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Castle of the Worm Awaits

Elder Scrolls Online Columns - By Lewis Burnell on November 21, 2016

Castle of the Worm Awaits

I’ve still not found a guild, or touched crafting, but I have decided I really should begin to make my way out of Glenumbra. I still don’t know the secrets of Daggerfall and that alone is keeping me here. I’ve a couple of quests remaining in the zone but I have to admit I’ve grown tired of the same scenery. I also can’t shake the feeling that Abnur Tharn, whom I keep running into, looks frighteningly like Peter Stormare. I’m a completionist and unfortunately for me, one of the last quests I need to complete is bugged. Either that or Envoy Caoiss is a pain in the arse and simply doesn’t want to turn up for work (I’d advise against it, considering I need to kill him).

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My adventure over the last few days saw me arrive at Castle of the Worm and into the arms of a chap called Cadwell. If there’s one thing I can’t forget from when I first played The Elder Scrolls Online many years ago, it’s a zombie John Cleese with a frying pan on his head. After bumping into Peter Stormare and Michael Gambon (the Prophet) only a few moments before, I feel like I’ve been transported to some Hollywood cosplay event.

Despite my distaste for using such iconic actors in video games, the quest proved a lot of fun. The castle and its location, unsurprisingly, looked fantastic and was soaked in atmosphere. While it proved somewhat linear (there’s no real deviation from the set path) it doesn’t hinder the immersion. Finding diaries about the surrounding villages being heavily taxed, or logs detailing the arrival of Abnur Tharn and what he’s really like, makes for compelling reading. It’s a method of delivering a story that’s rarely used in other MMO’s and yet it’s so effective. I appreciate not everyone loves to read, but these written discoveries that push the narrative are immersive. For the first time in a long time, I actually want to complete quests and hear what NPC’s have to say.

A particular favorite moment during the Castle of the Worm adventure was searching for usable Atronach parts (or flesh). Some way up the top of the castle and out overlooking the cliff edge, is a scattering of them and me being confident in my abilities, didn’t think to imagine the statue guarding them would in fact be a monster. Needless to say I jumped out of my skin and much to the amusement of my dog (she then proceeded to bark at me for the next five minutes).

Interestingly, the storyline surrounding Abnur Tharn, as far as I understand it, touches on necromancy. Reanimated corpses line the castle in a haunting procession as you worm your way to the top and it’s such a shame, then, that necromancy isn’t possible in The Elder Scrolls Online. I did ask a few players why that was the case and they mentioned it wasn’t permitted from a lore perspective. That seems a shame as it could, potentially, be ripe for exploiting by Zenimax. Who wouldn’t want to play a necromancer shunned by most of Tamriel as an outcast? Surely there must be people within the world who explore dark magic, even if it is taboo. 

Before I finish this week's column, I did want to touch on the fact that at the moment, my Elder Scrolls experience has been fairly lonely. Partly as a result of the design decisions Zenimax have taken (there’s plenty of solo instances) but also because as of yet, I’ve failed to find a guild. I’ve asked a couple of times in cities and towns but haven’t had any whispers or seen anyone advertise. Perhaps I should knuckle down and put some time into actually finding a guild so I’ve someone to talk to while playing. At the moment and more often than not I feel like I’m playing a single player game - not an MMO. It no doubt gives way to a huge amount of immersion, but is that at a cost of everything that makes an MMO great? (notably the need to group and experience content together).

Irrespective of these creeping doubts, I’m hoping once I make some friends, dive into some dungeons and move onto a new map (or two) it’ll change the overall feel - even if that “feel” is still bloody good.

How do you like your quest stories delivered? Do you like just a static NPC, cutscenes or journals and diaries you can find? Do you think solo instances hurt or help MMOs? Do you agree that Abnur Tharn does in fact look like Peter Stormare? Let me know!

Lewis Burnell / The only game to have distracted Lewis away from MMOs over the last 15 years was Pokemon Red. Despite that blip, Lewis has worked his way through countless games in the genre in search of something that comes close to his much loved and long time dead, Neocron.