Having completed the DLC and expansions in anticipation for the console release of Elsweyr, it's time for my thoughts on them. I'll be skipping Craglorn, Imperial City, and the dungeon DLCs due to them being grouped content and thus having far less to talk about.
Oh baby there is so much to love about this DLC, though you may as well call it an expansion with everything we got out of it. The main storyline for this was interesting, with multiple twists and turns that you couldn't see coming until they happened, and it shined as an excellent showing of storytelling in ESO. All the optional quests were just as brilliantly written, with memorable characters both old and new. I loved seeing Lady Laurant and Stibbons again, as did I enjoy seeing the many misadventures of the Vanos siblings. I loved the Orc raised Khajiit named Zhasim, who besides acting completely out of the ordinary for a Khajiit, was also an interesting character with a tragic and heartwarming quest. I hope to see him again in the future (hopefully in Elsweyr). The region itself surprisingly was enjoyable, and varied enough to keep me interested in where I was going and what I was seeing.
First off, the storyline. With the exception of the ruin you visit where Nikolas supposedly died and that event, the storyline was really well done. I loved the various story quests for the Thieves Guild, sneaking into mansions, guard outposts, and especially love the prison break we staged. I liked the character quests, helping flesh out every main character of the guild, and showing surprising sides of several of them. I also loved doing Heists, though a few of them were a tad bit annoying. Hew's Bane itself was a bit meh, in terms of a region. The town however I enjoyed going around because it was unique and had lots of nooks and crannies to hide and check out. Overall a really well done DLC, and one of my favorites.
Oh boy, here is a mixed bag right here, and one I will probably rant about. I liked the Gold Coast region, I liked the locales, I loved seeing Kvatch before its eventual destruction in ES4: Oblivion, I LOVE THE BLADE OF WOE (because some random NPCs you just want to kill). But the storyline and the Dark Brotherhood overall was disappointing.
It started off strong with us killing somebody randomly, then going to kill some dude in a manor. I loved sneaking in, and killing some of the NPCs and sneaking past others. I loved the storyline's start, and where it was going. Completed that, got to the Sanctuary, and was interested in the locations of everything. More quests happened, more interesting contracts were taken, betrayal by a former member of the Dark Brotherhood, the story was going strong. It even had an interesting moment where you completed a contract only to end up having to assassinate the person you completed the contract for! But the final parts started to shy away from what the Dark Brotherhood was.
We explored an abandoned Sanctuary with lots of ghosts and uncovered the identity of the traitor. That's cool.
Then we had to go through a ruin with a bunch of monsters instead of human enemies you could assassinate and sneak by to deal with the traitor. Is this the Fighter's Guild?
Finally we had to go guns ablazing into a cathedral from its bottom part to deal with the actual villain, ending in a very open fight instead of any kind of assassination or sneaking we're used to. How the hell is it the Dark Brotherhood?
What's worse is how much of a grind it is to get through to those quests. I had no clue, it was going to be a massive grind, worse than Thieves Guild (whose grind was minimal if you did all the character quests and Heists daily). Grab a contract, go off and kill somebody, come back. Repeat ad nauseum with a Black Sacrement thrown in there once a day. Then there was the lack of character quests and any sort of rapport with the other members of the Dark Brotherhood, them just dying and you going "Okay, why should I care?". This was a step backward from the Thieves Guild, and overall an average, but disappointing DLC.
Oh Vvardenfell, how I feel conflicted on you. On one hand, part of your region is breathtaking, interesting, and unique. On the other hand, part of your region (the lava part) felt more jarring than anything and seemed like it belonged in a sci-fi game. On one hand it's interesting watching the various Houses work. On the other, they're just reminding me that I dislike Dunmer for being racist twits who think they're better than everybody else (not all Dunmer mind you, but quite a lot of them here do).
