AusGamers: Skyrim has one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time, how did you approach those themes/motifs when scoring Greymoor?
Brad Derrick: From the very beginning, we knew that despite being set in Skyrim, this was not the "Skyrim" of The Elder Scrolls V. It had a different tone, a different identity. As such, the music also needed to support that and establish its own identity. That's just a fancy way of saying the music of Greymoor has no specific thematic ties to the music of TES V.
That being said, it was imperative that this score - like all scores for ESO - should still sit comfortably next to the entire canon of Elder Scrolls music… that it should sound like one piece of a larger whole. So while there are no literal musical connections to the music of the original Skyrim, there are broader stylistic ones - the expressive quality, haunting melodies, lush sonorities - elements that are the hallmarks of Elder Scrolls music.
This year The Elder Scroll Online has made the trek back to the icy tundras and wind-swept mountains of Skyrim at large, using the iconic location as the setting for its year-long The Dark Heart of Skyrim narrative. Which, as per the title, has been dealing with all manner of vampiric redness and werewolf-y wolf-ness – brought to the fore in the major Greymoor expansion from earlier this year.
The yearlong story is set to conclude with Markarth – with players venturing out to the Reach, alive and bustling with activity, embarking on a new quest. Albeit said activity comes via ESO’s very different timeline, where the difference sits at around 1,000 years or so from the events in The Elder Scrolls V. As the snowiest and rockiest region in Skyrim, the blend of ancient structures and harsh conditions presents a different feel to the areas found in Greymoor. Which is very cool because Markarth and the Reach have always stood out as distinct and very different, not only in terms of Skyrim, but The Elder Scrolls as a whole.
Explore a dangerous new zone with the Reach, gather a band of unlikely allies, and confront a Vampire Lord and his ancient army. Markarth also introduces a new solo arena, Vateshran Hollows, designed to test the strength, wits, and resolve of players with challenging bosses, multiple unlockable paths, and powerful, hidden secrets.
“I have one designer who is all about taking story elements to inform boss fights,” Mike Finnigan, Lead Encounter Designer on The Elder Scrolls Online tells me. We’re discussing what goes into designing boss encounters, those long protracted and involved combat scenarios found across the game’s many dungeons. “They’ll ask why is this boss here? What is their motivation?” he continues, noting that some team members go full method – channelling their inner Al Pacino or Daniel Day Lewis.
“Another designer might take inspiration from other games they’re playing and ask themselves how they might incorporate some of that into The Elder Scrolls Online,” Mike adds. “It's different by designer, and whatever designer we have on a boss fight dictates the approach. Really, I just let them run with whatever method works best for them, but at every stage in the process we're always bringing it back to theme.”
An ancient evil rises in The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, and a monstrous army marches on the Nords of Western Skyrim from below. Confront a fallen legion in this latest Chapter of The Elder Scrolls Online saga and continue your Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long adventure. Skyrim needs heroes—will you answer the call?
Witches Festival – October 24 through November 4
The grim spectacle of the Witches Festival once again returns to Tamriel. Take part in the ghastly celebration to enjoy bonus XP gains and earn terrifying rewards.
Undaunted Celebration – November 14 through November 18
Take on random dungeons via the Dungeon Finder to earn Mysterious Reward Boxes that contain in-game rewards including Motif Chapters, weapon styles, and more.
Dawn of the Dragonguard – November 26 through December 9
Hunt down Elsweyr’s most dangerous monsters with your fellow players and you’ll earn new in-game loot. And remember, for every five Dragons slain during the time period, we’ll donate $1 to the #SlayDragonsSaveCats campaign.
New Life Festival – December 19 through January 2
Celebrate the end of another amazing year in Tamriel with the New Life Festival. The merry event returns with a host of fun quests and festive holiday rewards for all, including XP-boosting collectables, unique furnishings, and more.
ESO heroes are tasked with fighting their way through the dungeons to retrieve both halves of the Wrathstone tablet. Depths of Malatar will send you to an ancient Ayleid ruin hidden under a secret Imperial fort while Frostvault guides you through a trap-filled, automaton-occupied, Goblin-inhabited, Dwarven vault.
Previously, you have been able to explore the province of Elsweyr in The Elder Scrolls: Arena and its outer edges in ESO’s regions of Reaper’s March and Khenarthi’s Roost, but in this new adventure, you can fully experience the home of Tamriel’s beloved cat people. In Elsweyr, you can traverse both fertile grasslands and scorching deserts, interact with moon-sugar farmers and wandering nomads, or confront merciless Imperial occupiers and roaming bandits. In this new Chapter, you can truly dive into the life, history, culture, and mythology of the Khajiit and their homeland.
In the Murkmire DLC game pack, you are able to explore a new zone located on Black Marsh’s southern coast, experience a brand-new story questline, and test your mettle in the Blackrose Prison Arena.
