Monday 13 January 2014


Last night I dreamt I went to Tamriel again. It seemed to me I stood by the launcher leading to the login screen, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me.

The Elder Scrolls Online's weekend beta, and on Saturday morning, I remembered I hadn't downloaded it, so I went off with my weekend beta key to create an account and try it out. I didn't count on the size of the download. The launcher downloaded fast enough, a mere 5 minutes. But when I went to run it, and it started the download proper, I knew I was in for a long wait. It was huge! I'm not sure exactly how huge now, but it was a couple of dozen gigabytes. And it was downloading at a mere 200 kB/s. It took the whole weekend to download. I finally got in on Sunday night - well Monday morning is more accurate - when I should have been in bed.

But it had the familiar look and feel of the Elder Scrolls: WASD movement, body rotation using the mouse, 'E' for interactions. Combat (I only tried melee) similar Skyrim. And a dark setting, both figuratively and literally. For you begin your journey as a dead body. A wretch sacrificed to the Daedric prince Molag Bal. Awakening behind bars in the caverns of Coldharbour, missing something. Ah yes. Missing ...  my soul.

A breakout! Running into the caverns with the others, looking for weapons, searching every urn and chest for an advantage. Most of them only contain broth or porridge. How do you equip things again? Ah, that's it. Now I remember. Run now, run! Run towards the 'V'. Run toward your quest's end.

The opening scenario is very much in the MMO lone hero tradition (thousands of people playing a single-player game together). As far as I could tell, each of us lost souls was on their own quest, unable to help each other. I didn't mind. My big fear of about the Elder Scrolls Online is not Molag Bal's hell. No. L'enfer, c'est les autres. My big fear is other people breaking the immersive virtual world that is Nirn with anal jokes and lolspeak. There was none of that last night - I logged on too late to see many others, and I never figured out if there even exists a zone chat channel. Of course, I want to engage with others in Tamriel. But I hope the introduction sets us all in a frame of mind that will help us stay in the world, in character.

You/'ll remember that Skyrim has a lot of voice acting. So it was in Coldharbour. I'm sure I recognized the voices of John Cleese and Michael Gambon.

By the time I got out of the caverns, I was too tired to continue. And this morning, I can no longer access the server. The beta weekend is over. Was it a dream?

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