E3 2018: Dissecting the Elder Scrolls VI teaser that broke the internet
It’s amazing how a small teaser will set people on fire. Massively OP’s chatroom lit up with speculation. Admittedly, it was mostly me and Bree going nuts over this particular game, but we were doing our best to try to determine where The Elder Scrolls VI would take place. All we had was a 36-second fly-by that featured a bunch of rocks, bigger rocks, and a little bit of grass. In other words, it told us practically nothing. But that didn’t stop me from attempting to pull apart each little detail — what was shown and what wasn’t.
Let’s break this down.
I think the first thing to look at when you see this teaser is that it’s not a traditional helicopter fly-by. It might appear that we actually in the air flying over the land, but in actuality, the camera sits about two meters above the ground at first. It’s a bit hard to tell because the whole thing is full of fog and mist. But there are a few clues. The biggest clue sits at the 4-second mark. It’s a pile of rocks that I thought was a city on first viewing, but no. If you look at the still I’ve included below, you’ll see that it’s clearly a pile of rocks and really couldn’t be anything else.
Thankfully, it wasn’t this pile of rocks that broke everything. The still that broke everything is the same one that I used for the header of this article. It suggests a mountainous land with an ocean off to the right, a castle in the middle, and some kind of crater to the left. But the best shot of everything actually appears well before the words appear in that iconic Elder Scrolls font.
If we rewind the video back to 16 seconds, we can see everything that we need to speculate where we are.
Bethesda artists know how to tease, and they also know good cinematography. In any good landscape shot, you need something to help give the audience perspective. And this image has it. As you recall, the lower part of this image is only about two meters away from the camera. This is most evident on the left. Although the landscape appears to blend together, there is a clear dip in the land as the camera moves forward. Objects in the background will move slower than objects in the foreground. We can see that happening on the left if we look at the teaser frame by frame. I’ve also outlined the four different levels of perspective in the image above.
With that in mind, what does each layer tell us?
First, it tells us that we are pretty high up, and that’s a sharp curve downward to the lip of the crater. It also tells us that those green things in front aren’t trees as I originally supposed. They are tufts of grass in what appears to be sand.
The second layer seems to be the most telling because it houses the castle ruins and the crater, but in reality, it really tells us very little, unless we knew which castle and crater that is. But pay attention to the shadow in this layer because it will be important in a minute.
The third layer obviously tells us that this region of Nirn is mountainous. But it also gives us an indication that we might be in the most northern area of the planet because it appears that there is snow on the mountains and not just the tops but also at the base of the mountains.
The last layer is actually the most important in telling us where we are because it houses a giant body of water, mountains, and shows us the flow of the land.
The nitty and the gritty
The shadow gives us another very important clue: It’s not noon. It also tells us where the sun is. Why is this important? It tells us the relationship of the objects on the earth to the rest of the planet. Nirn’s sun is the same as Earth’s. It rises in the east and sets in the west. That means the camera is moving more or less north or south.
Let’s go with the assumption that we are headed north-ish. That means there is an ocean-side city and ruins before the land takes a turn to the east. (I circled the city and the ruins in the picture above.) If we take a look at an existing map of Tamriel, I really don’t see a city that fits this description. Northpoint in High Rock is literally on a peninsula and would not have more land to the north of it. The cities in Elsweyr have no mountains. And I can’t see Bethesda going to Summerset this soon after Elder Scrolls Online did.
This means that we are most likely headed south and the ocean is on the west. That also means that we are looking for a mountain range that is south and hooks west with the coastline. I see one likely candidate for that: Orsinium. But would they really do that again so soon after ESO? Possibly, but not likely.
Where does that leave us? I can only think of one possible conclusion, and I have yet to see anyone on Reddit say it yet:
We are not on Tamriel.
I believe that The Elder Scrolls VI crosses the Padomeic Ocean and drops us off on Akavir, the second large landmass on Nirn.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. Where does it align with yours? Do you stand with most of the internet and claim that it’s High Rock? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.