The Elder Scrolls Online’s Wrathstone DLC is here and it ushers in the Season of the Dragons as we prepare for the upcoming Elsweyr expansion. Here are our thoughts regarding the newly released DLC pack.
+Brand new mechanics that make fights fun, challenging, and rather creative
+Light story elements that help build up anticipation for the Elsweyr expansion
+New set items and crafting pieces are a rather nice addition
-Won’t have much to offer story-wise for those looking for story options
-Dungeons can be rather offputting for those not used to mechanic heavy fights
When Bethesda said there would be dragons in their Season of the Dragons, the official title for the current overarching storyline, and prepping us for the upcoming expansion Elsweyr, they weren’t drawing back a single punch both figuratively or narratively speaking. This time around, The Elder Scrolls Online is double dipping in a multi-part story, one that links together events from both the upcoming expansion and previously released DLC titled “The Clockwork City”.
But, unlike The Elder Scrolls Online: The Clockwork City, which is mentioned more than once in the Wrathstone DLC, it becomes quite apparent that something bigger, something more devastating is on the way in this short, but action-packed dungeon duet. Let me make one thing clear, however, a disclaimer of sorts.
If you’re one who prefers to go into massive dungeons, public dungeons, trials, or prefer to PvP, this DLC is absolutely not for you. Not because it isn’t good, but because it’s akin to previous DLCs such as Shadows of the Hist, Dragonbone, and the recently released Wolfhunter DLCs. It’s a dungeon duo, both of which help prepare us for what’s coming in the upcoming Elsweyr expansion.
Luckily for us, Bethesda has placed the dungeon DLC at an affordable cost of 1,500 crowns ($15 dollars), for those looking to jump right on in on what the DLC has to offer. Not a horrible price for those of you wanting a nifty little story, dungeons that can nearly take an hour and a half each, or even entire new armor appearances for those of you who like to change the appearance of your gear.
However, when you review a DLC like this and the accompanying patch, there are a few things you have to take into consideration. One, how unique are the dungeons from the others we’ve experienced before? Two, do they really add all that much to the dungeon? And finally, three, does the accompanying update actually improve the Quality of Life of the game in any shape or form, or are they completely optional pieces of content?
Mechanics, mechanics, mechanics. There be mechanics.
The first dungeon out of this duo, if you play them in order, which I wish I’d done, is The Depths of Malatar, which kicks off your adventures as you hunt down the first half of the Wrathstone tablet, a rather important artifact that doesn’t just give away the DLC name, but it’s also a titular piece of a much larger puzzle that will be kicking off the Season of the Dragon.
The Depths of Malatar is a prelude of things to come, setting up everything we know, expect, and hope to see once the story begins to get underway. Just as the title of the season that’s currently underway in The Elder Scrolls Online, you can expect to get a bit of backstory behind what’s going on ahead of The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr expansion drops. But to experience the dungeon that helps kick things off, you need to be a minimum of level 45 before entering the dungeon itself.
Surprisingly enough, my personal experience with the dungeon was with a PUG (Pick Up Group) my first time through, my second time with a steady group I’d managed to have found through general chat. The dungeon’s, as stated, can be completed in about an hour each, allowing you to work your way through various waves of enemies while also bashing your way through the corridors of Malatar.
One of the largest improvements to the dungeon system is how uniquely designed each of them all. Fights such as The Weeping Woman truly go to show just how deep the team has gone to offer different mechanics you might not have experienced before. Her fight, for example, is a pure awareness check, requiring users to void a massive AoE that circles below her with a swirl of spikes that require everyone to back away from the boss.
Rotating between that and a diseases geyser that has to be dodged in order to not be hit by the fountain itself. It doesn’t stop there when it comes to her fight. It gets even harder, and you will need to worry about dodging ice spikes that will fall from the sky, impaling unaware players and killing them instantly. But then there’s the fact she has adds themselves that will pop in and out across the entirety of the encounter.
The biggest threat of this entire encounter is the fact the mechanics never cease. They are constant, which will require DPS and healers to monitor the situation and take adds out as need be. This, however, isn’t the only boss like this. Truth be told, all of the bosses in this dungeon are unique, challenging, and each of them offers their very own mechanics.
