Elder Scrolls Online is set to reveal their next chapter tomorrow, January 16. Managing Editor Bradford will be there to cover the event, while the rest of us will have to watch and wait like plebs. To pass the time, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring and provide my thoughts on what we could possibly expect to see at the reveal. Oh and SPOILER WARNING for Elsweyr below.
First up, some context. The events of ESO take place in the Second Era in a period known as The Interregnum. This period is known for decline across Tamriel as living standards fell, petty conflicts broke out, territories and infrastructure fell to ruin, and the empire pretty much ceased to exist. Additionally, the mythos and might of the Dwemer were drastically reduced centuries after they disappeared. Think about this period as period in time right after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Things basically sucked hardcore you guys.
More specifically, ESO takes place in 2E 583, which is after the Dark Brotherhood, Mages, and Fighters Guilds, and Elsweyr were formed, but before Talos took the name Tiber Septim and established the Septim line which brought forth the Third Era. How do I know all this? Let’s just say I’m a huge Elder Scrolls nerd and spent far too much time when Skyrim released reading up on all of the lore.
Additionally, early in the Second Era saw the defeat of several dragons in Skyrim. I bring this up because ESO’s most recent chapter, Elsweyr, includes several dragons. In fact, the entire season is called Season of the Dragon. In case you missed it, here’s the trailer showing the conclusion of the Season of the Dragon.
Yeah, a lot of stuff just went down. RIP Abnur Tharn. F. Poor Khamira.
However, we see our Nord friend looking across Skyrim as the majestic CGI paints us an expansive picture of Skyrim. So, what could possibly happen? Well, thanks to a forum post, we know the Dark Heart of Skyrim will be similarly structured to the Season of the Dragon. Meaning, we’ll receive three DLCs and a chapter.
My guess is that we’ll receive a DLC in the spring, a chapter in the summer, followed by two more DLCs in the autumn. And, having just finished off a year of dragons, I’d be surprised if the team kept up the dragon theme for another year.
Here’s where the fun begins. What is interesting to note here is that these events take place well before The Great Collapse which took place in 4E 122. This means that the College of Winterhold, and Winterhold in general, are still around.
If you recall from Skyrim, there’s a major questline involving the College of Winterhold and the Eye of Magnus. The Eye of Magnus is this mythical magical artifact which was used by Magnus, the god of magic.
You actually delve into the ruins of Saarthal, which was the first capital of Skyrim. However, this city was rediscovered by archaeologists from the College during the late Second Era. Just as Elsweyr primarily dealt with dragons, could the Dark Heart of Skyrim involve some ancient magic like, say, the Eye of Magnus, and perhaps the lore of Saarthal and the first Nords themselves?
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, I have two more potential theories. Remember earlier when I said the Second Era saw the decline of the Dwemer? The Dwemer were responsible for many of the epic steampunky ruins you see in Skyrim throughout the First Era. They were also responsible for basically enslaving and pseudo-genociding the Snow Elves and turning them into Falmer, which can be found in Blackreach.
It just so happens that Blackreach was rediscovered by the outside world again by a guy named Obeth Arnesian late in the Second Era. This sets up a nice coincidence for us, the players. The “dark heart” of Skyrim could be literal darkness in the heart of the province, given Blackreach’s central location in Skyrim. I could very easily see a questline in which we meet with Obeth after he’s come back from Blackreach and help him further explore the depths.
Additionally, according to lore, an Aldmeri Dominion scout named Vole somehow fell into Blackreach during the Alliance War. Some of you may have met him throughout your travels and adventures.
He only managed to escape by eating a chaurus (one of those awful clicky bug things), but unbeknownst to him, he had eaten a soul gem as well. This magically gave him the ability to mess around with the Dwemer machinery. He used this newfound skill to fix the machinery and escape Blackreach. We could see him again and quest with him as the Thieves Guild becomes a huge player in the story by attempting to pillage Blackreach.
Of the two potential Blackreach theories, I think the latter most likely since Vole is a character in ESO already. Given Zenimax’s penchant for storytelling and character building (hello Raz), I wouldn’t be terribly shocked to see this play out. On a personal note, I absolutely love the Thieves Guild. Even though they have their own DLC, giving them a predominant focus in the Skyrim chapter would be so cool.
However, this is all just theory crafting. It’s nothing more than some fun brainstorming. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out the plan for the Dark Heart of Skyrim and the future of Elder Scrolls Online. Stay tuned!