By the time December rolls around, a full decade will have passed since Bethesda first awed us with the announcement of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is considered one of the greatest sandbox RPGs of all time (if not for its depth or its main quest, then for the openness and flexibility of its world). The Elder Scrolls Online returns again to that frosty, Viking-esque province with its new Greymoor expansion, and it’s… just fine. Its quests and setting are appetizing enough if you like your Nordic-themed fantasy served with a gooey side of vampires, but I never shook the feeling that ZeniMax Online’s latest dish left the kitchen a tad too early.
Greymoor is certainly beautiful, to its credit. It’s set in Skyrim’s dreary, marshy northwestern corner, which nevertheless manages to show how far ESO’s graphics have come since we saw the eastern half of the region at launch back in 2014. The centerpiece is Solitude, a city that extends over a rocky arch and makes a good subject for screenshots (and which makes me wonder about the property value of the plots directly above the precarious gap). Unfortunately, the potential for creativity gets mired in the drive for nostalgia. Maybe we can accept that the fortress city of Solitude looks exactly the same despite this story being 800 years before Skyrim, but nearby Morthal is also still just a handful of shacks beside a swamp. Surely there would have been some differences in that span of time, just to make it distinctive?