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Everything we know about The Elder Scrolls 6, from Microsoft exclusivity, game engine, and more

Elder Scrolls 6

There's one thing we know for sure: Elder Scrolls 6 is most definitely happening, and according to recent reports, when it finally launches it'll favor Xbox (at least at first).

We reported in September that Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7.5 billion, which immediately posed the question: will Elder Scrolls 6 be an Xbox Series X and PC exclusive? PS5 players grew increasingly more worried as Phil Spencer's interviews initially seemed to suggest that. As GamesRadar recently reported, Spencer spoke to Kotaku about the likelihood that the sequel to Skyrim may not be sold on PlayStation consoles. 

However, more recent interviews with both Spencer and Xbox CFO Tim Stuart suggest Elder Scrolls 6 will be cross-platform, but Xbox will get the upper hand. We reported in November that Stuart wants titles from Microsoft-owned companies to be "either first or better or best" on Xbox Series X and PC. 

Despite the drama around platforms, it's important tp remember that none of this will come to a head for quite some time. We reported back in May that Bethesda stated Elder Scrolls 6 is still "years" away and the company won't reveal any news regarding the game until "years from now." Considering the COVID-19 pandemic causing game delays across the board, and the developer's current work on the upcoming space RPG Starfield, a long wait until Elder Scrolls 6 isn't shocking, although it is a bit of a bummer. Game director Todd Howard has previously stated that Elder Scrolls 6 won't come until after Bethesda releases Starfield - if that's any unit of measurement.

The Elder Scrolls 6 teaser trailer dropped at E3 2018 - and since then it's been quieter than a Skyrim cave. So far we've got a teaser trailer, a pile of rumors, and more to pick through, all of which we've gathered below. 

Elder Scrolls 6 won't be an Xbox Series X exclusive, but it'll be "first or better or best" to the console

Recent comments from Xbox CFO Tim Stuart during the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment conference clarified previous reports about Elder Scrolls 6 being an Xbox exclusive. As GamesRadar covered, Stuart made it clear that, despite recent comments from Phil Spencer that suggested otherwise, Elder Scrolls 6 will be a cross-platform game. "What we'll do in the long run is we don't have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content to be either first or better or best, or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms. We will want Bethesda content to show up the best on our platforms," Spencer said. 

Microsoft has confirmed the games from Bethesda's entire catalogue will become a part of Xbox Game Pass, which means members won't even need to purchase upcoming games like Elder Scrolls 6.

"Just as they took the bold first steps to bring The Elder Scrolls franchise to the original Xbox, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, bringing their games to new audiences across devices and have been actively investing in new gaming technology like cloud streaming of games," Phil Spencer wrote in the announcement. 

Even if Elder Scrolls 6 is not a PC and Xbox Series X exclusive, the fact that it will likely be on Xbox Game Pass is a game-changer, as PS5 owners will have to buy the game at full price.

Bethesda is overhauling its engine for Elder Scrolls 6

Months ago our very own Leon Hurley suggested that Elder Scrolls 6 might be using the same engine as Skryim "in name" but that it had a "new renderer, new lighting, new landscape system, new animation system, and photogrammetry. And that's only what Bethesda has talked about publicly."

Now we know that the Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 engine has gotten a complete overhaul. As we recently reported, Todd Howard spoke about the effect of partnering up with Xbox, saying "it's led to our larges engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls 6."

Elder Scrolls 6 release is years away

Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

I'm just warning you: you're going to need to be patient. Like, very patient. As mentioned earlier, Bethesda has tempered expectations by announcing that Elder Scrolls 6 is "years away."

Speaking to IGN, Howard said that repeatedly switching between Elder Scrolls and Fallout was exhausting for the developers at Bethesda Game studios, saying that "we had done so many things, we were going Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Fallout... You have this Starfield game in your head, you sort of say, well, when? It can be never, you could say never. But look, we're creatives, and it's like we have to make this game, and this is the time. So Elder Scrolls 6 is going to have to wait a little bit. And plus, again, Elder Scrolls Online is doing so well, it's so vibrant, that this is the time, both for us creatively and our audience".  We're not fans of dev burnout here at GamesRadar+, so if we gotta wait, we can wait.

Bethesda job openings could point to the start of production on Elder Scrolls 6

As mentioned above, newly discovered vacancies posted on Bethesda's website has us thinking the developer is wrapping up work on Starfield. Spotted by a Reddit user, the company is hiring programmers who can push "the bleeding-edge of RPG development for the PC and consoles" and help with "implementation of new gameplay features: player and characters' behaviors, combat and powers mechanics, user interface, etc". 

Plus, Bethesda Game Studios is looking for a Video Editor to create trailers for games, which definitely sounds like Starfield is ready to move into the marketing campaign aspect of its production...

