I feel genuinely bad for Elder Scrolls Online right now. At a time where all other games are scurrying out of the way of the 800-pound gorilla of Diablo IV, ESO is going ahead with its plans for dropping its new expansion that same week. Oh, I have no doubt the faithful will play it, but for an MMO that has a hard time generating a lot of external hype, this timing certainly doesn’t help.
A return to Morrowind
It’s not a subtle move for ZeniMax to return to the Morrowind well for a second expansion in that region, but it may be effective even so. Longtime Elder Scrolls franchise fans continue to hold a torch for both the third game in the series and the well-received Morrowind chapter. Now we’re getting even more of that as we push into the Telvanni Peninsula and the titular city of Necrom.
I think that Morrowind is so beloved because it’s distinctly unique to this world. You can look at, say, Summerset or Skyrim and see the continuation of fantasy tropes that exist outside of the Elder Scrolls universe, but Morrowind is an alien fantasy realm that feels distinctly different in a lot of ways. That’s worth doubling down on.
A double injection of story
I applaud ZeniMax’s decision to package together two zones and present players with the full expansion narrative on Day One versus making them wait for a second half (that they have to pay additionally to experience!) later in the year. It’s the first time that the studio is doing this, and I’m keenly interested to observe the reaction to this.
It seems cool, at least. ZeniMax is promising 30-plus hours of story content alone spread out across these two zones, which is certainly a fair chunk. And having both zones allows for a diverse landscape experience, as we’ll go from the somewhat familiar visuals of Morrowind to an insane Daedric realm.
Our first Argonian companion
I’ve seen a lot of people geeking out over the fact that we’ll finally be getting our first Argonian companion with this chapter (in my opinion, the Argonians are the most underrated race in the game!). And if you don’t want that fierce warrior, you can choose to partner up with a cocky Arcanist mage instead.
The companion system has been one of the best additions to the game since its inception, and I’m incredibly glad that ZeniMax — unlike some other studios I could mention — isn’t giving up on legacy features but is dedicated to expanding upon them.
A wild class addition
I truly thought we were done seeing any new classes, especially after the studio went on record saying that it would be too technically difficult with console restrictions and so forth. I guess the devs found a way around this because we’re about to welcome the game’s seventh class — and the first one since 2019’s Elsweyr and the Necromancer.
Since all of Elder Scrolls Online’s classes can functionally do the same things, a choice of class really comes down to theming, playstyle, and how those roles are executed. The wild mage aspect of the Arcanist offers a nice contrast to the more intellectual and staid Sorcerer, and I do like the cultist aspects and portal usage that comes with it.
A new class is a great excuse to come back and start fresh – or for veterans to experience the game all over again – and the Arcanist should find a warm reception among bored fans.
Bastion Nymic offers a different activity for groups
ESO does like to experiment with open world events in its chapters, for better and for worse. We’ll see whether Bastion Nymic will get the thumbs-up of approval from players when it arrives, but it’s certainly not going to be the same-old, same-old.
Sort of occupying the space between a standard world boss fight and a dungeon crawl, this four-player Daedric fortress offers a “moderate challenge” that might be the perfect way to cap off a fun evening of adventures. ZeniMax doesn’t want players to get too bored with this, either, as Bastion Nymic is massive and will have a randomized end boss every time it’s encountered.
A grab-bag of other fun additions
That’s certainly not the end of the feature list for Necrom. There’s a lot more of what you would expect: a new Tribute card deck, a 12-player raid, more item sets, and quality-of-life improvements such as favored collections.
Putting on my prognostication pants, I don’t see this chapter being the MMO event of the year, but it could well be a solid sleeper hit that goes a long way to beefing up ESO’s already-considerable body of epic tales and giving players a lot to do over the summer months.