Tamriel Infinium: Keep playing Elder Scrolls Online’s Elsweyr – the story gets better

    
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Like many of you, I have been participating in the early access for Elsweyr for this last week. In fact, I played some of the new Elder Scrolls Online chapter before the push to the live servers, and I gave my impressions of that a few weeks earlier. But now that it’s on the live servers, I felt more inclined to actually finish the story and see where everything was leading.

In my first impressions, I didn’t really touch on the story of Elsweyr because I was not all that impressed. In fact, the story was the hardest thing for me to get through at first. I loved the dragon fights and the mechanics of playing a Necromancer far more than the beginning of the Elsweyr chapter. Understandably, ZeniMax did not want spoilers for the story leaking out and ruining everything, so it didn’t want us talking about anything beyond the very first questline for the main story. Because of that embargo, I didn’t play anything beyond the first questline. This was probably a mistake on ZeniMax’s part because the story really opens up after that first quest, turning into something very fun and interesting.

I am not going to ruin this story for you today in this column, but I will touch on some beats that might be considered spoilers if you’ve not played through the storyline, yet. So if you want to jump into the story completely unspoiled, then turn back now. But if you want to know what makes this chapter unique and why you might want to experience the story of Elsweyr, then I suggest you keep reading.

The usurper queen

You’re probably aware of Abnur Tharn because we have mentioned him more than a few times in this column over the last couple of months, but were you aware that Abnur personally had 16 children with six members of his family appearing in some fashion in ESO? The biggest name is probably Clivia Tharn, Abnur’s daughter, who served as Empress-Regent of Cyrodiil. She was the widow of Emperor Varen Aquilarios that you meet in Imperial City DLC. However, there is also Septima, Javad, Magna, and Martialis, whom you meet in various places in the game.

The latest introduction to Tharn family is Euraxia. Euraxia was a member of an Imperial scouting party that ended up in Rimmen without orders and without purpose after Aquilarios disappeared. What is an Imperial to do when she has an army and no commands from on high?

Kill the royal family and take over as queen of Northern Elsweyr, of course.

A story’s villain can be just as important as the protagonist. When the protagonist is essentially a generic player character, then the villain becomes even more important. In Elsweyr, you might run into a book called The Implications of Elsweyr and the Aldmeri Dominion. It explains why the Khajiiti militia has not been able to defeat Euraxia despite having the superior forces:

“Once in power, Euraxia worked quickly to consolidate her position. She hired additional mercenaries, acquired the services of a cult of necromancers, and established a perimeter of siege weapons to maintain her hold over Rimmen. […] Rimmen remains a bastion for Euraxia, primarily due to the siege weapons that ring the palace and are aimed directly into the city below. Her threat, which Gharesh-ri has no reason to doubt, is that she will destroy the city if her rule there is challenged in any way.”

With that kind of introduction juxtaposed with Abnur’s implied feelings for his sister (he says that they aren’t close, but he actions continue to say otherwise), the writers created a character that has far more depth than someone who just wants to watch the world under her heel. Also, the way she subjugates the people of Rimmen makes for a very interesting and calculating tyrant.

The Soul Shriven and a severed head

Spoiler, but not really: Cadwell appears again in the Elsweyr main story. I am baffled about why the marketing department for ESO decided to keep Cadwell under wraps; it makes no sense to me. Cadwell before stepping onto the scene in Elsweyr was a great character. Of course, he didn’t have a lot of depth but he did provide the comic relief that the ever-serious main ESO story needed. Because he was one of the player’s favorites, I’m surprised that he wasn’t a bigger part of the marketing, especially since one of the main subplots deals directly with him.

We do see Cadwell early on attempting to dig up the grave of someone called the Betrayer, but other than that, he seemed to be shoehorned in. In fact, I groaned out loud when I first ran into Cadwell during the first part of the Elsweyr story. But as the story continued, I regretted my first reaction.

As it turns out Cadwell, the Betrayer, the necromancers, Euraxia, and the dragons are all related. Cadwell’s connection to the situation reveals a deeper character than the bumbling fool he was in the vanilla ESO story. By the time Cadwell’s arc completes, you have a picture of a complex, dark, and troubled character that isn’t just crazy because it makes the story funny; he’s lost touch with reality because he’s broken. There is a moment in the story when I audibly said “oof” because it hit me pretty hard.

Unfortunately, there is also a moment when things should have wrapped up nicely for Cadwell’s story, but (I have to be vague here) they didn’t. It’s one of those situations where storytellers have made a character that many people like, and to have this chapter of his story wrap up the way it probably should have would make players upset. So of course, they decked him out in layers of plot armor and sent him into battle.

Despite the slow start and the various layers of plot armor placed on characters, I enjoyed the story of Elsweyr and would recommend it for any Elder Scrolls fan. It’s more traditional than the story of Morrowind, and it’s more grounded than Summerset. But it’s good all the same, and the writers handle the dragons surprisingly well. I enjoyed playing through it, and I believe many other people will too.

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online! Larry Everett and Ben Griggs will be your guides here in Tamriel Infinium on Wednesdays as we explore together the world created by ZeniMax and Bethesda in one of the biggest MMOs in the genre. Larry and Ben welcome questions and topic ideas!

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Ben Griggs
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Ben Griggs

Nice column, Larry. I’m enjoying the Elsweyr content as well

Reader
Fenrir Wolf

I’m still not a fan.

Elsweyr -> Story about Elsweyr? A story that leans on the rich, deep lore of the khajiiti peoples? Nope!

Elsweyr -> Story about dragons and white saviours in a foreign land? A story that shows contempt for khajiit fans? Yup!

This is their Game of Thrones expansion. I just wish they hadn’t wasted Elsweyr to get their George R. R. Martin rocks off.

