Skyrim has officially launched again, this time in The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor – the latest expansion in the popular free to play MMORPG by Zenimax Online Studios (ZOS). The Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long gothic adventure takes players on a journey to stop a vampire lord from consuming all of Tamriel, which started with the Harrowstorm DLC earlier this year and plans to continue throughout 2020. The main chapter expansion Greymoor takes us to some very familiar locations, starting with a trip on an imperial wagon down a snowy mountain pass. Hey, The Elder Scrolls Online is finally awake!
Greymoor gets its name from a large fortress of the same name (also known as Black Moor or Darkmoor in Elder Scrolls lore) buried deep within the depths of Blackreach – the immense cavern with many entries and exits under the province of Skyrim – but you’ll probably find that you don’t spend too much time in Greymoor Keep itself, it just happens to be the location where all the pesky vampires keep spawning. Western Skyrim is now available on the map, giving access to sites like the beautiful city of Solitude, as well as smaller settlements including Morthal and Dragon Bridge. A lot of Western Skyrim feels very nostalgic, particularly when coming across camps of giants and ancient ruins. If you haven’t bought Skyrim on any platform in the past couple of years, Greymoor is a great way to get back into it.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor introduces a new Antiquities system which makes you Tamriel’s newest archaeologist. Scrying and excavating lost artifacts using a new puzzle system will reveal even more of Tamriel’s history. The puzzle solving system isn’t too complicated, and rewards can include mythic items, furniture, motifs, adornments, emotes, and even a new Ebon Dwarven Wolf mount. The Antiquarians Circle building in Solitude will kick off your archaeology career, which will have you exploring and revisiting locations across all of Tamriel. Speaking of buildings in Solitude, you can also own your very own home within the city walls, or a nice little apartment in one of the taverns. There is a larger gothic-style third home in Blackreach, though it is not available for purchase at launch.
While players will find many quests scattered across the new area and a lengthy main quest that takes you to the very dark heart of Skyrim, ZOS has also made sure players that enjoy dungeons and delves are not left in the dark. With six new delves, two public dungeons, six world bosses and ten Harrowstorms, there’s plenty to do in Greymoor. Harrowstorms are new world events similar to Dark Anchors from the base game where players will generally congregate in a location while they wait for the event to begin. Joining a group that chases down active Harrowstorms and world bosses is generally a good idea for newcomers and veterans alike, especially if you’re wanting to complete the new daily quests available in Solitude which award you with even more Skyrim-themed loot.
A new 12-man trial called Kyne’s Aegis provides players with three tough boss fights on an icy island off the coast of Skyrim, while the two public dungeons provide a more casual dungeon experience to gamers of all skill level. All these locations offer a great way to experience even more of Skyrim and Blackreach, though we are curious whether Eastern Skyrim will become available later in the year as a premium DLC the same way the rest of Elsweyr opened up after the initial expansion launch.
Alongside the Greymoor expansion comes title update 26 which includes a re-vamp of the Vampire skill line including new feeding animations and a rework of how vampires interact with the Justice System, a housing precision editing mode giving you more control over the placement of your furnishings such as a ‘Straighten’ key-bind that snaps an item of furniture to the nearest right-angle, performance improvements and more. We did notice some performance issues throughout the Western Skyrim and Blackreach zones at launch, though this could be attributed to the influx of players.
The community in The Elder Scrolls Online continues to impress with its diversity. We came across plenty of new up-and-comers, experienced Champion Level 810 veterans, and even a 64-year-old grandma that was ‘taking it slowly and wondering why everyone rushes around like crazy’. There’s always someone in the zone chat willing to answer any newbie questions, as well as plenty of groups and guilds that are welcoming to new players. ZOS continues to build a fantastic online Tamriel which is now very different to (and a lot larger than) how we remember the game at launch, yet still staying true to its fundamental gameplay and lore which are two vital elements for its core ESO Plus player base.
Speaking of core player base activities, The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor offers plenty of new achievements to unlock as you progress through the expansion, including everything from discovering all of the Striking Locales to defeating bosses within the new delves and dungeons. True achievement hunters can chase down the Savior of Western Skyrim title by completing a range of activities, and this will also unlock a title and a unique dye for your armour. The Elder Scrolls Online continues to get more customisable with each expansion, having earnt the deserved nickname of Fashion Scrolls Online the choices of costumes continues to expand, and while taking a brisk walk around Solitude we saw some great styles that players had obviously spent a lot of time on.
The Elder Scrolls Online is, in the end, what you make of it. Some players will spend a great deal of cash purchasing several homes and customising their look, pets and mounts, while others can simply buy Greymoor and experience everything the base game with its now four expansions have to offer. The premium ESO Plus membership is worth considering if you play more than a few hours each week, as the benefits include unlocking all dungeons as well as getting the premium ‘Crowns’ currency each month which can be used to buy even more exclusive items.
ZOS has done an amazing job creating the Western Skyrim and Blackreach zones for the latest expansion, and as strange as it sounds, adventuring throughout the icy landscape is a welcome relief from the greenery of Elsweyr and Summerset. New enemies including harrowfiends and giants look great, and we must give a special mention to the Skyrim bears that spend most of their time scratching their backs on trees. There seems to be more attention to detail in Greymoor which could be because players will expect a lot from the Skyrim zone, and the thoroughness reminded us of the meticulous way ZOS reinvented Vvardenfell in the Morrowind expansion.
Although Skyrim itself has been released and re-released on all major platforms over the past decade, having it finally accessible in The Elder Scrolls Online still felt fresh and engaging. It may be set hundreds of years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V, but there are still many similarities between this version of Skyrim and the one with dragons and Fus ro dah’s in it. The continent of Tamriel continues to unlock each year, and by all current trajectories ZOS could have the entire continent mapped out before The Elder Scrolls VI launches. While the main quest in Greymoor can be knocked over in just a few hours, the additional side content including the new Antiquities skill lines will have you traversing the entire continent again, offering many more hours of gameplay. We’re looking forward to seeing what ZOS has in store for the remainder of 2020 because if the Elsweyr expansion was anything to go by, we could see Eastern Skyrim open up in a DLC pack. Having the full Skyrim map in-game will certainly make The Elder Scrolls Online feel very rounded off, though we’re always excited to see what other ideas they have up their sleeve.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor is available now on PC and Mac and will arrive on June 9 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For more information, head to the official website.
Rocket Chainsaw reviewed The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor with a review copy provided by Bethesda.
- Lots of new content including the new Antiquities skill line - Revisiting that unforgettable province of Skyrim - Fun new ‘Harrowstorm’ world events.
- Main story seems a little short - No new classes or races - Blackreach map can be annoying to navigate.