The Elder Scrolls Online update 2.17 patch notes have been revealed today by Bethesda, and it’s a major deal, adding the new Blackwood chapter as well as a tidal wave of bug fixes and general game improvements.
Furthermore, this update is also available for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, where it’s known as The Elder Scrolls Online update 1.02.
New Zone – Blackwood
Prepare to embark on a new adventure! In this update, you can travel to the Imperial and Argonian marshes of Blackwood to uncover the menace behind the Gates of Oblivion.
To begin your voyage to Blackwood, you can choose from among the following:
Create a new character and play through the new Blackwood tutorial.
Enter the zone with an existing character by one of the following ways:
Using the Wayshrine on the Leyawiin Outskirts
Using one of the boats or carts outside of Elden Root, Mournhold or Wayrest
Traveling to a friend who is already in Blackwood
After you complete the (new!) tutorial, seek out either Brigandine Antonius awaiting you upon your arrival to get the first quest of the Main Story, or travel to the gates of Leyawiin and seek out Captain Rian who has need of your assistance.
Blackwood includes the following activities:
Six delves, each with its own Skyshard and associated content
Six challenging world bosses, ranging from the terrifying yet adorable Death Hopper hiding among the northeastern marshes to the horrendous Daedric Ruinach within the sunken xanmeers of Blackmarsh
Two public dungeons: the abandoned fortress of Zenithar’s Abbey and the home of a crazed Argonian Daedric cult within The Silent Halls
New set crafting stations
Venturing into the depths of the Deadlands from the numerous Oblivion Portals opening up around the region
Over thirty hours of quest content, exploration, achievement hunting
The forces of Mehrunes Dagon are keen to invade the lands of Blackwood and mean to do so via new Oblivion Portal events. You’ll seek out these portals, venture into the Deadlands, and put an end to the invading army before it can wreak havoc across all of Tamriel.
Oblivion Portals will appear randomly throughout Blackwood. Entering a portal takes you to the Deadlands, Mehrunes Dagon’s Daedric home.
There are multiple pathways to explore within the Deadlands.
Defeating the denizens of the portals will award you with Jewelry from the overland item sets.
Companions are non-player characters who can aid you on your adventures throughout Tamriel. Once called to your side, these stalwart allies will assist you both in and out of combat. Fighting alongside your companion and taking actions they approve of will improve their effectiveness and allow you to build rapport, respectively. As you earn their trust and strengthen your bonds of fellowship, your companion may share personal quests with you. You may also give them companion-specific gear and customize them in a wide variety of ways, including setting their abilities, mounts, costumes, outfits and more.
Acquisition and Activation
If you have access to the Blackwood Chapter, you can unlock two companions through completing associated quests in the Blackwood zone.
Bastian is found in the Deepscorn Hollow objective along the southwest coast of Blackwood
Mirri is found in the Doomvault Vulpinaz objective in north Blackwood
Once either objective is completed, the respective Companion collectible will be granted.
These collectibles can be found in the Collections menu under a new top collectibles category of Allies, in the Companion subcategory. Assistants are considered allies and have been moved to their own subcategory accordingly.
You may have either a Companion or an Assistant active.
Companion collectibles may be activated from the Collections menu or quick slotted for ease of use.
In population-limited instances such as dungeons, group arenas and trials, each companion present counts toward the population cap as if they were a player.
Players will always take priority and companions will be auto-dismissed as players zone in.
Companions cannot be summoned in PvP areas, solo arenas or in housing instances. They also cannot be summoned while you are in combat or if the summoning character has not yet completed the associated introductory quest, even if the collectible has been unlocked by another character.
If the relationship between the character and companion deteriorates into very low rapport states, the companion may voluntarily unsummon themselves and be unavailable to the associated character for a time.
Companion visibility may also be briefly suppressed in some situations where they are unable to navigate to your character, such as while swimming.
Interaction and Customization
To engage with your companion, simply initiate dialogue with them and select the Companion Menu dialogue option.
This menu provides you with detailed information regarding the status of the companion, as well as tools for adjusting the companion’s combat behavior and visual customization.
Beyond the Companion Menu, dialogue with your companion is also a way to get to know them better and their responses will vary based on rapport, quest status, and other factors.
The overview section of the companion character tab provides a summary of Companion information including level, slotted abilities, rapport status, companion perk details and outfit application status.
