Elder Scrolls fans all over the world were delighted when Bethesda's Todd Howard used the spotlight of E3 2018 to confirm that the studio is working on a new instalment in the series, currently known only as The Elder Scrolls 6.
Since this initial announcement, we haven't heard much about the game. There was no appearance at E3 2019 and Bethesda has been quite clear that it won't be talking about it before it's ready to do so. But we're not going to let that stop us thinking about what the future holds for Elder Scrolls.
Now that the question over whether or not the game will actually be happening has been answered, we're turning our minds to other questions like where it might be set and, more importantly, when we might finally get to play it.
In our excitement, we've scoured the web to find and assess all the latest news and rumors about The Elder Scrolls 6 and collected it all here in this handy guide so that you can stay up to date. We'll be updating regularly as news comes in so make sure you keep checking back.
[Update: Don't hold your breath for fresh Elder Scrolls 6 news any time soon sadly – as Bethesda's communications lead Pete Hines states, it could be "years" until we see the game. Read on to find out more, and shed a tear.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The highly anticipated sequel to the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- When can I play it? Not anytime soon
- What can I play it on? PC is a safe bet. We're assuming PS5 and Xbox Series X
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.
The game was confirmed during Bethesda's E3 2018 conference but nothing more than a logo was given. We don't even have a subtitle or a release year. Todd Howard said that the game will be coming after Starfield, the company's next big IP. But given Starfield is coming in 2020 at the very, very earliest, Elder Scrolls 6 could still be years away. At the very least, we know this likely means the game will be released on the next generation PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.
It was news delivered by Pete Hines, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Bethesda. Hines has suggested that The Elder Scrolls 6 won't appear until "after Starfield, which you pretty much know nothing about."
"So if you’re coming at me for details now and not years from now, I’m failing to properly manage your expectations," he signed off. Sob.
Elder Scrolls 6 trailer – when can I watch it?
The only footage we have of Elder Scrolls 6 is a very short clip of the game's logo. Other than that, you might be waiting a while to see more.
Here's the announcement trailer:
Elder Scrolls 6 news and rumors
Bethesda skipping E3 replacement stream
E3 2020 has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with most developers and publishers announcing that they'll be replacing their stage presentations with online streams. Apart from Bethesda.
Pete Hines used Twitter to say that the company will be skipping a June showcase altogether due to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
Given the many challenges we're facing due to the pandemic, we will not host a digital Showcase in June. We have lots of exciting things to share about our games and look forward to telling you more in the coming months.April 1, 2020
This means of course, that if there was any Elder Scrolls 6 news in the works for E3 2020 (and that's a big if) fans will need to wait a little longer to hear about it. Hines has said that more will be revealed "in the coming months" so at the very least it seems that Bethesda isn't just going to drop off the map until E3 2021.
Some recent job listings for Bethesda Game Studios have led to rumors that work on Starfield could be wrapping up and that The Elder Scrolls 6 could be heading into full production soon.
First spotted by a Reddit user, a job listing for Gameplay Programmers at the studio calls for "talented programmers to join our team that is pushing the bleeding-edge of RPG development for the PC and consoles". As part of the team they'll "Collaborate on the implementation of new gameplay features: player and characters’ behaviors, combat and powers mechanics, user interface, etc."
While there's no mention of The Elder Scrolls in this listing, it does seem to be a recruitment call for something in its early stages, rather than a project that's been underway for a while like Starfield.
Adding fuel to the fire, there's also a listing for a Video Editor on the Bethesda site which some have taken as a sign that work on Starfield is in its final stages and that the developer will soon be looking to create video marketing material such as trailers.
Of course, at the moment all of this is just rumor given Bethesda has said nothing about the development state of either game but with the next generation fast approaching we hope to hear more information soon.
We already know that Skyrim Grandma, also known as Shirley Curry, will be coming to The Elder Scrolls 6 as an NPC. But it looks like she'll be brought into The Elder Scrolls V, her namesake game, first thanks to a new mod. The mod, due early this year, will make Shirley a follower in Skyrim with unique commentary and interactions and the plan is that down the line she'll have her very own quest. It'll even have Shirley's voice as she worked with the creators of the mod. You can get a look at the mod itself in its teaser trailer. The creators are aiming for an Xbox release for both the classic and special editions of Skyrim.
Don't hold your breath for The Elder Scrolls 6 – Starfield is Bethesda's focus
If you were disappointed to hear that neither game made an appearance at E3 2019 then we've got some more bad news for you: it could be years before we see a Skyrim successor.
The news comes from an interview with Bethesda Game studios executive producer Tom Howard, speaking to IGN, who warned "I think everyone should be very patient" when asked about an Elder Scrolls release date.
"The gap in between [Elder Scrolls games] is going to be long, It already is," continued Howard.
"On one hand, I think it's good to miss things. I think that makes people come to it with really, really fresh eyes, and I think when they eventually—eventually—see the game and what we have in mind, they'll understand the gap more in terms of technology and what we want it to do."
The Redfall trademark dispute has been resolved
ZeniMax Media's dispute with Bookbreeze over the trademark of Redfall has now been resolved. Bethesda's parent company had attempted to trademark the name back in 2018 leading fans to believe that The Elder Scrolls 6 could finally have a name. Redfall is also, however, the name of a science fiction series published by Bookbreeze so the claim was naturally contested in February 2019.
The resolution is reported (via Gamasutra) as being amicable and "mutually beneficial" for both parties but it remains confidential. If Redfall is to be a focus for The Elder Scrolls 6, which isn't confirmed, progress can now continue to the relief of anxious fans.
Elder Scrolls 6 didn't appear at E3 2019
Although Elder Scrolls 6 was a big highlight of E3 2018, it didn't make any kind of appearance at Bethesda’s E3 2019 conference. During a PAX East Panel celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls franchise, when asked about Elder Scrolls 6 and some of the new tech being used in its development, Todd Howard said that Bethesda's highly anticipated titles Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield (which is slated for release first) are "going to be a long time! It’s not something we’re going to be talking about, either of those games, at E3 this year, and so patience, please”.
Photogrammetry technology will be used
In that 25th anniversary panel which dashed the E3 dreams of so many, Bethesda did at the very least give fans a glimpse of some of the technology that will be used in the development of The Elder Scrolls 6. We got a peek at the use of photogrammetry which involves scanning real-life objects and environments to bring them into the game in detailed 3D. The technology will make its first outing in Starfield before the latest iteration is used for Elder Scrolls.
Skyrim Grandma will be making an appearance
Speaking of photogrammetry, beloved YouTube star and Skyrim player Shirley Curry, known as Skyrim Grandma by her fans, announced on Twitter that she’ll be making an appearance in the Elder Scrolls 6. In the above 25th Anniversary video we even got a glimpse of what could well be her character being created using the latest photogrammetry technology.
Elder Scrolls VI goes official
Bethesda is a busy studio: not only is it working on a brand new IP, Starfield, it's also continuing to develop for Elder Scrolls Online and it's taking on the long commitment of Fallout 76. 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.
We now know that one of them is the Elder Scrolls 6.
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 Elder Scrolls 6 be set?
We’re willing to bet that like all the other games in the series The Elder Scrolls 6 is 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.
It's hard to tell from the short E3 clip we have of the game but our first impression is that the game world looks a lot more like Valenwood or Elsweyr than Black Marsh.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Todd Howard confirmed the team has settled on the location - but he won't tell us where yet.
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 an 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 released a full VR experience for Skyrim means it's not out of the question down the line if not immediately.
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.
- Prepare for Elder Scrolls 6 with the best graphics card of 2019