This heavily-modded RTX 4090 ray-traced Skyrim offers a glimmer of Elder Scrolls 6

Skyrim modded with ray tracing
(Image credit: Omen Apollo)

The world might end before we get our hands on The Elder Scrolls 6, but hey, that doesn't stop us from dreaming. 

A few years ago, Bethesda revealed that it is working on Elder Scrolls 6, as a follow up to the legendarily popular Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Set in the eponymous arctic climbs, Skyrim remains wildly popular to this day, owing to the sheer scale of its vast boreal world and the huge array of quests and story beats. Another aspect of Skyrim that grants it a scarily long lifespan has been its modding platform. The best mods for Skyrim on PC and best mods for Skyrim on Xbox offer a range of improvements over the base game, adding everything from quality-of-life features, to gameplay improvements, and even silly meme-able things like flying copyright-infringing trains. 

One way tinkerers like to expand upon Skyrim is by improving its visuals. Skyrim launched over 10 years ago at this point, back in 2011, making its presentation a little on the dated side to say the least. Mods offer a chance to breathe some fresh air into the game, though, and one user on YouTube known as Omen Apollo gave us a glimpse at what Skyrim might look like if it launched with the RTX 4090 in mind. 

Using RTGI Reshade and a DLSS mod, Mr. Apollo takes us on a brief, atmospheric sojourn through Skyrim's coniferous wilds. Armed with ultra-wide resolution and ray-traced lighting, this version of Skyrim offers a tantalizing glimpse at what a future Elder Scrolls may look like. 

Another clip below demonstrates how the mods run at 1440p while undertaking some mild combat. You'd be forgiven for thinking this was a modern game, really. 

It could be a very long time before we see The Elder Scrolls 6 revealed. The team responsible for The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises are currently heads-down polishing up Starfield, the team's first new IP in an incredibly long time. Starfield is a space opera set in a grounded, near-future vision of a galaxy colonized by humanity, described as "NASA punk" by creator Todd Howard. 

Starfield has been delayed a fair few times, and now that it's part of the Xbox umbrella at Microsoft, carries with it some considerable pressure to deliver both for fans of Bethesda-style RPGs, but also for Xbox fans who are clamoring for high-quality action-oriented exclusives. 

I suspect that once Starfield ships (straight into Xbox Game Pass, no less) — and after a much-needed break — Bethesda will turn its sights back to The Elder Scrolls. Who knows what the baseline visual expectation will be like by then? Perhaps in 15 years, I'll be writing an article about modders upgrading Elder Scrolls 6's visuals, too.

You don't need the best gaming laptop in the world to run Skyrim, it's also available as part of Xbox Game Pass too. And even without mods, it remains one of the greatest RPGs ever made.  

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!