In The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor, you can explore a fan-favorite part of Tamriel. Learn about how the team designed both Western Skyrim and Blackreach, as well the people and politics that make it unique.
Familiar... Yet Different
If you played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you’ll feel a sense of familiarity when you first set foot in the new zone. For many, the experience won’t necessarily be of exploring a new world, but of returning to a beloved one.
“Players who no longer need the map to navigate Skyrim will do just fine,” says CJ Grebb, ESO’s Art Director. “The geography is there and should be very familiar. However, it IS a much earlier time in Skyrim’s history, so there will be new paths, new caves, and new places to discover.”
For example, any experienced TES: V player will be intimately acquainted with the city of Solitude. In fact, as they walk its cobbled streets and high walls, they might be surprised at exactly how similar it is.
“Our European players can confirm that it’s not unusual for the streets and even buildings in long-lived cities to remain unchanged for centuries, and that’s what’s happened in Solitude. Nevertheless, expect to see a more ‘pure Nord’ version of Solitude in ESO.”
Return to a Solitude before the Empire
As they planned the new zone, the team leaned heavily on TES: V when looking for inspiration in addition to what they had already built in ESO itself.
“We began with Skyrim, making sure that we were getting the geography, the flora and fauna, and the feel of Nord culture right,” explains Grebb. “After that, a lot of the challenge was going back to our own versions of Eastmarch and the Rift, as Western Skyrim also had to feel like it belonged firmly in the world of ESO.”
In addition to Western Skyrim, in Greymoor you can also explore the mysterious subterranean world of Blackreach.
“Blackreach is a vast—immeasurable–subterranean realm, rife with new and unusual locations, as well as amazing treasures and unimaginable dangers,” explains Ed Stark, Greymoor’s Zone Lead. “Some of the caverns are so huge you can't see the ceilings, while others are as tight as the densest forests, with glowing mushrooms and towering stalagmites.”
Blackreach holds many secrets
When building this land beneath, the team wanted the exploration of Blackreach to be an adventure in and of itself, giving them an opportunity to create a truly fantastic world.
“Blackreach gave us an opportunity to have some real fun,” says Grebb. “We wanted to make sure it felt as ‘mad’ as TES V’s Blackreach feels, but at the same time, we felt a certain amount of freedom to really add to the Elder Scrolls lore—offering all-new environments that we hope will captivate players in the same way the original caught us.”
A Stalwart People & Culture
Of course, it wouldn’t be Skyrim without the Nords, and the people you meet in this region, while similar to those from Eastmarch and the Rift, are even more unfriendly to foreigners. In fact, an outsider such as yourself may find your reception in Western Skyrim to be downright hostile—don’t take it personally!
“The Nords of Western Skyrim aren't all that different from their brothers and sisters to the east ... on the surface,” explains Stark. “They're generally fair-skinned and strong, with a penchant and enthusiasm for physicality that helps them survive the harsh winters. However, the people of this region, like their high king, are a little less welcoming, a little less jovial, and a lot more suspicious of strangers.”
Skyrim will always have her defenders
Even if they’re still by and large the same people you’ve drunk and fought and adventured with in other ESO zones, culturally, the Nords you can encounter in Western Skyrim are still unique.
“Western Skyrim Nords enjoy tales and legends, songs, and feasts with lots of drinking,” says Stark. “They value family structures to the extent that it is reflected in their political hierarchy. The jarls of the holds of Western Skyrim are clan-leaders, fathers, and mothers to their subjects.”
The Nords of this part of Skyrim might be as steadfast as their eastern cousins, but the region remains in a precarious place politically.
“The term ‘high king’ means the ruler of all Nords, and as the Jarl of Solitude and Haafingar, Svargrim takes that title seriously,” explains Stark. “High King Svargrim believes he should rule both Western and Eastern Skyrim. He does not respect Jorunn the Skald-King and opted not to join the Alliance War on behalf of his people, and his attitude toward all outsiders–even other Nords—is that of suspicion if not open hostility.”
High King Svargrim rules with a firm hand
Despite Svargrim’s beliefs, Western Skyrim is not technically at war with anyone—not even the Reachmen to the south. However, a dark threat has begun to endanger High King Svargrim’s lands, creating a tenuous political situation that you must navigate.
“The jarls of the other holds in Western Skyrim recognize High King Svargrim as their overlord, but have great autonomy within their own realms. Recently, however, they have expressed concerns about the high king’s assertion of authority coupled with his isolationism, but they remain loyal.”
Return to Skyrim
In this new Chapter, you can discover a Skyrim not unlike the one you’ve already experienced in ESO or TES: V. However, there’s more to this unforgiving part of Tamriel than its familiar setting. Plagued by both political and external threats, the team has worked hard to design a perilous and mysterious world for you to explore in Greymoor. Let us know if you’re prepared to return to Skyrim and uncover its dark heart via @TESOnline, Instagram, or Facebook.
Part of the Dark Heart of Skyrim year-long adventure, The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor arrives May 18 for PC/Mac and June 2 for Xbox One and PlayStation®4.* Pre-purchase Greymoor now digitally to receive unique bonus rewards and gain immediate access to the Holdbreaker Warhorse in-game mount (digital only—conditions apply). Don't miss out!
*Note that the team is reevaluating launch dates. Keep an eye out for more information regarding Greymoor’s launch in the future.