(I wrote this in the span of around 90 minutes during my Database Design and Theory class [Why are you looking at me like that? I STILL PAYED ATTENTION TO THE LECTURE!] of my personal impressions of the game based on my experiences. I'm just putting them here to give my blog a new entry. No screenshots with this one as it seems all screenshots taken from Steam or built in game screenshot taker makes the colors look fugly.)
“You have joined the Hollow Moon, now go acquire some exotic goods from the local merchants, and give the goods to the needy folks around here.” This was the start of a quest that would give me the feels in one of the segments during one of my sessions in “The Elder Scrolls Online” by Zenimax Online and published by Bethesda. My character, a Khajiit Dragon Knight named Reina, who uses a destruction staff for her secondary weapon set, had arrived in this little place in the Grahtwood zone (this is, including the starter area of Khenarthi’s Roost, the third zone for the Aldmeri Dominion) and came across a group of Robin Hood style thieves by the name of the Hollow Moon. Taking up the quest, I got the exotic goods and then went around to find those who needed the goods.
I gave a set to a guy in line who was obviously mentally not there, unlike the other two in that line, he legitimately looked and sounded like he needed the stuff. The other two were not there due to need, one lied about being married and having a kid and the other… well I’ll just use her words “I’m here because this is where they hand out the free stuff and I want my share.” So yeah, I didn’t give any to these two. I gave 3 more of the five sets away, but the one that got me was the very first set I gave away. It got me engaged in the quest, and earned my respect for a well written piece.
I walked up to a make-shift shelter kind of off to the side of the settlement, and on a mat was a Khajiit laying on it, he didn’t look to good. His wife tells me that he had been a Skooma addict for three years, but had recently quit. Now before I continue, I should mention what Skooma is for those reading this who don’t know what it is. Skooma is a drug in the world of the Elder Scrolls that can cause some serious issues. Anyway, this Khajiit was suffering from a severe case of the “Skooma Shakes,” which is one of the more problematic side effects of the drug. The wife told me that he probably wouldn’t make it through the night, and so I gave her some of the exotic goods. She thanked me and mentioned that she should be able to trade them to the local alchemist for a potion that will help him survive. I felt like a good person for the first time in an MMO because I got absorbed into the quest. Here’s the real kicker about this though. My entire interaction with the Khajiit wife had a bug where none of the voice acting played. I read the text the entire time, and it was still enough to make me feel proud of the actions my character had just taken.
If it isn’t obvious by now, I am really enjoying The Elder Scrolls Online. It isn’t a perfect experience, the launch has been pretty rough, there have been many bugs (luckily I haven’t run into that many of them), and bots are currently a problem, even so the lore, the combat, and the game’s world are enough to keep me entertained, something “World of Star Wars: The Old Republic” couldn’t do. Unlike that game, I have yet, in my nearly 3 weeks and 5 days of game time, to feel like I’m obligated to log in and play, despite the monthly sub. This was a feeling I got early on with TOR, and it drove me away from the game even bore my 3 months of subscription was up. It felt too similar to the many, many other MMORPGs I had tried out. ESO does some things differently, and the land of Tamriel added to that is what keeps me going in that game and having fun (well that and being a member of a fantastic guild, the AJSA).
In my currently 22 levels worth of gameplay, I have travelled across three zones, not including the few times I’ve been to Coldharbour, the realm of Oblivion dedicated to the Daedric Prince of trickery, domination, and slavery, Molag Bal. Each zone, from the bright, slightly eastern theme of Khenarthi’s Roost, to the more colorful and majestic Summer Set Isle known as Auridon, and more recently, the swamplands of Grahtwood, I have been in public dungeons, taken part in the closing of many Dolmens (the dark anchors Molag Bal is using in attempt to fuse Tamriel/Mundus to Coldharbour, thanks to the work of the future Worm King, the necromancer Mannimarco… I love the lore in the Elder Scrolls), read many books that enrich the lore and faced off against many kinds of creatures, and nothing felt boring or forced. I’ve enjoyed every second of it, aside from the rare occasions I’ve hit bugged quests that held me back for a bit, but I’ve only run into 3 I know for sure of.
This game has done something no other MMORPG has ever been able to do for me. This game has made the PVP content enjoyable for me. I’m not that great at most Player-Vs-Player content in many games, so when I hopped into PVP on ESO, I expected to do it once, and not really touch it again. How wrong I was. The last two Saturdays, and the one coming up as I write this, my guild has been doing PVP events where many guild members meet up and do what we can to sway the map in our favor. Every time I’ve been in PVP it’s been a blast, with the siege weapons, the mass of people, the fear of the enemy Emperor, it’s an awesome component of the game, and I can see coming back for it when I’m out of PVE content to do.
The soundtrack is fantastic, as all games bearing the Elder Scrolls name are, with the title theme having been composed by the legendary Jeremy Soule, while the rest was done by other people, as well as a vocal piece done by the wonderful Malukah. Sound effects are good, animations are, as odd as it is to say it, some of the better done animations seen in an ES game. The beast races (Argonian, Khajiit) have obviously seen more love than the single player games, with tails that animate differently on each, and move more believable, and in the case of the Khajiit, eyes that just glow when the light hits them right. The graphics (in my opinion) are very nice, sun shafts, decent amount of detail, gorgeous specular mapping, it all adds up to an attractive package to me.
If I had to give the game a numerical score (which I’m not, not officially anyway) I’d give it an 8. While I can understand the dislike, disappointment, and the lower scores for people who have encountered a lot of bugs, in my experience I’ve had a fairly smooth running game that gives me what I was expecting out of it, an MMORPG with the Elder Scrolls setting, and aside from the bug fixes, player homes and more content to keep me a subscriber, I can’t really ask for more than I have. (It also helps that I got the Physical Imperial Edition, not for the digital extras, hell I haven’t used my Pledge of Mara yet… But for the FANTASTIC art/lore book that came with it. Oh and I guess the statue of Molag Bal is nice too.)
ESO is a hard game to just recommend, it must be approached with the correct mindset. If you don’t like MMOs, or for some reason are turned off by subscription prices to a game that costs full price (like WoW, SW:TOR and others when they first came out), hate the Elder Scrolls series, or can’t stand bugs in a game at launch, then you won’t like this game. If you like the Elder Scrolls, and MMORPGs, and go into the game expecting “Skyrim with more players” you WILL be disappointed and not like it. It must be gone into with the mindset of “it is still an MMO first, and it takes place in Tamriel.” Even then however, the game just might not be for you, nothing wrong with that. I will say this though, it is NOT fact that the game sucks, that is a subjective view. It may suck for you, but not for others, and as to you thinking if it is a waste of money or not, and you like to tell people that, I’d like to quote the words of Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw to end this little thing.
“I’d rather be stupid and having fun than be bored out of my genius mind.”