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Zenimax Online Studios | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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Opining on Orsinium

Elder Scrolls Online Columns - By Ryan Getchell on November 04, 2015

Opining on Orsinium

Orsinium, what can I say about Orsinium that hasn’t already been said numerous times? This DLC pack is fantastic.   Zenimax really knows how to create content that always feels fresh and new and not just a rehash of content with a new name and new colour. This DLC really brings in the Elder Scrolls feel of the game, the single player franchise environment, solo content.

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A lot of people were not overly happy with Imperial City claiming that it “sucked” because it was a mixture of both PvE and PvP at the same time, but you can’t please everyone. Imperial City, to a lot of people, was supposed to be the ESO version of Darkness Falls from Dark Age of Camelot.  While on many fronts it was very similar, on others it was also very different. This is another reason people are upset about it. Personally I think Imperial City is one of the best things to happen to Cyrodiil.  The hardest part now is to keep it relevant so players always want to go into it. I also think that the gates should be locked on all campaigns but that’s a rant I’ve already had and you’re here to read about Orsinium.  

Orsinium is nothing like Imperial City. It has no previous counterpart for comparison as it’s a completely new frontier for players and Zenimax. Its 100% PvE and of that I’d say roughly 90% solo driven. That 10% of content that is group driven, really is group driven. The world bosses in Orsinium are incredibly challenging. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we got wiped trying to defeat a world boss, mostly because it’s really embarrassing, but that makes it even better. Nothing worse than paying for a DLC and being able to walk through it without a single issue, which is undeniably not the case here.

Of course you can still group with your friends if you choose to.  One of the best features about Orsinium is the fact that you’ll be able to go into the zone at any level. You don’t need to be level cap to enter this zone.  You’ll get bolstered to an appropriate level so the content is challenging but not impossible.  This also applies to the Maelstrom Arena, the new solo arena. Think of it the same way Cyrodiil works, if you’re not level-capped when you enter the zone, your stats will be increased to an appropriate level where you won’t get completely “rofl-stomped”.

The entire zone has its own unique storyline.  Well for the most part it’s unique. I do have one gripe with the first part of the storyline.  Without going into any spoilers the story has ties to one in Glenumbra. While it’s neat they are trying to keep content connected, while I was playing it felt way too similar to that storyline. Aside from that, the side quests in the zone and the overall storyline is exactly what you expect from an Elder Scrolls game. How many games can you say that the side quests stories are just as exciting as the primary one?

In my previous column I discussed Maelstrom Arena.  At the time I didn’t had a lot of time invested into it so I couldn’t give you an overall view of the experience.  Now I can. To put it simply, don’t get upset if you can’t do it the first couple of times. This arena isn’t easy.  It’s going to make you bang your head on the desk, scream obscenities at your monitor, think the game is lagging because that’s the only valid reason you died, and most importantly make you feel like you suck. It’s the best feeling in the world!

You’re going to have to look at your play style, not just once, but twice or even three times. Each encounter is different.  What worked for the previous round might not work on the next. You’re going to be looking at your class in a completely new way. Your tank character that has been able to tank every dungeon boss encounter thus far isn’t going to work anymore. You don’t have the two other people doing the damage on the boss to kill it, you don’t have someone healing you anymore. It’s all you.  You are completely and utterly alone. Once you’ve mastered the Normal version you’re onto the Veteran version which is yet another learning curve.

This is where I think we are going to be encountering a major issue with this aspect of the DLC. Once you have beaten Veteran version of the arena you’re faced with a wall. The arena encounters don’t change.  If you’ve beat it once you can beat it again and again. Now you get to challenge yourself with doing the same thing over and over to try and see how fast you can do it. While it’s fun the first few times, do you really see yourself doing the same thing multiple times just to have your name on a leaderboard and a chance for a piece of gear that isn’t much better than what you can get without doing it? It’s like completing a Super Mario dungeon and then doing it again just to see how fast you can do it. It’s fun only for a short while.

Don’t get me wrong, there are people who enjoy this type of competition and even thrive on it.  I used to be one of them.  But repetitiveness just isn’t enjoyable anymore and I don’t think I’m alone on this. Especially when we’re talking about a game that’s based in a massive world that should offer so much more than doing the same dungeon multiple times.

This is where I fear this DLC might not have the longevity it needs to keep players entertained and playing until the next DLC is released (Dark Brotherhood or Thieves Guild, I believe).  It’s missing the activities that keep players engaged that aren’t based on competition. The DLC itself is very quest driven, but once you’ve completed them, you’re standing around with not much else to do.

A couple weeks ago I discussed having lore related holiday events in Tamriel. Even if they don’t coincide with real life holidays, they offer so much to the player experience. It’s the player experience that really keeps the players engaged and wanting to login every chance they get. Doing repetitive activities will only drive them away.

Let’s hope that Zenimax will start adding in the nuances that truly make the world feel alive.  Orsinium is a great DLC.  There are so many features being implemented in it that make it worth the 3,000 crowns. My biggest recommendation for you when purchasing it is complete the content slowly, don’t rush through but rather savor the stories. Enjoy every quest you do and bask in the beautiful landscape you’re adventuring through.

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.