Heading into its ninth year, the Elder Scrolls Online will be taking a turn for the forbidden and cosmic in 2023. In a storyline called Shadow over Morrowind, we’ll be visiting a new area of the Dark Elf home province and lending a hand – or tentacle, perhaps – to the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. You may remember him from Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC as the giant eyeball guy who lives in a fortress made of banned books. And he might be letting us borrow a bit of his weird magic, too, in the form of the Arcanist: ESO’s first new class since 2019.
The setting for these ethereal intrigues will be Hermaeus Mora’s plane of Apocrypha, which will include both smaller story areas, a larger free-roaming one, and a part of Eastern Morrowind called the Telvanni Peninsula. If you’re up to snuff on your Elder Scrolls lore, you may remember that House Telvanni is the Dunmer Great House most associated with magic. In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, their mushroom towers notably lacked stairs and could only be accessed by casting a levitation spell on yourself, which is a pretty clever way to keep non-magical folk out of your business if you think about it.
Talking to ESO’s creative director Rich Lambert about what we might expect to run into on their home turf, he didn’t want to spoil any specifics, but assured me that there will be “a lot of weird magic” to interact with.
The centerpiece of this region is Necrom, the Dunmer City of the Dead, where the people of the province conduct elaborate and holy funeral rights for their deceased loved ones. A striking metropolis built onto a cliffside, it has some recognizable architectural flourishes in common with places like Vivec, but also a solemn and funerary splendor that is quite unique. It’s not like a creepy skeleton town or a foreboding gothic sepulcher, but rather an imposing place of thoughtful repose. Through exploring it and the surrounding peninsula, Lambert said, we will have the chance to absorb a lot of new lore about Dunmer culture and the Telvanni specifically.
“Our game is super easy to pick up and put down,” he said. “As a brand new player, I could play with someone who has been playing for seven years and we could both make meaningful progress on our characters without having to grind through seven years of content.
“It’s part of our DNA and it has been for a very, very long time. We see that in our player population cycles. We have quarterly cadences where we see a big spike, and then people go play something else, then we release something and you have this huge spike again. That’s the model we’ve adopted and embraced, and it’s been very successful for us.”
Shadow Over Morrowind will commence with Scribes of Fate in March, which adds four new four-player dungeons leading into the main event. Then we’ll dive into the meat of the adventure with Necrom, releasing June 5, which unlocks the Arcanist class and around 30 hours of new story content set in Eastern Morrowind. Zenimax Online Studios is also planning to make all previous expansions free for a limited time.
Shadows Over Morrowind was first revealed during Xbox’s Developer_Direct. You can see everything else announced during Microsoft’s showcase, including the new game by Tango Gameworks, Hi-Fi Rush, here.
Leana Hafer is a freelance writer at IGN.