One of the most popular fantasy series ever, The Elder Scrolls is due for another single-player installment soon. While the release date could be known this year, one key aspect is missing: Where will it take place? Using what we know, existing rumors and hints from previous games, we pieced together the six most likely locations, starting with...
1. Black Marsh
Black Marsh, home of the Argonians, has been the area mentioned most often in rumor mills. While previous games only mention it, Black Marsh has many thing going for it.
First of all, water has never been a critical feature in previous games. You could win the entire game by never needing to breathe underwater. In Blackmarsh, a swampy area where local residents rely on water so much, I could be a very real dynamic to the game – a new mus-have adding new challenges. The area had been told in hints that other races of Tamriel have a hard time adapting there – a non wooded/mountainous area that favors other races could be an interesting dynamic. And with Black Marsh far removed from the Elven-Human conflict, Black Marsh as a neutral ground for a war makes sense.
Previous lands have been all about humans and elves, and exploring a beast race's land can bring a fresh take.
2. Summerset Isle
A major factor in Skyrim was the brewing conflict with the Aldmeri dominion, and many dialogue options alluded to Summerset Isle. And travelling there for an installment can be interesting.
With no adjoining land mass and many tiny islands, water travel would become a more used feature. Story options could also be faction based like Skyrim – do you join the Dominion? The remnants of the Empire? How is a land rarely stepped upon by elves react to a different race. Their homeland is often said to be shrouded in mystery, and a game there could show us the last really unknown land in Tamriel.
Elsweyr was also brought up a lot in Skyrim, with many non-Khajiit characters even commenting on the land. With racism being a central theme in the series, going to the homeland of the most discriminated against could prove fascinating.
Elsweyr is an interesting part of Tamriel – it's official part of the dominion, but many khajiit have proven to be evenly loyal, neutral or opposed. This could prove to be the first battleground of that war everyone keeps saying is going to happen. Elsweyr is also a jungle and desert covered place, both biomes that have not recently been covered, bringing even more variety. Add in Elsweyr being the drug capitol of Tamriel, the Orc home city being inside and a possible double land game team up with heavily contested Wood Elf home Valenwood, and an Elsweyrian ES game has a lot going for it.
4. High Rock/Hammerfell
With previous installments venturing into High Rock and Hammerfell a few decades ago, returning there can be a joy. Hammerfell-Redguard missions popped up in Skyrim, hinting at possible conflicts in the region, with High Rock being mentioned often as well.
While High Rock might be too generically English, with it's mountains being a little reminiscent of Skyrim, Hammerfell's unique Arabian-like feel and it's endless deserts could provide a new challenge to players, with “family rule” kingdoms coming in as a new storyline.
While doing a province or two of Tamriel is appealing, a revolutionary approach, hinted in a few in-game Skyrim books, is Akavir – the other continent on Nirn.
Races would completely out the window – no human races are left there, with only the Tang Mo (monkey folk), Kamal (Demons), Ka'Po'Tun (Tiger people) and Tsaesci (Serpent People). While a Tamriel race can visit, an entire new world, new conflicts and new battle styles could create a fresh new take on the world – and perhaps bring a continent on continent showdown at some point.
6. All of Tamriel
While a new region or even a different continent is exciting, thinking pragmatically it might make the most sense to just focus on the whole Tamriel continent.
With Elder Scrolls Online so firmly invested into by Bethesda and parent company Zenimax, suddenly doing a stand-alone single-player game again could be risky, as people would go off of ESO. By making the next game built right into ESO as a world expansion (Or focusing on certain areas more in detail), ESO would be preserved. The next game being more of a lengthy expansion rather than a single-player in a new land could be the riskiest of all measures, since it's ESO's future against the majority of fans who love single- (and not multi-) player play.
Chances are Black Marsh or Elsweyr will be chosen because of heir uniqueness, significance and their history in the series. But we'll see soon where the next game is going, which with Bethesda, is always in the right direction.