The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle it was a very peculiar expansion and one that puts us in a strange situation in the review phase. Bethesda immediately showed that he strongly believed in this new adventure for ESO fans and the development team was not far behind when he told us a preview a few weeks ago.
In fact, we had been offered the opportunity to participate in an event in which we had the opportunity to discover the first interesting news on The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle by trying it for yourself. What we have seen is an expansion that makes political intrigues his strong point and he firmly believes in the capabilities of the new card game Tales of Tribute.
Now that we have spent over a week discovering the main quest, the secondary ones, the card game and more generally the game world, we have finally reached a verdict that, in our opinion, clearly and objectively defines what High is. Isle. And believe us when we tell you about objectivity, because in this analysis there will really be a lot of it.
When we told you about the previous expansions being reviewed, we always told you how we believe that The Elder Scrolls Online can do much more of what it does in this current state, and of how the development team should strive to be more daring in telling stories and in offering players always new mechanics and dynamics of gameplay. It is not a far-fetched thought: in the past ESO had shown that it could contain new and interesting elements, offering that pinch of variety to the playful sector that was very pleased.
More space for politics: do you accept the offer?
High Isle, on the other hand, focuses much more on storytelling than on gameplay, and luckily we were quite impressed with the direction Bethesda and Zenimax Media took. What made us turn up our noses, however, were the words, partly true, of the development team and the publisher, when they guaranteed that High Isle would present a narrative sector more focused on the policy, intrigues and betrayals, as well as mysteries that will impact ESO's overall lore.
It is indeed true that the events that we will experience in this expansion will be extremely political and that they deal with issues that concern a lot diversity between social classes. However, pad in hand, we found a remarkable one inhomogeneity in the representation of the theme: only in the first hours of the game will we be able to see the poorer class and its difficulties, and there is no real representation of how the richest, those who hold the threads of politics, are actually in a position of advantage.
It is only in the final quests that we begin to see how much the upper class has an impact on the population of the whole Tamriel and there is never a time when expansion makes us weigh the difference in class. Another flaw of the narrative system is related to rhythms not always well calculated, where the first hours are concentrated in trying to understand who really formed the Ascendant Order, the antagonist sect of the story that we had already discovered in the last DLC Ascendand Tide.
In the final missions, those that take place on the Amenos island, instead have a decidedly important impact not only in the plot of High Isle, but on the whole lore of The Elder Scrolls saga. We won't spoil for obvious reasons, but we guarantee we stayed not a little surprised how the story takes such an unexpected turn which he undoubtedly has greatly increased the narrative rhythms and, consequently, our appreciation of the expansion. Too bad that the quality of the latest quests is so much higher than the first ones that they are almost superfluous: ideally, we would have much preferred that Bethesda develop the plot in order to always keep the player's interest high.
Get ready to ride again ... and again ... and again ...
The same cannot be for the gameplay that, unlike the narrative sector, on which the development team has focused more, it is so much gaunt to be almost non-existent. L'cave and dungeon exploration remains anchored in the boring canons of The Elder Scrolls, where entertainment is about the player's ability to defeat enemies as quickly as possible, not for pleasure but out of boredom. Furthermore, the clashes with the bosses you really can count on the palm of one hand and they certainly never shine for originality when considered to ESO standards.
To burden a playful system reduced to the marrow there is the almost constant need for moving continuously from one side of the map to the other, losing a lot of time on the mount. It happens all too often that a character tells us to reach a point - which is often on the opposite side of the island - and then go back and do it again, maybe just to listen to a totally irrelevant speech from an NPC.
There are some stages of the main and specific side quests that are undoubtedly interesting and in which we have not encountered any problems, but for almost all of the test for the review we found that The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle could do lose patience even to the calmest.
If you consider that at the beginning of the quest you have not yet visited all the wayshrines (the points to which it is possible to teleport) and the need to constantly move from one part of the map to the other, you understand how to move again and again is particularly boring especially in the phases initials. Thinking back, and relying on good old objectivity, even using fast travel to do a couple of dialogues isn't exactly the best.
