“Morrowind feels like it begs you to come home,”
June 16, 2017 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Why The Elder Scrolls Online Is Worth Playing In 2017 [MMOS World] “Today, The Elder Scrolls Online is almost a different game. Majority of the complaints from launch have been addressed. Fan favorite Elder Scrolls guilds like the Thieves Guild and The Dark Brotherhood have been added. The game is now on consoles, reaching a wider audience for revenue benefits. Level gated mechanics have been removed with the One Tamriel update, and gone are the days of player limitations. Level scaling arrived as well. On top of all that in the past year and a half, regular developer updates have hinted at things to come and they are worth the wait too. So why should players get excited for 2017? The answer is because the developers aren’t stopping with the good news.”

• The jaws of Oblivion: Saving the Elder Scrolls MMO [Polygon]
“How do you take one of the biggest franchises in games and move it to an entirely different genre without losing what makes it special? That was the question posed by the team at ZeniMax Media when it formed ZeniMax Online Studios in 2007. Its answer was The Elder Scrolls Online, an ambitious project to take the world of Tamriel — made famous by single-player games like The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion — and reshape it into a massively-multiplayer online game. But in 2011, four years after work began, studio director Matt Firor and his team started to think they might be on the wrong track. The feedback from internal playtests was mixed. ESO was just OK, and OK wasn’t anywhere close to good enough. [...] "I would say that Destiny is just as much an MMO as any other game that has ever been made. But it's not what you would think of as a traditional MMO. And we were in that category when we started ESO. We were making a traditional MMO. But we ended up making something very different. "At it's heart, ESO really is a role-playing game. It just has all these other players in it. But if you call it an MMO, then a lot of the baggage comes in from 2004 which may or may not apply any more.”
• ESO: Morrowind Review in Progress – My Return from a 3-Year Hiatus [Game Revolution]
“ESO: Morrowind hasn't forsaken its roots. I've found myself constantly stumbling upon quest opportunities, most of which are deeply interesting. This proves to be the greatest strength of the expansion, as it delivers dozens of hours of new narrative experiences that take influence from one of the greatest Elder Scrolls games in history. [...] If you're like me and didn't enjoy the original ESO experience, then you may want to give this a look, if only to give yourself an excuse to experience the major improvements that the One Tamriel update ushered last year. Among its long list of features was a level scaling system, which effectively allows you to engage in just about any content you desire as its enemies will scale to your level. This makes it very easy to group up with friends and explore where you'd like without fear that you'll get one-shot. There were some other notable features included that transformed the game in significant ways, earning praise from fans and some haters alike.”
• The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind [IGN]
“Stepping off the boat in Seyda Neen at the beginning of The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind brought back a flood of memories from 2002’s The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Seeing the plain wooden dock extend out in front of me toward the small hamlet made me feel as though I were 15 years younger, ready to tackle the world laid out in front of me. In every pixel, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind strives to create this feeling. And the centerpiece island of Vvardenfell, coupled with a new interesting class and stellar writing, make this a great new expansion. If there is a downside, it’s the fact that Vvardenfell is so faithfully recreated here that it diminishes the sense of discovery and wonder for series veterans. I pretty much knew where everything is located, and that costs it some of the luster that ESO brought when it first launched. That said, while you can find familiar locations, the ESO: Morrowind takes place 700 years before the events of the single-player game, and that allows for some differences that make it worthy of exploration.”
• Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, Nostalgia makes a decent expansion something special. [PC World]
“As I wander through the island of Vvardenfell I find myself stumbling on old memories. Here’s the mountain near Suran where I fought Umbra, the depressed orc who wished to die a warrior’s death but was too strong to be defeated by normal adventurers. There’s the mountain pass where I was dive-bombed by dozens of cliff racers. Here’s the Dwemer stronghold I tried to jump over for a half-hour before realizing it’d be easier to go around. There are ancestral tombs, the Morag Tong, the Fighter's Guild, the Mage's Guild. The mushrooms! The long-legged Silt Striders! Walking into the city of Balmora there’s the building where a Khajiit fence bought all my illicit moon sugar. Ald’ruhn is a smaller settlement in the expansion, which takes place 700 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls III proper, but still has its trademark giant crab shell in the center. And always, the Red Mountain, Dagoth Ur, dominates the horizon with its magma-heat glow. It's an ever-present ill omen, although I haven't found a reason to scale its charred expanse yet.”
• Bethesda E3 2017: Exec Explains Why Elder Scrolls 6 Not Happening Soon Is A Good Move [GameSpot]
“Hines told GameSpot today that Howard's team wanted to "work on some other stuff and do some other things" after releasing Fallout 4, which has surpassed Skyrim to become Bethesda's most successful game ever. He added that Bethesda Game Studios did not want to be known as a developer that only made Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. "Quite honestly, they didn't want to be the developer that was just Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Fallout for the rest of their development careers," Hines said. "And you've got a lot of people in that studio who have been there for a really long time. They wanted to be able to self-determine things they worked on next, whether it was existing stuff whether it was new IP. "And I think Todd and his team have earned the right, given the quality of this stuff, to be able to say, 'We know everybody really wants Elder Scrolls VI, but we as creative people want to be able to do stuff tat we're really passionate about.' And I think once you see how the next two titles come out and then how Elder Scrolls 6 ties into what those games are doing and about, I think it'll all make sense. But I think it's going to be a while before all those things happen."”
posted by Fizz (39 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Given how much of this seems to be weighted around nostalgia, how is it for someone who has no sense of nostalgia for Elder Scrolls?
posted by CrystalDave at 3:36 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

