The Elder Scrolls Online's Quest Storylines Impress - The Elder Scrolls Online - PC -
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The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online's Quest Storylines Impress

Back in June 2012 we announced Bethesda’s new MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online. Since then, we’ve been able to explore one of the starting zones extensively (read Adam’s preview for an in-depth look). During my recent hands-on time with the game, I chased down an intriguing sidequest that hooked me with more than just the promise of XP and better gear.

The playable section of the game starts me off with a level six character. A ZeniMax Online Studios developer fills in for the tutorial, and I begin crafting my character. I create a spellcaster, whose repertoire includes flinging fireballs, summoning an imp companion, and calling down lightning strikes from above. With my spell selection limited by my low level, I settle into a reliable routine. I put my fledgling skills to the test in a straightforward dungeon, which I clear out easily. My prize is an overpowered staff (the developer says it's being balanced), which makes the rest of the demonstration a cakewalk.

I wander along the main road, which stretches out from a nearby castle city. I accept a quest from a man with a ghost problem. This frightened individual has inherited an estate that lays mostly in ruin. Nevertheless, he’s interested in the land and wants me to drive out a malicious spirit. This sparks a chain of quests that sweetens my barebones combat options with an engaging story about love, betrayal, and revenge.

The local fauna has invaded the ruined estate. These winged pests are easily distracted by my imp helper, freeing me up to rifle through the rubble for clues about the ghost. Instead of collecting meaningless quest objectives, I uncover entries from a heart-breaking diary. Each page tells a unique section of the tale, complete with voice acting (which is a robotic placeholder voice at this point in development). I learn of an affair between a young noble and the family’s servant girl. The noble shows his love to the servant by giving her a family heirloom. The matriarch finds the prize in the servant girls’ quarters and accuses her of theft. The noble refuses to speak up in the servant’s defense, and she’s then locked away in a tower as punishment.

The rest of the quest involves tracking down a magic user with spectral experience, further investigation of the ruins, and a showdown with the enraged ghost. Without giving the twist away, I learn the servant girl was in possession of something precious and made a pact with dark forces to ensure its safety. In Elder Scrolls Online, characters you help may return to assist you later. I’m curious to see whether this tale continues down the road. 

As you can tell by my impressions here, Elder Scrolls Online’s storytelling has left an impact on me. I was more impressed with the tale told in this brief quest chain than I ever was in my hundreds of hours exploring World of Warcraft's barebones stories. Star Wars: The Old Republic’s waning community proves that players need more that good storylines to keep them engaged with an MMO, but I’m hopeful for Elder Scrolls Online. I walked away from my hands-on time eager to jump back in hunt down more fascinating stories when the game hits PC and Mac later this year.

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  • How is combat handled in this? Is it like WoW or more like skyrim/oblivion?
  • Very interesting..Story that deep in a mmo..
  • While I'm interested to see how this game turns out, I can't help but worry they are backing themselves into a corner with the story-heavy content. Bioware ran into this problem with The Old Republic, they touted the game to be very story driven, and they couldn't keep up. The story content pretty much vanished once you hit the level cap and was replaced with the same mindless grind of every other MMO on the planet, and content updates very rarely brought any new story driven content. I hope Bethesda and ZeniMax understand players won't respond well to that sort of bait and switch.
  • I am pretty excited for this game, but I am pretty sure that everyone will be better than me and I won't feel like hero and important. Everyone will just be like "Oh there is that Fatchicken guy. Oh ya I don't know him LOLZOSKD". In any other Elder Scrolls game the NPCs are like "OMGZ FATCHICKEN, HERO OF KAVATCH OUTLANDISH DRAGON BORNZ". If people don't praise me while playing I don't think I can get into it. I will still buy it to see though.
  • This article made me want to play this game. Not entirely sure why, just something there struck me as entertaining. Maybe the part about clearing out the dungeon and earning a powerful staff. Stuff like that gets me.

  • OMG another wow clone
  • This looks cool, but i got tired quickly of the last MMO I thought would be amazing (GW2), so i'm got quite ready to jump  the boat to another MMO just yet :-/

  • This has no excuse not to be epic.

  • Hmm...still not sure.  I guess I will have to see to believe.  I really loved my many hours of gameplay.

  • Im really hoping this game does well. Ive played wow and swtor, both of which failed to pull me in completely. If they pull this off though and it isn't just a wow clone, Im game.

  • I hope the game does well but I honestly couldn't care less about it for myself. SWTOR was my 5th and final foray into the mmo world, tired of needing large groups of people to accomplish anything of note. The only thing I want to hear from Bethesda is when will Fallout 4 hit the shelves.
  • I wished that it was coming to consoles. I hate playing games on my computer.

  • @Tim Turi

    To be fair, World of Warcraft has the most captivating lore in the industry. Bioshock and Dark Souls come close, but WoW just has such depth and creativity. It never did a great job of marrying that lore to equally captivating gameplay, though. Hopefully ESO, which also comes from a well-rounded mythos, will be able to.

  • After a disheartening break-up with EVE Online, I'm staying away from anything that so much as resembles an MMO, but know that as a long time fan of the Elder Scrolls series (who first started in the series with Daggerfall, but has since played Arena as well as its sequels, Morrowind [my favourite], Oblivion and Skyrim), I am interested in seeing how ESO holds up to its name.

  • I cant wait man, like elders scrolls is some of my favorite games ever

  • I'm still pretty skeptical about this game. But after reading this feature, my hopes are still holding high.

  • This might be the first game to get me to venture into this genre.

  • The games environment looks awesome, lets hope the rest will follow.

  • I love the Elder Scrolls, but MMORPGs never really appeal to me. I might still play this though.