We’re excited to share with you our early access preview of the new chapter for the Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood.
First off, we’d like to thank Zenimax Online Studios for giving us early access to the Blackwood Preview. The new chapter is a ton of fun and I really enjoyed my time in it so far. We won’t be going over any story spoilers today so don’t worry there.
The chapter is named after the southeastern area of Cyrodiil, which borders on Black Marsh. Here you’ll have a chance to revisit some familiar and some rarely seen locations, such as Leyawiin, Gideon, and more.
Leyawiin will act as the hub city for this chapter, and it is beautiful. The city itself is bigger than when we saw it in TES: IV and has many new and exciting features. One of my favorite parts so far is the layout of the crafting hub may just be the best in the entire game. I suspect many people will set up camp here.
The story of Blackwood focuses on Deception, Daedra, and “Deals with the Devil,” as Rich Lambert likes to say.
We won’t go too far deep into the story here in the Blackwood Preview though. We want you to experience it all for yourself once Blackwood arrives in June. As we said previously, there are no spoilers below. What we can say is Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction is the focal point. You’ll also be joined by some old faces like Eveli and Lyranth.
You will be thrown in headfirst into the mystery as soon as you arrive in Blackwood. What has brought Eveli to Blackwood? Is the Dark Brotherhood involved? What is Dagon’s true plan? All of this and more will be answered as you adventure through the zone.
We already know a number of the new features coming with Blackwood. One of the biggest ones we already know about is companions and we learn more about them during the Blackwood Preview.
One of the most anticipated features of Blackwood is Companions. Companions are new characters who will follow you to help you around the world, with bosses, and dungeons. They can basically do anything you want other than PvP and Solo arenas.
You can level these companions up as you adventure, find gear specifically designed for them, and customize the way they participate in combat with you.
As well as traditional experience, from level 1 to 20, companions have a new system called “Rapport”. When you interact with the world in different ways, your companion will react and decide if they like you more or less. For example, stealing from an NPC while your law-abiding companion is out will cause them to not trust you as much. There are many different interactions that will impact Rapport, so be careful on your adventures.
Rapport is important as well if you want to get to know your companion more. You can experience the different story quests they have available if they like you. It is important to note, at this time, your rapport with your companion will not affect their combat ability. Even if they don’t like you, they’ll still save your hide.
Companions also have their own gear system and can’t use normal gear that you have found on your journey. However, this new gear will only drop when you have your companion active. Currently, companion gear won’t have any set bonuses, but there are new traits that help their abilities in combat. As well, you can use an outfit station to create the perfect ensemble from your known style pages and motifs for your companion.
We wouldn’t be able to talk about Mehrunes Dagon without going into the Deadlands and to get there, we’ll need to go through some Oblivion Portals. Oblivion Portals harken back to the Oblivion Gates of TES: IV, but they’re not quite the same.
Oblivion Portals are Dagon’s first foray into invading Tamriel. Remember, Blackwood takes place around 800 years prior to the events of TES: IV. Think of these as the beta tests to the real Oblivion Gates.
While adventuring through Blackwood you can come across a small fiery portal, spewing Daedra and wreaking havoc. Entering one of these portals will transport you to the Deadlands.
Oblivion portals are different from the older world events like Harrowstorms, Dark Anchors, and Dragons. They’re much more dynamic events and won’t show up on your map. Once you get in there, they feel more like a public dungeon, rather than a world boss. It’s hard to explain but I think everyone will really enjoy these once they are available.
In Rockgrove, which we last visited in Arena, a tribe of peaceful Argonians is under attack and it’s up to us to help rid them of their problem. This is a full trial with 3 unique bosses, and each boss has its own hard mode.
There are many new achievements with the trial, and completing all of them earns you a unique new mount, unobtainable anywhere else.
I didn’t get a chance to test the trial, but speaking to those who did, they said it was incredibly fun and they can’t wait to get into there with their trial groups.
Several interesting changes are coming with Update 30 that we haven’t heard about yet, and one of the most interesting is called Endeavors. We got to learn about it more during the Blackwood Preview.
Endeavors are a system of daily and weekly tasks that are account-bound, which ask you to complete jobs (such as run 2 dungeons, kill 2 Daedra, or steal 10 items) and will reward you with experience, gold, and Seals of Endeavor.
These seals are very interesting because with them you can purchase any item currently available in Crown Crates. So for example, if there’s a mount that’s caught your eye, but you don’t want to spend your crowns to take your chances with a crate, you can save up your seals and purchase it directly just by playing the game.
There’s a new tutorial, as usual for a new Chapter, but they are doing something interesting this time around. After completing the new tutorial and learning the basics of gameplay (As well as some interesting new Direnni lore), you’ll enter a portal room.
From there, you can decide where in Tamriel you want to start your journey. If you want to do the main story first, you can go to your faction homeland (or any of the other alliances if you like). If you prefer something newer, you can start off in any of the Chapter starting zones as well.
However, this doesn’t mean you will get to play any of the older tutorials. For now, it’s only this one, but getting to choose a starting zone after that is a great change.
You can also choose which music you want to listen to on the login screens! You can choose from the base game or any of the Chapter themes, but personally, I hope they let us add the music boxes to this in the future. Update: Unfortunately we were just informed that this has been pushed from Update 30 to a later update.
Another exciting change coming is the addition of ability timers to our action bars. Now you will be able to see the length of time left on a buff provided by one of your skills, without the need for addons if you’re on PC.
Coming in June
With all this, I’m incredibly excited for Blackwood’s release. There’s going to be so much to explore and do, and we’ve only touched the surface in this post. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about the lore from Blackwood in the coming weeks before launch.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood arrives on PC/Mac and Stadia on June 1, and on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 on June 8.