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The Elder Scrolls Online Necrom Review

Kevin Chick Posted:
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The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter launched June 5 on PC/Mac and is launching June 20 on consoles. Check out the Review in Progress for my initial thoughts on the new content. This review will explore my final thoughts now that I have completed the new zones, the Chapter story, as well as my thoughts on the new class, the Arcanist. Has Zenimax done enough to make this Chapter engaging, or does it feel like another cookie-cutter yearly entry?          

This Chapter introduces two new zones. The Telvanni Peninsula is the home of the Telvanni Dark Elf house, which are world-renowned practitioners of the arcane. The region keeps with the typical Dark Elf Tamriel themes of mushrooms and almost alien plant life. I enjoyed the World Bosses and the Public Dungeon combat encounters. For those familiar with the more recent Chapter releases, the developers are making good use of special attacks like rotating ground AOE effects with some boss battles. 

ESO Necrom

Even though the Telvanni Peninsula felt like I had already seen similar areas, it was a well-done extension of the Dunmer homeland. I was initially concerned that the city of Necrom would be a drab experience. But as I progressed through the main story and entered the Necropolis, the locals gained more color and vibrance. Unfortunately, the time spent exploring the Necropolis is shorter than I would have liked.

By the time I finished the Chapter’s main story, I had truly enjoyed my time in Hermaeus Mora’s realm of Apocrypha. I was concerned about the amount of green used throughout the landscape. Thankfully, the delves, public dungeon, and interior story locations change the color palette here and there. From the alien landscape to the twisting interiors filled with books, ZeniMax's art team has created a great depiction of Apocrypha. A few locations can make you feel like you are exploring an Escher painting composed of mind-bending pathways.     

Elder Scrolls Online Necrom

I found the voice acting for the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter to be an improvement over the past few years of content. But not a leap forward. Most characters were believable and engaging. The more the story progressed, the more I became attached to my ragtag companions. The relationship between Leramil the Wise and Curate Gadayn was believable. The interactions with the Telvanni Magister, and Meln the Mouthless, were enjoyable. ZeniMax even got me in the feels for my little pessimistic Watchling buddy Scruut at one point in the story.

My one personal criticism of the voice acting is Hermaeus Mora’s line delivery. The voice overall was great. But it just didn’t feel like I was talking with an all-knowing being who dealt with so much knowledge at once that they had trouble forming the words to communicate clearly with a mortal. Which they had in earlier ESO interactions with the Prince. Instead, most of the time, I was talking to Mora. You know, that Daedraic Prince who lives next door and likes to read a ton. The interactions felt almost casual. As the story progressed, it reached one point where that unfathomable intelligence almost surfaces in the voice acting. Hermaeus Mora shed the nice guy routine, then flexes his power and control over Apocrypha.

Necrom Companions

The two new Companions are good additions. I felt that both their storylines were decent. They fit well with the rest of the Companions in ESO. I have been using Azadar al-Cybiades, the Arcanist, and his continuing companion quests have been interesting. A few of his voice lines have caught me off guard and made me chuckle. I think it is mainly the comments about being old that get to me the most. In my opinion, ZeniMax is missing out on not having one or more of the main NPCs unlockable as potential companions by the end of a Chapter story. Players feel engaged with the storyline and form an attachment to some of these characters. For example, I would adventure with a character like Scruut in a second. I can also think of several other characters from various Chapters. Using the same classes/skills as other companions but having different looks and voice lines would still fulfill that fantasy of having them along on adventures.

The side quests in the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter is more of the same fare players are used to. Several of them tell decent stories as I explored different locations. A few quests felt like I had done this before, but it had a new coat of paint. If they had used characters we had encountered previously, I would have found some questlines more engaging because of the prior encounters, but that is just me. 

I also didn’t notice any real challenges or puzzles to solve while questing. Instead, they typically consisted of kill and fetch tasks. Occasionally, I had to activate a ghost sight ability to smash the invisible wards or damage a protected enemy. Which the game prompts you to do repeatedly. I also found that side quests tended to repeat themselves about what I needed to do next. For example, I was initially enjoying the story of Fathoms Drift. But after exiting the area to turn in the final step, which was only a short period of time from the quest’s start to its finish, the NPC was suddenly hitting me with an exposition hammer to the face. He summarized everything I had just done and what to do next. It knocked me out of being immersed in the story in a few areas.  

