Surprisingly, a franchise I’ve never commented on, at least I can not remember, is The Elder Scrolls of Bethesda Game Studios / Zenimax Online Studios. This fact surprises me, as this series has accompanied me for many years and has entertained the series for hundreds of hours so far and will certainly entertain me.
Today I want to share my thoughts with you and create a small ranking on the three The Elder Scrolls (short TES) games I played intensively.
By the way, I also have something similar with Fallout and Wolfenstein, where I have ideas for several contributions. Back to the ancient scrolls.
Note: I will talk about the DLC policy at the end!
I think a good start is clarifying the question of how I came to this series of games. Many years ago, during the PS2 era, I also gambled on the Nintendo Game Cube and the first Xbox. With Mircosoft’s first console I connect some great memories like Jade Empire, Dead or Alive 3, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Halo 1, Halo 2 and just The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrorwind.
These were games in this form hardly or not at all on the Playstation 2 or the Game Cube. My brother played Morrowind as passionately as I did, so I came to this franchise.
Thanks for that!
Before I join Morrowind, my personal Top 3 ranking of The Elder Scrolls games will also be discussed in this order:
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrorwind
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
When I played Morrowind for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed because the freedom that offered this world was completely new to me. Okay, I know something similar from Gothic, but in Morrowind, after the creation of the character, the whole world is open and you can go wherever you want.
Although there is a main quest but the way to Balmorra, there to join the guild, you can always hit. I love this possibility of true freedom and the adventure can end just as fast as the level of difficulty can be extremely high or very low, depending on how you play. Without trained skills, the most powerful weapons or spells do not bother you, so you have to bake small rolls and can not do anything right now, complete any quest, or become master of all guilds.
The guilds are also an interesting point on Morrorwind.
In addition to the classic guilds (warriors, magicians, thieves) there are three princely houses, the imperial legion, some clerical organization and an Assassin guild with which you can immerse yourself even deeper in the world of Morrowind. But you can not easily belong to all guilds, for example fighting warrior and thieves guilds.
If you are a member of both guilds, you will not be able to make a career in the factions at some point, because the trust is missing. Likewise, outside the main quest, you can only belong to a princely house. There are also various quests that push you completely into uncertainty and demand a self-development of progress. So there are no quest markers, which means in plain language that the player must search the world properly to find his destination. It is immensely rewarding to discover the world in this way without the quest marker making exploration obsolete.
Furthermore, you have the opportunity to destroy yourself the game in the normal way, by killing important figures without further ado and quasi the game can not finish. At least not anymore. The character becomes stronger when the corresponding skills are trained. When a main skill rises one level, you move closer to a level up, which improves the basic attributes.
Even though some of Morrorwind’s mechanics seem cumbersome from today’s perspective and the game is only limitedly beginner-friendly, the more intense the game experience and the free exploration of the game world with simple hints and without a quest marker. I’m glad to have sacrificed this game for so many dozens or even a hundred hours.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Let’s get to the probably most popular Bethesda ever. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released in the distant year of 2011, but has been ported several times over the last 8 years and even implemented as a VR game. Despite various minor weaknesses, I have to make one thing clear, Skyrim is an excellent game and is Morrowind at most in the areas of difficulty and some game mechanics after.
For the game convinced the whole line is the best aged TES game so far. Morrorwind you just notice the age and to Oblivion I will come later in the text. What can Skyrim do, so good? Now the game world is superbly designed and full of quests, adventurers and places to explore. Unfortunately, the quests of the category „Other“ repeat very quickly or completely irrelevant.
There are many great stories for this, such as the Daedra missions or various larger treasure hunts. Unfortunately, the factions that can be joined by is missing an interesting story or a long-term motivation or credibility. One example is the Civil War in Skyrim, which is not known to anyone unless you fulfill missions for either side. Here events would be interesting, which are time bound and can happen without the influence of the player. In the game there is also an internal calendar, which would make this circumstance possible.
The same applies to the „Mages Guild“, which is virtually ostracized, since the Northern distrust magic. How cool would it be if you actually get a bad or worse reputation, if you gurk as a magician through the skies.
I must praise the Dark Brotherhood, whose plot / mission really has a certain epic with a political master plan and even an internal power struggle. However, the Dark Brotherhood is also the only guild / faction with a really exciting storyline, as the rest are more likely to be interchangeable despite many interesting approaches. Both praising and critical, I face the gameplay that offers a lot of depth especially in the character creation and you will noticeably become a powerful hero.
The best example is the weapon skills. Depending on the mode of combat and preferred weapon can unlock various skills or boosts that improve the fight with, for example, two swords or increase the damage gradually.
The same applies to the „Forging“ abilities. The further the skill is trained, the higher quality materials can be processed. Opposite are activities such as cooking, chopping wood or sleeping, which is effectively of no use as the player does not have to sleep or eat and can not freeze.
I do not expect any hard-hitting or realistic simulation of a fantasy world, but these aspects would have pleasantly increased the level of difficulty and added more relevance to alchemy. Of course, I can understand that the game should also be suitable for the masses and also inexperienced players or players who are not very clear with high levels of difficulty or resource management should come to Skyrim.
Incidentally, I deliberately cling to the possibility of increasing or decreasing the level of difficulty with the aid of a controller.
All in all, Skyrim is the magnum opus of Bethesda, at least in the area of role-playing games as the game, despite various flaws as well as Morrorwind is an excellent game!
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oh, Oblivion. Actually, I like this game very much, but it’s the part of The Elder Scrolls series that I think has aged the worst, and that’s mainly due to the effect-rich graphics that make many characters shine and not so impressive anymore acts as at the time of the game. Which is funny, because at the time, the graphics of Oblivion blew away everyone who first entered the world of Cyrodil.
The problems of Oblivion, however, are not graphic, but technical and playful nature. A well-known problem is the miserable translation, which can confuse many missions and aspects of the game. Especially if items are titled with such crude abbreviations, that you do not know because it is in the inventory. Sometimes German texts are completely missing and missions have to be completed in English, which brings the language barrier into play. What Oblivion really missed is an exciting main mission and a claim to the guilds. As an example, the Mages Guild.
If you had to perform a certain number of missions in Morrorwind for a promotion and have certain abilities (various arcane schools at a certain value), then in Oblivion you can complete all guilds in one or two hours without anything special.
If you can ascend to the archmage as a warrior without many spells, then something went wrong … In sharp contrast to the flat magicians, warriors and arena-guilds are the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood. While the former tries to tell an epic storyline and actually requires thieving, the Dark Brotherhood offers many different missions, with bonus targets, which relaxes the gameplay. All in all, Oblivion is visually a giant advance compared to its predecessor Morrorwind, but just as big a step backwards in terms of gaming experience. Skyrim goes the healthy middle ground from both games.
Oblivion is the RPG for me, that I can only play more with mods to intensify the gaming experience!
Before concluding, let me say a few words about the expansion of the three big The Elder Scrolls games. Except for the strange mini-DLC’s (Scandal horse blanket for 1 €) are the extensions for the three main games by the bank away very entertaining and try to deviate from the main game and tell other stories or introduce innovations in gameplay. Even though I’m not a fan of DLC’s, I have to praise Bethesda for the high-quality enhancements!
Although I have a lot to complain about The Elder Scrolls, it does not change my love for this franchise. The three mentioned games have a permanent place in my player’s heart and will last forever. I do not want to know how much lifetime I spent for Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim but it was worth every second.
To be a fan does not only mean to praise everything, but also to criticize if it is justified!
That’s it from my side. We read in the next post!