The Elder Scrolls Online has come into its own over the past several years, becoming a serious force in the MMO space and creating a genuinely engaging, detailed, and well crafted world to explore. Its version of Tamriel is large and rich with details. It has created a unique place in the market with its focus on quest design and writing, making a really enjoyable single player experience. Elsweyr pushes on these strengths, yet shows weakness in other areas that make up a quality MMO. There are some major disappointments in this addition however overall it stands as a quality expansion that will be able to satisfy newcomers and veterans alike.
Many players who have wandered through Tamriel over the years have often wondered what the homeland of the Khajiit looks like, well Zenimax Online have knocked it out of the park with this interpretation. I have to start with exclaiming just how gorgeous and well realized the land they have built is. It’s incredibly unique and unlike many places I have seen in games before. Living in a vast desert savannah, the Khajiit architecture and culture is very much derived by Southeast Asian and Indian influences – their religion is very similar to both Hinduism and Buddhism – and it’s all tied together with this Arabian nights feel. Whispers of legends and roars of lions are carried through the desert sands and into the giant stone monasteries. Royal palaces are filled with tropical plants, lavish carpets and drapings, statues of multiple gods, and beautiful ornate lanterns. Wandering monks in robes practice their martial arts while armored guards pass by on camel. It’s all artistically put together and is so enveloping. The world building and art direction is easily the strongest part of The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr expansion, and the province that they have created feels just right for the Khajiit; everything else is informed by it.
The main plot starts with a quest to liberate Elsweyr from an evil queen called Euraxia who took over the land and subjugates the Khajiit. But it evolves from there. Overall the plot is serviceable, some aspects are incredibly well done and others are generic and boring. The characters that serve as your allies are entertaining and varied; Abnur Tharn and Caldwell come back to serve as major players in this and both of them are wonderfully interesting. They mix well with the new characters like the proud Khajiit Khamira. The relationships between them and political intrigue that goes on is engaging, however all of this is brought down by the unimaginative and boring villains that you have fight – Queen Euraxia, Zumog Phoom, and Mulaamnir. All of them have zero depth, and pale in comparison to the other excellent characters that they have made. It brings down the tension of the whole main plot when the villains are so cartoonishly evil as all of them are.
Diverting from the main story, the sidequests in this expansion are top notch. They present a wide array of stories with wonderful and often amusing characters. Each one gives a glimpse into some part of Elsweyr’s culture and people, and they are all creative in their set up and objectives – one has you committing a heist with a group of criminals while another has you solving a mystery with a “Mask of Zorro” lookalike. Easily the most fun I had playing was with the various sidequests. Honestly, the price of admission is worth it just for the sidequests alone, that’s how high quality they are.
The new class, the Necromancer, is really versatile and fun to use in any of its variations. You are capable of playing the Necromancer as a health, magica or stamina based character and each of them are enjoyable. Many of the abilities are really unique, like Blast Bones that summons a skeleton that runs up and explodes on enemies; they do a good job distinguishing the Necromancer’s skills. Some of the Necromancer’s ultimate abilities are really cool to see, especially the power that turns you into a giant skeleton monster. Overall I had no complaints with the new class, and it certainly mixes well with the other options.
The biggest disappointment with Elsweyr though is found in the new roaming bosses; the much hyped dragons. These dragon fights are dead simple and really easy. Their move-sets are very limited and this usually sees the battles ending up as a bunch of people spamming ranged attacks at a dragon until it dies. In fact, most of the dragons I’ve seen appear have been cleared within minutes of them showing up. This is really disappointing as it was a feature that was really pushed in the previews before the expansion was released. Thankfully, some of the fights that you partake in with the main quest are a little better, since it’s just a one on one, but not by much. With the amount of interesting and unique enemies in TESO it feels like the ball has been dropped in regards to these dragons.
There are some definite problems with The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr but overall this is a worthy continuation to one of the best MMO spaces out there right now. It’s an intriguing and fun adventure that ensures TESO is definitely worth coming back and experiencing, maintaining the high level of quality that The Elder Scrolls Online has had with all its previous expansions.