Every year Zenimax Online Studios releases major updates with story chapters and new mechanics for the MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online. And this year is no exception, as the head of Blackwood has recently come out on live servers. In honor of this event, we wrote a review for you, where we will tell you about all the important innovations and the fullness of the new major update.
Location “Black Forest” and activities
The location of the chapter turned out to be atmospheric, large and filled with various activities that are interesting to explore. The Black Forest is located between the forests of Cyrodiil and the swamps of Black Marsh, due to which, the location has a variety of flora and fauna and will not get bored during the exploration.
In addition, on the way from adventure to adventure, the player will come across various activities: six sorties, two open dungeons, twelve world bosses, real portals to Oblivion, as well as a 12-person trial called “Stone Grove”.
Portals to Oblivion are world activities like Dark Anchors, Summerset geysers, and so on. However, there are several fundamental differences. First of all, the gates will have to be searched anew each time, since they appear in a random order.
There are six portals in total and you can find them in the northern, southern and western parts of the Black Forest. Oblivion is more like mini-dungeons than the familiar events that players have known before. Well, after the destruction of crowds of monsters, mini-bosses and the main boss, a chest appears with various location rewards. In general, it turned out interesting, but it still resembles the previous activities, which we talked about above.
In the challenge “Stone Grove” for 12 people, players will have a short storyline, new bosses with different mechanics, for which they will need to be learned by heart, and most importantly – equipment and special rewards for completing achievements in veteran mode.
In addition to the interesting sets, you can get a fiery riding heavyweight named “Flesh Breaker Sul-zan”. You will have to unlock the “Beach of Zalvakki” achievement, which is given for completing all the achievements of this trial. The mount looks intimidating and having one, everyone in the area will know about your successes.
In addition to the Blackwood and Trial Zone Sets, TESO has added new relics such as the Harpooner’s Swamp Kilt and Sithis Gaze.
The Harpooner’s Marsh Kilt stacks the player’s critical hit damage, as well as crit chance percentages. Such a kilt is really useful for DD in PvE and will be one of the first items that players will “hunt” for. See the picture below for details.
Sithis’s gaze is perfect for PvP activities, as it gives an increase to maximum health, health regeneration, and armor. Yes, your block becomes completely useless, but often stamina DDs in PvP use dodges. One element that, when properly assembled, can make a hero even more dangerous. See also the picture below for details.
One of the most interesting and at the same time controversial innovations together with the head of Blackwood is the satellite system. The developers wanted to provide us with experience, as in the same TES: Skyrim, where you could find yourself an ally, squire, or just a friend who will follow you in any battles.
At the moment there are only two companions in the game – Mirri Elendis and Bastian Gallix. Only those who have purchased the new chapter can get them, but let’s see if they bring a benefit and advantage in the gameplay or not.
To begin with, companions can be summoned everywhere, except for solo arenas, and PvP zones, i.e. in Cyrodiil, PvP arenas, as well as, for example, in the vortex arena, they will not be available. However, in PvE content, they are activated not only in the open world, but also in dungeons and even in trials (local raids for 12 people).
Perhaps someone thought that it would be possible to walk in huge packs together with crowds of Mirri or Bastians, but that was not the case, because one satellite takes the place of a full-fledged player. For example, if there are two people in your group and each has an active companion, then you will go to the dungeon for four with just such a composition, and in order to add a live player, you will have to remove one of the companions.
The new allies also have a leveling system, their own equipment and the so-called trust scale. As they gain experience, they gain levels, as well as access to new skills. The most interesting thing is that each satellite is assigned to a certain class. For example, Mirri is the blade of the night, and Bastian is the dragon knight.
As you unlock new skills for your companion, you can display them in the desired sequence so that the companion has its own rotation. However, there are skills that are used regardless of where the skill was installed. For example, healing abilities have an activation threshold, and if your character has less than 75% health, then the companion uses them.
As for the level of trust, then everything is not the same as in classic single-player RPGs. Even if the companion is angry or offended at the character, he will leave you only for a short time, and later will return anyway.
Finally, we got to the most interesting question, namely whether companions are useful in battle. Let’s be honest, they will not replace even the average player, be it a tank, dd or a healer. But it’s not worth talking about the complete uselessness here either. They are great for those who play mostly alone.
With companions, it is quite possible to go through public dungeons, regular instances, and also just explore the world. You can equip him with a mount from your collection or with a costume that will make your friend more interesting in appearance.
In addition to the low level of efficiency, satellites have another drawback – the lack of their own inventory. Not only can you not use it as an additional bag, but all the equipment that falls for your friend goes into the player’s personal inventory. It is a very unpleasant moment, because the bag is clogging up very quickly anyway, but here we were given additional “ballast”.
I would like to believe that at the moment the developers are just looking at the new mechanics and in the future they will make satellites more versatile, convenient and useful.
Free Chapter Changes
The Blackwood Chapter update comes with a number of interesting new features, some of which are worth mentioning.
Starting location and training
The first TESO oldies may not notice right away – a new location and a system for training. After creating the hero, the character appears on the island of Balfiera in the Iliac Bay, where you are taught the basic mechanics of the game while completing quests. Upon completion of all tasks, a whole room with portals opens in front of you, clicking on which will be accompanied by a text describing the locations.
Here you are free to choose whatever you want, be it ordinary locations or chapter zones. But nevertheless, beginners who want to learn the plot of the game should choose the starting locations along which they will move, so as not to mix the stories and not get confused in the lore twists and turns.
Items from Crown Crates for in-game currency
Right now in the game you can find a new tab “Accomplishments”. So far, it is empty, but soon there will be daily and weekly tasks, for which players will receive gold and seals of achievements.
It is not yet known exactly how many stamps will be issued for performing certain activities. Nevertheless, it is already nice to understand that having accumulated a certain amount of this currency, we will be able to get a legendary mount or our favorite shell from crown loot boxes, without investing real money. The tasks will be simple and without any problems: bring, kill, steal, complete, and so on. This mechanic will be very useful, because this is another step of the developers towards the availability of any cosmetic content from the store.
Recall that earlier you could already buy almost any item from the crown store, whether it’s just exterior and mounts, or in general DLC and previous chapters. This is done through the purchase of crowns for gold from real players, while it is quite legal.
The developers continue to play on the nostalgia of the TES series fans, and this time their eyes fell on the fourth part called Oblivion. In general, the patch does not feel as full as the previous ones, in which new classes appeared, important mechanics, as, for example, in “Greymour”, where archeology became one of the most important activities for obtaining relics and so on.
However, despite not having the most content, the expansion feels good. The new chapter boasts a non-trivial plot, a large location filled with cities and zones reminiscent of adventures in TES: IV, new activities, a trial, and, albeit controversial, but interesting satellite mechanics.