Impressions: The Elder Scrolls Online

By Brendan Caldwell on April 7th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

I don’t know what to tell you. My first few days in the Elder Scrolls Online universe have left me feeling very fed up. It was always going to be a tough job for Bethesda to recreate the awe and adventure of their single-player fantasy games for a mass(ively multiplayer) audience. But there was a hope that, actually, everything might turn out all right for fans. I’m sorry to say that, based on my 21 hours or so of questing, that hope should be laid to rest. You could say that 21 hours is short enough in MMO terms to be called a ‘gut reaction’. I suppose could have approached the game more scientifically, but to do that I would have had to measure my progress in ‘sighs per hour.’

It isn’t all bad.

There is a faithfulness to the world of the franchise that is very admirable, especially in terms of lore, but also in some of the game’s presentation. Simple things like the way you chat to NPCs and the ethical choices that appear during conversation will remind you that you are very much in Elder Scrolls territory. Not to mention some of the overlay, like the compass showing you where nearby places can be discovered. All the usual suspects are there – Khajit, Argonian, Norwegians – and all playable. The tension and interplay between the races seems to have been scaled down, at least judging from the questlines I followed, but the old traditions raise their heads: skooma as an addiction, Daedric Princes acting as tricksters, etc. But what you’re looking for in an Elder Scrolls game isn’t necessarily what you are looking for in an MMO. In an MMO you want solid, fun combat, interesting group questing mechanics and an enigmatic world to uncover. Is that what you get in TESO? I’m afraid the short answer is: no.

First, the world. The world map as shown here portrays an expansive continent, containing all of the other Elder Scrolls games combined.

It is a wonderfully attractive prospect. Of course, this being an MMO, your journey through the world has to be ‘gated’ in some way. By and large, MMO design is all about guiding the player in non-obvious ways down the path of least level resistance, especially in the early game. You send your players off on quests that will uncover bits of the world as they go, making their way steadily through the land, picking up storylines and fighting battles suited to their level. TESO follows this genre rule very obediently. And it is smart enough to place Wayshrines along these ‘paths’ that allow players to fast-travel between any previously discovered Wayshrine. Back and forth you go from your hometown to the frontier, selling your loot and repairing your armour, picking up quest along the way.

This all seemed very sensible to me at first, as far as game design goes. Until I realised that it’s the direct opposite to the opening hours of any modern Elder Scrolls single-player game, all of which give you a brief tutorial before summarily throwing you out into the world to do whatever the hell you want. To go wherever the hell you want. No such luck in the online cousin. The map of Tamriel is huge – but you cannot go wherever you want right from the start. My time has so far been confined to a series of increasingly large islands. There is a connecting ferry to the mainland, but it takes reaching level 12 (which took me till somewhere around the 20-hour mark) to be shown where this is. It is a frustrating reversal of what makes the single-player games so wonderful.

Maybe this is simply a problem of expectation and genre confusion. This is an MMO after all. One can have a massive world in this genre and leave some things off-limits, right? In fact, that’s how you encourage people to play on – to coax them onward through quest after quest, especially in the early hours. You let them know there is a huge world out there but you must earn your way out there.

Well, maybe. It just feels so restricted. There may be a huge world out there, yes. But the in-game map does not make it feel like it. If you are in a town, the map will give you a small, enclosed view of where you are. You can select another map to check out other destinations. But nothing on these other maps is labelled or hinted at. There is just a chunk of world, criss-crossed with uniformly pale roads and peppered with samey circular ruins, none of which have any real intrigue about them. If the game wanted to create a sense of adventurous exploration, it fails the moment it does not give you the desire to tramp off in the direction of a mysteriously-named cove, or a creepy-looking swamp. Or even just into the distance. As my cohort and reviewer-in-arms, Phill, pointed out to me as we played, there is so much gamefog clouding the environment that you begin to feel trapped in whatever township or fortress you are currently occupying, even if you are free to leave at any time. It is not much to ask of a series famed for its exploration to erect a visible, reachable mountain in the distance, or a vast forest, or an eerie, dried-up riverbed. Something (anything!) to peer at and say: That looks cool, let’s go there. Just about the only maps I did enjoy in the game were the treasure maps.

However, one big map does not an MMO make. Combat is important too. I have said in a previous hands-on that the developers have gone down the WoW route rather than the Elder Scrolls route as regards the brawling. New players will have to choose a weapon in which to specialise very early, as the ability to swap weapons with a button press is restricted to those beyond level 15. I played as a ranged character for most of my time and, though the bow felt powerful and useful as a weapon, it was irritating that I could not swap it for a dagger in the heat of battle. For example, whenever an enemy came close. Teamwork meant that my pal could take the heat off me as the tank but – beyond some buffing, dodging and basic counter-attacks – I found the combat to be a soulless barrage of button-tapping. A kind of dispassionate finger-twitch you develop in an effort to make enemy health bars drop faster. Despite the attempt to make the combat more physical (for example, with liberal use of area of effect attacks and blockable power strikes) you quickly revert to the standard brainlessness of cycling through the number keys until you find the combination of attacks that kills things fastest. I actually started to avoid fights, not because the enemies were too powerful or too numerous. Simply because it was so tedious. In a game were large chunks of your XP is supposed to come from slashing up millions of enemy mobs, this is not a good sign.

I could say it doesn’t matter too much. That the quests do not all involve fighting. There are many which are simply about intrigue and politicking. You can make up your XP by completing these. I could say this. But it would be a misleading piece of advice. The quests themselves are just as dull. Even in Elder Scrolls terms (a series not exactly famed for its abundance of personable characters), the stories told here are mind-numbing. When they are not as dull as old boots they are clichéd and full of ‘twists’. The person you are looking for has been mysteriously murdered. The family member you are saving from the fire/baddies/curse is the one responsible for the fire/baddies/curse in the first place. On and on these plots reappear, seemingly without end. There are only so many times you can end up in a jail cell before you begin to gnash your teeth with as much madness as an actual prisoner. This (along with the deeply uninspired puzzle elements often included) makes a lot of the missions just as shallow as any fetch quest. The whole experience is drier than a bowl of un-milked muesli.

Not so long ago I was sceptical about Wildstar and all its WoWish compulsions. I was put off by how standard it seemed. But now I can see that at least Wildstar tries to have a little fun, with its bouncey jumping, daft dialogue and floating islands full of player housing. TESO does have moments of light relief (one feline in the Khajit homelands keeps a caged Labrador, showing it off as a wild beast) but they are too few to truly relieve the drudgery of Yet Another Town Under Attack From Daedra.

The game’s best moments come when you pass through a town you have saved from some disaster a few quests ago and witness it being rebuilt now the threat is gone. And a lot has been done to avoid any quests about killing rats. (I stumbled across one. But I quickly refused, turned and walked away. It is very possible there was a ‘twist’ here. Maybe the rats were being released by the quest-givers rival? It is possible. But I was not going to take any chances). For all the other quests there is so little compunction to carry on with them, even in terms of levelling your shield ability or upgrading your armour. Likewise, much has been made of the skill tree and how it focuses not only on spells and skills but also on weapons, how it can branch out into different specialisations. But a closer inspection will reveal nothing special about this arrangement. You get skill points, you unlock skills, you add them to the task bar. None of my skills were especially interesting as a sneaky bowman. I could go invisible for 2.5 seconds with one of them. That was good.

PvP seems more promising. When you reach level ten you can disappear to Cyrodil to fight in the Alliance Wars (if you can find the option buried within the horribly confusing GUI). The three alliances – Aldmeri, Ebonheart and Daggerfall – are fighting for control of castles, forts, lumber mills and mines across a large map. I was lucky enough to witness a very scattered siege of one of the Aldmeri Dominion’s holdings. From my place on the battlements, I could see possibly 50+ players duking it out in the fields below the walls, while more of Our Lads were firing fireball after fireball from ballista and trebuchet down on the enemy. It was certainly the most excited I got during the whole playthrough. Then I got my bow out and realised that, at level ten, I did not have the range to fire at someone from this height, even if they were standing right below me.

Likewise, I had very little success in the subsequent counterattack on our foes fortress, for which I brought along my own ballista (this went sadly unused after I succumbed to the far-flung arrows from more experienced players). Likewise my sneaky jaunt behind enemy lines to discover some lesser-guarded castle ended in death by magic. The basic premise of the PvP area is that all Alliances are fighting over Elder Scrolls, which they capture from enemy strongholds and bring back to their homelands. These Scrolls grant boosts to all players in the alliance. For instance, our (only) Scroll in the Dominion gave us a delicious health boost, making us that little bit tougher. Of course, our main rival, the Daggerfall Covenant, had four Scrolls, granting them God-knows-what and making them the most feared hordes on the board. Whenever this happens the theory is that the other two Alliances will gang up and push back. This scrappy triumvirate is a very neat idea in terms of balancing the war, even if it is difficult to notice in the short term.

A scouting mission saw me going even deeper into enemy turf to make a report on a distant lumber mill – and I genuinely enjoyed this solo endeavour, sprinting through covered forests and avoiding the roads and castles. But when I completed the quest 45 minutes later I was frustrated by another one of TESOs greater flaws: its unholy stinginess. The amount of gold you receive in missions, or loot from the bodies of your enemies, is infinitesimally disappointing. In spite of that, it is only fair to say that I felt most adventurous in TESO when I was a nameless grunt in some grander military campaign, rather than being the Chosen One in greater Tamriel, along with five million others. Even though I am told this war of sieges is basically identical to the player battles of Guild Wars 2.

Back in the outer regions you can carry on playing without the threat of others but it won’t be long until you stumble across a bug of some description, including game-breakers. Vital objects in the world will become unusable, or simply disappear, meaning you have to log out and log back in again to reinstate them. Enemies will run at you swords ablaze, swing twice, scurry back to their patrol position, regen all their health and continue whatever box-lifting animation they were ensconced in before you attacked. This is not some spell they use. They just seem to forget you exist, mid-fight.

