Morrowind added a lot of great things to The Elder Scrolls Online. In addition to the iconic location, a variety of quests, delves, public dungeons and even a trial were added, but group dungeons were left out. Horns of the Reach corrects this by adding two new dungeons for players to explore.
Like Shadows of the Hist, Horns of the Reach adds two dungeons, but it goes about it differently from previous expansions. Instead of adding top-tier dungeons like White-Gold Tower or Ruins of Mazzatun, one of the dungeons is short and designed with casual players in mind, with the other being a bit rougher.
The easier of the two dungeons is Falkreath Hold. With a modest number of bosses and mechanics, it’s a low tier dungeon that gives newcomers something to be excited for. The hardest mechanics in this dungeon is using a synergy over dead bodies or moving to stand in a certain location. They can be tricky for newcomers, but easy to manage if you don’t get it.
All of the bosses feature similarly easy mechanics. Most can be toppled with a stack and burn, with the normal version being so easy most of the mechanics can be ignored without issue, outside of spending in specific locations. This makes them a pleasure to play with newcomers and veterans alike, as it’s accessible. This is different than, say, White-Gold Tower, which was hard, even on normal, if people didn’t know what they were doing.
On the harder side there is Bloodroot Forge, a more mechanically driven and exciting dungeon. Here players need to overcome lava, some brutal minotaurs and much more. What makes this place scary is, even on normal, it’s pretty easy to lose. While the mechanics don’t need to be followed to the letter, without some basic understanding of what needs to be done, players will fail.
What makes this dungeon particularly difficult is Galchobhar, a minotaur on an island, that deals considerable damage to players, has a one-hit AoE, some extremely deadly adds, all on a small island. It doesn’t take long for someone to die to one of these things and the run slowly fizzles out players try to revive the down teammate.
Even though it paints a dreary picture of the dungeon, it’s also a lot more fun than Falkreath Hold for precisely this reason. Falkreath Hold is forgettable, because there isn’t a lot of substance. As awesome as it is to have an accessible dungeon, it could still be beefed up a bit. Maybe not a bunch of lava, one hit kills or those mean minotaur traps, but something that sets it apart would be nice.
That being said, both dungeons fall short of the standards set by previous ESO dungeons. Even though White-Gold Tower was widely disliked for being difficult, that difficulty made for some interesting experiences. None of the mechanics, even those in Bloodroot Forge, match the thrill of trying to break the cages lock, avoiding constant lighting from a squeaky voiced villain, zipping through teleports or even washing the spice. Most of them feel like the thought was create a fight, add some kind of mechanic and call it a day.
Sure, you might die to Stoneheart because no one killed the adds or struggled in vain as no one assisted you in the minotaur cage, but none of those moments are as thrilling as previous experiences.
Horns of the Reach isn’t quite the end game dungeons Imperial City and Shadow of the Hist brought us. This isn’t a bad thing, as the average player is likely never going to complete those on veteran, but the approach is bad. With the harder dungeons featuring unique experiences, Horns of Reach is really a long DPS check with some pretty backgrounds. Sure, if you don’t care for the more complicated mechanics it’s fun, but it would’ve been nice to see a better middle ground. Combine this with some new motifs and a couple sets of armor and newcomers have plenty to be excited for, where as long standing players will quickly overcome them and move on.
[Editor’s Note: The Elder Scrolls Online – Horns of the Reach was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]The Elder Scrolls Online - Horns of the Reach Review,