Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind--these are the titles that made The Elder Scrolls (TES) franchise what it is today. Two years after Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) was released, it replaced EVE online as the number 2 MMORPG game of the decade, according to GamesRadar.
In 2012, Complex, a New York-based bi-monthly magazine for youth culture, ranked The Elder Scrolls series at number 20 of the best video games franchise of all time.
The year after that, TES was voted as the greatest game series of the decade on GameSpot. TES garnered 52.5% of the votes, while Grand Theft Auto only received 47.5%.
Truly, The Elder Scrolls game franchise is one of the most influential RPG series in the last 25 years. Skyrim, the fifth main installment of the series, received several Game of the Year awards in 2011.
Elder Scrolls Online, on the other hand, had a rough start. Nevertheless, it gained millions of new players by 2017.
After a number of expansions were made available online, gamers flocked in droves to Tamriel. Many did not hesitate to pay for VIP accounts in order to go adventuring in the newly added regions: Summerset and Morrowind.
Now, Elsweyr, the land of the beasts, was added on ESO. And, TES: VI is being developed. A teaser trailer has also been released.
It’s no wonder that you would want to try out the other Elder Scrolls games. Tamriel, the setting of all the TES games, is so big, and its lore is very diverse. One day is not enough to read all the books scattered throughout Oblivion and Skyrim.
To truly enjoy The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s best to know the roots of the NPCs and the quest they offer. If you want to play elder scrolls game order, just read through.
Welcome To Tamriel
In the TES universe, each game, whether spinoffs or main installments, takes place on Tamriel. The setting features a mix of real-world and pre-medieval elements.
You can compare the setting of each game to Europe’s dark ages. However, there have been rumors that TES: VI could be set in Middle East’s medieval times.
Most regions have Romanic dynasties, and the use of magic is widespread. All TES games have high-fantasy elements. This means Tamriel is littered with dragons, magical beasts, and mythological creatures.
In Skyrim, a dragon named Alduin resurrects his brethrens. In Elsweyr, a mortal warrior and a black-clothed mage awoke three mighty dragons in order to beseech their help.
Other than dragons, you can also find vampires, trolls, spirits, and demon-like creatures in Tamriel. In addition, there are eight known civilized races that are residing in each region.
For example, Morrowind is the home of the dark elves or Dunmer. However, this nation is also inhabited by Imperials, Nords, Khajiit, Altmer, etc.
Each race has a designated homeland, but due to migration and wars, some individuals have been forced to dwell on other provinces. Hence, you can find all sorts of intelligent beings anywhere on the continent.
Each TES game is focused on a specific region. As an example, TES IV: Oblivion is set in Cyrodiil. Cyrodiil is the homeland of the Imperials. If you’re playing Oblivion, you can’t travel to Morrowind or other provinces.
If you want to check out Morrowind, you have to either play TES III or TES V. In the following section, you’re going to see the chronological order of the games.
The Timeline of Tamriel
The Elder Scrolls games have their own eras, calendars, and names for days. Each game has a rich back story, and most of its main installments are the direct sequel to its predecessor.
For example, TES IV precedes TES V. Skyrim is set 200 years after the events in Oblivion.
Knowing the timeline of Tamriel is very important. Playing the games would be more enjoyable if you know the ancestors of essential NPCs. Likewise, you can easily understand the goal of certain factions if you know their history.
The Elder Scrolls series is not just centered on bloodshed, political dynasties, and magical creatures, but it also features an established mythology and a consistent history.
Much like how Christians believe in a supreme being, the races in Tamriel believe in Lorkhan, the eight divines, and the Daedric lords.
To better understand the game’s lore, here is a brief history lesson.
Tamriel is divided into 9 provinces:
- High Rock
- Summerset Isles
- Black Marsh
Tamriel’s timeline is divided into different eras. This is why the dates are recorded as 1E, 2E, 3E, and 4E. All in all, there are four eras. The number after an era is the specific year within that era. For example, 2E 30 represents the 2nd Era year 30.
Throughout the games, you’ll see scrolls and books that are dated.
The Elders Scrolls Game Order
Since TES Arena’s debut in 1994, Bethesda Game Studios, the developer of the franchise, has produced 5 main games, one MMORPG, and several spin-offs.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena
Arena is the first-ever TES game. It was released for MS-DOS computers.
At first, Arena wasn’t supposed to be an RPG game. However, its beta testers commended its RPG elements.In the game, you have to complete side quests in order to improve your character’s abilities and build.
Eventually, the developers focused more on designing dungeons and quests than on creating tournaments within the game. Because of this, TES: Arena became a full-blown RPG.
The game was then based on Tamriel’s mystical tomes of knowledge that can defy time and space. This concept was introduced by a developer named Vijay.
So, why was it named The Elder Scrolls Arena? Even though the team removed all arena tournaments from the game, they marketed TES: Arena months before the changes were made. In 1994, Bethesda Softworks was just a small studio. The game was supposed to be released on December 1993. But the team missed their Christmas deadline.
Hence, they were forced to launch it on March 25, 1994. Initially, the developers thought that they failed the company. Nevertheless, sales continued to grow. It was only mainly passed by word-of-mouth, yet TES: Arena became a hit.
Matt Barton, a game historian, said, “Arena set a standard for its genre. It demonstrated how RPGs can be expanded.”
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
After Arena was launched in March 1994, Bethesda started working on Daggerfall. The team aimed to improve the game’s story and series of adventures. They introduced complex concepts and new game mechanics.
They also introduced the so-called “character generation engine.” This enables players to design their own classes and choose their character’s skills.
