Taking players to the home of the Argonians, The Elder Scrolls Online's Murkmire expansion is finally readying for a release years after it was first teased to fans. The DLC promises to deliver 15-20 hours of content (comparable to Clockwork City) and features new dungeons and boss encounters. At this year's QuakeCon we were able to sit down with creative director Rich Lambert, who offered us a guided tour of the new region and introduced us to one of its quests.
The story of Murkmire largely revolves around ancient Argonian culture and their curious disinterest in wanting to preserve their legacy. Rich Lambert told us: "So the story behind Murkmire is essentially a chase, a relic run, if you will, to basically save Argonian relics. You work with a character [...] who is head of essentially a museum group, and she wants to save Murkmire, she wants to save their culture, because the Argonians, they don't really care about the past, they're in the now and doing their stuff in the now, and so you go on an adventure with her to discover a relic called The Relic of Argon. It is rumoured to be a powerful thing and nobody's been able to find it up until now."
Lambert walked us through a quest where our character accompanied our new acquaintance and her museum group to explore a trap-filled ruin in search of Argonian relics. After making our way inside the ground crumbled beneath us and the group was separated, leaving us to fend off giant spiders and craft rope ladders to save them. This dungeon showcased some of the improvements Lambert and his team worked to deliver in Murkmire. "We've tried really hard in this update to introduce a lot more world interactivity and make the player be more aware of their surroundings," Lambert explained.
Moving our way across its crumbled structure we encountered spike traps and plant life that would harm us by spewing toxic gas. These traps were also present during combat situations, adding an extra level of danger and tension to the already cramped spaces we found ourselves in, and what we found particularly clever was how a trap mechanic was used to foreshadow a boss encounter. In one of the earlier rooms fireballs erupted from group beneath us and this was present again when fighting against a new blob-like creature known as a Voriplasm. As we knew how the same fire trap operated it this point we could use it to inflict damage on the Voriplasm by luring it towards the trap.
We were also introduced to a puzzle within the dungeon - something which has been a rarity within the Elder Scrolls Online series so far. This required us to match the heights of corresponding plates that were seen on some pillars and a set of pullies. Lambert told us that this was another example of how players are trained to pay more attention to the environment in this update, as our friend offers a clue to solving it during dialogue. He also told us that this was to make things seem a lot more obvious for the player so that they don't have to search for answers online.
As we tried to exit the dungeon with artifacts firmly grasped, thick green smoke began to filter in and a timer begins to count down. It was here that we were teased with three additional treasure chests, providing that we were speedy and proficient with our lockpicking skills. We felt that this mechanic really played into the feel of being a treasure hunter and introduced a risk versus reward element, toying with our greed. Lambert additional told us that NPCs within our group would react differently based on our results, with them congratulating your success if you're able to snatch up all three artifacts.
The area of Lilmoth that we saw in Murkmire was a vast swampland filled with crumbled structures and Aztec-like ruins that have been crafted by the Argonians. Lambert told us: "One of the things we wanted to show players in Murkmire is what Argonian architecture and culture really is." We loved being able to explore the homeland of the Argonians extensively for the first time and there were many little details in the environment during the tour that caught our interest. Walking past a waterfall Lambert points out a ship that had been stranded at the top of the tree, and this sparked many different theories in our heads regarding its origin, for example.
Murkmire seems to be to further proof that ESO has plenty to deliver to fans even after four years on the market. The vast swampland of Lilmoth is somewhere that we're itching to explore and we were impressed by the team's approach to interactivity and environmental storytelling. No official release date has been released for Murkmire, but it has been given a rough release window of Q4 for its launch on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. In the meantime, you can check our full interview with Rich Lambert below.