Elder Scrolls Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by ZeniMax Online Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It was originally released for PC in April 2014 and later released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in June 2015. Since its inception, the game has been completely overhauled and in terms of game mechanics is almost unrecognisable from launch.
The Elder Scrolls expansions are broken into Chapters and DLC’s. Chapters deliver huge amounts of new content & features for new and existing players, they are not included in the monthly subscription service known as ESO plus. DLC’s are smaller expansions that include small story arc content, new dungeons, world events, delves etc. and are included free for anyone subscribed to the ESO plus service, players can also purchase them separately without ESO plus. There have been many expansions and DLC’s added to the game over the past 5 years, each adding more and more content for new and veteran players along with game play balancing and changes. The most recent expansion, Greymoor is taking players to the Western Skyrim region of Tamriel. Greymoor is the Chapter expansion of a yearlong gothic adventure – Dark Heart of Skyrim that started with the DLC Harrowstorm dungeon expansion in March 2020 and has further DLC expansions coming in August and November 2020.
I have spent well over 1000 hours playng ESO over the past five years and have only really scratched the surface of the depth of content this game has to offer. The review will focus on the new Greymoor chapter only and what new content it delivers to the ever-evolving world of Elder Scrolls Online, I will do my best to skim over the essential base game knowledge for new players.
New players picking up ESO: Greymoor will need to create their new character in the homescreen. There are many options to choose from but the most important are the characters race, class & allegiance, or faction as its most commonly reffered too. The characters race will determine certain passive abilities unique to that race that are unlocked through levelling progression. There are 10 different races to choose from, each with their own passive abilities that will assist with the chosen characters build by complementing or boosting resources or stats.
The class options include Nightblade, Sorcerer, Templar, Dragonknight, Necromancer and Warden. Each class has a unique set of skills available to them and strongly dictate the entire character build throughout the game. There are three distinct play styles, which are Healer, Tank & Damage dealer. For solo play you can blur the lines of all 3 playstyles without many downsides but when you make it to end game content such as PVP, four person dungeons, battlegrounds and trials, players will need to optimise their character builds for one distinct playstyle.
The three factions include the Aldmeri Dominion, The Ebonheart Pack and the Daggerfall Covenant that each cover a section of the maps regions. The faction options are primarily for the Alliance War, the PVP arena known as Cyrodiil and the Imperial City, which is a huge open map battleground that caters for up to 600 players, 200 per allegiance where players battle it out for map domination by holding keeps/castles and corresponding resource nods to dominate the opposing factions. New players to ESO: Greymoor will run through the tutorial quest, then will be thrown into the Western Skyrim story arc from the start. The rest of the character creation is an in-depth cosmetic menu allowing players to get the look of their character just right and has no impact on the gameplay.
The Greymoor story arc drops players into the Nordic land of Western Skyrim, 900 years prior to the events of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Players that are familiar with Elder Scrolls V, iconic locations such as Solitude, Morthal, Labyrinthian & Dragon Bridge are all still there to explore in a new light. The story arc takes the player on a journey with Lyris Titanborn, the giant Nord companion who has a love affair with her giant axe. Lyris Titanborn was first introduced to players in the base game story arc. The player will run into Lyris at Solitude who is trying to convince the High King Svargrim of an impending danger to his kingdom, unknown to them at the time as the mysterious Vampire Lord who leads an army of vampires and werewolves known as the Grey Host.
The main story arc took me about 10 hours to complete, listening to all the story and character dialogue and reading all the lore and clues the player will come across to help solve the mystery of the Grey Host and save Western Skyrim from impending doom. There is a whole lot more in this expansion than just the main story arc though. There are many side missions available throughout the region that players can to choose to play through which adds a further 5 or so hours of story content. The developers have said there is about 30 hours of gameplay and I would say that is about right. There are public dungeons, delves, crafting tables, housing options, collectables, giant camps, world bosses and 8 Harrowstorms which are the regions world events that require a large portion of players to band together to shut them down for various rewards. The Harrowstorms are great fun to play through with spectacular visuals throughout the battle.
There are two distinct areas of the new Greymoor Chapter, Western Skyrim that is a picturesque inner mountain terrain, with flowing rivers and the ocean inlet situated at the foot of Solitude and surrounded by iced capped mountains for players to explore. There is also the underground cavans of Blackreach, which was once home to the ancient Dwemer race. Blackreach is visually spectacular with florescent animals, monsters and fauna that include huge blue mushrooms the size of buildings and deep rich purple crystals that break through the cavan walls throughout the map.
