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The highly anticipated game was announced at E3 2018 with a brief teaser trailer which confirmed it was in pre-production at Bethesda Game Studios.
However, Bethesda also revealed Starfield at the same event, and the sci-fi RPG was ahead of the fantasy one in its release pipeline.
Asked if he regrets Elder Scrolls 6 being announced so long ago, Howard told GQ: “I have asked myself that a lot. I don’t know. I probably would’ve announced it more casually.”
Commenting on what he’d like to achieve with the game, Howard said: “It’s like… I don’t want to answer, but I want to be polite. I will say that we want it to fill that role of the ultimate fantasy-world simulator. And there are different ways to accomplish that given the time that has passed.”
Howard said in June 2021 that Elder Scrolls 6 was still in the relatively early planning stages, and that it would benefit from the studio’s work on Starfield.
“The [new Starfield] technology, Creation Engine 2, is sort of built for both [games]. It’s like a new tech base,” he told The Telegraph. “The vast majority of our development work is on Starfield right now but everybody works on everything so the projects kind of intertwine.
“It’s good to think of The Elder Scrolls 6 as still being in a design [phase]… but we’re checking the tech: ‘Is this going to handle the things we want to do in that game?’ Every game will have some new suites of technology so Elder Scrolls 6 will have some additions on to Creation Engine 2 that that game is going to require.”
And in November 2021, Howard said he wished Bethesda could release Elder Scrolls 6 sooner than planned, while explaining why the game was still years away.
Speaking to IGN in an interview published to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the last mainline series entry, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Howard admitted the extended wait between franchise releases was not ideal.
However, he said Skyrim’s enduring popularity—it’s now sold over 60 million copies, according to Howard—and the 2014 launch of ZeniMax’s Elder Scrolls Online meant the franchise remained “healthy” and had enabled Bethesda to branch out and try new things like Starfield.
“Would you plan to have the kind of gap we’re having between Skyrim and the follow-up? I can’t say that’s a good thing,” Howard admitted. “I wish I could wave a wand and the game that we want to make, and we have or haven’t started things on just came out. Absolutely. But there’s other things we want to do, right? Obviously, Fallout 4 was a huge success, we spent a lot of time on that. We wanted to go into online with Fallout 76.
“We felt doing something like Starfield – we’d wanted to do something else for a long time and play in a new universe. Well, if not now—I’m going back in time, we started it right after Fallout 4, so 2015, end of it—if not now, when? And it felt like the when, if we didn’t do it then, the when could be never.
“And we felt pretty good with where Elder Scrolls was as a franchise, particularly with Elder Scrolls Online, that now was the time we could do Starfield,” Howard continued.
“That being said, everything takes longer than we would like as well, but we want to make sure that we get it right. Hopefully Elder Scrolls 6, you don’t want to say hey, that it’s worth that kind of wait, but that it does stand up to the series as it has been in a really big, impactful way for when it comes out.”