New games developed by Bethesda Game Studios have always been among the most highly anticipated releases over the years, from the likes of Fallout to Starfield, but it’s no secret, of course, that the developer likes to take its sweet time putting those new games out. New releases are usually separated by several years, and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon.
By the time Starfield launches next year, BGS’ last major release, Fallout 76, will be nearly five years old, while the next game by the studio, The Elder Scrolls 6, is likely to take a long time to come out after the sci-fi RPG’s release as well. Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard, who’s directing both upcoming games, knows that those long gaps aren’t always the easiest for the fans, and wishes the studio’s new RPGs didn’t take so long to develop.
“I have a vague idea [of when it’s coming],” Howard said recently on the Lex Fridman podcast. “I wish it was soon. We want it out, too, and I wish they didn’t take as long as they did, but they do. And look, I mean, if I could go back in time, it would never have been my plan to wait as long as it’s taken for it.”
Of course, Bethesda Game Studios’ titles tend to be massive and brimming with content, which means players are going back to them for years after launch. Howard says that the development team is aware that that’s going to be the case with The Elder Scrolls 6 as well- and that, in turn, also changes how they approach development itself.
“We’re going to make sure we do it right for everybody. People are playing games for a long time, you know. Skyrim’s 11 years old- still probably our most played game. We don’t see it slowing down, and people will probably be playing it 10 years from now, also. So you have to think about, okay, people are gonna play the next Elder Scrolls game for a decade, two decades, and that does change the way you think about how you architect it from from the get-go.”
Later on in the interview, Howard described the early production phase of new projects – which is the current status of The Elder Scrolls 6 – which involves concept art, working on the music, figuring out the game’s setting, and more. Interestingly, the beginning of The Elder Scrolls 6 has been mapped out “for a very long time”.
“We start concepting, so we’ll do concept art, and for one reason or another, I usually have the beginning of the game worked out,” Howard said. “Like I like to think about, okay, how does the game start, what does the player do first? We do music early.
“So, take Elder Scrolls 6– we figure out where it’s set, what’s the tone, what are the big features. We discuss the beginning of the game, which we’ve had for a very long time. Then we like to do music. So we’ve already done a take on the music for Elder Scrolls 6- the music we put in the teaser for it. This was 2018. We’ve taken that further, obviously.
“We’re working on the world,” Howard continued. “You’re then doing concepting and design for the world, and then once we we’re wrapping up one game, we can really start prototyping the new one. And you’re usually building kind of your initial spaces. So we do like to do like a first playable, a smaller section of the game that we can sort of prove out and show to people, ‘hey this is how it feels different, this is what it looks like, this is what’s unique about it.'”
After Starfield launches for Xbox Series X/S and PC in the first half of 2023, Bethesda Game Studios will shift the bulk of its focus to The Elder Scrolls 6. Meanwhile, it’s also been confirmed that the next game the developer works on after that will be Fallout 5.