All in all, I cannot honestly recommend it. Even with the pitched, wavering skirmishes of PvP, I don’t really know who this game is for. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s for Elder Scrolls fans. And MMO lovers will easily get their fix from more light-hearted alternatives. Alternatives, I should point out, which will not cost them £40 upfront, followed by a further £8.99 a month in subscription fees. My short playthrough was an excursion into drab and humourless world, full of people and things I really couldn’t bring myself to care about. It is obvious the quests have tried their best not to repeat the cardinal sins of other MMOs. But in doing so they only commit other, equally damning sins. Hackneyed dialogue, poor characterisation, a superficial sense of ‘threat’, and bugs. At its best The Elder Scrolls Online looks like a faithful addition to the lore. At its worst it is a derivative and uninventive anachronism. To me, it played sometimes like a Gameloft game. I actually feel nasty saying that. But I really don’t know what else to tell you.

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198 Comments »

  1. Utsunomiya says:

    Eh. So, free-to-play in a few months?

    • Flopper says:

      People actually bought this game for the PVP? LOL! Seriously if siege PVP is what you’re in to why the hell aren’t you playing GW2? Arguably the best siege style PVP since DAOC.

      • MobileAssaultDuck says:

        We must have played very different version of GW2, because when it played it it’s WvW was among the worst PvP I’ve ever experienced.

        Nothing like DAOC at all. The CC was far too weak for a good open world PvP game. You need powerful, AoE CC in a good open world PvP game else the team with numbers almost always wins.

        Also without factions to care about and player names hidden, there’s nothing to care about in GW2 PvP.

        You need faction pride and faction hate for a good PvP game, a game without factions cannot accomplish this.

        GW2 pretty much missed the point on every aspect of WvW and ended up with a very bland zerg fest.

        • Rehykja says:

          WvW in GW2 definitely isn’t perfect, but running with an organized group (i.e. a guild) vs just training with the zerg are two vastly different experiences though they may look similar. The coordination that goes on in an organized group is hard to witness unless you’re on voice comms with the group. Timing stuns, coordinating buffs, keeping the group together to spread out AOE damage, knowing when to retreat and when to push, keeping an eye on certain objectives and knowing when to run back to defend, sending smaller groups out to take objectives; all make a big difference in how enjoyable WvW is. The group with bigger numbers doesn’t always win and when you’re that smaller group who wipes the floor with the other side it’s a great feeling.

          Of course if you’re on a server with a population who doesn’t want to play WvW then that’s all moot. And also depressing.

          I don’t necessarily get the reasoning for leaving out player names either, but they do allow server and guild names so rivalries do form even if the developers aren’t encouraging them as much as they could and should.

      • shlankwald says:

        GW2 pvp was a disappointment according to most people, so your opinion is biased. It was a good idea with a poor execution. On a side note this is relatively the same, only I spend less time running to a fight.

        As far as this review goes, its like you expected a full single player experience from an MMO. You cant just open the whole world up like that unless you don’t have levels or the level bonuses are so insignificant. It takes no time at all to reach 50 and there lies most of the content (at that point you can even go to enemy factions territories and do there quests)
        The combat is lacking in experience, but most MMOs dont offer blocking, counterattacks, and all that. Its a small step up from what Guild wars 2 did with their combat system.

        MMO players are expecting this hardcore MMO style and skyrim players are expecting the full on skyrim feel, I find this to be a healthy mix; the only issues it suffers from is equally as prominent in most MMOs.

        All MMOs released are filled with bugs, even WoW was when it was first out, it takes a few years to get that in order. On a side note I’m level 40 and have yet to experience and “game breaking” bugs.

        Very misleading

        • hedhunter says:

          Uhhh no it’s not misleading. It’s one guy’s impressions. Unless your claiming this isn’t his impression and he’s hiding it?

    • Syra says:

      Haha that’s exactly what I thought when I played the beta. It was okay but rather underwhelming, Free to play sooner rather than later for this bore-fest!

      • ruhe says:

        ditto

        This article reflects most of my impressions from multiple beta sessions. Boring quests, tedious combat, linear progression and really not much to keep you motivated. ESO does open up somewhat as you progress, but you can’t wander endlessly because the mobs don’t scale with your level.

        I didn’t buy it and I doubt I’d spend any time playing if it does go Free2play. I’ll just keep playing paying for DAOC in anticipation of CU’s beta.

    • Keyrock says:

      I figure that was going to happen even if the game wound up being pretty good. Subscription-based is no longer a viable model for a MMO. It simply won’t work any more.

      • Grygus says:

        I think that’s going too far. A subscription-based model does still work; you just have to offer something that isn’t being already being offered by a game without a subscription. EVE Online seems to be doing just fine, for example. Final Fantasy XIV’s reboot seems healthy. An hour or two in TESO beta told me that it wasn’t doing anything that Neverwinter or Guild Wars 2 weren’t already doing, but I don’t think that was inevitable.

        • malkav11 says:

          FFXIV’s reboot hasn’t been around all that long. Most of the F2P transitions have taken at least a year to happen. The only unassailably viable subscription model MMO that I’m aware of is Eve, which has ways to convert in-game cash to game time and is not, I suspect, really a replicable phenomenon any more than WoW has been. Weirdly enough, Asheron’s Call is still pay to play, but that one’s going to go free then transition to player-hosted servers in the near future, from what Turbine’s said.

          • joeyfromspace says:

            Well, FFXI is still doing fairly well with a sub model. I think it stands to reason FFXIV can last too…FF fans are a weird breed easily parted from their hard-earned gil, and I think Square knows it.

          • jgedri says:

            Why I like WolfQuest: it may be the most aimless game on earth, but it’s nonprofit. Always free, no blatant in-game advertisement.

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      Ham Solo says:

      Same story as with the Star Wars MMO, mediocre game and F2P in a few months. Although Kotaku will of course report “THIS GAME WILL NEVER GO F2P” 2 weeks before it actually does so nonetheless.
      God I hate that website. Where was I? Ah, yes… yeah it’ll definitely go F2P. They’re just trying to make a quick cash grab of all those people who still accept subscription based MMOs.

      • Corb says:

        hahaha yeah, cause f2p and microtransactions aren’t a cash grab either. Making a single pay game is all the rage for money making these days.

    • Ivory Samoan says:

      Troll more Lil’ Timmy, the game’s selling like hot cakes, and the VAST majority of the player base are happy with the product (peep 90% of the other reviews and user reviews out there).

      My personal F2P prediction is 5 years, by which time the new TES game will be out anyway, so you will have missed the magic, enjoy it then; mate.

  2. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Read some ringing endorsements of this…and some not so ringing not endorsements.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      The ringing endorsements are only because ppl feel excited about a new game. I’m guilty of doing that too with new MMO’s, but after a week it dawns on you how shit it is.

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        caff says:

        Bit worried I might be in the boat.

        I’ve enjoyed it so far, but then again I went in thinking it would be awful. Life is like that isn’t it? Just imagine everything will be crap, then it turns out better.

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        drewski says:

        Maybe, but I know someone whose judgement I trust who is approaching 100 hours with it. It’s obviously pressing his buttons.

        I don’t know if the audience is going to be as big as Bethesda need, but I do think there’s going to be an audience.

    • Shadow says:

      ESO tries to be different, like so many before. The music is nice, voice acting is passable, crafting isn’t a torture. But it ultimately and inexorably falls into the same traps every MMO has to in order to produce a semblance of profit. I gave the game a shot to play with my niece, who had been seriously looking forward to it for months and months. Even though I played up to level 9 for her sake, I saw what it was going to be like no later than an hour into the ‘gameplay’.

      The objective of any MMO is to keep players engaged at any cost, playing (and paying) for months. And it’s simply not viable to make a game with an immense amount of quality content which would keep players exploring and having actual fun for months on end: the cost is too high. So you make a game with roughly the same budget as the competition, and to keep players playing, you stretch the content you managed to produce to the limit, gating and dosing everything to slow progress through it to a crawl. Because customers won’t keep paying for months for a game you can ‘beat’ in less than that.

      This cannot produce a quality experience. MMOs are barely games at all. They’re calculated machines not designed around fun and reward, but rather addictiveness and time-wasting, which is achieved through an array of psychological traps. The sad fact is that they have to be like that to remain a sustainable venture.

      And F2P/freemium games aren’t too dissimilar, for the most part. Most have modes which make them essentially subscription games, and in some cases, if you refuse to pay, they provide an even grindier experience (PlanetSide 2 and World of Tanks come to mind). That they’re technically free doesn’t cost much to the company, as free players keep the game alive for them around a core of customers who will inexplicably pay out of their nose to stand out from the plebeian crowd. It’s a different take on the same model, but the fundamentals are identical and untouched.

      So overall, especially if you’re young and have time to waste, you can tolerate the scheme through a handful of games. At least that was my experience. But eventually I came to these realizations, feeling I was ‘playing’ the same… thing over and over. Knowing and seeing it in every MMO, I just can’t get any more enjoyment out of the genre at this point. And I honestly can’t see how it could possibly get better.

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        This ^

      • Miguelese says:

        Yes, this ^

      • Miguelese says:

        And this; There is no doubt that, for many of us, WoW was a truly wonderful experience (circa 2007) and, for many of those many, we long for a similar voyage of discovery, astonishment, enlightenment and comfort. Even if it is followed by the grind, disillusionment and ultimately boredom. I will happily pay whatever + the subscription for something that can offer an experience similar to that first time journey. But I concur it must be something which differs sufficiently to stop being compared to WoW.

        • Will Tomas says:

          Sadly it isn’t possible to turn back time, and chasing that dragon in this type of MMO is just as fruitless as ESO’s subscription model.

          Or in other words, you’re part of the reason they still try this bollocks…

          • Miguelese says:

            Yes to the last five years (SWTOR, AION, GW2, TSW, Neverwinter, FFXIV) but not this… not any more. So yes I was part of the problem. But not any more. Makes me sadface though.

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        drewski says:

        Which is fair enough, but there are probably a lot of people who aren’t as burnt out on MMO mechanics as you.

        • Rindan says:

          The absolute worst thing that you just said was “MMO mechanisms”. Holy fuck shit people. A MMO doesn’t have to be a boring grind through levels. The reason why these MMOs keep crashing and burning is because some assholes thinks that “MMO mechanisms” are what they need. Where in the words Massive Multiplayer Online do you get “generic grind to 50ish, get more l00t, then end game dungeon crawls for more loot”.

          The rut that MMORPGs are in right now make the days of Doom clones look creative. I tried TESO beta and the only thing I could see was fucking Everquest, a game that was made LAST CENTURY. It is horrific, but the core mechanics have not changed. They have just been refined and had a few extra bits slapped in.

