda Game Studios and Microsoft have teased the high-fantasy series’ future quite a few times since its reveal. They’ve all but confirmed that The Elder Scrolls 6’s new home would be on Xbox and its Game Pass subscription service.
While the game itself might be several years away, we can piece together hints from Bethesda and online chatter to estimate when fans will be able to roam once again the craggy mountains of Tamriel, the main continent where all of the Elder Scrolls games take place.
When might Elder Scrolls 6 be released?
There is no official release scheduled just yet. While Bethesda has not announced a release window for Elder Scrolls 6, Howard has stated that its development is dependent on getting Starfield, which launches on November 11, 2022, out the door first.
"We had done so many things, we were going Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and you have this Starfield game in your head, and you sorta say, well, when?" he told IGN in July 2019. "We are creatives, and we have to make this game, and this is the time, and so Elder Scrolls VI is gonna have to wait a little bit."
And, that “little bit” could wind up being quite a while if 2021 statements from Howard are any indication. Speaking to The Telegraph in late June, Howard said, “it’s good to think of The Elder Scrolls 6 as still being in a design [phase]… but we’re checking the tech: ‘Is [the Starfield engine] going to handle the things we want to do in that game?’”
He provided another update in a November 2021 interview with IGN, where he explained that he felt that Bethesda might never do a new IP like Starfield if they didn’t create it following Fallout 4 and Fallout 76. As such, they put the Elder Scrolls 6 off and have maintained the Elder Scrolls series through The Elder Scrolls Online, Skyrim re-releases, and its avid modding community.
In other words, The Elder Scrolls 6 will be the studio’s next major project after Starfield, which still isn’t out yet. It will build off Skyrim and Starfield’s foundations, but you shouldn’t assume that it has been in full development since its announcement in 2018.
As Todd Howards alludes to, there will likely be a 15-year gap or more between Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls 6. Even he admits that will be a bit too long: “Would you plan to have the kind of gap we're having between Skyrim and the follow-up? I can't say that's a good thing.”
Will Elder Scrolls 6 be Xbox exclusive?
The new console generation is now in full swing, so the big question is what exactly Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda means for Elder Scrolls VI. Will the game be an Xbox Series X/S console exclusive? Skyrim has been ported to essentially every console released in the last decade, but could the Elder Scrolls VI exist on just one (technically two)?
In November 2020, Executive Producer Todd Howard was interviewed as part of the Develop: Brighton Conference 2020. While he mainly chatted about Starfield, an upcoming Bethesda space-faring adventure, he also offered an update about the eventual TES 6 launch.
In 2021, Microsoft completed its $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda, which bound the futures of the publisher’s beloved franchise to Xbox consoles.
Now that we know Starfield will indeed be an Xbox/PC exclusive, it’s not that unthinkable to assume The Elder Scrolls 6 might be as well. While Microsoft hasn’t outright confirmed it with an official announcement or press materials, Xbox Head Phil Spencer has consistently hinted that will be the case.
Speaking at the Bethesda-Xbox roundtable in March, Xbox’s Phil Spencer doubled down on his intent to make Bethesda games with Game Pass subscribers in mind. “If you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal. That’s why we’re doing this. That’s the root of this partnership that we’re building,” Spencer assured.
These words echo Spencer's sentiment to Kotaku in late 2021, before the acquisition was officially complete. “We have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base. I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the [$7.5 billion] deal work for us."
Speaking to GQ in November 2021, Spencer gave his most evident hint yet.
“It’s not about punishing any other platform, like I fundamentally believe all of the platforms can continue to grow,” he said. “But in order to be on Xbox, I want us to be able to bring the full complete package of what we have. And that would be true when I think about Elder Scrolls VI. That would be true when I think about any of our franchises.”
Just officially confirm it, Phil.
While it’s always possible a PlayStation 5 version of The Elder Scrolls 6 could exist at some point, it definitely won’t be at launch. After all, while Skyrim and Oblivion certainly made many fans on Sony machines, Xbox did previously have an exclusivity deal for Morrowind and has acquired Bethesda.
In that sense, the precedent has already been set to keep Elder Scrolls 6 on Xbox and PC, painting a coherent but depressing picture for the Sony faithful.
Is there an Elder Scrolls 6 trailer?
Yes, there is, but it didn't reveal much. Bethesda released a short announcement teaser to rile up fans at E3 2018. The video was mostly just a bird’s-eye view of a seaside city. As that is all we have at this point, fans are eagerly awaiting the next trailer.
Watch the teaser trailer below:
Will Elder Scrolls 6 be on PS4 and Xbox One?
Almost assuredly not. At E3 2021, Microsoft announced that 2022’s Starfield would be based on Creation Engine 2 and released exclusively on Xbox Series X/S and PC. With that in mind, it seems highly unlikely that ES6, a game releasing several years after Starfield, would be made for last-gen hardware.
Where in Tamriel is Elder Scrolls 6 set?
While we don’t know for sure, the current assumption amongst fans is that The Elder Scrolls 6 will take place in Hammerfell. On New Year’s Eve 2020, the official Elder Scrolls account posted a tweet saying, “Transcribe the past and map the future.” With one light on Skyrim, the other two lights in the image seem to be teasing games. Fans think the one not connected to the map could symbolize Starfield, while the last image focuses on Hammerfell.
If this is an Elder Scrolls 6 tease, we might already know its location.
The Hammerfell discussion got even spicier during E3 2021 when one eagle-eyed fan, u/Huhwtfbleh on Reddit, pointed out a rather curious shot from the latest Starfield teaser. Take a close look at the small etching on the ship’s panel, and you might see an island landscape that looks a bit like Hammerfell. The human eye can be trained to find significance in all manner of things, but this latest potential hint is no less enticing. This is the etching as seen in the trailer:
This is a map of Hammerfell:
Hammerfell is a large region and home to the Redguard. Its topography is pretty varied, with tall mountains, deserts, and simple plains, which would make for an exciting setting. It hasn’t been featured in a mainline Elder Scrolls game since The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, so there’s a lot of room for a drastically different interpretation of it on modern hardware. For now, the state of Hammerfell remains to be seen until Bethesda shows the game again.
Elder Scrolls VI is currently in development.
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