Examining all known facts on where TES VI might take place, I came to the two main conclusions regarding the setting of TESVI:
The first: There's a higher chance of the game being set in Hammerfell rather than High Rock (which is pretty popular opinion in the community).
The second: The game will not likely be set in both Hammerfell and High Rock (but instead solely in Hammerfell). The reason for this being Bethesda's TES formula: one nation – one national hero as a protagonist, and the unique vibe of the province.
The first point or conclusion I mentioned in the very beginning is fairly obvious. The Hammerfell's culture (despite my love for High Rock and Bretons' history and lore) is definitely superb in terms of the richness of its religion and culture and also has a pretty epic history. Which makes Hammerfell much better setting for the next TES game (at least for Bethesda), coming out of cold and snowy, even though no less epic in terms of lore, Skyrim.
The Second conclusion is the reason why I essentially write all this. First of all, based on the Todd Howard's interviews and other pieces of evidence (which I will not cite here for the sake of not making this post too long), Bethesda Game Studios is currently able to make TESVI taking place in both High Rock and Hammerfell, with both provinces being about the size of Skyrim, meaning two times TESV. (And I believe that the majority of the community agrees with that).
So, under the assumption that Bethesda can technically make TESVI set in the two provinces, I believe that the chance of them actually doing that is pretty slim.
And the primary reason for that is the way Bethesda approaches the creation of the game world. I believe that when making a new game Bethesda Game Studios first establishes the tone and atmosphere of their storytelling, which is expressed in the entirety of the game not exclusively by the dialogues and questlines, but by the world itself. So when making the new TES game, Bethesda will focus on this certain vibe they want player to feel, and center the entirety of the systems and story around that. At E3 2018 Geoff Keighley interview, when asked about TESVI/Starfield teasers, Todd Howard said: "The teasers that we put out, they: a) announcing the game, and b) the ones of tone. So, how does the game feel?…". (
) Similar kind of approach we (or at least some of us) saw in 2010 Game of the Year Awards, when TESV Skyrim was first announced. (
) Even though it was quite a different situation back then, with the game releasing the following year, still the idea of showing off the tone or the vibe of the project was still there, as the main focus of the teaser. And I would argue that this element of how the game world must make the player feel, was and still is the central idea of Bethesda games design in respect to a setting or a game world.
So how does that relate to the reason why both High Rock and Hammerfell will not be both in TESVI? The tone and consequent storytelling are those reasons. I feel like the best way to illustrate what I mean, is to pose the following question: Is there a reincarnation of a god/hero who will be equally culturally applicable and appropriate for both people of Hammerfell and High Rock? From my TES Lore knowledge there is no such a hero. Simply because the cultural rift between the two nations is so huge that, despite their geographical proximity, they have very little in common in terms of their native mythologies. For example, the ancient hero and god of Redguard native pantheon – Hunding is purely Reguard deity which will not be relevant in any way to the majority of Bretons of High Rock. Similarly, because of the close connection of the Bretons to the elven heritage, any ancient hero/god that might be made up by Bethesda for High Rock (similar to Hunding or dovakiin) would be fully irrelevant to Redguards.
The same goes for climate of the provinces. I feel like it will be impossible to make a certain common tone for the world that includes both High Rock and Hammerfell, just because of how different their nature is. Even the different biomes of Skyrim still made sense as parts of huge (at least in lore) geographical region of temperate climate. But when we are talking about the world map that runs from snowy, mountainous Jelhanna all the way to the sandy and dry Stros M'Kai, we see too much of a diversity to fit into a certain common vibe, that would be momentarily identified, similarly to how three previous games did it.
So, another question rises, here. Why in the world would things such as tone and the protagonist role affect the "be whoever you want, do whatever you want" type of game. The answer is: Bethesda. Looking at at least past three games there's a clear tendency of Bethesda following their idea of making the world feel a certain way (ashlands of Morrowind, fields and forests of Oblivion, snowy tundra of Skyrim) and the character being some kind of national hero of the chosen province's people (nerevarine – dunmer, champion of cyrodiil – imperials, dovahkiin – nords). So when we draw that comparison, TESVI, if set in two provinces of about the same size, just wouldn't make much sense. Additionally the two provinces, being so different in terms of lore and climate would simply "compete" for the player's attention. Similarly, because of the absence of common culture or heritage that might be shared between the majority of the population of Hammerfell and High Rock, there could be no common hero, equally relevant for both cultures. Meaning that if Bethesda would make TESVI set in both provinces and then make the player the avatar of Hunding, for example, the half of the entire game world (High Rock) would be simply irrelevant for the most part. So to somehow unite these two provinces and make the main quest look at least somehow natural in this game world, they would probably need a whole bunch of new lore and retcons here. And then Bethesda would inevitably suffer a backlash from the side of community discontent by them changing the lore and/or making either culture more prevalent in the game than the another.
So, It seems much easier for Bethesda to avoid all this by doing Hammerfell alone. In line with the previous games: one national hero – one nation. Maybe even make Hammerfell in TESVI about two or three times bigger than Skyrim. Make bigger cities (which Todd Howard was talking about in his interview in 2020), expand the lore of Redguards, make the protagonist be avatar of Hunding. I believe that Bethesda will most likely do just that. I believe that making the game in only one province, but expanding its lore and thoroughly working on the game world is much better than spreading themselves too thin trying to practically fit two very different Elder Scrolls Games into one.
What do you think? Am I overthinking this? Is there a chance for Bethesda organically tying both provinces into the common main story that would equally make sense both for Breton and Redguard characters?
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