Menifee Plugged In: Elder Scrolls Online, Hearthstone a Hit

By Neil Kristjansson

This week’s been all over the place. Between Thanksgiving and sickness, I didn’t have the chance to do everything I’d wanted to, but thankfully I had the liberty of trying out Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls Online and Blizzard’s Hearthstone games last weekend.

So, in my post-Thanksgiving nausea, I got the chance to think over what I’d played and whether I really liked it or not. To start, I’ll discuss Hearthstone.

Hearthstone is essentially the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game for the computer. It's similar to Magic: The Gathering, in the sense that you play a card and attack your opponent. It’s super simple, but man is it fun.

Decks are composed of cards that fit into a certain category (I.E. hunter, warrior, mage, warlock, etc.) and can be customized in and out of each other if not specific to a class. Well-known heroes of Warcraft make their return in this, too. Every deck needs a leader, and everybody from Rexxar to Anduin is there.

Other than being a simple card game, Hearthstone isn’t much else. But after it’s officially released to players as a full game, I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot. I’m not much into card games, but I’ve played this one for a long time already.

Now, about The Elder Scrolls Online…

This title’s been surrounded by quite a bit of controversy. Die-hard fans of the Elder Scrolls (TES) series might go as far as to call it a bastardization of its former glory, while others see it as just another MMO.

Honestly speaking, I was genuinely surprised by it. I woke up one morning to find out I was accepted into the beta. Half of me was thrilled, while the other half was kind of apathetic. MMOs have a tendency of being hyped to no end, only to come out on the other end as just another World of Warcraft clone set in a new world. It's something that doesn’t really hold up on its own and kind of falls apart.

So, time came for me to jump in and see what Bethesda had prepped for us beta testers. And, like I said, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Customization was great, game play was solid, graphics were beautiful...

Let me elaborate. We’re talking about an MMO about a game based around the universe of Skyrim. To give you some insight on why those surprise me, Skyrim was released two years ago and is known for being one of the more beautiful games of the previous generation.

Now, MMOs have a history of having pretty poor graphics. Usually it’s out of bad optimization or trying to appeal to a wider audience. The Elder Scrolls Online managed to bypass those MMO tropes and still actually feel like your standard TES title. The only difference? I could actually play with other people.

Experience this vast, open world with other people. Go into huge dungeons and fight who-knows-what kind of enemies with other people. What used to be 50 percent reluctance had become 100 percent optimism.

The 12-year-old-me’s dreams had actually come true, and now it’s set to be a full game. I don’t want to say it will be a World of Warcraft-killer, not by any means. But I certainly hope that The Elder Scrolls Online broadens the MMO market. It’s new, and it’s awesome.

Keep in mind, both of these games are still in the beta stage. Things are prone to change and may be incomplete. While that may be the case, if what’s been showcased already is any indication of how the final product might turn out, then sign me up.

Neil Kristjansson's "Menifee Plugged In" column appears each Monday. He writes about two things of interest to most of the younger generation -- music and electronic gaming. He welcomes your comments here or though email at


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