Earlier in March, Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls Online's new upcoming expansion is set on the mysterious Summerset Isle.
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Is it possible to enjoy The Elder Scrolls Online's Morrowind expansion if you're a fan of the original game who hates MMOs? Is it folly to even try? Either way, I loved Morrowind too much to ignore the arrival of its multiplayer-focused quasi-prequel.
When I look back on my 90 hours with The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, I think of constellations rearing gossamer heads over the hills near Whiterun. I think of sunken cities grown copper-green with age, of flipping through books for mention of long-extinct civilisations, and snow licking the path to the summit of the Throat of the World. OK, so I also think of dragons that fly backwards and that time I had to Fus Roh Dah a bug-stricken Lydia across a mountain range, but these are stray notes, hiccups in an otherwise blissful aria.
Imagine a point almost exactly halfway between The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim and your traditional mainstream massively multiplayer RPG, for which the reference points are, in 2014, still the first EverQuest and World of Warcraft. This is where you will find The Elder Scrolls Online. I've spent around 20 hours in the beta. I have much still to discover, but my overwhelming impression is of equipoise - of a game balanced with conscientious, almost fearful care between the two things that it is trying to be.
The words 'theme park MMO' get thrown around a lot these days, but rarely have they felt more apt than during my four hours with The Elder Scrolls Online. If Skyrim, Cyrodiil and so on are worlds, TESO smacks of the World Showcase from Disney's Epcot - familiar sights remade in fibreglass to be admired but never seriously mistaken for the original. Not as many gift shops. Far more spiders. This time, the park owners will actively block your path until you agree to sit through the local equivalent of "O Canada". Still, the comparison fits.