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May 26, 2020
ZeniMax Online Studios
Return to the wintery region of Skyrim — once again — with the newest major Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) expansion, the Greymoor Chapter. The snow-swept area of Western Skyrim introduces to Tamriel an ancient vampiric threat and another standalone story. Many fans are rightfully eager to finally experience Skyrim with their friends, defeat powerful enemies and explore new mechanics and builds. Halt adventurer, be wary… The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor can feel almost too familiar and sadly ignores the Player vs Player (PVP) userbase of the MMORPG.
Elder Scrolls Online originally released in 2014 with significant critique. The game never really captured the fantasised Bethesda-like gameplay fans expected (at least it wasn’t Fallout 76). After a significant improvement and three amazing key expansions with Morrowind, Summerset and Elswyr; ESO is one of the most popular western MMOs. Deep storylines and roleplaying allow players to immerse themselves in the extensive Elder Scrolls lore and build communities. PVP and PVE combat and skill combinations are easy to learn and difficult to master, adding to an incredible part of the game. The game prides itself in being simple to pick-up and welcoming for newcomers to the genre.
The Greymoor DLC attempts to pull-in players from all corners with the iconic Western Skyrim location. The riverside village of Morthal and the bustling city of Solitude are immediately recognisable. The expansion even opens with a homage to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim opening scene. The snow-covered forests and running rivers look exactly as they should. Unfortunately, these environments feel dull in comparison to the other expansions. The muted colours and features of the world are all too similar and aren’t fascinating to explore. Certainly, seeing Skyrim again in 2020 takes away from some of the bewilderment. Once players battle through the initial slog and arrive at intricately ornate Blackreach, the voyage begins to thrive. On top of the vampiric plot beginning to thicken like fresh blood, the secret city is vivid and lively with fascinating flora and fauna to accompany your quest.
The story of Greymoor revolves around a powerful army of vampires called The Gray Host. Supernatural storms named Harrowstorms are twisting living creatures into bloodthirsty monsters and somehow vampires, witches, and werewolves are all involved. Lyris Titanbord, a noble Nord, and Fenn, a friendly Ravenwatch vampire, help find the source of the evil and put an end to it all. As far as stories go, Greymoor supplies the typical Elder Scrolls experience. It starts slow and simple, building into a twisting mystery with dark plans and dangerous encounters. Though, the finale is admittedly anticlimactic and feels like a rehash of the previous Princess to Queen plot of the last chapter. The entire main quest is about seven hours of playtime, while other Greymoor content will take up to 30 hours to complete. As is usually the case, the side quests hold more of the memorable moments. Meeting a magician stuck inside a bottle like a genie is one of the highlights that come to mind.
The lore behind vampires, witches, and werewolves adds heavily to roleplaying. The new abilities in combination with the Necromancer class allow players to truly embody a character of dark ambitions. It’s intriguing to see how well ESO caters for roleplayers. The deep lore behind many of Greymoor’s quests, how they intertwine with the rest of the game and mechanics, and the sheer amount of history behind everything is astounding. Thousands of guilds are rightfully-so heavily into roleplaying and Greymoor certainly enhances the possibility to live those fantasies.
“The deep lore behind many of Greymoor’s quests, how they intertwine with the rest of the game and mechanics, and the sheer amount of history behind everything is astounding.”
Every major expansion introduces a new mechanic, and Greymoor is no different. Antiquities and scrying is an archaeology minigame uncovering long-forgotten relics of Tamriel. It serves as a small side quest with the Antiquarians Circle in Solitude and as a calming distraction from the usual thoroughfare of ESO. You can find rare furnishings, mounts, collectables, and profitable items in the activity. For ESO+ players with fully furnished homes and cosmetic collectors, this may be interesting. Alas, it isn’t much more than that. Antiquities are virtually not integral to any progression or in-game benefit besides selling items for gold. Uncharacteristically, the lore behind it isn’t even extensive for an MMO that usually digs deep into background context.
Harrowstorms are one of the most exhilarating features of the new update. Similar to Dolmens, these zone events happen occasionally across the map and require several players to team up and defeat vicious enemies. Putting an end to the ritual and stopping the Harrowstorm drops a powerful loot drop with gold, equipment, and experience points. The new dungeons and trials likewise add to the teamwork joy of Elder Scrolls Online. Flourishing with new enemies, short stories, and lore; finishing these activities with a group grants some of the largest XP and powerful gear available to your player. Cooperating and playing together in these events are as fun as ever. Despite the concept not being new to the game, the fresh assets and story to it all make the grind exciting again.
Regretfully, not all multiplayer is equal with the Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor. PVP is plagued by huge lag issues and recent changes prevent group queues. Players are not allowed to queue for battlegrounds with a friend, guild member, or anyone. It is purely solo search only, which defeats the purpose of competitive teams rallying together for tactical battles. Additionally, the server that hosts their PVP region called Cyrodiil has been suffering from latency. An average player will experience a three-second delay after activating an ability during peak times, and that is not including the 200+ ping that the common Australian or New Zealand player gets. Greymoor does nothing to add new features or improve on these problems. Such a massive part of the MMORPG ignored so blatantly is disappointing, to say the least.
This leads into the largest concern with Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, the bang-for-buck factor. The Greymoor upgrade for current players is $60 AUD. With a lot of the content outside of the story DLC free to all, and more content to come in August and November of this year, it doesn’t seem all that worth it. A good deal of interesting content is added to the MMO, just not enough to warrant a diehard Skyrim fan to return to Tamriel for the first time since the initial 2012 release. For players already deep into ESO or huge fans of the lore, the chapter may be an enjoyable short story. Yet, for the price of a full game without any new classes like the previous expansions, Greymoor fails in comparison.
Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor is an immersive gothic tale building upon the lore of Skyrim’s dark past. As a narrative, it delivers a fascinating adventure any fan of The Elder Scrolls will undoubtedly want to see. Although, it doesn’t do much different in contrast to the rest of the universe and aims to replicate a world just too stale for 2020. Regardless, the additions the Greymoor chapter makes are exciting for social adventurers and roleplaying. The new creatures, dark pasts, thrilling zone events and dungeons make the core of the game exciting again with heaps to do overall. If you can ignore the lack of PVP content and have already exhausted all other story content, Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor will certainly provide another chilling chapter in your journey.