CrystalDave, I was introduced to Elder Scrolls through Oblivion and then Skyrim. I just recently signed up for Elder Scrolls Online and I'm having a hell of a time. It's just lots of fun. That being said, I'm currently satisfying my MMO itch, it's something I've been craving for a bit. I'm also a fan of the lore and story that are built into this world, so thats why I decided to take the plunge and load this game up.

There's lots of competition right now. Black Sands Online is one that has been getting a fair amount of buzz lately. Final Fantasy XIV is still going very strong and there's the ever popular World of Warcraft which apparently saw a resurgence with their most recent expansion, Legion. Lots to choose from.
posted by Fizz at 3:41 PM on June 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I realized I forgot to answer your question. I don't think you have to know much about this particular universe. This world is set 400 some years before the stand-alone games that everyone is familiar with. I don't know anything about Morrowind, but I'm still smiling and having lots of fun.
posted by Fizz at 3:43 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

One of the things I like about Fallout 4 (now that I've installed a bunch of mods to stop it being miserably and probably pretty unrealistically brown 200 years after a nuclear war), is the fact that it sort of feels like Bethesda have remembered that what they always wanted to do was make engaging places where you could make up your own stories in your head. That they originally, when Arena came out, it was about playing fantasy Elite. If they've brought some of that spirit into TES Online, I think I'm interested.
posted by howfar at 3:47 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just want to know if horse armor is included.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:51 PM on June 16, 2017 [13 favorites]

I've barely even loaded up earlier Elder Scrolls games - saw the intro to Skyrim, played like half an hour of Morrowind. I had no trouble figuring out the lore, and I can vouch for the MMO being a lot of fun. Big draws for it:

* Excellent voice acting. I swear, if I'm ever wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, I'm hiring Malcolm McDowell to do a Molag Bal routine for my voicemail. ("Your efforts were for naught, for your message shall be cast into the VOID!" or something.)

* Stealth! Most MMOs I've played shy away from letting the players be stealthy all the time, but not ESO. Anybody can sneak, just some are better at it than others. Theft and assassination kills are hilarious in it.

I'm currently on hiatus because I can't really justify buying the expansion right now, and I ran out of stuff to do, but it's a very solid game.
posted by mordax at 4:04 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

The only TES game I've ever played was Skyrim (though for a million hours), I've never played an MMO, and my very limited gaming hours are still consumed by Mass Effect: Andromeda, but damn if this post isn't going to make me give ESO a shot. Fizz, I thank you and curse you simultaneously for the many hours I shall lose as a sneaky archer sniping Falmer from afar.
posted by ejs at 4:09 PM on June 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Goddamnit, my vacation week just ended. Why would you do this to me? Three day 'til Monday.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:24 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I gave it a shot during one of the free week-end. It's too mmo for me. It's not a sandbox it's a collection of systems with grinding at its heart.
There are nice innovations on the formula here and there, but don't go in expecting an elder scrolls game, it's more like Wow 2.0 in Tamriel.
posted by SageLeVoid at 4:29 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've been in it for a while. In the language of the Ancients, Just Do It.
posted by Splunge at 4:38 PM on June 16, 2017

Oh, and, make a Majicka Sorcerer. Thank me later.
posted by Splunge at 4:40 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

like Wow 2.0 in Tamriel.

