The Elder Scrolls Online: Dark Brotherhood DLC Review

By Megan Walton, 3 months ago
Continuing with the theme of bringing back our most loved guilds and charging us for them, Bethesda has now added another new guild to The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Leaving death and grief in their wake, The Dark Brotherhood has been a big hit in previous Elder Scrolls games and put your morals to the test by challenging you to bring death upon those who, supposedly, deserve it. How does this visit to the Brotherhood compare with those of games past?

Welcome to the BrotherhoodWelcome to the Brotherhood

Once you have purchased the DLC from the crown store, the Dark Brotherhood questline begins as soon as you accept the first quest, "Voices in the Dark". The questline is mostly focused in the Gold Coast, a stretch of land between Anvil and Kvatch (both of which should be familiar to players of Oblivion). Once you arrive, your morals are put straight to the test as you are asked to kill an innocent civilian whilst being "observed by forces unknown". If you let your evil side take over and do as was asked, you will be invited to join the Dark Brotherhood and become acquainted with the sanctuary, as well as the various members of the guild. The Dark Brotherhood is having problems, though, and some of its members are being targeted and killed. As you complete more quests, you get drawn into the story and help to solve the question of who is killing the killers.

This Dark Brotherhood questline may sound familiar, but it also feels a little uninspired and more tedious than previous questlines. Too often the quests are tasks like reaching a location and killing this person, while sneaking in and sneaking back out -- there is not a lot more variety than that. In order to unlock more of the specific quests in the Dark Brotherhood questline, you have to level up the skill line. The skill line gives the opportunity to spend your hard earned skill points and offers things such as lowering your heat and bounty quicker, or giving you bonuses after kills. Each time you gain a rank, you'll be given a new quest.

The rest of your time will be mostly spent doing the repeatable and daily quests that you can pick up in the sanctuary. These can be picked up in the book that tells you who is "marked for death", something that simply consists of you going to a town and killing someone. This starts off fun and challenging when trying not to be seen but it ends up getting repetitive fairly quickly. The daily quests play out similarly to those in the "Thieves Guild" DLC in which you are given a target to take out with optional objectives for you to do it by poisoning, without being seen, and also taking out other targets. These definitely offer more of a challenge for those that want it but you still complete the quests as long as the main target is killed.

You'll need something a little bigger than the Blade of Woe to take down this foeYou'll need something a little bigger than the Blade of Woe to take down this foe

This whole situation is made a bit easier with the addition of the Blade of Woe weapon, which allows you to sneak up behind your enemies and take them out with one quick movement. Taking out the enemies and targets in quests is much easier, as well as quicker, and allows players to take out patrolling enemies or NPCs that might see their dirty deeds in the towns. Unfortunately, the actual animation of the kill with the Blade of Woe takes quite a while; by the time your enemy is dead, the chances are that someone has seen you. This really defeats the point of a quick one button kill, but generally it is a beneficial weapon to have in your arsenal.

If you want a change from questing but still want to put your blade to good use, there's a Litany of Blood for you to complete. This tougher task challenges you to figure out your targets from a number of clues and take them out using the Blade of Woe. The clues almost take the form of a cryptic riddle; for example, a women with auburn veils means that she has red hair. All of these quests and challenges are found in the sanctuary, which serves as a dark and eerie hub for you to pick up missions. This sanctuary sets the atmosphere for the DLC with creepy music accompanying a damp and dreary looking base.

As usual, the DLC also adds a few other extra things with which you can play. As well as the additional craftable weapons and armour, there's a new unlockable polymorph for your character and a new assassin persona. On top of these, there are a couple of new delves in the area for you to explore and a whole bunch of new quests to take on. Again, there's nothing brand new or amazing here to draw you in, but it's an addition for those that are already fully engaged and involved with the Elder Scrolls world. The fact that the levelling has changed, essentially meaning that every area will scale to your character's level. The world is much easier to traverse and explore on your own and is even easier in a larger group. Unfortunately, traversing the land is made a lot harder with the amount of lag that you'll be facing. When running across the landscape, don't be surprised to be met with a constantly jerking screen, as well as loading screens every few minutes.

Explore the Gold Coast, in between bouts of lagExplore the Gold Coast, in between bouts of lag

On top of the problems with the lag, is the issue with the loading of NPCs. Often when you load into a new place, the NPCs will not load with you and will take a number of minutes to appear. This means that a target that you want to kill won't be visible. In the time that it takes them to load into the game, they may move to a place where you can't kill them unseen. Questgivers may not appear immediately either, something that always gets mildly irritating even if you know that they do eventually appear. With such a big game, it is expected that they'll be some issues with lag and loading, but the extent to which this DLC suffers is really unforgiving and causes a frustrating struggle when trying to complete the questing. In stark contrast, it is disappointing because the landscape that you explore is as dramatic and powerful looking as you'd expect from an Elder Scrolls game, with a dramatic soundtrack to accompany it.

The DLC adds the usual six achievements that you'd expect. The first one is handed to you for simply finishing the first quest and joining the Brotherhood. Another you will have to earn by finishing all of the quests in the Brotherhood questline, which will also earn you the title of Silencer. You'll also want to try and kill all of the targets in the Litany of Blood, as well as completing a number of quests to help out some new movers to the towns. Finally you'll want to gain the title of Bane of the Gold Coast, before completing the daily quests and optional objectives without being seen in order to unlock your final achievement. This is not the easiest list and you'll have to put in some time, dedication and effort in order to get 100% here.


Whilst The Dark Brotherhood may have been a fan favourite in the past, this time around it just seems to miss the mark. Completing the repeatable quests to unlock guild quests gets tedious with its slow progress, and the story itself does nothing to particularly grab you. The biggest problems are with the lag that you'll be facing, though. Whether it's quest givers taking an age to actually appear, murder targets similarly not showing for a while when you travel to a town, or simply the screen constantly jerking whilst you try and travel, all of these ruin what should be an enjoyable, if not slightly disturbing killing spree.
3 / 5
  • Blade of Woe makes sneaking and killing a lot easier
  • Challenge of killing people without being seen is enjoyable
  • Serious issues with NPCs and quest givers not appearing for a length of time
  • Lag issues constantly, even when just simply traversing land
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 10 hours murdering people who deserved it, and a few who didn't, all while unlocking 2 of the 6 achievements in the DLC. The DLC was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Megan Walton
Written by Megan Walton
Megan is a TA newshound and reviewer who has been writing for the site since early 2014. Currently working in catering, she enjoys cooking extravagant dishes, baking birthdays cakes for friends and family in peculiar shapes, writing depressing poetry about life and death, and unlocking every achievement possible.