Tamriel Infinium: Six takeaways from Elder Scrolls Online’s High Isle announcement


I love me a good MMO roadmap, especially when it’s about a game that you are enthusiastically playing. Elder Scrolls Online wrapped up its Blackwood saga last year, and all of us were excited to see what ZeniMax had in store for 2022.

Thanks to last week’s livestream reveal, we know it’s all about those wacky Bretons and the seaside setting of High Isle. The reveal came amid a lot of heightened emotions concerning the game’s direction, as just about everyone had Strong Feelings about what ESO should be doing. Read on for six of my own takeaways from this announcement!

Takeaway #1: It’s business as usual

If you were hoping that this was going to be the year that ZeniMax threw its carefully arranged cadence of releases out the window to do something wild and crazy… then I have no idea why you would expect that.

ZOS has a pattern down for Elder Scrolls Online, and it’s not really going to deviate from that. So we’re in for a dungeon DLC this spring, the High Isle expansion this summer, then another dungeon DLC and a zone later in the year. Even if it isn’t surprising, at least it’s comforting and dependable to know what’s coming.

Takeaway #2: No new class

I think a lot of people really wanted to see ZeniMax put out a new class, which is something we’re very overdue for at this point. According to some sources, this isn’t possible because of limitations on consoles, but whatever the case, no new class for 2022. That’s a big bummer, because a new class is always a huge draw for an expansion and a great reason to roll up a new alt.

Barring a class, it would’ve been great to hear news of some additional weapon or skill lines. I’ve got skill points burning a hole in my pocket and nothing exciting to spend them on these days.

Takeaway #3: A more grounded story

Overall, I’m satisfied with the High Isle setting and story. The Bretons are going to be as middle-of-the-road of a theme as they come, but as ZeniMax said, it’s a race that hasn’t gotten a lot of focus from the franchise to date. I like that the story is going to be more intimate and grounded (we’re a little apocalypse fatigued at this point), but I’m not truly thrilled that it’s going to be set in the middle of Generic Medieval Land.

Takeaway #4: Cards are in the cards

If you see flames on the horizon, it’s because of the announcement that ZeniMax is adding an in-game card minigame (think The Witcher’s GWENT or FFXIV’s Triple Triad) with its own storyline and associated rewards. For the record, I’m actually pretty pumped about it. I think that systems like this flesh out the game world and offer fun side activities without upsetting the apple cart of combat and questing.

But a whole lot of people are very, very cranky about the card game, and it’s more an issue that ZeniMax decided to make this an expansion tentpole instead of the many other desired features that players have championed. To some, this feels like the studio focusing on something trivial rather than beneficial, and that rankles.

Takeaway #5: ZeniMax isn’t giving up on its legacy systems

One of my biggest pet peeves in MMO gaming is when developers introduce a cool feature with an expansion only to virtually abandon it in the future. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see ZeniMax continue to add on to its legacy systems, such as archaeology and companions. Plus, I’m pretty pumped to get a Khajiit companion down the road!

Takeaway #6: I’m cautiously optimistic about the combat changes

While it wasn’t part of the livestream reveal, we learned shortly afterward that ESO is rolling out a whole bunch of combat changes with Update 33 to encourage hybrid builds and more diverse gameplay. This gets a cautious thumbs up from me, because it does sound good in concept. And considering that ESO’s combat system is frequently cited as the game’s big weak point, ongoing work and fine tuning should be done on it until it gets to a point where it redeems itself.

Those are my thoughts — what are yours? Are you excited about High Isle, underwhelmed, or somewhere in the middle?

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