Hands On: The First Few Hours Of Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online (“The” optional) is out in April. That’s quite soon! So over the last few days Bethesda have opened it up to allow some journalists in, to have a poke around. I’ve played up to level 7, so far, which isn’t enormously far in, but does represent that crucial opening five or six hours. And I’m here to tell you all about them.

While my expectations of Elder Scrolls Online were not enormous, after the disappointed reactions of earlier looks, I like me a bit of solo MMOing. Trundling through quest arcs in that idly satisfying, box ticking way. It recently got me through all of Neverwinter’s launch content, well, content. So, I figured, why not the same for ESO?

Well, it’s just… it’s just a bit boring.

I know this is terrible criticism – I get it. But, well, it is. Now, traditional MMOs are – before you reach the point of massive parties in raids or elaborate PvP battles – a vacuous experience. I like them for that. I’ve no interest in the raids or the PvP; when done well I enjoy the bit where you charge about, picking up strings of quests, killing ten of this or gathering five of those, and then trundling back. If the setting is interesting, and the action engaging, then I will merrily while away afternoons doing this low-energy gaming. So I’m trying to put my finger on what it is that stops it from satisfying me in ESO.

There’s no escaping comparison from the rest of the Elder Scrolls series. And nor should they be. They’ve made a definitive and absolute statement when they chose to call this Elder Scrolls Online. It is that legendary series, taken into a shared space. And so it absolutely must be judged in that context.

While there’s a level of hostility reserved for Skyrim that I’ve never understood, the reality is – whether it’s to your tastes or not – it is an extraordinary, enormous, and flawed game, and a remarkable achievement. Like the games before it, it offered a massive, open world, and allowed you to live, just be, and experience an involved and engrossing story without even touching the game’s main plot. It let you carve your own path.

ESO lets me feel like I’m playing an MMO.

Things begin about as generically as you could imagine. You’re dead, in Cold Harbour within Oblivion, a Soul Shriven. But you’re escaping from a prison, down a long, repeating corridor, guided by Captain FemShep Hale, being told the very basics of looking, hitting and picking up. Then with nary a care for its incrediblityness, you’re brought back to life in the starting zone relevant to your racial grouping. A small area, littered with quest chains, and more stilted acting than you could shake a sofa warehouse advert at.

Quests can be so phenomenally dull. I know TES is hardly renowned for its high calibre storytelling, but this is really the pits. There’s a sequence I encountered at level 5 in which I was involved in a dispute between two factions about something to do with who gets to live on the island. They all had ridiculous names like Wlloner or Pikliqon, and were all grumbling about some treaty, and I was apparently supposed to put in far more effort than I possess to care about who was who and why they were cross. My role was to run between three people who were in the same room and click through the conversation options until it was over.

That done I was sent to a building next door, where SHOCK, someone who was supposed to be alive was dead. It was now my job to run to each of the map arrows in turn, click through the conversation options, and then eventually, after chasing about town for about an hour, decide if someone got to live or die. To no consequence or interest.

At the end of this extended bilge was a character fighting with the choice about whether to kill someone in bloodied revenge for the murder of her loved one, or recognise her partner’s former compassion and show it herself. Except she talked as if she couldn’t decide whether to get green beans or mange tout in the supermarket. What could have been an emotional scene, were it not the most hackneyed gaming “choice” in all of existence, was rendered farcical by the dry, maudlin script, and the chipper am-dram delivery. And so it goes.

At one point a boat’s captain asked me to find three of her missing crewmen. They were within her eyesight.

ESO tries to make changes to the traditional format. So in that opening section, there’s not a single “kill 10” quest to be found. “Great!” you might think – what a refreshing change. Except, so far there’s nothing in its place. Instead, in an effort I suppose to be more true to TES’s nature, the emphasis is on the little vignette you’re playing out. There are rapidly respawning beasts about the land, but they’re incidental to what you’re up to. So in the end, what you’re left with is just the stuff that you’d usually click through in other MMOs to get to the good bits. The banal conversations, scrambled justifications to have you move from point A to point B. Well, in the opening few hours, at least.

Were these encounters, these play-lets, of any interest, this would likely be pretty enticing. But instead it’s all bluster, people telling you how utterly important everything is, because the Grand High Priest Of Cliffaffle Poplington has sworn his enmity to the Wolf Queen Of Qqqqqqqb, which will likely cause the Ancient God Robert to rise from the Tombs Of Fort Backalick, raising the terrifying forces of BasingStoke. As hard as I try to concentrate on what they’re saying, not only my eyes but my entire brain glazes over, until I realise they’ve all stopped speaking and the little arrow on the map has moved one building over. Actually, I needn’t make up my own barely-parodied versions – here’s a genuine sentence from the game:

“The ritual tore the veil between Nirn and Oblivion, allowing Mannimarco to begin stealing the souls his master needed to power the Dark Anchors and initiate the Planemeld.”

