Saturday, 5 April 2014

A spoilery post on Deshaan and it's storytelling.

If the title didn't give it away for you, this will contain SPOILERS to Deshaan, the zone after Stonefalls for the Ebonheat Pact in ESO.

Writing story for video games is hard. Any interactive media holds challenges in telling a story but who ever wrote Deshaan has hit the nail on the head!

To put it simply, a group called the Malbournes is trying to help stop a plague moving through the area. The plague is scary, lethal and the rumors of it turning people into beasts has everyone scared. What's really going on is the Malbournes are engineering and spreading the plague themselves. The rumors of beasts are true, they are trying to create a zombie outbreak.

The entire zone makes me feel uneasy, but you know what the best part is?

It's entirely story based! It's not an 'undead' zone, there's NOT zombies everywhere. It's the people talking about the disappearances. The presence of the Malbourne group, the fact the assassin's guild is now present (or so I think). If you just walked around and talked to no one it would seem like a normal area but the PEOPLE make the area seem filled with dread and despair. There are Nords so depressed they sit in the gutter waiting to catch the plague. I've found myself in the middle of 4 different factions trying to find their own best course of action in the area and made some hard choices as to which ones I would help.

Again ESO shows it's strength, I'm deep in the MIDDLE of it but I'm not in the CENTRE of it. I'm working with other characters who are doing their own fair share of the work. In WoW, you'd do everything. Every single step of the investigation would be yours. In ESO, I truely feel these other characters are doing something. We compare notes, they get their own information. They have their own goals and we cooperate when our goals overlap. I was looking for a missing person when I found him tied up, an assassin was torturing him for information. I scared her off but she left behind evidence that the tied up man was actually the bad one in connection with the Malbournes and the other disappearances. I could have freed the man but instead I continued the interrogation myself. Later I ran into this assassin again, we confirmed being on the same side shared information from our interrogations. We started working together on a loose basis, she's not following me around. But we continue to meet up. Evidence points that she is from the assassin's guild, the fact they are in the area further unsettles me. I had to choose between whether or not to help a civilian revolt against the guards who had the town locked down. A civilian revolt would have made my job easier but I sabotaged their efforts to spare innocent lives.

I don't know if I'm making the right choices. There is no morality system. I don't know where else the story will lead, there's no person who will obviously betray me, I don't know what characters will follow me to the city of Mournhold. I know the how's of the plague right now, but not yet who or why. I think I know who the assassin's guild is after (if it is them), and frankly, given assassin's guild lore in the Elder Scrolls universe, they're the ones I trust MOST in all this.

I'm blown away. I'm drawn in, I want more! Let's hope the rest of the zone's writing keep up.


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