Selecting the equipment option of the Companion character tab displays any companion equipment in your inventory which can be equipped on your companion via the display on the left.
The skills tab of the Companion menu provides a list of available skill lines and associated abilities which may be slotted into the companion’s active ability bar.
These abilities may have usage restrictions such as requiring a specific weapon type is equipped.
Companions attempt to use their abilities in priority order from left to right, if they have a valid target and meet any associated requirements of the ability.
Companion abilities utilize a cooldown system to determine frequency of usage, with various companion abilities having an array of cooldown times.
Companions have a large pool of abilities available to them, which are thematically similar to abilities you may recognize from various skill lines.
These abilities provide the opportunity to customize the companion’s combat role including tanking, healing, damage, and any hybridization desired to perfectly complement their player’s ability configuration.
Companions can be customized using many of your own cosmetic collectibles. This includes mounts, costumes and outfits!
Companions have a default mount which they will utilize when you mount up, but this can be overridden through the Companion menu in the Collectibles tab.
Unlocked costumes may be applied through the Collectibles tab as well, with any associated applied dyes being shared across your character and companion’s appearance per costume.
Visiting an outfit station allows you to configure a dedicated outfit slot, with each companion having a dedicated slot per account. This outfit can be activated through the overview screen of the Companion UI.
Note that a companion’s head armor is automatically hidden at all times and will not be displayed regardless of equipment or cosmetic override settings.
Additionally, a small subset of mount, costume and outfit collectibles may not be usable by the companion based on gender, race, or other restrictions.
With the exception of quests and rapport, which collectively represents the relationship between each character and the companion, all Companion progress is account-wide.
Companions are level 1 when unlocked, with a limited set of ability bar slots and a maximum potential level of 20.
Companions level up via experience gained with your character directly from combat.
Experience increasing effects such as holiday bonuses and consumable boosters applied to your character will provide an indirect benefit to the companion as well.
As companions gain combat levels, their health and overall power (which affects weapon and spell damage) increases automatically, additional ability bar slots unlock, and more class abilities become available. This includes an Ultimate slot and ability, which unlock at combat level 20.
Companions have access to several skill lines, each with associated abilities. Most companion skill lines have 3 active abilities which can be acquired through leveling up of that skill line.
Companion abilities do not require skill points to unlock and do not rank up or morph over time.
Class Skill lines increase with the combat level of the companion.
Weapon skill lines increase through combat experience based on the equipped weapon(s).
Armor skill lines increase through combat experience based on the equipped weight of the armor on the companion.
Guild skill lines increase through completing specific solo daily quests associated with the guild, for the active companion.
Racial skill lines do not include active abilities and are immediately applied based on the race of the companion.
Each companion unlocks with some progress in skill lines based on their background, as well as with multiple combat abilities pre-slotted so they are immediately combat ready. These may be changed as desired.
Rapport with companions begins at cordial, based on the introductory quest experience and may go up and down over time, based on your actions with the active companion.
All companions have strong personal preferences which you can learn about through dialogue and experimentation in the world. As rapport increases or falls, various thresholds will be met, with corresponding changes in the companion’s dialogue with you.
At higher tiers of rapport, the companion will be inclined to share personal information with you and ask you for your assistance with associated quests.
At lower tiers of rapport, the companion may choose to part ways with you for a certain amount of time.
Rapport adjustments are displayed in real time in the loot stream and have limitations on how often they can be triggered for both positive and negative rapport events.
The current rapport status can always be viewed on the overview window of the Companion UI.
Equipment and Sourcing
Companion equipment is distinct from player gear with no overlap between them. Companion gear unlocks with a set of untraited white equipment based on their background.
Bastian begins wearing Medium Armor and a Destruction Staff while Mirri starts off with Light Armor and a Bow.
Companion equipment does not include level, cannot be enchanted, does not require repairs and does not include an inherent style appearance, but instead inherits the style of the companion it’s applied to.
White companion equipment can be purchased from Weaponsmith, Woodworker, Armorer, Leatherworker, and Tailor merchants throughout the world, allowing you to customize your companion role accordingly.
Fine (green), superior (blue) and epic (purple) quality companion equipment with traits are obtained from monster drops throughout the world, particularly from bosses.
This equipment can be traded so it can be bought and sold on the market.
