Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) is a game set next to the world Skyrim and the game we all seem to enjoy. As for me I have gone as far as to lock myself in my room and eat a full 1.9lb bag of Swedish Fish and not come out till I got the info you need for this game. I’m sure when you read this you will feel slightly…weirded out. What’s nice is that throughout all the girlish admiration is a solid, well written report of a game, which will take this world by storm like an axe to the face!
Let’s start with the ten races to choose from; Altmer, Bosmer, Kajiit, Orc, Brenton, Redguard, Nord, Dunmer, Argonian and the Imperial. With so many varieties, I was able to roll a character that I was extremely content with. I chose Bosmer, typically known as the Woodelf, and in doing so I was able to have a hand up in archery. Playing a class is also of great importance and each of the four classes has its own four separate skill traits. There is Dragon Knight, Sorcerer, Nightblade, and Templar. Since I’m typically a solo player the Nightblade class was very helpful for stealth. Finally there are three faction choices; depending on which race was chosen.
The campaign is what anyone would expect out of an Elder Scrolls title. Someone gives you a mission you go fight, finish, turn-in, rinse and repeat. But then again that’s every game, right? What separates The Elder Scrolls Online from any other open world game is the lore. This franchise has such an overwhelmingly intricate lore and history that the world around feels complete. The game is even more enjoyable when exploring, as there is always something to see and find. Even in the war ravaged Cyrodiil there is something to come across just by exploring, For example, when I came across a house that was smack-dab in between two keeps, there was a man surrounded by skeletons in chairs, some with missing heads or limbs. When talking to the gentlemen he was excited that someone else had come along to join the little party he was having and when further questioning he reveals that to him the skeletons are live guests and that he dabbles in the hobby of taxidermy. He also inquires that his lovely wife is in the house cleaning, and upon leaving the so called party to enter his house I was met with none other than a skeleton sweeping the floors. That is just a little taste of the untold stories the world has to offer, and they are all scattered about in the world.
Questing and adventuring isn’t the only thing to do in ESO, there is crafting and fishing. Crafting in this iteration of the Elder Scrolls series is more complex than in earlier titles. There are five crafting options; blacksmithing, woodworking, provisioning, enchanting and alchemy. The weapons you craft are often better than the drops or rewards given, so it’s worth spending the skill points to improving your craft. Fishing is something pleasant to do, almost therapeutic. Skill trees are an addition to the MMO element of the game. Carefully structured and balanced for each class one must choose how to wisely spend the hard earned skill points that are given.
I’m rather ashamed to say that I joined into the wild fray that is PvP rather late. There is a lot to say here from my experiences with PvP so my format will be as follows: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good: A player is only able to enter PvP upon getting to level 10, I put this in the “good” category because the player gets a good understanding of the game and its mechanics after questing in the beginning lands of Tamriel before entering Cyrodiil. It’s massively fun and addicting. Going back to Cyrodiil after playing through Oblivion what feels like ages ago is great onto itself because seeing the land in a different era is quite exciting. Fighting others and working together as a cohesive unit and having it all come together gives a flurry of positive emotions. There is nothing quite like running alongside the Scroll Carrier that has the last Elder Scroll to complete the set of six in all of Cyrodiil. The triumphant run after a good siege and battle s one of the best things.
The bad: The human interactions, or lack thereof. Although the game has great mechanics to communicating with others, when joining or creating a group and creating a guild, it’s the people that turned me away from PvP. Interactivity and cooperation with others in your chosen faction is a key component when it comes to victory. Sadly, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park when it came to that after our triumphant victory. Let me reiterate, it happened after we had all the Elder Scrolls in our possession and most of the Cyrodiil map conquered. It was late at night (or early morning) and I had gone to sleep since everything was in our control. Upon returning we had seized a couple more keeps and then it happened. Apparently, our good players that were organized had logged out or gotten back into PvE and our rowdy disorganized members replaced them, chaos ensued to say the least. Members were only focused on attacking keeps instead of defending the ones we already had. No matter how much I tried to call upon help and organize people, not many listened and even less heeded my warnings. Keep after keep fell and I was devastated because I had helped gain each and every one. Needless to say, that was the first time I’ve ever rage quitted. I stuck to PvE for a good long while after that.
The ugly: The map, or rather, traveling within the map. Cyrodiil is a big place and a person can only go so fast. Empty sweeping lands separated one keep from another and it felt as if one third out of my accumulated time in PvP was spent going from point A to point B. It’s frustrating when your allies are in need of assistance and it feels that you’re miles away. In addition, the responsiveness of the controls lacks during big battles. Luckily Bethesda is doing a great job to make anything bad better or fixed. With each beta test there have been significant improvements, and the final release is the best it has ever been. Traveling has been remedied with mounts and their upgradable speeds, and as for ease of control that has improved significantly from the beta to the final release.
The thing that absolutely captivated me was the environments. From the deserts of Stros M’Rai to the forests near Eldenroot and from the snowy mountains of Skyrim to the rolling hills of Cyrodiil every landscape different, beautiful and magnificent. I would get lost for hours just admiring the sceneries or watching the sunset.
An improvement to the sound quality has made the game a lot more enjoyable. Compared to its predecessor ESO has alot more ambient noise that makes the world feels as if it’s alive. The music is also wonderful; the way I personally enjoy games is by getting fully immersed in the world. I would often sit right in front of a bard and just listen to the melodies and songs they would play. Everywhere you go in the game there is always noise, whether it be the crunching of leaves underfoot or the soft lulls of a babbling brook, a definite step up from the three atmospheric song loops in Skyrim. The acting quality in the game has also made a significant step up.
Elder Scrolls Online is overall a great game to play along with friends. Character creation has a great deal of options and won’t disappoint. The gameplay lives up to its name with many added improvements. PvP would be great as long as you find a good guild. The art direction is magnificent and the atmospheric sounds and music are an absolute delight to just sit down and listen to. Overall the game will immerse you in its lore and story, nudge you to explore great lands, fight through dark caves, join others in defeating the evil that plagues the many lands of Tamriel and most of all, give you an experience far greater than any Elder Scrolls game.