The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), though not the newest MMORPG, remains one of the most exciting games to play this year. Since its launch in 2014, ESO has grown exponentially. In 2022, the arrival of High Isle, the sixth Chapter in the ESO saga, provided players with a previously unexplored region in the Elder Scrolls franchise.
Despite its age and the abundance of high-profile game releases this year, ESO is still worth playing. Whether you’re seeking a competitive fix or a relaxing way to unwind, ESO offers a wealth of content for players of all types. It stands out in the crowded MMO market by respecting your time, a rarity in the genre.
What is ESO?
The Elder Scrolls Online, released by ZeniMax Online Studios in 2014, is an MMORPG that allows you to explore a vast portion of Tamriel. It includes familiar locations from throughout the series’ history. In ESO, you can dive into dungeons, participate in large-scale PvP battles, or engage in activities like component gathering and gear crafting.
ESO offers an array of ways to spend your time and create your perfect character. You can be an Argonian Necromancer, a stealthy thief, or a powerful High Elf Sorcerer climbing the ranks of the Mages Guild. ESO gives you the freedom to customize your character and make your vision a reality.
Whether you embark on solo adventures, team up for PvP battles, or form a party for high-level PvE content, ESO provides the full MMO experience. It’s akin to a multiplayer version of Skyrim with MMO elements.
Expansions for All Levels
ESO’s unique chapter system contributes to its ongoing popularity. These yearly expansions don’t require you to be at the maximum level to enjoy their content. When you purchase an expansion, you instantly gain access to hours of fresh content. While some content is intended for high-level characters, such as challenging PvE Trials, you don’t need to grind before jumping into a new expansion.
The One Tamriel update, implemented several years ago, introduced the freedom to explore any quest or region at any time. Characters’ abilities scale accordingly, allowing you to travel wherever you desire in ESO. This level of freedom, similar to Skyrim, makes ESO welcoming to casual players while still providing a sense of rewarding progression.
Because the amount of available content can be overwhelming for newcomers, here are some highlights since ESO’s launch:
- Customizable player-owned housing.
- Customizable Outfit System for changing appearance.
- Battlegrounds offering small-scale PvP content.
- Justice System, which places a bounty on your head for crime.
- Reworked mount system for easier leveling.
- No subscription required.
- New zones, including Elsweyr, Blackwood, and Skyrim.
- Seasonal events for exploration and gameplay variety.
- Quality-of-life updates for improved performance and graphics.
- New classes like Necromancer and Warden.
- Champion Points system for continued growth.
- Premium cosmetic items available through in-game currency.
- Introduction of Tales of Tribute, a competitive card game.
ESO’s world remains vibrant and evolving. A recent next-gen update has only increased its popularity, and its content will continue to expand in the years to come.
Players can also become ESO Plus members to access all this content (excluding High Isle) without making individual purchases. While joining the premium service is optional, it comes with in-game perks that enhance convenience for dedicated players.
Blackwood: A New Player-Friendly Experience
The Blackwood Chapter, introduced in 2021, brought significant changes to ESO gameplay. This expansion added a new region, questline, and the Companion System. Companions are NPCs who join you in your adventures, helping you in combat and reacting to your in-game behavior. Maintaining their favor grants unique dialogue options and other bonuses.
Longtime fans of The Elder Scrolls will appreciate Blackwood’s marshy setting and the return of Leyawiin, a popular location from The Elder Scrolls III: Oblivion. The town has been faithfully recreated, albeit with some modifications due to the different time period in which ESO is set.
New players entering ESO in 2022 benefit from a reworked tutorial segment that accelerates the learning curve and gets players into the action quickly. Within an hour, you’ll be free to explore on your own, though it’s recommended to delve into the main questline before branching out.
Combat remains one aspect of ESO that hasn’t changed significantly since launch. While reworks and tweaks have been made, some players still find the combat lacking impact compared to other games. However, success in combat still requires skill and strategic planning. Blackwood introduced notable content in 2021 but addressed few long-standing combat concerns.
High Isle: Exploring Uncharted Territory
Players diving into ESO in 2022 should not miss the latest expansion, High Isle. This expansion transports players to the home of the Bretons, an uncharted area in Tamriel. Dense jungles, sprawling forests, and fantastical settlements make up this archipelago. It adds a fresh experience to the already massive ESO map.
Apart from the change in scenery, High Isle introduces Tales of Tribute, a card game allowing players to compete for various rewards. It has simple rules and a tutorial for easy learning, but mastering it presents a challenge.