          Give me a game with Chivalry combat mechanics, no levels, no skills, and no massive differences in weapons other than how they function, rather than some grindy crap where you go from a level 1 tooth picker to a weapon that literally does tens of thousands of percent more DPS a bunch of grinding later. Make an FPSMMO that plays more like an RPG in that you party out and go questing. Make DayZ with more people and more structure. Holy shit, just give me anything other than a more refined version of fucking Everquest.

          AHHHHRRRR. Sorry, I don’t mean to unload on you, but I am so bitterly disappointed at MMOs. Whenever you read any sci-fi that has folks running around in an online fantasy world, grind themselves to death is not exactly on the agenda. It sucks.

      • teije says:

        Awesome precis of the fundamental problem with MMOs as enjoyable. Sums up why I don’t play them anymore beautifully.

      • Myros says:

        Exactly right, my first was Ultima Online, then EQ. I was already seeing behind the curtain by WoW, but played it a few months. The thing is that’s standard for me for any game, I may come back to favorites quite a bit but I wouldn’t pay to come back to an old mmo. So for a dev that wants to keep a game running how do they convince me to keep paying money? Why would I keep paying for anything once I’ve sucked my ounce of fun out of it? I can’t see any other way than to make it free and hope I come back again for a month or two later (and spend some money.

        My prediction: FTP within 6 months.

    • morgofborg says:

      If you just wander and discover things, its great. Why the reviewer chose not to do what they wanted and then complain they didn’t do what they wanted… *shrug* Let’s hope enough people “get it” to stay subscription. F2P is a disease on the industry.

      • Furiant says:

        They had nailed down the exact hour they would go FTP during the first investor meeting. This is just the ‘make as much money as possible as quickly as possible to recoup as much of the initial cost as possible’ phase. FTP is not an accident or a last resort anymore, but a well-planned tactic to maximize profit over the lifecycle of the game.

        Maybe I have the last disposable $15 on earth. Hell, I spent 3 times that much on a movie and dinner this weekend. It’s as if everyone suddenly decided that decent coffee is evil, and Instant Sanka Decaf is the wave of the future, base solely on convenience and price. If the future of MMO’s is this artificially MMO flavored, MMO-dyed MMO byproduct with artificial MMO aroma crystals, I guess I’m done. It was fun while it lasted.

      • Ivory Samoan says:

        Morg of Borg, you get my feels bro.

        The reviewer is too caught up on being hipster downer magee, he forgets it’s about exploration, discovery, story and lore – first and foremost. The combat (once you get your skills mind due) is brilliant, the PvP is best in class (easily, in any MMO) and the crafting is the best I’ve seen in ANY game, bar none.. .it’s really that good.

        If you really like TES lore, and have the patience to get a full skill bar of skills and weapon swapping; you will be stoked you did so, for sure.

  3. Trithne says:

    First thing I noticed: Gold seller in the header image.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      I can understand why it is gone now, but it was perfectly pointing out how problems might arise when “Elder Scrolls” is followed not by a profession or location, but the world “online”.

  4. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    I played the beta. I really liked that it looked and felt like an Elder Scrolls game. Then a random player called xxxLolegasxxx bunny hopped into view, stabbed the beastie I was sneaking up on, and bunny hopped away.

    I stopped playing.

    • TWChristine says:

      It kind of reminds me of my first experience with BF1942. It was my first experience with a multiplayer FPS, and I saw a bad guy infront of me. Just as I brought up my machine gun he saw me, and as my finger tightened around the trigger he started jumping up and down and circling me, waiting until I’d used my entire magazine, then ran in and stabbed me with his knife. After that I started only using the planes and shooting the bastards on the ground.

    • bleeters says:

      That was essentially my experience. In part it’s inevitable in an online game, but when the game is trying to instill any degree of immersion or atmosphere in it setting and/or story, other people always end up breaking that for me. I had the same thing with swtor, and at least that game had the most compelling story content – the class stories – usual take place in private instanced sections that other people could only enter if you consented to it.

    • Geebs says:

      To be fair, “Lolegas” is quite funny

    • trueplayer says:

      I wasn’t really interested in ESO (IMO it butchers everything TES stands for) but out of curiosity I’ve watched one of beta streams and the final moment for me was when I saw in the chat:

      Uruncle: Wht lvl can u go first inst?

    • Caiman says:

      Yeah, the review hints at this but doesn’t elaborate, but Elder Scrolls games rely very much on atmosphere and immersion, which is totally broken by having hundreds of other “chosen ones” running around stealing your kills and your loot. I played the beta for a while, and occasionally you’d start to get swallowed by the atmosphere sneaking through a cave, only to have five players run past you ruining everything while attacking everything in sight. When you reach the end, you have to wait for everything to respawn. That reminds me of the very worse of WoW, and really that was the last straw. The only MMO I’ve enjoyed since has been Guild Wars 2, because you view other players as an optional asset, not an unavoidable annoyance.

  5. Lukasz says:

    They should have created co-op dlc and sell it for 20 bucks (with 3 dozens co-op quests and redoing storyline quest)
    that would sale hundreds of thousands of copies while costing only ten percent of their revenue)

    instead it seems the game is just another mmo which will fall as quickly as every other mmo.
    LOTR is making money I presume but did STO or TOR brought a return on investment already?

    • Lobotomist says:

      They did. But only after they went F2P.
      Surprisingly enough TOR is making very much money. 300 million last year.

      I would give ESO not longer than 6 months until its F2P.
      Dont waste your money

  6. TWChristine says:

    Sounds like a solid 7/10.

  7. chris1479 says:

    Typical muesli eater. This game is traditional hardcore. MMOs need this more often. Best game I’ve played in 10 years.

    • TWChristine says:

      “Typical muesli eater.”
      I think that’s the best insult I’ve heard in 10 years..

    • misterT0AST says:

      Since your opinion is pretty unique, it would be nice to know more of it than two measly lines. Or else nobody is going to get anything out of it.

      • Oculardissonance says:

        I share this view, coming from the world of single player TES this game might be highly disappointing, coming from the drudgery of other MMOs I really enjoyed this game. I didn’t enter ESO with the expectation that there would be a grand and sweeping story. Combat seems to be more my taste than than the OPs, lot of opportunities to play tactically. Every once in awhile you will have a boss fight where you have to sit down and re config your skills to beat it. Also crafting and trading, there are a few non linear opportunities to make money in the game. Selling basic mats, selling your bite as a vampire guildstore hopping. This game is probably not for everyone, but it is a huge world of things to do. One way to unlock the map is to talk to random NPCs who will periodically mark new locations on your map while explaining some lore. Lore books also do this.

        • John Connor says:

          >Every once in awhile you will have a boss fight where you have to sit down and re config your skills to beat it.

          Fuck. That. Shit.

          • Ivory Samoan says:

            You must be kidding John Connor… it’s one of the best parts of the game.

            Are tactics and critical thinking too much for your cerebral son?

    • nrvsNRG says:

      I had the urge to take a chance on it yesterday but luckily I watched some twitch streams instead; all I can say is thank god for twitch because it looked so hideously boring and I would have hated myself if I had bought it.

      • Biaxident says:

        “…I would have hated myself if I had bought it.”

        Pretty much where I’m at right now.

        • nrvsNRG says:

          Well it could’ve been me so easily, but like I said, Twitch saved the day! Even Angry Joe couldn’t make it look fun.

      • Keyrock says:

        Just wait a few months. It will be F2P soon enough.

    • Kentauroi says:

      What exactly does ‘traditional hardcore’ mean? Do you have a set number of lives and get booted back to the beginning of the game when they run out or something.

    • Lemming says:

      As much as I laughed at its terribleness when it first came out, I think Darkfall Online takes the hardcore crown, and is probably more in line with what an Elder Scrolls MMO should be like.

      Unless you mean ‘traditional hardcore’ as in ‘tired mechanics’, in which case, yeah it is.

    • Caiman says:

      I can’t say I envy your games collection of the last 10 years.

    • Jenks says:

      Hardcore compared to what? TESO is as casual as they come. If you want an MMO that’s actually hardcore, you’ll either need to jump on private servers or sub to EVE.

  8. Katar says:

    I never picked the game up as it was far too expensive to buy the box. No problem with a subscription, but I wasn’t going to spend the amount of money they wanted up front.

    Complaining about the combat being tedious, whilst maybe a valid complaint is a bit rich when the combat in The Elder Scrolls games is hardly thrilling. The combat in Skyrim, Oblivion, etc… is crap so it must be truly awful to be worse then those games. Is the problem just that it is MMO combat rather then Elder Scrolls combat or that it is crap MMO combat?

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      the combat in Oblivion and Skyrim at least gives you “freedom” and “real” movement, not button smashing with auto-target damage shit. It just feels and is arcade.

      never played another mmo, so I can’t tell if it is bad mmo combat or just cookie cutter mmo combat. The point is: it is NOT Elder Scroll Combat.

      • razgon says:

        If you are playing ESO, and stand still and press 1-5 buttons in combat , you are doing it wrong.

      • Katar says:

        The combat in Skyrim and Oblivion is button mashing with manual targeting. That is hardly much better then the combat in an average MMO.

        • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

          well, at least I collide with my enemies… and I don’t hit buttons for special attacks in my hotkey bar all over again, it is fucking arcade and Elder Scrolls is NOT about arcade game play.

          the ESO combat is probably mmo standard, but I fucking hate it and it is not Elder Scrolls.

          yeah, Oblivion and Skyrim combat may not be great, but it doesn’t feel like shit to me.

          • Katar says:

            My memories of playing a warrior-mage in Oblivion are it plays out like a first person manual targeting MMO. You are using the mouse to control your weapon(s) and shield and hitting hotkeys to cast spells. Skyrim forced you to “equip” spells to cast them and for me that was a backwards step.

            You might hate standard MMO combat and prefer Elder Scrolls combat but the reality is both systems are at best average. At least the MMO combat has the fall back of there is latency that has to be contended with. The Elder Scrolls combat is still basically the same as it was in Morrowind minus the dice roll to see if your attack actually hit. It hardly compares with something like the Batman games, or even the Mount and Blade games which given the money Bethesda/ZeniMax have made since 2002 is a poor showing.