Draw a card, partner
The already mentioned Tales of Tribute is the new card game of The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle and it is the element introduced with High Isle that left us most perplexed during the review. On the one hand, we pay homage very much the will of Bethesda and Zenimax Media ad add real novelties to the play system, seeking that pinch of variety that could be enough to modernize the gameplay and give users something new; from another part, proposing something like Tales of Tribute to ESO players is like putting a steak on a vegetarian's plate.
Let's put our soul in peace and let's face it: The average Elder Scrolls Online user will not return to playing Tales of Tribute after the first few games, because simply it's not the kind of entertainment he seeks out when he launches the title. The rules of the game are quite interesting, although they take some time to fully understand, and we repeat that we greatly appreciate the commitment of the development team in trying to donate new modes for everyone to participate. The main problem, however, is precisely the relevance of Tales of Tribute in the play system of ESO, practically absent, and that with great difficulty will be able to break through all users of the MMORPG.
Our hope, of course, is that i players will succeed in appreciate Tales of Tribute enough enough to make it a stable in The Elder Scrolls Online experience, but seeing the results of card games in other RPGs, we struggle a lot to see such a future. We believe it would have been a far better idea to instead research some genuinely new game mode that really gives the expansion a touch of uniqueness.
Purgatory or paradise?
Putting the decks of cards aside, we open a brief parenthesis on the game setting of The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle, which is important to analyze in this review phase. The Systres archipelago consists of the islands of High Isle and Amenos, which metaphorically represent the difference between the middle and upper classes: High Isle has Gonfalon Bay as its capital, where many aristocrats and members of politics are found; on the contrary, the island of Amenos is a sort of prison where outcasts and mercenaries of all kinds are left to nature, who must survive on the little they have and forming criminal gangs.
Most of the main quest takes place on High Isle, which features a clean and tidy setting but that it does not differ at all from what has been seen in the past in previous expansions. In fact, the main island does not shine even a little for originality in any of its corners, and we believe it is a shame to have missed the opportunity to bring the setting closer to something more similar to the splendid Summerset.
Amenos, on the other hand, is the perfect contrast to High Isle and instead presents a dirtier, swampy, almost ancient setting and undoubtedly captured by unspoiled nature. Although it is the place where we will spend the most time, it is also the island where the most interesting parts of the plot will take place, where we will be dealing with key characters from the entire lore of The Elder Scrolls.
The Amenos area is not accessible immediately and you have to progress in the main quest to be able to unlock and explore it. Given its smaller size and more linear paths, we didn't have much trouble traveling to its clearings and to be able to see a setting that is finally different made us breathe some fresh air deeply.
As we told you, The Elder Scrolls Online High Isle was a difficult expansion to analyze in the review phase. This is a very special chapter of ESO and about which Bethesda and Zenimax Media have finally decided to do something different, after a long time. Overall, we cannot say that we have not appreciated it because the substance - objectively - is there, and it has also made us understand that probably the problem of the MMORPG is not so much the lack of desire, on the part of the development team, to do something new.
Probably the problem is that they don't believe there is a need for it, as true ESO fans may not be too concerned with the flaws that the title carries behind it. In the midst of the narrative arc of the Legacy of the Bretons, The Elder Scrolls Online is heading towards a very curious phase that we will certainly keep an eye on, where it has become difficult to imagine in what other ways the work will evolve.Review
- The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle (Provato su PC)6.5Voto Finale
The Elder Scrolls Online is an expansion that makes the narrative its strong point, failing in the rhythms but ending with a very important bang for the lore of the entire saga. The gameplay is thus overshadowed, introducing the card game Tales of Tribute which, however, could struggle to enter the hearts of ESO fans. Although it does not shine for originality as we expected, it is still a part of the story that lovers of the title and of the Bethesda series certainly cannot miss.