Severely, Critically Pretty

Elder Scrolls Online does seem to be running marginally better after I updated my video drivers. No help from the GeForce updater which apparently hasn’t been doing its job for quite some time now.

Even so, I’m moderately sure the problems aren’t with the computer’s video-handling as much as with its hard-drive management. The games – because Guild Wars 2 is doing the same thing, albeit not as severely – run perfectly smoothly much of the time, but go into erratic slideshow mode with much HD excitement from time to time.

I wonder if it’s a virtual memory issue?

In any case, I’ve explored a little bit of Tamriel, and found way my to something called Shattered Shoals, or similar, where I’ve been murdered six times by… not ettins, that’s Guild Wars… I don’t know: some big green mouthy parties – rather like langoliers with legs.

I think I’m probably in too high-level an area, judging by the speed with these things strip down my health. Once or twice I have been saved by other players – mostly by accident, I think, as I just happened to be fighting the monster they wanted to kill as they passed through the zone. I haven’t actually talked to anyone else yet, but I figure one thing at a time: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, as the old rule goes.

And besides, I’m very much a solo player even in MMOGs and don’t tend to be very gregarious, particularly while I’m finding my feet.

I’ve noticed some quite good dialogue from the NPCs. One Khajiit apparently saw me fall out of the sky into the sea (my arrival from the land of the dead apparently dropped me from a height), and said he’d have tried for a back flip, which did make me chuckle.

And ESO is severely, critically pretty. The scenery is beautiful, especially the sunlight and water reflections – although the water, even the sea, is millpond-calm with only token ripples on its surface. Whether this is a design choice or just my weak PC choosing easy graphics options I don’t know. I haven’t really explored the menus much yet. And I can’t swim underwater, which is a bit of a blow, but I’m sure I’ll either get over it or work out how it’s done.

Meanwhile in Tyria, I finally have a character approaching level 80. Woot, etc. At 77, Imbrilis the Elementalist is running through her level 30 personal story, and is having to reacquire a mystical Sylvari sword from a layabout human squire who’d nicked it from the Sylvari he served.

My quest has been in parts, with each one needing me to choose one of Tyria’s three Orders – the Sneaks, the Swots and the Thugs – to support in each part.

Having already favoured the Sneaks and the Swots in earlier sections I’d chosen the Thugs for the last, which put me in an arena to face off against the sword-stealer. First, though, I had to face three lesser opponents: an Asura, a human and… really? And a quaggan, apparently.

All were pretty easily dispatched, which made it quite surprising when the sword thief finally appeared and dropped on me like freaking Mjölnir. Killed within seconds, I was thankfully given a second chance with a free revive at the same location. I managed to knock my enemy’s health down by at least two or three points before he beat me down again. Oh, but I get another revive! Handy.

And another!

And another!

And it pretty soon became clear that the game wasn’t going to let me lose this one. It’s to be expected, I suppose: a story that casts you as the hero pretty much has to make sure you’re heroic. But it did take the sheen off my inevitable, eventual victory, as I gradually ablated his armour, bit by painstaking bit.

In the end, with magic sword in hand, I went back to the Pale Tree to be told I had to now pick an Order for the final stage of the quest, and to join permanently. I’d been gearing towards the Sneaks. All three Order representatives outlined their plans for dealing with the threat. It should go without saying that the Thugs’ plan was stupid; but unfortunately the Sneaks, for all their vaunted cunning, offered the scheming of an addled moron. So I ended up joining the Swots instead.

Meh. Best-laid plans of mice and Sylvari, and all that…

(Note for interest’s sake, as of 05 Jan 2018: I never played Elder Scrolls Online again.)

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