Thursday, November 15, 2018

The End Comes for Nirn

I finished the endgame for the original portion of The Elder Scrolls Online yesterday. While the final battle at the endgame --and afterwards, your personal story-- took about 8-10 hours of playing time* for a player experiencing it for the first time, the overall storyline for ESO from your initial starting zone through to the end was much faster than I expected. By comparison, my original toon on SWTOR** took probably about 4 months of steady play, and WoW.... Well, lets just say that WoW took considerably longer to get to L60.

But I now know the reason why the opening up of the other faction's zones was so critical to ESO's future: the original game was too short compared to other MMOs.

Believe me, I'm not a "I'm bored, there's nothing to do!!" person, because MMOs by their nature have a lot of side items such as crafting and whatnot, but when I finished the original game I thought, "Huh. That really was too short!"

The story did have a taste of Mary Sue-ness to it at the end, especially given that your character pretty much came out of nowhere to do some amazing things at the end. However, to Zenimax's credit they weren't afraid to let some NPCs die in that final assault. Oh, it wasn't George RR Martin level of bloodbath, but a couple of NPCs that I really kind of liked didn't make it at the end.***

ESO did use a heavy amount of what I'd call personal phasing --where the story provides phasing while in plain sight of other toons, who obviously can't see what you're seeing-- to make the final assault more interesting. This is a grade up from what WoW implemented in Wrath through Mists, and it really takes some virtual sleight of hand to pull this off. Kudos to the dev team for doing just that.

Choice did have a bit of an impact on who shows up in the final assault. If you chose one group over another in the Coldharbour zone, that group was the one that showed up. (Sorry, I'm not giving spoilers away.) That happened numerous times in Coldharbour, and in at least one case making the "right" choice meant a critical quest sequence went a lot more smoothly. But whether it was the right ethical/moral answer, that's a different story.

The one thing that I found most interesting, however, was the impact that the so-called "good" Daedra have on Nirn. I'm pretty much used to Molag Bal, Sheogorath, and company having an impact, but the good Daedra have a pretty large impact as well. I kept wondering just where the Aedra are, and why they're not very active. In that respect, I felt that the world of The Elder Scrolls was more akin to a Swords and Sorcery setting --such as Age of Conan-- where the gods really don't seem to give much of a crap about the Conan's world, but the demons and demon gods certainly do.

Is it worth it to play? Yes, it is, if for nothing else than the voice acting alone. I was geeking out when I heard both Kevin Michael Richardson (Sai Sahan) and Jennifer Hale (Lyris Titanborn) as companions in the same way that their characters in SWTOR were (Jace Malcom and Satele Shan, respectively).
The two in the middle....
...are the same as these two.

The one thing I'm not exactly sure of is just how active the game really is. It certainly seemed active, but there's apparently only one Megaserver for North America, so I don't know how active it truly is. Besides, I'm not playing in Summerset, which is the current expac, so there's that as well.

Anyway, I'm seriously glad that Zenimax opened up the other alliance zones, because otherwise I'd find myself in an uncomfortable situation of saying "this was way too short for me".

*That also included a few extra side quests in the final battle zones --in the same zone as the vampires-- which didn't take terribly long. Maybe it was an hour combined for those side quests, as the delve was fairly straightforward, but I tend to lose track of time when doing some of these side quests.

**This was 2012ish, and that meant all the original side quests were firmly in place and pretty much a requirement if you wanted to gear up your companions.

***And in true MMO fashion, the moment you walk out of the last phased story zone, there were all the NPCs back doing what they were doing.


  1. Ooh someone else who plays ESO!! /wave
    I've been playing for weeks and have just started the 3rd zone of my factions story so I still feel like there's tons of questing ahead especially since there's all the DLCs that are out.
    One benefit of coming to a game lomg after the inital release I guess :)
    I was levelling through an extra xp event so I did hit 50 in what felt like too short of a time but with being able to champion points, I still feel like I'm benefiting frim questing to see the story.
    I haven't noticed the phasing, now I know its a thing I'll be looking for it.

    1. I finished everything for my Dunmer Nightblade in the Pact's area, and I moved into the Covenant's low level zones. I discovered that the quality of your gear drops continue to rise, unlike other games where if you enter a low level area all the drops are geared toward low level toons. A nice touch.