ESO: Steamy elves, secret avengers, and inventory management

This has been a really weird month for me, especially in regards to gaming and blogging, and my output here on Bio Break hasn’t accurately conveyed how much I’ve been playing certain titles. In specific, I’ve been dumping in loads of time into Elder Scrolls Online, but I think this is only my third or fourth post on the subject. Rest assured, it’s quickly become a Mainstay MMO for me, and every day I’m logging in and learning more about this quirky (and beautiful) title.

What continues to delight is the richness of the storytelling that goes on here. I never know when I take a quest if it’ll be a one-shot thing or if it’s going to kick off this monster 15-parter that involves assassins, betrayal, house politics, and Game of Thrones-style showdowns. In regards to the latter, there were at least two times that my eyebrows shot up when then game pulled no punches and left me wondering how it was all going to turn out. With pretty much everyone dead, naturally.

Morrowind is, if I haven’t mentioned it, Dark Elf Country. Pretty much 95% of the NPCs I encounter are these dusky skinned, red eyed people. It’s not an attractive look, that’s for sure, but the weird thing is that these elves have actually ended up being far less annoying than your average brand of snobby, arrogant elf. I guess that’s mostly because they’re portrayed as just people rather than Mary Sues.

So many gorgeous vistas in Morrowind, even though it can be a really strange island that shifts biomes in a heartbeat.

Of course, it wasn’t until I was about three weeks into the game that I finally broke down and asked for help regarding my inventory. I kept filling up my bags way too quickly and wasn’t really sure how to get more spots. With some advice and research I realized that I could actually purchase bank/inventory space — and that the stable master would allow me to add on a new slot every 20 hours for a minimal price (up to 60 extra slots). So I should’ve been doing that WEEKS ago, but oh well. At least now I know.

I do like how some quest chains end up rewarding me with special stances and facial markings. I liked these punk goth eyes, so I’m going with that as I try to figure out how best to build up my Warden. The above there might be my new Facebook profile picture, by the way.

I may not be the biggest fan of ESO’s combat and some of its more limiting systems (I’m going to talk about housing some other time), but the world exploration keeps amazing me and makes up for a lot of that. It’s just a pretty game in a more natural way than FFXIV was, and it does give my LOTRO side some envy that these aren’t the sort of visuals SSG can deliver.

Oh yeah, I liked this quest with the magically frozen Nord who wasn’t wearing shirt nor pants. He has no hope of getting service in any major restaurant in the world. There’s a great variety of tone in these quests, and I always like the ones that have a sense of humor or are telling an interesting story. This one resolves in a way that made me snort loudly for a few seconds, so I guess that’s an official LOL from Syp.

The above marked the first time I ventured into a public dungeon. Wasn’t really sure how soloable these were — some guildies said that they were quite doable as a single person, but considering that they were raid geared and I wiped on the first pull here, I think that this might be a perspective issue.

In any case, the next night my guild got together to run about six or so public dungeons together to down all the bosses and get more loot than our bags could ever hold. It was a pretty fun time, in a slightly chaotic way, and it made me look forward to other social activities in the game. Plus, I got to see Braxwolf and Chaos Constant in the virtual flesh, and let me tell you, they were every inch as heroic as you might imagine.

Too many screenshots to share, so I’m going to call it quits with this one today — another favorite quest chain, this one featuring a fantasy version of a superhero who calls himself The Scarlet Judge. And yes, he has a secret lair. It’s stunning.

7 thoughts on “ESO: Steamy elves, secret avengers, and inventory management

  1. Dolnor January 29, 2019 / 10:18 am

    Wait until you get chummy with some Vampires! -)

    And Spoiler Video…not everyone should be allowed to play a lute…just saying!

    (My recording software, Plays.tv, runs when I load into the game…so sorry for the longish loading)

    TQQdles™

  2. Gamera977 January 29, 2019 / 12:45 pm

    Well as I remember the Dunmer or Dark Elves left the Summerset Isles when they saw what a bunch of lazy, soft, effeminate, snobs they were becoming as the Altmer or High Elves. Dunmer are a lot more grounded and down to earth. On the other hand they also tend to be perfectly okay with with necromancy and slavery- things kinda frowned on in the rest of the Empire.

    Guess, I’ll have to give this a go sometime considering Bethesda won’t have the next Elder Scrolls game out before 2021 at the earliest. And assuming the whole Fallout 76 debacle doesn’t sink the company…

  3. Bhagpuss January 29, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    I do find the praise heaped on ESO’s questing difficult to understand. It seems to me to be the textbook definition of adequate. All the examples you quote above are generic in the extreme. It’s one of the very, very few MMORPGs where I often end up skipping through the quest text without even speed-reading it. And as for the voce acting…

  4. Tyler F.M. Edwards January 29, 2019 / 2:30 pm

    The soloability of public dungeons depends a lot on gear, level, and build. As a tank, you should be able to solo them at pretty much any level, though it might be a bit slow. If you’re a squishier character, you’ll need high end gear and probably a healthy amount of Champion Points.

    I will also echo Bhagpuss in saying I’m puzzled by the praise for ESO’s questing. It’s better than the average WoW clone, but not by that much. The stories are rarely memorable (with some exceptions), and the quests are very formulaic. It isn’t immediately obvious because ESO’s formula is different from most other MMOs’, but it’s still there.

    That being said, I haven’t played Morrowind, so maybe it’s better.

