Slight change of plan. Batman: Arkham Knight was meant to be my birthday present but, as I had decided I wanted The Elder Scrolls Online Crown Edition (ESO) last week, I figured I would have that for my birthday (16 June) and as Arkham Knight (AK) won’t arrive until the 23rd June at the earliest it made sense that that be my Father’s Day pressie.
So, after a lengthy install – a 15.86GB day one patch had been released, and not playing it at all last night – instead, I played Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 on my Vita and then a spot of Saints Row IV (prior to me installing my 2TB HDD, I had inadvertently formatted my PS4 in order to try and resolve display issues on 2 of my TVs – it didn’t work so I ended up getting a PSTV in order to play on the main TV in the living room using Remote Play – and lost a lot of game saves. SR IV was one of them).
Anyhoo, I digress! Talia (middle child) had us up at around 3am, after getting her back to sleep it was a struggle to get back to sleep myself. I won’t discuss my ailment much but I think the pain had caused me to become wide awake so i thought I’d play ESO as it would have downloaded in rest mode (I love the fact the PS4 can download in standby).
And, henceforth, I began my quest. I normally spend ages working on my character – I spent maybe ten minutes after reading the various traits of races and the alliances. I created my Nord, Aldo Storm (took that from my FF XIV character that I had used a name generator for). I hate coming up with character names. I used to use my favourite movie characters (for example, in the original GTA game, I called myself Castor Troy), but all manner of inspiration has escaped me. Pick a shitty name and, for the most part, you’re stuck with it.
After the character creation, you begin a staple for the Elder Scrolls series – you begin in a prison. Only this time you’re not in Tamriel. You’re on the other side. As usual, the opening scenes pave the way in the form of a tutorial. Unlike other MMORGs, the tutorial is very fluid with very unintrusive screen pops and tips.
It’s not long before you level up a few times and, by the time you actually reach Tamriel, you’re probably about level 4 or 5, having defeated your first boss. Graphically, it takes Skyrim’s visuals and gives it a major kick up the ass. Staying true to the Elder Scrolls series, your typical options are there – looting corpses, searching urns and so on. Lockpicking threw me off slightly – I didn’t get a tutorial pop (not sure I was meant to) and unlike previous lockpicking sequences in the series where you turn the sticks in the direction to apply force and judge by the vibration whether you’re on the money or not – here, you have to work the various tumblers in a particular sequence to unlock doors and chests BUT, you also have a time limit. After a couple of attempts, I had it sussed but it wasn’t great going in relatively blind – my first attempt had the timer running out as I wasn’t paying full attention – kinda like when your ambling along in a game and then an unexpected QTE (Quick Time Event) occurs.
From what I’ve seen in about 3 hours worth of gameplay is impressive. I had a go at fishing – all you need is bait. This was quite refreshing considering the fact you need to access the Fisherman’s Guild in FFXIV and equip a rod etc. Here, you’re straight in. I’m not sure about other features like crafting and so on as I haven’t tried. Although I’ve spoken to a couple of NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) who sell items like saws etc and it just seems that the limitation is having enough gold.
Quests seem rather abundant. After waking up in a township that I discover I was brought to after floating around in the sea, I had covered little ground before I had about five or six different quests under way. Nothing particularly groundbreaking here – go here, do this, come back, receive this and scene! This is inescapable in MMORPGs as this is what they are, but some of the set ups are pretty cool and different. One quest had me use a dog whistle in a certain spot to summon a dog and follow it back to its owner and help him out. Another had me reversing a wizard’s spell after he had turned 3 companions of this woman into Skeevers.
One thing I quite enjoyed while exploring the map (I ended up heading off to Bleakrock Isle) is the standard location indicator on the compass bar – you know, the outlined image of a mine or town and then you get the typical “X LOCATION DISCOVERED” across your screen. I know other MMORPGs do a similar thing and rewards XP (Experience Points) for doing so but it just feels more…homely. You’re in this new world, this new concept but there are many familiar staples from previous games to immerse you. Most open world games, especially totally new games, daunt me. The feeling of anxiety wondering where do I go? What should I do next? So having these little pieces of the previous games puts that to bed as it feels like it’s more of the same but just bigger, better and with a ton more to do.
So, despite it having some heavy criticism from friends and other tidbits I have seen online I am loving it so far and if you will excuse me…I’m going back in. If you wanna join me, my PSN is Nerdgazzum84.