One new activity I haven't had a chance to play more is the Bastion Nymic World Events. I did manage to gather up ichor by killing the Herald’s Seekers for the daily quest and zone into the instance designed for a small group. The sub-boss for each of the three regions should be a good fight, and the final boss will be quite a challenge compared to most other overland content. But to get much past the initial groups of enemies, I will need to pull a group together or hit 50 with a proper gear set and build to make a solo attempt. It also looks like the developers have placed some form of puzzle in each region. The downside, you can only complete these World Events once a day. But I like that the developers have addressed the concerns of players who wanted some form of more challenging over-world content, even if it is not quite what was asked for by the community.

ESO Necrom Arcanist

I am enjoying the new Arcanist class and can’t wait to finish leveling to 50th. The visual effects for each ability look great. Flinging runes at enemies while your weapons and armor have bright neon green energy flowing around them works for the Arcanist. The Crux point system significantly boosts damage and healing if managed correctly. Many abilities cost and scale in damage/healing off your highest resource pool, giving more build flexibility. The passives have some great bonuses. As I have progressed, I can see how the Arcanist skills and passives come together and only feels better the higher level you are. It will likely become my main character once I can compare it to my endgame Necromancer. If you are not of an extra system to manage in combat or a fan of green though, the class may not be for you.  

The technical issues I have encountered have been few and far between. The minor bugs I mentioned in my Review in Progress were rare and have mostly disappeared as I progressed through the content. The long-running issue of not exiting combat every time it ends is the only main bug that I noticed still persists. My only other problem of note is not a technical issue but a design issue. The Herald’s Seekers ground AOE tentacle attack can hit players who are not in combat at a long range. While not constantly a problem, it can disrupt questing and kill players who are unprepared.

The main storyline of Necrom is a slow starter. But it builds up to something quite engaging. It could also potentially go beyond the typical world-ending ESO story plot. By the time I finished, I wanted to know what was next. I will be interested to see if the developers will tie off the plotline later this year when the new endless dungeon is released or if it will carry over into next year for the 10th anniversary of the game. If it overarches into next year, it could signal some significant changes coming to ESO in 2024.

The developers also stated in their Update 38 patch notes under the “Combat & Gameplay” section that, “we mainly keep large scale changes out of the Chapter update so you can focus more on the meaty new content, and especially so since this year the Arcanist joins the ranks as our 7th playable class.” So I will be interested to see what the rest of the year brings.   

While I was initially concerned, I have really enjoyed my time with the Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom Chapter and the story that unfolded was engaging. The art team has done amazing work with the Daedric Realm of Apocrypha. What's included this year is a step up from the last Chapter. But Necrom does feel at times like ZeniMax is playing it safe and sticking to the typical ESO Chapter and quest mold. 

For the many players who enjoy ESO, sticking to the mold is not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy the story and lore every year that is added to an already huge amount of content, even in the years when it is a bit lackluster. But “painting by the numbers” does limit how excited one can get for the new content. Thankfully, this year the Chapter’s storyline conclusion does hint at more interesting events to come. All the typical features a new ESO Chapter brings are present and well executed. Add in the new Arcanist class that is really fun to play, and you have a solid addition to the game.

Full Disclosure: A copy of Necrom Was Provided by PR for the purposes of this review.

8.5Great
Pros
  • Arcanist Class
  • Apocrypha Design And Visuals
  • Storyline is a standout
  • Voice Acting overall improves from previous chapters
Cons
  • Familiar quests and quest types
  • Slow start to an otherwise great story
  • Bugs still infect Tamriel


Xevrin

Kevin Chick

Kevin "Xevrin" is an avid gamer having started playing video games on an Apple III with the Wizardry Series and Questron before the age of 10. In junior high, he branched out into tabletop gaming with the release of D&D 2nd Edition. During his first year of university, Everquest was released combining both of his favorite activities.