Just a few weeks ago we talked to you, in the Ascending Tide review, about the fact that we fed great expectations per The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle and for this reason, when we were invited by Bethesda to discover the news of the next chapter in preview, trying it for a few hours, we were definitely surprised and happy. Rich Lambert, Creative Director of The Elder Scrolls Online, thus introduced us to the new chapter of the MMORPG, illustrating in detail all the main news.
As we could already imagine from the announcement trailer, High Isle will not be a chapter where we will have to stop an apocalypse or, more generally, fight a seemingly invincible enemy. On the contrary, the development team immediately made it clear that the events that we will discover will be much more political compared to those experienced in previous chapters, and we have had confirmation from the very first minutes of play.
The narrative premise introduces us to Gonfalon Bay, a port city on the island of High Isle, which itself is part of the Systres archipelago. The area, at the time of our arrival, is already undergoing attacks from the Ascendant Order (the same one we had known in Ascending Tide) and we will be immediately made aware of the differences in the social classes of the island of High Isle. The main antagonists of the chapter, in fact, are introduced as masked civilians who carry out raids against the strongest, the high society, although objectively commit acts of crime against the entire population.
The post-apocalyptic as we have never seen it before
From this simple, but very effective premise, we understand not only that the development team has managed to create a very particular and functional narrative context, but also that the story of The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle goes in a very specific direction. Most likely, the player will be led to question good and evil, between the Society of the Steadfast and the Ascendant Order in a conflict as much political as it is military. We will hardly be able to make concrete choices, but from a very first analysis we can say that we were more than satisfied with the narrative sector of High Isle.
However, we were very happy to find one greater intelligibility of dialogues, which finally remove too narrow dialects and those idioms that undermined the general enjoyment on the part of players who might not appreciate the absence of the translation of the texts in Spanish. However, we believe it is wrong to label this greater simplicity of the dialogues as "trivial", and indeed we are convinced that this will be one of the merits that will make High Isle a bit more accessible than the other chapters, at least as regards the narrative sector.
The quests, at least the ones we were able to try in our preview, did not seem particularly innovative or unpublished, and still asked to move continuously from one point to another on the map. Also for this reason we believe that a cleaner and more understandable narrative is the best choice for a chapter like High Isle, where political intrigues and twists will certainly be on the agenda.
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An archipelago that does not convince
Instead, the game world is more monotonous, the westernmost area of Tamriel, the two islands of the Systres archipelago: High Isle and Amenos. The similarities with Summerset are immediate and it seems that even the setting can get lost in a sad reinterpretation of what has been done in the past. The map remains well filled with quests and places of interest, it is undeniable, but it does not seem to us that great strides have been made regarding the setting and the general level design, on the contrary.
We were a bit stunned by its size though, especially when we compare it to Summerset. Although on the one hand the explorable map is as extensive as in the other regions, we could not fail to notice a curious fact: although from the map of the regions, we can clearly see that the Systres archipelago is much smaller than Summerset, when we set foot it seems of the same size, thus creating an inconsistency between the various game maps.
TESO evolves in unexpected ways
If we wanted to go looking for new gameplay instead, we would find out first of all Dreadsail Reef, for an new 12-player triali, similar in size to Rockgrove. Moreover, the story of this trial fits perfectly with that of High Isle, telling the clash between the nobles of the island and the pirates who instead want to besiege it. However, the biggest news is an in-game card game which takes its name Tales of Tribute: it will be a completely new activity, disconnected from questing, with elements from PvE and PvP, a storyline in its own right and even its own ranking system.
The backbone of this game are obviously the cards, which can be of different types - Starter, Action, Agent or Contract - but always with their own cost and unique abilities that will make them different and competitive. Similarly, there will also be 8 Patron Decks, or thematic decks consisting of 20 or more cards. Unfortunately, we still don't know exactly how it will be possible to obtain cards and Patron Decks, but Rich Lambert explained that generally it will be enough to progress in the game. However, we know that we will not be able to exchange them with other users and that they will therefore be blocked to our character, we are therefore sure that there are still many particular dynamics and mechanics to discover.
Players, through the Trials of Tribute, will however be able to obtain a very interesting variety of prizes: there will be both gold and consumables, as well as cosmetic items, recipes, emotes, materials and / or boosters for crafting, items to create furniture and much other. In short, the development team of The Elder Scrolls Online seems to believe very much in Tales of Tribute, above all because he previewed it to us much more than many other elements. Since this is an undoubtedly original idea and one that gives that pinch of variety that has long been missing in TESO, we will not hide from you that it is something that we will not wait to try it first hand.
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Development team Rich Lambert further explained that with the High Isle update, there will be many improvements Quality of Life: to give examples, a wheel for quick selections, a reworking of the leaderboard, various balances to the Champion Points system and also the AMD FSR support. The first impact with the next chapter of ESO was therefore quite positive, although we prefer to remain neutral and wait for the official release on June 6, 2022 on PC and Mac.
Between the narrative sector and the setting, the element that distinguishes this chapter is its simplicity, a sort of return to the origins of the MMORPG. Considering that the development team is gradually making the entire Tamriel map available in the title, however, it is difficult to say what Bethesda and Zenimax Media's moves will be. Also for this reason - we tell you with total honesty - after this preview we are curious to discover even more of the history of the High Isle and all the news that await the players of The Elder Scrolls Online.