There’s been an inconsistent trickle of The Elder Scrolls VI news since the teaser was unveiled back in 2018. While no gameplay or new trailer has been released yet, Bethesda Game Studios has teased the future of the high-fantasy series a few times. For example, a new year's message from 2021, and possible iconography in the Starfield E3 2021 teaser, seem to back up rumors that the next game could be set in Hammerfell.
In November 2020, Executive Producer Todd Howard was interviewed as part of the Develop: Brighton Conference 2020. While he chatted mostly about Starfield, an upcoming Bethesda space-faring adventure, he also offered an update about the eventual TES 6 launch.
Looking further back to September 2020, Microsoft announced their $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda, which will be completed this year. It has also bound the future of the beloved franchise to Xbox consoles. There hasn’t official confirmation that TES 6 would be an Xbox exclusive (yet), but past comments from Xbox chief Phil Spencer and Howard’s latest interview have hinted that The Elder Scrolls 6’s new home will 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 once again roam the craggy mountains of Tamriel, the main continent where all of the Elder Scrolls games take place.
Here’s everything we know.
When is the Elder Scrolls 6 release date?
There is no official release date yet. While Bethesda has not announced an exact release date or window for Elder Scrolls 6, Howard has stated that its development and release is completely dependent on the company getting its next project out the door first: Starfield.
"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?’”
In other words, The Elder Scrolls 6 is basically a glimmer in the eye of developers at this point. It’s being considered in terms of how it will take shape while based off Starfield as a foundation, but it’d probably be wrong to say much full-scale work has been done on the project at all. Its characters and worlds are still being designed and devised, so they don’t yet exist as in-game assets.
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 Xbox exclusive? Skyrim has been ported to essentially every console released in the last decade, but could the Elder Scrolls VI exist on just one?
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. 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 a sentiment Spencer expressed to Kotaku in late 2021 prior to the acquisition being 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."
While it’s possible a PlayStation 5 version of The Elder Scrolls 6 may exist at some point, given what we know in 2021, that possibility is looking much less likely than it once was. After all, while Skyrim and Oblivion certainly made many fans on Sony machines, Xbox did previously have an exclusivity deal for Morrowind. In that sense, the precedent has already been set to keep Elder Scrolls 6 on Xbox and PC. That fact, coupled with current the Starfield arrangement, paints a depressing picture for the Sony faithful.
Of course, there’s still some modicum of hope for a wider release. When asked by The Telegraph if he regrets that his games presumably won’t be on PlayStation anymore, Howard said “well, we’re still…I will just say I want everybody to have the ability to play it in some fashion.” Debate rages on over what Howard may have initially intended to say, with some believing he was about to say either “Starfield is still being developed for PlayStation” or that “we’re still releasing Elder Scrolls 6 on PlayStation.”
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 will release 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 currently 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 actually an Elder Scrolls 6 tease, then 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 panel of the ship, and you might see an island landscape that looks a bit like Hammerfell. Obviously 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, so it would make for an interesting setting. It hasn't been featured in a mainline Elder Scrolls game since The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfell, 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.
Jake Kleinman and Danny Paez contributed reporting to earlier versions of this story.
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