Review – The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom

The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom

When the going gets uncertain, return to Morrowind. That sure seems like Zenimax Online’s strategy, and who can blame them? Nostalgia is today’s market, and it works. The Morrowind Chapter was Zenimax’s pivot from traditional DLC to yearly Chapter expansions, and to say it worked is an understatement. Here we are six years later! And now that Zenimax feels they’ve outgrown their current model, they again turn to the land of mushrooms and casual racism. The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom is the launching point (no one counts Dungeon DLC) for the new multi year story Shadow over Morrowind. Does it function both as its own thing and as the beginning of a story? In short, yes. Quite well actually. 

If you’ve been playing Elder Scrolls Online for a while, you know how this model works. New Chapter means new maps, new quests, new dungeons/delves, a new Trial, and a new World Event. On top of this there’s usually a new mechanic, skill line, or if we’ve been really good a class. Necrom is no different, and comes with plenty of content. Elder Scrolls Online is already one of the best MMOs when it comes to value, and Necrom only makes it better. Forty bucks for a brand new Elder Scrolls adventure, a fantastic deal. Older players have already bought it, and it only becomes a sweeter and sweeter deal for newcomers. It’s not just a good value though, it’s also a quality experience. 


Mushrooms on mushrooms on mushrooms, Morrowind 3.0 right here.

Necrom is the start of a new multi-year story called Shadow over Morrowind. It begins with the Daedric Prince of Knowledge Hermaeus Mora warning you of doom. Some unknown force is moving against fate itself, and Apocrypha is in danger. If Apocrypha falls, Nirn will follow. Alongside trusted agent of Apocrypha Leramil the Wise, you venture to the Telvanni Peninsula where the doom begins. The home of House Telvanni’s unbridled ambitions, the whole region is a powder keg on the best of days. With rival Daedric Princes among other forces moving in the shadows, things are about to get much worse. Your quest takes you across the Peninsula and into Apocrypha itself. You’ll meet a cast of eclectic companions, and face off against the forces seeking to bring Tamriel to its knees. Again. 

Necrom Narya

Narya returns, sadly not as a companion, and even more sadly not romanceable.

Coming with the expansion is a brand new class. Given the last class we received was the Necromancer three expansions ago, a new class is a reason to celebrate. Personally, I’ve always been mixed on ESO’s class system. Sure it provides the kind of structure MMO’s need and are comparatively freeform within the genre, but any rigidity is at odds with the franchise. For example a Dragonknight is always a student of the Akaviri, not just an open warrior archetype. For such a freeform role-playing friendly franchise, it’s at odds with any class system. However, there’s some benefits here too and the Arcanist is a phenomenal example of them. It’s a purely lore driven class, and it’s dripping in flavor that sets it apart from the other mage type classes. It’s also loads of fun to play and can be specced for all three group roles. 

Necrom Fatecarver

The Fatecarver beam skill is one of the most fun spells in the game, nothing better than just melting everything around you.

The Arcanist is a student of Hermaeus Mora. You channel the power of Apocrypha to devastate enemies, heal allies, or tank foes as a soldier of fate. Or you do what I did and mix and match to make your preferred acolyte of knowledge. It’s such a great class to play, with tons of options and the unique flavor making it such a immersive way to play. The Warden is a class that always kind of felt like it didn’t know what it wanted to be or how it fit into the world. The Arcanist knows and it looks and feels great doing it. There’s also a simple build/spend combo system called Crux that you can utilize across skill trees. Personally my Arcanist was a DPS/Healer hybrid, but I see plenty of potential for tanking too. A fun class, loads of flavor, and unique skills and mechanics. We need more. 

Necrom Port Master Ulene

Necrom also has tons more dialogue options for Persuade/Intimidate perk holders than I’ve seen before.

Sadly, it’s not all green rainbows and perfectly intact books. The new maps, dungeons/delves, story, Trial, and class are all great. The new World Event is not. Called Bastion Nymic, it’s the absolute wrong direction for Overland content to go. For those who don’t know, World Events are some kind of narrative boss event that happens randomly across the map. The base game has Dark Anchors that fall from the sky and need to be repelled by fighting off Daedra. Elsweyr gave us dragon fights, Greymoor had Harrowstorms, and Blackwood had the fantastic Oblivion Portals. Overworld content that you could come across while exploring, participate alongside everyone else, and walk away once it’s over having fun. Bastion Nymic is none of that.

Portal to Apocrypha

Nothing menacing here.

Bastion Nymic is essentially premade group content. It doesn’t feel at all like a World Event, despite that being the slot it’s filling. First you have to defeat five specific world boss enemies that spawn in the world. After you kill them, you open a gate to a fortress in Apocrypha. Called Bastion Nymic, there’s three possible spawn locations within the fortress. You then have to kill a mini-boss and a world boss afterwards. While you spawn in one of three locations, they all exist within the same instance. So you could go and kill the other two sets of bosses before defeating the mandatory one. It’s basically an overland Trial, and not at all the kind of thing you organically come across. One of the best parts of ESO is its range of open world content. We don’t need more instanced content.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom

Fortunately Zenimax learned their lesson, and unlike with the Deadlands, doesn’t tease us with Apocrypha for future DLC.

Speaking of a range of open world content, Necrom continues the trend of horizontal growth. The past few expansions have introduced a variety of new systems. Explicitly Companions, Tales of Tribute, and Antiquities. Each system receives a healthy update in Necrom. There’s two new Companions to recruit, one of them being an Arcanist themselves. Tales of Tribute gets a new deck based on Amalexia. There’s a smattering of new relics in both the Telvanni Peninsula and Apocrypha to hunt and uncover, Indiana Jones style. Unlike other MMO’s that abandon new mechanics as fast as they introduce them, ESO keeps building and expanding itself. That’s what makes Necrom a full proper expansion, not just a regular old content update. 


I don’t think I’ve ever vibed with a video game character more.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom proves once again that ESO is the most stable MMO on the market. Every year like clockwork, there’s more quality content released. New stories to experience, new worlds to explore, and new mechanics to play with. Not all of these new mechanics are good, with Bastion Nymic totally missing the mark for me. But even then there’s still so much to do, so much added, it’s still totally worth it. With the new mainline Elder Scrolls game looking like we won’t be seeing it this decade, you could do a whole lot worse than spend that time inside Zenimax’s lovingly built version of Tamriel instead. 


Graphics: 9.0

The art and graphic design teams knocked it out of the park with both Apocrypha and the Telvanni Peninsula being two of the most striking and visually distinct zones in the entire game.

Gameplay: 8.0

Questing and dungeon delving are as fun as always and the new Arcanist class an absolute blast, but the new Bastion Nymic World Event totally misses the mark on what good overland content should be.

Sound: 10

Elder Scrolls Online continues to lead the MMO genre with full quality voice acting that does so much work in making each quest feel unique and impactful, while the soundtrack channels classic Morrowind alongside the otherness of Apocrypha.

Fun Factor: 9.5

I’ll never say no to more ESO, but I especially enjoyed Necrom. The story is intriguing and sets things up even more so, the Arcanist might be my new favorite way to play, and while I’m disappointed in Bastion Nymic, there’s still the rest of the game.

Final Verdict: 9.0

The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom was provided by the publisher.