tamriel infinium

Tamriel Infinium is an Elder Scrolls Online column by Larry Everett. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Tamriel Infinium: An alternative approach to playing Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind

If you happened to miss it, MJ and I jumped to the island of Vvardenfell on Monday because early access for the Elder Scrolls Online chapter of Morrowind started this week. Unlike other times that we’ve streamed together when most of what we did was questing, we just explored the island this time. Although part of that time was spent just figuring out my mic situation, it was a fun way to see the island and a very interesting way to play the game.

When MMOs and I were young, I hopped into Ultima Online not having a clue how to play the game. I saw miners running around naked supposedly because ore was heavy (and the threat of ganks was real). I saw people standing just outside the city carefully poking each other with low-level knives to help them gain experience. I also saw people standing around the bank barking, attempting to sell their wares. None of this was actually questing, but all of it was a legitimate way to play the game.

Elder Scrolls Online is a unique game, far apart from your standard themepark-style MMO. I would still call it a themepark, but it veers from the standard World-of-Warcraft-style themepark in many ways, chiefly in that you don’t have to follow a singular path to get a lot out of the game. In fact, have come up with some alternative ways to enjoy the content of Morrowind without following the main questline.

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Tamriel Infinium: Five things to do while waiting for Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind early access

I have always found this part of the development cycle to be the worst part. Right now, we are sitting at the point in Elder Scrolls Online when you really don’t want to move forward progressing your character because some of the endgame or character progression, in general, will change next week. However, you are very excited about what is to come in the next expansion, and you really want to play ESO at the same time.

It’s a strange phenomenon, and one that is unique to MMOs. When Skyrim was about to release Dragonborn a few years back, it had been a little bit since we had visited Skyrim. For me personally, I had a little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic that I had been playing, so when Dragonborn came out, I replayed Skyrim to refresh my memory before jumping into that expansion. However, MMOs are meant to be played all the time, and well, we’ve been playing ESO this whole time leading up to Morrowind. How do we do to channel our excitement?

Well, I have some fun suggestions for every Elder Scrolls fan. These are my five suggestions for things to do while waiting for ESO: Morrowind to release.

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Tamriel Infinium: Class changes are a bad reason to pan Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind

Elder Scrolls Online possesses a distinct flavor. I can honestly say that there is no other MMORPG like it. In fact, the whole Elder Scrolls series is unique. The only thing that probably comes close to matching it is the Fallout series, and since that’s made by the same developer, does that really count at all?

But I still know there are people who will still not like the new chapter for Elder Scrolls Online, Morrowind. Opinions abound, and I welcome them. But I also understand that you can be critical of something without pouring blind hate all over it. I appreciate it when people can have an honest, thought-filled discussion about why something doesn’t work for them. It’s kind of a journey of self-discovery, to be honest.

And that’s why I would like to talk about why some people are not going to like Morrowind. Specifically, I would like to talk about some of the more absurd reasons that people have been blowing up the hate on the forums about class changes. Although there might be a little bit of substance to what is being said, many of the underlying reasons are without merit.

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Video: Story vs. lore, Star Wars: The Old Republic vs. The Elder Scrolls Online

In the ultimate battle for your dollar in the MMO industry, two MMOs with rabid fan bases duke it out by serving you a deep and engaging narrative. Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online both want to draw you in with the worlds they have to offer, but each does so in a unique fashion: One gives you interesting characters build up your ego by making you the most power being in the galaxy, while the other tempts you in with a wondrous world to discover.

In Massively OP’s latest video, we’ll examine these two games and ask which is more appropriate for an MMORPG: story or lore. It’s a tough question — there might not be a satisfying answer!

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Tamriel Infinium: Am I playing Elder Scrolls Online wrong?

Elder Scrolls Online and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship for the last several years. A lot of that relationship stemmed from my being steeped in another online community in another game, and the other part comes from the game just not being what I had hoped it would be. Despite my low-key participation in the community for the last couple of years, ESO‘s community has thrived, and the game itself has received a lot of praise after adding some much-needed features.

