The next big expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online is just around the corner, meaning plenty of folks will be grouping up to take on the new Oblivion-themed zones. Some of us prefer playing our MMO's solo though, and for us ZeniMax Online Studios are introducing the new companion system for ESO. These new recruitable characters will join you in combat so you don't have to go it alone, which honestly might be the most exciting ESO feature for me in a long time.
ZeniMax gave an overview of many new bits coming to the Blackwood expansion earlier this year, but they've now taken a closer look at companion characters in this new trailer.
The first two companions, who you'll be able to recruit if you own the Blackwood expansion, are dark elf Mirri Elendis and human Bastian Hallix. You can customise the skills, equipment, and outfits for whoever you've recruited. Beyond that, companions also have a "rapport" system and personal quests for you to pursue.
"By developing your Companion to be the perfect complement to your own playstyle, they’ll be able to help you tackle challenges that may have been just out of reach before and provide assistance when another player is not available to join you," explains ESO lead systems designer Philip Draven. "Companions have abilities to fulfill all combat roles (damage, healing, tanking, and hybridization) in many common gameplay situations. However, they are not intended to replace or be as powerful as other players."
Normally I'd be all about a companion character's backstory, but when it comes to ESO I'm honestly just glad to have an extra hand in combat. Even if they aren't as savvy as actual players—and of course they aren't—I won't turn down a questing partner. I've always been a very "alone together" style MMO player, and AI companions make it a lot easier to do my own thing even if I'm not great at solo-ing every encounter. I suspect there are plenty of folks who play ESO in a similar way, drawn to the universe even if they aren't typical MMO players.
You can catch the rest of the specifics on companions in ZeniMax's blog post where they go over the particulars of summoning your companion and how you're able to manage them in combat.