That crater, that coastline, that font: time to talk about whether Elder Scrolls 6 could be set in High Rock

That teaser. That teaser. Elder Scrolls 6 was shown to us for about 30 seconds among all those shiny new E3 2018 games that were announced, but if Bethesda thinks fans everywhere won’t pounce on the chance to dissect a slow camera crawl over a mountainous range then boy, is it wrong. Yet I think that it knows us fans will do - and have done - just that, because looking at those 30 seconds of footage (possible teasing a new Elder Scrolls 6 engine) there are not a lot of clues about where Elder Scrolls 6 is set. Unless, of course, you think of High Rock. And then keep thinking. And thinking. And thinking. 

See, while there wasn’t a giant bustling merchant town on the horizon, or dozens of ruins of castles perched atop every hill, like many other gleeful, borderline frenzied fans right now I’m about to make the case that Elder Scrolls 6 could have us revisiting High Rock. So let’s start with that mountainous coastline, shall we?

Iliac Bay is on the horizon

Alone, that giant stretch of water doesn’t look like anything special. But pause for a moment. Why would you show off a coastal area in a teaser for what is quite possibly the world’s most anticipated game instead of, say, a lush woodland or a country road? Answer: because that coastline is a key part not only of the location, but of the story you’re about to become a part of. High Rock is famous for sitting on Iliac Bay, a stretch of water that separates the north of Hammerfell from the south of High Rock. As it’s set between the two powerful countries, Iliac Bay (despite its calm waters - take another look at how serene it looked in the teaser) is where politics clash. Seems ripe for story possibilities, if you ask me...

Bretons love their quests...just like gamers

Bretons, the inhabitants of High Rock, have a frankly ridiculous amount of nobles at the top of their hierarchy, and that doesn’t just mean that they’re fond of extravagant castles and eating roast swan (probably). Just like us gamers, nobles and ordinary citizens alike adore going on quests so they can feel like honorable knights, with some of the lesser-born citizens hoping that if they do enough good deeds they can one day be made a noble. The Pocket Guide to the Empire goes so far as to call it ‘quest-obsession’. 

I’m telling you all this because living in a world where you’re not the only one who’s obsessed with climbing the social ladder and proving your worth would be a bloody brilliant first for the series. Suddenly you’re not held in awe by the majority of the population just because you absorbed the soul from a dragon, or because you’re the Hero of Kvatch. Instead they just see you as another jumped-up youth who’s too eager to do quests just so they can climb the social ladder, quests which align with RPG’s tendency to pile missions onto you without considering how much a normal human (or elf, or orc) would take on. Those intimidating piles of quests suddenly make sense if you’re playing someone who is desperately trying to become a noble the only way they can. Perhaps you’re trying to claw your way up in the world after being born to a humble farmer, or you’re part of a disgraced clan trying to earn their good reputation all over again. Either way, the Breton’s love for quests (and, frankly, showing off) make High Rock an ideal place for Elder Scrolls 6. 

Ruined castles are typical for Bretons

Bretons are known for being quite ambitious. While there are the usual middle and lower classes, The Pocket Guide to the Empire mentions that their love of nobility is so notoriously unbridled, grabbing land and bestowing titles to themselves whenever they can, that their numbers have ballooned into a comical amount. Because of the inflated numbers of nobles, the phrase ‘find a new hill, become a king’ is a common joke among Bretons as castles would spring up wherever there was free land. 

Bear all this in mind for a bit. Turning back to the teaser, if you look on the ridge of that crater, you’ll see what could be a ruined castle. From some angles it might look more like a rock formation, but for the sake of speculation I’m going to assume it’s a ruined castle. It would be very in character for Bretons to impulsively build a castle and then promptly abandon it when it becomes clear you can’t build roads or get your fancy friends up to the castle for parties and pageantry. Over the decades it decays into a ruin, with chunks of it falling to the ground once the crater emerges by its side, until it’s just a pile of rubble. Speaking of that crater…

That crater: caused by a meteor or magic?

Cast your eyes down to the hole beside the ruined castles, and you’ll see a crater. I say crater because it seems the best fit rather than a ravine or cliffs, as the geography of the area is mainly scrubland and jagged mountains with gradually rolling hills. What caused it? The first thing that jumps into our mind when the word crater appears is meteor, and it could have caused the giant rift in the land. But High Rock is a region saturated in magic, hence why the Bretons have a natural affinity to it. This chaotic, uncontrolled magic might have reached critical mass and exploded to destroy a chunk of land in the area we see in the teaser. Plus when meteors hit the ground they often create an unnaturally circular hole, yet the edges of the crater in the teaser are craggy, as if whatever created them was unpredictable but still intensely destructive. A disaster like that would also explain why the area was so barren, as I doubt anyone would want to settle near somewhere so historically deadly. 

So, High Rock. Perhaps it is where Elder Scrolls 6 is going to be set. The land of nobles and chaotic, wild magic is conceptually a goldmine in terms of storylines as everything is dialled up a notch, making for some delicious amounts of drama. When you add in the fact that the game is going to learn from Fallout 76 and Starfield and that the font seems to hearken back to the days of Daggerfall and Oblivion, we could have something very special on the horizon. Bethesda, if you’re listening: our hopes are in your hands. 

Zoe Delahunty-Light

While here at GamesRadar, Zoe was a features writer and video presenter for us. She's since flown the coop and gone on to work at Eurogamer where she's a video producer, and also runs her own Twitch and YouTube channels. She specialises in huge open-world games, true crime, and lore deep-dives.