    • Koozer says:

      I rather enjoyed the combat during beta. It was much more entertaining than my usual Skyrim combat tactics: cast trap spell, pause game, swap to different spells, unpause, lob a few lightning bolts until mana runs out, pause game, switch to sword and shield, unpause, stab until stamina runs out, kite for a bit, repeat.

      • Shadow says:

        You realize there’s hotkeys for all that… right?

      • fish99 says:

        Remove all those unnecessary pauses and that sounds fairly fun doesn’t it? I almost never paused Skyrim during combat. I had my bow on 1 (I always initiated from stealth), main nuke on 2, heal spell on 3, then some summons, traps and shouts taking up the remaining hotkeys. That got me through pretty much every fight. I didn’t even bother with a melee weapon/shield and I almost never needed to use any potions (due to good mana regen on my gear).

      • Katar says:

        You did better then I did in Skyrim then. My typical combat was hammer LMB, until health stamina or mana got low use relevant potion or spell, continue hammering LMB. The only skill involved was making sure the I was looking at the enemy and it was in range.

        I only play the Elder Scrolls games for exploring the world. The rest of the game is at best average, but the world building is fantastic.

    • malkav11 says:

      I was flabbergasted at the idea that I, or anyone, would be looking to an MMO for fun combat. You want fun combat, you do not go to the MMO genre because you will not find anything of the sort, not ever. I’m not even sure it can be done. But you can at least make combat somewhat active, which ESO has, and offer strong character building options, which ESO has, and ensure that unless it’s a boss encounter it’s fast and punchy, which ESO has. I mean, hey, it’d be nice if they managed to actually make a really thrilling, tactical combat system that was very responsive to player skill (well, maybe – I suspect I’d fail miserably at implementing it), unlike every other MMO ever and unlike every Elder Scrolls game ever, but I don’t think it’s a fair thing to expect. At most I would expect them to be competitive with current standards like GW2, TSW and possibly Tera. And for my money, they are.

    • Ivory Samoan says:

      Totally agree re: the TES games normal combat.

      Skyrim combat = Tedious but livable.

      ESO combat = Tedious (before you have your skills/weapon swaps) but then Awesomeballsauce once you have gained access to multiple skills and swapping your Staff for a 2H Greatsword halfway through a fight whilst laying down AoE and ice stuns…

  9. derbefrier says:

    if it ever goes F2P i’ll try it. Not spending money on it though.

  10. WHS says:

    This was never going to be good, because no one risks playing with tried-and-true MMO conventions anymore, and those conventions aren’t compatible with the positive qualities of the Elder Scrolls series.

    The risk-averse thing is actually kind of odd, come to think of it–a giant theme park with a clear quest progression for players has got to be more expensive than something more open-ended or that relies more heavily on player interaction. Traditional WoW-like MMOs sure seem like a massive investment with a very high chance of complete failure. But what do I know?

    • pandora says:

      I imagine “a giant theme park” may need less “story”, but needs much more of reactivity, balancing, supervising so that people can have fun and freedom… with programming, creating freedom isn’t often easier that creating rules.

  11. Stitched says:

    “All in all, I cannot honestly recommend it [...] I don’t really know who this game is for. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s for Elder Scrolls fans. And MMO lovers will easily get their fix from more light-hearted alternatives.”

    Yup. THAT ! Good luck with that subscription model, Bethesda.

  12. Bartack says:

    I watched a couple of streams at the weekend and decided rather quickly that I wouldn’t be playing this if it was free to play.

  13. Octuplex says:

    Such a pity. Though, I can’t say we didn’t see it coming. Some games just don’t work as MMOs, though I can tell they tried very hard.

    My biggest complaint might have to be either the severely limited range of attacks (arrows just disappear after about 50 feet) or the complete and utter lack of any physics. There’s just something wrong about an elder scrolls game without ridiculous physics.

  14. aliksy says:

    All the stuff about how you have to gate players makes me really sad. I’m not sure if calling these developers/publishers ‘cowards’ is too strong, but that’s the first word that came to mind.

    Of course, I’m told GW2 originally didn’t have areas level gated so strongly, and players got confused and didn’t like it. So maybe we get the MMOs we deserve.

  15. Orageon says:

    These articles should be split into 2 conclusions : one based on the expectations of the testers and/or related to the IP identity, and one as about the game as such. That could help maybe potential players who aren’t TES-savvy (I know there might not be a lot of them but still).

    Concerning the WoW-like basic mechanics, I think that RPS should start realizing that there is a huge crowd that is perfectly happy with it. They aren’t original and pretty standard save from the occasional little bit of innovation or concept here and there, but they kinda work as a whole. There is this tendency in several gaming websites to whine about the lack of innovation or radical change in MMO mechanics since WoW. And yet, how many who tries something different really succeeded ? Some have, yes, but many failed or became F2P. Trying something else that the typical tank-DPS-heal classes paradygm, and all that…
    I don’t mean that this game should be praised like the great successor of WoW etc. But take Wildstar : I think many MMO gamers just want a new WoW, with some new things but still a comfortable known base in the mechanics for quick hop-in. A way to revive their cherished golden age of WoWing but in a new universe.

    • 65 says:

      ” I think that RPS should start realizing that there is a huge crowd that is perfectly happy with it.”

      How is that in any way relevant to Brendan’s impressions?

    • aliksy says:

      Please name new, big budget MMOs that have significantly diverged from WoW. There’s Eve, and…?

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        Eve is not new. I suppose Elite and SC might count (they`ll probably have better population density then most of GW2 ATM), but they are not being billed as MMO, so meh. If you want a fantasy (-ish) game that isn`t completely WoW-ified I guess you`ll have to wait for Eternal Crusade (which is Planetside 2 plus Space Marine).

      • Orageon says:

        I meant games like GW2 (although it worked not too bad), or Secret World, Age of Conan, even SWTOR. Yeah they have some mechanics in common but they often tried a different approach and they never quite reach the golden spot they aimed for.
        It’s true there were many WoW clones as well, but the market is now different (F2P dominance) and the crowd has evolved to that. Also, When as a player you’ve invested so much in WoW, and have friends/clanmates etc in there, you won’t move to another game unless it can really live up to WoW’s content or experience. Many of the clones maybe had the mechanics okay, but lacked in other department…

        • aliksy says:

          I meant games like GW2 (although it worked not too bad), or Secret World, Age of Conan, even SWTOR. Yeah they have some mechanics in common but they often tried a different approach and they never quite reach the golden spot they aimed for.

          I don’t think any of those did anything significantly different than WoW. SWTOR especially. They’re all the same theme park BS. At least GW2 has dodging, and for a while had minimal equipment grind. Even the current max-stat gear isn’t too bad compared to other games.

          • malkav11 says:

            ESO has dodging. And blocking. And attack interrupting with shield bashes and the like.

      • Premium User Badge

        xao says:

        Well, there’s Wildstar. The combat is a huge upgrade from WoW’s.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          Wildstars combat is the worst parts of WoW combat combined with the worst parts of “action combat”. And it’s control scheme is a bad joke, especially since the dev endorsed solution is “let the community make a good UI and control scheme and we don’t have to do the work”.

          If you want actually good non-WoW combat, you wanna look at Neverwinter. That’s a game that has absolutely nailed the dodge, block and counter of action combat, and the devs realized “always being able to move and attack at the same time” is NOT a good thing. Mobility needs to be earned and come with tradeoffs, or it simply turns into a circle-strafing bunnyhopping mess – just look at Guild Wars 2.

          • Premium User Badge

            Jonfon says:

            I’d actually forgotten Neverwinter exists. Must give it a whirl and see what it is like at some point. Bored of GW2 again.

          • Shooop says:

            Did you just do a mind-meld with me or something? That is exactly what I think of Wildstar and GW2 – promising to be more than hot bar bullshit “combat” with movement and dodging, but those features ended up looking like they were afterthoughts lazily stapled on.

          • Premium User Badge

            xao says:

            For me, Wildstar’s combat is far better than Neverwinter’s. Neverwinter added a few nice touches with the movement, but the core system is still the lockon, autotarget system that we’ve all seen for years in WoW. Wildstar’s manual targeting system raises the skillcap for players dramatically, which is something that I’ve been chasing for years in an MMO.

    • Premium User Badge

      Erithtotl says:

      For your theory to be correct, shouldn’t we have had a huge hit copycat subscription MMO in the last 5 years? We’ve seen WoW clone after WoW clone come along and every single one has ended up free to play within a year or two. While many of those games might have made some profit, none of them were the return on investment that was originally hoped or projected.

      • Orageon says:

        While I agree to your point, I think a couple of the candidates just came too early because Blizzard did a decent job somewhat at keeping the people in WoW. For example, I am sure that if Warhammer online came a year later, it could have fared way better.
        The F2P trend is also to take in account : many people now consider this to be the normal model, and subscription based game announcement raise oh so many comments like “Ill wait until it’s F2P” or “Can’t afford subscription” etc…
        But you’re right that about now there should have been such hits. I consider GW2 to be almost one of these (the hype was clear, but I think the blurred lines of classes’ roles didn’t earn the satisfaction they expected, as one of the primary innovation in the genre. Then again, it’s not subscription-based).

        I just think that the game industry’s journos have also a part in this because many will automatically assume that WoW-like (or similar) mechanics or quests are a big NO, probably because they have seen/tested it so much in similar games that they are sick of it. My point is just that I suspect a huge deal of people aren’t sick of it.

        To be completely honest though, I doubt that we will see again a big player like WoW anytime soon because the market has evolved, and the way the younger generation sees MMO is different. The trend is more in favor of the actual thrive of mini games and phone apps. Less heavy involvement, quick game turnover, and all while being connected to social network.

  16. tomek says:

    I tried to like it but it has written MEDIOCRE on all parts that are not labeled as awfull yet.

  17. cdx00 says:

    Aside from the bugs (oh, and there are plenty of them), the jarring UI and the lack of promised features (i.e., ‘phasing’, so you filter who you see in the world), I have found this game to be quite fun. If you are to compare this game to any other MMO, please do not compare it to Wildstar and World of Warcraft, which is shares few similarities. This game is more akin to The Secret World with its mechanics. I’d like to add that you almost sounded jaded with the MMO genre before even coming into playing this game.