posted by Fizz at 4:40 PM on June 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I.... hmm. I would temper your enthusiasm. I bought this game when it was on heavy discount on Steam a few months ago. It's fine. It's an MMO with a lot of Elder Scrolls flavor circa Skyrim, which means that it's the skin of a fun game stretched way too thin, plus the game it apes is started to feel a bit dated at this point in the Geralt of Rivia era.
posted by selfnoise at 4:53 PM on June 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I played WoW for many years but finally couldn't take the awful other people playing (the racism/sexism/just general misanthropy is not something I want to spend time around) so I quit. I was excited to try ESO though. I've been playing since launch and it's much better than WoW in terms of the other people playing, but it's still an MMO. Not what I would prefer, but I'll still play it because it's Elder Scrolls. Meanwhile lately I've been going back to Skyrim more and more.
ESO does have some grind aspects to it. For instance, some of the achievements you can earn involve collecting certain items that drop from certain creatures. The items have a very low drop rate so you then spend time killing a bunch of those creatures to get the item, and that is grinding. If you don't want to grind stuff you run out of single-player adventuring relatively quickly especially if you compare it to Skyrim.
ejs, you can't one-shot snipe things from afar with a bow, even in stealth. It's very disappointing but would probably be OP in a multiplayer game.
I'm probably going to go back and play Morrowind and Oblivion again, just for the fun of it. MMO's aren't my favorite, in case you couldn't tell lol.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 5:09 PM on June 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

selfnoise, That seems like a fair criticism. I guess it's just been a bit since I've played and MMO and I'm in that type of a mood. Also, I haven't touched Skyrim in a bit and this seemed like a nice twist on that, so it's still relatively fresh for me. But, thanks for sort of providing that insight and point of view.
posted by Fizz at 5:09 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

OK, if I were to theoretically try this out, what would be the best and/or thriftiest way to try this out? Looks like there's an F2P version, and there's also Tamriel Unlimited and a Gold edition... are there any subscription fees involved in the ones that are paid for?
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:19 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Halloween Jack, they moved away from subscription fees last June. The differences between Gold and Unlimited I believe are more with various expansions, DLC. This wiki might be helpful.
posted by Fizz at 5:22 PM on June 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you enjoyed the more esoteric lore from Morrowind and Oblivion (say, the 36 Lessons of Vivec, or some of the stranger bits from Oblivion) then you might quite like ESO. Be warned that it's a bit more on the surface.

Elder Scrolls lore nerds like to construct inscrutable theories on what certain elements mean within the ES universe. (A good example is this weird new-agey take on music and creation - links one and two.) Water's come up a bit in lore, and no one was sure exactly what it symbolized. Well, one quest in ESO pretty much blurted out the secret to water, leading lore nerds right on to fun little relevations (why is it said that Hermaeus Mora is the Daedric Prince of Knowledge and Tides? Well, tides of fate, for one, but if water is memory, then the sea is basically the history of Nirn from every possible viewpoint, so... yeah, that's Mora's thing).
posted by suckerpunch at 5:48 PM on June 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

The problem with the ES storylines since Morrowind is that the writers have been too sane.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:37 PM on June 16, 2017 [15 favorites]

I'd like to go on record as stating that while I sympathize with the creative frustration evinced by developers at Bethesda, I am perfectly happy with them just doing Elder Scrolls and Fallout games for ever and ever.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:06 PM on June 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

The Vivec line is a lot of fun.
posted by Splunge at 8:11 PM on June 16, 2017

But can I be a tavernkeep?
posted by divabat at 8:30 PM on June 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Geralt and the death of a certain character are the only game thats made me cry in 20 years, so whatever. Games are art. Try harder.
posted by Damienmce at 11:22 PM on June 16, 2017

Games are art.

Please keep saying this often and loudly! It explodes my brain that dozens of artists can work for years and the output be considered not-art. Ignorant elitist wankers.

That said, silt striders are ridiculous. Totally takes me out of the fantasy. Fast travel in the hollowed out carapace of elephantine fleas... Try harder!
posted by adept256 at 11:58 PM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Played it on release for the pvp, which turned out to favour 2 specific builds, so I quit... dare I return?
posted by dazed_one at 12:01 AM on June 17, 2017

So for people who liked morrowwind, but didn't love the later elder scrolls games so much, is this worth trying? I liked the openness of morrowwind and thought the later games were too linear with too much hand holding
posted by lollusc at 12:17 AM on June 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Does anyone know what the "quest progression bug" is that was referenced in the Polygon article? It spent 3 paragraphs talking about how it screwed up player movement, which sounded interesting and hilarious, but it never actually said what the problem was. Or else I missed it.

I enjoyed reading all this. I played WoW for long enough, and I probably have over a thousand hours in Oblivion and Skyrim together, still adding to that all the time. From the videos, this game just doesn't have the same atmosphere, so it doesn't seem like the same world. It almost looks and feels more Fable-y than TES-like.
posted by heatvision at 4:29 AM on June 17, 2017

That said, silt striders are ridiculous.

