The Elder Scrolls Online has become one of the premiere MMORPGs in North America and Europe. Really, when you think about it, there are just four big earning traditional MMOs in the West: World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, SWTOR, and ESO. Zenimax’s flagship MMO has come a long way since launch to dominate the charts, and this June its first big Chapter will be the culmination of everything the team has learned since 2014’s original release.
For those who missed it, ESO has now sold through over 8.5 million copies across all three platforms. According to ZOS, there’s a pretty even split across the three platforms (PC, PS4, and XB1). The Tamriel Unlimited launch, when ESO went B2P, tripled concurrency even before the update went live – people were returning based on word of mouth. Then when ESO launched on console in June of 2015, the response was overwhelming, a good problem to have no doubt.
Steadily, the DLC then rolled in. Before the Imperial City, all updates were just generically named “Update Number Whatever”. With the IC, they began their quarterly cadence. First the Imperial City added a much needed PVEVP mix into Cyrodiil. Then Orsinium, Game Director Matt Firor’s personal favorite update, set the stage for the eventual One Tamriel update which made the entire game level scaling and more open for all players to play together. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood came next; the Shadows of the Hist dungeon update followed that. And the Style Parlor free update came in there too, with the housing-themed Homestead having launched just a couple weeks back.
The latest trailer for ESO: Morrowind
Every big bullet list feature that players have been wanting in ESO has been added to the game, even Battleground PVP is coming with Morrowind when it launches in June. In seems that ESO is essentially the MMORPG that keeps growing and getting better, rebounding from a polarizing launch in a way few online games ever have. Enter the next Chapter – Morrowind.
I feel like it doesn’t need to be said, but Morrowind is the Elder Scrolls game that brought TES as a series into mainstream, especially since it launched on the original Xbox as well. Its 15 year anniversary is this June 6th, and it’s no mistake that ESO: Morrowind is launching at the same time. In essence, ESO: Morrowind is a welcome home to fans of TES III, and a new beginning and fresh start for ESO fans or new players.
In a nice touch for those who played TES III, they even have the NPC who would meet you when you came off the boat in the original Morrowind. Normally, he’d be the guy who’d ask you who you were and engage the character creation process. But as he begins to talk, a new NPC cuts him off and says something along the lines of “Oh, he’s not one of those… we’ve been expecting him.”
When you buy Morrowind, you’ll get the base game of ESO for free (minus the DLC add ons). That means you get the hundreds of hours of original gameplay, its stories, its campaigns, its dungeons, and so forth – plus all the new stuff in Morrowind. Since ESO is set 700 years in the past, this is long before the events of TES III: Morrowind. The map is the same, but it’s also less desolate and marred by the decline of the Tribunal and Vivec.
Speaking of the gods, much like you worked with Alamexia in Mournhold in ESO, Morrowind has you working alongside Vivec to discover why his power is failing. And if Vivec’s power fails and he dies, well… that’s the end of Morrowind as a giant meteor being held in suspended animation above Vivec City will come crashing down. SPOILER ALERT – If you finished Skyrim, you know what happens there. But that’s far into the future, many lives away. What about Sotha Sil? He’s missing, as some may know, though the game’s new 12-man trial and other parts of the adventure will touch his Clockwork City.
The story of ESO Morrowind will wind through the many clans of the Dunmer. You’ll work closely with fan favorite Naryu Virian – a member of the Morag Tong, the political assassin group of Morrowind that keeps the peace between the ruling tribes. The adventure storyline (minus all the side content) will run around 30 hours, and most playthroughs so far have fresh level 1 characters “finishing” the Morrowind content in their 30s level-wise. While it’s possible to level to 50 and begin earning Champion Points in Morrowind alone, it’d make more sense to continue on into the rest of Tamriel if you like questing at that point.
On top of the largest single zone in ESO’s history, Morrowind also brings the new Warden class – a true hybrid of healer, tank, and DPS with a tenacious pet bear to wield. It’ll also introduce 4v4v4 PVP Battlegrounds, complete with gear sets, item rewards, XP to earn, and leaderboards to climb. And of course, along with new delves, public dungeons, a zone wide scavenger hunt, dailies, and more – there’s also the new 12 player trial for the elite dungeon crawlers out there: The Halls of Fabrication. It’s here that the big bad Dwemer Colossus from the cinematic trailer is found.
The Morrowind Chapter (note they’re not calling it an expansion, mainly because it can be played by anyone at any point, not just top-end players or new players), costs $40 for existing players to upgrade. For new players, Morrowind will cost $60, but bear in mind it still comes with the base ESO game as well. I think if there’s any real problem with the pricing, it’s that it takes a DLC away from the ESO Plus members. Yes, even ESO Plus folks have to pay for Morrowind. This is something I expressed to the team while I was there, and Brian, Matt, and Rich each said they’re already looking at ways to increase the value of the ESO Plus membership to make up for the Chapter-Every-Year taking away one of the “Free DLCs” from the membership.
Orsinium was, is my favorite DLC for Elder Scrolls Online. Zenimax is saying that the lessons learned in zone and quest design from the Orsinium update carried over into Morrowind and then some. As someone who’s spent well over 1,000 hours in Elder Scrolls Online, many of them traipsing about the original zones, I cannot wait to wet my feet in the murky mushroom laden waters of Vvardenfell.