Some video game franchises manage to churn out new installments on an annual or biennial basis — a feat usually made possible by huge development teams, formulaic game content, or a combination of the two. Say what you will about how this may affect the quality of the games, one thing’s for sure: this tenacious level of consistency is what has allowed series like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and FIFA to maintain prime real estate in the forefront of gamer’s minds.
But some titles manage to foster this kind of following despite lengthy and sometimes unpredictable periods of time in between releases. Bethesda games are perhaps the best example of this; their two IPs Fallout and The Elder Scrolls (TES) have, since 2006’s Oblivion, alternated in their major releases, taking two to four years in between.
With the studio’s huge success with Fallout 4 back in 2015, it must be about time we heard about the next Elder Scrolls game, right?
Wrong. So very depressingly wrong. I scoured the darkest corners of the internet and braved more niché subreddits than you could shake a stick at, and the prognosis isn’t great. I’ll try to break it gently to you:
At E3 2016, Bethesda’s Director Todd Howard told us that yes, The Elder Scrolls VI is “of course” going to happen, but that the technology simply isn’t there for it yet. He then said that we would be seeing two major titles release before TES VI, and that both would be brand new IPs and bigger games than we have ever seen from Bethesda.
Fast forward to E3 2017, and Bethesda’s Pete Hines reiterated, with the heavy sigh of a man tired of receiving the same question relentlessly on twitter, that there were two big projects we would see before the eagerly-awaited Skyrim sequel. Then, after some more prodding, delivered the dream-killer:
“No, no, we’re pretty clear: The Elder Scrolls VI isn’t in development.”
Gutted. When in the world, then, can we expect to return to Tamriel? When will we get this Elder Scrolls which will boast mind-blowing technology of the future?
Well, since 2002, Bethesda Game Studios have released a game roughly every 3 years. If we take that trend as a given, that puts their next release this year, in 2018. Multiple leaks and a number of Bethesda-registered trademarks suggest this first of the two massive mystery projects will be a game called Starfield.
Assuming Starfield does release later this year, that means Massive Mystery Project Number 2 will release in 2021, three years later. Which, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, puts TES VI at a projected release year of 2024.
2024. If I only I knew when I first sat down to play Skyrim aged 15 that I’d be nearly 30 years old by the time I played its sequel. Perhaps I’d have even spent more time taking in the game’s beautiful landscapes before I systematically eradicated its inhabitants.
Of course, I could be wrong — and it can’t be overstated how happy I would be if that’s the case. Bethesda may expand their core development team to accelerate production beyond their average three years, or they may even be lying about TES VI not being in development — anything could happen. 2024 is simply an estimate based on the current numbers we have at our disposal.
So, all that remains to be done is to wait to see if Starfield does indeed release later this year, and whether we can glean from its content any hints of the new technology Bethesda need for TES VI, or the direction they may take it in. As for whether the unbearable wait for a new Elder Scrolls will be worth it, only time (a whole lot of it) will tell.