Tamriel Infinium: Eight things I really like as a Elder Scrolls Online casual

    
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Can you see me?

As some of you have so kindly pointed out, I am by no means an Elder Scrolls Online expert. I’ve been playing off and on for a few years now, quite enjoying my time, but I recognize that there’s a lot to learn about the ins and outs of this well-crafted MMO.

That said, you don’t need to be an expert to identify what really clicks with you. Even as a self-proclaimed casual, I find that there’s plenty here that caters well to my relaxed playstyle. So today I thought I’d wade around in the waters of adulation and share eight details and features that I’ve come to appreciate about ESO.

Better homes and/or gardens

Ambient sounds

So I’m going to start with a seemingly inconsequential factor in the game’s design, and that’s its ambient noises. As I’ve said elsewhere, I like to play my MMOs with the ambient noises jacked way up and other sounds lowered to help immerse me in the feeling of actually being there. And ESO has rather excellent indoors and outdoors sounds to get me into the adventuring groove.

Mapping

For my money, the zone guide was one of the best additions to Elder Scrolls Online since launch. It vastly helped with the activity known as “mapping” — fully completing a zone, including all of its quests, exploration points, dungeon delves, skyshards, and boss fights. This is my number one activity in the game, gradually mapping zones, and I love it here as much as I did in Guild Wars 2.

Joining multiple guilds

I’ve often noticed how this MMO is hopping with guilds and recruitment ads, which lends a vibrant feel to the community. And I’ve really appreciated that I can join several guilds at the same time, either for different purposes (a trading guild or a dungeon running guild) or just to try out their communities without having to give up my mainstays.

Post-quest scenes

Having done more MMO quests than I can count in my gaming career, I can tell you that the one part of the questing experience that most devs put the least amount of effort in is with the conclusion. Usually it’s a token “Thanks a lot, here’s some XP and an item you’ll probably just sell to a vendor,” and that’s that.

But in ESO, often — not always, but quite a bit — there are post-quest scenes that play out. We especially get these with quest chains, and I think they’re really groovy. Seeing the consequences of your actions makes you feel like you actually did something good in the game’s narrative instead of mere self-ambition.

NPC gestures and stances

Here’s another silly detail that always catches my eye, and that’s how ZeniMax often goes the extra mile with its NPCs by placing them in the game world in a way that feels natural. Coming across bandits warming their hands by a fire or entering a thieves’ hideout to see a shadowy figure lean against the wall flipping a coin goes a long way to making this feel like a lived-in and believable world.

Convenient.

Choices in quests

Elder Scrolls Online will never be SWTOR in this regard, but I really do appreciate how some quests offer choices and roleplaying options as you’re going through them. Sometimes these are tough moral quandaries, sometimes you get the option to intimidate or influence NPCs, and sometimes you get to pick a path to finish your assignment. Bring ’em on, I say. The more choices, the more the game empowers me as a player instead of keeping me on rails.

Archaeology

Along with mapping, taking a half-hour to do some archaeology digs is one of the most chill experiences I can have in this game. It’s a well-designed system that features its own progression track and bevy of rewards, and even after weeks of messing with it, I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of all that I can get out of it.

Zone choice

I’m sure I could keep on going with little and big things that I like, but I’ll end with this significant one: I deeply appreciate that ESO lets me choose what zones I want to do in any order, thanks to the One Tamriel system. It really makes the whole game world feel relevant and open to me, and I’ve had a great time bouncing between different parts of the continent to see what it all has to offer.

Those are eight things I like — what are eight that thrill you about this MMO?

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online! Larry Everett and Ben Griggs will be your guides here in Tamriel Infinium on Wednesdays as we explore together the world created by ZeniMax and Bethesda in one of the biggest MMOs in the genre. Larry and Ben welcome questions and topic ideas!
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