Markarth Preview—The Zone(s) & Setting


Venture into the heart of the Reach with the Markarth DLC and learn about this ancient land and its proud defenders.

In The Elder Scrolls Online: Markarth, you have the opportunity to explore the parts of Skyrim known as the Reach and Arkthzand Cavern (the underground realm beneath). These new zones feature story and standalone quests, delves, world bosses, Harrowstorms, and the final part of the Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long epic.

You can find all these adventures in this ancient part of Tamriel, and for the first time in ESO, you can also take in the Reach’s ancient history and learn about its people as they struggle against the Grey Host.

“In the Reach, every stone tells a story. From the sacred ancestral sites of the Reachfolk to the ruins of Nord conquerors or the labyrinthine halls of the vanished Dwarves, every inch of the Reach hints at the rich and bloody history of this storied land,” explains Andrew Young, Markarth’s zone lead. “I hope players will come away from Markarth with a sense that for every question answered, new mysteries arise that make them eager to explore more of this amazing world for years to come.”

The Reach of the Second Era

Craggy, perilous, and unforgiving, the wilds of the Reach are a dangerous prospect for any outside explorers. When designing this year’s zones, the team wanted to invoke a sense of familiarity from players who had explored these parts of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Markarth is no exception.

Return to the Reach

“Throughout the Dark Heart of Skyrim, my hope was to give players the feeling of ‘coming home,’” explains CJ Grebb, ESO’s Art Director. “Of course this is 800 years prior to the time most players last walked these lands, so the experience will be a new one, but Nord and Reach cultures are very stalwart, and change little, and we wanted to reflect that in the familiarity of the zone and the nostalgic feelings we hope it invokes.”

As a result, the team worked hard to ensure that while Markarth has its own unique aesthetic, it still feels like a Skyrim zone.

“Skyrim is a large province of Tamriel, and we tackled parts of it in base game, so we were careful to make sure that the zone did not feel out-of-place when traveling from Eastmarch or The Rift, and yet it needed to showcase all of the lessons we have learned over the life of ESO in how to craft a zone to both look and play its best.”

As with Greymoor’s Western Skyrim, Markarth allows you to explore both the land above (the Reach) and below with an additional zone: Arkthzand Cavern. Like the Chapter’s Greymoor Caverns, this part of Blackreach is an alien, dangerous world, filled with new mysteries and wonders, as well its fair share of new dangers, too.

Confront monstrous beasts and constructs in Blackreach

“Watch out for that Dynastor. Truly one of the most collaborative and outright fun monsters we’ve gotten to be a part of in ESO,” says Grebb. “The idea behind the Dynastor was really complex, and we luckily managed to get started on it early, which meant we had time to imbed an artist on the development team and work hand-in-hand with the designers to come up with a creature that looks, moves, and even transforms in a way we haven’t done before.” 

The People of Karth

Surrounded by the powerful provinces of High Rock, Hammerfell, and Skyrim, the Reach has been a region in conflict for centuries. Right now, though, the Reachfolk retain full control of it.

“While the chaos of the Second Era envelops much of Skyrim, we instead find the Reachfolk enjoying a period of relative stability as an independent region ruled by Ard Caddach, the Despot of Markarth,” explains Young. “It’s an exciting opportunity to explore the culture and religion of Reachfolk as never before, giving fans new insight and perspective into the proud traditions of a unique people largely misunderstood by the outside world.”

Discover the proud Reachfolk

The Reachmen are no strangers to The Elder Scrolls Online, and while they’ve been cast as threats before, in Markarth, you have the opportunity to learn more about these people, their history, and daily lives.

“We’ve spent years fighting back against hostile Reach clans in ESO, but no single group is representative of an entire race, especially among the disparate clans of the Reachfolk. We’re excited for players to meet new characters like Ard Caddach, the self-proclaimed king of the Reach, and the wild witch Arana, both of whom will prove there’s much more to the Reachfolk than the Imperial scholars might have led you to believe.”

Threatened by the Grey Host, the Reachfolk of the second era are now besieged by dark forces, and much of their homeland is threatened by roaming monsters and supernatural beasts. If you are to confront Skyrim’s Dark Heart, the people of the Reach could be valuable allies. 

The City of Stone

Central to the zone is Markarth, an ancient Dwarven fortress now controlled by the Reachfolk, creating an opportunity for the team to create a city different from the one you might have experienced in TESV.

“We immediately honed in on the idea that this was the Reachmen’s time as it applied to the occupation of Markarth,” explains Grebb. “We also loved the idea that the Reachfolk would have found Markarth’s defenses weak and would have obviously supplemented it with ramparts and bulwarks to fortify the great city.”

Markarth in the Second Era

The Reachfolk are a hardy, practical people, and as you walk the stone of this great city, you can easily find this aspect of their culture within its ramparts and halls.   

“A funny idea we played with was how frustrated the Reachmen were to find a lot of very useful metal plating inlayed into the stone as decoration,’ says Grebb. “They would have no compunctions ripping it off the walls and putting that metal to better use.”

Explore the Reach

In Markarth, you can explore the home and lives of the Reachfolk as they confront the rising threat of the Grey Host. As part of the Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long adventure, completion of the Markarth and Greymoor main storylines unlocks three additional quests that bring the epic storyline to its exciting conclusion. Are you excited to explore the Reach? Let us know via @TESOnlineInstagram, or Facebook.

The Dark Heart of Skyrim epic concludes with the Markarth DLC game pack, coming November 2 for PC/Mac and Stadia* and November 10 for Xbox One and PlayStation®4.

*Available only in limited territories.

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