Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood Preview: A Huge Expansion Perfect For Oblivion Fans

The Elder Scrolls Online has steadily grown over the years to encompass almost all of Tamriel - the franchise's iconic setting.

We've been to locales from Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind, and Blackwood sees the introduction of a new chunk of fantasy goodness with elements of Oblivion and even Arena.

While this expansion will add fan-favourite locations like the Imperial City of Leyawiin and the muddy Shadowfen swamps, it's also adding a sizeable chunk of mythology to ESO's growing world.

The Daedric Princes are at it again, you see, specifically the four-armed Mehrunes Dagon. His arrival brings in some darker elements but also ties into the Gates of Oblivion year-long quest.

Set 800 years before the events of Oblivion, the story was begun by the Flames of Ambition content that dropped last month, but Blackwood sees Mehrunes Dagon summoned by a group of neerdowells that should know better.

While much of the story is still to be told, of course, the Gates of Oblivion questline does introduce a new public event type - Oblivion Gates.

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These are essentially portals into public dungeons, and you'll earn loot, experience and items that get progressively better the further you adventure. Finish the event, and you'll be spat back out where you started.

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It's a great way to draw players together for quantifiable rewards, but if you're looking to play alone then there's a big addition for you - Companions.

One of the most-requested features from the game's community, Companions make their debut in Blackwood and can be used in dungeons in lieu of other players, or to fill in for missing players.

Companions can be unlocked through specific quests, and each has their own likes and dislikes. Want to sneak around pickpocketing NPCs? If your companion is of the mischievous variety, they'll welcome it, but a more noble one may not.

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Companions also get their own skills and abilities and can handle multiple weapon types, although they're unlikely to be quite as smart as human players, we'd imagine.

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Finally, Blackwood also introduces Rockgrove, a 'Full Trial' with three bosses and hard modes, as well as new gear and cosmetics to earn. Complete all of the listed achievements, and you'll earn a fancy new mount, too.

Whether players invest in Blackwood or not, a series of quality of life upgrades are coming for all. For one, a new tutorial offers more player choice on how players start their adventures.

The game itself is also getting a sizeable upgrade, with a next-gen patch coming to PS5 and Xbox Series consoles on June 8. The update will offer performance and fidelity modes, almost double to draw distance, new visual bells and whistles and loading times that have been cut almost in half.

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Players can also expect perfected and non-perfected sets of gear to work together, the ability to choose title music, and improvements to in-game voice chat, but another sizeable boon is the introduction of endeavours.

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These challenges offer XP, coin and 'Seals of Endeavour' as rewards. The latter is a new currency that can be used to purchase crate items that would previously have required real money, and there's no cap on how much you can earn, either.

Overall, Blackwood and its associated tweaks are shaping up to be another big win for fans of ESO. The game has been through a wealth of changes in the last few years, but this might be the best sign yet that it's here to stay - and getting better all the time.

Can't wait to experience Blackwood for yourself?

Download the ESO PTS to get an early look at Update 30 and Blackwood.