Like all Chapters, High Isle introduces a new questline, characters, PvE content, world events, and numerous smaller changes to ESO. While not as groundbreaking as the Companion System, it exhibits ZeniMax’s commitment to delivering high-quality yearly updates.
However, some fans have noticed a familiar pattern among these updates. Although they introduce great content, they often follow the same formula of unlocking new regions, offering questlines, and incorporating some additional features for variety. This predictability may not be ideal for veterans, but newcomers will find ESO’s content engaging, especially with a fresh perspective.
ESO Caters to All Playstyles
The Elder Scrolls Online provides a diverse array of activities, catering to various playstyles. Here’s what you can expect to engage in throughout Tamriel in 2022:
Battlegrounds and Cyrodiil (PvP)
ESO offers several PvP options, with Battlegrounds and Cyrodiil being the main attractions. Battlegrounds involve three teams of four competing in game modes such as Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and Deathmatch.
Cyrodiil, on the other hand, is a large-scale conflict with hundreds of players battling for control of castles, repairing structures, and strategically dominating the map. It’s an exciting experience that gets better with time, although it’s best to join at higher levels or with veteran players to avoid being overwhelmed by high-level opponents.
Dungeons, Trials, and World Bosses (PvE)
Cooperative play is a significant aspect of ESO, with Dungeons and Trials continually expanding since the game’s launch. Dungeons are instanced locations where a party of four tackles missions and faces formidable bosses. Trials offer similar experiences but are more challenging, featuring complex mechanics and supporting groups of up to 12 players. New Dungeons and Trials have been added every year, showing no signs of slowing down.
In addition to instanced content, cooperative gameplay is scattered throughout Tamriel. Players can team up to defeat powerful World Bosses, embark on quests together, or partake in dynamic events such as Dark Anchors.
Crafting in ESO is not obligatory but highly rewarding. It provides powerful gear and abundant gold. Crafting is easy to learn, and the recent addition of Jewelry Crafting introduces further interest for seasoned players. Tutorial systems make the learning process painless for newcomers.
Crafting activities include gathering components, deconstructing unwanted gear, and researching valuable traits. ESO’s crafting system offers a sense of constant progression and is integral to the overall game experience. When you visit any city, you’ll find numerous players bustling around crafting stations before diving into dungeons or battlegrounds.
How Does ESO Compare to Other MMORPGs?
Choosing an MMO is a significant commitment. While many great titles are available, finding the right one for your playstyle can be challenging. ESO should cater to the preferences of most players in 2022. ZeniMax’s substantial improvements have crafted an engaging world, although ESO may not appeal to everyone. Let’s explore how ESO stacks up against the competition and why it might be your preferred choice:
- Final Fantasy XIV: ESO offers a more approachable story, while FFXIV boasts a deeper narrative with thrilling twists and turns. FFXIV uses traditional tab-targeting combat, whereas ESO employs a more action-based approach. However, FFXIV requires a monthly subscription.
- Black Desert Online: Boasting some of the best combat in gaming, BDO is a joy to play in 2022. Its fast-paced, visceral combat, coupled with impressive graphics, sets it apart. BDO excels in crafting, with a robust player economy and countless recipes to discover. However, ESO provides significantly more PvE content, a more engaging story, and a polished experience overall.
- Guild Wars 2: The combat, world, and story of GW2 are among the best in the genre, despite the dwindling community this year. Its long-term outlook is uncertain due to few upcoming updates. In contrast, ESO’s expansion plans ensure vibrant server populations for years to come.
- RuneScape: Both Old School and RuneScape 3 offer extensive sandboxes to explore freely. Movement in RuneScape is mouse-click-driven, providing a distinct gameplay experience. Solo play, crafting, and questing are central to RuneScape. However, if you desire a more modern experience, RuneScape may leave you wanting more.
- Lost Ark: This top-down MMO features fast-paced combat against hordes of enemies, akin to traditional ARPGs. PvE, PvP, and a rich customization tree make it a popular MMO. Despite the change in viewpoint, it has much to offer genre fans. Lost Ark is considered one of the market’s top MMOs, with ESO excelling in areas such as storytelling and expansive PvE content.
2022: An Excellent Time to Start Playing ESO
The Elder Scrolls Online continues to provide some of its best content in 2022. High Isle may not have shaken up the game dramatically, but it delivered high-quality experiences. Tales of Tribute demonstrates the team’s willingness to innovate, and players can look forward to upcoming Chapters that may introduce significant changes. ESO offers hundreds of hours of content to explore, including solo, cooperative, and competitive activities. This year has been exceptional for ESO, making it a perfect time to join the action and discover what all the fuss is about.
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