The Elder Scrolls Online’s latest chapter, Gold Road, is coming in June, ZeniMax Online Studios has announced, and with it a major new addition to the Elder Scrolls universe: a never-before-seen Daedric Prince.
Ithelia is the prince’s name, and the story of Gold Road, which launches on June 3, 2024 for PC and June 18 on consoles, will revolve around her unexpected awakening. ESO creative director Rich Lambert shared details about the upcoming chapter during a media briefing ahead of its official reveal, and described the story of the chapter as a race to figure out who freed Ithelia and to find her before others with a more nefarious purpose do. She has no memory of who she is, but strange things follow in her wake as she slowly regains her powers. Lambert described Ithelia’s introduction as a “huge addition to the lore” of The Elder Scrolls, and said she is on the polar opposite side of the Daedric Prince spectrum compared to the squid-like prince Hermaeus Mora, who played a large role in last year’s Necrom chapter.
“She’s not horror, she’s crystal and color,” Lambert said. “That’s kind of her jam.”
Players will search for Ithelia in the West Weald area of Tamriel. It’s a location no doubt familiar to Elder Scrolls fans, who previously visited the area as part of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, with Skingrad serving as the main city for the chapter. Lambert said the team wanted to provide a much different experience from last year’s Necrom, and opted for the Gold Road, where the team could focus on fall colors and forests instead of cosmic horror. The West Weald will consist of three biomes; The Gold Road itself, a magical rainforest that has suddenly sprouted seemingly overnight called the Valenwood Annexation, and the rocky hills of the Colovian Highlands.
While last year’s Necrom introduced a new class, the Arcanist, Gold Road will instead add an entirely new game system–Scribing. Lore-wise, the system is a “precursor” to Spellcrafting as seen in other Elder Scrolls titles, which take place further ahead in the Elder Scrolls timeline compared to ESO, Lambert said. He stressed there is a reason Scribing has an entirely different name, and that’s because while similar in some ways, Scribing is largely a different beast, one that allows players to customize specific skills to their liking, including aspects of their appearance.
Over the course of their adventure and a new Scribing questline, players will find Grimoires, which grant new customizable abilities in specific skill lines. At launch Scribing skills will only be found in weapon and world skill lines (such as the Mages Guild, Fighters Guild, Soul Magic, Assault, and Support), Lambert said. Once acquired, Grimoires can then be further modified using up to three different Scripts, which augment the ability in different ways. Lambert gave an example of a Scribing bow ability that causes players to launch an attack and leap backwards. Players can then socket Scripts into the ability to further change its effects, like modifying the ability to deal area-of-effect damage and additional poison damage. Styling, another new system tied to Scribing, then gives players the ability to customize the look of the Grimoire ability. At least at launch, Styling will be limited to changing the colors of the ability’s effects, but Lambert said that the door was open for other customization options, like skins and different spell effects, later down the line.
Aside from the new region of the West Weald and Scribing, Gold Road will include all the features ESO players have come to expect from a new chapter, including a new storyline to play through, new Public Dungeons, Delves, a new world event, and new 12-man Trial. Two new companions, which have become a core part of ESO ever since their introduction back 2021 with the Blackwood chapter, won’t be arriving at launch. Instead they will come in the fourth quarter of this year, Lambert said, alongside new PvP feature. Updates introducing a new player housing feature and various quality-of-life improvements are also coming later this year.
2024 additionally marks ESO’s 10th anniversary (at least on PC, the console version of ESO launched in 2015). As such, Lambert said fans can expect celebrations and events over the course of the next year and into 2025, including an in-person event in Amsterdam later this year and another event next year in North America.
“In 2025, we’ve got a big moment in North America…to kind of go out with a bang so that everybody can celebrate with us at that time…It’s crazy to think that it’s been 10 years,” Lambert said.
For those waiting for the next single-player entry in the franchise, the good news is The Elder Scrolls VI is officially in pre-production. The bad news is the game is still years away, with Bethesda stating more news on the RPG isn’t coming anytime soon. In the meantime, fans do have other ways to scratch their Elder Scrolls itch, including ESO and the recently announced The Elder Scrolls: Castles, a mobile game similar to 2015’s Fallout Shelter.