Elsweyr is the latest, and possibly most significant, Chapter to be added to Online's Elder Scrolls Online. It is, for all intents and purposes, an excellent piece of MMORPG gaming. I've spent twenty hours in its grasp so far, and have enjoyed it far more than Summerset. But not all is purrfect in the home of the Khajiit. This is our review.
I love Elder Scrolls Online. Since launch, it’s shaped itself to become the most interesting and content rich MMORPG out there. Summerset was gorgeous. Murkmire was beautiful, and now Elsweyr is here and it’s got dragons and cats, Necromancers and it rules. I love it still.
There’s always a but.
ESO feels to me like they’re so focused on their content cycle, that they’re not leaving room for their developers to get experimental. When Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild landed, they were like breaths of fresh air in an MMO market that just didn’t let you do content like that. Since then, we’ve had some amazing Trials, added Battlegrounds, got two new classes, and had tons of stories and dungeons tossed at us. Again, let me stress, the content we’ve gotten has been superlative.
But I feel like ESO’s going through the motions a bit at the same time. While I’d still rather play in Tamriel when compared to just about any other virtual world, I don’t feel surprised when a new batch of content is revealed. I’m expecting the first DLC in the Season of the Dragon to be a dungeon DLC, then a Zone DLC in the Fall, and finally another dungeon DLC in the Winter. I hope there’s more to it than that, and I bet E3 and beyond will tell us more.
So that’s my “concern” about the overall state of Elder Scrolls Online. It’s kind of paltry, because chances are even if they don’t pull out any surprises I’ll gladly play ESO until they stop making quality new adventures and stories for it. And trust me, I know the studio doesn’t want to pull a WoW and waste time making systems and content the community won’t like.
Now, for the expansion-I-mean-chapter itself? Elsweyr may just be my favorite so far, overtaking the superb and reverential Morrowind from 2017. The addition of the Necromancer class is welcome, with a unique and interesting take on a class that has left some divided. The Dragons invading the zone have been a welcome new take on “Public Events”, even if they may be too frequent to feel meaningful. And the stories, highlighted by fan favorites like Abnur Tharn and Cadwell, as well as the wonderfully acted Khamira, make for a very fun adventure through a couple dozen new quest-filled hours.
If you, like me, felt a little let down by all the elves in Summerset, you’re going to love Elsweyr. It’s all cats, all the time, baby. Ok, not all the time, but there’s a certain charm to all things Khajiit, and the love the devs and players alike have for the feline race shines through. Their culture, their people, and the many hijinks they get up to are on full display in the myriad questlines at your disposal.
The Necromancer is going to be a great class for some, and a letdown for others. For those expecting a Diablo-like Necromancer, you’re not going to get that here. There are no permanent skeleton armies in ESO, instead the Tamriel-based Necromancer sends out flaming skulls that bounce from enemy to enemy. He summons glowing skeletons that charge their foes and explode in a million pieces. He raises up skeleton mages that rain ethereal fire on bad guys, and heals his mates by sucking the life from others. It’s a very fun class, and one that lets healers have their first mass resurrection, if that’s the angle you’re looking for. If you want to be a tank, you’re like a true Death Knight, bones and aggro grabbing effects and all. If you want to do damage, there are plenty of skills to get that job done too.
Elsweyr begins the Season of the Dragon in ESO, and as such, the giant winged lizards are all over the region. I almost wish they’d branch out to other parts of Tamriel, and I suspect they will as time goes on. I highly doubt when we finish the story of Elsweyr, the Dragons will be gone. They’re essentially extensions of the Gryphon fights from Summerset, big epic world boss battles on a grand scale. They fly over zones, land in random places, and players all rush to take them on and earn some of their loot.
There’s only one problem with them - they’re not very rare, and after a few times, you’ve seen where they land and know what they’re going to do. They’re still awesome, and the artistry that went into creating their looks and fights is exemplary - but they’re already just another “Dark Anchor” which is what I’d feared. I’m hoping that as the Season of the Dragon moves on, they become more and more diverse and unpredictable. If not? They’re still the most fun world bosses yet in ESO, and a good bar to move on from in future updates.
Elder Scrolls Online, with Elsweyr, continues to shine as the premiere theme park MMORPG on the market. Nothing else comes close, and the sheer amount of content on offer is startling when you step back and take it all in. That it’s also good is just icing on the cake. There’s a reason ESO has 11 million players and counting, and if they keep this up, the number will probably grow even more.
- Fantastic as always questing
- Interesting new mechanics in the Necromancer
- Dragons and Cats are the best
- Alfred Molina and John Cleese are also the best
- Content cycle feeling stale
- Dragons quickly become novelties