Game Review - The Elder Scrolls Online
Following my failed attempt to get into World of Warcraft, another game I’d heard about, but never played was The Elder Scrolls. One of the people who works in my favourite coffee shop is a huge Elder Scrolls fan, so I thought it would be a good game to try out, little did I realise how complicated that idea was going to be! For a start, there are many versions, sequels and follow ups. I thought Skyrim was a different game, especially when I saw a poster on the tube for an orchestral performance of the music of Skyrim at the London Palladium, but it’s actually just a chapter of the game. As much as part of me thought I should start at the beginning, sometimes dated graphics and gameplay annoy me in a way that I can’t fully enjoy the story of the game. With that in mind, and with my affiliation with the MMO genre, I opted for The Elder Scrolls Online.
Released in 2014, The Elder Scrolls Online has a strong player base, and is one of the few buy to play MMO’s still running. Since launch, it’s offered no less than 10 DLC (Downloadable Content) updates, and with the new Summerset chapter being the second full game expansion, this game really has a lot to offer!
Other than a basic idea of the game being a standard medieval themed game with swords and orcs, I went into it pretty blind, with no idea about any of the lore. My favourite part of most games is actually the character creator. I can spend a good amount of time creating the way my character should look, and how I might want to role-play as I move through the story. My least favourite part of any game is usually choosing a name, but a quick Google search for Elvish naming conventions and then adapting my own name to fit that usually works well enough.
The Elder Scrolls Online has a fairly decent level of customisation within the character creator, although you may be restricted somewhat by your choice of race it you want a specific look. Oddly of late, I’ve been favouring female characters with white hair. I have no idea why, but clearly I’m into it right now for some reason.
After spending far too much time fine tuning my avatar, I finally got into the game. My first impressions, having jumped onto this immediately after WoW is that the graphical style of ESO is much more to my taste! Whilst still graphical, the characters have far more realism to them. Combine this with vast beautiful landscapes, stunning lighting effects with changing weather as well as periods of day and night, and ESO really stomps in the face of WoW visually in my opinion.
The next thing that blew me away was the voice acting. Every character speaks to you, and some even shout for your attention as you go past them, often offering you side quests. As I progressed through the story, I even started to recognise some of the voices I was hearing. After a quick search, not only were my thoughts confirmed, but I was also blown away at some of the other voice actors that were involved in this game…
John Cleese (Monty Python) - Caldwell
Bill Nighy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Love Actually) - High King Emeric
Kate Beckinsale (Aviator, Pearl Harbor) - Queen Ayrenn
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) - Abnur Tharn
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter series) - The Prophet
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) - Molag Bal
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) - Azura
Peter Stormare (Fargo) - Jorunn the Skald King
Jim Ward (WALL-E) - Mannimarco
Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect) - Lyris Tianborn
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show) - Sai Sahan
It’s often the little things in a game that make the difference, and whilst listening to some dialogue, I was moving my character around the speaking npc. To my surprise, his voice changed which ear I could hear it from based on where I was standing. This really added to the immersion of the game.
Much like the character I created in WoW, I went with a bow and arrow as a weapon, but as I played the game, I discovered that the race and class I’d chosen probably weren’t the most optimal. This got me wondering if I should start again and create a new character, and maybe do some research into what goes with what. I also found out the game had started me in the Morrowind expansion, rather than right at the beginning of the game. Thankfully, since the ‘One Tamriel’ update, you’re able to go pretty much anywhere in the game from any level, so I headed back to the starting island to continue from there.
Playing through the story and doing side quests all feels fairly organic, and some of the rewards are quite fun. I did a quest chain for an assassin and was rewarded with some cool tattoos, which unlock account wide, so in the future, if I create additional characters, they have access to them without needing to do the whole quest chain again.
I mentioned the graphical style and lighting being much more to my taste, and I really have to hand it to the artworkers… some of the environments they’ve created are truly breathtaking…
As I was playing, I actually did some streaming for the first time in my life on Twitch. I think I managed a grand total of about 2 viewers, but it was still fun to try it out. The Molag Bal storyline as part of the main quest was far longer than I expected it to be. This is not a short game, by any stretch, which is a good thing.
Although locked behind micro transactions, ESO gives you the ability to change everything about your character, so despite choosing all the wrong things, I wasn’t locked into those decisions, and I therefore changed them to be slightly more useful in the game.
Gradually, I managed to make my way through the story and finished the main quest for my faction, as well as reaching max level. Once at end game, you unlock the Champion Points system. This effectively allows you to continue to level up and spend points in different areas to really customise the stats of your character. The really good thing, is that these points are account wide. This makes ESO really alt-friendly.
I’ve now logged many many hours in ESO and really enjoyed my experience. I’ve created a few alts to experience different classes and play styles. I’ve joined raids and taken part in server wide events, all of which were a lot of fun. ESO is a game I will definitely dip in and out of over time, and with the announcement of the latest expansion, it looks like there’s a lot to enjoy when I do!