RPG games were like my gateway drug, you start out on the Final Fantasy’s and the Breath of Fire’s glued to your set screaming “I’m not hungry!” to parents who wondered where their little curious angel went until eventually they just become too predictable; you know the story you’ve clocked the game seven times, you know what Materia works best against Jenova and you certainly realise that now you’ve discovered this indoctrinating genre you’ll become the game snob worthy of making any game store staff blacklist you from all the other pre-orders you keep returning for refunds within 48 hours. It’s hunky-dory because you’re just an unappreciated scholar of the gaming generation buddy.
But like all gateway drugs it leads to something more…intense. When I say intense I merely refer to the “Make Love Not Warcraft” episode of a certain show I won’t mention successively in two separate reviews; you’re now after something that takes hours upon decades to build from scratch and feel an all too uneducated sense of accomplishment with once there is nothing but purple font on your screen.
This medium had one vessel once upon a time, and being transferred over to console is worthy of another Krispy Kreme being tossed across the conference table to the creative minds of Zenimax and Bethesda. The MMO market is about as contested as the Gaza Strip and The Elder Scrolls Online being offered with the simplicity of a control pad gives it a nice little niche that will make you re-prioritize what you think you know and love.
ESO seems to offer all those little gizmo’s that other franchises tend to forget, the option to change the colour of your gear so that you aren’t wearing a Technicolor Dreamcoat until you hit top level; justified reasons to explore your map i.e. plunder, demonic gateways that announce their assaults to the total player population and the added integrity of crafting. You might say that most other games of this ilk include such mechanics, but if you’re using “Rift” as an example I have no ear for your guff.
Crafting for the most part I held in higher esteem than level progression, if you share the notion of admiring your own handiwork rather than constantly picking up rags in the dusky dwellings of rabid gene-spliced spider-mutants I’d ponder that aspiration for a little while when creating your adventurer. The unique workbenches you’ll discover around your leveling areas ask for an extensive list of zealotry before you may be bestowed with your unique glad rags, I would say this brings a fresh perspective of “graft” into your character but when you’re skipping budget allocation deadlines at work to quickly research that new staff you picked from those chests that arguably get dropped by storks, you’re not going to be interested in this fresh perspective.
A note, if you’re coming off the back of any of the single player installments e.g. Skyrim; just don’t expect it. You know what I’m getting at, it’s not going to be the same. Those moments of standing at the edge of a 13,000 foot drop admiring the sunset with a single tear will probably be few and far between; and/or ruined by a level 3 droid who wants nothing more than for you to accept that guild request into their completely relaxed and social circle. Just never go offline..luckily most of the chat functions that you’d expect in PC games have either been converted into a blunt selection of phrases or emoticons, or emoji’s, or other corporation created slang.
Another note, being self-sufficient seems entirely possible on this one. I mean if your reactions are as developed as any avid dungeon-crawler of course; I almost type that like there isn’t a gargantuan amount of red that appears on your screen every time you so much as skip the bread queue ahead of the two guards on night shifts. Speaking of guards, they get commission on corpses. If you’re thinking of being like me and spouting off your fancy new magical propulsions to all the kids on the block, have coin. You’ll be decapitated, spawned a good 5 minute sprint away from your crafting station and forced to pay a fine for the inconvenience you’ve brought upon the citizens, the trades people and apparently the monarch of Tamriel.
So yeah..self-sufficiency, I purely mean in a tussle; not grow your own crops and settle down with an argonian maid. Don’t be fooled with the limited selection of skills you can have active, that’s all you need to get you out of Alamo situations; you can combine ridiculous amounts of moves together and come up with something quite original due to not relying on a singular skill tree for all your Kid Buu moments. I’ve felt more like a Sith lord with the ultimate ability on my sorcerer than I ever did playing The Old Republic. Discuss.
It’s pretty much what makes ESO stand out, bar the primitive desires to be a punch-provoking tin man or the abundantly over popular rogue type which appears to be every adolescences hot choice. There’s a platform and freedom to whatever you wish to pursue; a life-draining tank and iron-clad battle-mage aren’t out of the question.
But when I discuss originality, take that with a pinch of bonemeal. I’m going to be brave and say you know what to expect with Elder Scrolls; even if you’ve never delved into MMO territory, it stays true to most of your expectations whilst adding those gizmo’s to boot. If you wanted to be able to play this traditionally single-player undertaking with some chums, create a 8 foot Xena warrior princess or simply go around spreading Chinese whispers between Mudcrabs the game world is your oyster scholar, but in the end nothing beats store credit does it?