With a new year comes a new chapter for The Elder Scrolls Online. This year Zenimax is sending players to eastern Morrowind with The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom. Along with two new zones to explore and the typical features included with each new chapter, a new class is being added to the game. The Arcanist sounds like it could be an interesting addition that ties in with this year’s storyline, Shadow Over Morrowind.
A theme mentioned during the global reveal by Creative Director Rich Lambert was the Elder Scrolls meets comic horror. The Daedric Prince of Fate and Forbidden Knowledge, Hermaeus Mora, is returning for this chapter. They seem to exude this feeling of cosmic horror even more so than when players encountered them during side quests so far in ESO.
In the previous year’s chapter, the developers took a break from the world-ending plotline that had grown a bit stale for many players, but they look to be jumping back in with both feet this year. While it was a nice change of pace last year, the story didn’t resonate with me, and I had trouble jumping back into ESO regularly. But returning to Morrowind and learning more about Dunmer history does spark my interest.
Players will take on the role of an agent of Hermaeus Mora during the chapter storyline and explore two new zones. The Telvanni Peninsula in eastern Morrowind contains the city of Necrom and is the seat of power for House Telvanni. Necrom, the City of the Dead, predates the Dark Elf Tribunal. There is a lot here the developers could explore and expand on since the region has not appeared in Elder Scrolls games for quite some time.
The second zone is that of Apocrypha, the home plane of Hermaeus Mora, a vast library. This Daedric plane has not been in an Elder Scrolls game since the Skyrim: Dragonborn DLC. The creature design and atmosphere look great so far. I really like the Tome Shells, the idea of Daedra living between the pages of a book is an interesting concept compared to the typical trope of animated books in other games.
The new class this year is the Arcanist, described during the reveal as a class that creates runes of power based on the Black Books of Hermaeus Mora. While players will not be summoning the actual books themselves or using them, they will use a tome to produce some effects. Arcanists will have the typical three skill lines that players are familiar with: Herald of the Tome, Curative Runeforms, and Apocryphal Soldier.
The most interesting class ability mentioned during the reveal was Apocryphal Gate. It allows the player to place a gate within a certain distance that they and other party members can use. I am looking forward to learning more about this class and if it has a similar negative to using abilities like those of a Necromancer around NPCs since a number of effects shown so far seem to involve tentacle animations.
The class will also use a new combo point system called Crux. While in combat, some abilities like Runeblades will generate Crux on top of their other effects. A player can generate a maximum of three Crux, which can be used to empower other abilities when spent. It could be an interesting system if the amount of Crux spent changes empowered spells in a meaningful way versus just boosting the damage.
Along with the new Chapter two new companions will also be introduced. Sharp-As-Night is an Argonian Warden from Balck Marsh who will have a more reserved personality in comparision to the other companions introduced so far. Azandar Al-Cybiades, a Redguard who is also an Arcanist with a singular focus on hidden knowledge.
Players can also expect all the typical features that come with a new ESO Chapter: side quests, a trail, dungeons, delves, public dungeons, world bosses, a new world event, ten new item sets, antiquities, achievements, titles, and a new Tales of Tribute deck. According to the developers, the chapter has about 30 hours of new content.
Another announcement made during the global reveal is the change in the patch cadence. There will only be two main patches released during the year, the Scribes of Fate dungeon DLC in March and the Necrom Chapter in June. During the second half of the year, smaller patches will focus on quality of life and fixes. The end of the live stream also teased a new system coming by the end of 2023, an endless dungeon that can be played with a companion. Not sure if this means we can play with one other person or if you bring along an NPC companion, but it could be interesting. Unfortunately, for those hoping for combat mechanic changes or PvP improvements, nothing was mentioned for either.
Overall, The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom chapter reveal has sparked my interest enough to want to hear more. A new class is a welcome addition, and I am curious how the Crux combo system will ultimately empower spells. The developers also have a chance to tell a really interesting story involving Necrom, Apocrypha, and Hermaeus Mora. I just hope they avoid falling back into the world-ending formulaic storytelling of certain other chapters. The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom releases on June 5th for PC/Mac and June 20th for Xbox/PlayStation.