Reader
cj

Stop it. Have you played the content. The whole zone is brimming with rich Khajiiti lore. The main story is not the whole story. There plenty of side quests dedicated to Khajiit. The whole reason the dragons got trap there in the first place was because of a Khajiiti hero.

Reader
Mohammad Reza Hajebnali

Loved the game at beginning but now the combat feels to easy. No real challenge when you quest through the world. I know there are dungeons and so for more difficult content, but the questing should also give some sort of challenge at least…

Reader
PanagiotisLial1

Dont worry, we arent going Elsewhere, we are going Elsweyr

I love ESO and this new expansion as well but I had been going at a snail pace since I play more games

Reader
terminallynerdy

Question from a complete newbie. I picked up the Elswyr bundle last weekend on Steam, and the game IMMEDIATELY starts me in Elswyr. But I know there is like a whole storyline in the game that threads through the various expansions? I have the base game, Morrowind, Summerset, and Elswyr and I am worried I am going to miss things starting IN Elswyr.

Is there a way to start the game from the actual start of the story or how does this work exactly?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

If I remember correctly you just have to use a way shrine to your factions original starting place and an npc’s will pester you to do the original storyline

Reader
terminallynerdy

I am assuming its a good idea to start there vs Elswyr so I have a fuller picture of wtf is going on as well lol

Reader
bobfish

It won’t really affect much in the way of the stories themselves, but as some characters appear in both, I think it makes more sense to meet them first in their original stories than through the expansions.

Godnaz
Reader
Godnaz

1. Start a new character and wayshrine to your Alliance’s Starter City
2. Accept the Main Quest from the Hooded Figure
3. Complete your Alliance’s Main quest in order alongside the Fighters and Mages guild quests for that zone, and the Harborage quests for the Main Questline. Originally the Main Quest progressed at every 5 levels, but now its not necessary to wait.
4. Coldharbor Questline is the prerequisite for completing the Main Questline.
5. Having completed the Main Questline, accept Cadwell’s Silver and Gold to experience the other Alliance questlines.
6. Experience the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Imperial City, Orsinium, and Murkmire DLCs and Craglorn, in whatever order you want.
7. Begin the Daedric Wars plotline with Morrowind -> Clockwork City-> Summerset.
8. Do the two Wrathstone dungeons, the Elsweyr Prologue quest, and then Elsweyr.

https://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/413807/what-order-should-i-do-esos-story-arcs-a-guide

Reader
Castagere Shaikura

The game just can’t keep me interested. The combat is so boring because the game was really made for the console. That’s why it’s so limited. Great looking world and quest are fun. Also, it’s loading is the worse of any MMO I’ve ever played. After an update, it’s even worse.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
JoeCreoterra

The combat is actually more in-depth than GW2 which does not have a console release… seems like saying something is also on console is just how you bash a game that you don’t enjoy.

Reader
Castagere Shaikura

The combat is boring because of the limited hotbar which was made because consoles can’t handle many abilities as a layout. This is my opinion and not bashing the game when many others feel the same way. It’s the biggest con of the game along with loading screens.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
JoeCreoterra

So basically you think ESO has a limited hotbar due to consoles… but GW2 has a limited hotbar because of… conso… er… hmm… oops…. that argument just falls flat. There are many game design reasons that you would choose a focused system of less active abilities.

Obviously being boring is extremely subjective. Some people find it boring because they like to rotate 10-14 keys instead of rotating 5-6 keys and that’s completely fine… I mean I grew up playing Asheron’s Call and DAoC so the generation of games that came after those like WoW, etc were extremely simplified games that I had to get used to. I wasn’t saying you have to like the game, just that there are many reasons for designing with limited active skills, and there are many examples of games with less active abilities that are strictly PC titles across all genres.

I only mentioned bashing because you’re basically saying “oh the entire game design is based on it having to be on the console as well” which is an absolute guess on your part with many examples showing otherwise.

The loading screens tho… ugh… :p

seculaparsec
Reader
seculaparsec

Subjective? OFCOURSE HIS COMMENT IS SUBJECTIVE. he posted, his perfectly valid subjective comment which he is entitled to and instead you feel attacked because YOU like the game and are told a truth many people stay away from ESO from. Im so sick of fanboys like you.

Reader
Mohammad Reza Hajebnali

For me the amount of abilities is not the issue. For me it is that the questing part of the game is way too easy…. It is just like no challenge at all.

Reader
bobfish

The combat is modeled after the single player games, which means it isn’t great, but then it isn’t the worst either for an MMO.

Reader
Tizmah

Yeah, ESO is quite possibly one of the most boring MMORPGS I’ve ever played. I tried so hard at launch to get into it. Then quit at like level 30. Morrowind released, and…quit at 20 something. Summset…I thought I’d try once more. I just can’t stand the game. Combat is floaty as has no impact. Animations are dull and boring. Conversations just seem to drag on about nothing..

I love GW2, FFXIV, and LOTRO, but ESO is just so…BLAH. You’d think I could put up with ESO considering I can put up with LOTRO…but man ESO I just can’t do it.

Reader
bobfish

I really enjoyed Elsweyr. Have now completed everything in it except for the public dungeons and trial. Definitely the best content they have done so far in my opinion.

But, I am a little biased for a couple of reasons. I have always felt that the Aldmeri Dominion storylines were better than the other two, especially the important characters and I have always played a Khajiit, in every Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind, which was 17 years ago now, so being able to visit Elsweyr just made everything better.

Now, I just hope that in time they add the rest of Elsweyr.

EDIT: Side note on Cadwell and Tharn, the nature of the game (play any content in any order), ensures that they can never do anything too drastic with characters from the existing stories.