However, some of my friends, who have been playing consistently, are complaining that there isn’t anything left to do in the game. That doesn’t mean that they have done everything. I don’t see them walking around with the Dro-m’Athra skin or the Emperor title. However, I do understand what they mean: Anything else they can do in game would be boring or unachievable.

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Tamriel Infinium: Examining the gods of Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind

As we all wait patiently for June 6th to come around so that we can play through Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, players might realize that there is already part of Morrowind in ESO right now. If you consider the divides of the zones, there are two parts. Many people consider the inset island to the northeast to be Morrowind, but that island is just part of it: the island Vvardenfell. South of Vvardenfell on the main continent sits the cities of Ebonheart and Mournhold in the provinces of Stonefalls and Deshaan, respectively. They are a part of Morrowind, the nation, too.

Ruling directly over these two provinces is the god Almalexia. When you land in Stonefalls, there are a couple of quests where you speak to vestiges of Vivec, Sotha Sil, and Almalexia, but during the questline that starts in Mournhold, you can actually speak to Almalexia herself in person.

This got me thinking about what exactly makes a “god” in Elder Scrolls. It’s widely accepted that the Aedra like Akatosh and Mara are gods because they were instrumental in the creation of the nirn, and historically, the Dunmer worshiped Daedric Princes like Azura, even though most of them worship the Tribunal now. But what makes the Tribunal (Vivec, Almalexia, and Sotha Sil) gods? What makes someone a god of Nirn in the first place?

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Tamriel Infinium: Battlegrounds will change Elder Scrolls Online PvP forever

I’ve read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild — including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are… coming. And that’s it. This really surprised me. It’s superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn’t changing the formula — or the battlegrounds really aren’t anything to write home about.

If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler’s word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they’re a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it’s actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.

Battlegrounds aren’t perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let’s take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.

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Tamriel Infinium: The secret plot of Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind

More than a handful of die-hard Elder Scrolls fans do not like the direction that Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind is taking. As someone who did not play TES III: Morrowind, I didn’t quite understand the significance of this disdain for the announced story when we know so very little about the story in the first place. After all, the primary reason behind ZeniMax‘s choice of this time period for ESO was that there is so very little written about it. The only thing really said was that this was a time of upheaval, that there were many short-lived Emperors and that eventually Talos would unite Tamriel again. Most everything that had happened with the Chimer and Dunmer had already taken place centuries ago.

As someone not as heavily invested in the lore of Morrowind, it was hard to grasp what the issue was. I was told over and over that it has to do with the fact that this was supposed to be the golden age for the Tribunal, the three living gods of Morrowind. During the golden age, there is no way for one of the Tribunal to be losing his power, right? Well, according to the announcements coming directly from ZOS, Vivec — the warrior poet god of the Tribunal — is sick and losing his power. When I visited ZOS a couple of weeks ago, I asked Creative Director Richard Lambert about this supposed controversy. Unfortunately, the only answers I received was “You will have to play through the story” and “It will all make sense.”

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Tamriel Infinium: Four reasons Elder Scrolls Online’s Homestead tops other MMO housing

Traditionally, in this Tamriel Infinium column, I have been extremely critical of The Elder Scrolls Online, and I promise you, I’m sure I’ll lob criticism at the game in the future too. But I also like to give proper praise to video game developers when they do something extremely right, and that’s the case with Homestead.

My first MMO experience with housing was probably very similar to every other old-school MMO gamer’s experience with housing: Ultima Online. But I didn’t really play UO for a very long time, only a month or so. My first real experience was in Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately, that game is shut down now, so I can’t show you just how powerful and creatively flexible that housing was. Since then, I’ve experienced housing in a number of different MMOs. I’ve seen EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, WildStar, and of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Although some of these housing systems have elements that I really like, I don’t think any of them reach the level that ESO reaches. And to help illustrate what I mean, I’ve compiled a list of four reasons that Homestead is better than those other MMO housing systems.

