The Elder Scrolls Online Gets Dark Brotherhood DLC

If I’m honest I’d totally forgotten that The Elder Scrolls Online [official site] is a thing that still exists. ZeniMax haven’t, though. In fact they’ve just launched the latest DLC for the MMORPG: Dark Brotherhood.

If you have even a passing familiarity with Elder Scrolls games you’ve probably worked out that the Dark Brotherhood stuff is about trying to join the franchise’s guild of assassins:

A merciless guild of assassins rises to power in Tamriel, and your murderous talents make you a prime recruit. Explore the Gold Coast and discover if you have what it takes to become one of Tamriel’s master assassins in the Dark Brotherhood DLC game pack. From the bustling port city of Anvil to the Great Cathedral of Kvatch, the business of the Brotherhood consists of murder and mayhem—and business is good! Join the Brotherhood, enter the Sanctuary, and accept your first contract from the mysterious Speaker. Kill well, assassin!

I feel like that’s a lot of responsibility to just give to some rando who turns up at the Sanctuary. Like, you just give them a contract without making them do a proper internship? I mean, in the documentary, Game Of Thrones, there is a LOT of faffing about and training and more faffing and posturing and having conversations that go precisely nowhere. The Speaker in TESO doesn’t even seem to ask for your references.

Oh, hang on – maybe this bit is the vetting process?

“Enter any Outlaws Refuge and approach an assassin by the name of Amelie Crowe. Speak to her to begin the “Voices in the Dark” quest. Progress through the events of the quest—they’ll lead you to Anvil and put you on the path as a Dark Brotherhood initiate. (You can also accept the “Voices in the Dark” quest by purchasing the DLC and navigating to the DLC tab in your Collections menu.)”

There’s also this trailer, which is mostly just players sneaking up behind someone and stabbing them and then showing it again from a different angle. I mean, I guess it’s honest in terms of how stabbing someone from behind works in the game but it is seriously not selling me the experience:

There’s also a minotaur and poisoning.

Anyway. The deal is the same as with previous TESO DLC. There’s the specific Dark Brotherhood stuff in one lump and the other lump is a patch that everyone who owns the base game gets access to.

The DLC is 2,000 crowns which is TESO’s in-game currency. It works out at about a tenner if you want the direct conversion, although you can’t just buy 2,000 crowns. You’d have to get one of the larger packs and just have some crowns left over to fritter away on whatever else took your fancy, so it’s sort of really £14.99 and then 1,000 crowns in change.

Alternatively, you can get access without paying extra if you have the TESO Plus membership thingy, which is their premium paid account model. It’s £8.99 for 30 days so it’s technically cheaper than just chucking crowns at the problem and you get access to all the DLC but that only lasts as long as your Plus membership.


  1. Spacewalk says:

    “Found the cutlery, it was over here all along”.

  2. Fnord73 says:

    Thats a lot of stabbing.

  3. int says:

    Killing dramatically, and with a flourish too!

  4. DThor says:

    Keep meaning to fire this up again and see if the “meh”s flow. I seem to recall it wasn’t exactly awful, just perhaps nothing particularly new and of course had trailers far above it’s game. Possibly I’m not the MMO target market anymore since grind seems to be back in vogue and is positively celebrated in games like Black Desert or Lake or whatever that absolutely horrible time waster is called that inexplicably gets raves.

  5. ZIGS says:

    How viable is this as a purely single-player experience?

    • Aitrus says:

      Most of the content in the game is single player, you’ll just have other people flittering all around you a lot of the time.

      • ZIGS says:

        Welp, that’s the dealbreaker right there

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          particlese says:

          I can’t tell whether you were actually serious with your question since this is an MMO we’re talking about, but I’ll give you — and others who might be wondering the same — the benefit of the doubt since I play and enjoy it as a single-player game with chat, and the latter is entirely optional.

          I can tell you ESO’s a heck of a lot better than something like Guild Wars was in terms of being a single player experience. Most of all, it’s actually *possible* to solo the main game’s entire story and at least some of the DLC without being awesome at the game. If you play it like you would an Elder Scrolls game, it’ll probably take you about as long as an Elder Scrolls game to get through one of the three factions’ campaigns plus the universal campaign. There’s plenty of looting, landscapes to look at, NPCs to hear yak at you, NPCs to kill, stuff to craft, short stories to read, and so on, just like in a single-player Elder Scrolls game.

          If you’re ready to dismiss the game on account of there being people jumping all over town, that’s okay, and I can appreciate it (there are plenty of good actually-single-player games to play right now), but I’m happy I didn’t dismiss the game for that or any of the other “ugh, massively multiplayer” issues I was worried about. Maybe keep an eye out for it going on sales at various places around the internet. (A friend bought it for me at Green Man Gaming a year ago for $15, for example.)

