Elder Scrolls Online High Isle review: an adventurous welcome to all new players

Elder Scrolls Online High Isle review: the reason to come back

The new chapter of the ESO saga, High Isle, does not rely on past stories from the Elder Scrolls universe and this allows her to dare. ZeniMax Online Studios played its cards well managing to please the many veterans by creating an experience that remains accessible even to new players.

The countryside is the real strength of the High Isle

ESO could simply offer players yet another “supernatural” danger that threatens Tamriel’s very existence (a winning strategy in the past) but has decided not to. High Isle chooses to tell a story steeped in political and all-too-human deceptions that inevitably risk lead to open warfare.

Without going into spoilers, know that the main story is centered on relations between the great houses and the Breton families. In short, the War of the Three Banners continues apace fueled by two opposing factions with entirely different plans to gain supremacy over the High Isle. The first of these is The Steadfast, an organization founded by a wealthy local philanthropist whose main goal is to ensure peace. On their way is the Ascending Order, led by the mysterious Wizard, who seeks to destroy traditional heraldic alliances to continue the war, all in the name of profit.

Elder Scrolls Online High Isle review: the reason to come back

Organizations that work in the shadows e powerful aristocracies have always played a part in the world of Elder Scrolls but for the first time they are at the center of a narrative that allows for authentic and intricate involvement of the players. Wandering through family hatred, poisoned relationships and conspiracies creates a kind of mystery thriller that really enjoyed my time on High Isle. The lack of established lore for the archipelago is a blessing because it makes the narrative unexpected and allows the authors to experiment with twists that come almost to every quest.

There are also several truly jaw-dropping moments that the writing team manages to deliver thanks to a delicate balance between shocking twists and a good dose of self-irony. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of fighting going on but the interactions between the characters and the relentless story progression of this expansion are something the game was in dire need of.

The eye also plays its part in the High Isle

When the expansion was first announced, players old and new alike were worried that there wasn’t enough space on High Isle (also given the price) to explore. The expansion as I played it proved them no less extensive and profound than many previous chapters, with the development team reassuring: “there is the same amount of explorable space as the other expansions“The real success is not in the quantity but in the quality of the realization of the game environments and quests.

Elder Scrolls Online High Isle review: the reason to come back

The archipelago in which the expansion is set consists of two islands, High Isle and Amenos, with a third island formed from a dormant volcano. The stark differences between these areas become almost a narrative element as the story allows the player to travel from the relative calm of the High Isle to the wild jungle of Amenos. High Isle, the island, is verdant and relatively calm in terms of landscape, but the towns, villages and manor houses of noble families will teleport you to a ‘fantasy-chivalrous atmosphere that you will hardly forget. Amenos is separated from the main island only by a narrow sea passage, but its dense jungles and lingering darkness suit the fearsome nature of the island and its dodgy residents very well.

Elder Scrolls Online also has its own card game

As with any new expansion, the repeatable activities, endgame or side quests, are as important as the main story because that’s where players will spend most of their time once the campaign is over. ZOS (Zenimax Online Services) has dealt with past charges of neglecting the endgame by creating some repeatable experiences in High Isle that are more than just a filler. The most significant of these is Tales of Tributea card game in which the citizens of Tamriel compete in taverns and inns.

I have decided to ignore the fact that this game has never been mentioned or shown before because if Marvel and Star Wars are forgiven for any kind of ret-con (introducing things into the game universe that should have always been there) I don’t see because we can’t give some of this bounty to Elder Scrolls Online as well. Tales of Tribute takes a different approach than many other card games because players must simultaneously manage resources and create their own deck during a given game. Each player is tasked with bringing four “patron” decks (with a total of eight that can be unlocked) into the game. These then come mixed together and players can build their hand by buying the right cards.

It lacks the initial appeal of The Witcher’s Gwent and there are areas for improvement. Resource management can initially be confusing, and learning card combinations and counters largely depends on the player, with the game that gives little information in the meantime. The pick-up-and-play factor is definitely lower than other card games due to its unfamiliar design but it’s never complex to the point of becoming hostile.

Tales of Tribute has a single player story mode that allows you to focus on the PvE and also serves as a tutorial to the game’s finest strategies. There is also one Ranked PvP mode with various rewards up for grabs. Nothing is critical to your level of power so if the card game isn’t your thing you can safely ignore it. First impressions are very promising and the various game strategies create exciting matchups. Addressing the Inevitable balance problems it will have to be the priority for ZOS in the near future because with some decks it is much easier to win.

The verdict: High Isle is the best time to discover ESO

The Elder Scrolls Online is a Hugely successful MMO which, like other titles in the genre such as Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny 2, saw the release of one of its best expansions in 2022. High Isle has managed to stay true to the game universe, allowing ourselves several freedoms at the same time thanks to the fact that we knew very little about the Bretons and their homeland. The story is one of the most exciting components of the game as well High Isle is the best chapter for new players who hope to learn the basics.

Beyond the narrative there is a lot to enjoy, even for casual gamers. Tales of Tribute is perhaps the most unexpected addition, and the game draws an undeniable benefit from it. His strength lies in his ability to be caught as lightly, for fun, as seriously as players who want to climb the PvP rankings like.

To returning gamers and veterans who are worried that High Isle may not be worth the money I want to say there is so much to do at launch and there are many more updates planned for the near future. The island setting forced developers to rethink their approach to space narrative, and the expansion has benefited a lot. Instead of a huge, relatively barren land mass, these islands are dense and full of life. For new players who want to really try ESO I recommend High Isle because it promises to start off on the right foot and then focus on past content or the endgame.

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