    I currently play a level 20 healer Templar. In MMOs, I often tank. I figured that the Templar would be the ‘paladin’ of ESO; nope, healer or useless. Never have healed in a MMO, I’m finding this to be an enjoyable little ride. I would like to add upon the mention of stinginess in the game. Yes. Yes. Yes. I will vouch for this. I was using pants I had found as a quest reward at level 4 (which added stamina, mind) up until I hit level 20. The quest rewards are seemingly random and encourage trading. I think a lot of people have forgotten the social aspects of MMOs, finding their own groups an bartering their own items. I, personally, enjoy this. I haven’t spoke to so many random people in a MMO in ages – I’ve made friends just by selling items.

    Is this game worth the price of admission at the current point? Depends. If you’re an Elder Scrolls fan, there is plenty of lore in the game that will excite you. The game itself progressing rather slowly from my experiences (the first ten levels take forever) but the game begins to open up. I am fairly certain there will be a trial soon and encourage everyone to give it a shot.

    • malkav11 says:

      There’s phasing all over the place. Practically every step of every quest phases things in some way, often just in terms of the location of NPCs but fairly often also including the general state of parts of the world. Maybe you meant something else? It’s true that they don’t seem to be doing much to directly control overpopulation issues, for example, and that really soured my first couple of days in the early access. People seem way more spread out now, so I haven’t had much in the way of problems with too many people, but they’re still around enough to help with public dungeons and such. It’s feeling pretty good.

  18. Jip says:

    I played the beta up until level 7 or so, and though it was kind of interesting I realised I wasn’t actually having any fun.
    After all this money invested, all I really want is a multiplayer Elder Scrolls game. Even 200-500 people in a game world would suit me, and make it FFA outside town or guard patrol limits. Let the players make their own fun in a sandbox world. A theme park Elder Scrolls game is a contradiction.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      This. I love how you can go around murdering people in Skyrim (even more so in the pre-Oblivion games before Radiant AI). Sure, there’ll be fines and arrests and bounties and what not, but you *can* do that. The impression I’ve gotten from ESO is that you can’t.

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s true that you can’t randomly murder people (although there’s a whole lot of people you can’t randomly murder in Skyrim either since they flag like half the entire population of Skyrim as ‘essential’), or, e.g. jump up on a table and knock physicsed cutlery around like I’m fond of doing in Skyrim. And bookshelves let you read one book instead of having dozens of individually modelled copies of the same five books like in Skyrim (almost every book seems new for ESO, though, while the last couple main series Elder Scrolls games have leaned super heavily on books carried on from Morrowind or sometimes even Daggerfall). Etc. But I think there’s a limit on what level of series emulation it’s fair to expect from an MMO version given the very different technical and logistical constraints imposed by the genre, and so far I’d say ESO comes as close to the real Elder Scrolls experience as it is fair to expect.

        I mean, I don’t think there was any need to make an Elder Scrolls MMO, and I wish they’d just made another singleplayer one (maybe with limited coop) instead, but considering, they seem like they’ve done a decent job.

    • Horg says:

      What Bethesda should do is give the next single player ES game the Dark Souls treatment. Only crank it up to 11. Get more potential players in for co-op and more for hostilities. Make the guilds work like covenants. With just the injection and dynamic interaction of a small number of friends and strangers, the ES games could take on a new lease of life.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        Or they could make a new Elder Scrolls game and leave Dark Souls to the Dark Souls series.

        • Horg says:

          I knew that leaving out ”Make online features optional so people can still play solo if they want” was a mistake. Maybe hoping for logical inference was too much.

    • Rindan says:

      Seriously. DayZ Elder Scrolls is what I want. Make towns safish so you can kick back at a bar. Patrol the roads with guards that murder bandits, make a few bandit haunts, maybe make food and water a thing, drop the differences between level 1 and 50 a little more (or even get rid of levels) and wash your hands of it. If you wanted to get really creative, you could thrown in some sort of faction system or something so you can fight for a particular town as their town guard. You really don’t need anything more than that. Maybe give it optional perm death if you are feeling saucy. I would play the living shit out of that game.

  19. Bimble says:

    Game is fantastic. Opinions bah.

  20. glix says:

    I suspect the people who the game was made for was people like me. My favourite thing to do is just run off in a direction to see what I can find, collecting all crafting mats I can see, and there’s going to be a neverending supply of that. I also found I really liked a lot of the characters I ran into. I’m currently playing with a Dominion character, and most of the characters I’ve encountered who hang around for a bit longer than 1 throwaway quest are cool. Queen Ayrenn, Lyris and Razum-dar in particular.

    • fish99 says:

      You can do that in Skyrim though, and without a monthly fee or eye-watering box price, and without other players ruining your immersion.

      • PenGunn says:

        Did so for over 800 hours. It’s fun. Now ESO is a stone hoot. I am having a blast with this strange beast. It takes a while to get into it.

        With quite a few hours in the betas and game I am really enjoying this new toy.

        Ignore the naysayers.

      • glix says:

        Except A) immersion means jack shit to me in a game like Skyrim B) infinitely respawning resource nodes C) an actual economy so there’s the ability to sell things to other people and not just vendor them D) I have Skyrim and got bored of it halfway through.

        Don’t even try.

  21. sinister agent says:

    Still no answers to the questions that matter, RPS.

    Did you, or did you not, see a mudcrab the other day?

  22. Terrestrial says:

    “The amount of gold you receive in missions, or loot from the bodies of your enemies, is infinitesimally disappointing”

    Infinitesimal means so small it almost doesnt exist, if you say its infinitesimally disappointing, it means its almost not disappointing. It should be “is infinitely disappointing”. Unless you meant the loot is fine, in that case its just a weird choice of words. Yes I like to correct people, and if i’m wrong i’ll show myself out.

    Edit : I guess disappointingly infinitesimal could work too, but it feels weird.

    • Shadow says:

      I thought the same thing. I’d have simply gone with “immensely disappointing”.

      • teije says:

        Or tremendously underwhelming. Or overwhelming in its itsy-bitsyness.

    • malkav11 says:

      The amount of loot is definitely quite small. Most things I kill so far drop a whole one gold coin, if that. I would say that the biggest sources of stuff are: quest rewards (easily the biggest source of environmental cash); locked treasure chests which are tucked into corners and lootable by exactly one player before they despawn; and crafting. If you bought the CE, you get some treasure maps that show the location of buried treasure, and that’s per player, requires the map, and is generated based on what you’re currently using and your current level, so that’s a good one-shot source but obviously not long term reliable. Sometimes you get lucky and there’s worthwhile stuff in random barrels and/or dead monsters, though.

  23. Chuckleluck says:

    I’d much rather have a new TES game with coop, companion-style.

    • Terrestrial says:

      Me too, and it makes me sad that they made TESO because that means a coop TES will never happen in TESO’s lifetime (wich may be short).

    • sinister agent says:

      I’d much rather have £40, and then £9 monthly for a couple of years.

    • FrostByghte says:

      In complete agreement here. I wish they would focus on something like that. Small group of friends, perhaps 4 players max.

  24. Brain says:

    The problem, in my mind, is that the Elder Scrolls world isnt meaty enough to support acompelling MMO. Consider the following (while using World of Warcraft as comparison and yes I know it isnt perfect):

    Most environments are medieval looking villages, forests or caves. Contrast that with the ridiculous variety of places in WoW. The problem is made worse by the artstyle. While WoW is vibrant and full of personality, the ES world has a plain Tolkein-esque look that just isnt very interesting. The generic fantasy setting dictates that you really cant be surprised by the game. You can anticipate the enemies and scenarios you will meet. Meanwhile, in WoW, you’re fighting demons from space, traveling to another planet and playing as a kung-fu panda. Also, if the game follows the ES canon(does it?), then you wont even face dragons (dragons weren’t alive at that point in the lore) and the potential for expected-but-epic things drops even further.

    That anyone is surprised by this is surprising in its own right. All the problems named above are immediately clear from the outset and it needs something big to deliver it from failure. WoW’s simplistic combat isnt too much of an issue because it has a weird and colorful world. This game would need some Game of Thrones level character-building to make the boring world come alive and more involved combat (see Guild Wars 2). But this wont be happening at such a late point.

    ESO will fail hard. Just look away while it suffers.

    • Arglebargle says:

      The very thing you tout as assets for WoW were the exact things that caused me to leave after a week. Funny thing that, eh?

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I’ll have to hunt for a medieval village next time I play Morrowind, they must be there somewhere if that’s all the Elder Scrolls universe has.

  25. neonshadow says:

    I challenge the fact that you have actually played this game at release. You no longer start on the islands, that was only in beta. You now start on the mainland, and yes you can in fact “go wherever you want to”.

    • Premium User Badge

      caff says:

      This is a good point…. I suspect in order to form some impression of the game, Brendan has had to delve into the beta.

      My experience of the game hasn’t felt restricted – I felt like the world was open, but I went along with the quest line as it appeared to be the sensible way to discover how the game engine works.

    • morrolan says:

      This! It reads like a rehash of many of the now tired criticisms of the game by those who didn’t play long enough. Despite not being open world the game rewards exploration pretty well, the crafting is great, the PvP is the best large scale PvP since DAOC and for an MMO the quests are on the whole pretty good.

    • malkav11 says:

      You could wander around freely in the newbie islands too, from what I could see, and I’m not sanguine about their decision to start you on the mainland because the island(s) are a much smoother introduction to the game and its systems and they didn’t really edit anything about the storyline to make sense with the new start. I mean, they could have just added a new guy on each newbie island that takes you to the mainland on request instead of adding a guy on the mainland that takes you back to the newbie island without indicating that that’s maybe a better intro to how the game works.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bitter says:

      To be fair, he said he played in the Aldmeri Dominion, and they do kick off on islands. The city you start in isn’t on the mainland – it’s just a bigger island than the newbie island. The quests move on to the mainland around level 15, and he didn’t play long enough to get to that point.

  26. Premium User Badge

    neofit says:

    This is the first Western MMORPG that I haven’t pre-ordered or started playing on Day 1. I liked what I saw in beta a lot, but then learned about Cyrodiil, its PvE quests and endemic resources, and that I’d have to be “subjected to” non-consensual PvP to get them. This won’t happen, I’ll wait for either a PvE server or a nopvp switch. If not, never mind.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      While my opinion was slowly getting worse since they announced ESO, the thing that really got me was the “Imperial Edition”-exclusive Imperial race. They’re my second favorite race in Elder Scrolls lore, behind Dark Elves. Now you’re telling me to play as an Imperial, I have to pay $40 more ($100 total)? In addition to the subscription fee? No thanks.

