The Elder Scrolls Online's one-year-long Dark Heart of Skyrim storyline begins in earnest with this game's latest chapter expansion: TESO: Greymoor. For the very first time in this long-running Massively Multiplayer Online Game, this snowy, swampy expanses of Western Skyrim are officially open for exploration, even though this is not exactly the same game world players will remember from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.If you have read this expansion's brief introduction, then you should know that this MMO takes place 1000 years before The Elder Scrolls V, which means some of Skyrim's recognizable locales, for example, the crowded city streets of Solitude and the riverside village of Morthal, look quite familiar but they are also slightly altered this time around. Gamers will also find a very different status quo in Tamriel's northernmost kingdom. The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor introduces a kingdom-wide crisis involving werewolves, a growing vampiric threat, an elusive coven of witches, and mysterious Harrowstorms that ravage Skyrim and drive its denizens crazy.
As a matter of fact, I have not played Skyrim for several years, therefore, running around the MMO's version of the kingdom did not initially offer me the rush of nostalgia that I was hoping for. Walking up to the towering stone walls of Solitude and then jumping around its bustling docks totally brought me back, however, I was not completely overtaken by a warm, fuzzy feeling.
But just as I continued to explore, the warm-and-fuzzies began to creep in, not just because of the recognizable locations and monuments, but because of the general topography of this land and the manner in which I arrived at these locations. For instance, at one point I was semi-aimlessly exploring a snow-blanketed mountain, slaying vampiric sabrecats for the experience. Then, when I was descending a windy path, I suddenly noticed exactly where I was and, look and behold, happened upon the comfortable cluster of houses that is Morthal. This exciting blast from the past reminded me of the sense of adventure and discovery that already pulled me into Skyrim all those years ago.
The central narrative of The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor revolves around your hero helping to get Skyrim's two rival kingdoms, and their bullheaded rulers to address a roiling, underground threat lead by the Icereach Coven, who are plotting to tear Skyrim apart from the inside out quietly. Aiding you in your mission are the virtuous Lyris Titanborn from the main questline and Fennorian, a quite friendly vampire who does not totally elicit warm responses from passers-by. While Lyris is one of the best, most memorable characters in The Elder Scrolls, therefore, it was quite nice to have her along for the ride during the largely bleak campaign.
This new content and quests included in TESO Greymoor are largely standard ESO fare. You are tasked with venturing into enemy encampments and dangerous caves, retrieving or just destroying all different kinds of items of interest for loot, experience, and Elder Scrolls Online Gold. However, the strength of Greymoor as a whole is that the wretched, gothic atmosphere and imagery that defines the Chapter permeates everything, from the stories driving main and side quests, to the enemies plaguing the landscape, to the look of Tamriel itself.
The evil Harrowstorms-blood-red tornadoes that transform people into either mindless zombies or ravenous blood fiends, are an ever-present threat and inform many of the quests, just like helping players find their missing companions and finding whether they have been turned or not. Elder Scrolls Online Harrowstorms do not change the gameplay in a huge way by any means, however, the way the ever-lasting loom over the people of Skyrim and cause panic, in fact, is a compelling narrative and world-building element.
This brand new Antiquity system opens up a brand new method to play the game and then explore this old and mysterious Tamriel. Through the Antiquarian Guild, you can follow leads to hunt down artifacts scattered around the map. After you play a short Scrying mini-game, then you are shown dig sites on your map to excavate (which is a grid-based puzzle game) and probably unearth artifacts and reap handsome rewards just like equipment, ESO gold, and even a mount, the pretty dope Ebon Dwarven Wolf.
You know, I got lost in the Antiquity loop for a few hours, and even though it was decent fun, I cannot admit that it triggered the compulsive part of my brain the way so many other aspects of Elder Scrolls Online do. Its greatest contribution is simply the fact that it lets you play and explore in a new, more casual method and offers a welcome break from the very traditional quest grind.
Another method that The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor provides a bit of variety by expanding the cavernous underground sprawl of Blackreach, which was explorable to only a quite limited extent in Skyrim. There are a lot of things that need to do down in the depth of this kingdom, from finding loot to mining to questing in those hidden pockets of rock. When it comes to rocks, Blackreach looks much more attractive than before this time around, with a staggering variety of rock formations and color palette deviations, which perfectly complement the spiny, gothic vampire castles that populate this corner of Tamriel.
The good news is the vampire skill line now has been revamped, and enjoyable so. This new abilities make vampire play far more attractive, with combat predicted on deception, evasion, and health bar manipulation. The ability Blood Frenzy increases your spell and weapon damage but, on the contrary, it also costs your health, while Mesmerize stuns a group of enemies in front of you. You can be completely healed by the new Ultimate, Blood Scion, moreover, that will offer you boosts in Max Stamina, Health, and Magicka for 20 seconds. Above all of that, it lets you see through walls, which is delightfully empowering.
On an island north of Solitude, there is Kyne's Aegis, a 12-player trial that challenges you to fell three bosses: and they are Captain Vrol, infamous vampire Lord Falgravn, and Yandir the Butcher. I was not able to play this trial extensively for this review, however, what I did play was a blast. Fighting through the hordes of enemies to get to the bosses was, in fact, surprisingly fun and did not feel as repetitive and empty as typical horde modes.
The nuts and bolts of The Elder Scrolls Online Greymoor and its new gameplay offerings are quite decent, however, what makes it a worthwhile expansion is this world-building and the Gothic atmosphere that makes Western Skyrim feel both new and familiar.