With my interest in FFXIV quickly waning across the month of December, I knew that I wanted to find another MMO to fill the alternate slot come the new year. Instead of going back to old favorites, I returned to a title that I had merely flirted with in the past and felt compelled to give it a stronger chance.
And so it was that shortly after Christmas, Sypsonic was born in Elder Scrolls Online. Mother died at childbirth, considering that she delivered a 120-pound fully grown adult, but such are the sacrifices of parenthood.
But seriously, I did want to give ESO another try — and a much more serious, in-depth one than before. On paper it has so many of the features that I’m always seeking in MMOs, but I felt disheartened that it didn’t click with me in the week or so that I put into it a year or so back.
Since I didn’t get very far last time, starting completely over made a lot more sense than it usually does when I’m returning to titles. I did go with a Warden again (because pet bear), but past that, I became determined to learn the systems and get into the flow of the game.
Maybe it was just the time spent this past year, maybe I’m a little older and wiser, but almost immediately I was sucked into ESO in a way that I most certainly was not last time. While I’m no fan of the action combat, almost everything else is perfect for a more relaxed questing experience. With the auto-scaling, I don’t have to worry about progressing in a certain order, but rather I kept following quests and picked up any new ones that I saw along the way to go back to later.
And the questing and storytelling is good — really, really good. Coming off of FFXIV, where there’s gobs of story but it’s told in a stiff and personally unrelatable way, ESO feels more down-to-earth and interesting. I absolutely love that the quests are long and involve a lot of stages with story developments and dialogue along the way rather than a huge info dump at the beginning and a “thank you, take these, don’t come back” reward at the end.
I do want to give praise to ESO for another small detail. Even though I deleted my old character to make a new one, the game still remembered and kept my house, all of the (three) decorations, my mounts, and my pets. I really didn’t expect any of that to carry over, but huzzah that it did. Made me feel like the game was welcoming me back, in a way.
It’s an exhilarating and stressful experience to be diving into a rather new MMO to you. The process of discovery can be really fun, but any veteran of the genre knows that there’s always all these things we will learn about playing more efficiently in the future. Those knowledge gaps are only filled in by time, experience, reading guides, and asking guildies lots of questions (fortunately, most people in MMOs love to sound smart about their game and don’t mind dispensing advice).
Well that’s an image that’ll haunt my dreams tonight. Projecto-Elves. And oh yeah, if I had any illusions that ESO would be elf-free, they got completely erased by the end of the first night. It’s like flippin’ elf nation around here, including a community of powerful mage elves who don’t mind enslaving “lesser” races and being even more arrogant than elves normally are. Suffice to say, any opportunity to kill, betray, belittle, or steal from an elf, I took it.
Speaking of the whole elf/slaves thing, I got embroiled in a quest line that started really innocuously. There was a couple of Argonian slaves who wanted freedom and to be together, and I thought, aw, I should help ’em out. But what I thought was going to be a one-and-done quest turned into this massive epic storyline involving one slave rising into power (and engaging in dubious moral machinations) and the other slave plotting an escape plan. Just quest after quest of all of this, sending me every which way, and let me tell you, I was hooked. It was like being part of a fantasy novella where I wanted to see how it all turned out and was constantly surprised that there was still another quest and another and another to it all.
Finally, it did come to an end, after assassinations, tough choices, stealth missions, and plenty of dead elves. I was nodding in happy approval, feeling like I might have found a solid mainstay for this year after all.