In its nearly six years of activity, Elder Scrolls Online has grown from yet another online game that struggled to find its footing to a satisfying, content-rich MMO that offers immense freedom in exploring the expanding universe of Bethesda’s long-running RPG franchise. With more updates opening up the familiar locales of the land of Tamriel, such as Morrowind and Elsweyr, developer ZeniMax Online Studios is preparing the next major expansion that seeks to rekindle a sense of nostalgia for a certain northern region from Elder Scrolls lore.
Revealed during Bethesda’s ESO 2020 livestream, Bethesda VP of Marketing Pete Hines and creative director Rich Lambert detailed the upcoming season of content known as the Dark Heart of Skyrim. Launching on May 18 for PC (consoles will get the update on June 2), the land of Skyrim, quests, and loot will be open for players to uncover. Like last year’s Season of the Dragon, new events will be added throughout 2020, expanding the new region and its lore. During the livestream, the creative director stated this about the resivit to Skyrim: “We felt it was important to offer something familiar, but we very much wanted to forge our own path with Skyrim.”
Set 900 years before the events of Elder Scrolls V, the Skyrim of ESO isn’t exactly the same as it was in the previous game. While familiar places like Solitude, Dragon Bridge, and Morthal are back, the entire region has been corrupted by the influence of vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural forces, which gives it more of a gothic and macabre aesthetic. Closing out the cinematic trailer was a brief glimpse of a massive underground fortress home to the coven of vampires–the dark heart of Skyrim. Starting off the season will be a special prologue quest that’s available to all players, setting the stage for the new adventures in Skyrim.
Encompassing the Dark Heart of Skyrim season are four substantial updates. The first two, Harrowstorm and Greymoor, will be available at launch. Harrowstorm focuses on new dungeons and world events to take part in, tasking you and your party to face off against hordes of vampires other monsters. The Greymoor questline is the most substantial form of content to take part in, which is the main questline in Skyrim. According to Bethesda, the narrative in Greymoor will be the darkest one of the series, revealing the grimmer aspects of the land of Skyrim, why it attracts such supernatural forces. Later in 2020, two more updates focusing on additional story and dungeons will close out the Dark Heart of Skyrim season.
A returning location that players will be able to explore is Blackreach, the massive underground cavern from The Elder Scrolls V. According to the developers, the subterranean networks makes up over 40% of Skyrim’s size in ESO. In addition to the new land to explore and quests to follow, the Dark Heart of Skyrim season will also introduce a suite of new quality-of-life updates, activities, and new features. For instance, one new side-activity is the Antiquities system, allowing players to hunt for lost relics from around the world to buff their characters and party with new mythic items that have unique properties. While exploring Skyrim, you can also take part in Harrowstorm world events, which has you and your group battle waves of foes.
No doubt, the big standout with this upcoming season is the prospect of returning to Skyrim. Released almost nine years ago, the Elder Scrolls V still remains one of Bethesda’s most well-loved games, so getting to explore the region in an MMO presents an interesting way to re-experience the lore and iconography of the region. In the years following ESO’s initial release, the MMO was updated to allow for more open-ended exploration of the world that will scale to your level and party-size. For players looking to jump into ESO for the first time, you can even start a new character in the region of Skyrim, letting you explore the land right from the outset.
For more info on what’s new with Elder Scrolls Online, including what to expect in Skyrim and the larger season of content in Dark Heart of Skyrim, be sure to check back with GameSpot.