Take up your banners once again, sons and daughters of Tamriel! The first DLC for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is out – and fans who thought they had done everything there was to do in the MMORPG’s Cyrodiil PvP area now have hours more content to keep them busy. While the no-subscription model was undoubtedly a major draw for purchasers of the base game a few months ago, Imperial City costs 2,500 Crowns in the ESO:TU Store, making it around $25.00 (although you have to purchase a 3,000 Crown Pack, leaving you with an extra 500 crowns). So, is this new DLC worth the extra money? That depends. While the Imperial City expansion certainly gives you a lot of good content for the price, the question of whether it is worth a purchase depends on what kind of ESO:TU gamer you are.
When you cash in those 2,500 crowns and get access to Imperial City, you enter the new area through a mission trigger in the PvP area of Cyrodiil. In Cyrodiil, you need to talk to an Imperial City Captain in your own faction’s home base. The Captain will tell you to go and talk to another character in the Imperial Sewers, and a marker will appear on your Cyrodiil map. Off you go – just be prepared for a potentially very long journey to the Sewer, depending on how close you start out to it. I had to trek a long way on foot, and luckily avoided danger from monsters and enemy factions along the way. I must say, I found it an odd way to start, having to go on a 10-minute jog before I could get into Imperial City’s story.
Once you get to the Imperial Sewers, the Imperial City quest begins, as you meet a new character, Drake of Blades. Drake of Blades is your guide along the main quest, and will immediately give you instructions on what to do next. The main quest in Imperial City is substantial and involves the attempt by your faction to free the city from the Daedric forces of Molag Bal. While this scenario of the Imperial City under attack by the Daedra is not wholly original (it formed the basis for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion), this time around we do at least see some cool new enemies, notably the elite guard for Molag Bal, the fearsome Xivkin. There are also the Worm Cult Sorcerers, and other newly-introduced foes.
About the main quest in Imperial City, I will say the same thing I said in my review of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited a few months ago – it does tend to be more fetch-quest heavy than I would like, as Drake of Blades sends you to find this guy, get that key, take it to this other guy, and so on. I know that fans of Elder Scrolls will point out that this has been a trait of the series all along, but I do feel that ESO:TU and this expansion exhibit it a bit more than, say, Oblivion, where I was participating in epic battles more, and fetching less.
“Imperial City is certainly a major content addition to The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, providing over 20 hours of new play-time.”
Aside from the main quest, there is lots to explore and to do in Imperial City. There are six Imperial Districts, and you are free to access any of them whenever you please. You do need to be wary of running into members of rival factions, who are also present in the city, vying for control of it just like your faction is. And Drake of Blades will remind you frequently that you need to get back to your main mission if you wander off the main quest. As you travel around the city’s districts, you will encounter lots of enemy NPCs who will make you work for every inch of the ground you explore.
This brings us to a very important aspect of the Imperial City DLC – it is definitely recommended for higher-level players. Enemies are very tough, having a Veteran level 16 rank, and they will provide you with lots of challenge, even one-on-one. Although you can technically access the Imperial City area with just a level of 10, you will struggle to make progress unless you are much higher, or do it as part of a group. And the two dungeons – White-Gold Tower and Imperial City Prison – are really only for groups; you will find this out pretty quickly when you enter them, and you get immediately swarmed by a horde of strong enemies. Attempt to do this alone, and you will likely be Daedra-chum in short order.
Forming a group is easy enough in ESO:TU, provided there are lots of fellow humans about. When I played, I found it depended on the time, and sometimes it was harder to get a group together than other times. When you can, it is really enjoyable to go through dungeons, engaging in crazy melees with other human players. Group or no group, the enemies in Imperial City will offer you a good challenge, so be prepared for the fight of your life when you take on Imperial City’s environments.
But on the other hand, Imperial City will reward you handsomely for all these hard-fought battles with lots of Tel Var Stones (the newly-created currency for this expansion). You can use them to purchase a vast array of goodies from the merchants in your faction’s home base, including 23 completely new Veteran Rank 16 item sets, which you can only get in the Imperial City DLC. There are also Treasure Vaults with Rank 16 jewelry sets. There is a Banker in the Sewers who will kindly store all your loot for you, as well as lots of merchants, blacksmithing stations, and other familiar hallmarks of the main game.
As far as the environments and visuals of Imperial City, I was very impressed. As someone who played and loved Oblivion, it was a thrill to return to the Imperial City, now in ruins after the attack by the forces of Coldharbour. The backdrop of the vast and majestic city under siege serves as a fitting, epic environment to inspire any Elder Scrolls fan to go forth to war against the demonic forces of Molag Bal. The sewers, despite being sewers, are a visually-pleasant place to be, with lots of activity going on in them, and they serve as a welcome respite from the fierce battles you will engage in above ground. Imperial City, taken as a whole, is a rich, well-designed environment that fits nicely into the growing, living world of the base game.
Imperial City is certainly a major content addition to The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, providing over 20 hours of new play-time. I am hours into my time-investment, and have not come close to exhausting all of its secrets. You also have a new currency system, new loot to win, and lots of new enemies to take on. If you are a hard-core player who has achieved a Veteran rank and has put lots of time into Cyrodiil, you will be right at home in Imperial City and it is well worth the purchase price. Also, if you are powerful enough that enemies are leaving you bored in the main game, Imperial City will offer you lots of challenge to rejuvenate the experience again. However, if you are a lower-level player who is still enjoying the individual questing in the main game, you might want to pass on Imperial City, or at least wait a while to try it. This one is definitely for the heavy hitters.
***Played on the PS4 with code provided by the Publisher***
• Lots content and places to explore
• 20+ hours of main quest time
• Richly-detailed, epic environments
• Quests involve too much fetching
• Punishing difficulty
• Difficulty forming groups