Two moments in the opening hour were so awful I had to walk away from the screen. The first was the gratuitous appearance of a blithering John Cleese, as a character wearing a pot on his head because WACKY! IT’S JOHN CLEESE FROM OFF OF THE MONTY PYTHONS, REMEMBER! LOOK! A POT ON HIS HEAD! Bleaurgh. The second occurred when someone emphatically informed me,

“You’re important, and everyone and everything we’ve ever loved is in danger.”

That’s not a parody – that’s word for word what is said.

Every cliché is in place. Your guide once alive again is a mysterious, shady figure you’re not quite sure if you can trust. In one town you meet the SHOUTY LEADER MAN WHO SHOUTS, and then the weepy lady whose husband got eaten by spiders or whatever. To give credit, a lot of the powerful, leader characters are women, but none has anything interesting to say. They’re cardboard, speaking in cardboard.

And yes, it’s fair to level lots of these complaints at Skyrim or Oblivion. While each contained some lovely moments, there was an abundance of witless drivel being murmured by bored actors. But the difference was, you could just hop on your horse and ride off up a mountain to watch a sunset, before stumbling on a hidden cave leading to a ruined dungeon packed with marauding skellingtons, where you find a book that tells you about a secret place in a nearby tower… In ESO’s first few hours, you follow the marker to the next quest giver.

And if you do want to ride off on a horse, that’ll be 17,200 gold please! By the first time I found a horse seller, I’d got 1,173 gold in my pocket, and spent almost nothing. And no, you definitely can’t steal them. Oh good.

Combat, I’m afraid, doesn’t save it from its plague of blandness. I created a Wood Elf nightblade called Hemlock. She’s a hunter, and I’ve specialised her for bow – that’s my favourite class to play. But it’s just the same hotbar spamming of old. I’ve got a few tactics – showering enemies in a rain of arrows (4), then firing a poison arrow as they run toward me (2), turning invisible just before they reach me (1) and then stunning them with my veiled strike (3). 4, 2, 1, 3 mostly does the trick. Sometimes there are two of them, and that means hitting the left mouse button to spam arrows, and almost never remembering that the right button blocks, and both together disables an enemy’s special move – because that doesn’t seem too necessary.

There’s no impact to the combat, and while it shares The Secret World’s cone-of-attack dodging, it feels loose, flimsy and detached, like Elder Scrolls games don’t. Compared to MMOs, it’s regular, uninspired. Compared to the series from which this game spawns, it’s very disappointing.

These are, I stress again, just the opening few hours. But they’re crucial hours. Playing them, one could put together a rationale why Bethesda have opted for a massive up-front fee of £50 to start playing the game, before a monthly tithe thereafter. Were this to use the far more sensible free-to-start option, before asking for a subscription to carry on, I can imagine a lot of players would feel no desire to open their wallet. However, if you’ve put half a hundred quid down, you’re going to feel pretty determined to keep ploughing through in the hope for more.

I’m not going to pretend that the above doesn’t look like a kicking. But I want to reiterate that in delivering a bland, ordinary MMO, Bethesda appear to be succeeding. It’s pretty, detailed, packed with wildlife you can senselessly murder. But the issue is, we’ve got an awful lot of bland, ordinary MMOs, and we don’t have a nice shiny new The Elder Scrolls RPG.

Try as I might, I can’t help but see this as all the worst bits of TES games – the dreadful dialogue, the crummy acting, the god-awful inventories (WHY! Why would they deliberately bring that aspect of TES into the MMO world, so you’ve got endless vertical scrolling lists of items, rather than a nice, useful tiled window?), put into an old-fashioned MMO space.

It MIGHT blossom out into something more familiarly Elder Scrollsy. As the beta continues, I’ll get to see more of what’s on offer, find out whether I’ll be enticed into the thief’s guild, given exciting rooftop crimes to commit, and able to explore and discover fun treats, magical painting worlds, and all the things that make the series such a pleasure. For its opening hours, those things certainly do not appear.


  1. dE says:

    You’re dead, in Cold Harbour within Oblivion, a Soul Shriven.

    Wait a minute! This isn’t Elder Scrolls, it’s an impo…

    But you’re escaping from a prison

    Nevermind, carry on.

