Game Review : The Elder Scrolls Online – Elsweyr

Game Review : The Elder Scrolls Online – ElsweyrSeries: The Elder Scrolls Online
Published by Bethesda, Zenimax Online on June 9, 2019
four-stars

I really loved every part of The Elder Scrolls Online – Elsweyr expansion. The new area of Northern Elsweyr is simply gorgeous–I was pleasantly surprised that the area looked very little like the desert wasteland of neighboring Reaper’s March–and filled to the brim with new quests, mobs, world bosses, a public dungeon, and even a new trial. But what I loved the most about this expansion was not any of these new things or the new Necromancer class, but the zone story, which was filled with dragons and familiar faces, and the sidequests.

 

The story is a continuation of the Elsweyr Prologue, where Abnur Tharn, in trying to prevent his evil half-sister from acquiring a demon weapon, is tricked and accidentally unleashes dragons from the Hall of Colossus upon Elsweyr. This is much to the dismay of virtually everyone, but especially Khamira, the aide to the Speaker of the Mane View Spoiler ». I was already floored by the Elsweyr Prologue, so to continue this story in the heart of Elsweyr, with dragons flying over head and destroying cities, was absolutely amazing. Plus, in addition to world bosses, dragons spawn on the map to fight. These bosses are even more challenging than typical bosses–a simple swish of their tail can one shot a player–and it takes hoards of players to take down these majestic shouting creatures.

 

I LOVE the dragons!

 

Working with these formidable foes is Abnur’s half-sister, Usurper Queen Euraxia, who makes a delightfully horrendous villain that the protagonists and your character must deal with in order to protect the citizens of Elswyer and the rest of Tamriel. Not only does Euraxia work with dragons, but she also employs a sinister Necromancer named Zumong Phoom, who enjoys torturing his enemies by bringing back their deceased loved ones and will stop at nothing to bring back the infamous Betrayer of legend. If that’s not evil enough, as I progressed through sidequests in Elsweyr, I learned that Euraxia also held the city of Rimmen itself hostage–with siege weapons ready to destroy the city in the event of a revolt. And Elder Scrolls doesn’t stop there, citizens of Rimmen told my character that the Usurper Queen also kept her Khajiti citizens oppressed by forcing merchants to pay extremely high “fur tariffs,” which she claimed was to ensure that their fur did not get in their products, and also by forcing them to work in sweatshops that left them even more destitute than before, under the guise of a charity to keep poor Khajiti off the street.

 

Khamira is a great heroine of the Elsweyr expansion.

 

And to top it off, the story is set against the rich backdrop of the lore, architecture, and myths of the Khajiti. There are countless references to the past–of Queen Anequina who ended the Pride Wars, of legendary hero Khunzar-ri, and gods like Jode. Plus, players get to revisit characters from many other quests, like Cadwell, Abnur, Khamira, Lord Gharesh-ri, and more. This kind of massive story-telling and world-building is truly as layered and complex as any high-fantasy novel. And it’s not just the main zone story quest that’s fascinating, even the side quests have rich stories–something that sets Elder Scrolls Online apart from its counterparts.

 

“Preserving the Prowl” is just one of many great sidequests in Elsweyr.

 

Unlike many other MMORPGS, which lean heavily on the sort of quests that require you to simply gather objects and take them somewhere else, The Elder Scrolls Online provides a unique, well-thought out story for every sidequest. In one of my favorite quests in the Elsweyr expansion, I hunted down poachers who threatened a wildlife sanctuary in the aftermath of a dragon attack. The owner of the wild-life sanctuary, Khajiti Numaia, has rescued animals from awful hunters for years, loving them and caring for them as if they are family–and even giving them cute names like Milksop, Marmalade, and Lavender. She also hires Bosmer to work for her, despite racial tensions, and gains their loyalty and respect in return. To aide Numaia while she repairs her sanctuary from the dragon attack, I hunted down poachers who sought to attack her sanctuary, used a training whistle to direct her cherished monkey to unlock doors of the poacher’s encampment for me, and rescued her kidnapped animals and brought them home. I felt pretty freaking awesome after completing, what is only a sidequest–so you can just imagine how great it feels to complete the Elsweyr zone story, which was so epic that it immediately reminded me of the great showdown with Alduin in the Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim.

 

My Breton Necromancer in action.

 

Though I was completely in love with the story (okay, I’m still waiting for the day when I get to work with most dragons and not slay them, but I’ll take dragons where I can get them), I was less than enamored with the Necromancer class. Like everyone else, I was pretty excited when the new class was announced, so I created my literal fifth character, a Breton Magicka DPS Necromancer. I expected to be raising hoards of the dead, and having them fight at my side. Instead, I got dinky flaming skulls that I could toss at the enemy, and a skeleton I could summon for half a second to blow up on my foes. I was viciously underwhelmed. I can’t speak to how the class compares to a Magicka DPS Sorcerer, as I’ve never played one myself, but I was underwhelmed by the abilities themselves and the damage output at lower levels.