Why walk when you can ride?
posted by curious nu at 7:00 AM on June 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

The things that make ESO stand out over other MMOs for me are
- the high degree of freedom of exploration
- the beauty of the scenery
- the fact that the premium content doesn't feel like it's constantly spamming you about purchasing it.

So far the quests have not quite engaged me to the extent that Skyrim's (or even some in Star Trek Online) did, but that may be because I've been so busy exploring that I haven't quite given them a fair chance!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:48 AM on June 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Original Morrowind with all the trimmings was $3.50 on Good Old Games last week, so I've actually been diving back into that. Wonder if I can recreate the amazing feeling of approaching the ghost fence at night for the first time. Probably not. Though I have rediscovered how annoying cliff racers are all over again and it's just like the first time.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:28 AM on June 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Probably can wait till Skywind, or if not there's always the various overhauls for the original to consider.
posted by whorl at 9:20 AM on June 17, 2017

I bought ESO Tamriel Unlimited Gold Edition on sale back in January (I think) when it was on sale for next to nothing. I have played none of the Elder Scrolls games other than Skyrim (which I thought was great) and though I'd heard bad things about it's roll-out I figured I'd give ESO a shot after I ran out of other games I wanted to play.

I've never been much of an MMO player, and like Rufous-headed Towhee heehee, I gave up on WoW after a while because people get unreasonably testy when you don't treat that thing like a job (also, racists).

About a month ago I popped ESO in and started up a sneaky, murder-y, assassin-y archer type, and I've been losing sleep ever since.

ESO has the exploration and looting aspects that I enjoyed from WoW, but the art direction is much less cartoony and the storylines are more interesting and (ahem) realistic. The combat is a bit less "spammy" than WoW, and the character progression rewards you for doing what you like to do rather than what your class will allow you to do (i.e., wanna be a heavy armor wearing, sword wielding, sorcerer? Have at it!).

My $.02 = Totally worth it.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:49 PM on June 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

I just started playing ESO last month, and am completely enamored with it. I usually don't particularly like multiplayer games, but this one is perfect. Run into a big scary boss monster? There are almost always random people passing by who will leap in and help you fight! I'm in a really friendly guild, too, which helps when I have questions. It's scratched my Skyrim itch nicely.
posted by sarcasticah at 10:06 PM on June 17, 2017

The things that make ESO stand out over other MMOs for me are
- the high degree of freedom of exploration

Those who play traditional RPGs but not a lot of MMOs probably won't appreciate this as much, but the really striking thing about ESO nowadays in general and, apparently, the Morrowind expansion in particular is that you can literally just go anywhere and find something to do. Nothing is level-gated any more. You might have a harder time in some places than others because you don't have a fully-built character, but the game doesn't stop you from deciding to hop off the rails and take risks like that.

Completely unheard of with MMOs. Even the older sandboxy ones would generally trap you into a certain progression by the distribution of enemies in level-banded zones.

I always feel a bit weird about talking up ESO, because I don't actually play it much, but I have a huge amount of admiration for the One Tamriel design philosophy.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:14 AM on June 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Those who play traditional RPGs but not a lot of MMOs probably won't appreciate this as much, but the really striking thing about ESO nowadays in general and, apparently, the Morrowind expansion in particular is that you can literally just go anywhere and find something to do.

Yeah, this is very true. It's also a relatively recent development: I was well into endgame before One Tamriel was implemented, so it means they're moving more in this direction rather than just treading water.
posted by mordax at 11:50 AM on June 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Still a little bummed that the full Justice System roll-out never happened, though. It's been too long since an MMO tried a PvP flagging system that wasn't faction-based, a manual toggle, or both.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:21 PM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can any players tell me how the first person perspective side of things works out in ESO? I hear it's now the default, but is it actually playable?
posted by Sparx at 4:48 PM on June 18, 2017

I switch between 1st and 3rd person, Sparx: 1st for sneaking and moving carefully, 3rd for situational awareness. YMMV, of course, but I find the option to switch back and forth indispensable. Also, 1st is only the default in that the game starts you there, but you can switch back at forth at will.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:21 PM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks Pecinpah. I was always interested conceptually in a game where you could first-person adventure with your buddies in a fantasy environment. EverQuest was pretty much first-person only back in the day (but had other limitations of course) and nobody has really picked up on the potential subsequently in a non-shooter game that I'm aware of. In my dream game it would be first person only so you'd have to watch each other's backs as you dungeon-delved.
posted by Sparx at 8:05 PM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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