      • malkav11 says:

        Well, a couple things: 1) the digital Imperial Edition is only $20 more, not $40 (for what little that’s worth). 2) Imperials, as such, are really not a major part of the ESO storyline so far as I can tell. They’re not a member of any of the factions and the Empire qua Empire is not an active presence, although I believe control over the Empire is what the factions are feuding about (I haven’t read out of game material and this isn’t gone into in much detail in the questing I’ve done so far, but that would make sense with Cyrodiil being the PvP province). And race in ESO is about four passive traits and some cosmetic gear you’d be able to craft anyway. If it’s still a huge deal to you that they’re charging extra to play an Imperial, fair enough, I suppose. But it’s not a particularly meaningful thing in gameplay or plot terms.

  27. geldonyetich says:

    I’ve played dozens of MMORPGs in the past, so I’ve developed a pretty good feel for the subgenres within the genre. After spending a couple days in Elder Scrolls Online beta, I could easily tell that it was under the subgenre of MMORPG that is, “Actiony-MMORPG that eschews true depth in the game mechanic because the developers are afraid of scaring away the larger demographic of thickies that they will need to pay back the massive loan they took out to make this game.” Maybe you could call this a “Casual MMORPG” for short, but you lose a bit of fidelity in the label. Prominent examples of this genre include Asheron’s Call 2 and Defiance.

    Like all other casual MMORPGs, it’s a suicidal approach. You have undergone the effort to create a virtual environment shared by thousands of people, so why did you think it was a good idea to demote it to a single-player action game experience? If players want a single-player action game, they’ll play a single player action game, and it’ll beat your game because it doesn’t have to deal with any of the virtual world overhead. Things are pretty bad when Kingdom’s Of Amalur: Reckoning renders your MMORPG obsolete without even bothering to go online. Things are even worse when a game under the same company umbrella, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, makes your MMORPG obsolete.

    You need to treat MMORPG players a lot more like a game master of an RPG session would treat their players: MMORPG players want escapism. So, if you make a good enough of a world and let the players live out their fantasies in a self-perpetuating manner, those players will move in. Moving in is when a subscription makes sense: they’re paying rent for the space in which their escapism exists. Obviously, action mechanics aren’t going to get you there. Depth is going to get you there, and I’m aware that’s a vague answer.

    Elder Scrolls Online is not a $60 + subscription game. The experience they’re selling is that of a non-MMORPG with poorer-than-average game mechanics but a popular franchise name. I’d say a fairer price would be $30, no subscription fee, but microtransactions on cosmetic features. That might get me to buy the game. However, if they’re looking to recoup $200M, they’re going to need to properly leverage their virtual environment before we forget this game exists entirely, as that might trigger the necessary player resurgence that would require.

    ESO is not a universal bad. Their overtures towards preserving the lore, dynamic content, and PvP are a few steps in the right direction. Unfortunately, a few steps won’t get them downstairs, out the door, and into the realm of where this game should have been.

    Hey! I bought this game, I currently really enjoy it, I find the fact that you have negative things to say about my purchase decision is worthy of a scathing reply.

    Okay. All I can say about this is that there will always be people who feel this way about any game, no matter how badly at tanks.

    But, word of advice, if you feel that way, get off the Internet. Keep as far away from anything said about this game as possible. Preserve your enjoyment of ESO in a vacuum, because it’s not going to last much longer if you don’t.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      If you’re that sensitive about people disagreeing with you, perhaps you need to turn your arrogant command for people to leave the internet around.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I don’t know how you interpreted a fair warning that all the negativity surrounding ESO is likely to sour one’s enjoyment of it as me being sensitive about people disagreeing with me so as to demand they leave the Internet. That accusation doesn’t even make any sense. I think I’d be more sensitive about nobody disagreeing with me… it would be disconcerting to say the least.

        I have, however, developed quite the pet peeve for Internet goers who neglect to read anything I write and yet still deign to post disagreement that cannot possibly make any sense. It’s just that it happens so frequently that it causes me to despair for the state of humankind, eventually evoking megalomaniacal fantasies about developing clouds of nano-machines to sterilize these individuals en masse, thereby wiping the stain of their attention-deprived prodigy from the face of the Earth. Maybe I am a little arrogant, after all, a faint sliver of Dr. Horrible formed in the crucible of copious youthful naivety found on the Internet.

        Completely unrelated, you wouldn’t happen to have callously left samples of your genes laying around unguarded anywhere, would you? No reason, just… curious.

  28. Gritftw says:

    I think Blizzard paid RPS to write this article. I played the beta and I’ve been playing early access. The game is great. It has bugs, however it is less then the typical MMO release. They have also been patching them rather quickly. On a side note, If you don’t like having a ton of people working on the same quest you are… then give the game a week or two. The flood games are open and people are pouring through. It should stabilize before too long though.

    • Flopper says:

      lol I highly doubt Blizzard cares about any new MMO releases anymore. And if anything they’d be more worried about Wildstar then a generic ESO game.

  29. Awesumo says:

    I think I made some serious progress as a recovering Wow addict in that this is the first big MMO in years where I managed to completely dodge boarding the old hype train and had zero interest in buying or playing.

    • derbefrier says:

      Ha! same here. though all those MMOs i bought i did play for a few months before getting bored except for GW2, god i hated that game for some reason, but anyway yeah this never had a chance in my book. I did however unexpectedly start playing The Old Republic again over this past week, even bought a sub for a month. Its still he same old SWTOR but I do seem to enjoy it with friends and I get to be a Jedi so there’s that.

      I never wanted an elder Scrolls MMO though. the most multiplayer i want in an Elder Scrolls game is maybe 4 people running around a modded out Morrowind or Skyrim fighting stuff and doing some quests with all the openness of traditional ES games and none of the crap you get with MMOS.

  30. araczynski says:

    found the first beta ‘ok’, forced myself to come back for the second one to give it another try, but couldn’t force myself to log back in for a third beta. felt very ‘dry’ somehow, graphics were weak, quests seemed bland, and couldn’t stand the way the maps/navigation worked (yeah, similar to ES, but i was never a big fan of the navigation bar there either). the combat was ‘ok’.

    the best combat (to me) i’ve ever seen in an MMO was in age of conan. all around my favorite mmo of all time. (my experience is limited to EQ,AC,DAOC,WOW,AoC, LoTR) loved the grittier look, lore, bloodier themes, and especially the combat, if felt interactive for once. bought the collector’s edition in anticipation, but in the end, they did the same thing every other stupid mmo does, forced grouping for progression after a certain point. wasn’t a complete loss, i still listen to the soundtrack cd to this day. best game soundtrack ‘evar.

    second most favorite mmo was LoTR, for the lore.

  31. Moraven says:

    So you have the world map…is a place like Morrowind the same size and depth as the actual ES game?

  32. vexis58 says:

    The quest writing is the worst part of this game. In the early betas I didn’t read very many of the quests past the tutorial area due to the fact that every NPC had uncanny valley robot voices, which was the direct reason I stopped playing each time, since it was hard to complete the quests when I’d skipped past all of the dialogue to avoid listening to the voices. There were settings that supposedly turned off the voices, but they were broken. Like everything else.

    I came back for the very last beta before release to see if they’d fixed that problem, and if so, if the writing was any good. Within about 5 minutes, I discovered the following:

    1. “Help me! My foot was ripped off and eaten by [animal]!” guy very obviously still has both of his feet.

    2. “Here, take this dog whistle over to the [place] and call for my dog!” My character then uses her fingers (not a whistle) to call for the dog when I get there.

    3. I follow the dog to a man who’s just woken up on the beach, who hands me a few coins for… some reason… and says he doesn’t need any help getting home because the dog knows the way. WHY AM I EVEN HERE? The dog would have rescued this guy without my help, and I don’t even get a followup quest to let the wife know her husband is on his way home.

    Things like this just annoy the hell out of me. If I found this many glaring problems with the quests in 5 minutes of the very very early game where first impressions are forged, how bad must they be later?

    This game, overall, is incredibly unpolished. I was shocked when the release date was announced, because from what I saw in the beta, the game needed at LEAST another 6 months, if not a year. Half of my combat moves didn’t even have sound effects two months before release!

  33. Premium User Badge

    tumbleworld says:

    Ah, TESCO. In a few months, it’ll be as free to enter as its supermarket namesake — and still just as soulless.

  34. Hebrind says:

    Disappointing, definitely. Surprising? Not really.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the sooner we grow out of these MMORPGs that do things even remotely similar to WoW, the better off we’ll be as MMO players. WoW is the best WoW. Stop trying to copy it, it will only spell failure.

    Give us an MMO with survival elements and world generation like Minecraft, combat like Chivalry or a beefier Skyrim (or something more like The Division if it’s third-person shooty), player-run events and storylines like EVE or Ultima Online, and a UI and social environment as slick as Blizzard’s battle.net stuff. Give us other means of making our name in a game than combat – a robust crafting system, for instance.

    And for the love of all that is holy, stop giving us levels to XP grind through. Make the experience real, let us get better at the game and learn its nuances, not just grind grind grind grind until eventually we get some kind of weapon with different text.

    Then we’ll talk. Maybe.

    • Rindan says:

      God damn it yes. This. This times a million. Not another fucking Everquest clone. If you have levels and the core of the game is make the levels go up and get better loot to kill more NPCs, you are a fucking Everquest clone, and please go die you unoriginal piece of shit unworthy of existence. The only satisfaction the unending abominations of Everquest clones gives me is that I get to see this assholes fail over, and over, and over again. The world has room for once shitty Everquest clone. That spot is currently held by WoW. Do. Something. Different.

  35. fenriz says:

    I don’t understand the premise of the article “An Elder Scrolls online game is not what MMO players want” which suggests that devs had the guts to make their game anti-MMO tropes, combined with the later phrase in contradiction “This game is not much of Elder Scrolls, it’s a typical MMO”, which suggests that ESO gives MMO players exactly what they want.