    • Voxel_Music_Man says:

      My sister’s brother’s mother’s son makes a MILLION dollars every second on his calculator. He tragically had to have his brain amputated after a car accident but last month his paycheck was a giant statue of him made from pure diamond, smothered in chewy caramel, and dipped in smooth dairy milk chocolate.

      Go now —– http://www.thisisnotascam.com

    • simon155 says:

      I wouldn’t take it too seriously. This “review” is a joke.

      I’ve played the last few betas – currently level 23, and there’s a running joke about “reviewers” that play for 10 minutes and quit.

      The games bloody good imo, and most people that stick with the betas seem to have the same view. It’s awesome. If you’re hoping bad reviews will force the game to F2P there’s no hope in hell of that lol. I figure it’s the same type of game as WoW in many ways, just a hell of a lot better without WoWs failings.

      What that means – relatively low numbers on launch probably, then mates talking to mates and a snowball effect. Lets face it – we all take friends views and personal experience more seriously than any online trash review.

  2. Kaen says:

    Not even Dumbledore can save this one.

    • Epic says:


    • MaximusG says:

      Full credit to RPS for telling the truth about this game while Zenimax pays them to plaster TES:O ads all over the site. N1! Makes a change from the usual biased fake “review” sites (not mentioning any names).

      • fdisk says:

        This is exactly why RPS is the only site I completely trust and recommend to my friends. I take everything on here at face value because they have a solid reputation, rock solid.

        • jrodman says:

          I also appreciate that the reaction to the game is stated in clear text, so you know if the reviewer hates it and why, instead of having to guess. If they talk about game aspects that aren’t usually important to you being bad, you know how to take the review.

          Some people claim this is “unprofessional” or something, I think it’s fantastic.

        • Henchimus says:

          PCGamer also gave this game a kicking, to be fair to them

        • dethtoll says:

          If someone else besides John Walker were to come in and say the exact same thing — even including that “dreary first few hours” tagline — I’d be thumping my desk yelling RIGHT ON. But I feel like I have to defend an MMO I’ve never played and never will play from him simply because his posting style annoys me that much. He could come in and tell me Big Rigs Over The Road Racing is the worst game in existence and I’d disagree with him just on general principles.

          TESO is really looking quite shit, though. An MMO addict friend of mine whose opinion I DO respect hates it on sight. So there’s that.

          • Frantics says:

            nah john walker’s posting style is great actually. he actually knows how to write. he’s just a dude saying what he likes, I don’t agree with him about some stuff (mostly mafia 2) but I wouldn’t just come here insult his stylee. should have respect for people in their abodes. big motha truckers now that’s a game :)

            i like TES because it’s NOT an mmo tbh..

          • Machinations says:

            I don’t expect, when a postmortum is done, that the decision to take Bethesda’s cash hoard and blow it on an MMO will be considered a good decision. I just don’t know wtf they are thinking.

        • Machinations says:

          which is not to say their reviews are always spot-on

          witness, for example, that abortion of a game Shadowrun Returns, what should be offensive to the Hivemind, given their pillaging of an extremely well-loved IP and boiling it down to a simplistic, plain, linear iPad game

          while I appreciate the honesty here, lets be honest with indie games as well, because I feel burned by that purchase WAYYYYY more than I do with Space Hulk, which I actually enjoyed beating my friends at quite a bit

      • OscarWilde1854 says:

        Definitely have a lot of respect for the reviews on this site! Honestly, I probably would have gone right out and purchased this on release. This review definitely makes me question if I want to get it at all… and it DEFINITELY means i’m going to wait for some community reaction before diving in!

    • TheVGamer says:

      Wanna bet when it’s going F2P? SWTOR lasted 11 months but considering TESO has been in development for like ten years, I’d say they already have a F2P alternative build of the game cooking up.

      My bet is 8 months.

      • CaesarBritannicus says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if they already had their free-to-play model in mind, but publishers are addicted to the initial wave of pre-purchases and box sales to recoup development costs and they don’t want to give that up, especially on such an insanely pricey product.

      • melnificent says:

        6 months, 3 days, 4 hours and 21 minutes… give or take a week

      • wr0ng1 says:

        If it costs £50 up front, how can it possibly become F2P without refunds?
        Or did you mean “how long until they implement microtransactions?”

        • LordDamien says:

          Don’t you worry, you silly willy, as you paid 50 quit before it became for free, we will give you a horse armour + some trendy capes and a magic turnip

    • simon155 says:

      Nah – got to the point now there are more good reviews than bad. This ones a joke though.. I mean for someone who managed level 7.. that’s a joke in itself. I mean let’s face it.. a review done by a guy who is angry about not earning a mount by level 7 and finds questing boring.. that says it all.

