We know it's in development, but The Elder Scrolls 6 remains elusive, having failed to make an appearance at E3 2021. After years of waiting for a new entry in the storied franchise, just when might we get a real glimpse of the game?
It's been a long time coming – the previous Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, is now almost 10 years old. Since Elder Scrolls 6's 2018 announcement, however, we've been left twiddling thumbs; the game was a no-show at E3 2019, and then the global pandemic called time on E3 2020.
The game exists in a very different era for its developers Bethesda Game Studios, too. Not only has a new console generation started with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but Bethesda has also been acquired by Microsoft, leaving fans wondering whether or not the game is going to be a platform exclusive - especially given Xbox boss Phil Spencer's remarks that future Bethesda games will be exclusive to platforms "where Game Pass exists".
We're hoping that this will be the year we hear more about the future of The Elder Scrolls 6 and get some solid answers on Bethesda and Microsoft's plans for its release.
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.
The Elder Scrolls 6: what you need to know
- 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, as is Xbox Series X but PlayStation 5 is less of a certainty
The Elder Scrolls 6 release date
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 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 isn't releasing November 2022, the wait for Elder Scrolls 6 is set to be a very long one.
The Elder Scrolls 6 trailer
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:
The Elder Scrolls 6 news and rumors
E3 2021 no-show
E3 2021 was a blast, and went with the Microsoft/Xbox show being one of the event's highlights.
But sadly, it didn't bring with it any new news on The Elder Scrolls 6, apart from the fact that it was still in development. Instead, Bethesda's main focus during the show was on revealing in-engine footage of the alluring Starfield. We'll have to wait a bit longer to find out more on that key franchise then.
The Elder Scrolls 6 may not come to PS5
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has confirmed that future Bethesda games will be exclusive to "platforms where Game Pass exists", meaning PS5 players will miss out.
During the "Bethesda Joins Xbox" roundtable on March 11, Spencer addressed speculation around whether the acquisition will see future Bethesda titles, such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, becoming Xbox exclusives following Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax Media.
"If you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is that this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists," Spencer explained. "That’s our goal, that’s why we’re doing this, that’s the root of this partnership that we’re building.
However, games under contractual obligations from before the acquisition, such as Deathloop, will still land on PS5 – while games that currently exist on other platforms will continue to be supported.
"Obviously I can’t sit here and say every Bethesda game is exclusive, because we know that’s not true," Spencer said. "There are contractual obligations that we’re going to see through, as we always do in every one of these instances. We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re gonna go support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players and we love those communities and we’ll continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have contractual things or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do."
Though it's worth noting that The Elder Scrolls 6 may not fall under this Xbox Game Pass exclusivity umbrella if Sony has already secured the games on its platform, it is entirely possible that a big hitter like this will only be available on Xbox and PC – for a time, at least – especially given platforms haven't been confirmed for either yet. That's certainly the case with Starfield, now a confirmed Xbox-only exclusive.
Leaked footage seems likely fake
A video claiming to be early test footage from The Elder Scrolls 6 has appeared online but its authenticity is suspect. Posted to Reddit (via GamesRadar) , the footage is extremely short (a grand total of 10 seconds) and only gives a first-person view of a figure running across grass and past rocks.
There’s very little to indicate that the footage is the genuine article and there’s also very little to the footage full stop, even if it was the real thing. It seems to us that, as much as we wish we were getting a look at The Elder Scrolls 6 in action, the safest thing to do is take this with a pinch of salt and assume it’s fake.
An Xbox Game Pass day one title
According to Todd Howard, Xbox Game Pass subscribers will get access to The Elder Scrolls 6 from day one as part of their subscription .
New Indiana Jones game won't delay Elder Scrolls 6 development
Bethesda has recently announced that it’s working with MachineGames on a new Indiana Jones game, with Bethesda Game Studios director Todd Howard taking on an executive producer role for the game.
Those worried, however, that this additional work might have an impact on The Elder Scrolls 6, on which he’s also working, need not fret.
