ESO: Welcome to elf hell, population me

It’s not an Elder Scrolls game if you don’t start out as some sort of soon-to-be-freed prisoner!

My search for summer entertainment continues, and I thought it was only fair to give Elder Scrolls Online a real shot, especially considering the whole Morrowind release. Morrowind is, to date, the only Elder Scrolls game I’ve played for any great length of time. It was so expansive and weird back in the day, and I wouldn’t mind a hit of that nostalgia.

So I bought the Morrowind expansion and rolled up a new Nord Warden, because if I’m going to play this game, I’m going to have pets, and that’s all there is to it. I rather enjoyed the tutorial, which features a breakout (of sorts) of slaves on a small island. One thing I noticed right off is that there are other players everywhere. Everywhere. I really thought it would have been more instanced, but nope, it’s like playing an MMO back in the day where they weren’t afraid to show you someone else’s face.

Some people learn the hard truth about how elves let you down from first-hand experience. Poor sucker. He should’ve known.

And yeah, I’m aware of the irony that I’m playing an expansion where it’s like Dark Elf Hell, with those pointy-eared jerks everywhere, but I guess that’s a theme. FFXIV: Heavensward was awash in snooty elves too. Why do I play fantasy again?

“Hey! That island? The one that looks like it’s 90% erupting volcano? Let’s swim toward it!”

It took me a little while to get my “game legs,” but all in all it wasn’t too bad. I started stealing like the klepto that the Elder Scrolls games condition us all to be and started down the path of animal mastery.

Nothing like waking up from a long sleep while wearing armor and a shield strapped to one’s back. That’s going to leave a few bruises.

Wow, that’s a very familiar sight indeed! Morrowind the expansion is apparently a prequel to Morrowind the game, so everything’s kind of stepped back in time a bit but not too much that ZeniMax couldn’t capitalize on the nostalgia factor. For me, I just took my time, slowly explored, and got used to the systems. I like that this starting village was a lot smaller than the one I got thrown into when I played the last time. I don’t want to be overwhelmed at the start.

How do you make elves even more attractive? Give them bloodshot eyes and a condescending attitude!

I actually enjoyed the dialogue and careful pacing of the story. At least there wasn’t ten quests off the bat to do, but just one that allowed me to focus on what’s going on and start to comprehend the lore of the land. We did a brief dungeon crawl — by “we” I mean “me and a dozen other players who were all scrambling all over the place which made it feel a lot less dangerous and more like a Black Friday sale at Walmart.”

The ghost effect was really cool. You don’t often see skeleton ghosts in MMOs, for some reason.

Hey! It’s the giant flea taxis! I remember those!

Sure, I didn’t make a huge amount of progress that first night, but the music, the story, and the experience was pretty involving and left me quite entertained. I’m not fully sold on the combat or armor design, but so far it’s going a lot better than expected.

2 thoughts on “ESO: Welcome to elf hell, population me

  1. Just a few comments (which still turn into a lot of text):

    1. On seeing other people: be glad. In my eyes this change is what saved the game. Both during the closed beta as well as during a later free week, it still had its old instancing system, making it much harder to encounter people. The extreme was that if you went for a story related boss together with a friend and killed the boss, only the one who did the killing blow was instantly moved to another instance of the dungeon, where the boss was dead. Permanently.

    The other one was left behind, to wait for the boss to respawn, to kill it again but now alone. This lead to pure frustration, especially if you have somebody along who’s not that fit and familiar with the combat system yet and is left behind to do the boss alone now. Only now, as this was fixed, the game became acceptable for my girl and me.

    This btw. goes through a lot of the game… during the closed beta and the first trial week there were a lot of “meh” things, which by now were fixed or replaced by something better. So while it wasn’t a hit at launch, i have to compliment the developers for constant improvements and turning the game into something which is fun to play. And even for the last Morrowind patch, where some people went rampant about the balance changes, i see and understand what they want to achieve. And while the ultra-optimized player was hurt a bit and has to re-adjust (which they usually are very good in), the changes are very beneficial for the somewhat more casual player. So i think they keep moving in a good direction. 🙂

    2. For a MMO the story is acceptable. I mean, it’s not in TSWs leage, but hey, i guess it’ll be many years before i really play any game again which just comes close to that. It at least comes close to SWtoR in my eyes. The voice-acting is mostly adequate,with a few slips here and there. The animations are not on par to SWtoR and you don’t have the 1-2-3 wheel but dialogues are a bit more traditional. But this actually turns out to be an advantage.

    In SWtoR you have a lot of choices with no consequence, and often the 1-2-3 wheel gives you just a few keywords and the dialogue your character then says is something completely different than what you thought it would be. In ESO in contrast, the longer text format allows them to spell out what your character is going to say, without those annoying surprises. And while decissions are rarer in ESO, they are way more interesting and often very conflicting. Every here and there, the game tends to put you in a situation, where you have to answer a ethical question for yourself. More than once i encountered the trolley problem ( ) already, and there are other such things. There’s no “good” or “bad” answer to such questions, but it still tells something about how you (or your character) respond to them.

    This is the part of their writing which i really appreciate a lot and it more than compensates for the weaker animations in conversations.

    3. On the armour style: i feel your pain. Lucky me, i joined during the last one week of free trial. Not only did i learned that they resolved a number of issues i had, most prominently the annoying instancing system, but they also gave me 500 crowns for free. I spent that on a basic outfit, which i never removed since then.

    When crafting gear and paying attention to what you build, you later in the game apparently can create good looking combinations, but throughout the leveling game, where you rely on loot and mission rewards (you level up way too fast to keep up crafting new gear, while you get good new gear constantly), you just switch of different variations of “looted a dumpster”. Being able to cover it up with an outfit (which i luckily got for free) went for a long way there. (Of course, now i got me subscription, so i was able to get a few more outfits, for that’s how i roll… *g* )

    4. Combat isn’t all bad. The only slightly disappointing part in my eyes is that while it at the start looks very weapon-heavy and thus seemingly making perfect use of the reticule system, later you rely more and more on the abilities. It still works and you won’t ever completely stop using the weapons. Even as a healer in a dungeon you better be ready to block some effects and deliver some charged weapon attacks to recover ressources. Still i found that i don’t use weapon attacks as much as the early game gave the Impression.

    It’s far from DCU, which i consider the “most fun reticule combat i ever experienced”, but it still competes well enough with some other reticule based systems and can roll over SWL without even noticing it.

  2. I just want to endorse Sylow’s view on DCU(O)’s combat. I dislike reticule/action combat but I never had a problem with DCUO’s. It feels instinctive in a way no other version, including ESO’s, ever has.

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