The Elder Scrolls Online “Elsweyr” Hands-On Preview
Dragons and necromancy are making a comeback in the newest The Elder Scrolls Online chapter called “Elsweyr,” a full story expansion set in the ancient, war-torn land of the cat-like Khajiits. After nearly two hours of hands-on gameplay, I’m already impressed by the new features and unique landscape, and eagerly anticipating more exploration when the chapter releases fully on June 9.
The Khajiits are one of the oldest races in Tamriel, pre-dating even the Elves, and the landscape in Elsweyr fits this rich history perfectly. The arid land is colorful and exotic, with tons of Indonesian, Thai and Indian influence scattered throughout the architecture and structures. I was blown away by the detail of the intricate patterns on different statues, walls and pillars, and fell instantly in love with the map as a whole. It’s a fresh and welcomed change to the typically lush, fantasy-forward regions we usually see in The Elder Scrolls Online, and the Khajiit culture is one that has been relatively unexplored throughout the franchise.
Elsweyr will also feature dragons, which traditionally did not appear in the Second Era (where the events of The Elder Scrolls Online take place.) However, the presence of dragons will be explained and tied into the lore to where it makes sense, and players will see no shortage of them in the new chapter. Dragon Events will pop up randomly around the world, similar to Dark Anchors, but without pre-set spawn points that will make them difficult to farm. They will also show up as bosses built into the narrative, and one cannot expect to defeat them with ease: if there’s one thing the developers were clear on, it’s that dragons will be difficult.
Nothing More Satisfying Than Throwing a Flaming Skull
One of the most exciting additions in Elsweyr is the new Necromancer class, which has been requested by players since the game’s beta launch. Necromancy adds an interesting dynamic, as it is technically outlawed in Tamriel and NPCs will react to this accordingly. Some of the skills include conjuring ghosts or skeletal mages to heal or fight with you, throwing flaming skulls and even an ultimate that allows you to raise three of your downed allies. Playing as a Necromancer is highly entertaining, and requires a level of situational and spatial awareness that the other classes do not due to much of its reliance on corpses. Knowing where different corpses are on the ground and how you can utilize them is a key element, and it feels like a much fresher take on traditional mage classes.
Elsweyr will also have new systems such as a guild finder and alliance-locked campaigns (to name just a few of the many), around 30 hours of questing, new public dungeons and a new 12 player trial with heavy focus on dragons. For the first time, players will also be able to earn a mount as a reward for completing the trial, which is a huge — and somewhat overdue — bonus in my book.
I was pretty enthralled by the world of Elsweyr during my playthrough, and impressed by the quality of life improvements the developers are adding into the game. The dragons look fantastic, and the Necromancer class is definitely fun enough to justify creating a new character. It looks like the perfect start for new players as a purchase of Elsweyr also includes the base game, and I can’t help but think this is the most extensive and exciting chapter of The Elder Scrolls Online yet because of its expanse of new features. With dragons, cats, and necromancy, it will be pretty hard to go wrong.