          Oh, and if you play Elder Scrolls games to whiz through the story as fast as you can and do try this game, maybe avoid the Ebonheart Pact, which supposedly has the worst and most blatantly fetch-questy story. I mostly play to wander, read books, and make nifty-looking shirts, though, and it seemed to me to be as good/mediocre as any other TES main story.

          • neofit says:

            “I can tell you ESO’s a heck of a lot better than something like Guild Wars was in terms of being a single player experience.”
            How about the skill points though (or whatever the name)? The thingies that you invest into your skills to make your character stronger. Last time I checked, 15% of them were locked in their forced PvP area. Not very SP-friendly nor TES-like.

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            particlese says:

            Only matters if you’re trying to max out your character, and in my experience, enemy players generally ignore each other in the PvE-centric areas of Cyrodiil anyway. Not all the time, of course, but I’ve had very little trouble in that regard. Most players looking for PvP action and points are off attacking forts and other PvP-centric things. However, the atmosphere is certainly more intense because of the possibility of being attacked by another player, and yeah, the PvP, though it can be fun, is not very traditional-TES-like.

          • buddybubble says:

            No hold on, this is getting interesting.. I loved all the Elder Scrolls games (Morrowing being the all time favourite) but I have never touched ESO, mainly because I despise multiplayer. I play games for the story and immersion and seing 13yo kids with stupid tags jumping all around the game ruins it for me, also I don’t like the stupid grinds and the always same “fetch this kill that, don’t ask why” tasks. But could I play this like a regular Elder Scrolls single player game? I mean does it still have a story and quests and the same attitude as the older games to it?

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            particlese says:

            In case you don’t make it though this post: Whether or not you end up playing ESO, it sounds like you’d like the two Elder Scrolls novels by Greg Keyes. I finished them just last weekend, found them excellent, and there’s at least one other RPS commenter who liked them. :)

            Anyway! If you’re really sensitive to that multiplayer stuff, then ESO may well be a game to avoid. There are plenty of lore-friendly names running about, and purple text (roleplaying) will occasionally avoid the corner of your screen if you don’t close the chat window, so there are clearly semi-serious/serious/too-serious TES-enjoying folks enjoying this game enough to keep playing. That said, yeah, there are also the likes of “Captain Poopdeck”, “Lifts-Your-Tail”, “Tries-Not-To-Die”, and plenty of less amusing ones that you’ll come across. I was amused by those three, but I’m me. I find them all ignorable in terms of immersion. Then, of course, there’s seeing other people jumping around and the pileups at quest-givers and crafting stations you’ll get when multiplayer comes into play. No avoiding that, but again, I find it ignorable. At any rate, if you find it super-cheap somewhere and decide to give it a try, at least turn off zone chat in the chat tab options (right click), unless you’re seeking help on a game mechanic. (Or just start a chat entry with “/tell @particlese”, and I’ll try to help.)

            If you can get around that stuff, I reckon you’ll find the lore and general world-building stuff about on par with the other TES games. Voice acting is generally stronger and more varied than in the past (though you may or may not enjoy the celebrity voices here and there, and most Argonian voices still impress me as annoyingly strained and affected), there are a ton of good short books to read everywhere, and the individual quests range from being awesome to standard fare to fetch-quests. Regarding that last point, it sounds like you should avoid the Ebonheart Pact. A friend of mine who’s really into narrative structure and how it gets worked into games hated it, loves Aldmeri Dominion, and is really looking forward to getting around to the Daggerfall Covenant, which he’s heard is the best of the three in terms of story. I mostly took the main story in small bits between exploring, and I found it to be fine, although the sorta-end (just before the final area) was so bad I felt it was a meta-fetch-quest, and its big battle was hilariously anticlimactic. Anyway, the books, at least, are exactly what you’d expect. It feels like there isn’t as much environmental storytelling, but what’s there is good and in the right tone. The sense of humor is spot on, too, though possibly with slightly more frequent self-references. To me, the fan service has come across as minimal and appropriate (M’aiq is there, etc.), and I’ve detected no pop culture nods. They haven’t even done fake-Christmas or April Fools Day in-game, so far. Well, there was a cake on a pedestal for their second anniversary, and I found the attached quest dumb, but the latter seemed lore-friendly. Running around summoning pedestal cakes is probably not lore-friendly, but no one seems to do that anymore.

