by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Another location in Tamriel to visit
Downloadable Content is not always for everyone. When you buy a game, you often want it to be full and be able to play it to completion. And the added price tag that accompanies some DLC can be a nuisance. But if it is a game that you have been enjoying and don’t want it to end, then the cost of the expansions can be well worth it, opening up a game for further adventures. MMOPRGs such as World of Warcraft have shown that gamers will often continue playing for years if the extra content provided fits in well with the lore of the game. Recent DLC for The Elder Scrolls Online have done the same, adding new features to the initial game that was already brimming with features and tomes of lore based on the standalone Elder Scrolls titles.
The latest addition to The Elder Scrolls Online is the Blackwood chapter, an expansion area located in the south of Tamriel. Starting near the stronghold of Leyawiin, players will journey across Blackwood to discover who has been murdering the city councilors. The Dark Brotherhood has been accused of the crimes, but there seems more to it, as players will discover as they progress through the main story quest.
If you’re coming into Blackwood from the main game, then the questing itself does not differ too much from other areas. You will chat with characters, head to some location to find an item or person, have to dispose of some enemies in doing so, and then return to the quest giver. In the meantime, you will have learned a lot more about the inhabitants of Blackwood, their predicament and life in Tamriel. With the side quests included, there is an additional thirty hours of additional content in the Blackwood DLC.
But in a new feature to The Elder Scrolls Online, Blackwood allows gamers to complete these quests with a companion. Blackwood has two companions – Mirri Elendis and Bastian Hallix who can be recruited upon completing certain quests. These companions will fight by your side and will each have special perks to assist the players avatar. The Companion system works amazingly well, with gamers having the ability to have one companion active at any time. These companions can be equipped with their own gear (which is a separate category to the player’s weapons and armour) and be levelled up similar to how players would increase their own stats.
It does take a little bit more micromanaging to keep on top of your companion, but it is well worth it, as they can be a big help in combating some of the tougher monsters encountered throughout the Blackwood chapter. However, the companions are linked to you by a rapport system. Completing particular quests, fighting specific foes and visiting specific locations can result in you building a positive rapport with your companion. Doing negative actions will do the opposite, and if the rapport drops too low, your companion will become limited in what they will do for you or could indeed leave you.
Having a companion to wander around with is a refreshing aspect. Doing so across the swampy bogs and lush forests is a far cry from the icy mountains of the Greymoor expansion. Although the visuals do not seem to have had any significant changes, the ability to journey across a different setting does allow for a somewhat fresh experience. Another fresh experience in Blackwood are the Oblivion Portals that will crop up around the land from time to time. Like Harrowstorms from previous expansions, these portals are a great chance to test out your abilities against hordes of foes. Once you enter a portal, players must fight their way to the centre and then shut down the devices. The battles are definitely rewarding and are an exciting feature to keep the mundane nature of the grinding at bay for a short while.
More of the same
If it has been a while since you have visited Tamriel, then Blackwood is definitely a great place to jump back into The Elder Scrolls Online. There will be a familiarity to the game, as the new features of Companions and Oblivion Portal do not add too much to the game. Whereby the Greymoor expansion added Antiquities, Blackwood simply offers a friend to journey by your side. But in saying that, these companions are a welcome addition to the online RPG – allowing those singleplayer types to enjoy a pseudo multiplayer experience.
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Quests aren’t that varied from previous instalments