The Elder Scrolls Online has been chugging away for nearly a decade at this point and as a game with such a lengthy life already, change is necessary to maintain engagement. The latest chapter release, Necrom, is the final major content drop to sport the year-long storyline structure that ZeniMax has maintained (with varying levels of success) since we battled a rage of dragons in Elsweyr. With all eyes on The Elder Scrolls Online‘s newest chapter and its send-off to the MMO’s current content framework that has persisted for the past several years, it’s without surprise that expectations are high.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom returns players to Morrowind, this time highlighting the Telvanni Peninsula. While I would never shy away from exploring a new zone, the Telvanni Peninsula is sure to evoke feelings of “sameness” in anyone who has journeyed across Vvardenfell already. But that isn’t the only new area embedded in the latest chapter. The Soulless One — the player character also referred to as the Hero of Coldharbour and the Savior of Tamriel, depending on quest progress — will be re-entering the realm of Oblivion. However, this particular trip sends players to the green-hued depths of Hermaeus Mora’s twisted plane, Apocrypha. The latter of the two is easily the most visually striking and engaging to roam about, even if the journey to the devilish library packed with the Daedric Prince’s forbidden knowledge comes to an end quicker than one would hope.
Even factoring the brevity of the aesthetically pleasing Apochrypa, the Necrom chapter manages to remain engaging despite adhering to the worn cookie-cutter format we have seen over the years, with a solid cast of characters and two new likeable NPC companions for players to adventure around with in the absence of other players. Azandar Al-Cybiades, a Redguard Arcanist, and Sharp-As-Night, an Argonian Warden, are welcome additions to the companion lineup, bringing the total number of recruitable digital buddies up to six.
Without a doubt, the most thrilling (and widely advertised) component of Necrom is the addition of an entirely new class. It has been four years since we received the Necromancer with the Elsweyr chapter and now Necrom has unleashed the green beam machine that is the Arcanist. The Arcanist is a vessel of unparalleled intelligence, which often comes bursting forth with Apochryphal energy in a variety of forms. Much like the MMO’s other classes, the Arcanist can comfortably play any role: tank, DPS and healer. In fact, I’d go as far as to argue that the Arcanist is the most accommodating and freeform classes The Elder Scrolls Online has seen yet. Early impressions, mine included, put the associated skills high up on tier lists. A quick trip to Cyrodiil for a bout of PvP will quickly reveal a battlefield bathed in bright green beams.
Aside from its early competitive dominance and prominence across Tamriel, the Arcanist class is more than it seems on the surface. Thanks to the addition of Crux, ZeniMax has tethered a unique resource mechanic to the class. Crux is an Arcanist-exclusive resource, of which up to three can be banked at a time, that functions as a charge (or boost) for certain abilities. Using abilities that generate Crux to let off an empowered version of a Crux-consuming skill provides a bit more depth to The Elder Scroll Online‘s conventional combat. And it is a welcome addition, indeed. The aging MMO has long garnered divisive views on its combat, ranging from limited slottable skills to simply lacking a sense of weight and impact. The Arcanist doesn’t overhaul the game or alleviate the sticking points held by some of the playerbase, but it certainly pushes toward feeling “fresh.”
All of this is sprinkled with the usual chapter additions, such as a new 12-man Trial and a world event. That isn’t even mentioning the slew of brand new gear and themed cosmetics awaiting players who are pursuing the true end game: fashion. Necrom boasts one of the better chapter expansions for The Elder Scrolls Online, even if it only breaks the longstanding mold in minor ways.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Review Verdict
The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom: ZeniMax has largely adhered to their tried and true recipe for The Elder Scrolls Online story content. And while there is much success to be found, there is much that could be improved upon as we wrap up the year-long Shadow of Morrowind storyline bookending the Necrom chapter release. Looking ahead, it's exciting to theorize what will come next. But for now, looking at Necrom as-is, we still have an amusing if by-the-books expansion drenched in the allure of the arcane arts and a truly stunning setting brought forth with Apocrypha. Whether you are a new player or someone looking to create their nth alt character, Necrom is sure to offer up hours of content to get lost in. – Joshua