Two years after coming to consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online just got its largest expansion yet. Will a return to one of the series' most beloved locations be enough to lure players back to Tamriel?
The Elder Scrolls Online's latest DLC pack takes place in Vvardenfell, an expansive volcanic island in the north-east of the continent of Tamriel. Calling the DLC Morrowind is perhaps a little misleading as in reality; it only features one part of the region with others like Stonefalls and Deshaan already being available in the base game. However, as The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was one of the most popular entries in the series, the choice of name isn't surprising.
This nostalgia is only reinforced by the DLC's score which features arrangements of some of the classic themes from the original Morrowind game. When combined with the already excellent pre-existing ESO soundtrack, these new additions help solidify the game's music as one of its most praiseworthy aspects.
Vvardenfell itself is a colourful and characterful addition to the playable regions of ESO. Its landscapes alternate between lush grasslands, woods filled with otherworldly plants like Morrowind's trademark giant mushrooms, and ash plains dissected by rivers of lava streaming down from the central Red Mountain. It's also home to Vivec City which is named after one of the triumvirate of Dark Elf gods who gives the player the majority of the quests in the main storyline. The story itself involves Vivec being drained of his life force by some unknown perpetrator and it's up to you to find out the cause.
The main quest line isn't that long and I personally didn't find it that engaging or challenging. However, there are many side-quests scattered around the landscape that should keep you occupied for a good deal of time afterwards as well as the usual selection of boss battles, delves and dungeons to complete. Even after you've finished the main quest line, fresh objectives keep popping up thus ensuring that your time in Vvardenfell will likely exceed that of any previous ESO expansion.
Morrowind also introduces Battlegrounds, a PvP mode that pits three teams of four against one another in game modes like team deathmatch and domination. Battlegrounds' small teams are in stark contrast to ESO's regular alliance PvP mode in which hundreds of warriors do battle over a huge landscape. This serves to give players a more instant taste of the action as opposed to the alliance battles in which you'll often just be travelling for several minutes across empty fields to get to a fight. However, I found the connection process to get into a match to be rather awkward. You have to enter a queue to play but considering many games don't get the requisite number of players, you can repeatedly get kicked out and then have to manually confirm your participation over and over.
Another technical issue that I encountered was a fair degree of stuttering lag in which your character momentarily freezes and then jerks forwards while moving. This seems to be something that afflicts the game after each DLC drop, likely due to high player numbers.
The other major addition that comes with Morrowind is ESO's first new character class. The Warden is a nature-based mage who can summon a range of flora and fauna to fight by your side. Some of these abilities do damage to your opponents whereas others like Fungal Growth sprout mushrooms that heal you and your allies. The Warden's wide range of abilities means there are a good selection of ways you can shape your character (depending on which skills you choose to pursue), allowing you to play as a damage dealer, tank or healer. The digital collector's edition also gives you an exclusive war bear to fight by your side but only if you play as a Warden. Unfortunately, as my character is a Nightblade, I'm stuck with my useless dog that just stands there and watches when I'm attacked.
Aside from its new Battleground modes and Warden class, the bulk of Morrowind is essentially just more Elder Scrolls Online with little new added to the formula. If you enjoy the base game, you'll have no reason to dislike it but if you feel ESO gets boring and samey after a while, you won't find anything in Vvardenfell that will change your mind.
- + Battleground modes give new life to PvP
- + New Warden class has interesting and varied skill lines
- + Classic music will give fans a burst of nostalgia
- - Stuttering lag problems
- - Getting into Battleground matches can be awkward
- - Same drawbacks as the base game