Markarth Preview—Vateshran Hollows Arena

29/10/2020

Put your courage and skill to the test in Vateshran Hollows, the new solo arena arriving with the Markarth DLC. 

Part of the Markarth DLC, Vateshran Hollows is a new single-player arena found within the Reach and accessible to anybody who owns the DLC game pack or has an ESO Plus™ membership. Similar to Orsinium’s Maelstrom Arena, this solo adventure features challenging boss battles and various stages that you must overcome to earn unique collectible rewards, item sets, and glory.

Maelstrom Arena was first released almost five years ago, and for the development team, that was reason enough to create a new single-player challenge. However, the team also saw opportunities to test players in different ways with this solo experience.

“With the mechanics and features that we have developed over the years, we really wanted to see how those would play out in a new single-player instance,” explains Mike Finnigan, ESO’s Encounters Lead. “With Vateshran Hollows, we wanted to create an experience where players can really challenge themselves from a combat and survival standpoint.”

An Ancient Test

For centuries, the Spiritblood clan has tested their warriors with the challenges of the Vateshran Rites.

“The Vateshran Rites are rituals performed by someone to prove that they are worthy of being called Reachfolk,” explains Finnigan. “It has been honored for as long as anyone can remember as a rite of passage for many chieftains.”

Within the ritual site are three portals, empowered by different realms of Oblivion, and each leads to an arena filled with dangerous spirits and other creatures. You must enter and conquer these arenas to claim the title of “Spiritblood Champion.”

Confront Oblivion-powered monsters

Few outsiders have ever attempted this ritual, but the Reachfolk of the Spiritblood clan will grant you your chance should you wish. However, not all is as it should be within the rites, as something shifts within the depths, causing unease for its local custodians and added challenge for you.

The Rite Stuff

Within the Choosing (Vateshran Hollows’ starting hub) you can select which of the three paths you wish to walk first: Hunter’s Grotto, dedicated to Hircine; Brimstone Den, dedicated to Mehrunes Dagon; and finally the Wounding, dedicated to Molag Bal. Along each path, you’ll fight defenders that represent its patron Daedric Prince while overcoming unique challenges and puzzles.

“We didn’t just want Vateshran Hollows to be Maelstrom Arena 2.0, because Maelstrom is also a unique experience unto itself,” says Finnigan. “We wanted to inject more of the things that makes ESO great into a really challenging combat space. Things like exploration and discovery, multiple avenues of success, and different ways to overcome the challenges within the arena were all part of what we wanted to create for Vateshran Hollows.”

Uncover the darkness at the heart of the rites

You must take all three paths to complete the arena and unlock the final challenge, but the order by which you take them is entirely up to you. In addition, each path can unlock new traversal tools that can help you find new secrets in the other arenas. Keep an eye out for new powers that may help you navigate certain paths and assist you in your battles.

“We wanted each arena’s traversal method to play a role in the final boss for that arena, so discovering how best to do that is key to defeating each arena,” explains Finnigan. “Also, the order in which you do the arenas can be important, so figuring out your individual path based on build and playstyle is something we think players will enjoy.”

All of this creates a fundamentally different experience from the one you have in Maelstrom Arena, and in a lot of ways, this new arena reflects ESO’s core tenets of exploration, storytelling, and choice.

“I have seen it said that Vateshran Hollows plays much more like a single player Dungeon than it does a classic Arena like Maelstrom, and that was a design goal. While Maelstrom has the temporary sigils you can use within the given fight space (and Vateshran has those too), we also wanted to create new, lasting impacts that, should players wish to sacrifice time, could make their experience a bit easier.”

Rewards of the Vateshran

To the Spiritblood clan, great glory comes in completing the rites and becoming a champion, and those who successfully battle their way through each arena discover new rewards and riches not found elsewhere in the Reach.

These new rewards include collectibles such as the Hungering Void weapon styles, which you have a chance of earning each time you complete Vateshran Hollows (with a better chance on veteran difficulty), and the Void Pathosis skin, earned after you clear the arena on veteran difficulty—no easy feat!

Hunger Void weapon styles & Void Pathosis skin

In addition to these collectibles, you’ll acquire new item sets (three in total) as you defeat the arena’s various bosses, such as the Pestilent Host set which spawns fetcherflies each time you defeat an enemy with poison.

Finally, when you complete the arena, you’ll also receive one of six potent new weapons that can empower your various weapon abilities. For example, the Point-Blank Snipe bow deals more damage to an enemy when you use the Snipe ability up close—nasty! Even better, should you complete the arena on veteran difficulty, you’ll receive an empowered “Perfected” version of one of these weapons that is slightly more powerful than the regular ones. That’s plenty of reason to truly challenge yourself and your skills.

Enter the Arena

Few enter the trials of the Vateshran Rites, and even fewer survive the experience, but should you battle your way through its myriad horrors and uncover its many secrets, you can proudly display the title of Spiritblood Champion and wield powerful new gear. Are you ready to test yourself like never before? Share your bold strategies for this challenging new arena with us via TwitterInstagram, or Facebook—good luck!

The Dark Heart of Skyrim epic concludes with the Markarth DLC game pack, coming November 2 for PC/Mac and Stadia* and November 9 for Xbox One and PlayStation®4.

*Available only in limited territories.

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