Equipment above white quality also comes with companion-centric traits:
Quickened (Cooldown Reduction)
Prolific (Ultimate Generation)
Focused (Critical Strike Chance)
Aggressive (Damage Done)
Soothing (Healing Done)
Augmented (Ability Buff and Debuff Duration)
Bolstered (Reduce Damage Taken)
Vigorous (Max Health)
Quests and Rewards
In addition to the Blackwood quest objective which introduces and unlocks the respective companions, each companion has two associated personal side quests which will become available to you once a sufficient rapport has been established.
Completing the second companion quest will unlock a houseguest collectible of the companion, allowing them to be placed and utilized similarly to other houseguest collectibles.
Completing any Companion side quest will result in a large rapport boost.
Perks and Keepsakes
Each companion has a unique associated non-combat perk which benefits you while active.
Mirri’s Expertise: Treasure Chests found through Treasure Maps and in the Overland have a 30% chance to provide additional loot from hidden compartments. The treasure from these hidden compartments may contain additional gold, sellables or recipes.
Bastian’s Insight: Potions looted from chests and monsters have a 30% chance to be improved by Bastian’s Insight.
By completing meta-achievements associated with each companion, you can unlock a keepsake collectible for each companion which provides the benefits of the non-combat perk even while the companion isn’t active.
These collectibles are located under the Upgrades section of the Collections menu.
Responsiveness and Miscellaneous Items
Companions can respond to a wide array of situations that occur while adventuring with you, both in and out of combat.
While they will always respond to some critical triggers, you can adjust the frequency your companion will vocally respond by opening the settings menu, selecting gameplay, and adjusting the “Companion Reactions” setting to Infrequent, Normal, and Frequent.
Beyond ability and equipment selection, companions can also be directed in battle in a couple additional ways.
While companions will always attempt to engage in combat to support you, utilizing pet commands allows you to direct the companion to engage with specific targets or to pull back, respectively.
By default, press L3+R3 along with the left or right bumper on gamepad.
Additionally, companions will utilize their Ultimate when available and conditions are met by default. However, you can choose to have them wait until directed to utilize it.
The Companion Ultimate Auto Cast setting in gameplay section of the settings menu allows you to set the companion to wait until they are directed to use their Ultimate by pressing L3+R3 with no bumper input on gamepad.
Companions will also attempt to block incoming heavy attacks, interrupt some abilities and break free from crowd control effects. However, their timing is not always perfect, and they do have a cooldown between uses of these actions.
If a companion dies in battle, they can be revived using a soul gem, similar to reviving other players.
Any companion who is still defeated at the end of combat will recover within a few seconds of battle concluding.
Stone-talkers from the Ca-Uxith tribe have watched over Rockgrove’s Xanmeer for centuries. Although the stone stays silent, the chaos roiling beneath it could erupt at any moment. A sect of a rival tribe, the Sul-Xan, has invaded Rockgrove and is preparing to sacrifice the inhabitants to fuel some dark ritual.
Rockgrove is a 12-player Trial located in the southern portion of Blackwood.
The Trial includes a normal and challenging Veteran version.
There are unique Item Sets within the Trial including Perfected versions only found in the Veteran difficulty.
Unique Achievement awards are available for completing the Trial, including:
A unique body marking
A unique mount
Unique housing items
New Item Sets
A number of new item sets can be obtained in Blackwood through crafting, Rockgrove Trial, or within the overland:
Frostbite – Light
2 – Adds 129 Spell Damage
3 – Adds 657 Spell Critical
4 – Adds 129 Spell Damage
5 – Increases your damage done with Frost abilities by 8%. Increases your damage done against Chilled enemies by 4%. Increases your damage done against enemies afflicted with Minor Brittle by 2%.
Deadlands Assassin – Medium
2 – Adds 129 Weapon Damage
3 – Adds 129 Weapon Damage
4 – Adds 1096 Maximum Stamina
5 – Adds 200 Weapon Damage
5 – Dealing damage to an enemy within 10 meters of you with a Heavy Attack causes you to throw a cone of knives, dealing Physical Damage to enemies hit. If an enemy hit has 50% Health or less, they also take additional Bleed Damage over 13 seconds and scales off of the higher of your Weapon or Spell Damage.
The full list of The Elder Scrolls Online 2.17 patch notes can be seen here.