Elder Scrolls Online High Isle expansion review: An epic new world to explore

A new expansion has been released to augment Elder Scrolls Online and it’s an epic tale of backstabbing and political intrigue.

The adventure begins in a lush wooded countryside in a clearing bordered by mysterious monuments resembling Stonehenge.

This is the land of High Isle and Amenos in the Systres archipelago, a place of stunning White Cliffs, imposing castles and monster-infested jungles. It’s home to the chivalrous Breton society, but you’re soon thrown into a world of three warring alliances.

High Isle is an expansion pack for Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and it’s incredibly epic.

The expansion by ZeniMax Online Studios gives the MMORPG – originally released in 2014 – a new lease of life.

I hadn’t played the series since Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, so I jumped at the chance when I was given an opportunity to review ESO’s High Isle.

Choosing your character

Step one in the game is to build your character, and there’s a huge variety to choose from.

There are loads of options depending on what you want to do: PvP (player v player), going solo or perhaps you’re a beginner like me.

I decided to go with the Magicka Sorcerer build (thanks for the guide AlcastHQ) and chose to become a High Elf.

A very cool start

A bit of quick background for the uninitiated.

One of the most well-known predecessors to ESO, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, famously started off the game with the hero waking up in a prison. And things got more intense from there as Emperor Uriel Septim VII walked into the cell in search of a secret passageway. Recently the game opening was described as having changed the world of RPGs forever.

ESO ratchets that up a notch as the hero is shown on a wagon with other prisoners. This time his fate is execution. But a devastating dragon attack on the town puts an end to that and starts off the epic adventure.

Delightfully twisted tale

The High Isle chapter opens up an enormous new world to explore in ESO.

The main storyline focuses on a plot by the knightly Ascendant Order to disrupt peace talks between the Three Alliances to end the Three Banners War. So let’s jump into it.

I geared up with some experience-boosting training gear helpfully crafted by a friendly stranger (thanks Boffardello). I mounted my Bloodshadow Wraith Steed and got right into the political intrigue.

The main High Isle quest starts with “Of Knights and Knaves”, a delightfully twisted tale of politics, alliances and backstabbing.

Assisted by one of the game’s new companions – Isobel Velois the Breton knight – I helped Lady Arabelle Davaux defeat Guild General Quentyn who had joined the Ascendant Order.

There was plenty of fighting and more than a few puzzles to solve along the way. I haven’t reached the end yet of the quest yet but I’m looking forward to the journey.

Hours of gameplay

The expansion is a massive addition to what is already an enormous game to explore.

There is a seemingly endless supply of fun quests – from acting in a play to searching for loot in dark caverns filled with dreugh (a terrifying scorpion-style monster), clannfear and daedroth.

The voice acting in ESO is incredible. Even John Cleese makes an appearance in the game as Sir Cadwell.

You can go fishing (you’ll need bait), cook food (you’ll need ingredients), make potions, craft armour or just ride your glorious steed around the rolling hills.

It’s all about questing and finding clues. Fortunately there are helpful arrows to guide your way.

You can battle monsters or sneak about stealing things. And you can always ask the friendly community for help.

There is frankly way too much detail in the game to fit into a review. It’s the kind of game you get completely lost in.

Tales of Tribute

One of the cool new additions in the expansion is the Tales of Tribute card game.

Quick admission here — I spent hours playing Magic: The Gathering in primary school, which kind of speaks for itself.

Tales of Tribute is a super complicated game in which two players compete with collectable decks.

Having a good understanding of the cards and what they do is of critical importance.

The goal is to amass as much prestige as possible and when you reach 40 points you win the game.

I had fun playing the game as part of the quest and it has reportedly been received quite well by the ESO community.

My take on High Isle

I’m still working my way through this enormous expansion but my early assessment is that it has revitalised the game.

The main quest is a lot of fun and the land of High Isle and Amenos is an enormous new playground to explore.

I’m already hooked.

Originally published as Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle expansion is an epic new world to explore

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