The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood Review

Originally released in 2015 to a less-than-stellar reception, The Elder Scrolls Online has evolved into something very different. Today, ZeniMax Online Studios’ title has become one of the most popular multi-platform MMORPGs around, revealing large swathes of Tamriel for players to explore. ZeniMax not only continued to provide content and quality of life upgrades to the game, but also came to develop annual expansions for players to enjoy. Last year’s expansions took players to new areas from the volcanic island of Vvardenfell in Morrowind to the dragon-infested, dry savannahs of Elsweyr. Tapping into lands trodden before, The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood now takes players to the pinnacle of Imperial territory, nestled between the Khajiit homeland and the swamps of the Black Marsh. Those who played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will recognize the Blackwood region, even 800 years before the Hero of Kvatch walked those lands. Blackwood continues a year-long story focused on the possible return of Mehrunes Dagon in “Gates of Oblivion,” which was kicked off by the Flames of Ambition DLC earlier this year. The Elder Scrolls Online Like previous expansions for the games, the Blackwood chapter opens up a new zone for players to explore with dozens of hours worth of content. There’s a Zone Storyline Quest to complete, new World Events, six World Bosses, a new Trial called Rockgrove, new delves, lots of new Skyshards, and a few other quests found around the map. The new chapter offers more gear options for players to earn or grind, from the tanky Bog-Raiders set to the unique Stone-Talker’s Oath set from the new Trial. While these new gear sets have some interesting stats and effects, some of them will likely be overlooked in favor of the older sets. The machinations of Mehrunes Dagon, Daedric Prince of Destruction, bring attention to Blackwood’s story. Whichever way players start The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood chapter, a soldier will approach them and tell them to find Captain Rian Liore of the Ivory Brigade to help investigate the mysteries going on in the city of Leyawiin. The conspiracy between the Longhouse Emperors and the mysterious Order of the Waking Flame is a great entry point into a story about the Daedric Prince of Destruction. The first main quests are full of intrigue, as the player runs around trying to stop the assassinations of various members of the Leyawiin council. Players even get to make relatively important choices within these adventures, even if they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Blackwood’s story goes all the way back to Oblivion, and certain places and plot points clearly draw nostalgia. Preventing Mehrunes Dagon from crossing the mortal plane is entertaining, as is learning the truth about the Daedric Prince’s Four Ambitions. The story ends a bit early, but that’s understandable since The Elder Scrolls Online is restricted in what events it can cover. In any case, Blackwood does a great job of setting the stage for the creation of the Mythic Dawn cult and Mehrunes Dagon’s eventual return to Oblivion. cloudy castle across the lake There are many unique characters to encounter throughout Blackwood – some are tough, some are mostly comic relief, and some are well-written. It was a special surprise to see the return of a sarcastic Dunmer assassin from the Dark Brotherhood to the region. The wise Argonian governor for the city of Gideon, Keshu the Black Fin, is another outstanding character. Players will also find some amazing locations to travel to in The Elder Scrolls Online, and the Blackwood zone adds even more. Although Blackwood may not be as bright and colorful as some other MMO zones, it has its own beauty and majesty. Seeing mist-covered castles in lakes or dark green swamps makes it clear that the designers want to show players captivating visual points of interest. Another amazing part of the world happens to be a crumbling castle haunted by various ghostly creatures in the middle of the zone. Even more, it’s increasingly clear that all the different designers put a tremendous amount of effort into creating Blackwood. The level designs for the various delves are interesting, and Deadlands is quite a sight to behold. The various Daedric buildings have their own dark flair, and the impressive sound design within them will put players on edge. While some of the quests in Blackwood are standard fare, the quest designers obviously had fun with the others. Some adventures are particularly engaging, like the one about a romance novelist who gets caught up in ghostly family drama. One aspect the designers said they wanted to experiment with was the new World Events, and in Blackwood they were Oblivion Portal. These portals were early means for Mehrunes Dagon’s forces to open a path from Oblivion to Tamriel, aided by other Daedric cults. After players enter this Oblivion Portal, they must fight enemies in the Deadlands before meeting up with a larger group to fight Havocrel, the Duke of Storms and Mehrunes Dagon’s general. Although these are World Events, they do not have a set spawning location. They appear randomly in different areas of Blackwood, and a long time can go by without finding one. Venturing into an Oblivion Portal to fight the Duke of Storms is exciting, but these World Events are a little too unpredictable and repetitive to be enjoyed long-term. red hellish interior of a castle Each expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online has introduced major updates that affect the game, whether they’re new classes like Elsweyr’s Necromancers or other gameplay elements like Greymoor’s Antiquities. For Blackwood, that was the new Companions System. This new system opens up the ability for players to travel with an NPC who can help them in battle. Two are available at launch, with more on the way. These Companions have their own personalities and personal adventures, which factor into the relationship system that applies to all Companions. Players better stay on a Companion’s good side, or they risk the Companion not appearing when summoned. One available Companion is Bastian Hallix, an Imperial that players can find at the southern end of Blackwood in Deepscorn Hollow. Another available Companion is Mirri Elendis, a Dunmer that players can find on the way north of the Blackwood in Doomvault Vulpinaz. Companions can be customized in many ways, from their outfits and mounts to their combat skills and roles. Damage dealers can configure their Companion to help them heal, while healers or tanks may want to configure their Companion to help dish out damage. Companions certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but they can certainly be a worthwhile investment. It’s engaging and exciting to venture around with a partner by your side. Although there are some fantastic aspects to The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood, the expansion is not without faults. While the new tutorial system for the game is great, ZeniMax Online Studios tends to focus on bringing new players into the game, sometimes at the expense of its veteran players. The game is also clearly showing its age, and the steady trickle of content every year isn’t enough to keep the game from stagnating. While the year-long stories are a great concept for the game, they really should all be included in a single expansion. The Flames of Ambition DLC from earlier this year and the upcoming Deadlands and Waking Flame DLC are segmented from Blackwood, and this formula is getting tiresome. As ZeniMax continues to develop its MMO, it should consider changing its formulaic expansion model in some way. looks like a hellish tower Ultimately, The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood provides enough intrigue and content to whet one’s appetite for new experiences, but it won’t be enough to fully satiate every player. Thwarting the Daedric machinations of Mehrunes Dagon and the Order of the Waking Flame is a fun experience, even if the current story doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion. It’s really clear that the developers put a lot of effort into creating Blackwood, from its sound and level designs to some of its more terrifying and hellish landscapes. The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood is now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review. Today Technology reviews The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood on the Neuron 4000D from Origin PC. Origin offers a variety of customizable PCs that can meet any gamers’ needs. Read more about Neuron here. MORE: The Elder Scrolls 6 – Release Date, News, Rumors, Exclusives, Trailers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.