Fans of The Elder Scrolls Online took to Bethesda’s Twitch account en masse on January 27 as the company unveiled the newest expansion for the game, High Isle, and the newest year-long storyline in the game’s vast archive of incredible stories: The Legacy of the Bretons. This storyline will encompass every content release the company gives us in 2022, beginning with the Ascending Tide DLC in March 2022, and carrying into the launch of High Isle in June.
To say I was excited would be something of an understatement. So far, all of the storylines we’ve been given in TESO have knocked it out of the park and there hasn’t been one I’ve been even remotely disappointed with.
Now, if you were to ask me if I was potentially disappointed by some of the features… well, then, I might have to say yes.
Why? Well, let’s look at what we’ve got coming with The Legacy of the Bretons.
What is The Legacy of the Bretons?
The Legacy of the Bretons, as mentioned earlier, is the newest of Bethesda’s year-long storylines, told over the course of all of their content releases for the current year. This is a method of content creation that Bethesda has been utilizing since 2019, which was the first time all of their content releases were one consistent story as opposed to individual story arcs that may or may not connect to previous installments. Their first, Season of the Dragon, was so well-received that they’ve been doing this consistently over the past few releases, and this seems to be the new norm for Bethesda.
Unlike previous installments in ESO‘s storylines, however, this one doesn’t focus on some major daedric plot that the players have to foil. Rather, this one goes back to the game’s roots, evoking something similar to the main faction questlines in the original base game. Both the storyline and the new DLC promise more in-game political intrigue, as well as learning more of the history and culture of the Bretons, which hasn’t often been explored.
What is High Isle?
High Isle will be the newest expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online, releasing in June of 2022. itself takes place on the eponymous isle in the Systers Archipelago, a cluster of islands northwest of Summerset. The island itself has been treated as something of a resort by the Bretons, and this is something that will be reflected in the architecture, all of which is inspired heavily by feudal Europe.
The island itself takes inspiration from locations along the Mediterranean Sea, and honestly, what we’ve seen of the concept art looks stunning so far. I personally can’t wait to explore the place.
Mechanically, the zone will feature the usual points of interest, including quest hubs, new world bosses, delves, dungeons, and such. There will be a new 12-player trial, Dreadsail Reef, and a new world event that the developers have dubbed “Volcanic Vents.” Mechanically, these are supposed to be similar to Summerset’s Geysers. I’m looking forward to seeing whether these vents are in fixed locations (much like the Geysers and Harrowstorms and Dolmens of previous expansions) or if they show up randomly in the world (much like the Oblivion Portals of Blackwood).
As for the story itself, the three alliances are attempting to negotiate a secret peace in the Three Banners War. If you’ve participated in Cyrodiil PVP, you’re familiar with this as the Alliance War. If not, however, the three alliances of Tamriel (Daggerfall Covenant, Aldmeri Dominion, and Ebonheart Pact) have been vying for control of Cyrodiil and the Imperial City for ages at this point, with no one faction gaining the upper hand. We’re not sure about the nature of these secret peace talks right now, but it will be interesting to see how they play out.
However, not everyone wants that peace to occur. Operating on High Isle is a faction known as the Ascendant Order, led by a mysterious individual known as the Ascendant Lord. We don’t have a whole lot of details about him or the faction at this point in time, but I’m looking forward to learning more about him and what he stands to gain from the war continuing.
Things to Look Forward To
There’s a lot coming with The Legacy of the Bretons and High Isle, everything from new dungeons to just new content in general.
Chief among this new content is something called Tales of Tribute, an in-game collectible card game. If you’re a player looking for a slightly less violent method of player vs player content, or if you’re just looking to relax in your favorite in-game tavern, this might be just the thing for you. Tales of Tribute is a system that you can play not only against other players, but against NPCs, as well.
With its own unique storyline attached to the system, Tales of Tribute has an assortment of decks for players to create and build. However, unlike some other games, this system isn’t exactly punishing for newer players. Before play begins, each player chooses two decks that they own to play. Once chosen, all four decks get shuffled into one communal deck that both players draw from. This gives newer players a way to try cards they may not have access to yet while also making things reasonably fair for both players.
