Let’s be honest here, The Elder Scrolls Online had kind of a rocky start. The developers tried to walk a fine line in making an MMO based on Bethesda’s awesome RPG series, but ultimately, the game felt like a cookie cutter MMO with the fassad of an Elder Scrolls game. Now, after almost three years worth of patches, DLCs and overhauls, the game is actually pretty good! News has come in regarding the announcement of what is being branded as the game’s first full expansion outside of the bite-sized DLCs that have been released so far: The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind. This expansion seems to me like an olive branch to the players that might have been turned off by ESO‘s rocky beginning.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a game that is revered by fans, so much so that one of Skyrim‘s DLC packs, Dragonborn, was based around it. Now, the next chapter in ESO will be bringing the otherworldly island-continent of Vvardenfell to this MMO. As someone who thinks ESO has generally not lived up to the world-building and storytelling standards of the single-player games, my gut reaction was to be skeptical. However, after some thought, I think I might be feeling a little… Excited? I’m surprised too.
Even after more than a decade, Vvardenfell still stands as the greatest Elder Scrolls setting. It is a diverse continent filled with fields, swamps, forests and wastelands, but it never, ever feels like it’s falling into any generic fantasy tropes, unlike Cyrodiil or Skyrim after it. But what in the world would give me hope that ZeniMax’s recreation of the game world might live up to its original? Well, it’s the small story snippets we’ve gotten so far:
So far, we have two main plot points that have been revealed regarding the story of this expansion. The first indicates that we must save Morrowind by stopping a meteor from crashing on Vivec City. Sound familiar? That’s got to be Baar Dau, otherwise known as the Ministry of Truth!
If you remember, a big meteor floated eerily above Vivec City in Elder Scrolls III. That meteor was sent there in the distant past by Sheogorath, who planned to destroy Morrowind with it. This plan was ultimately foiled by the demigod Vivec, who used his powers to suspend the meteor in mid-air, saying the meteor would not fall as long as the people kept up their faith in him. That’s all the details we really have on Baar Dau-it was intentionally left kind of vague to add to the mystique of Vivec, who was a central character in Morrowind. That’s what makes it perfect as the subject of a storyline in ESO-it’s a small detail from the main series that was never expanded upon… Until now.
The other storyline teased in the reveal is regarding the Morag Tong. This is a group of assassins that worked as Morrowind‘s version of the Dark Brotherhood faction from other games in the series. The awesome spin on it is that unlike the underground, secretive brotherhood, the Morag Tong was/is a government sanctioned, well-known and well-accepted group of assassins. Their storyline is described as one filled with “political intrigue,” which hints that the complex, chaotic politics of the Dark Elf houses of Morrowind will be making a return as well.
The last thing to look forward to here is the introduction of a new class: the Warden. One of ESO‘s biggest weak points is its lack of classes to play as. ESO currently has a pathetic 4 classes available for players, and while the amount of flexibility within those classes is much larger than your typical MMO, it ultimately really hurts the replayability of the game. Compare this to World of Warcraft‘s classes, of which there were 9 when the game was originally released, and later increased to 12 with subsequent expansion packs. I would reckon that new classes would vastly improve the experience, and keep people coming back and creating new characters. The new Warden class is a step in the right direction, and gives returning players a very compelling reason to try out this new expansion pack.
I’m not sure if I will be getting The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind when it launches this summer, but I think it finally gives ESO another chance to capture the hearts of people who loved the single-player Elder Scrolls games.