We had the Australian-exclusive opportunity to jump into the new Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) Chapter, High Isle – Lost Depths DLC. Rich Lambert (Creative Director), Mike Finnigan (Lead Encounter Designer), and Jeremy Sera (Lead Content Designer) from ZeniMax Online Studios joined us to play through the exciting new Earthen Root Enclave dungeon.
The Lost Depths is the first content update to ESO: High Isle, including two quite different dungeon experiences to play with friends. Graven Deep and Earthen Root Enclave incorporate the game’s phased dungeon design and environmental boss battles with eight new item sets. The DLC includes unique collectibles, furnishings, dyes, achievements, and titles.
The Graven Deep is an islet located off the southwest coast of the High Isle, reached from a ship west of the Coral Road Wayshrine. Ships mysteriously vanish in the Abecean Sea and former pirate Dhulef requests help to find out how it may link to the legendary Druid King’s voyage to the Systres. Rich made it very clear this was his favourite dungeon, which is easy to understand as it takes place in an amazing undersea setting. Naturally, we settled on playing through the other fantastic dungeon (sorry again, Rich!).
Attack of the Firesong
Earthen Root Enclave is a spiritual sanctuary for the druids of the Systres. However, an antagonistic group of druids called the Firesong circle invaded the enclave, and players assist Druid Laurel in defending the sacred area. The dungeon is reached from a ship in Amenos Station and takes players through an assault across three diverse environments.
Mike Finnigan explained that Druid Laurel will be a significant character for future Legacy of the Bretons and High Isle Chapter content as her involvement in the story continues. Immediately, we were thrown into the thick of combat, fighting bears and Atronachs in a rocky green area.
Corruption of Stone is the first boss, fighting in a circular arena surrounded by stone formations. The battle teaches the player new mechanics to carry forward in the rest of the dungeon through environmental cues. A stone wall rises from the earth as a red danger zone enlarges, encouraging adventurers to hide behind the wall to stay safe from damage. Seeing this intuitive encounter design follow through from previous dungeons in ESO is excellent.
Lost in the depths of deeproot
Next, Druid Laurel leads ventures into the Deeproot. The underground caverns are littered with vines, tangled trees stretching in every direction, and creatures infected by the deeproot. We faced fauns and deers, as well as deadly sentient trees that needed to be taken out immediately due to their ranged attacks. CJ Grebb and the art team at ZeniMax Online Studios certainly use their imaginative minds to pull fascinating worlds like this together.
Corruption of Root is the menacing boss of the Deeproot, hovering over the ground like a mystic being. Taking advantage of sentient trees and eventually mitosis, splitting into multiple versions, making this clash absolute chaos. A lot is happening at once, and it can be overwhelming, but with a great team the Corruption of Root is a satisfying challenge.
Archdruid Devyric and the Firesong Circle take Druid Laurel captive, so the next and final stop is the Path of the Salt Wind. Druid commune with the elements of air on top of this cliff face that overlooks vast oceans. This large area has open spaces for battles against Lurchers, bears, and Firesong minions. At one point, Mike hinted towards a doughnut-shaped structure that leads to one of many easter eggs in the Lost Depths DLC—keep an eye out for them!
The final battle
The ultimate battle is against Archdruid Devyric himself. Jeremy exclaimed, “we’re in trouble”, as the fight started. Apt because Devyric summons lightning pillars that fire ongoing bolts, transforms into a bear, charges into players for an extreme knockback, and calls in a pack of wolves. All the while, Devyric fights only with his fists. An absolute dynamo.
Coordinating attacks and buffs is essential, but we overcame the powerful Archdruid Devyric and rescued Druid Laurel. Compared to other dungeons in ESO’s history, the enclave introduces more gameplay mechanics that evolve in each stage. Seeing the gameplay and encounter design improve with every content expansion is brilliant.
Playing with the ZeniMax Online Studios developers was a wonderful opportunity. We were flinging jokes back and forth, teasing about vote-kicking each other, and just generally having a fun time. Even without Rich’s talkative parrot narrating our every move in the background, the Lost Depths DLC will be a great time for all players. The developers are passionate about Elder Scrolls and everything they are creating within the universe. Thank you again for playing with us!
Lost Depths DLC for the Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle is currently available for PC and releases on consoles 6 September 2022. For more information, you can read our full review of the Chapter and visit the ESO website.