Why we think Hammerfell is the location of The Elder Scrolls 6
There’s really not a lot to go on here but, if we had to, we’d plant our flag in Hammerfell as the location of The Elder Scrolls 6. Just. Here’s why – and bear with us, because we’re going way into speculation territory here…
Firstly, let’s make some assumptions. Let’s assume, for the sake of narrowing it down, that the following is true (and that you’ve watched that teaser trailer, above):
- It’s not set in all of Tamriel – it might be (and we’ll discuss the possibility of that below), but if we want to even try to narrow it down, we have to at least start with assuming this trailer isn’t just a generic mockup of “somewhere in the continent”. For now, let’s say the location of the trailer hints at the location of the game.
- It’s not set outside of Tamriel – again, we discuss the possibility of this below and again, for us to really narrow it down we need to assume it’s somewhere we already know a decent amount about.
- Temporally, it’s set somewhere at least close to the dates of the events of Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim – if it’s set way before or way after those events, then again we lose all power of deduction from what we see in the teaser (big, land-mass-changing stuff happens over the course of Nirn and Tamriel’s history, after all, and Skyrim, for instance, was set 200 years after Oblivion). Let’s assume the maps of Tamriel that exist at the time of those other games, and the key locations depicted on them, are already in existence at whatever time this trailer and game is set.
Again, for emphasis: it may be that none of those assumptions are true, or some of them are – but for the sake of argument, and for the fun of it, let’s say they all are, so we can actually analyse what we’ve seen.
So, those assumptions in mind, here’s our reasoning for believing The Elder Scrolls 6 is most likely to be set in Hammerfell:
Step one: narrowing it down
Firstly, the trailer shows us several things. We get an idea of the landscape – dry, rocky and mountainous with thinning, shrubby greenery throughout most of it – as well as a clear shot of the sea, to the right. We can also clearly see a ruined, fort-like structure in the centre, near a crater-like drop to the left, and if you look closely, right in the distance on the coast, there is what looks like a city, set in a marshy, green area with some kind of watery passage or river just in front of it.
So, if we’re looking for places on Tamriel maps that represent the trailer, we need somewhere in a dry, arid climate, where the ocean would be on our right if the city was dead ahead of us, and crucially no other land mass appears behind the city if we look in its direction.
If we exclude Morrowind, Cyrodiil, Skyrim and the Summerset Isles – all locations we’ve visited very recently, that feature different climates to this and, I think we can safely say, would make very surprising main locations for the Elder Scrolls 6 – then there are still a number of coastal cities that fit the bill.
Working from the above map, the following cities are possibilities: Farrun, Northpoint, Camlorn and Daggerfall in the High Rock region; Archon and Soulrest in Black Marsh; Senchal in Elsweyr (at a push – if the sea is on your right and Senchal’s ahead, you’d probably be able to see other parts of Elsweyr in the distance beyond it); Falinesti, Woodhearth, Southpoint and maybe Greenheart in Valenwood; and finally Sentinel, and maybe Taneth in Hammerfell.
We think the climate and topography of the land rules out Valenwood and Black Marsh. Valenwood is described as “Tamriel’s garden” and “a sea of endless green, a maze of foliage with half-hidden cities growing like blooms from a flower” in the fictional (but canonical) book “A Pocket Guide to the Empire, Third Edition”. Safe to say the rocky, arid mountains and craterious areas of the trailer don’t match up to that lush description.
Likewise, Black Marsh is described as a “fetid” swampland, and is known to have a southern coast that’s largely made up of island-like landmasses amid the marshes. The city in the trailer would have to be on Black Marsh’s southern coast and, while there does look like there’s a little bit of swampy lowland around the distant city in the trailer, the low and flat nature of swamps in general doesn’t sit well with the huge, ranging peaks of the mountains on show here.
Step two: High Rock vs. Hammerfell
So that leaves High Rock and and Hammerfell, and there are two reasons we get to Hamerfell: one, because High Rock can be ruled out (reasonably, but not as definitely as Black Marsh and Valenwood) for its own reasons; and two, because the city of Sentinel in particular really fits the bill.
