Shortly after the release of Skyrim last year, an adventurous PC gamer employed some console trickery to break free from the confines of the game's sizable map and explore the regions beyond. That led to the discovery of low-detail environments created for the Morrowind and Cyrodiil regions, which were the focus of Elder Scrolls III and Elder Scrolls IV, respectively.
Speculation about what this might mean kicked up immediately, but now we have an official comment from Bethesda's Todd Howard, the director of Skyrim, from a DICE interview he did with Kotaku. "The reason they are there - and I will not say if we are or are not using them in the future - is when we first built the landmass for Skyrim we knew we were going to have these tall mountains," he said.
"And what can you see see? We have views early in the project where you can see into the [neighbouring] province from the other game. We needed to have something [there]." He goes on to talk about what we already knew, that the level of detail in these non-Skyrim regions is minimal. The land is really there so that someone who climbs to the top of a tall mountain can see beyond the borders of the game's environment.
Nothing mind-blowing here. While it's nice to dream about a DLC expansion that could include the sprawling landscapes from either (or both) of the two preceding Elder Scrolls games, it's probably not practical from a development standpoint. Take heart though: the fact that those regions exist in the game makes it that much easier for a modder or modding group to take on the monumental task of adding two more big chunks of Tamriel to the already huge world of Skyrim.