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The Elder Scrolls Online : a new expansion coming & a focus on stability and bug fixing

2020 was a successful year for The Elder Scrolls Online, but it was still a challenging one. Amid the new zones, features, and story of The Year of Skyrim were rough, buggy updates and patches that sometimes caused more problems than they fixed. Stability is still an issue. Acknowledging the difficulties this past year, Studio Director Matt Firor assured players in his Director's Letter: 2020 Retrospective that the team would be focusing more intently on fixing issues. He said, "I want to highlight that in 2021 we will devote more time overall to stability and game performance and less time to new game systems (with our standard content updates continuing unchanged). We will still be working from home for the foreseeable future, and I want to ensure that our 2021 updates and patches are smooth and the player experience is enjoyable."

Additionally, the studio has pledged to update and replace all game servers this year to ensure that TESO runs more smoothly.

How is The Elder Scrolls Online now?

There is much to do, and you aren't tied to any single path. Folks jumping in now will find a vast number of delves, dungeons, and story arcs to occupy their time as well as crafting, PvP, housing, collections, and different types of treasure hunting. On top of that there are also frequent events with special rewards. Whether you want to wander around exploring Tamriel, smash through dungeons, hunt treasure, play through the many expansive story lines, The Elder Scrolls Online can keep you occupied for a very long time.

What's been happening recently?

The antiquities system: This addictive non-combat gameplay for treasure hunters-at-heart allows players to scry out and excavate ancient relics via a series of new minigames.

Kyne’s Aegisis 12-man trial: Players defend the island bastion from invading sea giants in normal or veteran mode; additionally each individual boss has its own hard mode.

A new item collection system: For those who want more options in their crafting (or just like collecting things), this system lets players collect gear and sets, allowing them to personalize the item when crafting later.

Vateshran Hollows solo arena: Dungeons lovers who don't love groups can experience the solo arena that offers seven bosses to encounter. There is also one hidden boss in each of the three stages.

Bethesda is expanding: The studio is currently hiring more developers for TESO, a positive sign for the health of the game.

Free trials: The studio offers occasional free trials, both of the standard game and of the ESO Plus subscription (which includes perks like temporary access to all DLCs and the unlimited crafting bag that players can draw materials from even after it ends).

New Flames of Ambition DLC in testing: The Cauldron, a cursed mine dungeon in the upcoming DLC, is on the test server.

A loss: On a very sad note, Robert A. Altman, the founder and CEO of ZeniMax Media, died in February.

When is the next big update happening?

Bethesda shared the big news for 2021 at a global reveal event on January 26th. The year-long focus for TESO is Gates of Oblivion, and Bethesda called it "an amazing year of daedric destruction." The star of this show will be the Blackwood chapter.

Launching in June, Blackwood will include the expected new delves, public dungeons, world bosses, Oblivion portal world events, and a 12-man trial. More than 30 hours of a new main storyline as well as many sidequests will be woven throughout the three new areas. On top of this, TESO will introduce a new companion system. Soon you can have your own interactive NPC keeping you company (and hopefully helping) while you adventure. And last but not least, a personal favorite upcoming feature: the ability to choose your starting zone instead of being forced into the current expansion’s iteration!

The Elder Scrolls Online team previewed one of the two dungeons set in the upcoming Flames of Ambition DLC, which is the first part of this year's grand story, The Gates of Oblivion. This time, the team turned its gaze towards the "long-abandoned mansion," Black Drake Villa.

Players will quest alongside Eveli Sharp-Arrow to recover an ancient tome from the depths of the run-down villa. Along the way, ESO players will have to overcome monsters and other threats as they race to the heart of the villa to recover the tome and discover the threat at the root of the fire set therein, called the True-Sworn.

Black Drake Villa is set in the Gold Coast, bringing players back to an older Cyrodiil zone added a few years back. Mike Finnigan, ESO's Encounters Lead describes the story for the new dungeon in the post as something players will be uncovering even leading into the upcoming Blackwood Chapter, ESO's version of expansions, in June.“

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