Tamriel Infinium: Rounding out Elder Scrolls Online’s ninth year of adventures


No matter what your predictions may be, how a year turns out often involves unforeseen twists and turns. Even the world of Tamriel was not immune to strange developments, experimental projects, and a surprisingly upbeat final stretch.

So it’s certainly worthwhile to pause before we go into the 10th anniversary year in order to look back at 2023 and see how Elder Scrolls Online played out. Was it the outcome that ZeniMax hoped it would be? I have no way to tell, but it sounds as if the studio is pretty pleased with how it all unfolded this year.

A history of Elder Scrolls Online’s 2023

The year started off rough for the game with some of its staff let go as part of a larger swath of Microsoft’s 10,000-person layoffs. But that didn’t deter ZeniMax from trumpeting the big roadmap for the year in late January, including mentions of the Necrom chapter, Arcanist class, and the start of a multi-year story arc. Further elaboration of the roadmap in February teased some sort of “endless dungeon” feature in the works for the fall.

Things really got going in March with the release of Update 37: Scribes of Fate. This included screen narration, housing improvements, and the Bal Sunnar and Scrivener’s Hall four-player dungeons. Ninth year anniversary celebrations followed in April with cake, buffs, and assorted presents.

Putting a damper of the festivities was a breaking story that ZeniMax started selling a tattoo skin in the game without giving any credit to the fan artist who created it.

The Necrom era officially began on April 12th with the release of the expansion’s free prologue quest, followed by a deep-dive into the Arcanist a day later and Necrom PTR testing soon thereafter. ZeniMax announced that ESO had reached 22 million total players with two million added in the past year.

Hype for the new chapter grew in May with previews of the zones, an action-packed trailer, an action-packed class trailer, a look at the latest raid, companion reveals, and word that the chapter would contain 30 hours of story content to enjoy.

Necrom finally arrived on June 5th, the first chapter release to give players both major zone additions instead of just one. This chapter came alongside Update 38 with various quality-of-life adjustments. ZeniMax challenged players to level an Arcanist to 10 in July, rewarding them with a loot bundle if they did so.

Painfully high queue waits made the start of August a bummer, although the upshot was that this partially was caused by a whole lot of new players trying out the game. Update 39 dropped later in August with system polish, a quest volume revamp, navigator NPCs, and improved item stacking.

September’s controversy came courtesy of the studio, which disabled player gifting due to “fraudulent behavior” involving crown crates and stolen info. The last major content patch, Update 40: Endless Archive, came out on October 30th with an endless dungeon activity, an expanded group finder, and lots of crafting improvements.

So what happened for the rest of 2023? ESO launched on console in Japan in mid-November, ran a Gates of Oblivion event, tested higher PvP zone caps, and changed the name of the Endless Archives to Infinite Archives.

The title ended the year strong, with high MAUs, a supposedly successful Necrom launch, and plans to celebrate the game’s upcoming 10th anniversary in 2024.

Perhaps we should try to win.

Recapping Tamriel Infinium in 2023

A while back, I inherited this column, although it was kind of an unofficial inheritance that came with the caveat of “I’ll talk about ESO when I’m playing ESO, which isn’t always.” That said, I genuinely do like chatting about this MMO, and I hope to do more of it in 2024 as I’ve returned in these last few weeks to great enthusiasm.

But for now, here are the Tamriel Infinium columns that I wrote this year:

And as always, check out MOP’s Elder Scrolls Online livestreams:

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online! Justin Olivetti will be your guide here in Tamriel Infinium as we explore together the world created by ZeniMax and Bethesda in one of the biggest MMOs in the genre.
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