Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bow to the might of Elder Scrolls Online!

Sorry folks for not having updated recently. Things have been a wee bit hectic and I've been a bit lazy, what with several projects going on simultaneously, but I figured it'd be fun to talk about a new craze I've gotten into recently, the new RPGMMO game Elder Scrolls Online! A new friend got me into it, and while I was at first hesitant, having seen some very negative reviews about it, finally relented and gave it a shot.

Folks, I'm here to tell you that the people posting negative reviews are wroooooong! I have high standards for MMOs. I'm a bit of a snob actually. Most fall into this detestable rut of tedious level grinding by doing the exact same task over and over and over and over, eking out the existence of an ant with cool abilities but in order to get them you have to go about the same sort of drudgery associated with stamping forms in an office job. It's so boring! Countless MMOs do this, dangling the carrot in front of you, tempting you to grind away for another week or so in order to gain but a single level and a bit of stat upgrading.

ESO does not fall into this trap. In fact, the stuff they've done has taken me completely by surprise. It is amazingly complex and innovative with all sorts of genuinely fun and interesting quests that take you across the span of a deep world that you can actually interact with! There is leveling, yes, but it is the good kind. Rather than the first few levels being quick and easy, then taking months to get to the higher levels, this lets you level up by how many quests and dungeons you do, not how many  monsters you slay. I wouldn't call leveling up easy per se, but it is very reasonable in how you work up, and it is very rewarding.

Better still, the quests are actually darned good because the stories are deep with plots that twist and turn. Best of all, and pay attention game makers, the moral decisions? The game DOES NOT tell you if you made the right or wrong choice. The genius of Bethesda moral choices is that it doesn't slap you around with overly simplistic right or wrong endings. Nope, they recognize that sometimes there is no clear right or wrong answer and let your own conscience dictate how you feel about the story. Did you make the proper decision? That's for you to decide, and it is brilliant. Imagine my shock when I was actually getting emotionally invested in characters and the politics! I actually cared about what I was doing and had to mull over my decisions, thinking about the possible ramifications of my actions not just in terms of points, xp and quest rewards, but in how it would effect the world and others. Okay, it doesn't always have a Mass Effect level of effects later on, but it makes you think about them! Thought provocation in a fantasy MMO? Now that is awesome. I love you Bethesda!

The variety of skills that you can work on are delightful, and how you tool your character up leaves you an absurd amount of room for customization. Each class and race get all sorts of goodies to work with, allowing you to tool things to your particular play style, rather than setting you in a rigid class system where you can't innovate. Every race and class has their pros and cons, but in this game it feels like each is hard core and dangerous and useful.

Don't even get me started on crafting skills. There's a lot and my jaw hit the floor when I saw how many different types of clothing and styles you can make. And I thought Skyrim had a lot of different weapons! I could fill up a book with all the stuff in this game from an inventory and stat based perspective alone.

But it gets even better with the warfare element, where you can have frigging hundreds of different players warring against each other! This got me to salivating, although I'm leveling up before I go out to get my butt whupped. I know I sound like I'm recapping the entire basic premise of the game, but I feel like it needs to be stated. I'm the guy who is absurdly cheap and cynical towards 99% of modern games. This one meets my unreasonably high standards and is well worth both my time and money. That's a lot coming from me, who is skimpy with free to play games.

Anywhat, I've actually joined a darned fun guild and we are working to become epic. I've actually been chosen as the guild chronicler and shall post revised stories based on our adventures on our site and on here! Join me, Eccentric Cowboy, the Redguard Nightblade assassin as I rampage throughout Tamriel with my companions on awesome adventures and warfare, whooo!

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