 

I quickly went back to playing on my preferred class–Warden.

 

Learning that as a Necromancer healer, I could resurrect three allies at once, I quickly respec-ed my character to a healer and was again disappointed. The only time I have found that one really needs to resurrect three players at once is in Cyrodil, unless your dungeon group is vastly unprepared for whatever challenges they might face. Admittedly, I have not tried Necromancer Healer in any Trials as of yet, because I can’t be bothered to finish leveling her past level 43. Other abilities, like Spirit Guardian, which heal the player or their lowest allies for a smidgen of health and take damage in the player’s stead, also didn’t impress me much. I vastly prefer healing on my Warden with it’s Lotus Blossom and Bully Netch skills, which give me practically unlimited sustain with cooler, prettier looking abilities. I did not try tanking as a Necromancer, but the Bone Goliath Ultimate ability, which transforms the player into a powerful skeleton and grants him not only full health immediately, but also a ridiculous extra 30,000HP, definitely looks to be the coolest, most broken, and powerful ability of all the Necromancer skills. It certainly beats the cringey Frozen Colossus Ultimate, which literally summons a hideous, glitchy ultimate, which dabs around twice on enemies (if the model even manages to form correctly) and then disappears.

 

This lorebook sums up the story pretty well!

 

Though the Necromancer class wasn’t for me personally, I know a lot of other players who enjoy and love it. It’s also very novel idea that casting of these admittedly lackluster abilities in certain towns will get the player arrested on sight. Honestly, to me, this novelty wore off pretty quickly and become a nuisance more than anything. Plus, it seemed a little ridiculous that summoning a ghost or a skeleton is illegal, when other players are summoning daedric creatures lie Clannfears, or others like Wild Guardian bears, Storm Atronachs, etc., and not getting arrested. Frankly, I think The Elder Scrolls Online : Elsweyr could have made necromancy a lot cooler and more frightening. Perhaps when a Necromancer player walked into a town, there could have been side effects of the dead rising from nearby graveyards, a rancid smell that NPCs hated and commented on, or other paranormal activity. I also would have enjoyed the inclusion of a secret Necromancy cult, maybe along the lines of the cannibal cult in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, complete with a hideout and initiation rituals. It also would have been interesting if using Necromancy abilities took a toll on the character and maybe their soul or physical well-being itself, similar to the effects of Vampirism. Though the Necromancer was great idea in theory, the execution was severely lacking. It was also disappointing that many quests and NPCs that remarked that the player was “not that evil kind of necromancer”–I wanted to be the embodiment of all those evil Necromancers that players have encountered for years in the Elder Scrolls.

 

Fighting a Dragon world boss with hoards of other players.

 

My only other complaint with The Elder Scrolls : Elsweyr expansion is not really having to do with the expansion itself–but with the servers. I encountered more lag and glitches in the weeks since Elsweyr came out than all of my time playing Elders Scrolls Online combined. Bosses froze while I tried to fight them, and then suddenly reloaded with my character dead, I couldn’t talk to NPCS, open doors, or even mount my horse. And this was not limited to my character when I was just in Elsweyr–but everywhere else. Just yesterday I was running through an area in Greenshade with no other players nearby, only for my game return to a loading screen, while I heard my character being attacked by mobs while my game was loading. Another time, the game kicked me, claiming I needed to stop spamming in the in-game chat, when I hadn’t been messaging at all. I realize that the sheer number of players coming back to take advantage of the new class must be putting a phenomenal strain on the servers–but surely Bethesda should account for that–something the company does not seem to be doing. These kinds of interruptions really ruin the experience and enjoyment of the player and several times I did just log off the game to try again later. But it is a testament to the truly wonderful story-telling and gameplay experience that I did, in fact, try to play it again later.

 

Elsweyr is a magnificent addition to The Elder Scrolls online.

 

Despite the lag and not even being a very big fan of the Necromancer class (which are the only reasons I’m giving this expansion less than 5 stars), I really love The Elder Scrolls Online : Elsweyr expansion. I loved revisiting familiar characters, the villains, the story and quests, and the new beautiful zone, complete with dragons flying overhead. I’m absolutely thrilled that E3 announced the continuation of the story in an upcoming expansion called Dragonhold and will certainly buy it. If you’re a fan of fantasy, The Elder Scrolls, or even just dragons, I can’t recommend it enough.

four-stars
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Posted June 14, 2019 in Games

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