Explore a New Zone
In this new zone, you can venture into the heart of Black Marsh to learn about the native Argonian people, their culture, and their history. In addition to the main story, this new zone is packed full of new adventures to experience, including unique quests, Delves, World Bosses, and countless other dangers that lurk in the deep swamp.
Recover a Piece of Murkmire’s History
In Murkmire’s story questline, you shall work to investigate the long-forgotten past of this remote and unforgiving land and help an Imperial scholar search for an ancient and powerful Argonian relic. Ready your supplies and prepare to embark into a world secluded from Tamriel for centuries. You might even discover the hidden history of the Argonians themselves.
Face Blackrose Prison
If you’re looking for a fight, you and your companions will be challenged by Murkmire’s new four-player Arena, Blackrose Prison. In this former prison colony, you must face waves of monstrous beasts and Blackguard warriors in vicious combat. Be sure to make use of the new Sigils to survive, because should you claim victory, you’ll earn powerful new Blackrose weapons not found anywhere else in Tamriel!
As you explore, quest, and battle your way through the deep swamp, you’ll be rewarded with three new zone sets and unique, Murkmire-themed collectibles. Finally, this new zone also introduces the new Dead-Water motif style, acquired by completing daily quests – so get exploring!
In Scalecaller Peak, the burial site of a long-dead Dragon Priest is now overrun with diseased cultists harboring an evil agenda: to unleash the deadliest plague Tamriel has ever known. You and your team must journey to Scalecaller Peak, battle your way through the cultists and their followers, and put an end to this threat.
Deep within the belly of Fang Lair, an ancient Dwarven ruin, a master of necromancy works a dark ritual in an effort to reanimate the bones of a once-living dragon. It's up to you and your companions to enter the dungeon, face the necromancers, and stop the ritual before this undead monstrosity can be unleashed on Tamriel.
Journey into Sotha Sil’s Clockwork City, a great and intricate mechanism that duplicates Tamriel in metallic miniature. Take on two dangerous world bosses, explore new delves and complete daily quests to earn a host of unique rewards.
“We chose the Clockwork City to be The Elder Scrolls Online’s next zone because it’s a unique location that we haven’t fully explored,” says Creative Director Rich Lambert. “This is Sotha Sil’s realm. It’s his interpretation of how the world looks, how it works, or perhaps how he wants it to be. The entire realm was fabricated, so it’s very different from what we’ve done before – which is really cool. And, of course, it’s Sotha Sil, and Elder Scrolls fans love Sotha Sil. He’s a mad genius.”
“Ultimately, with this new zone we’re trying to give players the same kind of experience they had with ESO: Morrowind or the Orsinium DLC game pack,” says Lambert. “They get a new space to explore, a fantastic story to experience, and they get to understand a little bit more about the Clockwork City.”
A Massive New Zone -- Vvardenfell: The largest zone added to The Elder Scrolls Online since launch is also a nostalgic trip through one of the Elder Scrolls’ most beloved lands. Utilising the same geographic footprint as The Elder Scrolls III, including all key points of interest from the classic game, Vvardenfell is painstakingly reimagined 700 years before the events of TES III, from the docks of Seyda Neen, through the volcanic Ashlands, the dense, mushroom-filled forests, and to the glory of Vivec City - still under construction in this time period.
New Class – The Warden: Players will harness nature-based magic to master the powerful new character class - The Warden. The Warden is the first new class since launch of ESO, and true to ESO and the Elder Scrolls franchise, the player will have the freedom to select from a number of abilities that enable a variety of play styles. The Warden also introduces a devastating new combat ally – the War Bear – a ferocious fighter that will stay by the Warden’s side through the most intense battles.
New PvP Mode – Battlegrounds: The Elder Scrolls Online is renowned for open world PvP battles, pitting hundreds of players in a massive battle for supremacy in Cyrodiil. The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind will introduce a new PvP mode – Battlegrounds – intense 4v4v4 battles in arena-like environments. Players take the battle to the Ashlands to claim their place among the fiercest and most accomplished combat veterans in Tamriel.
Playing through the early moments of ESO’s Morrowind expansion it’s hard not to get swept up in the familiar yet very different setting of Vvardenfell. And even though ESO has included many other locations we’ve seen before, from Skyrim to Cyrodill, this is a Morrowind that has clearly benefited from over a decade of improvements made in graphic fidelity.
“With Morrowind, it's interesting, because everyone remembers the game from 2002, but that was still a long time ago, graphically speaking. And so, we kind of built it from the ground up,” Matt explains. “We went in and took the height map, you know, the actual graphical representation of the terrain, we lifted that from Elder Scrolls III, and then we kind of built it up from there, making sure that the scale was correct, and that it was not too big, and not too small. Then we used a lot of the reference materials for it, you know, the mushrooms, and the creatures, and Vivec city and things like that.”
The results speak for themselves.