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When Does The Elder Scrolls Online Take Place?

Image courtesy of Zenimax Online/Bethesda

The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) timeframe seems a bit confusing at first glance. When exactly does it take place?

For many of us, ESO has been scratching that Elder Scrolls itch while we bide our time waiting for the next main installment. As time goes on, we seem to be no closer to The Elder Scrolls 6, and thus our next solo adventure in the world of Tamriel. Luckily, The Elder Scrolls Online has been a saving grace, allowing us to roam around both new and familar regions of the world.

But things might feel a bit different. Areas don't quite look the same as they do in Morrowind or Skyrim, characters only previously mentioned in lore have appeared, and certain events have yet to come to fruition. So, where does ESO fit into the timeline of the series?

When Does ESO Take Place?

If you've spent even a small amount of time in the game you might have realized that ESO takes place well before the events of Skyrim. In fact, ESO is set in the Second Era. This places the game's events roughly 1000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and 800 years before The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

This setting allows the online game to explore some really interesting parts of Tamriel's history, some of which players might have only read about in the main series. From a development point-of-view, the setting has allowed ESO some leniency when it comes to the design of areas. While mostly similar, altering the sizes of certain regions works in the MMO's favor. The map is still massive, though; it would have to be in order to contain most of Tamriel.

ESO provides players with a chance to explore some of the rarely seen areas of Tamriel, such as Hammerfell and High Rock. If you're a die-hard Morrowind like myself, revisiting parts of Vvardenfell with more modern graphics is a joy in itself. It's a great way to explore some of Tamriel's explosive history, and play your own part in the shaping of things to come.

The Elder Scrolls Online is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia, Microsoft Windows, and macOS.