My return to Tamriel (Unlimited)

I’m here at last. The world where it all began. Well, ‘it’ being my journey in open-world RPGs. The pronoun game makes things sound so badass.

The Elder Scrolls Online has always been something of a mixed bag for me. Its biggest draw – the Alliance War – is also its biggest meh for a body who abhors PvP. The whole class system gives me bad vibes. Then you have all the bad press about it being a mere TES-flavored themepark. But when Green Man Gaming slashed it down lately, I thought, what the heck. It’s Tamriel. Time to see Morrowind again – and I don’t mean a slice of Morrowind on some damned Nord island.

I paid homage to my maiden TES character, an Imperial with a name lifted from the pages of Ben-Hur. (I changed the name, of course.) Dragonknight seemed the best match for a soldier type, and choosing a side was a no-brainer – and I was in.

So many snowflakes!

The Coldharbour intro was underwhelming enough, but here, all the things I’d heard about the TES experience being spoiled by hordes of strangers hit home.

I mistook the first one I ran into, who was just standing around rummaging in his bag, for an NPC (which goes to show that, at least, he had a proper name!). The others were plowing on ahead, clearing the path, removing all the challenge, and all I could do was shrug and keep pushing on. Spoilage or no, I wanted out of this dreary throwback to Dawnguard’s godawful Soul Cairn.

And not a moment too soon, I was out into the world proper. In my beloved Morrowind. In a place called… huh?

Entering Stonefalls

Stonefalls? Wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute – wasn’t there a Bal Fell back in TESIII? Bal means ‘stone’. Stone Fell. Stonefalls. Wow. Doubling back on ourselves here, are we?

I pulled up the map. Deshaan? Bal Foyen? Wait, where the hell am I again?

It quickly became obvious that this wasn’t my Morrowind after all. It was too bright. Too different. And too populated. Looking at the dozens of players running around, I wrenched my mind back to reality – repeat after myself, this is not Skyrim Online – and settled into the MMO routine of finding gear.

After all, if I’m going to be a ‘Dragonknight’, I can’t run around in a prissy robe swinging a greatsword. I need a sword and shield, damnit, like a proper legionary. And some proper heavy plate on my person.

This ain’t a cakewalk

Only I was penniless. A quick inspection of the armorer drove that home. So, in true TES fashion, there was but one thing to do. Put aside the single-player conscience. This is an MMO. Just. Bloody. Steal.

Wait. Hold that thought. Who’s likely to have gear ready for doling out? The Fighters Guild, of course. They’re just over there. See? I’m not entirely criminally inclined.

So I signed up with the Guild, and got kitted. And sighed.

A robed Dragonknight

By the Eight, I looked ridiculous. Why doesn’t the damned Fighters Guild stock any cuirasses to replace the prissy robe, or even pauldrons? There I was, questing as a Dragonknight, looking like some apprentice mage trying on armor for kicks. And why does my sword look like a toy in first-person view?

But all that fell behind in importance when I realized how tough solo combat could be here.

I’ve been lamenting the dumbed-down state of the MMO early-game, but TESO showed me there is still hope. Tank class or no, taking on two or more enemies at a time at low levels is seemingly not a good idea here. More than once I had to escape behind zone transitions (ah, now this is feeling more like TESIII) and rely on other players’ assistance to pull through.

That’s more like it. Now if only they would talk. Or just toss out an emote. Or something.

The necessities of life

But one can only lean on faction handouts so long. After a while, I began my criminal career in earnest. I was amazed at how easy sneaking was; either the denizens of Tamriel were much more secure in this era, or, you know, MMOs.

I filched every iron weapon and piece of armor I found, keeping good ones and deconstructing the rest for ingots, and before I knew it, I looked much more like the Dragonknight I imagined.

That is, if heavily armored warriors fight with goddamned daggers.

A dagger-wielding tankSeriously. That was the best weapon I had when this screenshot was taken. The only enchanted one. No enchanted swords, or even maces or axes. I hear you hooting – yes, yes, I named my blog after a dagger. But come on. This is a tragedy. I looked like a medieval knight making a pathetic last stand with his misericorde.

Out in the open world, in the shadow of Ash Mountain (not-Dagoth-Ur!), the player hordes dropped away and I was left to my lonesome most of the time. It still didn’t feel much like TES, but I reminded myself that was irrelevant. This was, for all practical purposes, the place I had wanted to return to for so long. Duke of O, over at Null Signifier, has summed up my own feelings quite beautifully on the subject.

I carried on questing. It didn’t escape me that the climb to level 10 was sure taking time. Another step in the right direction. In LoTRO, for instance, I would have easily breached that mark already.

And I carried on stealing.

And I got caught.

The road ahead

Damn you, Justice System!

As the guard walked off, I found myself half naked. Can’t quest like this, no sir, not at all. I hadn’t learned about fences yet, or I would have just had all my stolen gear laundered. Instead, I decided to bust out all those ingots from my forge-raiding and do some smithing. Specifically, smithing of gear that befitted my character’s concept of a washed-up army veteran.

It wasn’t quite what I imagined, but when I was done, I was pleased to be an Imperial in Imperial duds.

First view of Ebonheart

Yes, with an enchanted sword at last.

That’s Ebonheart behind me, and it’s not the Ebonheart I remember from 3E 427. Oh, well, things change. I don’t doubt I’ll continue to be surprised at the state of Tamriel in this era. What will I find beyond the borders of Morrowind? In Skyrim, and in Cyrodiil? I can’t wait to find out.

Overall, TESO hasn’t hooked me as badly as other MMOs have in the past. I’ll still play, and it’ll still take a toll on my other activities (including blogging!), but I don’t know if it’ll furnish anything more to write about here. Perhaps it would if I can find a decent RP circle to hook up with. A circle of TES fanatics who take their lore and roleplay seriously, and who can accommodate having a member from a weird timezone.

More likely, though, my return to Tamriel will be a largely solo experience. A Skyrim Online that I keep reminding myself is not. That’s not actually a bad thing either. Just a shame, replete with the reek of unrealized potential.

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3 Responses to “My return to Tamriel (Unlimited)”

  1. Hahaha, that picture of your knight with a dagger and the comment about the last stand with a misericorde made me laugh my ass off.

    My TESO tag is @Grunerwald, add me and if I see you online I can hop onto my Ebonheart alt and do some quests with you. At the very least my Daggerfall toons can make you a better weapon than an iron dagger – hehehe.

    • Oh, yeah, I laughed mine off too. I now refuse to use daggers (fear the irony!). Oh, it’s blue? And my sword is green? Deconstruct. No looking back.

      Dropped you an invite! No worries on the crafting, I’m actually loving the experience of scrounging my way up. One of the few things that keeps my TESO experience tethered to the single-player days of yore.

  2. […] for two, I doubt I’d have even made it that far. When I started on TESO, I mentioned that it hadn’t really grabbed me like other MMOs had. I take that back. The […]

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