    But anyway. This is nice… it seems everyone wants MMO’s to become more sandbox-y, more simulative… but when you spell out “sandbox” everyone recoils in repulsion. I kept hoping games would evolve into deeper, more complex virtual worlds, preaching people how quests pulverize the sense of virtuality, and yet when i try to make ‘em realize it people feel lost without quests that hand-hold them… and get mad.

    I must gather that people don’t want what they want.

    • cpmartins says:

      I don’t. I loved the openness of EVE and the explorative elements of SWG before the crap patch. I also dabbled in UO, but that was too early for me to get a real foothold in. I embrace sandboxy, simulative MMOs. So there you have it: one person ‘d love to get their hands on UO 2.0.

  36. Glentoran says:

    There is a lot in this game to like. It looks lovely, the crafting system is fun, there’s lots of lore for all you lore-buffs and the freedom to equip what you want- regardless of “class” – is very liberating. However, these are all things I would expect to happen anyway, simply through the progression of the genre over time.

    There isn’t anything really new here. It’s not that ESO is a “bad” game, per se, it’s just no different whatsoever than pretty much all MMOs I’ve played over the past 12 years. It’s all very… meh. At best.

    And you very quickly notice that the quests are all insipid throw-backs to just about everything you’ve played and done before. Kill this; fetch that; rescue her; talk to him; deliver this sword; scout here… repeat ad nauseum.

    Combine that with the generally shallow, sigh-inducingly unengaging and god-awfully easy combat, and anything the game does right vanishes into insignificance. Because if the meat and bones of the game- questing and combat- is this dull and uninspired, then nothing else matters.

    I really want the game to do well, believe me, but I just don’t see what’s on offer here that I’ve not seen many times before for a damn sight cheaper.

  37. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    My experience went as such:

    Got invited to the beta weekend as I had signed up for beta earlier as I usually do for a new MMO.

    Installed game.

    Made a character. Disappointed by character creation options. Hard classes in an ES game? Hard factions in an ES game?

    First quest has me working against a Daedric Prince… well what if I want to work FOR him? This is an ES game… or so I thought.

    I get out of the tutorial zone and into my factions unique starting area.

    I do a few quests surrounded by people with terrible names, I go to do a dungeon and find it full of people with terrible names.

    I’m slightly engrossed in the story but keep getting knocked out of it by the other players.

    I uninstall ESO and reinstall Skyrim.

  38. Darthus says:

    I’m fascinated by the difference in responses to this game. Read this review and see if you can detect the difference in tone:

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/457725/the-elder-scrolls-online-pc-launch-review/

    The one here from RPS almost exudes distaste, whereas the CVG one is very positive, with reservations. I played ESO at launch and throughout beta and here, I think, is the issue, “Is this an MMO or an Elder Scrolls game?”. I don’t think people playing know, and sometimes don’t feel that the devs know either. They’ve tried to get the best of both worlds, and have had a hard time. When I played it in early beta, I felt it was a mediocre MMO with an Elder Scrolls skin. There was no first person, few interactable items, the combat had no weight, you started in a very directed environment, there was no hint of exploration, large scale PvP or significant Elder Scrolls lore.

    Since then, they’ve added first person, added weight to combat (hits feel like they connect, mobs respond), started people in the large explorable areas, added many more interactions with misc items, etc. It seems like from day 1 they’ve been getting the feedback, “Add more Elder Scrolls!”. And they’ve come a long way. Almost universally, the things that people like about the game (the lore, the environments, the emphasis on exploration, the no cooldown/action combat, the open skill system) are things that were taken from Elder Scrolls, while the things people don’t like are where it hews more toward a traditional MMO, and often does it inelegantly.

    I myself have gone through phases with it, even playing now. I originally had mixed feelings, starting in a city, as the reviewer mentioned, and just roaming around doing quests, treating it like a normal MMO. It felt very samey and boring. The first time it opened up for me was when I decided to just run a random direction, or go with friends into higher level content. I realized three of us level 6 characters could kill level 13+ mobs, impossible in other MMOs, or ran across random bosses, daedra gates or huge questlines off in the mountains that you might never encounter. Unlike a normal MMO, you are not lead from one quest to the next, going from area to area completing a quest list. You CAN do it like this, but every time I’ve tried to approach it as a traditional MMO I’ve immediately felt bored.

    When I’ve tried to approach it with an exploratory/lore based spirit, I’ve found hours slip away. Yes, it requires not expecting to be able to travel from one end of the continent to the other, but maintaining that feeling of, “I see something off in the distance, I’m going to just go over there and see what’s up” or really trying to listen to what the quest is and ask followup questions, reading lorebooks along the way, instead of just clicking through and looking at my journal, has increased my enjoyment immensely. And yet, a failing of the game, is it still tries to support players who do just want to level up, fill up their quest log and click through dialogue as quickly as possible, and it does so poorly.

    I’ve told friends, it reminds me of the original Thief. It was trying to be something different, a first person sneaker, and yet didn’t do it fully confidently. It put in first person shooter style levels, with zombies that could detect you easily and dinosaurs etc. It sacrificed what made it special in the interest of the traditional, and did it poorly. I feel the exact same here. I think they have the foundation of a great online multiplayer Elder Scrolls experience, if they continue to hew more towards what makes Elder Scrolls special, rather than trying to make an Elder Scrolls themed MMO.

  39. RooksGambit says:

    I’m disappointed by this write up. Like Darthus posted right before me, this review seems to exude distaste. I see copious comparisons to other ES games and MMOs in general. How about just reviewing it as a GAME, in and of itself, with no preconceived notions? Is this fun as a GAME by itself?

    Here’s what I think –

    1 – Looks great. Some scenes are even jaw dropping
    2 – Combat is fun. If you play it standing still with a hotbar you’re doing it wrong. There are many fights that require swift and smart action.
    3 – Story is great! It’s an adult themed story with layers of depth and intrigue. I remember playing GW2 and although I liked the game, the story was eye rolling with cheese spread all over it
    4 – Exploration! The game has TONS of things to explore. It’s an explorers paradise.
    5 – Map size. The author here called it restrictive. I think he must be on crack. Each zone is HUGE!. The time it would take me to just run across even 1 single zone, is nearly equal to crossing all of Skyrim.
    6 – Engaging PvP with tons to do in the PvP zones. I’m not a big PvP’er but I was thoroughly impressed with how they did it here

    I simply don’t understand reviews like this and others that seem to exude distaste. I have never been one for game site payola conspiracies but this has me so scratching my head, wondering if there’s something to them after all. Did Zenimax not dish out for all paid trips to it’s HQ? Did they not pay for lavish E3 parties? Did they not pay for themed vacations for game writers? (by the way, all 3 of those have been well documented to have occurred in the past with other games)

    • DatonKallandor says:

      It looks great 5 years ago.
      Combat is uninspired and above average only by WoW era standards.
      To call the Story “mature” is to leech all meaning of the word “mature”. If ESO is “mature” then you might as well call Bioware games “mature”.
      It’s an explorers paradise if you like large ugly stretches of generic fantasyland filled with repetitive mobs and no tangible anything. Morrowind had more care put into it’s environment, and that was years ago. But wait, that’s comparing it to something else that exists. In a vacuum, where no other game exists, ESO is “good”.
      PvP is your generic PvP warzone. It’s Dark Age of Camelot, which has been copied repeatedly and better (notably by WAR and GW2).

      In short, it’s a fun GAME by itself if no other games existed and you don’t compare it to anything else. Considering the money they’re asking the fact that other games that are better DO exist, and have for years, it’s not a good game.

      • RooksGambit says:

        Wow you must really hate the game to post such wildly crazy notions. Anyone with eyes who can look at screenshots can see it’s an attractive game. I would call the story mature, that’s not to say every single quest is, but there are some very well done story lines in there about political intrigue that would fly over any kids head (and apparently yours as well). As for referring to the terrain and exploration as “no tangible anything” and Morrowind being better crafted. Utterly nuts. It is so far from the truth you either 1) did not play the game AT ALL or 2) you are trolling or flaming for fun.

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      Did Zenimax not dish out for all paid trips to it’s HQ? Did they not pay for lavish E3 parties? Did they not pay for themed vacations for game writers?

      Grow up fella, it’s just a bad game.

      Anyway, it’s stupid to criticise a reviewer for comparing it to other Elder Scrolls games. If Bethesda didn’t want that, maybe they shouldn’t have used the Elder Scrolls IP and spent so much effort making it look as similar to Skyrim as possible. You can’t use the marketing power of the name to attract buyers and then insist they shouldn’t compare it to other games called Elder Scrolls.

    • Arglebargle says:

      It feels odd to be supportive of ESO, as I’ve had, and have, some serious issues with the game. But I find a lot of the criticisms to be, well, premature. It’s partly Zenimax’s fault, as I think the game blossoms the further you get into it. It’s a problem, though, if the intro manages to turn folks off from the game. I suspect the early ‘on rails’ part was designed with the large Skyrim/console market that was viewed as unfamiliart with the MMO genre. There are also design issues with the narrow focus on replicating DAoC in an Elder Scrolls skin. There was a lot of backpedalling on that as they got beta feedback, and I am not sure that everything cooked down to the appropriate mix.

      I found the skill development to be particularly intriguing, as it allows tremendous variation on the basic five classes. Crafting has been useful, even early on. I think that mathmatical perusal has shown that to be a full master of ONE crafting line, it will take more than a year of work. That’s kinda old school there.

      Even with the avoidable errors of launch, something that a more experianced MMO team might have avoided, the release has been remarkably stable. But there seems to be a lot comparisoning going on between a newly released MMO and other MMOs with years of built up content. Some uneven scales there.

      If even just ten percent of the people who bought Skyrim buy ESO, it will be a success. Subscription data after three months will be the telling point though.

      • malkav11 says:

        I really, really want them to go with some evolution of the ESO character building in future main series Elder Scrolls titles (assuming any are forthcoming, which MMOs sometimes preempt but hopefully won’t in this case). I like it so, so much better than TES IV and earlier’s boring-ass “slowly make a skill number go up” system, and still better than Skyrim’s perk system. Not that perks weren’t a step in the right direction, but nowhere near as robust and interesting as ESO’s system.

        • Darthus says:

          I agree with Malkav. Normal “get x skill at level 15″ systems for MMOs overemphasize level progression and even with talent trees lead to really rigid classes. GW2 tried to do a totally skill use based advancement system, with talent tree supplementation, but it just lead to you unlocking all your skills in 60 minutes and the talent tree stuff being small stat buffs for the most part, which made levelling feel kinda pointless.