      I recall WoWs launch. Way more bugs than this game, and this is still in beta. Mounts you had no chance until gone lev 20, which incidentally is doable here to.

      Best tip: CHECK IT OUT YOURSELVES :) There are lots of reviews around – read the good and the bad and more importantly look up all the genuine game info you can find.

      For the records I hate PvP so I didn’t even check that side of the game out. The PvP fans I know in there loved that side of it, but for me the PVE content was great :) I’m an ex-WoWer for many years, and for me this is good enough reason to turn my back on Blizzard and stay there lol

      • Premium User Badge

        Nathan says:

        Hilariously late response to a late response, but:

        > The games bloody good imo, and most people that stick with the betas seem to have the same view

        Is the height of selection bias.

  3. worrytron says:

    There’s this guy in my office (who I can’t stand) who got into the beta for this in September or October or so, and couldn’t stop going on about how awesome it was. I asked him to relate what made it so great, and he went on for 20 minutes about graphics. Pretty much sums it up, i think.

    • kael13 says:

      My old school friend has been saying exactly the same. And keeps trying to hand off a beta key to me. “It’s like Vanilla WoW!” No, thank you very much.

      Even the vaguely interesting story of Star Wars isn’t enough to make me endure those click-button combat systems. It’s just SO DULL. (Also, the world is huge and everything is oversized in Star Wars and it takes forever to get anywhere which is a massive turn off, but I digress)

      • worrytron says:

        Interesting — for me it’s the quest handholding. Someone recommended Neverwinter to me, and once i saw the little glowing line on the ground showing me exactly where I should go, I logged out. A TESO game should absolutely have been Morrowind / Skyrim with friends, and some massive world bosses to take down.

        I get really bummed that the “Kill (X) monsters” quests are what everyone complains about. Some of my best memories from EQ and DAoC were wandering through the woods trying to find that elusive spawn. Bioware (and apparently Bethesda) have decided that making epic moral decisions are the key to fun. Like we’re all playing mmo’s to act out Star Trek episodes with an NPC script. I don’t get that one tiny bit.

        As usual, get off my lawn, etc…. but mmo devs need to stop catering to the WoW crowd. The people still playing WoW are Pokemon players, not mmo players.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          I never really loved EQ, but I think my favorite memory was the run from Qeynos to Freeport. Completely doable as a low-level character, but very dangerous.

          But who needs exploration and discovery and excitement and the occasional setback, when you can have helpfully marked quests with full voice acting and CHOICE and CONSEQUENCE (please choose option 1 or option 2 in the dialogue system)?

          • worrytron says:

            Hahaha yep, and by consequence it means it affects your quest reward and adds / removes a scar from your face. THAT’S DEEP

          • deadfolk says:

            That Qeynos -> Freeport run is one of my most enduring gaming memories. I still go back occasionally and do it again. Still can never find my way around Highpass, though. Even with a map.

            Have you checked out the Kickstarter for Brad McQuaid’s new MMO, Pantheon? If you’re an EQ vet like me, it could be right up your proverbial alley.

          • TheMick says:

            Reading that made me laugh out loud to myself at the memory…my uncle introduced me to EQ1 and was telling me about his then upcoming plans with fellow guildies… he talked about the Freeport -> Qeynos run as if it were a trip he was going to make in real life.

            Now? Fast travel for all. I tell ya, kids these days…

          • toxic avenger says:

            In order to convey my point as simply as possible I’ll keep it short. Everything I want in an MMO, the one thing that would make me pay 15 dollars or so a month forever-more, would be risk. Not the board game, not respawning with everything a-ok but a debuff (though risk can manifest itself in other ways), but just risk. It’s such a cheap way to make you feel like what you’re doing is important and worth while, adding value to nearly everything. And I gave this advice to Sony and Bethesda and everyone else for free, and I’d assume a lot of PC gamers would agree that’s what made the initial MMOs so enthralling, aside from an online role playing world. In EverQuest, quests themselves were such a minor part of gameplay!

          • trajan says:

            @toxic avenger

            Eve Online. I know, “spreadsheets in space.” And there is some truth in that. There are also consequences to getting blown up and a number of your actions. Your name can actually carry weight in that game. You can become known for your actions, “good” or “bad.” Your wealth can significantly suffer from the loss of a ship, cargo, clone, etc. Might be up your alley, if you can get past the learning curve.

            And, if you learn to make a bit of in-game cash, you can play for free.

