TESO: Morrowind closed beta impressions: a vast and familiar world for you to get lost in
With a sense of trepidation for how the latest instalment to The Elder Scrolls Online might destroy everything I hold dear in the whole TES series, I took a tentative first step into the PTS for TESO: Morrowind. Since this was the test server, I defied all expectations and didn’t make a sneakthief style of character, opting instead for the newly introduced class: Warden. I liked the idea of having an animal companion, but I knew that this would quickly conflict with my TES goal of stealing all the things.
After a fairly uninspiring tutorial mission that lasted a little longer than I would have liked where we’re introduced to the fan-favourite character Naryu Virian, we are thrust into the world of Vvardenfell for real.
My heart stopped for at least two beats as I turned and stepped off the ship and looked ahead. Seyda Neen, as if I’d driven a DeLorean 88MPH, stood before me bearing all the familiarities that I had not expected. The small dock leading the the Census & Excise Office where, once upon a time, I was greeted by the clerk that logged my information and created my character. I took a few uneasy steps forward to open the door and there he was, a clerk just as I was hoping ready to take my details and send me on my way. A cute little Easter egg that made me grin, to be sure. He didn’t take my details, however, but it was appreciated for this to be included and acknowledged in such a way.
After completing the tutorial mission at the office and being handed my personal affects that had been found, I was sent on my way with a promise that Naryu Virian would see me again. I didn’t care at all because I had places to go, the past to see, Dwemer ruins to explore, and large vaults to steal from! I burst out the door of the Census & Excise Office onto the open square of Seyda Neen and found the familiar places to take a ‘look’ at straight away; the guard tower where there was sure to be loot, the store where you could steal your first few pieces of gold. I swept through them like a shadow with magnetic hands grabbing everything I could before making a hasty escape from the town to never return again.
The first main quest out of Seyda Neen takes you to the city of Vivec, home of the god Vivec himself. The basic premise of the story is that Vivec is in a spot of bother, though for the sake of avoiding spoilers I won’t say why, and it’s our duty as a regular inhabitant with no godlike powers to assist him. It almost sounds silly, but when it comes to fantasy there have been stranger things happen throughout the course of RPGs so we’ll allow it. To my disappointment, upon arrival at Vivec city, the place was still largely under construction. The great vaults filled to the brim with treasure and treasured heirlooms of Vvardenfell’s Great Houses weren’t there, and as a result we couldn’t go raiding for epic loot. With that disappointment out of the way and a few more steps into the main quest completed, I decided to go on an unbridled adventure to explore the places that I remembered from TESIII: Morrowind.
First stop was to Balmora and the familiar canals, great mansions, and the poor hovel I called my home base during my time as a member of the Thieves’ Guild of Vvardenfell – though this particular building was inaccessible, it was still there just like I remembered. Just North of Balmora, Caldera beckoned but it wasn’t what I had remembered; the place was occupied by hostile agents. Then onto the entrance to Ald’ruhn, West to where Andasreth should have been though not as I remembered it, North toward Gnisis, but then I was distracted. Eventually I hit the Northern shores of Vvardenfell and headed back. This was, by and large, the Vvardenfell that I remembered and certainly what I expected it to be like 700~ years before the events of TESIII. This was the Vvardenfell I knew and loved.
The Morrowind expansion adds several new things to The Elder Scrolls Online, but these aren’t things that I experienced first-hand during the Beta play time that I had; mostly because I was following chunks of the story quests or off exploring for hours, just as the game fully allows and – sometimes – expects. There’s a PvP mode, Battlegrounds, for those of you looking for conflict and competition. For me personally this isn’t something that appeals as a TES player, but the premise of setting three competing sides loose against each other in a three-way team-based brawl sounds interesting. This should help to create a different dynamic to the usually one side versus another that we so often see, and create something more akin to Planetside’s triangle system to balance the field. Something else that’s been added is The Halls of Fabrication, which is a 12-person PvE mode that’s set to take you into a raid-like scenario. Again this was unfortunately not something that I looked at myself, as it’s geared toward the end-game rather than a new character starting out in the new zone, but promises to be a great thing for those seeking a challenging experience.
The Warden, which is also the new addition as previously mentioned, is definitely not my style honestly. I like that a proper pet class has been added and ZeniMax are trying something new, but I’m either the sneaky bastard that steals everything, or the main tank in the front lines protecting everyone else from harm. These are my primary areas of expertise, so it always feel strange switching to something completely outside of that. Having said that, after a little while it did start to become more fun. The class choices always bothered me with ESO, and likely always will do, so having a new class that mixes things up and deviates from what’s already available is incredibly welcomed. It still pales in comparison to the numbered games’ system of complete freedom, though, and this will always be something I long for even from The Elder Scrolls Online.
In all, ZeniMax promises roughly 30 hours of content added to the Morrowind expansion but I’d advise you take this with a grain of salt. We’re talking about a game that allows you to go off in a random direction without any real limitations on how far you go, other than a gigantic ocean or mountain barring your path. For those of you who like to explore and get lost in the middle of nowhere discovering new things, expect this new expansion to suck you in and steal every single second of your day. Those looking for an expansion on the ESO story and a continuation of the narrative as a whole will find what they need here. While the writing of an MMO will always be playing catch-up with a fully realised and carefully crafted single player game, we’re getting there. ESO: Morrowind is delivering a story that borders on a fantasy epic, and while I want to keep away from spoilers, it’s pretty damn epic and should keep you enthralled for hours.
For new players, the Morrowind Expansion is a perfect way to start off your adventures and take your maiden steps into Tamriel as you’ve never seen it before. For returning players, you will already know what to expect and will no doubt love this expansion as much as I did.