Bring On Morrowind – A New Chapter This June
Elder Scrolls Online is launching their first standalone Chapter this June. ESO: Morrowind launches on the 15 year anniversary of the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and brings players in direct contact with Vivec as he tries to stop something terrible from happening in Vvardenfell. With the new 30+ hour storyline comes a new class (Warden), a new Trial, PVP Battlegrounds, and more. We’re unpacking the announcement and reacting to it all in this week’s column.
While we’re told Morrowind will be the game’s largest zone to date, it’s “one zone” and that leads many who think of this as an expansion to believe that the $40 upgrade price and $60 full price for new players is a bit much. I can see the worry, but I also think it’s nice that the $60 copy for new players includes the base game as well. Most DLC so far have been $20, so for double that as an existing player you get a new class, a whole new storyline to play through, a new Trial, and the Battlegrounds – plus anything else they might announce between now and June 6th. Plus pre-order folks get the Warden costume, the War Dog pet, treasure maps for Vvardenfell, a crown crate, and experience scrolls. I actually think $40 is a pretty good deal, given the amount I’ve spent on the game over the past few years. But let’s face it, I’m a fan, so I have a natural bias.
If you look at the Pre-Order page for the Standard Edition (meant for new players) it says “Includes the first game of the series”. So what’s interesting to me is that they’re calling this a series. A fact that evokes Guild Wars 1 to me. If you recall, GW1 ran for years with a new Campaign standalone product every six months. I don’t think we’ll see a new Chapter in ESO every six months, but I would be willing to bet we’ll see more products like Morrowind in years to come. After Morrowind, where will ZOS take us? That’s pretty exciting to think about, really.
The Warden, for those who don’t know, was actually the game’s fifth class in early testing of ESO but it was cut before launch. It’s not clear to me personally how much of this Warden will be like what the game originally had, but any class that uses ice magic and has a permanent bear pet gets my vote for Class of the Year. I’m already plotting out my dual-wielding Nord Warden with his bear Iorek. I’m confused as to how the “Bear is an Ultimate Skill” will work. But in some ways, I like the idea because while the pet can be permanently with you and resurrected when he dies, the fact that he’s a skill like the Sorcerer’s pets means you can build a Warden that doesn’t have a pet at all. Seeing as a hallmark of ESO is the freedom building your character presents, I think that’s a wise choice. The only sad thing is that the Bear being an Ultimate means you don’t get him until several hours into the game.
Zenimax also focuses on how the story is “thirty hours”. As anyone who’s played ESO extensively can tell you, 30 hours is about enough time to naturally level to around level 20-30 depending on how hard you try. Yes, I’m aware you can do this faster with XP scrolls and other speed leveling techniques. But leveling that first character to 50 takes a decent chunk of time. I think my Dragon Knight took around 100 hours. Why does this matter? I wonder if Morrowind will have accelerated leveling to carry people to 50 through the Chapter, or if you’ll need to go to the base game and other DLC to get up 50 and start earning Champion Points again. Personally, I’d really hope that you can do 1-50 in Morrowind, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The new PVP Battlegrounds sound legitimately great and they’re something the community has been requesting for a while. I’m a little leery that you have to get Morrowind (I assume) in order to play them, as it seems it’ll segment the playerbase more than it needs to. I really want to try the new mode though, and see if it’s anything like the Arena Demo Brian Wheeler and crew demoed at PAX a few times just to give PAX attendees a taste of PVP in a closed environment. I also hope there are some great rewards for partaking, as well as experience to help level and get CP through PVP.
What’s missing from the announcement? Well, as with all game updates, I’m sure there’ll be a Core Game patch with this one and I wonder what might be included for existing players of One Tamriel. I’ll also remind you that I asked for a good deal of what’s in this Chapter with last week’s article (though I’m certainly not alone in my predictions). But one thing that’s not been announced was a new weapon or weapon skills. There’ll be plenty of new progression with the Warden, but it would be nice if our existing classes got some new toys too. Similarly, while we know there’s a new crafting motif to collect, that’s just visual. As far as I know, there are no other changes to crafting with this update. Give me farming, darn you, ZOS.
There’s also the new Trial, but as I’ve still not played many of the game’s 12-man chunks of content, I’ll have to leave opinions on that to you all. I’m excited for my guild, but not sure if and when I’ll get a chance to try it. I’m more curious about the Delves and any Public Dungeons that might be in Vvardenfell, as well as I’m curious to see what dailies, houses for purchases, and other sorts of content are added to the zone. Dark Brotherhood, Thieve’s Guild, and especially Orsinium raised the bar high for the PVE adventuring in ESO. I have high hopes that the questing in Morrowind will be more engaging and less formulaic than the zones of One Tamriel’s original content.
As you can probably guess, I’m psyched for this update. Knowing that housing launches next week, and Morrowind comes in June is already a great start to 2017 for ESO. I wonder if we’ll get another update before Morrowind in the April timeframe, or if we’ll be sort of waiting for any major content until June. One thing’s certain though, I really like the direction the game’s headed. ZOS is on a roll, and I hope they keep it going.