At the end of Bethesda’s E3 conference, Todd Howard announced that The Elder Scrolls VI is officially in development. The long-awaited title is probably a good few years off, so it's the perfect time to begin rampant speculation. Despite the 37-second teaser showing only a landscape and the game’s title, it includes some hints pointing towards the setting.
To start off, let’s list the nine regions of Tamriel:
- Black Marsh
- Summerset Isle
- High Rock
Morrowind is the setting of three recent entries in the series: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, and an expansion to Skyrim. The terrain in the trailer features none of the odd flora or ashy skies of Vvardenfell, Solstheim, or anywhere else shown in depictions of Morrowind. In-game lore descriptions of Elsweyr, Valenwood, and Black Marsh don’t match what’s shown in the teaser whatsoever. Elsweyr is a massive desert, Valenwood is a massive forest, and Black Marsh is a massive swampland. There’s no hint of any of those in the mountainous and seemingly coastal area of the teaser.
Summerset Isle is the focus of the latest expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online. ESO depicts Summerset Isle as a lush, fertile land, full of vegetation. Again, not what we see in the teaser, but keep in mind that Bethesda isn’t averse to retconning. The Cyrodiil shown in ESO isn't the jungle it has previously been described to have been during that period. It’s possible that either the MMO isn’t necessarily an accurate guide, or Bethesda may just decide to go against established lore again like they did with their depiction of Cyrodil in Oblivion.
So, we have High Rock and Hammerfell left. Two neighboring provinces, both described as having mountainous terrain. Hammerfell also features the large Alik’r Desert, which isn’t shown in the video, though this doesn’t remove Hammerfell from the running. But High Rock as shown in ESO looks very similar to what was shown in the teaser. And even though part of the area was the focus of The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, that game is so far removed from what the series is now, it isn’t impossible that Bethesda would choose to go back there.
Along with the teaser’s apparent geographical giveaways, the previous game in the series may have some hints. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim hinted at turmoil in Hammerfell, with a Redguard warrior, Kematu, claiming that “the resistance against the Dominion is alive and well in Hammerfell.” referring to a continuing resistance against the Aldmeri Dominion. Of course, the teaser shown at E3 gives no clue as to when it's set within the series' timeline. It's entirely possible that ES6 will go back in the timeline similarly to ESO, or forward 200 years like Skyrim.
If we’re placing our bets now, we’d say High Rock will probably be the setting of The Elder Scrolls VI. High Rock, home to the Bretons and Orcs, is made up of multiple kingdoms that are typically in an uneasy peace with each other. The region features prominently in ESO, though at a time centuries before Skyrim, and likely looks very different as to how it would be rendered in a singleplayer experience.
Of course, it’s completely possible that Bethesda will include more than one province in ES6, or possibly (though not probably) all of Tamriel. Or they could throw an absolute curveball and set it on another continent such as Akavir or Yokuda. Basically, there’s no way we’ll know for certain until Bethesda reveals it themselves.
Wherever the next entry in this beloved series takes place, we certainly won't be exploring it anytime soon. Todd Howard called Starfield, the game announced directly before the Elder Scrolls reveal, “next-generation”. He then introduced ES6 as the title coming after Starfield. With the PS5 is still at least 2-3 years off, we’ve got a long wait ahead of us. While it’s a bit of a bummer, at least we can be sure that The Elder Scrolls VI won’t be constrained by the currently five-year-old consoles we have now.