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The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Review In Progress

Kevin Chick Posted:
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The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter has been released on PC, opening up the Telvanni Peninsula and Hermaeus Mora’s realm of Apocrypha for everyone to explore. The Chapter also includes ESO’s seventh class, the Arcanist, alongside two new companions, and a new 12-player Trial. The Daedric Prince’s realm of Apocrypha could potentially engage players in a compelling story. The Arcanist’s Crux mechanic may freshen up the combat gameplay. But how does it feel out of the gate?            

Necrom Tutorial

Like all previous Chapters, players can jump into the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom by making a new character or opening their collection and selecting Necrom with an existing character to access the starting quest. At this point, I have tried both options.  They both end at a Wayshrine outside the Dark Elf city of Necrom that houses the Necropolis. For those making a new character and completing the tutorial, the portal to the new Chapter is front and center once the tutorial ends. Upon entering, a short sequence of images teases the new content well. I found that making a new character was the better choice for starting my adventures in the Telvanni Penisula, mainly because it gave me those brief flashes of locals to explore and the factions I will be interacting with.

Hermaeus Mora ESO Necrom

Upon arriving in the Telvanni Peninsula, I was greeted by Leramil the Wise near the Wayshrine. Those who have played the Scribes of Fate DLC and Chapter prologue quest will be familiar with her by now. It was nice to see her return and while she is not my favorite character, her connection to a Daedric Prince makes for an interesting enough hook that I want to learn more. As a new character, Leramil provided me with a quick exposition dump and then sent me off to conjure a projection of Hermaeus Mora, Daedric Prince of Forbidden Knowledge. I thought about holding back on who you talk to, but it happens within the first five minutes of the Chapter. The downside, I felt there was no buildup, fanfare, or feeling of mystery surrounding the encounter. Meeting an all-powerful Daedric Prince felt like just a simple exchange of information and instructions on where to go next to advance the story. The updated look of Hermaeus Mora is excellent though.

After the short business meeting with the Prince of Forbidden Knowledge, I could explore the Telvanni Peninsula and Apocrypha zones as I liked or follow the main questline. I started riding toward Necrom, but it didn’t take long to get sidetracked by quests along the way. The peninsula is a natural extension of the existing Dark Elf areas. The flora and fauna capture the alien nature of the plant life commonly associated with Dark Elves in Tamriel well. Netches are plentiful, and the Telvannni Magister mushroom towers are prominently visible as you ride through the zone. I found the tower interiors to be cramped and confining while adventuring inside them most of the time, and the doorway/stairs could blend in so well with the environment that I had to look twice while finding my way onto a new level. It never became annoying to progress while questing but I did get turned around more than once.

The delves and public dungeons in the peninsula are the standard fare for ESO. The region does tell good side stories, and a few quests bring back fan-favorite characters from previous chapters. For players interested in more Dark Elf content, the Telvanni Peninsula delivers it. But once I completed most of the side quests in the area this experience felt like only a short visit to something that could have explored the lore more.

In comparison to the exterior area, the city of Necrom is stark in appearance. It feels like everything inside fits a checklist and was precisely planned. It works for the oldest Necropolis that honors Dark Elf ancestors. But exploring the city didn’t feel compelling to me. I didn’t want to look in every corner or further explore the heritage of the Dunmer and their ancestors. I am hoping that once inside the Necropolis itself things will feel more engaging. 

Apocrypha Necrom ESO

Apocrypha ratches things up a notch. The initial visuals are excellent with the black rain, sky tentacles, watchers, seekers, and an alien environment. I found the side quests in this area to be more engaging as you learn more about the Ciphers and the other inhabitants. The developers really took advantage of the alien aesthetic when designing the delves and other locals. Certain areas are multi-tiered and have multiple paths to reach most quest locations. At first, some interiors can be challenging to navigate, but I expect nothing less for a region meant to be a massive warehouse of knowledge. I eventually embraced wandering the twisting corridors lined with books and convoluted paths. 

The music and sound so far have been great for each new area. While exploring the Telvanni Peninsula, it feels almost peaceful until you enter combat, and then the music picks up with the traditional combat track. Voiceovers also feel like they have increased in quality in most cases compared to the previous Chapter. I am still not 100 percent sold on Hermaeus Mora though. While the voice actor has done a great job, that mysterious alien quality to the voice from previous encounters in ESO feels like it's missing.

For those looking to try the new Arcanist class, I am happy to say that the class gameplay feels great. But don’t expect game-changing mechanics. So far, I have found the builder spender gameplay of Crux to be standard fare compared to other games, build up to 3 resources and gain a bonus X percent when using a spender ability. The visuals and class design are excellent. It’s satisfying to build up 3 Crux and then use Fatecarver to melt your enemies with a channeled beam of green energy. The closest comparison I can think of is using the Templar ability of Radiant Destruction on enemies below 50 percent health. But even then, Fatecarver allows you to switch targets mid-channel simply by moving and pointing at a new enemy.

Two new companions have also arrived with the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom. Sharp-as-Night, a Warden, can be found early on near the city of Necrom. Azandar, the Arcanist, is a bit harder to locate in Apocrypha near the town of Cipher’s Midden. Both are welcome additions to the game because more choices are always a good thing, and they have decently interesting introductory questlines. But, so far, I don’t find either one compelling to have along on my adventures long-term. Azandar’s story was a bit more interesting since it involved different locations in Apocrypha. 

I have experienced a few bugs and glitches with the new Chapter on PC. After combat, occasionally, I can't interact with objects. But a quick dodge roll fixes the issue. The game has crashed on me twice. One side quest area didn’t display the correct map, and it looked like my character was passing through solid walls when I hit the M key. I am also seeing unintelligible text characters appear in NPC quest text occasionally. The rest of the text is readable, just a random character here and there at the end of a sentence or in the middle of a paragraph.

ESO Necrom

I currently have two main concerns about the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter, which I am reserving final judgment on for the full review. First, Herald’s Seekers is a challenging enemy that can appear in both new zones. They can be a fun combat encounter. But once engaged by other players their long-distance ground tentacle summoning can also interrupt players interacting with NPCs who are not involved in the combat. I have had to restart conversations and quests repeatedly to finish reading the quest text. At other times while waiting on a world boss to appear or trying to harvest a resource, I have a black tentacle suddenly pop out of the ground. 

The second concern I have is that some sidequests feel the same, or at least very similar, to other content already in ESO. The one that really got to me so far was a quest that involved a Nord brother and sister in Apocrypha. I won’t ruin it, but the brother tends to get himself into trouble and the sister seems to be the more responsible one that bails him out. By the end of this short adventure, it felt like copy/paste of what could have been an adventure had by a particular set of explorers, a certain Dark Elf brother and sister. Which most veteran players are likely familiar with. I will be curious to see if a similar repetition pops up with other quests.     

My impressions so far, the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter does a good job of expanding on the ESO experience. The new Arcanist class so far is an excellent addition to the game, and it is always nice to have new companions. While there are some bugs/glitches, they are rare. Anyone looking to continue their adventures in ESO should enjoy themselves, but you may feel like some quests are awfully familiar if you played a lot of ESO’s existing sidequests and storylines.

Full Disclosure: A copy of the Chapter was provided by PR for the purpose of review.


Kevin Chick

Kevin "Xevrin" is an avid gamer having started playing video games on an Apple III with the Wizardry Series and Questron before the age of 10. In junior high, he branched out into tabletop gaming with the release of D&D 2nd Edition. During his first year of university, Everquest was released combining both of his favorite activities.