With a lineage dating back to 1994, it’s impossible to discuss RPGs without mentioning Bethesda Studios’ flagship franchise, the Elder Scrolls. Whether you first explored the realm of Tamriel while facing off against the fearsome dragon Alduin in 2011’s Skyrim, or you’ve been a fan since saving Emperor Uriel Septim’s life in Arena almost thirty years ago, chances are you’ve experienced one of these groundbreaking fantasy epics.
With numerous Elder Scrolls games now available, newcomers may be wondering where to begin. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve compiled a chronological timeline of every Elder Scrolls game and major expansion, providing you with a guide on how to play the series in order.
– How Many Elder Scrolls Games Are There?
There are a total of 27 games and expansions in the Elder Scrolls timeline – 4 exclusively on PC, 18 on home consoles, and 5 on mobile devices. All of these games are considered canon in the Elder Scrolls universe, and each one tells a unique story set in the fictional world of Tamriel. While some games span multiple provinces, each entry in the series primarily focuses on a specific continent or region within Tamriel, whether it’s the mysterious swamps of Morrowind, the snowy peaks of Skyrim, or the sunny fields of Cyrodiil.
There are only two games that won’t be featured in this timeline, and that’s because their exact placement within the Elder Scrolls universe is unclear. These games are The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar and The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold. These mobile spin-offs are standalone dungeon-crawlers that don’t have a specific time or era associated with their events, making it challenging to include them in the timeline. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the chronological order of each game in the series.
Elder Scrolls Games and Expansions in Chronological Order:
Please note that the following descriptions may contain minor spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and plot details.
1. The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online is the first entry in the timeline and offers a fully online version of Tamriel. Taking place during the Second Age, the story revolves around the vacant Imperial throne and the power struggle among three factions vying for control. While political tension rises, an ancient Daedric Prince named Molag Bal initiates a catastrophic event known as the Planemeld, threatening to merge Tamriel with the apocalyptic realm of Coldharbour. Players assume the role of the Vestige, a warrior who must defeat Molag Bal, reclaim their soul, and prevent the destruction of Tamriel.
2. The Elder Scrolls Online – Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls Online – Morrowind is the first major expansion for the online game. Set years before the events of The Elder Scrolls III, players venture to the elven region of Vvardenfell. They aid the Tribunal gods, specifically Vivec, in combating a new Daedric threat and preventing a meteor from colliding with the island.
3. The Elder Scrolls Online – Summerset
Summerset is the second major expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online. It takes place in the homeland of the High Elves, also known as Summerset. Players investigate a cult called the Court of Bedlam while facing a looming Daedric threat. As they uncover more about the cult’s plans, they join forces with allies to stop them.
4. The Elder Scrolls Online – Elsweyr
Elsweyr, the third major expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, transports players to the homeland of the Khajiti, which has been invaded by dragons believed to be extinct. The Vestige journeys to Elsweyr to defeat the dragons and uncover the reason for their sudden return.
5. The Elder Scrolls Online – Greymoor
Greymoor, the fourth major expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, revisits Skyrim before the events of The Elder Scrolls V. Players investigate supernatural storms and find themselves battling a powerful vampire lord and his ancient army, known as the Gray Host. They must combat vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other monsters to save Skyrim from the undead invaders.
6. The Elder Scrolls Online – Blackwood
Blackwood, the fifth major expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, takes players to the marshes beyond Leyawin, a setting from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, hundreds of years before the events of the game. The Vestige embarks on a journey to stop a cult known as the Longhouse Emperors, who have made a pact with the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon. With new allies, they strive to end the cult’s dangerous ambitions.
7. The Elder Scrolls Online – High Isle
High Isle, the sixth major expansion of The Elder Scrolls Online, transports players to the home of the Bretons. Here, they uncover a mysterious conspiracy that threatens all of Tamriel. Pursuing the Ascendant Order, a battalion of knights, the Vestige discovers that their leader, the Ascendant Lord, plans to plunge the world into eternal conflict. Teaming up with allies, they embark on an adventure to foil the plan and defeat the Ascendant Lord.
8. The Elder Scrolls Online – Necrom
Necrom, the seventh major expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, returns to the region of Morrowind. Players explore the Telvanni Peninsula and uncover a new Daedric plot that jeopardizes Morrowind and beyond.
9. The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
Set during the final years of the Second Era, Redguard is an action-focused spin-off of the main series. Players control a Redguard mercenary named Cyrus, who returns to Hammerfall in search of his missing sister, Iszara. As Cyrus navigates through Hammerfall, he confronts pirates, guards, and Daedric forces while unraveling the secrets of Hammerfall’s rulers.
10. The Elder Scrolls: Arena
Arena is the first mainline game in the Elder Scrolls series, set hundreds of years after Redguard, in the Third Era. The story revolves around the treacherous battle mage Jagar Tharn, who usurps the throne of Emperor Uriel Septim and banishes him to an alternate realm. The player assumes the role of the Eternal Champion, embarking on a quest to retrieve the Staff of Chaos and overthrow Tharn’s reign.
11. The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey
Shadowkey takes place during the events of Arena and follows a nameless hero on a quest to rescue their town from bandits. During their journey, they encounter a prisoner named Skelos Undriel, who is being pursued by Jagar Tharn. Together, they uncover the truth behind Tharn’s quest to find the powerful dark magic creature known as the Umbra’ Keth.
These are just a few of the games and expansions in the intricate and expansive Elder Scrolls universe. Each installment offers a unique adventure within the vivid and immersive world of Tamriel. So whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the franchise, there is always an Elder Scrolls game waiting to captivate your imagination.
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