Responding to a tweet about Todd Howard’s involvement in multiple projects, Bethesda’s Pete Hines said “Todd is currently EP on many BGS and other projects, such as the Fallout TV show. His main focus remains directing the upcoming Starfield and TES6 games, which aren’t affected by today’s news.”
Todd is currently EP on many BGS and other projects, such as the Fallout TV show. His main focus remains Directing the upcoming Starfield and TES6 games, which aren't affected by today's news.January 12, 2021
Is it Hammerfell?
2021 looks set to be a better year for Elder Scrolls 6 news than 2020 after the official Elder Scrolls account tweeted something that may or may not be a tease for The Elder Scrolls 6. The tweet, which reads “Transcribe the past and map the future. Here’s to a Happy New Year!”, includes a picture of a map with three lights on it.
Transcribe the past and map the future. 📖Here's to a Happy New Year!🕯 pic.twitter.com/bL44CzLDIEDecember 31, 2020
The lights are placed on different areas of Tamriel, with one on a box above the map, another on Skyrim and another, interestingly, on an unmapped area below Skyrim: Hammerfell. It’s long been rumored that The Elder Scrolls 6 will be set in Hammerfell, home of the Redguard, but nothing has actually been confirmed yet. Naturally, many fans are taking this image as a hint that the rumors about the setting are true.
Another point of interest, picked up on by PCGamer, is the date on the map: 4E 182. This is actually only a few years before the events of Skyrim in around 4E 201 and hints that the 5th and 6th games in the series could be closely connected.
We can’t know for sure that any of this is accurate or even related to Elder Scrolls 6 (and not Elder Scrolls Online) until official word comes from Bethesda but given the phrase “map the future” and the fact that Hammerfell on the map in the photo is yet to be mapped and explored, this is certainly a very leading Tweet.
Even PlayStation isn’t sure about The Elder Scrolls' PS5 future
Last we heard, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said that even he’s still unsure whether The Elder Scrolls 6 will come to PS5, following Microsoft’s acquisition of the publisher’s parent company ZeniMax.
In an interview with Russian publication TASS (via GamesRadar) in November 2020, Ryan said that it’s still uncertain as to whether The Elder Scrolls 6 will come to PlayStation or whether it’ll be a Microsoft exclusive.
“That’s a decision that is out of our hands,” Ryan said. “We’ll wait and see what happens. I look forward to learning about that.”
Ryan also explained that Sony approaches things differently to Microsoft when it comes to making studio acquisitions.
“We just take a different approach,” Ryan said. “Our emphasis has been to focus on really steady, slow, but constant organic growth of our studios, selectively bolstered by acquisitions. We respect the steps taken by our competition, they seem logical and sensible. But we’re equally happy and confident, we’ve got a better launch lineup than we’ve ever had at any of our console launches.”
It appears, then, that the ball is in Microsoft’s court when it comes to The Elder Scrolls 6's release. At the very least, Todd Howard has said in an interview with Gamesindustry.biz that he finds it “hard to imagine” a title like The Elder Scrolls 6 not coming to multiple platforms. Though he also made it clear that, at the time, these kinds of decisions had not been made just yet.
The Elder Scrolls 6 will use a brand new engine
Bethesda has confirmed it is overhauling its current engine specifically for Elder Scrolls 6.
Imagine if Elder Scrolls 6 looked and ran like Skyrim. This is a thought which belongs somewhere firmly shut behind the Gates of Oblivion.
According to GamesRadar, the engine reportedly has the same name, but it will bring new renders, lighting, animations (hallelujah), landscape system and photogrammetry.
Todd Howard spoke about the engine after the announcement of the Microsoft merger, saying "it's led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls 6."
Speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference, Howard gave more information on the overhauled Creation Engine, saying that it’s been “a significant overhaul,” adding that “It’s taken us longer than we would have liked, but it’s going to power everything we’re doing with Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6. When people see the results, they’ll hopefully be as happy as we are with what’s on the screen and also how we can go about making our games.”