The player will stumble across Blackreach through the main story arc but if you wish to head down there early, there are ancient great lifts located in the West, South and East of the map that will take players deep into the Cavans. Once there, players can unlock wayshrines, the fast travel location points in ESO so they can go back down with ease. Blackreach would have to be one of my favourite areas in ESO, although it can be difficult to navigate the many paths and depth levels in this area. I found myself constantly pulling up the map to make sure I was still headed in the right direction.
The Greymoor Chapter introduced a complete overhaul to the Vampire skill line that players can choose to pick up if they wish. The Vampire and Werewolf skill lines are optional skills that player can choose to pick up in various ways. For anyone who wants to pick up either skill line they can have another player infect them at specific shrines in each region. Once infected the player will be presented with a quest that runs through a short story arc and the basics of the new skills. The other option is to purchase the Vampire or Werewolf bite in the crown store for real money.
I have always been a big fan of the Vampire skill line and most of my characters are creatures of the night. For many players, myself included the skill line was mainly used for a selected few passives that were available, unlike the werewolf skill line that made players design specific builds that incorporate the strengths of the skill tree to their overall gameplay. The Vampire skill line overhaul has drastically changed the skill line, and in my opinion, it’s for the better. I had a lot of fun using this to change up my character builds and play more like a vampire and the ultimate ability that transforms the character into a Vampire Lord is a lot of fun.
The changes have been controversial in the community with some players very unhappy and others like myself who have embraced them. There are some real challenges and benefits for choosing this skill line and for any new players out there I recommend giving it go, if you don’t like it, don’t worry it not permanent. For a small gold donation, players can seek out the Prelate Sabinus Priest in the Mages Guild Hall in Evermore, Riften or Rawl’kha who will cure you. The experience and levels gained whilst using the skill line will not be affected once cured; the skill line will just be removed from the characters list. If the player changes their mind, it is as simple as getting infected again and you will start off from where you left off. Trust me it works; I have cured and re-infected my characters so many time I have lost count.
Another major change in Greymoor is the new antiquities system that lets players uncover Tamriels hidden histories by unlocking unique collectables, treasures and mythical items. This non-combat system takes players all over Tamriel to scry for ancient relics and excavate them for various rewards. Players can pick up the skill line by collecting the associated quest line, which is found on a notice board in Solitude. The quest will have players speak with multiple NPC’s who will then give them the Antiquarians eye which can be quick slotted for later use. The quest will then take players through their first scry, which will lead players on various adventures looking for all the pieces to complete challenges, vanity items and gain new gear. For new players this system will take you all around the world of Tamriel and for the veteran players it will re-introduce them to areas long forgotten on their journey.
There have been various complaints about server performance and lag particularly around skills registering when activated.I found this issue was consistent throughout my playtime in PVE and PVP areas. The servers seem to miss key inputs from the player, although this can be annoying it’s not game breaking unless you are in PVP or end game content such as Veteran Dungeons or Trials. I did find myself not getting that heal, or shield at critical points in battle and dying because of it, or trying to fire off a skill for damage and it just didn’t register. The developers have acknowledge the issues and have promised to fix the bugs. I have noticed better performance in PVE over the last few days so I’m sure its short term issue.
The new Greymoor Chapter has brought players to a new area of the map, introduced new systems and overhauled the Vampire skill line in a big way. There were no other major changes in this expansion, PVP has remained unchanged, no new dungeons where introduced and the class based skills and weapons remained the same. Overall I had a lot of fun playing through the new story arc and re-building some of my characters to embrace the Vampire skill line changes. I’m not a huge fan of the antiquities system for no other reason than its just not my type of thing, but for the players who love collecting rare loot and achievements it has been embraced quite well, there are many players in my guild who have done nothing but use the system since Greymoor launched. For new players to the franchise there is no better way to jump in and start your adventures in Tamriel with the release of Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor.
- GAMEPLAY - 80%80%
- GRAPHICS - 75%75%
- AUDIO - 90%90%
Overall I found the Greymoor Chapter to be great addition to an already fantastic game with a huge amount of content for players to sink their teeth into. The game may be overwhelming to new players purely based on its size and the in-depth combat system, gear set ups, levelling progression, crafting options plus hundreds of hours of story content and end game activities. There is literally always something to do and work on when you log in and the community is generally helpful when it comes to providing information. For veteran players of ESO, Greymoor has delivered exciting new content, skill lines, gear and collectables to keep them coming back. I know I have been spending many hours back in Tamriel since Greymoor launched exploring everything it has to offer.
For more on Elder Scrolls Online, check out our previous coverage.