The ESO: Blackwood Overview
We feel like we’ve arrived in an entirely another time of The Elder Scrolls history as we’ve returned to the marshes and swamps around the lovely city of Leyawiin. Oblivion was the last time we saw this portion of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which was found in the southeastern part of Cyrodiil. When you look at the timeline, some years before the time Fallout 3 being announced, this is about as accurate as you can get. When one considers that the game offers almost 20 hours of gameplay, excluding the endgame raid material, the humor and callbacks to previous titles seem even more lovable.
Blackwood may have a whole distinct scenery, but it is still very much the same ESO players have become used to.
This expansion doesn’t depart much from the tried-and-true formula zone design that it has built over the last several years after the concluding chapter of the story of Morrowind in 2017. The number of missions, locales, skyshards, world bosses, and a new trial remains unchanged. To this day, the developer, Zenimax Online, remains faultless. However, it is safe to say that the writing in this expansion features far more amusing one-liners than did the considerably dry Greymoor expansion from last year. The layout of Blackwood has more variety, and adding companions that level up alongside you and who follow you on your journey does, to some extent, liven up the repetition inherent in the adventure.
While our goal was to provide a broad array of gameplay experiences for players to enjoy, we did create many core missions, delves, areas of interest with quests, public dungeons, global bosses, skyshards, and the latest addition, Rockgrove, to facilitate the process. Finally, good luck going through it alone, since even an entire group of 12 people will not be enough. If you’re not in a guild, you’ll have difficulty finding someone to join up with and complete the instance with, even a week after debuting on PC.
This time around, the global bosses are more complex and distinctive. For example, as you approach the Sul-Xan Ritual Site, you will see a group of Argonian priests who each have a health meter that extends into many segments. Oblivion portals open and shut around you during a brutal fight against a Daedra lord in The Shattered Xanmeer, which makes for one of the most thrilling and unpredictable boss confrontations in The Elder Scrolls Online. If your PC can keep up with the action, it’s very entertaining.
However, regardless of whether or not the group content is a significant emphasis, the single-player main quest tale this year has strong storytelling. This story reveals the complex backstory of how Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon established his dominion in Oblivion. The game sends you back to the scorching Deathlands and allows you to connect with its inhabitants, the terminally unplayable Dremora. You will also discover the magical and political forces combined with the domain.
Blackwood retains a cheese-like feel in the way it is delivered. The quality of the voice acting is relatively poor. Characters still sound muffled and excessively compressed, which might be due to the game’s size and to save on storage space. In any case, the performance was uneven; at times, the actors were note-perfect, and other times they jumped into their roles with too much zeal. When characters’ animations are done well, they inevitably conjure the Uncanny Valley to its absolute fullest. The main character we’re supposed to care about continuously looks precisely as he did the day before he received a Botox treatment. It’s not all that new. NPCs in The Elder Scrolls Online are always this way. However, recreating lower-quality animations and character models every time a new expansion launch contributes significantly to the overall feeling that The Elder Scrolls Online isn’t keeping up with current trends as much as other MMOs are.
Not all of the side missions are winners. The three that made an impression with unique snippets of lore contributed to Tamriel’s continually unwinding story primarily used for comedy in 2016. Overall, the fact that the acting is typically awful is ESO’s advantage since, in the online environment, it’s pretty standard for other players to get in the way when you’re playing your narrative. To complete this particular mission, you are given the daunting task of leading many clones through the temples of the Argonians, termed a xanmeer. Soon you’ll be involved in another epic journey when you must rescue a prodigious noble from the hands of a Daedric cult only to discover that his motivations are different than what he has led you to believe.
New to this year is your additional Companions system, which will allow you to add new NPCs to your party. You can call these two recruitable characters if you’re playing by yourself, and you can carry them with you anyplace you go.
You may have your characters share levels so long as you complete the objectives that lead to the various characters appearing. Bastian has several class abilities, so you may make him a healer or a tank if you like. On the other hand, Mirri Elendis is an assassin who can move through the shadows, much like a Nightblade, and sucks the life power out of her opponents as she goes.
When you do things in the world, it elicits its response, which might even weaken or strengthen the rapport you have with that person dependent on your activities. When you lose fellowship, those people may stop communicating with you for a while. This concept has potential. However, the rules are arbitrary. For example: If you pick up an insect, Mirri becomes furious yet does not appear to mind if you stomp on a frog. They stop at the “characters respond to you doing stuff sometimes” level instead of going all-out, in Dragon Age style.
Despite the old-fashioned appearances of characters, the environment around them is incredible. In Blackwood and the nearby regions, the landscape is aesthetically stunning and delightfully different. The city of Leyawiin has a particular appeal, with the colorful Chapel of Zenithar in the city center and the picturesque Castle Leyawiin to the east. Even while the Red Wastes in the far northwest and the lush green swamps that surround it contrast against the bright green marshes that dominate the eastern half of the map, they contrast as well with the flooded, bloody marshlands and half-built structures that cover its eastern half. You can tell by looking that a lot of effort was put into creating the various features in the new zone. The once majestic remains of several castles and Ayleid monuments stretch in every direction, gradually disappearing in the mist. Among other Easter eggs, be on the lookout for the Adoring Admirer, the dancing dog at the White Stallion Inn, and the monologue about Garfield in the lion costume.
Gideon is quite a pleasant town to explore, too. Despite being constructed over a deadly swamp, the town is instead welcoming and teeming with activity. While the streets of Gideon are filled with residents of all different races and performers from across Tamriel, it is home to Khajiit, Argonians, and Imperials who celebrate their diverse cultures. Gideon feels more distinctly unique and essential to its inhabitants than Leyawiin to the west.
In general, the Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood gives more of the same—but with this new addition, the somewhat hilarious writing and stunning map layout that was seen in the previous year’s Greymoor expansion are improved.
While nostalgia is essential to Blackwood, it can maintain the distinction between Blackwood and its predecessor, Oblivion, without falling into any of the same narrative traps. It’s a sound companion system, but it’s not enough gameplay variation to merit returning a fan who has become weary of the Elder Scrolls Online in general. No of your level of fitness, there are lots of things to do and see here, mainly to increase your awareness of Elder Scrolls literature.