The Elder Scrolls Online: Ascending Tide – Preview

The Elder Scrolls Online: Ascending Tide - Preview

Last Friday I had the pleasure of jumping back into the world of Tamriel and experiencing one of the dungeons soon to be available as part of the Elder Scrolls Online Ascending Tide DLC, launching in mid-March. Kickstarting a year-long adventure, Legacy of the Bretons, the Ascending Tide DLC offers players two brand new dungeons, and sets the scene for the upcoming and highly anticipated chapter, High Isle. 

Accompanying me on my adventure were three plucky lads, Jeremy Sera (ESO Lead Content Designer), Mike Finnigan (ESO Lead Encounter Designer) and Rich Lambert (ESO Creative Director). Keen on sharing with me these unseen dungeons and opening my eyes to a whole new part of the world, we banded together to brave the depths of Shipwright’s Regret and experience its hidden secrets. 

Shipwright’s Regret is one of two great new dungeons launching in the upcoming DLC, the other being The Coral Aerie. I picked the one swarming with undead because zombies are my least favourite thing in the world and any excuse to bash their brains in with a big axe is one I’m going to jump on. 

Once a bustling shipyard, Shipwright’s Regret is now waterlogged, decrepit, and full of the damned. I knew I wasn’t in for the happiest experience (after all, it’s not called Shipwright’s Joy & Sunshine Shack) but ESO really has a knack for creating beauty out of the bleak and mysterious, and this new dungeon is no exception. Once a place of business and activity, the shipyard is now haunted by the tragedy that befell it years ago. No more people roam the docks, only the spirits of the drowned that were left there to die. That is until me and my band of merry men arrived.

Appreciative of the open backpack I was being carried in, the four of us ventured into Shipwright’s Regret to explore its secrets and bash its bad guys. We were tasked with helping the familiar and charismatic Captain Za’ji on his quest to find some new plans for his ship, The Perfect Pounce. Not put off by the terrifying undead and aggressive hauntings, Za’ji is confident in his belief that this shipyard contains more than just angry spirits, so off we went to help him. 

Any ESO player knows that the riveting storyline behind dungeons is well-worth paying attention to, so this will remain a spoiler-free zone. Instead of revealing anything story-wise, I will happily gush about the excellent design of this great new dungeon. 

I am a relatively new ESO player; I played on launch but only really got stuck into it during the 2020 lockdown. Though my time with the game has been short compared to some veterans, one thing I’ve noticed is that dungeons are becoming more and more fun with each new chapter of the game. The base game adventures were great, but you can pretty much steamroll through all of them now. The later dungeons however, still require adhering to mechanics which makes them much more entertaining to play. Shipwright’s Regret is no exception, with each boss having a unique set of mechanics we had to beat in order to kill them dead. Some of us handled these better than others (but some of us designed the encounters so is it really fair?) but all of us had a blast. The amount of movement in this new dungeon really kept me on my toes, and had me jumping around the arena trying to simultaneously stay alive and smack zombies in the face – making for a full on, but very enjoyable battle experience.

Not only do the new dungeons contain gorgeous scenery and cool battle mechanics, but they also may or may not offer a range of secrets throughout. These secrets, if they exist,  provide you with buffs to help you through the dungeon’s more difficult parts of the dungeon, but also some exciting tidbits of story and law. Some of them, if they’re even real, may reveal secrets about characters we have grown to know and love… and mourn.  During my time within Shipwright’s Regret, I did some exploring to try and find some of these elusive mystical secrets, but the terrifying sounds of the horde of zombies put me off wanting to take a leisurely stroll around their home.

One of the great things I noticed during my moments of aimless exploration, was that the parts of the dungeon you can see in the beginning are all places you slowly make your way to. There’s nothing cooler than spotting a big ol’ landmark at the beginning of your journey and making it there by the end. What’s even cooler is that the team was kind enough to share with me some of the inspiration behind some of these places, which interestingly enough, comes from locations we can find on our humble planet Earth. Realising that the inspirations behind Tamriel could be rooted in reality was baffling, and not something I had ever considered. But the team mentioned that where they can, they look to draw inspiration from real-world places. 

“It makes the world feel more accessible. One of our mantras has always been ‘If magic disappeared from Tamriel, nobody would really notice’”. 

Personally, I feel like the High Elves would, but only because they’d lose one whole reason to bang on about how great they are (but then again, being High Elves, they’d find something else).

Other than this great new dungeon, the Ascending Tide DLC has a lot of cool new things coming with it. The team has worked really hard on delivering some much anticipated quality of life improvements to the game, and I’m pleased to announce that some of these are coming very soon. Along with a fun new prologue quest and two new dungeons, players will also be able to experience an improvement in loading times as well as account-wide achievements. The next instalment of the game is going to be a big one, and I’m definitely excited to jump in and kick off my new adventure in the Legacy of the Bretons. 

Elder Scrolls Online, Ascending Tide is due to launch on March 14th for PC and Mac, and March 29th for consoles.

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