The one that sends it home, however, is the boss Symphony of Blades, a boss that doesn’t just work like the rest, but something quite a bit new to the game. This one is hard, swinging his blades around the screen, forcing players to be completely aware of where they are. That isn’t the only challenge in the encounter, but also one that requires the DPS and healer to be aware of their placement, dodging every little attack made as well as taking out the ghosts the boss spawns over the entirety of the encounter.
The dungeons aren’t easy and they do provide a sense of urgency as they get underway
Truth is, the difficulty is the best part of the entire game. It’s quite different from previous titles as a whole. In many ways, it’s a nice change of pace once you’ve run many of the core dungeons a couple of dozen times in both standard and veteran dungeons alike. Thanks to the design choices made, these dungeons stand out the most out of all the previously released bits of content.
Even when you are hunting down gear such as the new sets of gear for all three armor types, you’ll find that the challenge does exist and that each time you run through, group compositions will change how each of the dungeons is experienced throughout your adventures. However, is difficulty actually a thing in these dungeons or is it just pure awareness? Well, that answer is a mixed bag of tricks.
Frostvault compared to Malatar is a major leap in difficulty, requiring your team to smash their way through groups of both ranged as well as close-ranged adds, and that’s before you take into consideration that these groups do have their own awareness checks you’ll need to keep an eye on.
But, you might be wondering, is this because I’m good, bad, or even unskilled at the game? I’d say somewhere in the good-to-still learning range as I’ve begun to delve into other builds for my Dragonknight, which includes a caster build for the class, but regardless, even 800+ CP players struggled with a few of the encounters.
The fight that got us is one that seems to be a commonplace challenge by the name of Icestalker, a hulking goliath who has a two-fold lethality. One, he can use a stun that launches you in the air, regardless if you were blocking or not, and two, an AoE ground slam that he will due until everyone is dead if a healer isn’t healing. Most don’t realize he can be stunned and or interrupted in some way or another.
The fights don’t let up from there. Icestalker is just a taste of things to come as the final boss is not just a boss, but an encounter in which I’ve never seen the likes of once before. You’ll navigate your way through this Dwemer-style constructs belly-of-the-beast, shorting out whatever parts of him you can before beating at his arms and torso, waiting for him to open up once again, allowing your team to navigate his inner-workings once again.
And now, for that update 21 portion
One of the big things that came with The Elder Scrolls Online: Wrathstone DLC is Update 21, which shipped side-by-side with the DLC, ushering in the Season of Dragons. One of the biggest and largest improvements to the game was the Zone Guide, which has been entirely overhauled, allowing you to know how many delves you completed, how many story quests you have finished and giving you an idea of where you need to go in order to complete those objectives.
But that’s not all that makes this update great. You can actually go to the icons, click on them, and it will ping those delves on your map, allowing you to run straight from one delve to another. Have quests you are missing? The same applies here. Do that as well and you’ll find that it goes rather quickly from Point A to Point B. Truth be told, it’s helping me wrap up my story in Cold Harbour that I’ve not finished in almost three years of playing the game due to the fact I lost my place.
It’s an incredibly intuitive design that I’m glad to see that they added alongside a brand-new Battleground map designed around the Aeylid dimension known as ‘Eld Angvar’ alongside some brand new PvP rewards, Guild Trader UI update, and a few racial tweaks that needed to happen sooner than they had, but regardless, they happened and work quite a bit better than before.
Also included in Update 21, free to all players, is the brand-new Battleground map that takes place in an Ayleid dimension called Eld Angvar, new PvP rewards, and a Guild Trader UI update with things like the much-request search bar. There are a bunch of balance changes and racial tweaks as well.
The conclusion – The ball is in your field now
One of the biggest things to remember here is that this pack isn’t for those who find dungeons boring. If that’s the case, you’ll want to hold off or take advantage of it through your ESO Plus membership if you’ve opted for one. For those who love dungeons that are mechanic heavy and with a few light story elements, you’ll enjoy what The Elder Scrolls Online: Wrathstone DLC has to offer.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Wrathstone
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studio
Publisher: Bethesda Zenimax
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $19.99 | Free: ESO Plus membership
For those with a few bucks to spend, you can pick up the standard version of Wrathstone on PC/MAC or Xbox One and PlayStation 4 today for 1,500 crowns or upgrade to the Collector’s Edition Bundle for 4,000 Crowns, which features a new Treasure Hunter’s Horse Mount, a Carnelian Theodolite Pet, and five Crown Experience Scrolls that will help you get to level if you can’t access the dungeons as of yet.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.