Alie picked up Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) again a few months ago. She quested her way through Morrowind and Summerset. However, the next content drop is now on the doorstep. To prepare for this Murkmire DLC, the editor was allowed to go out with the devs.

I receive a call on Skype. On the line, I have ESO Zone Lead Ed Stark and Lead Content Designer Jeremy Sera. These two devs at ZeniMax Online Studios take me on a tour de Murkmire. This homeland of the Argonians is central to the ESO DLC that you can check from today.

Living with the sea

Suddenly my Argonian is standing in a torchlit city: Lilmoth, the capital in Murkmire. All around me I see wetlands, in all kinds of greens and grays. Here and there are groups of Argonians. I immediately realize how special that is. It is the very first time in an Elder Scrolls game that we can visit the homeland of these lizard people. I can’t wait to explore the area and tell you all about what I’ve seen …

Starting with the many wooden jetties and wooden houses, placed high on stilts. Lilmoth is a port city, with an ever-changing coastline. Stark and Sera say that the Argonians plan for the coming and going of the sea. Murkmire could be completely submerged or dry out in 10 years’ time. Thus, the inhabitants don’t really care about security. A ruin does not mean that something fatal has happened; a family lived there for a few seasons and then moved on.

I also see stone buildings here and there in Lilmoth. A reminder of the Imperials, who have been trying to conquer Black Marsh for hundreds of years. The fact that they fail again and again is because of the swamp. The Argonians can easily retreat to the swamp during battle. For the Imperials, however, the environment is perilous …

“Even the plants try to kill you”

Mukrmire is full of enemies. Even a lot of the seemingly harmless flora seems to want to kill you. Do not be seduced by the beautiful colors. One plant tries to electrocute you, while the other grips you tight. It’s fun when zombies and crocodiles lurk at the same time. The swamp is colorful, but dangerous, with a personality of its own.

The folks at ZeniMax Online Studios studied a lot of swamps when designing Murkmire. They took their inspiration from, for example, South America, Louisiana (USA), Africa, the Amazon, Southern England and Scotland. The area thus varies from light and open to dark and closed.

Indy in Murkmire

I see temples, waterfalls and caves. And when Stark and Sera also tell me that the main quest line in the Murkmire DLC is all about finding an Argonian Relic, I totally feel like Indiana Jones. The guys from ZeniMax Online Studios don’t want to reveal too much about the quest. They do want to share that the Relic is inextricably linked to the culture and history of the Argonians. Ultimately, the Relic even presents you with a choice that determines the future of the zone.

However, ZeniMax Online Studios would like to tell a story in ESO with more than just quests and text. Murkmire is therefore not only devoted to this quest for the Relic. Especially the side quests are dedicated to the culture of the Argonians.

For the lore rats

The Murkmire DLC promises to teach us a lot about the Argonians. Stark and Sera say they want to honor the Elder Scroll lore with this new content, and expand it even further. According to them, the DLC is therefore also very interesting for the people they call “lore rats”. For example, you can visit all kinds of locations that were only mentioned in previous games.

What I really liked was my introduction to the Argonian belief system. For example, I didn’t know at all that they believe that their souls will return to the Hist after their death, to be reincarnated afterwards. When we visit one of the trunks in Murkmire I see one of these Hist trees. Stark and Sera say that this tribe is very much on its own; they are even a bit xenophobic. Their tree reflects this: it is stocky and dark, actually more like a fortress.

A second example shows that everything is part of the lore, including the enemies. Argonians carve their life story on so-called Grave Stakes. After their death, these Stakes are placed on their grave. One of the world bosses in the ESO DLC wants to break the Hist cycle. She brings the bodies of deceased Argonians to life. But since they are buried under their Grave Stakes, a zombie can get stuck halfway in the ground … The poor devil is impaled on his stake.

A breathtaking panorama

Are you such a culture barbarian who yawns at the thought of lore? Then don’t get me wrong: even if you don’t care about the Elder Scrolls lore, Murkmire has plenty to offer. According to Stark and Sera, the main quest line should keep you off the street for about 10 hours. In addition, the DLC also contains world bosses, delves, an arena, a house and a number of daily quests. So even though Murkmire is not a new chapter (to speak in ESO terms), you still get a lot of new content for you. I highlight two parts:

Blackrose Prison is the third arena in ESO. This multiplayer affair takes place in an old prison, previously used by the Imperials, but now in the hands of a gang of outlaws. You fight waves with enemies in five wings. You can choose from the Normal or Veteran difficulty setting. How well you and your three friends are doing can be seen on a leaderboard.

Finally, Stark and Sera show me the new house in Murkmire. This house is built on the edge of a lake. Or well, actually partly in the lake. If you take the stairs down, you will be treated to a magnificent view of the bottom of the lake. A huge panoramic aquarium, in which you can even place furnishings.

Update 20

Also launches update 20 for ESO in conjunction with Murkmire. This update ensures, among other things, that you can now destroy the milegates and bridges in Cyrodill. This means that you can change the landscape in the PvP zone and that opponents have to go around a bit to get to you, for example. The update also brings music boxes to the housing area. With that you can spice up your home with well-known Elder Scrolls tunes.

Update 20 also adds a new section to the Crown store. This corner is specially designed for ESO Plus subscibers. They can buy cosmetic items there and receive a discount on content, for example. Their monthly Crowns wages will also be increased. Finally, the gentlemen mention another crucial quality of life improvement: you can now switch the order of your chars in your login screen. Handy if your main doesn’t line the top slot … / guilty

ESO: Murkmire can be checked on PC from today. The DLC will be available on PS4 and Xbox One on November 6.