Gaming Articles

First Thoughts of Elder Scrolls Online

After playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) since its release (unfortunately couldn’t get a beta pass), here are some of my initial thoughts on the latest MMO.

There is a good choice of races to choose from, (Nord, Khajiit, Argonian etc) which are all recognisable from previous Elder Scrolls games. My character is a Dark Elf/Dunmer. I really liked the initial character customisation, not only could you choose hair and eye colour, but you can also determine the size and shape of specific features, such as my elf’s ear shape. You can also name your character. 

My starting region was Stonefalls, a province in Morrowind. As my Dark Elf is part of the Ebonheart Pact, one of three major Alliances, my character begins her quest in this area after escaping the Wailing Prison in Coldharbour. If you were to choose one of the other two Alliances, the Aldmeri Dominion or the Daggerfall Covenant, you would have a different starting zone.


So far, I am very impressed with the environments. Whether you’re playing on normal or ultra settings for the graphics, the scenery is beautiful and well-designed. The architecture is distinctive and gives the locations character. They strongly reflect the culture represented in the folklore. 


The only negative is that the interior layouts are repetitive, however with such a huge map it would be difficult to make every building layout unique. The attention to detail is impressive, I particularly like the interior décor designs such as trunks, soft furnishings and wardrobes. You can also experience locations at different times of the day, my favourites being sunset and night when the windows begin to glow from candlelight and the sky displays a range of colours. The screenshots here depict several of the locations in the Stonefall region I have encountered so far, even at this early stage.


As well as the architecture, I am enjoying the range of creatures and enemies, from the cute bunny and eerie jelly-fish Netches to the zombie-esque Husk Stalkers and larger beasts. Some of the enemies regenerate health from other dead enemies, therefore if you’re struggling it is very helpful to quest as a group, particularly with the boss enemies.  If you die, players can try to resurrect you with a soul gem. You can also do this yourself if you possess a filled soul gem, have a trait which lets you resurrect without cost for two hours, or you can be sent to the nearest wayshrine. The downside is your armour loses durability and you have to repair your armour which costs money.


There is also the ability to switch from first and third person viewpoints. This is a great idea, however I don’t really have much use for the first-person viewpoint. In MMO’s I prefer third person view as I can see everything that’s going on around me during combat.

There is always something to do, and you can have at least three quests on at once, all with detailed, meaningful storylines. As ESO is an MMO, there is also a PVP area in Cyrodiil where you can engage in battles with other players on battlegrounds and castles. Compared to other MMOs, there is also a balance of “grindy” quests where you have to do something a certain amount of times (e.g. collect an item, or kill a creature), and adventure quests, meaning you won’t get tired of any repetitive actions. Aside from serious quests that dramatically affect the well-being of the area, the developers have also put some humorous side-quests in for amusement, such as finding the pants of the naked, drunk Nord Norgred who has somehow misplaced them on an intoxicated misadventure. There was also an amusing inconsistency where I was rewarded with a mace from a Khajiit NPC after completing a quest who said they were completely “unarmed” and held no possessions.


Like the previous Elder Scrolls RPGs, there are also lots of different professions in ESO, from cookery to blacksmithing, to being an alchemist, and you can experiment with all of them to craft yourself some new equipment, armour, or potion to aid you on your journey. They are all very simple to engage with, and the more you experiment the more effective and powerful the items you craft can be. You can also develop your skills with a variety of weapons (my preference is a bow) and armour, adding enchantments to augment their effects. You can also develop your skills by reading books, though this can be quite a tedious when you feel obliged to interact with every bookshelf you encounter, though it is amusing when you’re questing as a group and you all approach every bookshelf in tandem despite there being an important enemy to defeat and a whole community depending on your swift success.


Overall, I am enjoying the game. It can be quite addictive as when you finish a quest this often has a consequence which you then feel you have to investigate, as a result starting a new quest. The only thing that wasn’t fun is being kicked off the server near the end of a long quest resulting in you having to do the entire process again. Fortunately this has not been a frequent occurrence, unlike other online games such as WoW, Diablo III or Guild Wars 2. Despite this, I am looking forward to exploring the other areas of Tamriel. I would quite like to see more of a variety of mounts being made available other than the horse, such as in WoW, and a flying mount or vehicle would be a really fun way of exploring the vast environments. I would rate the game an 8.5 out of 10 for its easy game play, attention to detail regarding design and folklore connections, and its beautiful environments, but can be improved through less tedious interactions and more of a variety to explore the world, such as more mounts variety.

All screenshots taken by Hannah Rice.

Author: Hannah Rice -
Published: 05-May-2014
Last updated: 30-Apr-2015 


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