Editor’s Note: This preview was conducted on a test server and features experienced by the previewer may not appear in the final version of the game.
The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle Preview
Thanks to Bethesda AU, I was recently granted the opportunity to take a trip to the land of High Isle. Wasting no time to rid the rainy wasteland that has become my home town, I cast off the shackles of reality and dove deep into the gorgeous Breton expanse that is the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online expansion pack.
High Isle comes out on June 6th, but I’ve been lucky enough to explore the expansion twice now – and each time I’ve had a lot of fun. My latest foray into the world brought me smack bang into the centre of this thriving, breathing world, and I couldn’t wait to explore it.
After Wood Elves, Bretons are my favourite race in ESO, and the opportunity to learn more about their lore, myths and land of origin is something I’ve been after for a long time. As much as I loved the alien lands of Morrowind and the snowy peaks of Skyrim, I’ve been longing for a brighter, happier locale since I explored Summerset, and with the launch of High Isle, my wish has been granted.
When I last got to chat with some of the Elder Scrolls Online team, I found out that a lot of the architecture of the world of Tamriel is grounded in reality; so it was no surprise to see a lot of real-world influence on the buildings in High Isle. Influenced by the Mediterranean and intended to be the ‘resort city’ for the Bretons, High Isle showcases beautiful coastal views, lush rainforest locations and the odd molten volcano spewing up from the ground. But no pesky volcano or weird lava cultist is going to stop me from having a good time!
One of the things that struck me about the city was just how busy it seemed, even before becoming populated with the player base. During my time with the expansion I saw a few other press holders running around, but even without us jumping around in each other’s faces making idiots of ourselves, the land possesses a certain ‘hum’ that you only get from some of the more populated locales.
This livelihood of the area continues once you leave the city, with the surrounding areas being equally as beautiful. Other than the gorgeous coastline, there is also the lush rainforest (full of all sorts of garish monsters that want to eat you) and a range of much darker, more oppressive underground areas (because it wouldn’t be an ESO game without a creepy cave or underground hovel filled with despair). Hidden amidst the field of sunflowers and the jewelled coast are a range of dark secrets waiting to be uncovered by adventurers. Between the rumbling volcanoes, lava beasts and verdant rainforest prison, the local surrounds of High Isle are packed with quests and adventure.
As you embark on your travels throughout the region you’ll come across a few familiar faces you’ll remember from your adventures across Tamriel. Captain Za’ji is back (the best Khajit ever) along with the dashing rogue Jakarn, who we’ve met a few times in our adventures. He’s even wearing a shirt this time (though for how long, who knows). Along with these two dashing heroes returns Rigurt the Brash. ESO players will know Rigurt from his diplomatic endeavours, acting on behalf of the Nord Cultural Exchange. His well-intentioned but disastrous antics have been in all ESO expansions and each new adventure brings all-new debacles, and his antics in High isle are no exception.
Alongside our familiar faces are some new ones, as High Isle introduces a range of new characters for people to meet. Lady Arabelle is one such character, forming the cornerstone of the main story quest as she guides us through the plot. When I was first introduced to her I completely expected some haughty old witch with too much money and a bad attitude (clearly my time in Summerset has left me jaded by the nobility) but Lady Arabelle is very easy to like and bond with. Since the death of the BEST CHARACTER IN THE ESO SERIES (who shall remain nameless for spoiler reasons), I have worked very hard not to form bonds with story characters, but I can already see that Lady Arabelle is going to make that difficult.
Players of ESO will also be pleased to see that along with a raft of story characters, there are also two new companions they can meet in High Isle. When creating these two companions, the developers and writers behind ESO took into account the feedback from the community and gave us new characters who have a lot more depth and intrigue than the ones we saw in the previous expansion. There’s Ember, the resident Khajiti hot mess who loves a bit of violence and trouble, and Isobel, the noble and dignified Breton knight. These two companions are much more than your stereotypical ‘trash fire’ and ‘dignified noble’ however, and I’m really keen to take them with me all around Tamriel. Especially Ember, because I’ve always had a soft spot for characters who are a bit of a dumpster fire.
I couldn’t speak about the new High Isle expansion without talking about the new collectable card game that’s coming out; Tales of Tribute. I love collectable card games- I loved Triple Triad in FFVIII, I loved Tetra Master in FFIX and I think I’m going to love Tales of Tribute in ESO, but to be honest with you, it was kind of hard to figure out. High Isle is home to the card hall, where you can walk through the tutorial and learn how to play the game, but given I was on a preview server, this portion of the expansion hadn’t been completely mapped out yet. The tutorial was a bit hard to understand when most of my cards had no artwork or tooltips, but I’m sure when we see this go live, everything will make a lot more sense.
From what I was able to gather though, Tales of Tribute is based around deck building. Different decks have different strategies behind them so you’re able to play the game in a way that works for you. The perks of getting good at Tribute (other than bragging rights) include furniture items, cosmetics and emotes – so sign me up.
Elder Scrolls Online, High Isle looks like it’s going to be a great addition to an already very impressive lineup of expansion content. From the glorious aesthetics of the locales to the rich main quest and side story, High Isle is definitely the breath of clean sea air ESO needed. With the addition of a collectable card game, combat upgrades and a range of quality of life updates, High Isle looks like it’s going to comfortably make its home in the collection of ESO players very soon. The High Isle expansion for Elder Scrolls Online releases on June 6th. See you there!