For one, we reckon High Rock can be ruled out because of its size, as it’s smaller than Cyrodiil, Morrowind and Skyrim, making it an odd choice for what we can assume would be a massive game world. Second there’s its architecture, with the trailer’s nearby tower made from a light beige-coloured limestone or sandstone-like material (and also possibly that light-coloured – but to be fair very distant – city), that differs quite strongly from the dark grey stone we’ve seen in Brettonian, High Rock architecture in other games.
Step three: Why Hammerfell fits so well
Those are fairly thin reasons though. The real, key one is the fact the Sentinel, a major Hammerfell city, seems to slot in perfectly to this location. Take a look at how it fits into this old, fan-made map (found on a site called “The Imperial Library” via the Elder Scrolls Lore subreddit) of Hammerfell, and the location and surrounding area of Sentinel in particular:
Notice the small bit of water right next to the city in that map, and the similar river-like bit of water by the distant city in the trailer? The slight bit of greenery around it in both of those? And, if the camera is sweeping down towards Sentinel, from North to South, in the trailer, notice the mountain ranges you’d be sweeping through to the north of Sentinel, and the other mountains ahead that would sit in front of the desert (blocking the camera) and behind it, in the distance?
Alright, it’s a fan-made map, even if it is likely based on Hammerfell-based gameplay in the first Elder Scrolls game, Arena. But how about the following images (again from The Imperial Library) for examples of the terrain and architecture of Hammerfell, taken from concept art and in-game files of The Elder Scrolls Online? They refer to the Hew’s Bane location and Craglorn area respectively.
And, finally, this map, from one of the Elder Scrolls wikis, which puts a little tower inland, to the south-east of Sentinel, if you can see it – that could be the ruined fort we see in the trailer:
Away from those very cartographical arguments, there are, actually, quite a lot of other reasons why Sentinel and Hammerfell make sense. Speaking more broadly Hammerfell is just a great location to set big, fantasy RPG: it’s a large area, it has a range of climates and environments (not just the dry mountains we saw but also greenery, snowy mountains, and the vast Alik’r desert) – okay, admittedly this is still kind of cartographical – but also a range of enhabitants, too.
Elder Scrolls games have, at the very least in their more modern, post-Morrowind forms, tended to lean quite heavily on racial and political conflict as a foundation for their plot. Regardless of whether or not you think they’ve been handled with the proper depth, issues like mass migration, racial and religious tension, colonialism, civil war and class struggle have run as threads throughout these games for years, and certain regions, at least in their current forms in the “lore”, just don’t have the necessary variety of population to carry them.
Hammerfell, however, has the mass emigration of the Redguard people – from the ancient, non-Tamriel land of Yokuda (see the map above, sourced from the Elder Scrolls pages) – built into its history. It has varied architecture, from the gold dome-capped buildings of the Alik’r to the more Nordic Dragonstar on the border with Skyrim and the Mages Guild in Elinhir.
It also, fittingly, has a political history tied to that of Skyrim and Cyrodiil – the Redguard of Hammerfell rejected the White-Gold Concordat, the crippling treaty signed by the Altmeri Dominion and the Empire between the events of Oblivion and Skyrim, that plays as a fitting backstory to those Nord-Thalmor tensions in the Elder Scrolls 5.
It means not only are there regional tensions within Hammerfell, there are also plenty between Hammerfell and the Thalmor, Hammerfell and the Empire (many Redguard feel the Empire “abandoned” them by signing the treaty, according to the in-game book “The Great War”), and even between Hammerfell and Skyrim at the disputed territory of Craglorn in the north.
There are some other little things – some fans have pointed out that the reddish-gold hue of the Elder Scrolls VI logo in the teaser represents Dwemer metal, in the same way Skyrim’s silver logo represents Skyforge steel (the Dwemer, a popular ancient race, enhabited Hammerfell before the Redguard and called it Volenfell) – but this is a bit of a stretch.
