Monday, 28 August 2017

The Elder Scrolls: Online ★★★★☆

‘The Elder Scrolls: Online’ is one of those MMOs where its users have a penchant for complaining about it (myself included), but we keep coming back to it because deep down we really do love it. ‘Morrowind’, the newest expansion to be released, is based on ‘The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind’ released in 2002 but set 700 years beforehand, and is both a love letter to those that have played the original game, and an exciting new instalment for those haven’t.

Vvardenfell, for those who haven’t set foot in it previously, is a beautiful landscape adorned giant toadstools and tentacled plants, but contains many political issues within. Houses and Gods all harbour problems here, and it is up to you as the lone hero to save the place from a series of different destructive situations. In a similar format to other ESO games  you follow quest lines, and there a multitude of different quests that can be played either all at once or separately (depending on how many disputes your brain can handle at any one time!). 

The storyline itself is really interesting, and I found myself thoroughly engaged… I have been known to skip vast swathes of text when playing ‘The Elder Scrolls: Online’ so I can get to the more interesting bits, but I didn’t find myself doing this at all. The expansion itself is fairly short at only 25 hours, but it’s filled with twists and puzzles and all sorts of things that will bring ESO back to life if it’s perhaps getting a bit repetitive for you. Although the map may be too similar for players of the original game, it’s a wonderful landscape for new players to explore.

Unlike previous DLC for the game such as ‘Thieves Guild’ and ‘Orsinium’, it’s a little harder to know how to actually start playing the expansion – there’s no obvious quest that comes up in your journal or character that you need to speak to, and so you have to do a bit of exploration. It’s nice that it’s different, but it did confuse me a bit. It’s also starting to show its age a bit, with the graphics starting to look dated compared to other games coming out. It’s still beautiful to look at, but it’s not exceptional anymore. Some changes have also been made that you’ll either really like or really not like – one example is how the skill line menu is set out. Before we were able to view all skill lines in one go, yet now it only features skill lines that are relevant to your character (i.e. a weapon type skill line will only show when you have used that weapon type). Although this makes it more focused, I found it slightly annoying as I couldn’t compare the different skill lines without first trying each weapon, armour, and crafting method out individually. Not an issue for those of us that have played the game before I’m sure, but it could potentially cause problems for the new player.

There’s also been two completely new additions to ESO with the ‘Morrowind’ expansion, one being the new Warden character class. There’s now five classes in total, and this one makes for a great all-rounder. It’s a particularly great class for healers, with one skill line providing some awesome healing effects, but the real excitement is the ability to summon animals to help with fights. The bear Ultimate is cool at first, but after a few uses you realise that actually it’s pretty similar to the Storm Atronach within the Sorcerer class. I love the idea of fighting alongside nature, but there’s still not enough control to coordinate your attacks efficiently.

The other addition is the eagerly-awaited PvP aspect. We’ve already got Cyrodiil of course, but Battlegrounds add a whole new element, featuring Capture the Flag, Domination, and Deathmatch, which are arranged the same way as any other PvP elements in the game. They’re typical games that seasoned PvP players will no doubt have experience of already, but the lack of instruction and direction is really confusing for players new to the PvP scene. It’s also very difficult to play if you’re not a high PvP level despite the Champion Points not being taken into account, as armour and weapon bonuses still exist. I rarely came across any players under the max level, and so frequent deaths became frustrating after quite a short space of time. I did like the idea of a questline alongside the PvP which helped make it relevant to the main game, but again this would be hard to complete unless you were onto PvP from day one.

‘Morrowind’ is a great new expansion for ESO, and it’s certainly got me back into it all again. It’s not without its flaws (one major one being that you can’t share it over Gold if you’re on Xbox), but with a great storyline and exciting new features, it’s certainly one to add to your collection of ever-expanding ESO titles. 

Hannah Read

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