Following the trailer released during an event on January 25, 2023, The Elder Scrolls Online has been updated with the first DLC part of the year called Shadow in Morrowind. Indeed, the world developed by ZeniMax has been constantly evolving since day one, through periodic additional content part of macro narrative themes (by the way, here you will find our review of the High Isle expansion of The Elder Scrolls Online).
To introduce future more substantial sets such as Necrom, once again it was decided to opt for a package containing two dungeons full of lore, ready to lay the foundations for future events. With a total of eight unlockable armor sets, six unique boss fights, and an interesting level of challenge, both hardcore players and novices will have plenty to do east of Morrowind, as we’re about to see.
Road to Necrom
The Scribes of Fate DLC is contained in the ESO+ subscription, which keeps the MMORPG always up to date with the latest news for a monthly fee. Or, it can be purchased separately by spending an internal currency: the classic 1500 Crowns for the basic version, or 4000 for the Collector’s Bundle. A more than acceptable price whether you just want to explore the new, labyrinthine settings proposed, or you also aim to be the most stylish players on the server.
In fact, the Collector’s Bundle includes, together with the dungeons Scrivener’s Hall and Bal Sunnar, also the mount Antecedent Scholar’s Guar and the animal companion Blightlord’s Skeever, as well as five Crown Experience Scrolls, which guarantee a 50% boost of experience points for two hours after the activation.
These last items will be particularly useful for those who intend to start playing The Elder Scrolls Online with the advent of the Shadow in Morrowind, to get as quickly as possible to the first important objective of the title: the fiftieth level, which unlocks most of dungeons in the selection from the dungeon menu. Furthermore, even if you can visit and perhaps even pass the DLC at the beginning of the game, it is clear that veterans will be able to take full advantage of the experience, both from a narrative and a playful point of view.
The gripping story oozing from the rotting walls of Scrivener’s Hall tells of the sect called the Scribes of Mora, loyal to the Daedric prince of knowledge: Hermaeus Mora. An ideological clash within the group of scholars led to a coup and the replacement of the leaders in command of the circle, determined to obtain new dark powers that could endanger all of Morrowind.
Our character is called to help by one of the former leaders, the Khajiit Keshargo, willing to regain power and therefore in search of a mystical artifact, the Itinerant Staff. The object is hidden between dimensional folds and deep galleries guarded by the new followers of the Scribes of Mora, no longer scholars and researchers, but sinister zealots without scruples or morality. However, the sect of Prince Hermaeus Mora is not the only one to have triggered a distortion in space-time: the Psijic Order is also concocting a mysterious plan, accumulating large quantities of magical temporal energy in the city of Telvanni. This time it is the sorceress Saeresea who offers us an agreement, worried about the possible future aftermath of the anomalies caused in the surroundings of the settlement. To complete all the events divided between the two locations, it took us about 20 hours, more or less equally divided, but completionists could take even more time to really explore everything.
Only by completing both missions will we discover the truth about the seven, integral parts of a more frightening than expected picture that they are with Necrom will perhaps become clearer. The two newly introduced storylines, however, will be more interesting if you know the previous events that took place in The Elder Scrolls Online, or better still the mythology of the lands of Oblivion, Skyrim and Morrowind.
It is not essential to remember that Hermaeus Mora is also known by the names of Hoermius, Hormaius, Hermorah, Herma-Mora, or again the Man of the Woods, or the Cultivator of Man. However, the vastness of the existing lore means that the validity of the contents of Scribes of Mora, outside of the gameplay, is not quantifiable in an identical way for each player. The dialogues are well written, the succession of events is engaging and eventful, but the weight of certain revelations and the surprise effect of others will not strike newbies in the same way as more “older” warriors.
The dungeon of the Scribes of Mora
Scrivener’s Hall is, on paper, the first dungeon of the DLC, set in The Rift and the site of the events involving the sect of the Scribes of Mora. The challenge is calibrated for groups of four players, but you can also enter the locations that activate the mission alone, teleporting to their vicinity, or from the appropriate automatic grouping section of the quests. The difficulty is high, although it is possible to face it even at lower levels than the one recommended by the dungeon search menu. Certainly those who have not bypassed the fiftieth cannot do without fighting together with allies, on pain of a resounding series of beatings delivered by a large number of zealots. Among other things, certain cultists use attacks and abilities that will only be available to the player with Necrom, when the new Arcanist class is unlocked.
