I had a sense it wouldn’t be too lengthy earlier than The Elder Scrolls Online performed its Skyrim card, notably for the reason that final two expansions have been set in locations we by no means noticed in the preferred mainline Elder Scrolls video games. And certain sufficient, yesterday developer ZeniMax Online revealed a trailer and a few details about ESO’s upcoming Greymoor enlargement, which takes place within the higher northwest nook of the Viking-themed realm.
It appears like a enjoyable romp, particularly should you’re into vampires, werewolves, and different assorted favourite Halloween costumes. It additionally appears and sounds just a little too acquainted for anybody who’s performed the sport within the final couple of years, and that’s not simply due to the setting. Considering that we’re quickly approaching the 10th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – probably the most well-liked RPGs of all time – I’d’ve anticipated one thing just a little extra bold.
Oh, I’m certain I’ll take pleasure in it. The trailer alone has me hyped. Right out of the gate, it jolts us with nostalgia with a shot of the precariously perched metropolis of Solitude. It leads us down snowy forest paths with beefy axe-wielding warriors, and it stokes recollections of Skyrim’s well-liked 2012 Dawnguard enlargement with photographs of vampires being completely horrible neighbors. Then it takes us underground to Blackreach, a forbidding underground realm that’ll find yourself accounting for nearly half of Greymoor’s playable space (and takes extra room than it did in Skyrim). I don’t even take care of vampires that a lot, and that trailer was ok to depart me whispering, “Hell, yeah.” This will certainly be a correct Skyrim story.
But one of many well-liked criticisms of flashy trailers like that is that they don’t reveal an incredible deal concerning the gameplay, and that’s in all probability a superb factor since Greymoor doesn’t supply many options that aren’t already within the recreation. So what is new?
For one, there’s northwest Skyrim itself. As in ESO’s well-liked 2017 Morrowind chapter, although, the emphasis is on luring in new and returning gamers to revisit locations they’ve already seen in different video games relatively than introducing different areas of Tamriel within the method of Summerset and Elsweyr. We gained’t be getting new fight lessons this time round, however the at the very least Vampire ability line will lastly be (cough) revamped.
In reality, the most important change is the introduction of the “Antiquities” system, which sends you everywhere in the world to search out artifacts and be taught related lore. In at the very least one case, you possibly can cobble collectively a few of the junk you discover and make a cool mount out of it. It sounds a heck of lots like World of Warcraft’s Archaeology career, which as soon as lead me to spend an ungodly chunk of my life digging holes in Pandaria so I might get a nifty title I now barely even use. I in all probability might’ve developed gentle conversational abilities in a brand new language with that point. I’ve gotten some enjoyable gear and mounts out of it, however on the entire it’s probably the most mind-numbing actions I’ve ever executed in an MMORPG, and that’s saying lots. I’ll reserve some hope that ZeniMax can do it higher, however not a lot.
And that’s about it, actually, for the brand new stuff apart from some efficiency and high quality of life enhancements.
Beyond that, Greymoor continues to be good ol’ ESO. You have the anticipated 30 or so hours it takes to complete the chapter’s major quest, the same old smattering of public dungeons and delves, and there’s a brand new 12-person trial referred to as Kyne’s Aegis. Even vampires and werewolves have all the time been within the recreation. You’ll additionally discover a the brand new “Harrowmeres,” however these are principally simply ESO’s normal dynamic occasions in a brand new guise, which have been beforehand depicted as Dark Anchors, Abyssal Anchors, or, effectively, dragons.
At every other time, this wouldn’t be such a nasty factor. ESO has perfected a template that works, and that template helped it rebound from a disappointing 2014 launch and change into one of the best MMORPG rebound story outside of Final Fantasy XIV.
But there’s additionally no query that it’s getting outdated—or at the very least overly acquainted. It’s a disgrace ZeniMax Online didn’t pair the return of Skyrim with one thing extra thrilling, akin to a brand new fight class, a brand new career, and even simply an overhaul to the Champion Point system for gamers who’ve reached the extent cap. Pitifully sufficient, the facet of the enlargement that has me most excited after the trailer is the return of the bodily collector’s version, which took a hiatus for Elsweyr. (That’s a disgrace, as I’d have cherished few issues greater than to had an lovely statuette of that enlargement’s housecat-like Alfiq.)
Why not do extra? The Skyrim title ought to be a much bigger lure than Morrowind. Skyrim is likely one of the finest promoting video video games in historical past, and it’s infamously been ported to the whole lot from the Nintendo Switch to Alexa and Samsung fridges. (The Macworlder in me is obliged to level out that it nonetheless hasn’t made its method to the brushed aluminum horizons of the Mac.) All of which is to say that Greymoor would have been fertile floor for a daring replace, one that might have gained again gamers with one thing in addition to recollections of that point they chased a couple of digital vampires over the snow nearly a decade in the past.
Maybe that’s not out of the query but. Greymoor solely unlocks a bit of Skyrim, so nostalgia-rich spots just like the cities of Whiterun and Markarth will be the showcase for brand new options in future DLC or a chapter. Eastern Skyrim was accessible when ESO launched. ZeniMax apparently realized a lesson from Morrowind, the place it blew all of its future nostalgia-drawing energy in a single shot by releasing your complete island of Vvardenfell directly.
So that leaves 2021 or past. By that point, although, I hope I gained’t be Skyrim’ed out.