Deadlands Preview—The Zone

21/10/2021

Preview the new Deadlands zone and discover how the team went about designing and building Mehrunes Dagon’s perilous realm of Oblivion.

The Realm of Destruction

In The Elder Scrolls Online: Deadlands (arriving November 1 for PC/Mac and November 16 for consoles), you’ll have the opportunity to explore Mehrunes Dagon’s realm and discover its environments, mysteries, and dangers. Deadlands includes the kind of activities you might have come to expect from a new zone in The Elder Scrolls Online, including delves to explore, world bosses to vanquish, and unique challenges that require allies to overcome. In addition to this, the world is packed full of new characters, quests, and stunning locations to discover—ready for Tamriel’s most intrepid (or foolhardy) adventurers!

Battle in the Deadlands

When the team began development on the Deadlands, they set out to achieve three primary goals with the new zone.

“Firstly, we wanted to pull back the curtain on this place that we had previously only seen glimpses of across the Gates of Oblivion storyline and in earlier ESO content,” explains Tom Murphy, Deadland’s Zone Lead. “Secondly, we wanted to pay homage to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and earlier Elder Scrolls titles, and finally, we wanted to lay the groundwork in the zone’s stories, characters, and setting to make sure players felt the tension building before facing the Prince of Destruction.”

Because of this, the Deadlands differs from the regions you have previously explored. It forced the team to not only rethink how a zone in this specific part of Oblivion should function but also figure out what kind of adventure experience the area should provide. Ultimately that discussion resulted in the creation of an all-new aspect of Dagon’s realm.

“We spent a fair amount of time attempting to rediscover the Deadland’s traditional look and feel for ESO,” says CJ Grebb, ESO’s Art Director. “And when we hit that balance between making it recognizable to TES IV: Oblivion fans yet updated and interesting, we thought we were through the crucible. However, we then decided we wanted another hellscape—one that would feel appropriate and make sense as being directly adjacent to the Deadlands we know from Oblivion.”

The result was a part of the Deadlands called the Sever, a tempestuous biome wracked by volatile storms where simply walking around feels like a dangerous endeavor.

“Really, the Sever as a concept came from the Deadlands writers and content leads,” explains Grebb. “It’s an interesting question: ‘What if parts of Oblivion don’t look like the parts we’ve seen?’ Artistically, the potential imbued in that question is both exciting and terrifying. Swimming in those waters, however (when we’re asked to add something new to the Lore of The Elder Scrolls universe), is always deeply rewarding, so we jumped in with both feet.”

Discover a new aspect of the Deadlands

In Deadlands, you experience two biomes: the Burn, which is the traditional flame-touched hellscape you’ve journeyed through in previous Elder Scrolls games, and the toxic storm-touched environment of the Sever. Ultimately, the team believes that to explore Dagon’s realm and not experience change would be antithetical to the Daedric Prince himself, and as a result, the zone explores how such a place might truly reflect its master and what it might tell us about him.

Refuge from the Storm

While designing the zone and its environments, the team also grappled with some difficult questions when developing its key locations and player hubs.

“As the bulk of our DLC takes place in the Deadlands–one of the most inhospitable and dangerous places in Oblivion–it challenged every major assumption about how we build a zone,” explains Murphy. “Where can players find friendly NPCs here? Do they encounter merchants wandering the wilderness? How do the Daedra, who live here, react to players and other mortal adventurers?”

The bustling streets of Fargrave

To ensure that what they created was grounded in the lore and setting, the team had to constantly ask themselves these kinds of questions, and it was for this reason that they came up with Fargrave, a unique hub city located within its own part of Oblivion.

“There were certain things we knew we needed to provide for players for gameplay and quality of life, but which also seemed to violate the spirit of the Deadlands as the domain of destruction,” says Murphy. “To provide a safe harbor for players, we ended up creating Fargrave–a city that wanders the many planes of Oblivion and is controlled by no Daedric Prince.”

Beings of all kinds live and thrive in Fargrave

You can retreat to Fargrave whenever you like and can find all the various vendors and services you might expect from ESO’s player hubs. Of course, Fargrave is not without its own mysteries and dangers, so walk carefully as you explore this bustling city and interact with its inhabitants.

Realm of Dagon

Exploration of the Deadlands zone is a perilous task, but it’s also an opportunity to see a world utterly distinctive—a realm in the Daedric Prince of Destruction’s own image. 

“There’s little in the way of ‘generic wilderness’ in the zone,” says Murphy. “At any time, players might be wandering in the shadow of the great mountain, Annihilarch’s Summit, or skirting the edge of the massive prison mine known as the Blood Pit. Even if he can’t be seen, Mehrunes Dagon should feel present in every corner of the Deadlands.”

The iron spires of Dagon

In addition to its astonishing sights and volatile wilderness, the Deadlands is host to a multitude of encounters and dangers that you must overcome in your travels. It wouldn’t be a new zone without some challenging group activities and unusual monsters.

“The Infernium is an awesome new enemy specific to the Deadlands,” says Grebb. “The initial idea was to create a creature that served as the living inspiration for the incredible Siege Walkers we will eventually meet during the Oblivion crisis. Their circular saw-like mouths and extending inner jaws turned out even more disturbing than we had originally intended, and creating something that has a direct connection to the larger history of The Elder Scrolls is always fun.”

The monstrous Infernium

“One of the new things we introduced to the Deadlands to provide an extra sense of danger are the Havocrel Executioners,” says Murphy. “These are named bosses that wander the roads and byways of the Deadlands in search of those foolish enough to test their strength. In terms of difficulty, the Executioners will give even groups of players a hard challenge, so make sure you hunt them with friends!”

Whatever your reasons for entering the Deadlands, be prepared for a fight.

Invade the Realm of Destruction

In The Elder Scrolls Online: Deadlands, you can finally invade and explore Mehrunes Dagon’s own realm and take the fight to the Prince of Destruction himself. A chaotic, ever-changing world awaits those willing to explore one of the most dangerous planes of Oblivion in this final part of the Gates of Oblivion year-long adventure. Are you ready? Let us know if you’re excited to delve into the Deadlands zone and Fargrave via TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

The Deadlands DLC game pack arrives November 1 for PC/Mac and Stadia, and November 16 for Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

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