With the grand unveiling of gameplay for the Elder Scrolls Online’s newest expansion, The High Isle: Legacy of the Bretons, there’s quite a bit to unpack for this swashbuckling adventure of intrigue and mystery.
Naturally, we caught up with Elder Scrolls Online Creative Director Rich Lambert to get more details about what players can expect in their journey to the newest explorable part of Tamriel, as well as its big new card game hobby.
One thing Rich stressed on was you wouldn’t have to worry about a long trek to getting to the High Isle- The Elder Scrolls Onlines structure is such that you can just access the area with an entirely new character, without worrying about being curb stomped by late game enemies.
“It’s one of the big things we try to do in every Chapter”, Rich says. “It is to make sure a brand new player coming in has a really good experience and can start in High Isle if they choose.”
That being said, he does mention that you get a unique experience as a returning player- some fan favorites might show up on the High Isle too, ready for another round of adventuring with their favorite hero.
“Well, one thing that we always do with our Chapters and really any of our content, is that we try to find characters that are fan favourites and bring them back. We have a number of those in High Isle, so for the veterans who have already done the content, they will run into these characters and be like, hey, and that character will know you. If you’re a brand new character into High Isle, you won’t run across these characters and then you’ll see them in other content that you go and play. ”
You can read the rest of the interview below:
Tales of Tribute
How big do you expect Tales of Tribute to be? We talking Gwent / Elder Scrolls Legends big?
I mean, I have some metrics internally that I am shooting for for sure, but honestly, our goal right now is just get it done, make it as polished as we can, and kinda see where it goes from there. I know players are gonna be like, this game is amazing, can we get a mobile version, can we have a physical version, like, our focus is just make it as good as we can in ESO and if it hits, we’ll see where it takes us.
Will Tribute wins also compare to other levelling actions (i.e. killing enemies) for players who prefer a chill, exploratory RP playstyle?
You are gonna get some EXP, some coins and other things around with that. I wouldn’t say it’ll be the most efficient way to kinda level, but it could be a path if you so choose.
As someone who isn’t a fan of card games, is Tribute entirely optional, or will there be at least a forced tutorial for it?
It’s a 100% optional. You have to go find the tutorial and NPC that kinda gets you on your path. So it’s up to you, you can completely ignore it if you want. I wouldn’t recommend it cause it’s really cool, but if it’s not your cup of tea, that’s okay.
Card games contained within other games sometimes spin out into their standalone releases. Do you foresee a time when Tribute will exist as a game itself?
Like I said earlier, our focus is just make it as good as we can. If it hits, we’ll see where it takes us.
Is Tales of Tribute going to be a “High Isle area only” situation, or will we start to see NPCs sprouting all over Tamriel to play with people all across the world?
You will see them all throughout the world. One of the things we try to do with Tribute is show you that this a Tamriel-wide thing. You unlock it by going essentially the founding city, and meeting some of the founders and being, I guess, I was gonna say indoctrinated but that’s not the right word, invited to join the guild so to speak, and after that you’re going round the world, exploring, finding cards, chasing down masters, and then once you have the system unlocked, you can just walk up to another player, challenge them to a duel, through your guild list, friends list. There is also an entry in the activity finder so there’s a queue system that you can just queue up and challenge random players, so it’s a full integrated system and I think it’s something players are just gonna be amazed at how big this is, and how fully featured it is.
Exploring The High Isle
Does High Isle offer a good starting point for new ESO players?
Absolutely. It’s one of the big things we try to do in every Chapter. It is make sure a brand new player coming in has a really good experience and can start in High Isle if they choose.
Since you’ve said you can jump into The High Isle immediately, is there anything in The High Isle that might interact with content from previous areas?
Well, one thing that we always do with our Chapters and really any of our content, is that we try to find characters that are fan favourites and bring them back. We have a number of those in High Isle, so for the veterans who have already done the content, they will run into these characters and be like, hey, and that character will know you. If you’re a brand new character into High Isle, you won’t run across these characters and then you’ll see them in other content that you go and play.
With two major islands to explore, will there be things to see and do between the islands, or is it just fast travel between?
It’s just fast travel between.
Are there any notable voice actors in this year’s Chapter? If so, do they have ties to other medieval franchises?
Oh my god yes do we have a bunch of really really cool notable people. I don’t wanna spoil – wait actually, you’re all under embargo until after our stream. There may be – one of our companions might be voiced by a certain female from Critical Role.