            Mechanics-wise, for better and worse, a lot of things have an MMO twist on them: the UI is very PC-friendly by default, you have 1-3 skill bars containing 6 skills apiece (except for the third bar, whose existence weirdly depends on having one of a few special spells equipped and toggled), the default GUI setup echos Skyrim’s default “compass and map full of quest markers” approach, enemies are highlighted on mouseover by default, etc. I argued with myself this morning about skill levelling, and I’ve decided it just as different from the previous games as they are from eachother. Equipment and skill bar skills and their categories level based on which equipment and skills you have equipped when you earn experience, which is weird, but as long as you don’t game the system, it ends up working like Oblivion’s/Skyrim’s approach to leveling skill categories. Crafting goes along directly with the crafting work you do, and certain lore books give you instant level-ups in appropriate categories, just like in TES 3-5. Skill unlocks come with skill points, which are earned per-level, for many main-story quests, and for every 3 “sky shards” you collect (mentioned above by neofit). Attributes are leveled up with your character level, which is based entirely on quests, killing stuff, exploring, and other sources of experience points. I recently heard someone got to max level without killing anyone…and I just realized there is no actual sleep mechanic in this game. o_o

            And the music! Music’s important to me in games. I like it in this one. It’s generally less upbeat and definitely less hummable than Jeremy Soule’s stuff in 3-5 (I believe he only did the main theme on this one), but I find it pleasant enough, and it’s honestly nice to have a break from Jeremy’s cymbal riding. (I imagine him in cowboy gear riding a bucking ride cymbal sometimes.) The Dark Brotherhood DLC brought with it new music to many areas, but I don’t know if it can be heard without having access to the DLC. They apparently give their music some more programmatic love, too, as the recent patch notes say, “Polished many locations where the sound and/or music didn’t quite fit the space or, in some cases, was missing entirely.”

            I’m greatly disturbed by the size of the tangent I’ve gone on here, so I’ll stop, but to people in general: Feel free to keep asking. I’ll tell you wot I think, unless you’re necroposting in the distant future.

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            particlese says:

            Good grief, I’ve really outdone myself this time. And in the thinnest part of the comments, no less. @_@

          • Niente says:

            We’ll have to agree to disagree about the Greg Keyes Elder Scrolls books. I thought they were dreadful and had absolutely nothing of the flavour of the games or Tamriel in them.

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            particlese says:


            I’ll agree they had a different tone/flavor from the games themselves, but I thought they were a good long-form extension of the in-game books, with a slightly different sense of humor. Refreshing but respectful of the source material, was my impression of the tone. Not sure if it’s the “dreadful” aspect you’re referring to, but I won’t argue either way on the quality of the overall narrative or the character complexity since that’s not really my bag. …Although I had to read one part near the end about 8 times because of the overuse of pronouns. I don’t know enough lore to fairly judge it on that front, either, but I again found it refreshingly different while remaining within the bounds of TES’s established possibilities.

        • epeternally says:

          It really should be. TESO does a much worse job of making the people around you feel organic than say, Guild Wars 2. Having other people doing the same quests as you feel awful. It’s a badly designed MMO and, bluntly, a bad game. To my mind, though, what ruins solo play is the respawn rates. You’re constantly fighting the same monsters repeatedly because they respawned right behind you. In general, I’ve felt like playing solo is discouraged pretty harshly. Almost immediately after the tutorial, you’ll get into encounters that are tedious and frustrating alone. And gods is it bland. But even just stripping out the MMO aspects would improve the game tremendously.

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            particlese says:

            Hmmm, can’t really make much argument there since the first Guild Wars is the only other MMO I’ve played for a decent amount of time. That game was way more single-player hostile than TESO, though.

            Respawn rates in TESO are a bit high, yeah. I’d guess the idea is to give everyone stuff to fight, but being able to opt into a solo instance for all dungeons (a la GW1) would be nice. No idea what the alternatives are.

            Also, I never noticed a problem with solo difficulty, but nearly all my solo time is spent with two minions in tow…basically the pve game’s easy mode.

  6. tomimt says:

    Isn’t it pretty much a basic problem with Elderscrolls games in general, that factions trust you blindly despite they know nothing on you. By knowing a single, low level spell you can become a leader of the mages guild, because obviously you are the best man for the job, despite the guild is full of people that have been members for decades.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      At least in the other games you can choose a narrative of your own and your own consequences to some extent. In this, the only choice is to play or not to play.

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        particlese says:

        There’s also the choice to go wander the countryside reading books, happening upon small scenes, killing random bandits, and doing bits of the main story only when you get bored. Just as valid/doable in this game as it is in any other TES game with the exception of the “final area” of each of the three factions’ quest lines, which only opens up when you finish all of your chosen faction’s main quests up to that point. But if you get bored, there are two other factions’ regions to explore and roleplay in (or whatever you’re getting at with that “narrative” bit), albeit only after starting a new character or working through your main character’s main quest up to — but not including — the “final area”. And each of those regions is massive. Just…be warned that there are either no or very few cheese wheels in this game. If your chosen narrative involves cheese wheels rolling down mountains, you will be disappointed. This game has wedges of cheese, but they do not obey the laws of physics, and I have yet to see an entire wheel, as far as I can recall. :( Also, yes, you have to tolerate the fact that there are other people running, jumping, and riding various animals all throughout your narrative.

