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Late to the Game(s): Exploring the worlds of Elder Scrolls Online

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

The MMO Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) had a free-to-play period recently. Unfortunately, that event ended just as my internet came back on Monday morning, but I had enough time in game to get a good feel for it, I think. 

If you’ve played Skyrim, or any of the other games in the Elder Scrolls franchise, you already have some understanding of the world and the lore. You probably also already have some idea of the controls and point of view options. 

They’re basically the same in the online version as they are in the offline versions of the game. There might be some slight variation from whatever game you played last – this happens across all titles – but it’s going to feel fairly familiar and intuitive. 

The world is going to look and feel familiar too, for the most part. One thing I noticed was that, rather than being based on weight, the number of items you can carry is based on inventory slots. This is great if it means no longer being over-encumbered and slowed down, but it still means dropping loot once you hit your bag limit. 

Mine started at a fairly generous 60 slots. By the time I was at the end of the opening storyline, though, my inventory was full. I was ready to go explore, sell some items off, and see about upgrading my gear. Maybe even upgrade my bags, so I could carry more stuff to sell – the Sisyphean task of all MMOs. 

What kept me from striking out right away, though, is what always holds me up in Elder Scrolls games; the books. 

There as you approach the portals to different regions of Tamriel, you pass through a library. What ended up happening is what ends up happening way too often in games like this – especially those from studios like Bethesda with such well thought out lore – instead of playing on through the rest of the game, I geeked out and started reading the books on the shelves. Of course, coming across a volume two or a volume three of a new story also meant running around the library looking for a volume one so I could start at the beginning. Finishing a particular volume meant looking for what came next. 

In other Elder Scrolls games I’d just pick up the books, take them back to my lair, and place them on the shelves, waiting until I had all the volumes. You can’t take the books with you in ESO, though. So, I felt more compelled to read them all right then. 

The immediacy and permanency of it is nice. But I missed being able to pillage and take books with me. Maybe that changes at some other place in the game. I don’t know because I didn’t get much further due to an internet outage that took me offline until the morning ESO closed the free play event. 

What they gave me during my time online – brief though it may have been – was compelling though. 

I left wanting to explore more of the realms of Tamriel. But not enough, I think, that I’d be willing to pay out a monthly fee. If online access were included with purchase of the base game, and expansions were sold separately, I’d probably go ahead and buy the game. I’d even probably buy the expansions at some point. But I can’t justify a monthly fee for a game that I might have the time to pick up a few times a month. If you have more time to dedicate to playing though, and you’ve enjoyed the single-player games in the Elder Scrolls universe, ESO is worth checking out

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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