The Elder Scrolls Online showcased it in the 2020 annual adventure: with a lot of Skyrim nostalgia, the developer Zenimax has attracted many fans. In Skyrim, we thwarted the evil conspiracy of the ancient vampire lord and recalled an unforgettable match. This year, we smelled the famous Oblivion air in the new add-on, The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood, because Daedra Lord Mehrunes Dagon tried to invade Tamriel for the first time in 800 years before The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion attack. For newcomers, Blackwood also offers the best ESO package in a long time because companions make entering the game more accessible than ever. Especially if you prefer to travel alone or with other people, you and your NPC companions will form a complete dungeon group without relying on the skills or preferences of strangers.
It’s in Blackwood
We recruited two completely different companions in Blackwood through missions and got strong support from them as healers, damage distributors, and tanks according to your needs. We can also desperately need them in new world events, the Gate of Annihilation: We now enter the land of death through portals that pop up again and again in the dark, the level of Mehrunes Dagon, instead of Daedra anchors, storms of grief, and dragons Attack the forest. You are not a very powerful boss who occasionally asks for support, and you are dealing with a kind of mini-dungeon.
In the land of the dead, we fight each other in a small enclosed area through the henchmen of Lord Didra. Once we have defeated some increasingly powerful bosses, we will return to Tamriel after the final battle.
Veterans will find many familiar things in the new dark forest area: a wide range of main missions (more on that later), various side missions, several world bosses, and two open dungeons. Especially in the latter two, you can expect challenging battles that require agility and good observation.
In addition, you will complete an arduous 12-person test at Felshain, which is especially interesting for mature teams. With this, the developers are once again true to their motto More the same and provide you with plenty of PvE supplements.
What’s the use of the new story?
Mehrunes Dagon’s conspiracy began decades before the incident: the then Cyrodiil emperor Leovic signed an agreement with the powerful Daedra and received four powerful ambitions. What these are, you can find bit by bit in Blackwood’s main story, which begins with a detective story.
Accompanied by the cheerful wood spirit Eveli Scharfpfeil and with the support of Dremora Lyranth, you and your opponent will compete in an exciting race against time. Of course, as always, the outcome of the opening is predictable. Since the annual adventure mode will continue in the fourth quarter of 2021, the story cannot be completed yet!
The road there is still interesting, almost without length. Compared with Greymoor, the developers have added a lot of vitality and brought us more twists and turns. Due to the base game and the two main characters known in the Orsinium DLC.
Eli’s positive, open-minded attitude and Lyranth’s thoughtful comments aroused interest in the next part of the mission and continued annual adventures. These two favorite fans play two essential roles: Each advances the story through curiosity and many questions and stays at the player’s level.
On the other hand, Lyranth acts as an assistant in all matters related to Mehrunes Dagon and supplements the hero group when special knowledge or supernatural skills are required. Following the star lineup in the previous chapter, these two very grounded helpers are another pleasant contrast.
Shadowy details of the dark forest
The side missions in the new area are as usual at a high narrative level, bringing us closer to the conditions in the dark forest, which is determined by the Empire, Argonians, and Kajit. The authors gave full play to their skills and told stories that you should not miss.
Sometimes we help dark elf researchers in ghost hunting operations. Occasionally, we support romance novelists to find new experiences. Or we save Argonian villages from pesky robbers. Experienced players celebrate the reunion with known characters in the base game or other chapters. Fans of Stevens, in particular, can see more Blackwood’s troubled servants than they want!
In addition to the diverse stories, the very spacious area is not the big hit fans hoped for after the superb black range in Greymoor in the previous chapter. In addition to the floodplain around Leyawiin, the most important city of the empire, we can also find ourselves in the Drake Marsh near the Shadow Marsh.
However, there was almost no change in the eyes. The area was initially attractive due to swamps and floodplains, and many ruins, but its sheer size quickly turned into a vast waste of time with no natural characteristics. In general, the ruins: exploring the ruins of Ayerden, the Empire, or the Argonians can be exciting. However, if this becomes permanent, boredom will spread despite good stories.
