On December 31, the cusp of the new year, Bethesda tweeted a cryptic message over the official Elder Scrolls Twitter account: "Transcribe the past and map the future. Here's to a Happy New Year!" On the surface it had the ring of a fairly standard year-end message, but the bit about transcription and mapping—and the presence of a map—has fans wondering if there's more to it than meets the eye.
Transcribe the past and map the future. 📖Here's to a Happy New Year!🕯 pic.twitter.com/bL44CzLDIEDecember 31, 2020
There are a few competing theories floating around about what it might mean. The broad consensus in this lively Reddit thread (opens in new tab) is that the third candle represents the "future" alluded to in the tweet, suggesting that The Elder Scrolls 6 will take place in Hammerfell, the home of the Redguards. But the first candle in the sequence is causing consternation: It's not on the map at all, but over the sea north of Skyrim—perhaps a reference to the arrival of the Atmorans (opens in new tab)? But it's also sitting atop a box, and who knows what that might mean.
On Twitter, however, followers seem more taken with the coins at the top of the image and the date of the map: 4E 182, which is actually several years prior to the events of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. That's led to some speculation that the next Elder Scrolls game will be fairly closely connected to the last one. It would also seemingly confirm (as much as any of this can be considered "confirmation") that the tweet is not about The Elder Scrolls Online, which is set midway through the Second Era, centuries before the singleplayer Elder Scrolls RPGs.
It's possible that all of this means nothing—that it was, in fact, just a nice "Happy New Year" tweet using some assets from Skyrim because that's what Bethesda had lying around. It's not surprising that fans are running with it, though: Bethesda has said virtually nothing about The Elder Scrolls 6 (opens in new tab) since its dramatic reveal in 2018, except that it won't be out until sometime after the sci-fi RPG Starfield (opens in new tab), which itself doesn't have a release date at this point.
Thanks, GameInformer (opens in new tab).