Phew, that fight with that a huge fog boss was tough, and very unexpected. The Elder Scrolls Online? More like The Elder Scrolls Offline, am I right?! Remember your dramatic escape from incarceration, from an Imperial prison courtesy of the intervention of Scepter Patrick Stewart in Oblivion? Remember navigating a series of obscure, labyrinthine crypts replete with rats gnawing at your exposed feet on your way to freedom? How about the perpetual cadaver Sean Bean doing what he does best? Remember being free to explore of your own accord without external impedance? Remember when adversary’s retained physical rigidity to there exterior frames, not merely apparitions that you can walk through? Where strategic variation equates to little more than spinning around your enemy anti clockwise rather than clockwise? Remember when a khajiit vagrant began admonishing her son for not eating his dinner? Well the latter is a new addition to the franchise, so prepare to endure all the majesty of Online MMO. Including; registration, terms and conditions, server locating, queuing and saving Tamriel from literal Oblivion. Having been well apprised of its encompassing fragility, Tamriel unlimited, the very relaxed interpretation of the word, really represents the culmination of every combined incentive of the elder scrolls, just under the socialized appellation of an MMO. Yet this Elder Scrolls has a very measured approach to the genre, apprehensive to expand on the very singular glossary of the series. It’s like a dog that encounters snow for the first time, very bewildered by the extravagances, cautious to venture beyond the comforts its own doorstep.
“It’s incredibly simple to strike the wrong opponent and become wanted.”
There is an inherited penchant to play as if it were a single player game, which is because it acts like a single player game, under the guise of monetized exploration and interspersed with some multi-player camaraderie. There are fawning references to past events, as you expedite the retinue of historical lineage through the exploration of caves and mines. But Immersion is somewhat nullified by the anonymity of yammering gamers all communicating in unison or disturbing you with the static distributed through someone’s headset. The frivolous vacuity is punctuated by exponent lands replete with more activity than any wilderness should be. There’s deliberate obscurity associated with your conduct as you lose heroic exclusivity, because now there are thousands of potential saviours! Someone could conceivably swoop in and pilfer iron ore you were about to harvest or pluck a crucial ingredient for alchemy. The narrative gives you little coordinated empathy with a misleading emphasis on just how important you are. But you’re not! The municipal districts are glutted with a sundry of exotic warriors skirting across pavements in overly elaborate mirth, as one individual reprimands their energetic kids and another begins denoting a recipe for an omelette our distractions that take you straight back to reality. The commerce and life of Tamriel endures in spite of civil unrest egg protein connoisseurs though, with warring infantry’s vying for colonial sovereignty. Not that esoteric propagation and resplendence of Tamriel is ever discouraged by the onset of circumnavigating vagrants, and its the games mass that is one of its biggest advantages. You can’t truly grasp the sense of proportion or the cathartic sprawl until you’ve run for half an hour and our still uninhibited by invisible walls. The sneering antipathy for this overpopulated realm is almost placated by the sheer expanse, taught with a wreath of plants, sharp cleft on a mountains exterior and the decimated ruin inhabited by the necrotic harbingers of the crypts. Yet even despite the gleaming proficiency of its environments, the distended activity, the voices lilting through the encampment and throng of warriors skirting through their respective adventures, it all feels artificial. Like a vibrant hub. Whereas the world created in “The Witcher 3” felt crafted, nourished, Tamriel feels assembled, like a gestalt collection of architectures. The Witcher was less environmentally reductive, almost nurtured by the expanse of time whereas Tamriel has been rectified by the pruning nuances of Allen Titchmarsh!
“It’s still odd to see so many shrooms around.”
The very circular nature means that The Elder Scrolls is structurally repetitive. Quests are merely arbitrary tutorials disguised as localised jaunts, such as crafting armour or other suppositories, though regulating your provisions is tedious affair, as your be forever monitoring every material you pick up just to avoid encumbrance, extracting only the most necessary commodities for trading. Combat is adequate if not proficient. It’s more a case of swinging sword until it connects with something, with that something often being nothing, which still counts?! Enemies, of which there are sundry of varying distinctions, lack combative variation with skill sets so telegraphed that they may as well come with their own narration. Perhaps Attenborough or the combined radiance of Morgan Freeman or Stephen Fry? They expend so much time Warning you by bracing their sword and turning red that you can block with ease. “Warning, I’m informing you that I’m going to attack you. Brace yourself. Seriously, I mean it. I’m bringing the hurt! Okay…… Yarr! Damn, you blocked it!” You can distribute skill points to specialist attributes dependant on your style. There’s also Comfort in utilities and weapons that retain a level of efficient durability, rather than disintegrating after one use. And despite purported server complacency I found the game to run smoothly and efficiently, for the most part anyway. I was discouraged by passive aggressive hindrances that determine when screenshots can be taken though. For instance several attempts to capture visual evidence of its latent loadings and failed server connectivity, presented me with notifications of inability to do that? It’s like the game doesn’t want me to document it’s frailties? Is it self-aware? Is this the hypothesised singularity we’ve been warned about?! I don’t know. Loading times have however been fluid, with instances of frame rate lapses though frequent are hardly game breaking.
“The skeletal denizen on my right depicting how we all looked waiting for the servers to work!”
So there we are: The Elder Scrolls Online, except for when it’s not! It’s difficult to judge amicably. It bears all the hallmarks of the elder scrolls. It’s dense with steep documented lineage, chronicled in historical tomes and anecdotal musings from inhabitants that gives Tamriel a unique sense of actuality. It retains all the placid equanimity that makes the elder scrolls both endearing and ubiquitous, just corralling many of the games themes in a more detailed social environment. Your explore as much of Tamriel as you can, but level caps will limit your ability to veer too far off the set cause unless you’re at least actively engaging in the main plot. Your be braced by the fleeting appearance of insubordinate companions that would much rather chastise and steal supplies from your cadaveric body than revive you. You’re resent your austere countenance, your penitent and exhaustive means of transportation every time your overtaken by someone garbed with beautifully embroiled armour that glistens every time the sabre-toothed tiger they’ve riding trots off. You’ll hate the penurious grasping denizens that cloister every coin they can and granting you a feeble share for returning a book from Daedric madmen! But your keep playing. Perhaps because you’re hoping it’ll get better. Maybe because you resent paying so much money for a game and not playing it. Or maybe, just maybe, mediocrity can be this compulsive.
Let me know what you have made of The Elder Scrolls Online? Cheers.