Will there be any different ways to gain companion items within High Isle?
You know what, I actually don’t think so? I don’t think we changed the itemization scheme with companions in particular, so as long as your companion is out, and you would get loot, your companion has a chance to get that loot as well.
High Isle sounds like a great place to explore. Will the rest of the world be getting enhancements as well outside of Tribute?
So that is a question we hear a lot, especially with the base game since it’s now 8 years old. It’s a fine line to balance; we have done technology upgrades in terms of FSR DLSS, we have done a number of things like 4K resolution, higher resolution texture and things like that… but going back and completely rebuilding the world or changing all of the textures to be higher quality is a massive undertaking. We have to try and find that right balance; do we spend all of our bullets, so to speak, to do that, or do we build newer content? Right now, we don’t have any plans to do that, but who knows what the future holds?
General Elder Scrolls Online Questions
In your mind, compared to Skyrim, Oblivion, and all the others, where does High Isle sit in the ranks of the Elder Scrolls worlds?
Oh my god, you’re asking me that question… I mean I worked on Oblivion so it’s got a real soft spot in my heart… obviously, I think High Isle is pretty special, I really like it and the story there… I would lean towards that and probably Oblivion being a close second?
Will there ever be a chance to earn a lute or other musical instruments to play ESO music while exploring around the world like an ESO MP3 player?
Wow, ESO MP3 player… so it’s one of the things I didn’t put in here but one of the quality of life improvements we are implementing with this Chapter is being able to kinda choose your starting music. Every year Brad does amazing new music, and we had a lot of player requests to hear the old music, so we’re giving them that ability but I’ve never really thought of an ESO MP3 player for music. I’ll talk to Brad about that.
You mentioned reaching 20 million players and ESO being different from other games. Have you been looking at other MMOs for guidance, inspiration?
Yeah I mean, we’re all gamers at heart first and foremost. Any game that comes out I try to play, and it doesn’t have to be just MMOs. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in Forbidden West and Elden Ring to see what they were doing, and those are single player games. But yes, we look at everything; other MMOs, play them, dissect them, do teardowns of them, just to see what the competition is doing, does anyone have any brilliant ideas that we hadn’t thought of, so yea, that’s kinda what the game industry is.
Do you envisage a time console and PC will get simultaneous releases?
That one’s a tough one, mainly because on PC there isn’t really a certification process but there is for first party and that takes time. There’s only so many certifications that you can get over the course of a period of time, so what we try to do is stagger them so that the console experience is as good as it can be, because we only get so many, basically, submissions that we can do over time. You’d have seen, if you’re part of the console community, what happens when the schedule gets shortened and shrunk together; there’s some bugs, things that don’t get fixed as quickly on console as a result. We like the two week period where we can fix as many things as we can on the PC before console.
For players who play as a Breton in offline Elder Scrolls, will there be more for players to enjoy in their history?
Absolutely. There’s all kinds of really really cool lore that we’ve been able to develop. I’ve touched a little bit on the Navy; now that wasn’t specifically Breton but is Tamriel-wide, but there’s lots of really cool other Breton things in here.
With the Chapter being so heavily inspired by medieval history and Arthurian legend etc, can we expect any fun little nods or references for history buffs?
(laughs) yes. I’ll just leave it at that, yes, absolutely.
Does the team talk about how to cater to ephemeral players and how to provide meaningful content to players who have limited time to play?
Absolutely! I think one of the things we do exceptionally well, is that people are people, right? The world is made up of different types of people – straight, gay, trans – it really doesn’t matter, they have their own views, life, we don’t really celebrate that they’re just kinda there and they’re part of the world and that makes it feel believable.
In addition to that, I think one of the things that ESO does really really well, because there is not really that pressure to keep up with your friends, because you can always play with them regardless of their level or alliance choice, you can just play the game at your own pace, and that really gets to change how you experience the world. If one day you feel like I wanna just go play Tribute and Vege or just farm up a crafting materials, or 18 hours in your house decorating it, you can do that and it doesn’t hurt your progression like some of the other games.
Our thanks to Rich for answering all things Elder Scrolls Online with us. You can read more about what to expect once you get to the High Isle here, and pre order the game ahead of its June 6th release date for PC or June 21st release date on consoles.