Next Chapter? (Speculation)
The other night some friends and I were debating the focus of next year’s “chapter”, since ZOS has said a new one would be released each summer. Last year the big news about Morrowind came out on Jan 31, so we should only be 8-10 weeks away from the next announcement. Let the rampant speculation begin!
I have no inside info but feel obligated to put all this behind a cut, in case any of you have an extreme allergic reaction to Spoilers.
Re-releasing the Vvardenfell zone was a big deal. A HUGE deal. A huge deal covered in top-shelf Nostalgia Sauce. My budget is tight, but as soon as the announcement hit, I started saving to make the purchase. I never once second-guessed buying it, there was zero chance I’d pass it up, it was a done deal from go. Take my money.
It seems to me that if they intend to keep asking players to make a $70 purchase each summer for a new “chapter”, then the subsequent chapters can’t be a let-down, they have to be as big a deal as Morrowind was. And that’s… a damn high bar.
I’ve heard players discussing the possibility of the chapter opening this zone or that zone; one of my friends is certain it’s going to be Summerset Isle, and that has merit. But I don’t think any other new zone is important enough to get its own chapter, even a zone like Craglorn – that’s what the DLCs are for.
Here are my guesses:
Plane of the Dwemer –
When Arena hit in ‘94, there wasn’t enough space on the disks for a completely different body model (and the attendant clothing & weapon variants), so Bethesda’s very traditional-EU-fantasyland was missing a classic race. Why no Dwarves? became such a conversation topic on the forums that the devs made it part of the storyline for Morrowind, and the rest, as they say, is history.
700 years from now (ESO “now”, that is), the Nerevarine will learn that the Dwemer disappeared all at once, swallowed up by the maw of their own ambition. But they aren’t necessarily dead, they just aren’t on Tamriel. We can’t bring them back, that would mess with the timeline and invalidate all the canon, but what if we could go where they are? What if it was a sealed-off pocket dimension we could travel to and back, like we do with the Clockwork City or Coldharbour?
(Pet Theory: the Dwemer ended up permanently trapped in an Oblivion pocket-realm ruled by a Daedric Prince, and were forced into slavery designing weapons… maybe that’s how Molag Bal figured out the whole deal with the Dark Anchors? That would tie it directly into the main ESO quest, making it super relevant.)
Cons: Speaking of the Clockwork City, it’s filled with brass mechanical constructs expanded from Dwemer designs. Would another entire zone filled with gold metal and mech-monsters be distinctive enough? (Might be, if they are, in fact, creating weapons for a Prince – the realm would reflect the Prince, not the Dwemer, and they might have been forced to use different materials. That would change it up…)
Moonshadow, Azura’s realm –
I’ve had a crush on Azura since she floated into my prison cell in ‘94 and told me I was her favorite. (Those may not have been her exact words, but I knew what she meant.) I’m not the only one who says “Azura” with that tone in my voice – she’s well-loved by many. But we’ve never gotten to see much of Moonshadow, the Oblivion plane Azura calls home, and I think it could be time.
The Oblivion realm of each Prince is an extension of the Prince themselves – in a very real sense, Coldharbour IS Molag Bal, and vice versa. Moonshadow would be eternally twilight and filled with horribly-beautiful things. It would be completely different from anything they’ve done before… and I wouldn’t mind seeing those motifs. 🙂
I don’t think they’d put out a chapter without “seeding” it first – I think whatever we’re going to see in June has already been foreshadowed in the game. Azura is a big player in the Vvardenfell questline, and she’s mentioned or referenced in a lot of little ways in the game. Maybe they’re preparing us?
Cons: Honestly can’t think of any.
Evergloam, Nocturnal’s realm –
We step only briefly into Nocturnal’s realm during the Clockwork City quest, but it was interesting, and the devs have always liked Nocturnal. (You remember the Skyrim Thieves Guild questline, yeah?) She’s also referenced in the Thieves Guild DLC.
Cons: Her vibe is very similar to Azura’s, but I don’t know that she has the fan following to provide the same umph to a chapter release that Azura brings to the table.
The Divines have homes too… –
Before I go on a run and name all the realms of all the Daedric Princes, let’s take a look at the Aedra. They were bound to Mundus when they helped Lorkhan create it, so they don’t have pocket realms in Oblivion; their realms are in Mundus, just not on Nirn. Akatosh physically manifests at the end of Oblivion, but it’s rare to see them like that – we’ve talked to a lot of Daedra over the years, but rarely have tea with any of the Divines. I never had access to the Knights of the Nine DLC, but I don’t believe we got to travel to any of the Aedric home realms in that one. It would be a completely different experience, zone-wise, since we’ve never seen one of the Aedra in their “natural habitats” and it’s possible that we could meet the spirits of some historical figures there – Alessia comes to mind.
Though I think it would be fantastic if the “zone quest” sent us to the realms of all the Aedra, Akatosh in particular seems like a solid quest hub. Who doesn’t want to meet the dragon god?
Okay, let’s look at zones –
Summerset Isle is a real possibility. It’s a large zone, and I know people are asking about it online. I just don’t know what it adds to the game that’s different than what we already have. Except… I have heard the devs say that they intend to add jewelry crafting to the game, eventually, and I have a friend who very much wants to see spell-crafting added, like it is in the solo games. Either of those skills would dovetail excellently with the home of the Altmer.
Elsweyr is a dark horse choice, but could be really interesting. The Khajiit get a lot of love from the players and devs, but have never had a major release dedicated to them. The Reaper’s March zone quest, which focuses on Khajiit mythology and magic, makes it clear the Khajiit are far more complex than the “advanced” races give them credit for. I think there’s a lot to be expanded on here.
But honestly, I think Summerset and Elsweyr are better suited for a DLC or a solo game release.
What part of the Elder Scrolls ‘verse are you willing to pay $70 to see?