The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor expansion brings the famed MMO into the realm of Western Skyrim in its latest release, visiting familiar locales from the franchise and gives a deeper look into the history of the lands as they wrought with turmoil and a mysterious enemy that sought to destroy everything.
+Extremely beautiful and deep lands to explore that await explorers
+New antiquities system adds in a lot of fun for treasure hunters
+Vampire re-work absolutely changes the vampire experience
+A solid story that sets the fires for a year-long adventure
-Bugs that keep the Harrowstorms from spawning
-Grey floors are infrequent but quite distracting
It’s been a while since I can say I’ve really been blown away by the lands of Skyrim as of late. I’ve spent countless hours trekking their lands, looking for something unique, something that lures me in more than it has in the past. Back in 2011, my cousin, Joseph introduced me to the latest title through a copy he bought me as a late birthday gift (he had pre-ordered it of course).
Since then, I’ve put countless hours into the game, I’ve taken time to explore its delves, its vampire filled caves, and even taken time to take out every Dragon Priest that I could. I’d even had a chance to get my own set of the Dragonborn armor, deck out my character’s home, and even set forth on other silly adventures for Sheogorath and other Daedric princes along the way.
But I never got enough. I wanted more. I wanted to know what these mysterious doings that the vampires had done in the past, why the werewolves were betrayed by them and why the land was wrought with destruction, mistrust, and a struggle for power. I wanted to know why one such prestigious place in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had fallen the way it did.
Let’s travel 800 years into the past with The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor
The Dark Heart of Skyrim story arch is just getting underway over the past few weeks. We were first introduced to it with the prelude questline and we even got our first look at what to expect, to some extent, with the closure of the Season of Dragons during the Elsweyr expansion.
Now, here we are, approximately 800 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim where the snow-capped lands are once more in turmoil, but not at the behest of dragons or the Dragon Priest’s themselves. Rather, the land is under assault by devious witches, vampires, and werewolves who have banded together for the Dark Heart of Skyrim storyline.
It’s a far-fetched appeal of the lands we saw in Summerset, which were beautiful, mountainous plains and desert-themed landscapes or the beautiful lands of Morrowind which was a strange alien area where fungi and lava ran freely. We even had the endless swamps of Murkmire, which while not an expansion, was beautiful and mysterious in its very own right due to the ziggurats, caves, and those who call the Argonian homelands home.
Now, Western Skyrim, approximately a quarter to a fifth of the entire map of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is here to stay and it stretches from Mor Hazgur over to Karthwatch, which for some, is an admirable amount, however, it’s not too much fo Skyrim to be completely honest.
It works though. Those who love Skyrim will get to see locales such as Solitude, the Dragon Bridge, and Fort Greymoor before Skyrim began to fall into chaos after the death of the High King and the seat to the Imperial Power calling the region home. There isn’t turmoil, strife, and a civil war yet either. You’ll even get to meet the famed High King Svargrim well before his death.
It even gives us a deeper glimpse into the struggles of the denizens of Western Skyrim as the Imperials begin their ploy to gain control of the lands. While that is still quite a bit of way, an all-too-familiar struggle will remain reality: Vampires and werewolves vying for control with the help of the witches from the Icereach Coven.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor offers one of the most enticing starts to a year-long experience
It’s hard not to acknowledge that The Elder Scrolls Online has improved with every single patch, every single content drop, and every single expansion. The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor is an exemplary experience, one that stands out from the rest and delivers an explosive start to the year-long adventure we’re about to experience.
The story itself is admirably written and fits well within the overall experience that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim had been, to begin with. Vampires themselves have seen a massive improvement as well both lore-wise and gameplay-wise. The story itself, being it revolves around them, warranted such improvements and changes.
This time around, we’re focusing on the Dark Heart of Skyrim, one of the darkest periods within Skyrim lore, which ushered in the Icereach Coven, the werewolves and vampires working against the forces that would help keep them all at bay. The Dark Heart of Skyrim sets up a possible link between both the Dawnguard and the events that are unfolding, giving fans an even deeper look at the dark and disparaging world they came to know at a much later date in time.
With werewolves being enslaved by vampires or perhaps, even coerced, it leaves a lot of room for one to wonder what way things are going to go and just how they are going to go to where we might assume they should. Regardless, a lot of Blackreach plays a massive role, giving vampires and werewolves a safe haven to go to, but also, a sense of depth from one of the worst places in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to grow and actually become enjoyable.
The stories here vary, but focus on the vampire plague that has been troubling almost all of Western Skyrim, and now, it seems that this place, for vampire fans, will be the place to go for vampire-based crafting materials and storylines via sidequests, etc. While the Blackreach zone(s) do play a massive role in the main story, they don’t come around until midway through the main quest itself, which runs around 20 hours before completion.
While the Blackreach doesn’t highlight the adventures of Skyrim, it’s beautiful, almost as much as Vvardenfell
Unlike our adventures in Summerset and Morrowind, you’ll find that much of what Greymoor has to offer is quite different than the rest. This time around, the best parts aren’t on the surface, but rather in the belly of the beast that is Western Skyrim. It’s one of the most admirably designed zones as well as there is a lot of work that has to be done in order to keep one such zone from seeming too barren or unique from its surface sibling.
That’s where creativity has come out the most. This ‘haunt’ is amazingly well-designed and truly pushes forth something entirely new we didn’t experience in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is a massive, massive underbelly with multiple biomes. Each one is entirely different from one or the other. Some are more bioluminescent than the others while one is oranges, browns, reflective of its nature by its plants, another is lava-filled, using that to its advantage for its unique design.
The only downfall is that Western Skyrim, which serves as a home to Solitude, is up top, segmented from the rest of the world and does require a bit of traversal to get to, but it only amplifies the anticipation for when you find yourself inside the belly of the beast itself. A hungry one with vampires, werewolves, dwemer guardians, and secrets yet to be explored.
While there are significant changes, there are a few issues that come with them, as anything does
One of the issues we’ve run into, however, is an issue with Harrowstorms messing up, forcing players who are trying to complete each of the storms to be unable to due to the fact the enemies won’t spawn or that the Harrowstorm itself is frozen in that locale, unable to spawn a new one in other locations until its timer runs out.
Many players have reported this issue, along with ourselves, over the course of our time with Greymoor, which hasn’t really felt fully hindered by this minor nuisance as we’ve still had plenty to due thanks to the sheer scope and scale of the expansion itself. Our only complaint next to it? The ground not popping in, leaving what many have given the nickname “Greyfloor” due to this minor texture issue, which seems to have been mostly sorted out on PlayStation 4.
These are issues that, while some could be frustrating, will get fixed as the team has already done a couple of patches and a maintenance period for the game just recently.
Skyrim, how I’ve missed you so – The Conclusion
One of the things that has to be admired about going into Skyrim is the lore. We all know there’s a lot to Skyrim and it’s mostly known for due to the dragon invasions and the Dragon Priests responsible for such occurrences. We’ve run into these guys before and now, we are in an era that predates all of that, that predates the awakening of the priests themselves but leaves much greater threats looming over the heads of Skyrim’s denizens.
For what it’s worth, this story is a step up above the rest, giving The Elder Scrolls Online a story that it needed, that it deserved, and even lifts up one of the strongest NPCs in the title yet: Lyris Titanborn. Lyris has been underplayed for quite some time and now that she’s finally getting her chance to shine next to the previously introduced vampire, Finorian.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Zenimax Online Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: Available Now
Greymoor gives a lot of hope for the future of The Elder Scrolls Online and shows that even minor touches such as the ones this one has gotten, can improve the overall experience moving forward.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!