          ESO’s system is a pretty elegant hybrid. You advance skills/make new skills available to purchase through use, including by equipping weapons and armor. But, you only GET new skills by spending skill points. And with so many choices, skill points feel like a real commodity, which makes levels feel significant, but you can also get skill points through skyshards (exploration) or even PvP. And there is no “talent” tree. The passives are really significant/powerful, and every skill you get a choice, not a default. It really leads to a feeling of “crafting” your character after your style that I have yet to encounter in another MMO and is one of the few places where it feels like they elegantly melded MMO (levelup/skillpoints) mechanics with Elder Scrolls (advancing what you use) into something potentially even better. And yet I think, like most of their systems, it can be glanced at and not really viewed as being as flexible/powerful as it is.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          It’s a completely different studio making ESO compared to the core games so hopefully that means no problems with future SP Scrolls games.

  40. razorangelwings says:

    I beta’d this game with much hope and openness in my heart…which was promptly ruined by being followed and harassed by a player character named “Captain Faggot.” I slunk back to my single-player games with haste.

  41. racccoon says:

    I can’t believe they spent there skyrim profits on this crap! they steered far to far away from a plot, lost themselves in the darkness of too much capital. Why they made people pay to play is beyond me, 200 million to make it and its instantly known once in the game that they faked it. Rep is minus 10

  42. Ridolfo says:

    The game opens up at around level 10. If you quit before level 10 you may not be happy with the game. Over all I thought it was pretty good, and very immersive. As said by others here, some players are all to happy to ruin said immersion. I was hoping that post beta there would be fewer A types in game as subscribers would be more invested. I plan to buy in at some point.

  43. HisDivineOrder says:

    Can’t wait to give this one a try when they get it to free with F2P like it should be. Gonna dedicate a whole six hours or so

    Here’s hoping some store has a HEAVILY discounted copy of a Collector’s Edition like what happened with TOR and the Star Wars TOR Sith Lord statue for $30 once TOR was going free and stores were still chock full of unsold product.

  44. goettel says:

    A spot-on look at TESO, which won’t stop anyone who wants it from getting it: IP sells. It will do well feeding its drab writing to console mouths, starved for an MMO to waste life away in.

    Beta-tried (not -tested, will test for a paycheck) both this and Wildstar, then pre-ordered the latter.
    To sum up what Wildstar does better: “G”.

    MMORP*G*

    Wildstar isn’t the superior MMO, it’s the superior *game*. In fact, it’s “just a game”, which is a stroke of genious in the stale, joy-less MMO world. It mostly ignores, downplays and/or makes fun of those aspects of MMO’s I find soul-crushingly dull or just aweful, like horrifically bad story and writing, anyone-will-do voice-acting and the sterness that comes from displaying a neckbeard (have experience, will travel). It feels like I’m playing Super Mario World. Massively. As an RPG. Without platforms. Or capes. Or Italians. Mario didn’t solve all of your problems, but he made you forget them for a brief stint. That’s what a game is.

    But frankly, I shouldn’t have to pay a sub for Mario either.

  45. Crows says:

    I am an Elder Scrolls fan and i like to play a lot of MMOs. I do not share your vision, for me the game is pretty much the best MMO on the market atm and it give a level of immersion that i never had in an MMO.

  46. Premium User Badge

    Bitter says:

    It’s a fair article for what it is, an impression of early play. The game does start weaker than it should.

    At the same time, you should have at least tried joining a dungeon. It would have given you more to complain about (the first Dominion dungeon has been buggy with the last boss not showing up, and the party finder is awful), but at least you could have commented on how the combat works in a small group.

    I’m enjoying ESO, but it’s definitely uneven. Some quests are brilliant in story and voice acting. Others…not so much. Bugs halt progress from time to time, and that definitely sucks. And the UI can use a lot of work.

    But if you delve into it more…unlocking a second weapon set make things a lot more interesting (and should be unlocked sooner than it is). The class/weapon possibilities are impressive given a chance. And after 15 I’ve run into a lot more random events and curiosities in the world that make it feel more Elder Scrollsish. It’s fun to explore when the world opens up.

    That’s the trick though. As the article says, a game needs to grab players sooner. The weak early betas left people with bad impressions, and while the early gameplay has improved it’s still not great. So while I read this article and think, “Oh, but he didn’t try this! And clearly didn’t go there!” those issues fall more on the head of the game’s designers for not making the fun parts more obvious or accessible at the outset.

    I don’t think ESO is doomed. It might hold on to a core of players who could sustain a subscription base, but that depends on either low overhead to maintain the game or better word-of-mouth over the next month. Most likely it goes free to play and lives on, much like Age of Conan (which also had a weak launch and a weak early game).

    • goettel says:

      That’s entirely fair, and if you’re a lore and story hound (which I’m guessing you are), I can see how TESO would be quite satisfying. Nevertheless, neither my buddy who’s into Elder Scrolls lore (i.e. reading the in-game books) nor my Skyrim-addicted one who doesn’t care that much about the story are into it either. I think what many would have wanted was a GW (not 2) like co-op Skyrim with a massively multiplayer ‘lobby city’ to find groups and maybe build a house, a game with a strong focus on synergetic combat and exploring a massive, free-form sandbox world. To me, TESO feel like a ‘massively singleplayer’ game, with other players detracting more than adding to the immersion, and I don’t see it pleasing either the Elder Scrolls or MMO players in general for very long, especially not with a sub. It would (will?) kill as a F2P game though, it’s a good casual game, at least, neither of which I mean like an insult.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bitter says:

        Completely understandable. And yeah, as F2P more people would give it a chance past level 12 and might enjoy the mechanics of it more. I think this game would have seen more praise if it had been an original franchise instead of shoehorning it into Elder Scrolls.

        A friend with a different playstyle started at the same time I did. Where I went about filling my map and ticking off quests, because that’s what I did in Skyrim, she ran off into the wilderness to gather materials and hunt for chests, which is roughly how she approached Skyrim.

        After the same period of time I was level 19, while she’d made it to level 10 and sold enough of what she’d scrounged to afford a mount (and not the cheap 17k mount either – one of the 42k mounts). I was impressed that two approaches to the same MMO were both satisfying (though now she’s doing quests half her level to start catching up).

        So I can see not being interested, but it’s not a game without its appeal. I have no problem paying the subscription if it means regular content additions, especially if it also means copious bug fixes and UI changes.

        (Mods also help. Just like any ES game.)

        I do agree that a co-op Skyrim-like sequel would have been nicer to have. But this is a different dev team from the ones who worked on Skyrim, so maybe that team’s working on it.

  47. ChromeBallz says:

    As soon as i saw the first interview with Matt Firor just after he took this over a few years ago i knew it was going to end up like this.

    An utterly boring game which is trying to be DaoC, not a TES game.

  48. iBlagg says:

    Everywhere you look it’s the same old story. People writing the game off after a very short amount of time. People comparing an MMO to a single player game and the classic ‘it’s like other MMOs’ negativity.

    Firstly when you play a FPS it’s like other FPSs, always. They vary a little with gimmicks and such but it’s a FPS. Do you really think nobody has tried to come up with a completely new MMO model? If they could they would have done it by now. But this is the format that works for MMOs. You might be sick of it if you’ve played a ton of MMOs but that doesn’t mean theirs another way. Just like I get board very bored of FSPs running around shooting people.

    Even in this article its says ‘this being an MMO, your journey through the world has to be ‘gated’ in some way’ then goes on to complain that it’s gated. But if it HAS to be gated then their is no other choice so why make this a negative. This is the same reason the mobs don’t scale to your level (it’s NOT single player).

    ‘If you are in a town, the map will give you a small, enclosed view of where you are. You can select another map to check out other destinations. But nothing on these other maps is labelled or hinted at.’
    The map has to be small in a town to make sense of it, you can zoom out if you want. Yes they do hint at other things. I’ve trotted off to mountains and buildings to find side quests, loot and other goodies waiting for me.

    ‘In an MMO you want solid, fun combat, interesting group questing mechanics and an enigmatic world to uncover. Is that what you get in TESO? I’m afraid the short answer is: no.’
    You simply haven’t played long enough to comment on group questing and haven’t had enough time to uncover the world, plus you spent some time in PvP which would have taken from your small 21 hours in game.

    ‘None of my skills were especially interesting as a sneaky bowman’ again you haven’t played long enough to get all the skills. Can you imagine if after 21 hours you had seen all the skills in the game, no MMO will ever do that.

    I’m getting bored of this so I’m make it short, you then go on to complain about your PvP experience. Dying to more experienced players! which is what should happen really. That ‘your counter attack sadly failed’. Is that really a bad mark against the game. That a 21 hour old player failed a counter attack. Or that when you wander off by yourself your lesser skilled character died.

    You wander into the realm of not playing game well = this game must suck. Which is totally unfair.

    All I want to say is, if your getting tired of MMOs don’t play. If not don’t listen to anyone who compares this to a single player game. Compared to other MMO’s this looks stunning, it’s massive, the combat is amazing and has good skill elements to it. The PvP is a huge plus that will keep people playing long after they’ve reached max level. The early stages aren’t as grinding as other MMOs.

    At the end of the day the best and most insightful sentence in this article is this:-

    ‘Maybe this is simply a problem of expectation and genre confusion.’ Don’t forget you only played 21 hours.

  49. gravehill says:

    Probably the worst MMO review I’ve ever read. It’s sad that people are actually going to take this to heart

  50. cronuss says:

    Gross.

    I just created an account on this site for the sole purpose of responding to this review and subsequent comments.

    I will keep it short, but this article grossly misrepresents the game, as do many of the assumptions in the comments.

    This is by far the most fun I’ve had in an MMO since UO, DAOC, and WoW beta, and is the closest thing to DAOC’s PvP since DAOC. Bar none.

    The scope and scale is massive, the game world is beautiful, and it breaks the modern tradition of MMOs where you just quest through a theme park. It is truly a refreshing experience, and has been so much fun that it almost makes me feel like a kid again.

    • TWChristine says:

      Well, I for one am glad that you signed up to let those of us, who have played and did not enjoy it, know that our subjective opinion is wrong and a misrepresentation of what your subjective opinion is. Twice.