Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor Preview — Antiquities

March 30, 2020
Written by: Lady Nerevar

That belongs in a Museum!

Antiquities and the Antiquarian Circle

When Graymoor was announced in January, the Antiquities system is what had me the most excited. I’ve played a lot of Skyrim, and am pretty meh on vampires, but the potential of an endlessly extensible minigame that’s also a lore delivery vehicle? Sign this nerd right up!

After getting to play around with Graymoor last week, my enthusiasm hasn’t wavered. While the system was not complete in the preview build we were given (the UI was still very much work in progress, and there were comparatively few artifacts to excavate), it’ll be a great way to spend time doing something that isn’t just murder. And the Antiquarian Circle — the guild introduced alongside the system — will surely become a favorite among roleplayers and lore scholars alike.

Check out below the break for my overview of the Antiquities system and its rewards, as well as a look at some of characters you’ll encounter in the Antiquarian Circle.

Continue Reading: Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor Preview — Antiquities

To access the Antiquities system, you’ll first need to join the Antiquarian Circle, who have made their home at the University of Gwylim North Annex in Solitude. Speak to the Circle’s leader, Verita Numida, to attune to the Antiquarian’s Eye — a mystical device created by Tjurhane Fyrre for the purpose of locating ancient artifacts. After a brief tutorial quest, you’re given access to the system and free reign to dig up every pile of dirt in Tamriel.

Before you head out, though, it’s worth chatting with your fellow scholars. Elder Scrolls Online excels at defining memorable characters in broad strokes, and the members of the Antiquarian Circle are no different. Verita Numida is an absolute goth queen with attitude to spare and style to match, and fan-favorite Gabriele Benele makes a return as the player’s mentor. Among others, you’ll also meet a former stronghold Orc who explores the relationship between following your culture and striking away from tradition, and Amalien, the Circle’s “resident eccentric” and originator of “bizarre, yet completely plausible” theories, who just so happens to also use a wheelchair.

Once you’ve looked around the Annex, it’s time to get to work. The Antiquities system consists of two separate skill lines, each with its own minigame: Scrying (to narrow down the location of an artifact) and Excavation (to dig it up).

Scrying is sort of like Candy Crush or Bejeweled, except the pieces don’t fall down. You start with one highlighted tile at the very bottom, and have to link groups of identical tiles in order to unlock the 6 gems on the board, all before your timer runs out. The amount of tiles depends on the difficulty rating of the Antiquity (the video demonstrates one of Master difficulty). As you progress in the Scrying skill line, you can unlock powers to help you in this pursuit, like one that turns all tiles in an area into the same design. The system is simple enough to understand after an attempt or two, yet it has enough gameplay to be engaging, rather than just a chore.

Before you can do any of that, though, you’ve first got to find a Lead on the artifact. My template character came with a lot of Leads already unlocked, but they would normally drop as consumable inventory items in the course of normal gameplay, such as defeating bosses, looting thieves guild troves, doing treasure maps, and the like. Proximity is also important to Scrying: you can only Scry for an artifact when you’re in the same region that it’s located in. 

Successfully completing a round of Scrying will highlight an area of the map for the second half of the Antiquities system: Excavation. To excavate an antiquity, you must first locate it by heading to the highlighted area of the map, and running around until you find a glowing mound. Of the areas I investigated, most were located around other points of interest and swarming with enemies, once again making me wish for a non-combat “story mode” where I can just dig my dirt in peace. When you’ve located where the artifact is buried, it’s time for another minigame.

Where Scrying was a bit like Bejeweled, Excavation can best be compared to Battleship. The excavation area is covered in 4 layers of dirt, each of which has to be removed until you discover the buried Antiquity. Several tools are available for both large scale and precision excavation, and you can use magic to help pinpoint which tiles should be removed. The difficulty here comes not only from finding which 12 fields (out of 100) hold your loot before the timer runs out, but also in not damaging the artifact while excavating it.

What sorts of artifacts can you obtain? According to Zenimax, the Antiquities system will eventually encompass every sort of item, from costumes and mounts to armor and housing decorations. They’ve also mentioned the introduction of new Mythic Items, only one of which can be  equipped at a time, and which carry powerful enchantments. Though none of the Mythic Items were present in the preview (at least that I’ve found!), we did get to see three new crafting sets (Ancestral Orcish, Ancestral Nord, and Ancestral Altmeri), a variety of antique maps to decorate our homestead, and a great looking Dwarven Ebon Wolf mount, shown below.

If you have time left over after you’ve dug up your Antiquity, you can spend the rest of your turns attempting to find extra artifacts (I found some gold and a spiffy pair of pants). As far as I can tell, these are all going to be base game items. Just like the antiquities themselves, what you’ll get depends on the region you’re in. 

While I did not get to spend a lot of time with Antiquities (there was a whole nation to save, after all!) the system shows a whole lot of promise, especially for those of us for whom combat is not the main draw of the game, or who want to deck their characters and houses out in rare gear without resorting to spending real money in the crown store. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring the system more once Greymoor lands on PTS.

Thanks again to Zenimax for allowing me to explore and write about this Chapter early. Keep checking back for more of my impressions later today and throughout the week. 

If you’ve not yet given Elder Scrolls Online a chance, ESO will be having a Free to Play event April 1st through 13th (Steam’s free event only runs April 1st-6th). If you’d like to get in on that, head to this link and select your platform. In addition to the main game, you’ll also be able to check out the Greymoor prologue quest. If you’re already an ESO player, that quest will be available today, Monday the 30th, at 10AM EDT.

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