The Elder Scrolls Online was no successful success. But courageously, the developers timed their game to strike out the biggest annoyances. And now, there’s the first official expansion, adding a whole lot of ground to the game world, plus a whole lot of new quests and a new class. But is it enough to completely rehabilitate The Elder Scrolls?
Although you can not take four steps nowadays before pushing your head against another Skyrim port, Morrowind was the final rpg for many Elder Scrolls fans. Not only did Morrowind have one of the deepest magic systems in the series (with more possibilities than Skyrim), the game world was unique and original. Instead of the (gaaaaap) most wooded area with a dragon here and there, the province of Morrowind was an almost alien world, with giant mushrooms and its own culture and history. No wonder, so there are still a lot of fans who think about the best The Elder Scrolls game. It is on the nostalgia that The Elder Scrolls Online base its first expansion. Because it takes place in that strange landscape, between the fascinating Elven factions and strange giant champignons.
But do not think this is a modern re-imagining or remake (or remaster or whatever for any reason) of a beloved classic. It is nothing more (or less) than a new accessible area in a now over three years old mmo.
The Elder Scrolls Online had the necessary problems when it appeared. It offered a standard “quest-level-go-to-follow-area” online game and tried to squeeze all the logic into freedom and single-player feeling of The Elder Scrolls. The result was a pitiful story of very well-written quests that regularly banned other players from defeating the final boss of your personal story just before your nose.
But MMOs are not static games. Zenimax has not stopped and made a lot of changes. Not only was the ridicule monthly subscription dropped, but the game itself was fundamentally addressed. Slowly but surely a game floated up that pieces were better than what was ever launched. Suddenly, the world was freely accessible, no matter what level you were. And suddenly, individual servers were replaced by one major mega server, with only one voluntary separation between the US and Europe, to avoid connection problems. Morrowind (the expansion) feels like a kind of last step in a reboot of the game.
This will also mark you when you install it and get an option to start a new character. Yes, of course you can get an old hero, but it’s not necessary. As the entire game world (including the new areas) scales to your character, the extension for both absolute beginners and veterans is fully playable.
For veterans it may be worth the effort to try out the new ‘Warden’ class. For newcomers, too. Actually, it’s the question who should not play Warden, as this class can be either tank, dps or healer, depending on how you build him or her. As a bonus, the Warden is accompanied by an enormous bear, which makes fighting much easier. The Warden is not too strong for the game. It’s more that this is by far the best class to play in the game, with more personality than everyone else so far. And given the freedom in your final role choice (tank, dps or healer), you do not really put yourself at the start of the game.
Once started with the new character, two things occur. First of all, of course, the starting environment, which is a replica of the place you first entered Morrowind for the first time. Immediately it is a party of nostalgia and recognition. But then, of course, many times more beautiful than you remembered. And without the fog that was necessary to make the game run smoothly at the time.
The second thing that strikes is how easy the game takes you when you have accepted your first quest. Every questioner really matters to you, so you do not have to make any text to you. Although the animators will not win prizes for the woody npc’s, the voters make sure you’re in the story soon. And then it’s a matter of having a good trip and watching what the world has to offer you. A world full of quests, sometimes indicated very clearly but sometimes only through a hint to be discovered. Very nice are the little ‘plays’ that are raised by the computer characters here and there – they make it clear that there are adventures to be found here. And the quality of the quests themselves is fantastic.
These are multi-stage, well written stories, which never prevent you from killing a few ten rats. Instead, you get involved in political machinations, corruption, fighting faction and an Elder Scrolls version of a masked superhero. It never feels like a job to do a quest and it is also advisable not to pick up too much at the same time. Instead, it’s a lot more fun to complete one questline completely before you get another look. Whoever la World of Warcraft tries to level as many quests as possible in order to ‘level efficiently’ does not necessarily mean that The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind makes this worthwhile.
Because (and this is likely to be choking) now, The Elder Scrolls is almost no more. Yes, of course, other players are still running. And yes, it’s all too often that those other players get rid of an end boss for your nose and disturb your personal story. But at the moment it is probably best to pretend that all those others are not. Because as singleplayer experience, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is a very fun game with the exception of the new stories also the excellent skill system that saved the game from launching total failure.
Anyone who wants to play with multiple players can still do that. And there is also the big PvP area where you can freely take war against other factions. But the actual gameplay, especially in the expansion, has been developed especially for solo players. This makes The Elder Scrolls Online more mmo-like than mmo. More than World of Warcraft, where dungeons and raids are an important part of the end-game. End-game in The Elder Scrolls Online is either PvP or more quests. The handful of raids (or “Trials”) are for those who want to, but form more an attraction than the final goal.
The main question that stuck on the head during the game was why: why is this online? What do all those other circular figures add to the experience? And just like the launch three years ago, the answer is difficult to give. The big difference three years ago is that the game is now very fun to play, whether there are other players or not. The amazing little and big stories you discover now are just amazing. And they also make the setting really right. This is not a standard fantasy world. Morrowind is still dark, strange, extraterrestrial and a pleasure to explore. That all those freaks in an online game have been pushed may be a pity for the hardcore Morrowind fans, but it has improved the quality of Elder Scrolls Online in any case.
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