It wasn’t too far off this time last year that I kicked off another run into The Elder Scrolls Online. That time around, I went out of my way to ditch the latest expansion that it plopped me into (Summerset) and found my way back to the old world, to start the adventure from the beginning.

This time around — I decided to stick with Elsweyr. And it hasn’t turned me off it like trying to start in Summerset has.

The main issue I found last time around, was that there were characters in Summerset you were clearly meant to know. They were supposed to have an existing relationship with your character in some form or another and of course — this just didn’t exist when you were rather unceremoniously dumped as a new character at their feet.

My impression with Elsweyr — and this might not even be correct, but that almost doesn’t even matter — is that the characters are new to you. You’re meeting them for the first time and being introduced to them over the course of the story. If they did exist in prior Elder Scrolls Online stories — this is no longer thrust in your face quite so much.

I have also stopped by Vvardenfell (Morrowind’s content) when friends weren’t on to further progress Elsweyr with.

Well no — there is actually one character definitely thrust back into the spot light from the old world. But if you’ve ever done the original tutorial you’ll be familiar with them. Although I do now have a great many questions on how they went from their situation in said original tutorial to where they are in Elsweyr.

But rather than frustrate, this feels more like a mystery to be solved at a later date. A backstory I can discover more of.

I’m not terribly far in from a character progression perspective, sitting at just level 20. But that’s further than I got with my old character. I’m playing a Warden this time around with a focus on Magicka abilities. Primarily Healing, really. But taking enough DPS skills to make leveling enjoyable. And at least in terms of leveling content — including the dungeons — I don’t feel underpowered with this approach at all.

The balance of power is actually quite satisfying.

I have little doubt that eventually, come level 50 and jumping on the Champion Point train I will want to respec to be more heavily healer orientated. Spec for it. Gear for it. All that carry on.

But for now, I’m just having a blast with the Zone story. The main story may not precisely go ahead and blow your socks off, but the side quests are without exception fantastic. Not something I would say about… Welll… Practically any other MMO to my knowledge.

In one of the early ‘Delves’ (soloable, but also public mini-dungeons) of Elsweyr.

ESO really jumps both feet into the fully voiced, fully fleshed out stories. They’re very akin to a ‘proper’ Elder Scrolls game questline in that respect.

Even Syp, who doesn’t quite gel with the combat finds the stories to be rather engaging and amusing. Both sides of which I can’t help but to agree with. On my first night back into ESO, I thought I had made a terrible mistake. Mostly down to the combat and how… Off it felt.

Although admittedly, as you begin to unlock additional skill morphs and discover the potential synergies, things to start clicking into place a little better. The healer skills in particular being largely area targeted feel good to play with in a hectic dungeon or public dungeon environment.

But without the story telling on offer — I’m not sure I would have stuck around long enough to even find this out.


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.


Bhagpuss · January 30, 2020 at 1:52 am

I really am going to have to go back and look at ESO again, just to try and make sense of why people keep saying the storytelling/writing/narrative is good. My memory of it is the exact opposite – I remember it being dull, tedious, overwritten, generic and completely devoid of interest. The combat wasn’t anything to write home about, sure, but the quest dialog was far worse. And as for the voiceovers, I recall those being interminable drones that never even reached the level of a half-decent table-read. As I said on Syp’s thread, even John Cleese sounds like he’s phoning it in.

Maybe I’m misremembering. Or maybe things are better outside of the opening areas of the base game. I’ve been meaning to take another run at it anyway, only there always seems to be something more interesting to do. I’m just going to have to put my critic’s hat on and treat it like an assignment, I think.

    everwake · January 30, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    I have to agree with this, I played in the beta and have tried to give ESO a shot several times over the preceding years. Everything about it feels like a worse Skyrim. The combat feels worse and the dialogue always seemed overwrough. It inherently has less interactivity with the world than a single player RPG too, always leaving me to wonder why I would play ESO over any other western RPG on the market.

      Naithin · January 30, 2020 at 9:50 pm

      I never had an issue with the original game’s VO, but it’s certainly a complaint I’ve heard often enough to know that, at the least, even that much of an opinion was divisive.

      Having said that — I do think that Elsweyr’s story content is better.

      Is it enough to win you both over again? ehh. I dunno. But I’m curious!

Salty · January 30, 2020 at 6:51 am

I’ll say something about the combat. I too have been frustrated with it’s floatyness, lack of impact. But recently stumbled across a couple YT vids by a guy named Xynode (basically ‘get good’ vids) that describe how to weave abilities into heavy and lite attacks that makes for a bit more interesting combat experience. There is some timing and challenge now instead of just watching animations, and makes sense now why I seemed to just get destroyed in PvP even before I saw animations happen from other players. Worth looking up if you’re diving into this game again.

    Naithin · January 30, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks Salty, I’ll take a look into Xynode’s vids.

    I had started weaving light attacks between most of my spell casts, and even that has added a certain dynamism to the combat flow I quite enjoy. But I’ve not yet looked into learning the other opportunities to animation cancel, so will be cool to learn. :)

Alli · January 30, 2020 at 7:03 am

Interesting. I’ve been thinking about doing this myself, although I didn’t get very far to begin with.

    Naithin · February 1, 2020 at 10:10 am

    I’ve now almost finished the content originally included with the Elsweyr release, but they’ve added a bunch more over time (including another land area) with the ‘Year of the Dragon’ DLC that followed it — so I’ll be heading into those sections soon.

    So far I’ve had a pretty good time of it, but even so — it never quite hits the same level of fervour that Monster Hunter World; Iceborne did while I was caught up in that.

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