Since getting a PlayStation 4, Kim has been unable to tear herself away from The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO). Why is she finding it so hard to go back to her usual adventures?
|Name:||The Elder Scrolls Online|
|Developer:||Zenimax Online Studios|
|Release date:||April 2014|
|Platforms:||Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|More information:||Official website|
I recently wrote about my experience of gifting a PlayStation 4 to my other-half, Pete, and stepson for Christmas. Eight-year-old Ethan became pretty enamoured with LittleBigPlanet 3 throughout the holidays despite never touching the franchise before, and hours were spent streaming on Twitch so friends and family could stop by to say hello. While it was lovely to see him get so much enjoyment out of a new experience, it meant that Pete and I hardly got to touch a controller and so we were looking forward to getting in some ‘adult’ gaming during our week off work.
Phil had kindly lent us a batch of titles to play including The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) so we were all geared up and ready to go – but then my other-half unfortunately came down with flu and passed several days drifting in and out of sleep. I was therefore left to entertain myself so in between tucking him under the duvet, fetching paracetamol and making more cups of tea than I could count, I checked out my colleague’s recommendation seeing as I’d loved The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim so much.
From that first moment on I was completely hooked. I spent ten hours with the game on that first day, a similar amount on the second and third, and then roped Pete into playing alongside me once he’d recovered (not that it took much persuading). We’d never intended on going out to celebrate New Year’s Eve and so stayed in with a takeaway, travelling through the land of Auridon and picking up skill points until after midnight, while Phil offered advice and puns on a regular basis on Twitch chat.
Take a look at my articles on the site and you’ll notice a recurring theme: the majority of them are about adventure titles. It’s been my favourite type since I started playing video games back when I was slightly younger than Ethan is now. After receiving an Amiga 500 and spending most of Christmas one year playing The Secret of Monkey Island with my dad and granddad, it has been the genre I enjoy the most and the one I probably feel most at home with.
While this has had its plus points, it’s also had its downsides. I’ve played so many adventure games over the years that seeing things in a logical way comes naturally and I enjoy solving puzzles; but because I wasn’t interested in more action-orientated titles when I was a kid and therefore didn’t get much practice in, my hand-to-eye coordination when it comes to video games is now pretty poor! This example sums it up: whilst hanging out with the 1001Up lads a few years ago and taking turns to play Dead Space, I ended up spending fifteen minutes in the first room alone as I just couldn’t get my bearings.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy action games every once in a while but I can’t deny that I’m reduced to bouts of gamer-rage when I can’t pick up a control scheme. Several titles are gathering dust at the back of my Steam library due to the fact that I just can’t ‘get’ them. The Longest Journey series is one of my absolute favourites and as a result I couldn’t wait to play Funcom’s online RPG The Secret World after my PC was originally built back in late 2014; but after trying unsuccessfully a number of times and racking up a grand total of five-hours with the it, I eventually gave up.
Pete even tried to guide me through it last autumn and decided to step away from the keyboard after I threw the mouse across the room. We haven’t returned to The Secret World since.
The lore contained within books help to create a world which feels living and breathing, with its own history and colour.
So perhaps the fact that I enjoyed Skyrim is a little strange. I was by no means good at the game and my character died a thousand deaths, but there wasn’t any of that usual frustration and I kept on playing. A big part of the reason behind this is that my love for adventures has given me a preference for heavily story-based releases and The Elder Scrolls series contains so much lore. Find a book and you’ll uncover details about the land’s history, going back to the beginning of the gods and when the Aedra helped create the mortal plane; and these tales help to create a world which feels living and breathing, with its own history and colour.
The other reason is that it wasn’t all about the action. When I’d had enough of venturing into dungeons and slaying the undead Draugr, or attempting to take on a dragon and dying plenty, I could head in any direction and just run. You never knew what you were going to find: a villager who’d reveal some local gossip, a hunter chasing a fox, a clifftop with a beautiful view. All simple things and events that wouldn’t have any direct impact on your adventure, but ones that would add even more depth to Skyrim’s world.
And that’s exactly how it is with TESO too. At first I found its world slightly overwhelming because it’s just so large but after a couple of hours I became comfortable with exploring the initial isle of Auridon. Sure, my High Elf named Badgerwithagun (long story) has come to her demise on plenty of occasions and I still struggle to take on more than a couple of enemies at a time thanks to my poor coordination; but armed with plenty of soul gems, I’m ready to take on the next damp cave and the unknown dangers lurking within. I’m gradually getting better at the control scheme – even if Pete does still yell ‘Up!’ at me to remind me to take a health potion during battle.
The other thing I’m enjoying about TESO is the fact that I can ‘play’ it with Ethan. Before any readers pick up on the fact that the game is rated PEGI 16 let me say here that we don’t let him see any violence: he loves watching as I guide Badgerwithagun through the mountains on her horse, seeing what we can discover. It’s easy enough to recognise when my character may be entering into a potential conflict and then ride in the other direction when my stepson is sitting next to me. He’s always had a fondness for history and likes anything to do with knights and castles, so it’s not really much of a surprise that the environment of The Elder Scrolls would appeal to him.
Last Saturday while Pete was cooking, Phil joined Ethan and I online in TESO to pass some time until dinner was ready. So what did we do? We took our characters into the port city of Vulkhel Guard, got on our horses and rode around the blacksmiths, before dancing next to the wayshrine to see if we could start a flashmob (it sadly didn’t work on this occasion). Phil’s joined Ethan warrior then decided to take off all his armour so he could perform naked push-ups in the street – but that proved too much for my stepson, who begged him to put his trousers back on.
Ok, so it was all pretty silly, but it’s lovely being able to enjoy a game with Ethan that appeals to both of us and doesn’t revolve around either LEGO or Minecraft. It’s also great to be able to come home from work and dip into a title that doesn’t require my entire evening when I’m not able to spare it; I don’t always have the time to get sucked into an adventure but can spare thirty minutes for a quick sidequest. Ben summed it up nicely in an article last year when he wrote: “Hours and hours aren’t required to make progress and I feel like I achieve something whether it’s over the course of ten minutes or ten hours.”
The only problem with TESO is tearing myself away from it.
The only problem with TESO is tearing myself away from it. I’ve barely touched any other games since Christmas but need to do so soon, otherwise I’ll end up running out of material for articles! If you have any suggestions for adventures or other titles that may help cure my addiction let me know in the comments below – and while I’m waiting, I’ll do another quest… just a quick one…