July 25, 2017

The Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind - Review

When Bethesda first announced the Elder Scrolls Online, like most people, everything they talked about was interesting, but all I really wanted to do, was return to places I have already seen and while they did something simple for the Imperial City, Morrowind was something else.

If you sunk any considerable time into the original Morrowind, then you will find yourself reliving many memories here, as the entire land is recreated here, from the early landings at Seyda Neen to the city of Vivec, the memories of exploring this land 15 years ago came back, the biggest difference of course is that, here while the land looks almost identical, there are a lot of changes to the world that help sell you on it being a different time. Vivec City is the biggest change, as the entire city is under construction still. The land that is Vvardenfell offers enough changes as well to welcome returning players, the land is far more lush this time around and of course, anyone coming to this land for the first time will find themselves awed at the giant mushrooms and more.

While a new land mass is always a welcome thing in any game, the biggest addition comes in the form of new story missions or characters and classes, thankfully here the story missions are miles ahead of what players had when the game first launched. Even the initial story, to get you to explore the world is much improved over the original, but it’s the missions that you find when exploring that really help to define the people of Vvardenfell. There was one quest that started out, so unlike the rest, just someone asking if I had seen someone, they were standing in the middle of the street, just stating things as I walked past, but interacting with them, well that started a quest that was perhaps the best of the game, at least that I found. The story that runs between the entire world though has a lot to do with the various houses that sort of run Vvardenfell and how each is trying to become the number one house, while it sounds interesting, it quickly runs out of steam and becomes a background element that can easily be ignored.

If you are coming here though and expecting things to change gameplay wise from what you experienced elsewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online, you will be disappointed and while I can understand the lack of change, it also hurts. Given that some players will have invested a lot of time, changing things would likely be a negative to them, but for returning players or newcomers, it feels odd. The One Tamriel update that was released last year, has removed a lot of the pointless barriers MMO’s are known for, this helps here immensely, so those, like myself, who want to experience the game solo can really enjoy it that way. However; running around the world, collecting rewards and doing almost anything else, still has you interacting with a quest giver or shop owner, while they are surrounded by dozens of other players. This really removes that sense that your actions are helping the world out, as finishing a quest only to see three other players doing the same removes that sense of accomplishment.

What the game has added, at least in terms of things you can take away from Vvardenfell is the new Warden class, the games first since the original release and while an interesting character class, its not really the best option for anyone. Each of the other classes has a significant ability that stands out, which will drew players to them, however the Warden is more of a Jack of all trades and sadly the Master of none as well. While the Warden will likely get a lot of people wanting to try it out, because it splits its focus into the three distinct skill trees, if you forget to pay attention to one, you can throw your character out of balance and that hurts long term. After almost 2 dozen hours with the class, I had to revert to my original character, because I was more suited for the combat focused approach I was used to.

Performance wise, the game does a solid job, the entire world loads with minimal issues, there are some of that strange fade in loading at times, but its minimal enough that it won’t be something you care about. The voice acting is really well done across the board, at least for the main story and quest delivers, random characters around the world are still way more enthusiastic than one might expect people to be, especially with bandits, cults and such wandering the world. The creatures are impressive, though they tend to repeat a lot, but their overall design is just stunning, of course, blending them with the world and you get something fun to enjoy and explore.

The game does a solid job of keeping existing players interested, but the reasons are only due to the new land, though players who have explored it in depth before will likely find it less interesting. Story wise, doing every quest will likely run you a good hundred hours, but given the nature of them pushing your actions as the course for change, to be surrounded by other people being told the same thing, cheapens them somewhat. If you are new to the game, this is a great launching point, the world is inviting and leaving to explore the world will offer dozens of house of fun, the only real downside is that the game does nothing new.

Thanks to Bethesda for supplying the game for review

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