Bethesda Game Studios knows exactly what they’re going to be working on for the next couple decades, as studio head Todd Howard has stated that they will make Fallout 5, once they’re done making The Elder Scrolls 6, which is what they put into full production after they’ve released Starfield.
Speaking to IGN after the Starfield gameplay reveal during Sunday’s Xbox & Betheda Showcase, Howard confirmed that “Yes, Elder Scrolls 6 is in pre-production and, you know, we’re going to be doing Fallout 5 after that, so our slate’s pretty full going forward for a while. We have some other projects that we look at from time to time as well.”
It makes explicit what people generally assumed would be the case for the studio, considering that Howard said in late 2021 that they have “a one-pager on Fallout 5, what we want to do.”
So, that’s nice to have such lofty aspirations, and maybe we’ll see the game released within our lifetimes. The rate at which Bethesda has been able to produce games has lengthened significantly over the last generation. Since releasing Skyrim in 2011 (and 2016, and 2017 and 2021), Bethesda released Fallout 4 in late 2015, the multiplayer offshoot Fallout 76 in 2018, and has now had Starfield as the main focus for the last few years. Obviously there is significant overlap between games as they go from pre-production to full production, as games are supported with major expansions or require dramatic crash courses of bug fixes and improvements in Fallout 76’s, and as they are overhauled for VR (Skyrim and Fallout 4).
Work on Starfield started in late 2015, Howard has confirmed, but it’s never as simple as saying that it’s been in development for 7 years, given how production swells, grows and changes over time. Even so, Howard acknowledged that games are taking Bethesda Game Studios longer to produce. “They do take a while,” he said. “I wish they came out faster, I really do, we’re trying as hard as we can, but we want them to be as best as they can be for everybody.”
Now, they could pass the project on to another developer – Fallout: New Vegas is one of the best loved games in the series and was developed by fellow Xbox company Obsidian Entertainment – but they don’t want to do that.
So, even expecting Bethesda to have a greater, more singular focus on Elder Scrolls 6 after Starfield’s 2023 release, modern games are taking longer to produce and require more resources to create. It could be four or five years before ES6 is shipped and Bethesda can shift focus to full production of Fallout 5, and then another five years. That’s not including unforeseen production delays, as well. Mark your calendars for 2033, in other words.
At least we’ll have Starfield to keep us occupied for a good long while. Bethesda revealed a lot of gameplay over the weekend, revealing the narrative that has you hunting down artefacts scattered across the many planets you can visit, showcasing the action packed shooter combat, the fully customisable starship and base building, and plenty more. Starfield is expected to release in early 2023, having been delayed from its 11th November release date.