Making the case for the next Skyrim DLC.
Almost two months ago we posted an article about the rumors of Redguard being the next Skyrim DLC. I continue to see articles popping up on this subject and thought perhaps we should address it again. Let me clarify, every article you've seen on this subject, and will see on this, on any site, is speculation until we get more information. Officially, we won't hear an announcement from Bethesda until they launch a trailer, but we may get additional hints in future game patches that offer us more concrete evidence. We are also speaking of 'next major' DLC, keep in mind Bethesda could release a small Hearthfire sized DLC in the meantime.
What started the rumor?
This trademark extension. In July of 2011, the wrapping stages of Skyrim's completion and preperation to launch in November, Zenimax (Bethesda's parent company) filed a trademark for Redguard.
Now, before you get all fanboy and start throwing down Elder knowledge at us, yes, we do realize there was a Elder Scroll Adventures: Redguard game years ago. First of all, they don't file these types of TM's on every game they've ever made, and second, it was registered like every single DLC has been so far as, "Computer game software for use with computers and video game consoles; downloadable computer game software offered via the internet and wireless devices."
So, unless they are developing some sort of mobile app, something Bethesda isn't really interested into diving into according to Hines, or a DLC for Elder Scrolls Online, where a 2011 filing would be way too early for a game yet to even launch, it must be something they plan to use for Skyrim, should they continue to extend it.
How likely is this to be true?
Bethesda is known to drop small clues in their games to future content, but the problem is often sorting through all the information they give us. Some points back into lore, some ties to already published games, some could even be to future games, and some to DLC.
First, step outside the game and consider this from a marketing standpoint. Bethesda has taken us to a lot of northern, snowy areas: Solstheim in their most recent DLC: Dragonborn, Dawnguard took us into the northern Castle Volkihar as well as the journey through the frozen Forgotten Vale as part of the main quest. It would be nice to offer some variety to players and exploring a piece of Hammerfell would do just that, not only in weather, but culture as well.
Now, the biggest indicator that something dealing with Hammerfell needs to happen is the In My Time of Need quest. It's a sidequest a character comes upon early in the game, so was possibly an early idea for a DLC, which might explain why the TM was originally filed in July of 2011. It's also one of the handful of quests that deals with something outside of Skyrim and has an interesting hook that leaves players wanting to know more about the characters and true motives involved.
Another possible clue, revealed thanks to reddit user: ColdBeefPile (I sincerely love sourcing these user names), is the dragon: Nahfahlaar. It's a dragon listed in the Atlas of Dragons in-game book as "still living". The dragon Nafaalifargus is also mentioned in an unused dialogue option by the bard Sven in Riverwood, the theory is they may be the same dragon.
Nahfahlaar was killed in the ESA: Redguard game mentioned earlier, but by a character that was not dragonborn and therefore could not absorb his soul. So he could have returned. But the question is, where would he be? He lived in the mountains between Skyrim and Hammerfell and was killed on the island of Stros M'kai, might he be at either location? This brings us to our next point...
We can't have all of Hammerfell in DLC, so where would this take place?
Both Nahfahlaar and the In My Time of Need quest could tie to either of the rumored locations: Stros M'Kai or Dragonstar. (You can see a full size view of the map made by Imperial Library user Zephyr: here)
Dragonstar is a city in the mountains between Hammerfell and Skyrim. The city is divided into east and west portions, ala Berlin during the cold war, where Hammerfell controls the west side and Skyrim the east. (There is also a gladiator style arena in Dragonstar, which if still there, could be an interesting addition to the game).
The small area where Dragonstar and the town Dragon Gate sit are divided from the rest of Hammerfell by the mountains. This would offer a logical barrier to the rest of the map, giving Bethesda what they need for future DLC's (especially for the PS3's sake): a seperate load area.
The island of Stros M'kai is another logical guess. It was mentioned by the imperial soldier Hadvaar during the beginning execution/character creation segment, if the player creates a Redguard, "What are you doing here, Redguard? Are you a sellsword? A sailor from Stros M'Kai?" Plus it is the location of the Jarrin root plant used in the Dark Brotherhood questline, if you joined that faction.
Stros M'Kai is also the location of the ESA: Redguard game and where the dragon Nahfahlaar was "killed". As an island it also offers a seperate loading area and a natural barrer to the rest of Hammerfell.
Both areas could be tied to the In My Time of Need quest. In that quest, both sides will say the other is acting on behalf of the Aldmeri Dominion. Saadia saying she is hunted for speaking out against the Dominion, Kematu saying he's been hired to bring her back for justice for turning against her city and allowing it to fall to the Dominion in the Hammerfell's war against them. Either way, the Dominion was driven out of Hammerfell, but that doesn't mean the Thalmor might not still play a role in the future DLC.
What's my guess? I wouldn't rule out either. Both would offer roughly the same small area (possibly smaller than Solshtheim) with a city and a village or two, plus several landmarks. Stros M'Kai would probably be the biggest shift in weather and culture, where Dragonstar would probably offer a climate similar to what we see around Markarth. Nahfahlaar could just as easily have made a home where he died, and was resurrected, due to the length of time that has passed. And if a war with the Dominion started, Stros M'Kai might have been an early victim until the Redguards eventually won, feeding the 'fallen city' portion of In My Time of Need.
But personally, I'd go with Dragonstar, but that's really just my gut talking. I'd find it odd for the next DLC to again be an island that appeared previously in an Elder Scrolls game. Plus, I think if the dragon played a role, and it returned to life, it would most likely return to where it called home: the mountains between Skyrim and Hammerfell. The divided Nord/Redguard city of Dragonstar sounds interesting and could just have easily been included as part of Skyrim to begin with. Plus some of the 'Skyrim-like' features would fit better in the Dragonstar area, like word-walls, draugr crypts, the Forsworn, etc.
When will we know for sure?
So far, every DLC has followed this pattern: Trademark application leaks name - speculation begins. Game patch leaks a few lines of code - speculations begin to get more solid. Occasionally a few more leaks will pop up, then Bethesda will release a trailer, though still the details are sketchy. Beta testing will begin, beta tester leaks code to me, Bethesda gets angry at me for publishing leaks and makes me fear they will take my Skyrim away.
So far we are in the first phase of that and there is no guarantee on the last one because they may have sent the Dark Brotherhood after my last beta tester leak. Hopefully something more will pop up in the coming months, maybe even Bethesda will break pattern and reveal something at E3. But for now, until they are ready to say something, their motto is:
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