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Tamriel Infinium: Five things you might have missed in the Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind reveal

I really enjoyed watching the Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind announcement with all of our readers. The staff here saw your comments immediately as I was live-blogging some of the highlights. I was sure that it was going to be tough for ZeniMax to top the hype that surrounded the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood DLC, but with the announcement of the Morrowind expansion (although ZOS calls it a “chapter”), I am more excited about this than I was about randomly murdering people for Sithis.

The livestream announcement was just under 40 minutes long with so much to touch on. Creative Director Rich Lambert explained that there are more than 30 hours of content added with Morrowind, which isn’t counting the repeatable content like Trials and the soon-to-be-added Battlegrounds. There is no way that they could hit every facet, and there were probably many things that just breezed by but will ultimately be important.

I found five items that should have got more attention than they did during the announcement that you probably missed even if you watched through the whole livestream.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s 2016 report card

Greetings, men and mer. It’s that time of year again when I take a look back on everything that Elder Scrolls Online has given us and give it a rating based on my opinion. However, I don’t just want to grade arbitrarily; I like to use one of the oldest measurements for online roleplaying games: Bartle’s Taxonomy.

Those who haven’t been a part of the online world since the ’90s will likely not recognize the name Richard Bartle, but he was one of the founders of online roleplay gaming. He co-created MUD1 and wrote many papers about online gaming and the people who inhabit that world. Besides the original taxonomy, Bartle’s work was famously turned into a test that asked a series of questions that would fit you into the taxonomy grid of four categories: Socializer, Achiever, Explorer, and Killer.

Unfortunately, the original test no longer exists, but 4You2Learn has a similar one to find out where you fall. Of course, few people will sit 100% in any one category, but it’s the balance of all four that make for a fun game for the largest number of people. I will explain what each group is about as I give the grade.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online juggles making money and making content with Crown Crates

I think it’s fair to say that the $15 subscription model just isn’t cutting it for MMORPGs anymore. I understand that. The $15 pricetag dates back at least 15 years, and even if we were to factor in inflation alone, the cost of that subscription would be worth about $19 today. Teams creating the content were a lot smaller then, and frankly, players were satisfied with less than perfection. (Think about the number of incomplete MMOs that launched at that time.) There has to be a new way for developers to make more money. There has to be a way for developers to give players what they are looking for and at the same time bring in enough income to support its engineers, producers, and investors.

I believed that Elder Scrolls Online had that system down. The developers created content like the Thieves Guild DLC, then sold that as a package or allowed players to subscribe to get content as it released. Single-player games have done similar for years and have even adapted a type of subscription model with season passes. Unfortunately, it’s becoming clear that the DLC with optional subscription just isn’t enough, at least for the beancounters at ESO. Like many MMORPGs before it, ESO has now adopted lockboxes, gambleboxes, in the form of Crown Crates.

I’ve spent some time and more than a few of my own Crowns to attempt to discover how worthy these crates are and if they are actually worth it from a player’s perspective — with an understanding that ESO needs money to continue to thrive as a company.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online roleplay with the Human Floyd

Those who follow my columns here know that I’m a big roleplayer, but I don’t exactly roleplay in the Elder Scrolls Online. I love the setting and the stories built on top of the Elder Scrolls universe, but roleplaying the way that I like to takes time that I just can’t devote. However, there is a rich roleplay community in Elder Scrolls Online, and I really wanted to dig into it. That’s when I was introduced to a YouTuber and roleplayer who calls himself the Human Floyd.

I have referenced his work before, but I never really got a chance to talk to him personally. So when I sat down with him recentlt, I asked him the normal questions about where he came from — like how he started roleplaying on Neopets’ forums at about 12 years old and that his first MMORPG RP experience was in World of Warcraft. But the conversation turned really deep really fast. We talked about what attracted him to Elder Scrolls Online, what roleplay means for MMOs, and why developers should spend more time focusing on this community.

Here is a section of our hour-long conversation that I think really touches on the greatness of roleplay.

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