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Everything we know about Bethesda's Indiana Jones game

Indiana Jones and the Pile of Old Books
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Talking about Indiana Jones games in 2021 is basically a form of archeology. The most recent, the Lego Indiana Jones adventures, are more than a decade old, while most of Indy's adventures date back to the mid-'90s. Finally, though, Indy's getting ready for a new adventure. While it's too early to grab your hat and whip and begin fretting about snakes, Bethesda has announced that a brand new game featuring the daring archaeologist is in the works. 

If the teaser trailer released in January is anything to go by, Bethesda's Indiana Jones game is in good hands, and will be jam packed with Easter eggs for devoted fans. While there's very little information to dissect at the time of writing, we've done our best to scour the trailer for details. Here's everything we know about Bethesda's upcoming Indiana Jones game, and when we hope we'll be able to play it.

What's the Indiana Jones game release date?

It's too early to mark a date on our calendars, but that doesn't mean we can't comb the teaser trailer and dream about the things we'd like to see in the upcoming Indiana Jones game. All we know is that it's officially in development, and it has some promising names behind it. MachineGames, the same studio that brought us the rebooted Wolfenstein games, will be collaborating with Lucasfilm Games on Indy's next adventure. Todd Howard has also been named as the executive producer.

The only substantial news on the upcoming release was Bethesda's surprise announcement on us on Twitter. In Bethesda's words, "it'll be some time before we have more to reveal, but we’re very excited to share today’s news!" 

As this really was just a teaser, I think tempering our expectations is the best way to go for now. I can't see the game releasing any earlier than 2022, and even then we're likely being too hopeful. Remember, we're still eagerly awaiting details on some of Bethesda's other upcoming games. The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield were both announced in 2018, and neither have a release date just yet. 

Here's the Indiana Jones announcement trailer

We only have one trailer to rewatch on repeat at present, but there are several interesting objects that we've spotted in the 30-second tease which give us a clue as to where Dr. Jones is heading next. If you want to have a quick peek before we get into the details, you can watch the first teaser trailer below. 

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What's the setting for the new Indiana Jones game?

The trailer isn't the best quality, but we can make out a few important details. We always see the famous archaeologist jetting off on long trips around the world in the movies, so it's no surprise that we'll need a passport handy this time. The teaser features an orange plane ticket destined for Rome, dated October 1937. This is resting on a map of Vatican City, in which we can just about make out the Sistine Chapel. 

There are a few pencil marks on the map, which indicate that we'll probably travel to those places of interest at some point. Using a real map of the area for reference, we can see that St. Damaso Courtyard and Belvedere Courtyard are on Indy's radar. 

There are lots of items sprawled across the desk in the trailer, including books on the Ancient Circle: Jubilee, and Forbidden Stones. It's also easy to spot a couple of sketches of what appears to be a temple and the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol that Jones stole at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are also some fun little nods to Indy's past, including the 'MC' mug, referencing Marshall College, which has previously appeared in various novels and comics. Indiana Jones fans have taken to Twitter to break down the teaser in even greater detail. 

Todd Howard has been trying to get an Indiana Jones movie made for a decade

We may have a while to wait still before we hear more about Bethesda's Indiana Jones game, but hopefully not nearly as long as Bethesda has been trying to get it made.

"I think I originally pitched Lucas in 2009 and I’ve been trying to find a way to make that since," Todd Howard said in an interview. "I think the work Machine Games have done, they’re just phenomenal developers and storytellers. And when I started talking to them about it, it was a good fit. And we got to the opportunity to talk to Lucas and Disney about it and they were super excited.

"I really like Indiana Jones but never thought I’d have the opportunity to make a game. And you’ll hear about more of that in the future. But the team at Machine Games are the best team in the world to pull this game off and they’re doing a phenomenal job."

It'll feature an original story, but will probably link to the movies

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Bethesda has already confirmed that the upcoming Indiana Jones game will feature an original story. However, seeing as a drawing of the Golden Idol is visible in the trailer, it looks as though MachineGames are keen to attach it to the movies in some way. Let's take a quick look at the cinematic timeline to see where the new game could slot in: 

  • Temple of Doom: 1935
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark: 1936
  • The Last Crusade: 1938
  • Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 1957

So, if we're working off the movie timeline, the new game neatly sits between the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade. One group that immediately springs to mind for this time period (and the Indiana Jones movies) is the Nazis. If you've played any of the Wolfenstein games, you'll know that MachineGames has made its thoughts on the Nazis unmistakably clear. We also know that Indy rightfully despises them, so I'm keen to see how Wolfenstein's unique style of taking out the bad guys works its way into this adventure.        

Some of Indy's early gaming adventures are a few decades old at this point, and probably belong in a museum themselves. Andy has kindly put together a brief history of Indiana Jones games to remind us of all the sticky situations Dr. Jones has found himself in over the years. With regards to setting, the first Indy game to arrive on PC, Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients, was set in 1936, just before the new one. Considering this was first released on the NES, Atari 2600, and Commodore 64, I doubt it'll get a nod when MachineGames takes the reins, but you never know. Maybe Fate of Atlantis will get a shout, at least. 

Will the new Indiana Jones game be an exclusive? 

Following Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda, there's uncertainty surrounding which games will be exclusive to Xbox and PC. During the Bethesda joins Xbox roundtable in March 2021, Phil Spencer mentioned that "this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists". Thankfully, this means that we don't have to worry about missing out as Game Pass extends to PC as well as Xbox consoles. The same cannot be said for PS5 and Nintendo Switch players, though. 

Before jumping to conclusions, it's important to remember that we don't know which games will be exclusives. Contractual obligations could mean that the new Indiana Jones game releases on PS5 without delay, but we'll be keeping a close eye out for further details as more information is announced.

Emma Matthews

As PC Gamer's guides writer, Emma is usually juggling several games at once. She loves competitive first-person shooters like CS:GO and Call of Duty, but she always has time for a few rounds of Hearthstone. She's happiest when she's rescuing pugs in Spelunky 2.