From the beautiful lands of Elsweyr, fans can prepare for the biggest adventure yet as we go from sunny and beautiful fields filled with dragons to the cold and frigid lands of Skyrim as the Dark Heart of Skyrim adventure begins with the Harrowstorm DLC.
+Both dungeons set up a story that pits players against both the vampire and werewolf clans of Skyrim
+Several fights within Icereach require players to pay attention to the puzzles placed before them
+Hidden bosses are absolutely fun to encounter and require some moderate understanding to overall gameplay mechanics
-The stories are somewhat lackluster and could have used a bit more refinement
-Some of the puzzles aren’t explained for players to understand
As The Elder Scrolls Online prepares for its fourth season in total, which will take players into foreboding lands of Skyrim, the story arch titled Dark Heart of Skyrim is beginning to speed things up, giving players a prologue story to enjoy in the form of both a prologue quest where players investigate a seemingly lethal alliance between both the werewolves and the vampires themselves.
Along the way, players can prepare for the largest story arch yet in the fourth season that will take players into the heart of it all with the Harrowstorm DLC, which adds in a total of 11 new gear sets including Icereach and Unhallowed Grave. The dungeons, the former itself being the most linear of the two, will find that the dungeons themselves offer a good experience each, both averaging between 30 and 40 minutes on Normal and sometimes exceeding an hour and a half on Veteran.
Both dungeons feature armor sets that focus on specific playstyles based on the bonuses they offer, but only do a small bit to force players into diversifying what kind of builds they use, especially if you already have better gear from places such as Trials of the Sun. Out of the two dungeons, you’ll get the most out of Icereach itself, which proves to be something of a grueling chore if you aren’t used to mechanic-heavy encounters.
Having not had a chance to run it with my fellow adventurer, Elona, I ended up doing this dungeon crawl with random players from within the game, making it a bit more difficult than I’d hoped for at the start. Usually, I have her assistance as a Nightblade that works well with my Necromancer caster turned healer.
As normal dungeon crawls in the Veteran series, I’d normally find that fights like these would be a struggle, each one causing our team to use group chat or voice chat, whichever comes firs tot help us clear a fight or have it explained to us while on the go. This wasn’t the case with Harrowstorm’s Icereach dungeon. It was simply a grind, beat down one enemy and move to the next, in one encounter, using spacing between two of them to keep them from becoming virulent foes.
From there, it was just a boss-to-boss dash, each one feeling as if it was just a boss rush without any real wear for working your way through the entire place. It’s a forgettable experience when it comes to comparing it to its sister dungeon, Unhallowed Grave, which is a beast of its own, which takes an hour alone on Normal and almost an hour and a half on Veteran mode, which made this dungeon a beast of its own.
One encounter forcing players to take time to learn how to use the grappling hook mechanic in some form or another. One boss requiring players to move off the center platforms as they others become engulfed in flames and forcing players onto the side platforms itself in order to avoid the wipe. On the other hand, another boss requires players to move to alcoves above the boss, using those alcoves to find runes that will stop the rooms from engulfing into flames.
However, that’s not the only highlight of that entire dungeon. Necromancers get some hefty love with each activated urn giving players a healthy boost to their Necromancer spells. There’s also the fact that your grappling hook becomes empowered. It actually makes an interesting dynamic come to life, allowing players to feel as if Harrowstorm itself is bringing new elements to the title and possible future additions to the overall experience.
The exploration in Unhallowed Grave is one of the most unique ones we’ve had since the release of the Wrathstone DLC when it debuted last year as part of the Season of Dragons for the entire year of 2019. The only thing I’d wished we got was more than a hint that Necromancers, Werewolves, and vampires are conspiring with one another to seemingly take out those who rule all of Skyrim.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game 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. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!