More than the summ of its parts?
The Elder Scrolls Online wasn’t exactly an enticing prospect when it first launched. It required you buying a box and paying a monthly fee at a time when premium MMOs weren’t exactly flavour of the month. But over the years, with a model that no longer requires a monthly fee, and huge amounts of new content with Morrowind and now Summerset having been added, how has the game changed over the years?
With this latest expansion, as well as the new area, Bethseda have introduced two major new storylines. The first one you’ll come across concerns the Queen, Ayrenn of the High Elves, who has recently issued a decree allowing ‘tourists’ onto the island. There’s plenty of intrigue, and you’ll also end up working with fan-favourite Razum-Dar, a Khajit agent who has some of the best dialogue and voice acting in ESO.
Whilst the Altmer are fairly generic elf protagonists, at least you get some interesting social commentary, as the elves make it very clear that outsiders are really not welcome in their homeland. It’s all a bit Donald Trump. You’ll also come across the Psijic order, a mysterious band of powerful mages who normally keep themselves to themselves on their very own magical island of Artaeum.
Both of these storylines play out much like the quests which you will find in Oblivion or Skyrim – which is to say they often span multiple missions, involve a mixture of combat, investigation, talking to NPCs and exploration. It’s not your typical generic MMO quest. This is a very good thing. It means you won’t get bored by yourself, and it also means that Bethseda have deliberately made it feasible to play by yourself as well. Whilst it means you have to sometimes suspend your disbelief as you come across 10 other PCs by a quest-giver, it means the game has the best elements of MMO and traditional single-player RPG.
The gameplay still isn’t as tight as Skyrim though – there’s less point in exploration, enemy AI is totally mindless and many creeps will respawn quickly, and combat is more loose, but it’s close enough for those looking for an Elder Scrolls fix. And it’s much closer than just about any other MMO I can think of. With over 30 hours’ worth of single-player quest content before you even get onto the raids or the fact there’s the whole of mainland Tamriel to explore, and it’s hard to think of a game offering better value for money right now, given I never felt any compulsion to subscribe to ESO plus.
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