Bethesda Game Studios have lovingly restored this world but will this reincarnation meet 17 years of expectation…
The road to the latest Elder Scrolls Online release started with Bethseda’s Super Bowl ad. This million pound prime time snapshot impressed with its nod to a deep story and incredible graphics. For most, including me, who had not ever bought into ESO before this announcement, it was an immediate draw; not least because of the appeal of rekindling an old and ardent flame.
Graphically beautiful and intriguingly written, this trip down Neyda Seen’s lanes is everything that was hoped for. On initial boot, there is an inherent audio glitch and more texture popping than in the wider game, however considering the scale of the already groundbreaking world, there is room for forgiveness. Bethseda have shown a rare and consistent ambition to improve on a regular basis and fix what they can. The reassurance that things will be patched and the fact that nothing game braking has occurred does put most issues to the back of your mind.
The familiar – if slightly scaled down – version of Vvardenfell can geographically be navigated by memory. This does not mean Bethseda have just re-skinned the original game. Care has been taken to slot the area into a time period where there is scope for change. The grand ziggurats of Vivec are under construction beneath the moonlet; importantly still home to the living Demi-God himself. Interacting with the heritage of the original release brings a very satisfying level of texture to the game.
The new Warden class opens up the utilization of various skill paths, bringing out more dynamic combat and depth in character balancing. The introduction of directed animal attacks is a welcome visual change from the more commonplace attack animations. Seeing a cliff racer dive bombing your enemies makes for a satisfying use of ‘magicka’, as fireballs do get old even for seasoned pyromaniacs.
Guilds and Great Houses of the land rise from the dust or riversides on their original sites. Choosing your path through the murky world of Redoran or Televanni politics continues to present challenges. Over and over you will be presented with moral and strategic decisions that shape the narrative of your experience. A testament to the class of script writing is the genuine impact you feel in making your decisions, whether it is taking the easy way out by speeding up a quest with coin and persuasion or killing a friendly character for honour or morality.
There are many more hours and dungeons ahead for me to explore, lore books to read and ancestral tombs to admire. Many will question the steep price for the stand alone DLC (downloadable content), but in the context of a game that just keeps giving and evolving, it is more a question of can you afford not to get it. As a universally loved game that has been redeveloped with great care for the current generation, if this doesn’t inspire you to invest then quite frankly you deserve “an arrow to the knee”.
Author: Joe, Bath store