As the Season of the Dragon begins to wrap up for The Elder Scrolls Online, community speculation has begun to turn to what 2020 may hold for our beloved game. Of course, we shouldn’t overlook Dragonhold, the final piece to that particular puzzle, launching in less than two weeks. And maybe it’s not fair to ZeniMax to be speculating about next year before the last DLC has officially released. But let’s be honest, it put itself in this position by doing such a reliable job with this year’s four-part theme. I for one can’t wait to see how ZeniMax is going to top kitties and dragons.
Hammerfell – ZeniMax may have already given us a clue as to our next destination by including the return of the legendary Redguard Sai Sahan in the upcoming Dragonhold release. Sai hails from Bangkorai in Hammerfell, and his Redguard kinsmen are the traditional inhabitants of that land. ZeniMax enjoys dropping little breadcrumbs to upcoming content throughout the game, and while the appearance of Sai is more analogous to a massive crouton, it would certainly make sense to follow him back to his homeland after our adventure in the next mini-zone is complete.
Another thread that could lead us to Hammerfell is the rumored inclusion of pirates in Dragonhold. Many of the inhabited cities in Hammerfell are coastal due to the massive Alik’r Desert taking up a large portion of the center of the zone. Perhaps ZeniMax is planning to give us some maritime questlines where we’re hopping from ship to ship just off the coast of Hammerfell.
I would love a Hammerfell chapter. I would like to explore the Redguards further, and after attempting to navigate the rough vertical terrain of zones like Wrothgar, I think a huge, flat desert map might be just the thing to make sure I don’t get lost!
Skyrim – Another large vacant space on the ESO map of Tamriel currently belongs to Skyrim. While we do have a few of the southernmost parts of that land already in the game, the northmost snowy regions remain undeveloped, and there have been plenty of wishful thinkers predicting that we’re headed to the great white north next year.
To be sure, whenever ZeniMax does decide to include Skyrim, it’s going to be a huge deal. Many players were first introduced to the Elder Scrolls series via Skyrim in TESV, and as it’s the most recent incarnation of the single-player games, it’s also the freshest in the minds of many a Tamrielic traveler. Skyrim is the home of the Nords, but is also the site of the Dragon War and the burial grounds of many deceased dragons. Could there be a tie between our current “season of the dragon” and these hallowed grounds? Could the recently released dragons from Elsweyr be looking to avenge their fallen comrades?
It’s an interesting thought, but one thing makes me think that Skyrim is not yet in the cards. ZeniMax is fond of anniversaries (it released the Morrowind expansion on the 15th anniversary of TESIII), and the 10-year anniversary of Skyrim is 2021. I think the team may hold off on a Skyrim DLC until that year in order to best capitalize on the marketing and hype the year after 2020 instead.
Cyrodiil – In most maps of Tamriel, the empire of Cyrodiil extends much further to the east and west than it does in ESO’s current PvP incarnation of the zone. This got my gears turning a bit. What if ZeniMax is planning to release east and/or west Cyrodiil zones for PvE? If so, it would be a great time to make the Imperial race free and playable for everybody (it’s required an extra fee since the release of the game). With the exception of Abnur Tharn and Varen, most Imperials in the game have come in the form of NPC enemies. We don’t have a true Imperial PvE zone yet, and I’d love to play through one.
There’s aren’t any real breadcrumbs for this idea yet, unless we’re going to follow Abnur Tharn back from Elsweyr. However, that would be a lot of time spent with Tharn. It’s kind of hard to imagine spending another whole year with him unless he’s simply used as a springboard to get us into the zone.
Morrowind – While we did receive the Vvardenfell segment of Morrowind with the chapter update a few years ago, a large section of the mainland remains undeveloped. While the lands of Morrowind (and the Dunmer who inhabit it) are vast and interesting, it’s difficult to imagine returning so soon. Still, most ESO players I interact with would look forward to running into Naryu once more!
Black Marsh – That gaping hole you see in the southeast section of the map of Tamriel is the remainder of Black Marsh, home to the Argonians. In some ways, it seems like Argonian culture is still one of the most overlooked aspects of The Elder Scrolls franchise and could use some more fleshing out. It is located adjacent to Elsweyr, where our current season is soon to conclude. Plus, that section of the map is just begging to be filled in. On the other hand, Murkmire was released as a small DLC just a year ago, so a return seems rather unlikely. I’m afraid that Black Marsh may need to take a back seat to some of the more sought-after regions.
Oblivion – A far-out and yet interesting possibility for next year’s content cycle is one or more of the planes of Oblivion. ZeniMax set a precedent way back in the vanilla game when Coldharbour (the plane of big, bad Molag Bal) was included as a zone. In subsequent releases, we’ve sampled small segments of the homes of other daedric princes. What if the next major theme for 2020 has the player hopping from realm to realm, each one vastly different than the last? It’s been a year since we had a deadric prince as a major antagonist, so perhaps it’s time to get to know another one. This would be quite a departure from what we’ve become used to, but it might be exciting to see how ZeniMax would string together a year’s worth of story and content while the player explores some planes beyond the land of Tamriel.
Where do you think the game is headed?