Interview: Elder Scrolls Online’s Creative Director Talks About What’s Next

This coming winter, the current Season of the Dragon taking place in The Elder Scrolls Online will come to its conclusion with the Dragonhold expansion. Recently, Bethesda offered us a chance to get a glimpse behind-the-scenes of its current Elsweyr chapter, and a hint of things to come with the concluding expansion.

Elsweyr introduces a whole new zone for players to explore, along with a questline jam-packed with main and side missions and a number of new challenges. Additional mechanics will also be introduced. On top of that, players will also get to experience a new update to the general game before Dragonhold arrives, filled with fixes and Twitch Drops for consoles.

To get a better idea of what’s happening with the new Elsweyr add-on, and a bit of Dragonhold, we got a chance to sit down with the game’s creative director, Rich Lambert, during a recent stop at Bethesda’s presentation at PAX West.

First off, he had some sage advice for those that are hopping into this world, since there’s a lot to explore here. “With Elsweyr specifically, we have a brand new zone. It is northern Elsweyr, which is focused on Khajiit and their culture. There’s a brand new class in the Necromancer, and then, dragons – that’s the big one. Fight and kill dragons.”

He then talked about the effort that the team puts into adding additional content into an already overflowing game like Elder Scrolls, between Elsweyr and Dragonhold. “One of the first things that (game director) Matt and I do, we sit down and we talk about, you know, where haven’t we been, where we would like to go, what types of stories we want to tell. We settle in on kind of one word to help reinforce to the team what it is we’re looking for. 

“So, with Elsweyr in particular, the word we chose was ‘revenge.’ So this whole year of story content that we’re telling is all around ‘revenge.’ It starts with the big bad dragon getting his revenge for being locked up in the Halls of Colossus.”

Lambert then touched upon the latest class to be introduced into the world of Elder Scrolls Online. “The Necromancer is centered around the manipulation of mortal souls,” he explained. “So that’s their thing, raising the undead, you know, using kind of blood magic, that kind of stuff. And they’re different than our other classes, because they’re focused on kind of being a battlefield commander. 

“They get powered up by using corpses, so their style of gameplay is not just you and your target; it’s you, your target and the environment around there, and how you can position your target next to a corpse to get more power.”

Then we got into the Dragonhold expansion, which we were able to catch a quick glimpse of with some gameplay. We didn’t get a chance to kill a dragon during that time, but Lambert told us not to feel bad about it – apparently there’s a lot of work that goes into taking one down. This isn’t Skyrim.

Lambert said, “That’s one of the biggest things we tried to do in terms of differentiating us from Skyrim. So in Skyrim, you were the Dovahkiin. You had this tool set to be able to go one-on-one against a dragon. In our timeline, in Elder Scrolls Online, there is no Dovahkiin. We don’t have that toolset; and so, you have to rely on your friends to help you take these things down.”

He recommends making sure such friends are in place, as this won’t be a conquerable fight by yourself. “It’s very difficult to solo,” Lambert said with a laugh.

Then he talked about a “big” feature that will be coming later in the year to Elder Scrolls Online. “With Dragonhold, that is the southern portion of Elsweyr. The storyline is focused on the Dragonguard, and kind of putting the band back together. The Dragonguard are the precursor to the Blades, so they are an elite force of dragon hunters.

“The storyline is focused on a dragon cult and this prophecy that they’re trying to fulfill,” Lambert continued. “And, if you complete that content, and you complete the Elsweyr content and unlock a series of quests that allow you to kind of put a cap on the entire year and the story that we’ve been telling.” In other words, the more of the game you complete, the closer you get to the endgame that the team is going for.

It sounds like fans of Elder Scrolls are in for a treat this year, and Lambert took a moment to thank them. “That’s the goal, our community is a huge part of what we do,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t get to do what we do, so events like this is our way of bringing them in, getting them down, getting to spend some one-on-one time with them, and saying, ‘Hey, we’re here, we love you all.”

Elsweyr officially launched back in June, and players can explore its world now. As for the Dragonhold update, it’ll arrive sometime later this year, though a date hasn’t been given yet.

Elder Scrolls Online is available now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Big thanks to Bethesda for having us down at the event!

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