The Elder Scrolls 6 will be coming after Starfield
There's no release date for Starfield at the moment and it is Bethesda's next big game to come out and it seems to be prioritised ahead of The Elder Scrolls 6.
“Starfield is a game that we have spent years thinking about and working on,” Todd Howard told the crowd at Bethesda’s E3 2018 conference.
Even now, in 2020, we have no inkling as to when the game will be released, but we would expect it to be in 2021, simply because the next-generation consoles will be home to the game.
Todd Howard again explained in 2019 that Bethesda is “still hard at work” on both The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield. He said that “Starfield is playable, Elder Scrolls VI not in that way yet.”
The prime focus for Bethesda is Starfield. In an interview with Bethesda Game Studios, executive producer Tom Howard spoke to IGN, who warned "I think everyone should be very patient."
"The gap in between [Elder Scrolls games] is going to be long, It already is," continued Howard.
Some 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. As of October 23, 2020, it seems like the position is still taking applicants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elder Scrolls 6 goes official
Bethesda is a busy studio: not only is it working on 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.
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.
Elder Scrolls 6: where will be 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 above.
Previous games have taken us to High Rock, Hammerfell, Morrowind, Cyrodil, and Skyrim. Valenwood, Elsweyr and Black Marsh are the biggest places left to explore. However, even though these areas are prime spots for exploration, that's not to say that Bethesda won't return to areas from previous games.
Rumors online have previously heavily pointed towards Black Marsh, the home of the world’s reptilian Argonian race but there wasn't actually any solid reason for this rumor. Black Marsh's 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, if we're just going by where might be interesting to explore, Elsweyr would also be a candidate 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 was also a strong rumor that the Elder Scrolls 6 could be set in Valenwood, 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 gave 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 made this even more interesting.
However, after the brief announcement trailer for Elder Scrolls 6 was released during E3 2018, many fans began to move away from the idea of a Valenwood setting as the landscape shown in the trailer didn't reflect Valenwood all that much.
It's hard to tell from the short E3 clip we have of the game but since it was shown general opinion has started to move towards the idea that the Elder Scrolls 6 will be set in either Hammerfell or High Rock.
Adding credence to the Hammerfell rumor is a post from the official Elder Scrolls Twitter account at the end of 2020 which says "transcribe the past and map the future" and shows an image with an unmapped Hammerfell region. There is, however, a chance that this teaser doesn't relate to Elder Scrolls 6 at all.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Todd Howard confirmed the team has settled on the location - but he won't tell us where yet.
Details are, of course, exceptionally sparse at the moment. All we have is rumors to go off of, which doesn't form the basis of, well, anything really.
Obviously, those of us who know the world of Tamriel thanks to Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim and yes, even Elder Scrolls Online, the entire world is a veritable expanse of different lands and settings where the game could be set.
We do know one thing for certain; wherever it does end up being set, we can expect to be fulfilling a great many side quests.
The Elder Scrolls 6: what we want to see
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 is looking at 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 storytelling.
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.
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.
We know that the new engine will be used, thankfully, giving Bethesda's games a much-needed boost in its delivery.
More fluid combat - taking advantage of new consoles
Everyone knows and loves the animations delivered from Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout, but seeing them on an Xbox Series X or PS5 or high-end PCs would be nothing short of embarrassing. To this end, we expect to see a far more fluid combat experience and, considering how powerful the new consoles are purporting to be, a richly detailed open world to explore.
During an interview with IGN Howard gave a small update on what people can expect from the game.
He said: "I think when they 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... We're eight years post-Skyrim. It lets us know going into Elder Scrolls 6 that this is a game we need to design for people to play for a decade at least."
From this, we know that Elder Scrolls 6 is being developed with longevity in mind. Of course, games like Skyrim and Oblivion are kept alive to this day purely by fans who make mods or those who simply can't get enough of it.
If this means there's more emphasis on replayability with branching and far-reaching consequences from certain decisions remains to be seen, but this could be one of the ways to keep the game interesting overtime.