Bethesda used XinGineengine to develop Daggerfall. This is one of the first true 3D engines.
TES II featured a world that is about the size of England. It generates 750,000 NPCs and 15,000 towns.
Ted Peterson and Julian LeFay, two of the developers of the game, were influenced by Vampire: The Masquerade and The Man in the Iron Mask. Because of this, they included some dark fantasy concepts in Daggerfall.
The game was released on August 1996. The first version had so many bugs. Many players complained. To solve the issue, Bethesda released downloadable updates.
Battlespire and Redguard
After releasing TES II, Bethesda developed 3 games simultaneously.
- The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
In Battlespire, multiplayer is enabled. This is the only TES game that included this feature. Battlespire is a pure RPG game. It was inspired by the Ultima series, Prince of Persia, and Tomb Raider.
In contrast, Redguard doesn’t allow players to create a character. You can only use Cyrus, a young adult Redguard.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Morrowind is the 3rd main installment in the series. This game encompasses the whole province of Morrowind, and it enables you to join 5 factions.
Unlike Daggerfall, the game world of TES: III was designed by hand. Bethesda did not use automatic world expansion in TES III.
Unlike Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, Daggerfall’s world is infinite. Random algorithmic methods generate towns and NPCs.
Bethesda worked on Morrowind carefully. They imported developers from subsidiaries and doubled their staff in order to bolster the game’s quality.
On April 23, 2002, Morrowind was released. Later on, two expansion packs became available for those who had ordered TES III.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal
- The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon
Installing the expansions add new quests, NPCs, and regions to Morrowind.
TES III: Morrowind garnered positive reviews from Critics. It sold over 4 million copies and earned $11 million by 2006.
The editors of Computer Games Magazine described TES III as “an ambitious and Herculean RPG that works.”
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
After Morrowind’s successful release, Bethesda Softworks further expanded the series’ lore.
When Oblivion was launched on March 21, 2006, it wowed gamers. The “Oblivion Crisis” was introduced in this game. New deities were added. The planes of Oblivion became accessible.
The Oblivion Crisis is also known as the Great Anguish of the Altmers. Altmers are also called the High Elves of Tamriel.
The Oblivion Crisis was a period of armed conflict and major turmoil. In TES IV, the inhabitants of Tamriel are at war with the Daedras.
The game is set in Cyrodiil and six years after the end of the main story in Morrowind.
The events in TES III became turning points in Tamriel’s history. In this game, the Dark Brotherhood assassinates Uriel Septim VII. The Daedras invade Tamriel. The Kvatch is destroyed. And, the battles of Bruma and the Imperial city occurs.
The Oblivion Crisis also marks the end of the Septim Dynasty and the 3rd Era. It greatly affects all regions in Tamriel.
Several months after TES III’s release, Bethesda provided two expansion packs:
- The Shivering Isles
- Knights of the Nine
These two do not add significant changes to the map. When installed, the latter adds a questline and the former opens gateway towards an eponymous plane.
The Elder Scrolls VI: Skyrim
It took nearly a decade to release TES VI: Skyrim. Nevertheless, it became the biggest hit in the game franchise.
In 2010, Todd Howard revealed that they’re working on a game since 2006.
In 2011, Bethesda released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It garnered widespread critical acclaim, and it received Game of the Year awards from multiple outlets, such as Spike and IGN.
TES III is set 200 years after the Oblivion Crisis.
In the game, Alduin, the dragon World Eater, returns to Skyrim to resurrect his fallen brethren. He refers to them as Dovahs, and he calls the protagonist Dovahkiin.
The concept of the “Dragonborn” is introduced in this game. Alduin threatens to end the world, destroy Tamriel, and kill all the mortals in Nirn.
The game revolves around the Dragonborn or Dovahkiin. The hero has to stop Alduin and his minions.
Skyrim’s map is larger than Morrowind’s and Oblivion’s map. It offers more than 500 quests and over a dozen factions.
When Dawnguard was released, it added brand new combat systems and abilities. In the vanilla game, you can become a vampire if you don’t treat Sanguine Vampiris.
If you install the said expansion pack, you can become a vampire lord by asking Serana or Harkon to bestow the power to you.
If you install Hearthfire, you can build houses, adopt 2 children, and marry one of your friends in the game.
The Dragonborn DLC adds a pretty large region on the map. When it is installed, you can go to Morrowind and explore a small part of the province.
Like the other expansion packs, Dawnguard and Dragonborn add additional side quests, items, and NPCs to the game.
In nearly 3 decades, Bethesda Softworks has released 5 main installments, 1 MMORPG, and several spinoffs. They have made their franchise playable in almost all types of gaming platforms. The Elder Scrolls Blades, one of their latest releases, is available on Android and iOS phones.
The lore of the Elder Scrolls universe will be easy to understand if you start with Morrowind. Daggerfall and Arena introduce the world of the game. But the story was only further expanded in TES III.
Both Oblivion and Skyrim provide resources for Tamriel’s rich history. If you go through the books scattered all over the regions, you can get a glimpse of past events, which occurred in the previous games.
When it comes to ESO, it’s set 1000 years before the events in Skyrim. So it isn’t based on the last 3 main installments. Nevertheless, some quests and figures are associated with the content of the other games.
TES VI, which could be released 1-3 years from now, may be the sequel to Skyrim’s conclusion. Not much has been revealed about TES VI, but it will surely be another phenomenal Elder Scrolls game. Whether you are a hardcore gamer or a fair weather person who plays to enjoy relaxing on a reclining gaming chair pretending to be playing, TES will not disappoint you!