I finished my exams (yay!) and as a reward, I got myself the Elder Scrolls Online for the Xbox One. It has been lying around for weeks, but I told myself I couldn't play it until the exams were over, because otherwise.. Well, let's just say I wouldn't have been studying very much. So, without further ado, let me totally convince you about the awesomeness of this game.
1. It's not that different from other games in the Elder Scrolls series
When they announced ESO, I was not excited and even kind of angry. The last couple of years, so many game developers have jumped on the cool-wagon, and forgot about the real fans who want games to stay true to themselves. An example of this is Fable, that has been trying out new things with Fable: The Journey and the upcoming Fable Legends, when really, players just want Fable 4. I love Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim so much, and reading about ESO really upset me. I didn't want to play it (and also, I couldn't, because I didn't have the proper console/PC). Grump Grump.
Almost two years after it's release, I got the game. When I turned it on, I felt a little anxious. I've played an MMO before (Star Wars: The Old Republic), but it felt sort of weird to play a combination of an MMO and the world of Tamriel which I've come to know and love in single-player mode. But once I got past the tutorial and entered the world, I was just stunned. I was on a beach, looking at a sunset, with a huge world to explore ahead of me. And that is the Elder Scrolls experience. Every now and then you see another player running around, but so far (and I've played a lot already) I haven't had to group up with anyone yet, and it has just been a single-player experience. Of course, if you enjoy teaming up, you totally can!
2. The world is huge.
And by huge, I mean HUGE. You cannot explore the entire continent of Tamriel, but you can explore many different areas. The story of the game contains a war between three factions: The Aldmeri Dominion, The Ebonheart Pact and The Daggerfall Covenant. At the beginning of the game, you have to choose which faction you will join, which will determine where your game begins. Races are faction-bound, unless you have the Explorer Pack DLC. If you choose the Aldmeri Dominion (playing as a Khajiit, Bosmer of Altmer), you will begin on an island of the Summerset Isles, and later explore an island off the coast of Elsweyr as well as large parts of Valenwood. If you join the Ebonheart pact (as a Dunmer, Nord or Argonian) you start out in the southern part of Morrowind and will get to explore the south-east of Skyrim as well as a part of the Black Marsh. When joining the Daggerfall Covenant (as a Redguard, Orc or Breton) you will start out in High Rock and then continue to explore Hammerfell. Lastly, Cyrodiil is still 'up for grabs' as all three factions try to claim it. Cyrodiil is a PVP (player-vs-player) area, mostly for high level characters (level 50+). For people who don't know how an MMO works, this means that other players can't attack you unless you are in Cyrodiil. Others are only there to help you out, not to stab you in the back and loot your stuff.
This is how the provinces are divided:
And these are the playable areas:
A little side note: you cannot just start running around and exploring everything. If you choose the Aldmeri Dominion and start out in Auridon, you can't just take the boat to Stros M'kai or run all the way up to Shadowfen. As you leave your starting zone (and get closer to Cyrodiil), enemies will get stronger and stronger. If you try to speed up the exploring process, you will end up dead in an instant. In order to unlock the other faction's areas (which for players of that faction are easy, but you will be placed in an 'alternate' world in which the enemies are really tough), you have to be around level 46+, so you will need to be patient. But in a way, it just adds to my excitement. There is enough to explore in your own zone, and the reward of someday being able to travel everywhere just works as a great motivation for me.
3. The landscapes are so diverse
So far we've seen the awesome landscapes of Morrowind, the romantic medieval landscape of Cyrodiil and the cold and harsh world of Skyrim. (Sorry for not counting the older games, I've never played them!) I love how ESO lets you explore entirely different areas. I joined the Aldmeri dominion, because I was so curious to see the tropical south. It's really amazing! The nature, culture and architecture in this game are so versatile!
4. Exploration of the world is very detailed
If you see a log, cut it for wood and craft it into a bow. If you see a pretty flower, pluck it and make a potion out of it. If you see stirring in the water, fish for food. If you find a barrel full of jasmine, take it with you and brew some tea. Exploring has been raised to another level! Even though previous games also had such possibilities, they seem to have been expanded for ESO. Almost everything you encounter can be interacted with. There are over 61 million items in this game. There are 40.656.000 different weapon variations. It includes 10.202 NPC's. There are 2235 unique books, which would take about 32 hours to read. I mean, come on!! That's awesome, right? Add the DLC stuff to that and you've got an endless amount of fun ahead of you. There are also so many animals (like monkeys, birds, snakes...) who aren't aggressive at all, which feels so much more realistic. You can also unlock dyes to change the colour of your armor, which I adore (pink armor for the win!), and aside from mounts (like horses), you can get a pet which follows you around all the time (and can't die), yay! Armor also contains belts and shoulder pads, which I have really missed since playing Morrowind!
5. The graphics are great
As you've seen in the above screenshots: the graphics are pretty sweet. Compared to the rough look Skyrim had, ESO is more colourful and therefore slightly less 'serious' looking. Personally, I really like this. But that depends on your own personal taste I suppose. Just to convince you, here are some more awesome landscapes:
6. The character creation and development are better than I though they would be
I though character creation would be kind of limited, but it isn't! You can make your character look like a fearsome warrior full of scars, or a smooth pretty person with a tiara, it's up to you! As for class and skills, you can choose from four classes: the Dragonknight who is a strong fighter who deals lots of fire damage, the Nightblade with stealthy goodness (guess which one I chose...), the Sorcerer who creates thunderrr and lightniiing and the Templar who uses the power of the sun to burn enemies and who is also good at defense and healing. Every class can wield any weapon, but they will have distinctive skills and abilities. If you want to know more about the classes, please google them. I'm such a stealth geek that I haven't really looked into the other classes yet, so I can't help you out there!
7. It's never over
The game keeps expanding and improving all the time. It came out in April 2014, and about two weeks from today they will release another DLC (downloadable content) with the Thieves Guild, yay!! New players keep popping up every day, so the game is still very much alive and kicking.
8. It's The Elder Scrolls
The music, the races, the guilds, the lore... It is:
Okay you're convinced! Go get it! If you're playing on an Xbox One, let me know your Gamertag and we can explore the world together. Unless you're not with the Dominion. FOR THE QUEEN!