  5. Sylow January 30, 2019 / 12:18 pm

    @Bhagpuss and @Tyler F.M. Edwards:

    I think you’re rating ESO to negatively here. I mean I get it. The missions here are not on par with old TSW. No other MMO is. But I find that in total, ESOs missions are on par with any other MMO out there. They sure are better than what you generally find in SWtoR, which is -the- MMO people also quite often praise for the “excellent stories”. (Also, ESOs mission beat the storytelling in GW2 by far. But alas, who’s really caring for the story in GW2? )

    Of course, ESO also has some “filler” missions. Show me any MMO which doesn’t. Even TSW, while having plenty of great missions, has some side missions which had no deeper purpose than guiding you to another place. And yes, in TSW these side missions always still added some flavor. But the same is true for many of ESOs equivalent. They are not great and epic, but they do add some story and information.

    Next thing mentioned: voice acting. Again, it’s not that bad. At some time, close your eyes, just listen. Of course not everything is as good as TSW was. But some is, and much still is better again than the highly praised SWtoR. (And again, GW2: i like that game. But it’s voice acting sounds like drama school for beginners. ) There’s really only a few outliers, and they all are in the base game. The newer parts of the game got better there, too.

    After all this, the real reason why ESOs voice acting often seems clumsy: the character animations. They often stand there in standard pose. Then during the conversation they flinch or cower, using standard animations, then return to the default pose. Old TSW was far above and beyond that. Its cutscenes were unmatched. But don’t look at SWL now, with its talking nutcrackers. Or rather, take a look at it once. Compare how good the voice acting was in the old game and how bad the voice acting is in the new one. Consider that the audio track is unchanged. It’s the animations which changed. You get the idea.

    On that aspect SWtoR is a bit better than ESO. Still not in TSW range, but better. While GW2 of course completely avoids that with their slide-in-conversations. It’s interesting design. It allows them to get all around the animation quality and lip syncing topic, while mostly not being perceived as workaround but as artistic choice. That’s well done, actually.

    Anyway, that’s where I actually agree, the way ESO handles emotes during conversations is lacking. But changing that would require a massive rework, so I guess it’s here to stay. But the voice acting itself mostly actually is quite good.

    And back to the missions: I don’t find them too bad by themselves, they only run into a scale problem. The base game sets the bar pretty high. You end up facing a god in the end. Mind you, it’s awesome work how they did that. You have the all-so-great-mc-guffin-artifact and head out to face a god. It’s great how they altered or eliminated some mechanics you usually have during the base game, to make you feel more powerful. They also modify scale and tweak around the games physics during the mission. That’s really skillfully done. But the way there is the problem. It’s just yet once again to save the world.

    The first problem is that it disconnects you. If something is too big, you are less attached. Saving the world is such a thing. Add to that the fact that plenty of people are interested in saving the world and you also end up with many NPCs around you. When playing the story the second time (first time alone, second time with my wife), the NPCs slowly also get more meaning, but the first time they were just too many, so they lost meaning.

    The second problem is how to make full sized expansions. Anything they now do always is based on “this is the one who already faced of a god and won”. Artifact or not, that’s the story. It for me mostly shows in the Morrowind/Clockwork City/Summerset story line. As plenty of people here apparently have not completed that, I won’t go into it. But the rough draft is, it’s yet once again about saving a lot of people. Although it seems like they learned from the first part, the NPC inflation is lower. This of course also comes from a number of NPCs from the base game making a return. If you already know them, they are not new. So they don’t add to the overload.

    Anyway, I dare to say that the smaller DLCs are actually much more interesting there. Look at Orsinium. It’s already better. You help one Orc, who happens to have grabbed the crown and now be King, solve a number of problems and settle a feud. But even better, look at the Thieves Guild expansion. It’s all about a handful of characters, who got into trouble. They might not be completely innocent, but the trouble they actually are in was a setup.

    That one in my eyes is the best story in ESO. It’s a few characters, which means they each have the chance to have enough dialogue. You get to learn them, you get to see their motivations. You might like one and hate the other, you might also learn more about them in the run of time and actually see them in a different light after some events. And all the same, it’s not about saving the world, but about getting out of a mess after they’ve been set up. That’s smaller, more personal and thus much more enjoyable in my eyes.

    So all in all, there’s of course some good and some bad to be said about the game. The animations during their mission dialogues will never really become good any more. It would require massive changes. Also yes, there are some mediocre missions with little meaning, mostly in the base game. But the quality constantly improves during the expansions.

    For me the bigger question for ESO really would be: do you play the game because or despite the combat and progression system? If because, what do you feel it’s so great? It despite, what are the key parts which turn you off so much?

    I am mostly in the second faction: I play despite the combat system. There are some good parts about it, but I find other combat systems more enjoyable. But I also see that it’s very much a matter of taste, I am aware of many players in my guild in ESO, which wouldn’t have it any other way. It is based on the system of older Elder Scrolls games. So any move towards my personal preference would push it further away from the old Elder Scrolls feeling, so I that won’t ever happen.

  6. DonV January 30, 2019 / 7:55 pm

    Always thought this to be a beautiful game. Just got bored with some of the quests. Exploration was a blast.

  7. Gamera977 January 31, 2019 / 12:20 pm

    Thanks Sylow! That’s one of the better reviews I’ve read of the ups and downs of the game.

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