For Christmas in 2015, I gifted a PlayStation 4 to my other-half and stepson after listening to them lament for months that they wanted one. Ethan was eight-years old at the time and became enamoured with Little Big Planet 3 throughout the holidays despite not seeing the franchise before; and hours were spent streaming on Twitch so friends and family could stop by to say hello to him.
While his excitement was lovely to see, Pete and I hardly got to touch the controller so we were looking forward to getting in some ‘adult’ gaming during our week off work. A friend had kindly lent us a batch of titles including The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) so we were geared up and ready to go – but then my other-half came down with flu and passed several days drifting in and out of sleep. Talk about sod’s law.
I was left to entertain myself so in between tucking him under the duvet, fetching paracetamol and making more cups of tea than I could count, I decided to check out ESO. And from that moment on I was hooked: I spent ten hours with the game on the first day, a similar amount on the second and third, then roped Pete into playing alongside me once he’d recovered. We’d never intended going out for New Year’s Eve and so stayed in with a takeaway, travelling through the land Auridon and picking up skill points until midnight.
Take a look at my posts and you’ll notice a recurring theme: the majority of them are about adventure games. It’s been my favourite genre since I started playing video games as a kid. After receiving an Amiga 500 and spending most of Christmas one year working through The Secret of Monkey Island with my dad and grandad, it’s the genre I enjoy the most and the one I feel most ‘at home’ with.
While this has had its plus points, it’s also had its downsides. I’ve played so many adventure titles that seeing things in a logical way comes naturally and I enjoy solving puzzles; but because I wasn’t interested in more action-orientated games when I was younger and therefore didn’t get much practice in, my hand-eye coordination when it comes to video games now is terrible. I mean, really terrible.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy action games, but I can’t deny I’m reduced to bouts of gamer-rage when I can’t pick up a control scheme. Several titles are gathering dust at the back of my Steam library due to the fact that I just can’t ‘get’ them. The Secret World is one such example: after unsuccessfully trying a number of times and racking up a grand total of five hours, I eventually gave up. Pete even tried to guide me through it but decided to step away from the keyboard after the mouse was launched across the room.
Kim (@kissingthepixel) October 23, 2017
So perhaps the fact I enjoyed ESO was a little strange. I was – and still am – by no means good at it and my character died a thousand deaths, but there wasn’t any of the usual frustration and I simply kept on playing. A big part of the reason for this was that my love for adventures gave me a preference for story-based games and The Elder Scrolls series contains so much lore. Find a book and the tales within help create a world which feels living, with its own history and colour.
It was also the fact that it wasn’t all about the action. When I’d had enough of venturing into dungeons and slaying the monsters within, I could head in any direction and just run. You never knew what you were going to find: a villager who’d reveal some local gossip, a hunter chasing a fox, a clifftop with a beautiful view. All simple things and events that wouldn’t have any direct impact on your journey, but ones which added more depth to this online world.
At first I found ESO overwhelming because it’s just so large but after a couple of hours, I become comfortable with exploring the land. Sure, my High Elf met her demise on plenty of occasions and I struggled to take on more than a couple of enemies at a time thanks to my poor coordination; but armed with plenty of soul gems, I was ready to take on the next dark cave and the unknown dangers lurking within.
The other thing I enjoyed about the game was that I could ‘play’ it with my stepson. Before anyone mentions that the title is rated PEGI 16, let me say that we didn’t let him see any violence: he simply loved to watch as I guided my hero through the mountains on her horse, seeing what we could discover. It was easy enough to recognise when she may be entering into a potential conflict and then ride in the other direction.
One weekend while my other-half was cooking, Ethan and I decided to pass some time in ESO until dinner was ready. So what did we do? We went to the port city of Vulkhel Guard, got on our horse and rode around the blacksmiths, before dancing next to the wayshrine to see if we could start a flashmob (it sadly didn’t work). A friend joined us and made his character naked before performing push-ups in the street – but that proved too much for my stepson, who begged him to put his knight’s trousers back on.
After spending several months with my High Elf, I finally stepped away from ESO in favour of a new adventure game. I needed a change of pace and wanted to play something set in a smaller world with an achievable end goal. After that the PlayStation CD remained in its case for over a year, until I decided to insert it into the console again on a whim one evening last month.
Kim (@kissingthepixel) October 23, 2017
I’m now hooked all over again and can’t seem to put down the controller. Everything I loved about the title before is still there and now I’m enjoying it even more because it’s familiar; it’s like visiting a place you loved but haven’t been to in ages, and seeing plenty of familiar faces there. I’ve not touched another game in weeks and for now, the adventure genre has been put on the shelf.
If you have any suggestions for titles which may help cure my ESO addiction relapse, let me know in the comments below. And while I’m waiting, I’ll do another quest… just a quick one…