The Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle Review

 
elder-scrolls-online-high-isle
elder-scrolls-online-high-isle
elder-scrolls-online-high-isle

 
Overview
 

Release Date: 2nd June 2022
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4/5


 

Positives


- Same great-quality writing & questing
- High-Isle is really detailed/pretty
- Tales of Tribute can be really fun

Negatives


- Few minor bugs with world bosses
- Tales of Tribute needs a bit more depth & balancing


Posted June 25, 2022 by

Roughly eight years since the launch of Elder Scrolls Online, the game has settled into a solid cadence of yearly chapters, High Isle brings players to an entirely new locale, previously unseen in the Elders Scrolls universe, along with new overworld content experienced players would be well familiar with, and a new card game in Tales of Tribute. The sixth story expansion takes players to twin islands of High-Isle and Amenos. With the story focusing on a conspiracy to scuttle possible peace negotiation between the three warring factions of Tamriel that make up the backstory of Elder Scrolls Online.

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On High-Isle, there are high level plans to bring these factions together for possible peace negotiations, however  the ship carrying the delegates has gone missing, throwing into jeopardy a possible peace negotiations. The power struggle between these factions forms not only the basis for most of the story in Elders Scrolls Online, but also it’s player vs. player battles taking place in the middle of Tamriel (Cryodill). Players are tasked with unraveling a potential conspiracy and what involvement the mysterious Ascendant Order have in it. Typical of previous ESO chapters, the story and quests are well written, and paced, save for the occasional filler.

The twin-isles of High-Isle and Ameons are similarly well designed, varied and rich with detail, which contribute to the varied and interesting side-quests, delves, public dungeons and world bosses that players can take part in. Interestingly, there are no new non-public dungeons in this release to go along with this new region, though it wouldn’t be out of place for additional player dungeons to be released later in the year as part of this chapter. High Isle also brings with it two new companions players can summon in addition to the two original released as part of the well-thought out companions system introduced in last year’s Blackwood expansion. All said, there’s about 12-20 hours of additional content players can experience on High-Isle and Amenos and much of this content is on-par with what players have experienced in previous ESO chapters.

The addition of Tales of Tribute, a turn-based card game players are introduced to as a side-quest on High Isle, it adds another piece of interesting side-content to ESO. Most of the taverns and hub-areas in Tamriel have seen a number of new NPCs appear who’ll challenge players in the game, alongside a new matchmaking queue for players interested in either unranked or competitive play.

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It’s hard to say how successful competitive play will be, with solid rewards for playing (& winning) Tales of Tribute, but a gameplay loop that can be a little shallow and open to chance, especially late-game. Each player chooses two ability granting patrons, that can be called on once per turn, then using the same initial deck, each player then spends coin-cards to build up a deck from a common, central deck of cards (Based on the patrons chosen). Players then use those cards to earn prestige until they reach the threshold for winning. The strategy comes from the combinations of cards bought, and the order they’re played in. Since each player’s hand is redrawn every round it’s difficult to formulate a multi-turn strategy with players heavily dependent on the cards drawn into their hand each turn.

None of this is a fundamental problem of Tales of Tribute, and with some balancing and adjustment hopefully it’ll take it from a fun side-game to something players can more seriously engage in. With each game lasting between 5-15 minutes in length and the ease in getting into a match, Tales of Tribute is a fun side-game for players looking for something to do between quests and doing dungeons.

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Taking all this into account, the amount of in-game content included in the initial High-Isle release is solid, with High Isle delivering roughly what players have come to expect from a new Elder Scrolls Online chapter. The writing and questing are of the same high-caliber seen in previous chapters, and the content, while good, definitely follows the tried-and-true formula at this stage in the game. The addition of Tales of Tribute is a fun, albeit shallow bit of fun side-content that can hopefully be built upon further into a solid piece of side-content players can seriously compete in.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed The Elder Scrolls Online High-Isle on Windows PC with code provided by the publisher. The game is also now available on Xbox and PlayStation platforms. For more information, head to the official website.


James Varoutsos

 
If he can shoot it, explode it, or burn it James probably enjoys playing it. We still don't have any idea what 'it' is and we're honestly too afraid to ask.