The developer’s decision not to mark the open Oblivion gate with the corresponding symbol on the map is another Blackwood problem. It limits the number of possible participants to nearby players-everyone who hears the door opening or can see the door open.
On test servers, this often results in teams not strong enough to beat the boss, even though they have companions. After initially rushing into the new area, it will be challenging to find comrades in the Forgotten Door-this is how an exciting mechanic turns into a bolt. Zenimax should make improvements here!
Exciting feature: new partner
The situation of the companions is much better: we support the dark elf Mili Elandis and the Empire Bastian Halix in finding relatives kidnapped by the hateful cultists. Bastian is looking for his unreliable party to help his brother, while Miri and her brother are taking an adventure and betrayed by their clients. After two successful rescue missions, the two of us joined us as companions, and we chose one of the two when traveling.
We assign five healing, combat, or tank skills to active companions and one ultimate gift that matches your play style. Unlike player characters, these do not depend on life, magic or stamina, but have different cooldown times, after which the companion can automatically reactivate them. Whenever we kill an opponent, the active companion will also gain experience points and upgrade to level 20.
Once Bastian or Miri reaches a certain level, they will unlock new and more powerful skills. In addition, when we do what they like, the two of them will have feelings for the player character. For example, when we often flip through the shelves to read, the bookworm Bastian will reward us. And as the emotional value increases, the other personal stories of the companions continue, and we can learn more about their background through these stories.
However, to increase companions’ efficiency, killing and collecting: we use special companion equipment with different unique attributes to steal prey from defeated enemies. If we don’t like the companion style, we will give them a new look through the clothing already collected in the account. Even though the whole thing sounds complicated at first, it is surprisingly easy to use after getting used to it.
If we ensure that our companions use the appropriate skills and equipment for the required role, the battle will proceed happily. Especially beginners and casual players, despite their lack of knowledge or equipment, they can get real help from their companions to get along better. It’s a pity that there is no relationship with a partner yet!
Pure forgetting nostalgia
Suppose you have already enthusiastically traveled through Leyawiin and surrounding areas in The Elder Scrolls 4: Annihilation. In that case, you will also find a lot of familiarity in the ESO version of the area. After the nostalgia of Skyrim, the developers once again successfully attracted fans of single-player games.
As the primary opponent, Mehrunes Dagon’s behavioral motives are understandable. Together with the passionate supporters of the cult, he is a credible opponent-even if we know that he will eventually be defeated again, only Will try your luck again in annihilation! With the Blaublut Music Festival, the White Stallion Inn, the Alyeiden ruins of Beyond and Welke, and the city of Leyawiin, you can see famous sights from 800 years ago.
If we are mainly on the road, we will also encounter the most annoying Oblivion NPC, who is also our biggest fan in Blackwood and treats us with unnecessary attention. Those who cannot get enough of the Mehrunes Dagons Plain, the dead land, go there regularly during the main story and pass through the Gate of Forgotten.
However, despite the nostalgia, the developers were unable to solve one thing: on the player test server, there was a significant delay between triggering the combat ability and the expected effect. Whether Zenimax can solve this problem this year is still questionable.
After Greymoor and the 2020 adventure, my expectations for the Blackwood story are indeed not exceptionally high. Without changing the overall model, the permanent problem of the suspense that can be predicted at the end of this chapter cannot be changed. The exciting investigative story is a very positive surprise, and the long-term reunion with the satirical Lyranth is exciting. The main story finally reached the quality of the side mission, making me curious about the sequel at the end of it.
Despite the beautiful scenery, it turns out that the area is too large and often contains no content but lacks real aha moments, such as the black distance of Greymore. But given the genuinely successful companions and their excellent friendliness towards beginners, this aspect disappeared in Blackwood for me.
Because Bastian and Miri can provide valuable skills, which will make it easier for novices to play the game, the background stories and preferences are worth exploring. After last year, this wasn’t very pleasant for me. I feel that the developers are back on the right track with new motivation. In addition to the annoying skill delay errors, you can also get a valuable, Exciting package!