Zenimax has been sharing details about The Elder Scrolls Online’s first DLC content, The Imperial City for about three weeks. Last week’s QuakeCon presentation centralized all the details of the Imperial City all in one place, while also living up to the “Beyond” portion of the presentation’s title with some new details about what to expect from both the game and its future DLC content.
With Imperial City now on the PTS, the next phase of ESO is upon us. This is fitting, since The Imperial City is both a return and a new beginning. When the DLC is released across all platforms by mid-September, the last of Molag Bal’s story, one final attempt at making the Daedric prince’s ultimate plan come to pass will be available to everyone. While much of The Imperial City is finally going to cater to those players who have wanted an extension of PvP content, there will also be plenty of PvE additions to contend with, though some will be in treacherous areas. Overall, the update marks both a return to a familiar location, one teased in Cyrodiil for a while now, as well as some promise for the game’s future.
Giving Molag Bal one last chance for his Daedric invasion and attempts to meld worlds fits well enough. This content that was already so heavily teased for so long that it makes complete sense to let the existing story content get an extension to introduce an adapted familiar location from Oblivion. Closing the door here on the Molag Bal plotline will allow ESO to grow from this point into the future. Which will also likely have shades of the past, but it will hopefully implement those upcoming additions with enough new stories, as Creative Director Rich Lambert indicated, that the team wants to begin to tell.
Those stories will begin with the next DLC expansion. These expansions, we now know, are set to release quarterly, so we have an idea for the next year’s worth of content coming at this point. This is a big difference from when we were speculating on just what DLC might be like. Orsinium will be next, and will follow roughly around the end of the year. After that, 2016 will bring The Dark Brotherhood and then the Thieves Guild. Other locations and features have been teased, but this is the first solid roadmap we’ve had for the game in a while. in between these updates will be the usual fixes and balance tweaks, but now players know some of what to expect and when.
I’m sure some players aren’t too happy that they might be waiting as much as two years since the game’s launch for content that was promised before then and now carries an additional price for permanent access. Naturally, a subscriber gets access, but spending a few more bucks to make it a permanent unlock if you’re not sure how long you will stay subscribed might be worth it. Additionally, after being promised Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood, they’re going to be separate releases. It’s understandable that Zenimax has to fund its development, especially when subscriptions are now optional, but the wait coupled with the splitting of these content updates might disappoint a few people. Yet, we also need to look on the bright side.
ESO’s road ahead letters, detailing what to expect from the game always gave a glimpse of things to look forward to, and the QuakeCon presentation, while naturally focused on Imperial City, brought back a sense of that optimism about the game that felt stagnant for a while. In a way, having this sense of what to expect has reignited some excitement for me. The first half of the year, aside from update 6, and then Tamriel Unlimited just felt very slow as a player. A quarterly update schedule seems a decent pace for the current, sub-optional ESO, especially since those updates will likely also include free updates for all around the time of release that set up the new content for those who have paid in some form, while still of benefit to all.
Because of the Elder Scrolls IP, there’s always a sense of familiar and new in ESO, which is one of the more welcoming things about the game. imperial City will feel that way, while still closing one chapter and heading toward something else. Future content looks to deliver something similar. It’s “new stories” that really caught my attention, and I’m looking forward to them.