Similarly strained ties can be drawn between the style of music in the trailer and the location. The theme music tends to represent the region of the games: where Skyrim’s theme was deep and choral, and Impirial Cyrodiil-based Oblivion’s was full of pomp, this one’s more militaristic and orchestral, you could say – and therefore fitting of the heroic Redguard. But that really is a stretch.
Otherwise, the location’s also easily expandable – the smaller High Rock sits to the North and has close trade ties with Hammerfell, so could make for a Summerset Isle-style expansion, or even be included with it if the game’s particularly massive – and the main race is humanoid, and therefore marketable, compared to, say, the fan-favourite-but-not-exactly-mass-appeal Kajiit and Argonian cat- and lizard-people.
Finally, it’s not too far from Skyrim, and if there’s one thing we can take from that game’s ludicrous appeal and platform omnipresence it’s that it has huge marketing sway, to the point where some people would see this game as a “Skyrim 2” as much as it’s an Elder Scrolls 6. It would be a huge surprise if Bethesda strayed too far from Skyrim, geographically as well as just tonally. Bordering the region, but not overlapping with it, could be a smart move?
A final point: “what about that giant desert in Hammerfell?” I hear maybe one person at most say? Well, the Alik’r desert is located in the south-western part of the region, and it’s known to be surrounded by mountains, like the Gobi desert (credit to Goofy_Goober on reddit for that lovely photo) here in the real world. That would also put it just tantalisingly out of sight in the trailer, behind those mountains on the left.
In conclusion to all of that very lengthy – and often, admittedly, quite thin – speculation, we think Hammerfell’s the safest bet. Above all it just makes sense – plus, just say it: “The Elder Scrolls VI: Hammerfell”. It does have a nice ring to it…
All that said – and as we’ve been at pains to point out as we go – there’s still plenty of room for Bethesda to spring a surprise. So, here are some other options. We promise to keep them brief!
Other potential Elder Scrolls 6 locations: could it be Elswheyr, Valenwood, Black Marsh or somewhere else in Nirn?
Finally, there are some more left-field options.
The Elder Scrolls 6 could still be going to somewhere like Elswheyr, Valenwood or Black Marsh. For one, there’s no guarantee that what we saw in the trailer is even supposed to represent the game’s setting. Todd Howard, Bethesda Game Studios director, is the only person to do any real talking about the game so far, and his only mention of the setting is this very brief momement in an interview with Gamespot, where he describes it in the following way:
“It’s very early. It’s in the concept and design, this is where it is, this is what it’ll be, here’s some of the parts it’ll have [stage].”
So you never know, they might not have actually settled on a location yet and the trailer could just be something they threw together to keep people like us busy pouring over while they actually decide where they want to set it.
Likewise, there’s no way to rule out this being set somewhere other than the continent of Tamriel. The planet Nirn has plenty of other areas to it – although we’ve only ever heard of them in passing – and one popular, albeit surprising choice would be Akavir.
Akavir is the original land of the Blades, who themselves migrated to Tamriel to chase roaming dragons, before swearing loyalty to the first Dragonborn, and so on. According to the in-game book “Mysterious Akavir”, it’s said to be populated by several races: the Tang Mo, described as “monkey-folk”; the Kamal, described as “primal demons”; the Ka’Po’Tun, or “tiger people”; the Tsaesci, who are apparently “vampire serpent-men”; and finally a few Humans, who may have been wiped out (read: eaten).
It’s a bit of a leap from regular old recognisable Tamriel then, but you never know – maybe the tiger people are actually an archaic description of Kajiit, and there could be a new point in the timeline where things are a little easier for us human folk to comprehend? Or maybe we could be going to one of the other regions on Nirn: Yokuda, Atmora, Pyandonea, Thras or Aldmeris, that you can maybe see on that unofficial map above (sourced from the Elder Scrolls Wiki)?
Unlikely, in our opinion, even if it’s technically possible. Maybe one for some left-field DLC though?