The Blackwood Chapter is set to expand The Elder Scrolls Online universe later this June. Ahead of its arrival, Zenimax Online Studios held a press preview event, giving us a chance to go hands-on with the highly anticipated chapter. Beyond the usual addition of new questlines, locations, and characters, Blackwood also comes with an innovative new Companion system – one that fits perfectly with the casual gameplay framework it works hard to cultivate.
All of this new content is great, but it’s not the reason I’ll be picking up the Blackwood Chapter later this year. No, I’ll be running around Leyawiin, slaying Daedra with Eveli Sharp-Arrow and Mirri, because it feels like a return to Oblivion – one of my personal favorites in the Elder Scrolls series.
Blackwood isn’t the first chapter to bring locations from The Elder Scrolls 4 to The Elder Scrolls Online, but it’s the first to fully embrace its Oblivion roots. Your main objective in Blackwood is to solve a murder mystery – one that will eventually pit you against Mehrunes Dagon. Before that, however, you’ll fight his army of Daedra on the Planes of Oblivion, all of which will be welcomed by fans of the old title from 2002.
Then there’s the hub town of Leyawiin – a place that’s been radically reworked since we last saw it in Oblivion. Despite having only a few other players on my server, the town was downright bustling with NPC activity compared to TES4. The swampy settlement also benefits from the massive technical leaps made over the years, evident in the variety of buildings, statues, and puddles of water scattered within its walls. As great as the town is on its own, I’m excited to see what it looks like when hundreds of players are running about its mucky streets, bartering, questing, and stealing from its locals. There’s no doubt in my mind it’ll become one of my go-to locations throughout all Tamriel.
The Daedric storyline and reworked town of Leyawiin might provide Blackwood with most of its Oblivion vibes, but there are a few other bits and pieces scattered about the region that seal the deal. I’ll leave many of these easter eggs alone – half the fun is discovering them in the wild – but there’s one in particular that Oblivion fans need to know about.
The Adoring Fan is back.
Well, sort of. The red-haired Bosmer from Oblivion – who would follow you around after becoming Grand Champion in the Arena – is vaguely referenced in Blackwood. During your journey, you’ll come across another Bosmer that claims to be your biggest fan, although he’s lacking the flamboyant hair of his predecessor. He’ll bombard you with questions, ask for help with some heroic endeavor, and even suggest picking a fight with a few monsters, so you have to help him out.
It’s completely ridiculous – just like the Adoring Fan that came before him, pestering you incessantly with that awestruck look on his face.
Unfortunately, the character only made one appearance during my playtime, before sprinting off into the night. I’m hoping he’ll show up again later in the story, and maybe next time he’ll be sporting the iconic red hairdo.
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Jon Bitner is an Associate Editor for TheGamer. His passion for gaming started with his first console (Sega Genesis) and he hasn’t stopped playing since. His favorite titles include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Team Fortress 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Pokémon Sword & Shield, Old School Runescape, Skyrim, and Breath of the Wild. He can usually be found playing the latest RPG, FPS, or some obscure mobile game. Before working as Associate News Editor, Jon earned a Biology degree and worked in the Biotechnology sector — experiences that taught him how to put words together and make sentences. When not playing or writing about the gaming industry, he enjoys sleeping, eating, and staring at birds.
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