After publishing Greymoor, Zenimax Online increases the dose, giving the public The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth, the final expansion of the series of “The Dark Heart of Skyrim”.
Version tested: PC
That of 2020 - by now we know - is a very particular year. With too much agitation around now, it's up to the vast world of creatives to try to relax those who - unfortunately - are only trying to survive, close their eyes and wake up hoping that everything has disappeared. The Software Houses are no exception, and never as this year have tried to bring a glimmer of light into a profound darkness. In all of this, Zenimax Online Studios, not exempt from this appeal, he gave us at the end of May Greymoor (whose review you can find here) and - in this period - concluded his series with The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth, latest effort in conciliation of "The Dark Heart of Skyrim".
Premise: From now on, the names of all packages, locations and other game-related data will be written in English.
First, The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth is free for ESO Plus subscribers; for all the others, however, there are two bundles that can be purchased directly from the Crown Store. The first contains only the expansion, sold at a base price of 2000 crown, around 20 euros; the second, including various equipment and upgrades, at a price of 4000 crowns, around 35 euros.
Ancient memories that resurface
As the new theater of its expansion, Zenimax has decided to complete the leap into memories by introducing “a new zone”: Markarth and the Reach. Full of canyons, streams, rivers and waterfalls. To the west of this is the mighty Markarth, a city that gives its name to the set, and that Skyrim players know very well. Below this city lies the Arkthand Cavern, a maze of underground galleries that offer home to Blackreach.
Among other things, the attention that Zenimax Online Studios has placed on its narrative deserves greater prominence. The division, in fact, is only geographical. The two zones have acceptable dimensions for an expansion, and the missions they are full of are well assorted and varied. The hunt for our enemy, escaped from the events of Greymoor, gives the player a series of thematically solid tasks, with mysteries and secrets to uncover as the adventure progresses.
Finally, nocturnal creatures live underground ready to oppose the player in any way. In addition, there are quick shortcuts in the form of an elevator that make it easier for the protagonist to go down and up, both between the various levels and with the surface.
The conclusion of this year
As for the narrative, Markarth offers the player the ending of "The Dark Heart of Skyrim". Although the story of The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth is characterized by an interesting plot with some truly exceptional points - as explained in the previous paragraph - the highlight lies in the ending and in the narrative connection with Greymoor. Additionally, if both storylines are completed, the game rewards the player with the title of Hero of Skyrim, a new familiar and a few other small gadgets.
However, it must be said that the first missions are quite introductory, dedicated to letting the player know the context in which he is moving. However - quoting the good Buster Scruggs -, “the situation […] quickly degenerates”. So ready-go and immediately the story begins to take off after a few tens of stale minutes.
Along with the new DLC, Zenimax has released update 28 accessible to all players which includes a lot of improvements in terms of menu accessibility. Certainly the most noteworthy is the object reconstruction system. Before being dismantled, in fact, the objects can be saved in a special menu; after that, they can be recalled and rebuilt using Transmutation Crystals in a Transmutation Station.
This update, especially for Fashion Scrolls Online, will free up a lot of inventory space while not sacrificing the freed item. For more information, however, consult the patch log.
Are you sure you are good on your own too?
Among the new improvements, one of the most obvious is the introduction ofarena for lone wolves. First of its kind, Vateshran Hollows will challenge even the best of PvE players. The challenge features three bosses, each of which rewards the player with unique items upon their defeat. It is also possible to choose the path to face, but - after all - the final boss is only one.
In terms of gameplay, the first two opponents are feasible, presenting legible patterns and - with a little attention - easily avoidable. The final one, on the other hand, is a real challenge even for the most accustomed. Considering the heterogeneity of ESO players, having the rewards of this activity will certainly be rewarding and a source of pride in the community.
Other small technicalities
Trying to nitpick, the dubbing is - as always - gorgeous. One of the reasons why the ESO series is preferable to a classic RPG is voice acting, and The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth emphasizes this peculiarity.
Taking Jonah Scott for the dubbing of Count Verandis Ravenwatch proved to be spot on. His work, to be honest, is not the only excellent dubbing: often you hear different recitations and accents during the journey in the Reach, which can only increase the immersion in this magical and wonderful world.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth it's not a full expansion, so the amount of content isn't even comparable to that of Greymoor. Nonetheless, there is no reason not to buy it and finish the narrative of this 2020. The story takes about 10 hours to complete, including the completion of the excavations. The arena will certainly increase the number of hours, a challenge designed to put even the most seasoned player to the test.