Elder Scrolls 6 trailer is all we've got, for now

All we've got to go on is this 36-second trailer Bethesda that debuted at E3 2018. It's exciting, it's got us ready for more, but we haven't got much else since then. Feed us, Bethesda, we're starving. Check out the trailer for Elder Scrolls 6 below, and know that we're all going hungry waiting for even a morsel of fresh news.

Elder Scrolls 6 news is sparse, but theories sure aren't

We've got a glimpse of a few new details about Elder Scrolls 6, straight from Todd Howard himself. During an interview with IGN Howard fleshed out a tiny bit on what fans can expect from the game, saying that "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... The one thing [the gap between Skyrim and Elder Scrolls 6's release] does is people are still playing Skyrim, it's still one of the best-selling games. I know people joke about it online, but it's one of the best-selling games on Switch. Anything we put it out on, it becomes a hit game. And they love it, they still play it, it's almost infinitely playable, all of the mods and everything like that. And we're 8 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, at least". 

So whatever Elder Scrolls 6 includes, gameplay-wise, it's going to be there for the long haul, just like Skyrim. There's likely going to be a bigger emphasis on replayability, which might mean that tiny choices at the beginning of the game end up massively changing big story beats. Judging from Howard's remark about the technology and "what [Bethesda] wants it to do", it sounds like the developers might be creating brand new gameplay mechanics to make Elder Scrolls 6 unlike anything we've seen before. 

On September 10 2018, Bethesda started the process to trademark the term 'Redfall', causing the internet to jump into a flurry of excitement about whether the enigmatic word could be the name of Elder Scrolls 6. Yeah, I was one of them. This is how Redfall could be related to Elder Scrolls 6: the good people of Reddit have theorised that it might be the name of a plague sweeping Tamriel, putting you slap-bang in the middle of it. 

It all boils down to - well, boils, actually, as they’re part of a disease that followers of Peryite (the Daedric Prince of pestilence, natural order, and tasks) have been infected with. In the quest The Only Cure, the blotchy red-skinned, poison-puking devotees of Peryite mention a plague that started in High Rock, leading some to wonder whether the ‘Red’ part of the trademark might be linked to the illness. The ‘-fall’ part of the term might be linked to it beginning in Daggerfall, one of High Rock’s kingdoms. It’s all a theory at this point - but one definitely worth entertaining for a while at least. 

Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls 6 setting is being debated EVERYWHERE

Elder Scrolls 6

Reddit user kaylenivy has been fiddling with professional photography software and thinks they might have figured out the location of Elder Scrolls 6. Turns out there’s a strong case for it being Hammerfell. Referencing the locations of Sentinel City, the Alik’r Desert, and Volenfell, they used their locations on a map to theorize that the city you can faintly see in the distance is Sentinel City, the capital of Sentinel, one of the major kingdoms in Hammerfell. 

But replies have highlighted that the one problem with kaylenivy’s theory is that Volenfell is a Dwemer ruin, rather than an Imperial fort or crater that you can see on the left of the teaser, plus Volenfell is situated in the Alik’r Desert. Seeing as the teaser definitely doesn’t show us a desert of any kind (hence the marked lack of dunes and sand), no-one is certain that it we’ll be visiting Hammerfell in Elder Scrolls 6. 

Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Details are so sparse that even vague rumours about the Elder Scrolls 6 location are difficult to come across. There’s certainly no shortage of locations, however. Both Oblivion and Skyrim took us to places inhabited dominantly by humans, so I'm hoping that a serious change is on the cards - hopefully somewhere inhabited primarily by a non-human race.

It's worth remembering that a screenshot from Morrowind appears to foreshadow Skyrim’s civil war, saying that the Akaviri (a vampiric serpent race, otherwise known as pure nightmare fuel) is just waiting for a chance to invade the country. Parted from Tamriel by one whole ocean, four races call it home. Regions include Tang Mo (home to an ape-like species), Kamal (populated by demons), Ka’Po’Tun (where you can find tiger-people, who are allied with the inhabitants of Tang Mo), and lastly Tsaesci. Tsaesci is where those bloodsucking serpentine vampires come from, and therefore according to that screenshot is the most likely to invade Tamriel. Not good. Or maybe it is, if you especially relish the idea of encountering such horrifying foes on the battlefield. 

Wherever Elder Scrolls 6 goes, it’s sure to be crammed full of quests and a whole new political climate - especially considering the consequences of Skyrim's civil war and its impact on the Empire will likely be far-reaching. 

Perhaps the side you chose in the civil war will even have an impact on the story. Think about it: a victory for the Stormcloaks would mean a weaker Empire, but the Stormcloak's racism towards elves (remember how the Dunmer are treated in Windhelm) would still be rife. Fighting for the Empire would further their suffocating bureaucracy and the lack of religious freedom - but let’s not forget that the Dark Brotherhood storyline had you assassinate the Emperor. What kind of state did that leave the Empire in? You’ll have to wait to find out...

Well, this could be a big change for our list of upcoming Xbox Series X games.