Choose My Adventure: Adventuring in Southern Elsweyr brings back Elder Scrolls Online’s simple pleasures


It’s a bit unfortunate that I’ve had more fun playing Elder Scrolls Online by myself than with others in recent days, but then I also believe this whole experience has reaffirmed some things I enjoy about this MMORPG as well as established some mental habits and answered some questions. Which is about what I was hoping for by the end of this Choose My Adventure journey into Tamriel.

The thing about this game is that I’m not very good. Not yet anyway. It’s been proven that I’m just barely at the right point where my tank character can perform at a level that would be deemed slightly useful to folks. And that’s OK because the things I’m doing right now are going to get me there in time.

I admit that I was getting very caught up in the rat race to cap and to mastery over the last few days, but the poll choice to continue questing in Southern Elsweyr helped me to not just step back and gain perspective but to squeeze out some delight in the overall adventuring nature of ESO. And those adventures have been very entertaining indeed in this part of Tamriel.

I almost think I’ve done this quest line before, but I’m also not so sure that I have. Something tells me that I’d remember the incorrigible Za’ji and working with a barely friendly dragon to free the zone from yet another evil dragon’s designs. Seriously, this quest line has featured some of the most colorful characters that the game has produced yet. I genuinely hope I can find a way for Za’ji to be my companion. Or even Kaska. Ideally Chizbari the Chipper, but somehow I doubt she’d join me.

Over the course of my journey so far, I’ve done the usual thing of letting myself get somewhat distracted from the main storyline, though at one point when I did a repeatable quest that took me to Deshaan, I did a really good job of not being pulled off course. I also needed quite a bit of focus for the enemy-laden Moonlit Cove, which didn’t really test me in terms of danger so much as mechanics. To that point, I kind of feel like I’m still screwing up when to use interrupts. Either that or they’re wildly inconsistent; sometimes I’d stop one of these foes from exploding into a giant circle of flame, but other times I wouldn’t.

It also brought to light that the skillset I’ve got isn’t exactly what I’d call efficient in terms of TTK — a point that was made even more apparent when other characters were blitzing through the delve two-shotting enemies that took me far, far longer to take down. I have to admit that seeing this sort of thing happen started to raise my ire and engage my personal frustrations once again, but I reminded myself that I’m still not at whatever level these players are yet and that I shouldn’t try to compare myself to them.

That’s been one of the biggest takeaways from my time in ESO at this point: I can’t force myself to measure up to everyone else. Especially a playerbase that’s been in this game for 10 freakin’ years.

It seems like such an obvious lesson now that I see it typed out in front of me, but being able to do most anything with literally everyone has proved to be something of a double-edged sword and made it easy to forget what’s otherwise a cardinal rule for our genre. The world is opened up to me, but I’m still essentially a small fish swimming in some extremely large ponds no matter what, and no amount of level scaling or normalization is going to account for people climbing into four digits’ worth of champion points; that’s just not mathematically possible unless you rip away that system wholesale or make zones level-specific again.

Now does that mean that ESO is stupendously unfriendly to new players? Not really, no. I just don’t think that the One Tamriel schtick is quite the welcome mat that ZeniMax Online Studios thinks it is. Yes, the system opens up a literal world of adventure, but you also have to contend with the fact that you’re a minnow allowed to swim with sharks. You sort of have to accept that bit of chaos and appreciate that you’re still not up to snuff despite being allowed to stand together.

Or to put it another way, don’t try to be shoulder-to-shoulder with these players; stand on the shoulders of giants. I don’t think they’re going to care so long as things get done, and despite the limited conversations and interactions I’ve had, players in ESO are generally friendly. Or at least warmly dismissive. I guess the only real warning I would say is to not let the madcap pace of these people encourage bad habits, especially if you’re trying to do tanking or healing. Playing later level content the way people play normal content just seems like a recipe for disaster.

As for me, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not there yet but I’m still allowed to enjoy the journey to that mastery. As hard as everyone seems to want to sprint through content at my personal level, I don’t have to really force that weight on my shoulders if I don’t want to. I’ll still queue in for things from time to time and try to keep up my tanking chops, especially since I aspire to do higher tier content later, but for now I’ll just let stay out of the way when the lawnmowers come through lower level delves at speeds that can be easily put to the tune of eurobeat songs. All I wanna do is have some fun.

Don’t you love a happy ending? I know I do. But that does mean that this closes out this month’s adventure. So now it’s time to find some other shores to land upon for the next month. Here come the poll choices, folks!

Where should I go next? Choose My Adventure!

  • Star Citizen. Yes I got it working. (32%, 22 Votes)
  • Destiny 2. Because The Final Shape looms. (26%, 18 Votes)
  • Albion Online. Sandbox it up. (16%, 11 Votes)
  • Mortal Online 2. Adventure in the newbie island at least. (7%, 5 Votes)
  • PSO2 New Genesis. Animeeeeee~! (12%, 8 Votes)
  • Dungeon Fighter Online. Revisit this one for the laughs. (7%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 69

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Polls will close at their usual time of 1:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 31st. Until then, I’m just going to take this whole ESO thing a little easier. This might not be the lazy river style of game that other MMORPGs might be, and other people might look at it like a race track and not a world, but I’m going to not let that affect me. Or at least try not to.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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