Game Review: The Elder Scrolls Online

Ah – here it is; my first gaming review in some time, and my first review of an online game, ever! As mentioned before, I used to play Ultima Online, which was the online version of a game that I played for years, beginning in the 5th grade. I think playing Ultima is the main reason I never noticed the Elder Scrolls series – the other reason was because I was going through a divorce and had relocated, so I was without a computer for about two years – and this was when the Elder Scrolls was first released. Back to UO: I didn’t willingly cancel my account; it was cancelled for me by the oh-so-helpful fuckwads at Electronic Arts (EA Games), who were unable to help me make one tiny change to my account – so 13 years of enjoyment went down the drain. When that happened, I swore that I would never get sucked into another online game. EVER. NEVER AGAIN!!! Well, you know the old saying, “Never say never?” Um…yeah, about that…have I mentioned that I have a semi-addictive personality? I keep it under control for the most part, but I got sucked into the MMORPG world once more. The culprit this time? The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO), brought to you by Bethesda and Zenimax. It brings the genius of the entire Elder Scrolls series to life; if you’re a fan of that specific game, then you’ll know what I’m talking about!

First off, the graphics are fantastic. I love running my character through the countryside and battling, but I also enjoy the scenery when strolling through the towns, villages, and cities. The armor worn by the avatars of others is wonderful to see, and I have fun mixing and matching armor pieces to let my style and fashion sense shine. My husband and I always play together, and our play style is quite complementary to the other in almost every way – I say ‘almost’ because I played games on a strictly solo basis; now, with a partner, I have to allow for certain aspects. For instance, there are prime times for gathering crafting resources, and prime times for adventuring. He wants to gather resources CONSTANTLY, whether it’s a good time or not, and that tendency interferes with my single-minded, straightforward quest-completion. Otherwise, our character class and skills nearly always contain something that benefits everyone in any battle we enter, because that’s just the way we are!

Speaking of other players, I’ve busted a gut laughing at some of the names that others have chosen for their characters. Some are clever and some are stupid – and unfortunately, yes, some are outright racist, even though the Elder Scrolls series has long been a game that features non-white human characters. The game also allows for same-sex partnerships, and makes mention of same-sex unions as far back as Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, but the intolerance of others is widespread and unavoidable. Anyway, I love the nods to books; it’s nice to see other avid readers running around advertising their favourite writings. I’ve seen ‘The Metal Rat,’ ‘Polgara the Sorceress,’ ‘Rikki Tikki Tavi,’and ‘Skillgannon the Legend.’ Obviously there will be Star Wars and LOTR geeks, evidenced by names like ‘Sith Lord,’ ‘Smeagol,’ and ‘Gandalf Stormcrow.’ I’ve seen the names Awesome-O, William Murderface, Toki Wartooth, Lemongrab, and a Khajiit named ‘In Boots’ (good pun, I thought). Other names I’ve seen are Evel Kneivel, Ugg Me Ork, Bigfoot it is, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The pot-smoking contingent is well-represented, with names such as Herbhauler, Wakenbake, Smokes-Herb, FourTwenty, and Heals-with-Weeds. The silly and stupid, but freaking hilarious names that I’ve seen, include Squats-on-face, Hugh Jayness, Slaps-with-Tail, Pleasurus, Farts-in-Lair, Squats-in-Reeds, Fart-Splitter, Osama Bin Inyomomma, Huge Caulk, Are You Kidding Me, Swims-in-Muff, Thunderkunt, Schwettyballz, and Bulgeinmapants. I think I got some screenshots of other names that just begged to be preserved for posterity, so I’ll post ‘em if I find ‘em!

Back to the review: gameplay is very intuitive and fluid, and the tips and hints that pop-up at crucial times are invaluable. From my experience, the learning curve of your skills depends on what type of character you play. I usually like playing a fighter or tank-mage that goes toe-to-toe with bad-ass beasties, so it’s a challenge for me to be a complete mage that only uses a staff and wears light robes…but it’s doable, and I enjoy dabbling with different spell attacks. I love to bring down the thunder on an enemy, slap them away with a flaming staff, or bring down a blazing nova to crush and burn them to Oblivion!

The dialogue with the NPCs is entertaining, as are the random statements and conversations you hear from same as you wander around. For instance, part of one little side quest requires you to take a bottle of special brew to a drunk in a specific inn. The gentleman is so happy with what you give him that he “feels like singing.” The song he sings is hilarious and causes him to get punched out by the innkeeper, because he sings in a high, screechy falsetto – too funny! The details given to the maps and books in-game are fantastic – the designers outdid themselves in that regard, and I enjoy how finding books is an important part of gaining experience levels in a particular skill line…I love finding the tomes and reading them! Kudos to the brains behind this epic game – TESO is a masterpiece.

Of course, there are downsides to any MMORPG, and TESO isn’t immune to those. For instance, the insidious ‘bot’ – an account created for the sole purpose of spamming others with offers for crafting materials that can be found with a lot of time and patience. Some people want to be the first to find certain items, and they are easy prey for the ‘bot’ that offers those items – online via Craigslist or PayPal, for example, and for a cash amount. People were prone to do that in Ultima as well: I recall seeing many adverts in chat-rooms and forums offering 100,000 Ultima gold for $25 (USD); not sure what the comparable amount would be for other countries, but I’m sure those similar offers were out there.

Other annoyances caused by ‘bots’ is the way they and their ‘clones’ will take over a dungeon and repeatedly kill a boss, stacking the bodies so that reaping a reward is virtually impossible for the honest gamer. The reporting system has improved somewhat since the launching of TESO, so bots are fewer and farther between…they still slip through, though!

I would ask if any of my readers are into games, but only a couple of you have stated that you are. Of the two, games such as GTA or Call of Duty are listed as tops but those types of games aren’t my thing. I like the swords-and-sorcery, Dungeons & Dragons-type RPGs first and foremost and always have! I will be adding some select shots from TESO to my PhotoBucket account soon…no definite ETA on that. In the meantime, here are some links to the trailers for the game – check them out and see what you think! If any of you ARE currently playing, what character(s) do you have, and what levels are they at? Are you a PvP master in Cyrodiil or Craglorn, or, better yet – have you attained the Emperor’s throne? Let me know – I’d love to hear about it!

Elder Scrolls Online – Cinematic Trailer

Elder Scrolls Online – “Live Another Life” E3 2014 Trailer

One side note before closing: very belated congratulations to Ms. Lupita Nyong’o for being the first REAL Black woman to grace the cover of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People.” It’s about fucking time us dark-skinned sisters get noticed in a positive light! I was happy to hear her send a message to all of the chocolate-skinned little girls out there to hold their heads high – white women or pale-skinned mulattoes aren’t the sole epitomes of beauty, regardless of the skin-bleaching, face-butchering freaks out there who believe otherwise! She’s beautiful, intelligent, talented, and gracious…a far cry from the usual gang of idiot celebutards that are worshipped by the mindless masses. I hope that she doesn’t get sidelined like every other dark-hued actress has been, and is able to get roles that don’t limit her or her acting abilities. Hey – maybe she will be an ass-kicking character in a movie based on a computer game! That would be a refreshing change from the Lara Crofts and other ridiculous white female characters that are prevalent. One can dream, eh?

Well, shut my fat ol’ mouth and call me corn pone…Lupita has been cast in the newest ‘Star Wars’ film! Well done, young sista…well done.

***** STANDING OVATION *****

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