The Elder Scrolls Online: Wrathstone DLC Review
This is the Season of the Dragon in Elder Scrolls Online. What that means is that all of the DLC, the upcoming Elsweyr expansion, and all of the other new content will feed back into the same overarching storyline all year-long. This is the first time ESO has attempted a multi-part story of this magnitude.
While the Wrathstone DLC delivers two excellent, new four-person dungeons — and I really do mean excellent — that's just about all it has to offer. If you're happy with the existing (massive) rotation of dungeons, public dungeons, and trials or prefer PvP content like Cyrodiil or Battlegrounds, then Wrathstone quite literally has nothing to offer you.
This is similar in concept to Wolfhunter, which was another dungeons-focused DLC that released last year.
Coming in at 1,500 crowns (or around $15) this is a much more reserved release than the previous Murkmire DLC, which cost 2,000 crowns (around $20) and introduced an entirely new zone.
All of the other great features released alongside the Wrathstone DLC in Update 21 are included entirely for free for all players.
The Depths of Malatar
For Wrathstone, you're tasked with finding and mending the two halves of the titular Wrathstone tablet, an important artifact. You don't find out much else about it at this time, but it's being positioned as an important prelude to the Season of the Dragon and the upcoming June 2019 release for the Elsweyr expansion.
Of the two new dungeons in Wrathstone, The Depths of Malatar is the easiest. Both feature five bosses and require all four players be at least Level 45. The first time I did this one was with a completely random group of people, and we didn't have much trouble at all finishing it in just about a half hour on Normal. Obviously, it would be much harder on Veteran, but it felt pretty balanced on Normal.
The Wrathstone DLC delivers two excellent new four-person dungeons
What really makes Malatar such a great addition is just how creative the boss designs are. The first boss you come across is The Scavenging Maw, which looks like a beast ripped straight out of a survival horror game. At a few different points in the fight, it will retract upwards and vanish, forcing the party to search for its hiding spot. Whoever finds it first is stunned and slowly damaged over time unless the baddie gets interrupted quickly.
Pictured above is the Symphony of Blades, a giant mechanical monstrosity with multiple blade arms, General Grievous style. He's got a huge variety of attacks, including a cyclone spin with such a wide reach it nearly covers his entire chamber. The nastiest bit of his fight, though, involves walls of light that bathe the arena and can one-shot you on impact unless you slay his minions and dodge the luminescence. It sounds easier than it is, trust me.
These bosses are designed so creatively they're quite honestly in stark contrast to the vast majority of bosses in not only ESO but most MMOs in general. They require real thinking and problem solving, almost like mini puzzles contained within the fights themselves.
Also introduced with Malatar are three new gear sets (for Light, Medium, and Heavy respectively) plus a Symphony of Blades monster mask.
By comparison, Frostvault is a much harder dungeon. From start to finish with a group of mostly strangers on Normal it took us almost a full hour. Granted, I don't consider myself an amazing player, but neither are most people, so it's a good barometer. Ironically enough, the first boss, the Icestalker shown above, is who gave us the most trouble.
His lethality is two-fold: not only can he launch you into the air and stun lock you — even if you're blocking — and then follow that up with a relentless AoE ground slam until you're dead, but he summons a ridiculous amount of adds to join in the fight. After getting wiped several times, we eventually devised a plan to deal with the adds while maintaining at least two or three party members on the boss at all times to help interrupt his stuns and big attacks.
It was tough but in a fun and challenging way. Forcing a team to communicate and work together is what every dungeon in an MMO should strive to do.
A few of the other bosses gave us a bit of trouble here and there, but my favorite overall was definitely the Vault Protector, a Dwemer-style construct that looks like a large animated set of armor. He hits like a truck and has no issues pounding his target to a pulp; he can also cave up inside a crystal dome as lasers passed over the arena from time to time that can burn your health down extremely fast.
Similar to the Symphony of Blades boss from Malatar, it was like a mini puzzle inside a boss fight and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
There are three new gear sets for Frostvault as well, plus a monster mask. Additionally, both dungeons include new collectibles, furnishings, achievements, and titles. Everything is tied to completing the dungeons and fulfilling different criteria, similar to past dungeon DLC releases. In short, it's got everything you'd expect.
Update 21's Free Features
With Update 21, ESO is finally getting a much-needed quality of life enhancement in the form of the Zone Guide, shown above. At a high-level, the Zone Guide is clearly here display how much of each type of content you've done in a particular zone. For example, it shows how many delves you've completed, how many world bosses you've beaten, story quests finished, etc. However, it goes a step further as well. When you access the Zone Guide, you can also use it to literally "guide" you to the content you're missing.
The Zone Guide is a great quality of life improvement
If you want to play some delves in quick succession, just click on the delve icon and it will ping one on your map. When you finish it, then it will automatically ping another one you haven't done. You can even begin or continue a zone's story just by pulling up the Zone Guide. It's incredibly useful, to say the least, and it is one of the most polished new features ESO has received in some time.
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.
- Both new dungeons are excellent
- The new bosses are extremely creative and fun to fight
- All of the new item sets and rewards are worth earning
- There isn't really anything new other than the two dungeons
- Slightly overshadowed by Update 21's improvements
If you're a primarily PvE player in ESO, then purchasing Wrathstone is a no-brainer. Both new dungeons are fantastic; both have some great gear sets to earn and both are definitely fun to replay over and over to really nail the nuances.
It's too bad there isn't much else on offer here, so if you are mostly focused on PvP, then you can probably pass on this one. The story elements are very light and you should be able to jump into Elsweyr when it releases without needing to have seen either dungeon's story here.
The Wrathstone DLC is available now on PC/Mac for 1,500 crowns and will release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 12. If you have an active ESO Plus subscription, you get access to the DLC for free as a membership perk.
There is also a 4,000-crown Wrathstone Collector's Bundle which includes the DLC plus a new Treasure Hunter's Horse mount, the Carnelian Theodolite pet, and five Crown Experience Scrolls to help with leveling.
You can see the fully detailed patch notes for Update 21 and Wrathstone right here.
[Note: The Wrathstone DLC was accessed at no charge as part of the reviewer's own optional and personal ESO Plus subscription.]