ESO’s High Isle expansion is a classic script for seniors, and a great entry point for newcomers

As a newcomer to Elder Scrolls Online, the biggest thing I appreciated was the fact that I didn’t need to play through any of ESO’s previous expansions and get to the correct gear level to jump to the High Isle. Unlike my main MMO, FFXIV, which requires quite a bit of time and dedication if you want to keep up with the main story, Elder Scrolls Online is a nice friend who’s glad you’re here. And what a nice and warm welcome for someone who has always been fascinated by ESO but has never stepped into its wide world.

High Isle is the main ESO story of the year, and this time, Bethesda aims to embody the Breton race and give players the chance to explore a beautiful Mediterranean-inspired archipelago full of little secrets and delights to uncover. During my time creating a preview of the game, I was given access to a high-level character, so that I could freely explore the world. By the time I hit the 30 hour mark, I was already looking forward to starting over from scratch to see everything else this game had to offer.

I’ve spent most of my time wandering the Sisters Archipelago, which is home to countless small islands, great towering cliffs, and gorgeous fairytale castles. The moment I entered the game, my senses were instantly assaulted with search tags, chatty NPCs with overlapping dialogue, and many more things to loot.

This may sound like a sign of the game, but I actually found it strangely convenient. As someone who treated Skyrim largely as a huge checklist of things to do, I could appreciate that sense of familiarity as I rambled from NPC to NPC, listening to their little stories, and agreeing to do whatever casual quest they had for me. Before I knew it, I had been amassing gold and experience, and swept into political intrigue and struggles between small factions.

Great Online Scrolls: High Island

Unlike MMO games like FFXIV or Lost Ark, where the bulk of the content is centered around dungeons and world events, Elder Scrolls Online looks interesting to allow the player to get comfortable with the daily chores and side quests. It’s a very refreshing change of pace that made me forget I was playing an MMO. Mission structures and settings make High Isle feel like a classic single-player experience from Elder Scrolls, and for newcomers looking to dip their toes into this massive version of Tamriel, this might be just what they need.

This doesn’t mean High Isle doesn’t have any of those typical MMO-isms either; Volcanic Vents is introduced as a new global event that you can take on in the game, where you are tasked with sealing dangerous volcanic fissures that have appeared throughout the archipelago by defeating the deadly creatures that lurk there.

High Isle also introduces two new companions that can accompany you on your journey: Isobel and Ember. The former is a knight Breton who is more stoic by nature, while the latter is a champagne khajet who takes you on a silly adventure to try to right her wrongs and turn humans back into animals before anyone else finds out. Her mission includes storming a witch’s tower to steal their notes, and running around the meadow chasing humans who are actually cows and sheep until we can get them back to their original forms. It’s wild.

Ember is definitely the highlight here, as she brings out a sense of humor and a level of goofiness I’ve never seen in single-player Elder Scrolls, and being able to take her with me on my adventures is definitely something I’m looking forward to in the final build. Ember is a magician while Isobel He is a standard knight who specializes in melee attacks, and you can’t go wrong with either.

For all the newcomers looking to jump in, it’s worth noting that the combat plays out exactly as you’d expect from a typical Elder Scrolls game as well. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about the fight. It’s still somewhat challenging and basic, though, as your character learns new skills (all of which have idle timers, of course) as they progress to help shuffle things up and make it feel like an MMO.

The big difference is that enemies are also much more powerful in this game, and their movements are eventually clouded by red circles on the ground, indicating that you have to dodge or get out of the way. As a result, combat sequences can seem more elongated, which does not always fit well with the quiet nature of the game’s mission design, where you intend to move from place to place while eliminating various side missions.

For better or worse, Elder Scrolls Online: High Isle is basically a classic Elder Scrolls game that only features a much larger world for you to explore, along with other players looking to kill time searching as well. You can jump into any of the different story chapters already released and enjoy them in any order, but if you’ve always been drawn to racing Breton, High Isle is a great place to start once the expansion officially drops in June.