It seems as though The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) is making preparations for the first game expansion of 2022, which, like many of the game’s previous chapters, will more than likely expand the world of ESO significantly. As the game continues to grow and with many fans speculating that it will eventually explore areas outside of Tamriel, it’s worth asking just how large The Elder Scrolls Online’s map is by now and how it might compare to other mainline games in the series.
Unlike many of the more recent mainline Elder Scrolls titles, starting with Morrowind through Oblivion to Skyrim, games in the series tend to only focus on exploring one region at a time, be that Morrowind, Cyrodiil, or Skyrim. Though there are some exceptions, such as Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC allowing for travel to the island of Solstheim, it seems that for the most part, the franchise will stick to this formula for some time to come, as it grows increasingly likely that The Elder Scrolls 6 will take place in either the region of High Rock or Hammerfell.
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An important distinction to make when examining the size of the map in The Elder Scrolls Online compared to other games is that ESO is not technically an open-world game, at least not to the extent that Skyrim or Oblivion is. Instead, it’s split into smaller sub-locations. The Elsweyr chapter of ESO allows players to venture through the Northern region of Elsweyr, for example, which would otherwise not be accessible in the base game. To that end, Elder Scrolls fans looking to piece together the game’s overall size have to do so by examining the general area of each map and adding them together. For the most part, the online community tends to place the total in-game map size of Elder Scrolls Online anywhere from 250 to over 400 kilometers squared and constantly growing based on newly-released expansions.
It’s Hard To Compare ESO’s Map Size To Arena
While just about every other mainline Elder Scrolls game has an easily-measurable map size, it gets a little more complicated when examining Arena’s total area. While the game covers all of Tamriel, just like The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s more traditionally open-world than ESO. At least, in theory. In reality, the developers intended for players to fast travel between critical locations, though Arena’s manual states that traveling on foot between cities is possible, even if it may take players real-world hours or even days to make the journey. Unfortunately, it’s never been successfully proven whether or not this is true, and any distances listed on the game’s fast-travel map exist only in lore rather than actual in-game space.
It appears that the broader area of the Elder Scrolls’ continent of Tamriel is procedurally generated, something that would appear again later on in Daggerfall, and that venturing too far from any of the major cities in Arena will lead players to a seemingly endless wilderness populated with settlements, inns, and dungeons that become gradually unrecognizable the further the player travels. For that reason, it’s almost impossible to calculate the actual map size of Arena. However, Bethesda’s marketing placed the first Elder Scrolls game’s map size at anywhere from 6 to 9 million square kilometers – though an argument could be made that Arena’s map is technically infinite in practice.
Fortunately, the procedural generation seen in Arena’s successor, the second Elder Scrolls game, Daggerfall, worked much closer to what the developers originally intended. This made it far easier to measure the size of the map. Daggerfall is the most giant Elder Scrolls game in the series, with most Elder Scrolls fans agreeing that it’s around 160,000 square kilometers.
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That said, dedicated players have the opportunity to expand this somewhere over 200,000 square kilometers if they allow the map to continue growing by continually generating new areas. The world of Daggerfall is also more populated than that of Arena. Although, the places and quests placed in the game aren’t as well-designed as those in The Elder Scrolls Online by virtue of not being hand-crafted.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of Morrowind among Elder Scrolls fans, it’s surprisingly the smallest of the mainline Elder Scrolls games, measuring in at around just 16 square kilometers. However, Morrowind tends to feel much larger overall thanks to its lack of a built-in fast-travel system akin to that seen later in Skyrim. Instead, players had to rely on things like teleportation scrolls and silt striders to make their way around the world.
This process helps the world of Morrowind feel expansive even when compared to The Elder Scrolls Online, which makes it faster for players to get around not only through its fast-travel systems but its player character’s movement speed as well. Perhaps that’s why many Elder Scrolls fans are vying for The Elder Scrolls 6 to bring back Morrowind’s immersive, lore-friendly RPG mechanics.
The region of Cyrodiil appears in both Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls Online. The former’s map comes in at just over 40 kilometers squared without even including the expansive world of the Shivering Isles expansion. The introduction of a fast-travel system and the design choice of having the White-Gold Tower visible from just about every point on the map makes it feel significantly smaller than both Mor
rowind and Skyrim.
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However, both games feature smaller maps than Oblivion. Skyrim would combat this by adding more winding pathways and mountain ranges to hide the distance between significant locations. In actuality, Oblivion is the largest mainline Elder Scrolls game that isn’t procedurally generated, bested only by The Elder Scrolls Online.
Skyrim is only a bit smaller than Cyrodiil, as depicted in Oblivion, with 37 square kilometers of area for players to explore. Unlike Daggerfall, developers meticulously crafted each location, meaning Skyrim has hundreds of hours’ worth of unique areas and quests to discover. It’s no wonder there are so many Easter eggs and hidden secrets to find in Skyrim. Perhaps that’s why so many Elder Scrolls fans continually return to Skyrim through all of its many rereleases despite the game theoretically having less longevity than a constantly-updating title like The Elder Scrolls Online.
It’s unclear where precisely The Elder Scrolls 6 will be set, though Bethesda has been gradually dropping hints that Hammerfell is a likely candidate. The game has been in development since at least 2018, but the fact that it’s still in its early design stage means that it will likely be a couple more years before Elder Scrolls fans learn anything about the size of the map compared to Skyrim or Morrowind. What’s likely, though, is that it won’t be more extensive than The Elder Scrolls Online‘s map, especially given the fact that by the time Elder Scrolls 6 is officially released, several additional chapters and expansions will have been added to the Elder Scrolls MMORPG.
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