The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released back in 2011. This means that it's been nearly 10 years since TES fans have had a chance to play a proper single-player Elder Scrolls game. Even though The Elder Scrolls Online continues to chug along now that it's in its 7th year, it's just not enough to fill the gaping hole that's left once you've sunk hundreds of hours playing Skyrim.
With that said, the only consolation for Elder Scrolls fans is that the sixth mainline installment in the franchise is coming. The only problem is that we don't exactly know when that's going to happen.
In a recent interview, Bethesda's Game Director, Todd Howard, explained what's taking The Elder Scrolls VI so long and why Bethesda is opting to work on Starfield first when it could have focused its efforts towards making a new Elder Scrolls game.
Howard sheds light on an Elder Scrolls-less world
Todd Howard explained in an interview with Kat Bailey from IGN that Starfield was a "now or never" type of project that started development as early as 2015. Howard explained that the team had always wanted to "do something else for a long time". Once they'd finished working on Fallout 4, the team decided to work on Starfield because the team felt like "the when could be never" and Starfield would never become a thing. Because of this, the studio decided to risk pushing Elder Scrolls 6 back even further in favor of working on a new project.
Don't worry though, Howard hasn't forgotten about Elder Scrolls at all. In the same interview, Howard clarified that the studio wants to get things right. We do not doubt that Bethesda is still thinking about the fallout from Fallout 76 (get it?). Howard then says at the end of the interview that he wants Elder Scrolls 6 to "stand up to the series as it has been in a really big, impactful way when it comes out."
What's next for Bethesda?
It's easy to feel like every studio is working on a game with a multiplayer component these days. However, it appears that Bethesda is having none of it.
When asked during an IGN Unfiltered Podcast if Bethesda would continue working on multiplayer titles, Howard merely mentioned that the studio might continue experimenting in future titles but the primary focus is on single-player experiences. If you take a look at Bethesda's docket, you'll see that Howard isn't lying. In addition to The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield, Bethesda's next titles are mostly narrative-driven experiences such as Tango Gameworks' Ghsotwire: Tokyo, as well as MachineGames' Wolfenstein III and the untitled Indiana Jones game.
Interestingly, Bethesda remains committed to single-player games after it was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year. Perhaps Microsoft recognizes that Bethesda's core competence is in delivering generational single-player games that define genres for years to come.
Having said that, we're still hoping that we'll hear more about The Elder Scrolls VI soon enough. Unfortunately, since Starfield isn't set to release until November 11, 2022, we might have to wait until then to see more of the upcoming Elder Scrolls game.