- Total Score - 8/108/10
Blackwood and it’s new companion system is the best addition to ESO since the “One Tamriel” update.
Developer – Zenimax Online Studios
Publisher – Bethesda Softworks
Platforms – Playstation 5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC
The Elder Scrolls Online just doesn’t seem to stop. On it’s 7th year of release, Blackwood is the online juggernaut’s 5th expansion. After traversing Morrowind, revisiting Skyrim, we head back into the realm of Oblivion. This expansion, does a few things outside of new locations that make it an exciting adventure to take.
This expansion takes place several hundred years before Oblivion, with the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon up to no good. As the previous expansions, Blackwood takes players back to a fan favorite location from one of the mainline titles.
Blackwood will bring players into the region of the same name, and the Imperial city of Leyawiin has never looked better. Revisiting this city is such a keystone for so many players. Oblivion was such a keystone moment in gaming. I can’t think any moment that represented next gen quite like leaving that cave and seeing the open world for the first time.
This expansion does a great job of touching on that nostalgia, but also brings it quite a few other areas as well. While not as diverse an awe inspiring as Greymoor, Blackwood does a great job of restoring another piece of Elder Scrolls history.
Blackwood also saw various improvements come to next gen consoles, as better graphics and fast loads clearly help the Series X and PS5 versions step above their last gen counterparts.
In terms of feature set, Blackwood isn’t too different than previous yearly expansions. A handful of new gear sets, a new twelve player trial, and new open world activities. The standout activity are the gates of Oblivion themselves. When a gate opens, players entering are facing off against Daedric creatures and the sights and visuals are a fantastic callback for fans of old.
Despite a lack of ambition in terms of content, and that content also being a bit light, one change Blackwood introduces is truly a game changer.
The companion system introduced in Blackwood is finally the addition I think this game truly needed. Despite enjoying my time with ESO, I was never compelled to make it my main game and it was hard to get friends to jump in with me. After doing several quests in the new region, two companions will join you.
These companions are far more than pets. They will follow you, have unique personalities and skills, and can be equipped with their own tiers of loot. Even better, once unlocked, these companions can accompany you in any area of the whole game, not just PVP.
Having companions in the place of friends, or having them able to swap in if a player drops out mid raid or dungeon is such a revelation. It immediately creates a compelling reason to revisit and play older content I may have missed, as grouping for older dungeons is made easy with them. It’s a system I think should be mandatory in almost any online mmo, as I already can’t imagine ESO without them handy.
The Elder Scrolls Online has been around for a long time. If further expansions can keep adding quality content like Blackwood has, the sky is the limit for this powerhouse franchise.