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Shadows of the Hist Review

By William Murphy on August 03, 2016 | Columns | Comments

Shadows of the Hist Review

Shadows of the Hist, the most recent DLC added to Elder Scrolls Online, just launched on August 1st for PC. We’ve been dabbling for a bit on the PTR, and now on live, and have come to a verdict on the Argonian-centric dungeon and cosmetically focused expansion.

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We’d be lying if we said that Shadows of the Hist didn’t seem like a smaller DLC when compared to say Imperial City, Orsinium, Dark Brotherhood, or Thieves’ Guild. Those DLCs had massive new play spaces, tons of quests, and basically added 10s of hours of content to the game. By comparison, Shadows of the Hist seems more about adding quality of life, tweaking existing group content, and adding more reasons for players to play dungeons.  A smaller, but equally important feature is the addition of Cyrodiil Town Capture to the game’s PVP. Everyone got something in this patch, that’s for sure.

In this way, SotH is a success. But it also feels less meaty than the previous DLC. This isn’t so bad, when you consider that its cost is actually less – 1500 crowns, as opposed to the usual 2000.  That said, the bulk of the “new content” you’re getting for those crowns is the 2 new dungeons, as the appearance, race, and name changes in the ESO Style Parlor are all purchased in the store. There is a hairstyle pack you can buy for 1,000 crowns, which gives you access at all times to the entire gamut of hairstyles that can be changed and swapped out at any time, but again you have to pay extra on top of buying the DLC.

If there was a suggestion I’d offer for players on the fence between straight up buying Shadows of the Hist or subbing to ESO Plus, I’d suggest subbing to Plus and trying the dungeons before outright buying the DLC. That also concerns me too – players who aren’t subbed to ESO or players who don’t buy the DLC cannot queue for these dungeons. Finding groups will undoubtedly be hard down the road, unless loads of new players come in with the Elder Scrolls Online Gold edition this fall.

Now, the negatives and cost issues aside – Ruins of Mazzatun and Cradle of Shadows are two of the best dungeons I’ve yet played in Tameriel. You can watch my run with ZOS for the Ruins in the video below. I’ve done a normal run now, and a veteran run of each and I can safely say you will die a few times on the latter. But it’s not frustrating, because the mechanics of each fight are enough to make you realize you’re the reason for your own death. That’s crucial in MMO dungeons to me – you can’t feel cheated, you need to feel like you should get better to succeed.

The rewards are great too – each dungeon has tons of new item sets to get, there are a slew of new armor motifs across the board, and ESO Plus members can now dye their costumes (not just armor) to make them more unique looking. ESO was already pretty great about that, but now it’s taken to a whole new level with the added hair styles, personalities, dyes, and so on.

In the end, I think that Shadows of the Hist is a must buy for dungeon fans, but a “try before you buy” for other folks. The downside of that? To try, you have to spend $15 anyway on an ESO Plus subscription. So my suggestion is to bite the bullet if you know you love dungeons and achievement hunting. For everyone else, waiting and seeing might be the better option. It’s a wonderful update, and the dungeons really are some of the game’s best, but it may be hard for some to justify the 1500 crowns for what essentially amounts to two hours of (very repeatable) content. Perhaps it would have seemed like more of a value for 1000 Crowns? Either way, the content is great, and as an ESO Plus member it’s nice to have it as a perk.  

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.
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