        Oh, and if you decide to play it like an MMORPG, it will magically turn into an MMORPG and stop being fun, unless you’re into that sort of thing. The hub-oriented questing structure is more blatant than it is in the other TES games, but you’re free to ignore it all and make your own narrative or non-narrative. Heck, you can turn off bits of or even the entire GUI overlay if you want to be totally free of those types of gamey distractions.

    • Distec says:

      It’s always been a problem, but it’s definitely gotten more severe as the games have progressed.

      I remember in Morrowind where you needed to have have some competency with your skills to rank through the guilds. These were usually just skill checks, but it made sense that a dude with Journeyman Sneak and Apprentice Lockpick shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the Thieves Guild. Fast forward to Skyrim and I’m pretty sure I completed the Mages Guild questline without throwing more than three fireballs.

      There was a good write-up of just how much evolved and changed in the Elder Scrolls series, . Takeaway quote:

      “The grand finale of the Thieves’ Guild questline in Oblivion is a legendary heist. The grand finale of the Skyrim Thieves’ Guild is a dungeon crawl ending in a boss battle.”

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      gritz says:

      In Morrowind, it’s pretty obvious that many of the factions you work for (and become “leader” of) don’t actually trust you but see you as a powerful and gullible tool to further their ends.

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    particlese says:

    So…yeah, I guess I kinda like this game, and it annoys me to see people dismiss it all the time. It has plenty of faults, but it’s been a surprisingly good Elder Scrolls game for me.

    This assassin stuff and the previous thieves guild stuff doesn’t concern me much because I don’t care to play as either, despite killing everything that attacks me (plus more than a few which would if I didn’t avoid them) and pocketing everything that doesn’t give rise to red text… This patch seems good nevertheless, though: new places to explore and wax nostalgic over, nearly free reconfiguration of my not-so-mad skills (I put way too much into basketweaving), new music, a bunch of other junk people refer to as “content”, and apparently items disappearing from your inventory which shouldn’t be doing so! Um, and they’ve fixed that last one in a patch patch.

    Probably all standard MMO update stuff, but kinda nice for an Elder Scrolls game. It’s almost like it’s an expansion pack or something.

  8. neofit says:

    I am not sure I understand how this expansion works. I’ve read the DLC+patch notes, and apparently people have to create new toons to enter the Brotherhood? Can’t you continue playing with your existing wizard or warrior toon for instance?

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      particlese says:

      I’m pretty sure it would not make sense to create a new character just to start playing the expansion, unless you find assassination unbefitting of any of your current characters. I haven’t seen any zone chat rage about it, so I think it’s okay. :)

      Adding UESP to the mix, I’d say yeah: sounds like you can just use an existing character. As with the Orsinium and Thieves Guild DLCs, it appears you’ll seek out or run into an NPC who asks you to do a thing, and then you can do it if you want. Since I didn’t want to do the quest on my main char, I simply traveled quest-free to Anvil by wayshrine and started exploring, and I think this applies to the other DLCs’ new areas, too.

      The Imperial City DLC is a little different in that you can simply walk into it (through a door to the sewers, and then up a ladder into the city) once you’re in Cyrodiil, but the latter requires some menu-poking to access since it’s the PvP area. Two turn-offs from the single-player perspective is that there used to be one PvP instance where access to the sewers was gated based on faction dominance of Cyrodiil (but that was killed off), and I heard something recently about there being factional control of the various districts of the city sometime in the future. Both are kinda interesting from player motivation and worldbuilding/extrapolated-goings-on perspectives, but also both really annoying if you just want to explore the city. The city is tough on the PvE side anyway, though. Not really soloable for someone like me who isn’t awesome at the game, though sneaking around and through it and the sewers can be exciting and fruitful. It’s also more likely you’ll run into hostile enemy players there than in the non-Imperial City PvE-centric areas of Cyrodiil, and they’re not quite as quick to ignore you there, in my experience — possibly because most people are running around in groups due to the general difficulty.

      Way more than you wanted to read, I’m sure…

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    particlese says:

    In case someone reads all these comments in The Future: I played a bit of Skyrim for perspective this weekend (it had been a year), and my conclusion was: same world, but Skyrim has a much better atmosphere (in many respects); ESO has a broader playable lore base, better UI design, and is less prone to crashing (unless you use its 64-bit client). There are other points that could be made, but those are the biggies for me.

    I still like both of them as TES games, but I’d have probably made my other comments here less defensive/semi-promotional (ick) of ESO if I had refreshed my memory sooner. If you’re allergic to multiplayer, don’t bother. Its lore is on UESP and probably the Imperial Library, if lore’s your thing. If you can tolerate the multiplayer shenanigans and want more playable TES while you wait for #6, I’d still recommend checking it out. It’s a shame they don’t have a trial version…