As with all things in ESO, there are advantages to experimenting with this new system apart from ranking high in various leaderboards. There will also be new achievements and various collectibles to unlock through the new Tales of Tribute system that you won’t be able to obtain any other day.
But we also have some familiar things coming, too.
With the High Isle storyline, we’ll have some returning friends from previous story arcs, characters that we’ll be seeing as early as the dungeons in the upcoming Ascending Tide DLC. Players who have played through the Daggerfall Covenant storyline or the Dragonguard DLC may be delighted to learn will have some familiar faces coming with us on our journey: Jakarn, a Breton thief, and Za’ji, khajiit pirate. Personally, I love both of them, so I’m looking forward to seeing them both again.
Equally exciting, however, is the fact that we get two new companions! Bethesda introduced a companion system in Blackwood, giving us two followers to run around with us if we preferred to play by ourselves: Bastian and Mirri. With High Isle, we will actually get to meet and befriend two new companions by the names of Ember (a khajiit who grew up on the streets), and Isobel (a Breton and aspiring knight).
Like Bastian and Mirri, Ember and Isobel will require you to own High Isle in order to unlock them, so if that’s of interest to you, make sure you obtain the new expansion!
I’m sure there are other things that I’m forgetting or my notes were too vague about (which is an annoying habit; remind me to tell you all about the corn incident sometime), but that’s a look at some of the objective information regarding the Global Reveal Event and the new expansion.
My Thoughts on the Legacy of the Bretons
Allow me to be a bit candid with you all for a minute. This upcoming storyline has left me a bit conflicted.
To be clear, I’m looking forward to the return of political intrigue and a threat that’s more mortal than daedra. In the course of the life of The Elder Scrolls Online, we’ve foiled multiple daedric plots and stopped several cataclysms. I’m actually excited for something that’s a bit more normal in the vein of political intrigue.
It’s something that I’ve appreciated about each of the faction questlines of the original game. While some daedric cults may be operating in some of the zone storylines, the Princes and their plots aren’t the main focus of those. The faction storylines are more focused on political intrigue along the lines of securing leadership positions or trying to foil the assassination of some important character. I’m looking forward to something more normal.
Yes, it’s requiring our characters to step up and try to save something (in this case, it sounds like salvaging the peace talks and putting a stop to the Ascendant Order), but I’m looking forward to a plotline that’s less world-breaking and more mundane. And I’m curious what exactly the Ascendant Lord has to gain from the three alliances still being at war.
That said, though, I don’t know that the Bretons would have been my first choice.
The Breton people take inspiration from typical European medieval fantasy. It’s something that’s instantly familiar to fantasy fans because we see so much of it. Medieval European fantasy has been the default of fantasy fiction for a very long time now, so much so that while it’s recognizable, I feel like it’s a little oversaturated. And because that’s where Breton culture draws from, I’ve honestly found them to not be the most interesting race that Elder Scrolls Online has to offer. Personally, I would have preferred to see something that wasn’t that default, and I think we could have gotten an equally interesting storyline out of something that was focused on, say, the Redguard.
That’s not to say that I don’t understand why the developers decided to go in this direction. We don’t really know a whole lot about the Bretons and where they come from. King Emeric, the leader of the Daggerfall Covenant, is a Breton, and we’ve had expansions focusing on the “leading” races of each alliance in the past (Summerset for the high elves and Greymoor for the Nord). And a lot of people are absolutely excited about this. They love the Bretons. They want to see more of them, so I’m probably in the minority on this one.
Still, I’m looking forwards to seeing what comes of this arc and I will absolutely be there on June 6th with everyone else.
If you’re interested in picking up the new expansion, you can purchase the High Isle Upgrade (Collector’s Edition) if you own the previous expansions or the Collection version of High Isle (and its Collector’s Edition) if you haven’t purchased previous content for the PC/Mac edition of the game.
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