In this sense, the DLC offers a small taste of its potential, appealing to all the adepts of the magical arts in circulation. The combination of quick mystical fire projectiles and altered status is in fact lethal, even if simple NPCs exploit it. Then there are obviously a myriad of increasingly stronger monsters and three fearsome final bosses: we leave it up to you to discover who they are and venture into their dedicated rooms, with an always extremely detailed and spot-on design, evocative of the legends surrounding the cult and Prince to whom it is addressed.
Libraries, common rooms, narrow corridors and airy balconies are interspersed with musty catacombs and dynamic dimensional leaps. Variety is also ensured in the gameplay thanks to the battles with the three ruthless gatekeepers, which are exciting and frenetic, of increasing difficulty and characterized by unique mechanics developed especially for them. You can and must arrive in front of each opponent aware that no distractions are allowed.
Which is why we recommend fighting with teams connected to you in voice chat, rather than with random players: it will greatly simplify operations and promote coordination, which is essential to avoid the many devastating attacks that all three Bosses will pour against you. Some are even “One Hit KO”, capable of knocking down the unwary with a single blow. Therefore, it doesn’t matter which level between Normal or Veteran you have chosen to enter, the content is still advanced: perfect for those who already have experience with the dungeons of The Elder Scrolls Online, more challenging for everyone else.
Bal Sunnar: The city of Telvanni and the Psijic Order
The second dungeon of the DLC is Bal Sunnar, also developed for teams of four. It is not mandatory to reach it after Scrivener’s Hall, but it can indeed be approached in the same way by anyone who has bought the complete package. Even the general quality is constant: everything we said good about the settings and enemies of the followers of Hermaeus Mora remains valid in the lands of Stonefall, where this second mission begins.
While the thematic characterization of the former was ‘dimensional’, this time it is ‘temporal’. Time travel is therefore the norm as you progress through the environments, which for the most part are airy and open, less intricate outdoors than indoors, especially when compared to the dusty bookcases of the dark zealots. The supporting artistic direction is perfectly recognizable for the most savvy, who will feel at home in the “beautiful” Morrowind breathing purplish miasms and on barren land, occasionally crossed by rivers of lava. However, the individuality of the content emerges at its maximum when we meet the last three bosses, plus an optional secret one, of Scribes of fate. They are even more particular than those addressed in the previous step of the additional content, both in terms of gameplay and visuals. Breaking the constraints of “humanoid enemies” the developers have worked hard to propose surprising opponents, carefully animated and therefore convincing. While the visual rendering of the overall experience isn’t state-of-the-art, the new content does deliver some powerful visuals.
However, once all the dialogues were done and returned to their respective entrances, comparing the two Scribes of Fate dungeons was an interesting exercise. Both are based on the concept of “polyvalence” and the coexistence of multiple existential levels, which characterize rooms and spaces in different ways according to the moment in which we inhabit them, or the dimension to which they belong. Overall, they are unique and equally worthy, minus the obvious level design and style differences.
For example, Bal Sunnar is characterized by the presence of more environmental puzzles, in defense of secrets that we do not intend to reveal to you, while Scrivener’s Hall is more “physical” and combative content. In short, we have never had sensations of recycling, in either of the two quests, distinguished from each other by well-defined identities. This is a decisive step forward for The Elder Scrolls Online, whose downloadable content has become increasingly interesting and changing, capable of telling complex stories and awakening the attention of both those already involved in the MMO and potential future ones players. The loot, always welcome, is no longer the only reason to approach the two proposed dungeons, but only the culmination of an exciting gaming experience in itself (in the meantime, we also recommend reading our review of The Elder Scrolls Online, Gates of Oblivion).
Armed and dangerous
The satisfaction that accompanies the completion of the settings is remarkable, but the prize up for grabs is also tempting: the sets of peculiar armaments to be found in the mazes of the DLCs could not be missing. In Scrivener’s Hall there are specifically four armors of five pieces each (except the Monster set which traditionally has two). Abyssal Brace is heavy clothing that increases our vitality and stamina. Apocryptical Inspiration is instead the medium equipment and Runecarver’s Blaze is the armor for mages, DPS and similar of light size. Last but not least is the Monster Set Ozezan the Inferno.
With his two tools, he adds Magicka recovery and greatly increases the armor obtained when the character “overheals”, i.e. restores his HP beyond the maximum available to him. Also hidden in the lands of Bal Sunnar are four armors, three of variable size and one “monstrous”. We therefore begin by describing the latter, Roksa the Warped Monster, which in addition to enveloping the protagonist in a spectacular green glow offers a constant increase in Stamina, Magicka and Health recovery. As for the other three sets, they are the light Ritemaster’s Bond, the medium Nix-Hound’s Howl and the heavy Telvanni Enforcer.
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