The Elder Scrolls Online has had one incredible journey since its original launch. Sure, it got off to a rough start, and there’s been a few bumps along the way. However, overall, it’s now one of the biggest, most popular, and most exciting MMORPG games on the market today. With recent improvements to the game pushing things to the next level, and a suite of quality of life improvements on the way, and even a huge visual upgrade for the console version of the game (perhaps even for the PC version), it’s a good year to invest in ESO.
Lockdown did seem to slow the development of their upcoming content a little, but hey, we get that. They started their year-long content cycles with Elswyr, and that was later followed with Skyrim. While the two dungeon DLC has already released, and we’ve got a small introductory quest, the big update/expansion titled “Blackwood” is on its way in a couple of months. Blackwood will see us all journey back to the plains of Oblivion, and it acts as something of a preview story for Mehrunes Dagon and what happened in TES4: Oblivion. Since it’s set around 800 years prior to TESIV, it’ll allow them to put their own spin on locations and events too. We’ll even see the city of Gideon, an Imperial-based city that you may remember visiting in Elder Scrolls Arena, which released way back in 1994. This expansion’s base story is set to add around 30-hours of gameplay, not including trials, dungeons, daily quests, etc.
The new 12 player trial, Rockgrove, will see you exploring a village of the same name. Overrun by Argonian cultists seeking to summon Dagon’s army. There are three unique bosses, new loot, and even a new mount that you can unlock if you’re willing to complete all of this with the optional Veteran and Hardmode options enabled. Personally, I don’t think you’ll be seeing people riding that mount very often.
Summerset has Geysers, Elswyr has Dragons, and Skyrim has Harrowstorms. Of course, we couldn’t have Blackwood release without a new world event, and this time, it’s Oblivion Portals! The portals will spawn in random places around the map and in multiple locations at once. Players can enter from any of these portals where they’ll meet other players who’ve done the same. This will take you to the Deadlands, just like we saw in TES4. It’ll act as a mixture of world-event and public dungeon, with players coming in from multiple angles, dealing with unique bosses along the way, to meet in the middle (so-to-speak) to fight the final boss and complete the portal. It’ll give a range of rewards for doing so, and you’ll be teleported back to the point on the map you entered at.
There’s a new currency being added to the game, yes, another one. There’s already gold, Tel-Var, Alliance Points, Crowns, and Gems (maybe I’m forgetting some). However, there’s been no way of buying stuff you would find in crates via in-game means until now. Seals of Endeavor is a new rewards system that will pay out as rewards for daily and weekly tasks. They’re account-based, there is no cap or reset on these, and while I suspect it’ll be a bit of a grind for anything big, it’s still a welcome addition. They’ll also have their own section in the store, just like crowns and crown gems do.
Right now, the only way to grind crown store items is to trade in-game gold to a player and have them gift you the crown store item; it’s widespread, but not without its own issues.
Here are some examples of the kind of things we can expect to do:
ESO forces you to play the most recent starter quest, based on which release you purchased, every time you start a new character. It’s annoying, as I like the older ones myself, such as the OG-story line for Coldharbour! However, this update will see you able to choose any of the chapters as their starting zone and quest. Furthermore, you’ll even be able to choose the player select screen music; a small but welcome detail.
This is quite a drastic addition, and it’ll certainly change the dynamic for those who don’t really want to get into the MMO part but want to enjoy the RPG part. Companions are unlockable assistants that will follow you around; Skyrim players will be familiar with the core principles here. They can be levelled up (currently capped at level 20), they have their own equipment that can be unlocked and changed, and they’ll be able to take on roles of tank, healer and even damage. You can take them into dungeons too, so rather than finding a group of four people, two people and two companions will be enough now. Albeit, don’t expect to be running Veteran content or Trials with these. They’re going to have something called Rapport points too, so they can learn to like you or hate you based on your interactions with you, but rest assured, they’ll always have your back. You can also use everything you have at your outfit station on them and even set them their own mounts, too; neat!
ESO always launches new content with a huge range of base game updates too. Alongside Blackwood, we’ll also see new loot and collectables, new gear, new outfits, costumes, mounts, antiquities, mythic items, furnishings and more. This will be alongside the new 4K update for next-gen consoles and sweeping graphical updates bringing the console versions up to par with their PC counterparts. There will also be voice-chat improvements on console versions of the game. A new action duration reminder can be toggled, removing the need for certain add-ons that do the same; a win for console players again! Some balancing has been done for the overworld, making it a little friendlier in new player zones. Plus, perfected and non-perfected trial gear can now be mixed. However, you won’t get the perfected perk until you have the complete set, but it’ll still speed up end-game gear progression for many.
The Year of Year of Mehrunes Dagon has already begun, as we see this rich story of the Imperials and Argonians mixing with the Daedric realms. If you play Elder Scrolls Online, there’s a free introductory quest for this content available to you. Furthermore, there’s a two-dungeon DLC in the crown store (also included in ESO+) that pulls at a few early threads of the story too. However, the expansion Blackwood launches on Just 1st and will need to be purchased either as an upgrade pack, or you can buy a full-fat version that also includes the base game or a collectors edition. You’ll find more details on all of that on the official website.
There will be two more DLC releases in 2021 to expand on this. If history has taught us anything, this will be a DLC zone that expands on Blackwood, as well as another dungeon DLC. However, that hasn’t been confirmed just yet.
More details surround update 30 and how it affects PVP, and more specifically, the Proc Sets testing that has been ongoing for some time now. There are also some expansions being made to the new Champion System. However, since this mostly concerns current players and is subject to change, I suggest you read the development teams forum post on these changes here.
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