The main story was pretty boring for the most part, until the surprise twist of the Chancellor being Barbas and suddenly taking off with the staff, leaving Vivec dead with his soul out of his body and the region coming apart at the seams as all hell is breaking loose. I liked that part because those who have played ES3: Morrowind know the events dealing with Vivec there, so this one came as a shocker. Chasing Barbas into and through parts of the Clockwork City was a surprise, but a welcome one, I didn't realize they had linked the two that closely in the story. A shame the last parts of the expansion were the best, at least for the main story.
The sidequests I enjoyed to an extent, with some being fun and interesting, and others tedious and boring. I was a bit surprised to find out that we technically helped cause that paranoid mage in ES3 to be paranoid way back here by helping her. The Morag Tong storyline was well done and interesting, and it's always fun to see more Naryu in her element. Telvanni…to hell with Telvanni fetch quests. Overall this expansion was rather average, and not that good.
How do we go from something as average as Morrowind to something as amazing as Clockwork City? The region itself is one of the more unique ones in the game, and comes across as very steampunk, an aesthetic I like. The storyline was good, and seeing our old friends Reynor and Kirith, along with Neramo being part of the main team for the DLC was nice. It was kind of surprising to see Nocturnal take a more active role in affairs considering how far she usually is from interfering with mortals. Getting to see a living Sotha Sil and understanding his philosophy (along with his precognitive awareness) put a smile on my face, considering how little we got to know him in ES3: Tribunal. He seemed fully aware of where events would go in history, making you wonder just how much of history he has foreseen, though we will never know the full details. Overall a very strong DLC, another of my favorites.
BOY, things keep getting better. The region of Summerset is surprisingly beautiful, almost utopian in looks (though I have a feeling the Altmer have been manipulating nature for that), and is a nice one to traverse. Storyline was easily one of the best in ESO, and the addition of best men Razum-Dar and Darius was a nice touch. The new characters were well written, and I did feel bad when Leythen died, he had that charm of Abnar Tharn in him. The Sload helping Nocturnal, Mephala, and Clavicus Vile was rather surprising, as was the fact that they even had an alliance to begin with, Daedric Princes don't really help each other. Veya Releth from the Morrowind chapter being Nocturnal's Earl was another big surprise, and was a bit sad to see her fallen so far. The final battle against her to end the expansion was a tough one, at least emotionally for me. Though it didn't hit as hard as Darius' death or the lore book that shows up after you beat the main quest. You read it, and then you lay down, try not to cry, cry a lot.
I was surprised that quite a few side quests fed so closely into the storyline for the most part, the biggest shock being at how Andewen was the one who ended up revealing the knowledge that Nocturnal needed to put her plan into action via a time loop. Talk about a long term planner. I was also surprised at how many people came forward at the end of the storyline to vouch for me, which was touching. So many new faces and touching stories.
If there was only one complaint I had about this entire chapter, it's that everybody's favorite Queen (Ayrenn) didn't have a role in it. Seriously, would have loved to see Ayrenn again, even just having her show up in the finale to vouch for you (if you beat the Coldharbour storyline or were part of the Aldmeri Dominion) would have been nice. Overall, a great expansion.
I didn't know what to expect coming into this DLC, as I had no clue where the story could go. The region was…okay, for a swamp anyway. I can see why Bethesda was nervous about making an entire region for Black Marsh considering how bland it was being here in Murkmire. Onto the storyline, it started off with tomb raiding, and slowly evolved into a treasure hunt, into saving an ancient tribe and Hist tree, eventually creating a brand new tribe in Murkmire. Side quests were interesting for lore into how the various tribes work and how they interact with each other. I don't have much complaints with this DLC surprisingly, it feels like a good DLC, chock full of Argonian lore.
ESO has definitely come a long way from their start, and this is shown through the DLC and storytelling. It had a great opening, a rocky middle, and is now at consistent good content, at least from what I can tell. This gets me excited for what I'll see in Elsweyr, Tuesday can't come fast enough! I'll be giving my thoughts on that one once I get and beat it (meaning all side quests done).
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