          • Rindan says:

            I have the exact same memory. Honestly, I hate how MMORPGs are now all about instant teleportation to wherever it is you need to be. I miss that run because it was exciting and dangerous. In Everquest, failing meant getting dumped back all the way to Qeynos. It was an epic journey and you got to see a whole new world if you managed to make it alive.

            I honestly want MMORPGs to tear out of their hopelessly boring mold. It seems like MMORPGs are just refining down to F2P crack dispensers that trigger the human need to see the numbers go up. I am so utterly sick of this. I am so burned out at MMORPG, that essentially anything that feels like an MMORPG has its lifespan measured in hours, if not minutes. TESO is an abomination that I couldn’t even stomach an hour of.

            I want an MMORPG (that isn’t Eve) to tear apart the mold and offer me something new. Give me exploration with Chivalry combat. Give me perm death. Just give me something new that I don’t instantly recognize as a slightly more or less refined WoW clone, which is just a more refined Everquest clone. Hell, give me Ultima Online of old. Just give me anything but another fucking boring game with traditional MMORPG combat that is all about killing 10,000 monsters so that you can get to the raiding part where you kill EPIC SUPER BOSS for equipment instead of levels.

          • Tr1v1aL says:

            @Rindan, I was looking for the same thing you described and hopefully Trials of Ascension will be that game. It’s also in Kickstart and has a Perm death… something I’m really interested in.

          • JDCollie says:


            What makes Eve Online “spreadsheets in space” is an issue that, to a degree, I think can be divorced from the other elements that make it so incredibly epic. The underlying premise of a single-server world, with player driven economics, politics, and borders is compelling, regardless of setting. Those concepts could technically be applied to a fantasy MMORPG and, if implemented well, would likely create a similarly compelling and epic world.

            In my opinion, the primary reason so many MMOs feel lackluster, and why “morality choices” in games feel so . . . empty, is because they lack any real connection to the game world. A choice on rails isn’t a choice, and most MMOs don’t even have those.

        • Koozer says:

          Was that an insult against Pokemon? *tentatively rolls up Bulbasaur-themed shirt sleeves*

          • mechabuddha says:

            People who insult Pokemon as being easy obviously never got to the endgame. Which is doubly absurd in this case, because he’s comparing it with MMOs, notorious for fans demanding difficult endgame content.

          • worrytron says:

            I was 20 when the first Pokemon came out. I ain’t never played that shit.

          • jrodman says:

            I tried playing pokemon at around 22. My thoughts were “so I will have to keep swapping my party around? Why would I want to level up stuff I won’t use later?” Stopped playing pretty quick.

          • Premium User Badge

            particlese says:

            Pokemon was loads of fun the first few times around. I played the living fæces out of Yellow and Silver and then enjoyed Diamond for quite a while…up to the snow town and where Nuevo Team Rocket drain a lake or something. Somehow, though, it suddenly struck me as very farmy and exactly the same as every other Pokemon game (which I was already concious of and completely okay with), and I haven’t touched it since.

            However, I might go back and play Silver sometime since it was so awesome: “Here, play this whole pokemon game. Oh, right, there’s also another full pokemon game on the other side of your home town.” Silver’s also the one where my second playthough consisted entirely of giving captured pokemon dirty names. Good times.

            I gave up catching them all at ~25, since people are bandying ages about.

        • drewski says:

          I think the problem is that MMO developers need a fair chunk of the WoW/Pokémon audience to justify spending eleventy billion dollars making the game. Basically they don’t care if players like you are alienated because there aren’t enough of you to make any (or at least, “enough”) money off.

          Or something like that.

      • The_Great_Skratsby says:

        Worryingly MMO fans often sound like they’re suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

      • LordDamien says:

        That’s because your ship is slow, mine can do the Kessel run in 12 parsecs.

    • Martel says:

      Funny, that’s all the couple of people I know that are interested are talking about as well. One guy even said “I don’t care if it’s good, I’m buying it based of that cinematic trailer.”

      • worrytron says:

        hahahaha, that’s great. “I just loved the depressing grey wasteland that bore no relation to the game I’d be buying. Take my money!”

      • deadfolk says:

        I don’t care about the quality of the game. These guys paid someone to make a really nice CGI short. Where do I sign up?

        • jrodman says:

          Mind you, I’d love to pay 15 bucks for a very clever CGI bit of storytelling.

          I’m not sure what was exciting about that one, however. I had no idea what was going on, and closed it after it had established nothing for 2 minutes.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Buying a game based upon the trailer happens every day on Kickstarter.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          I can’t be the only person on the internet tired of explaining this but…
          You don’t buy games on kickstarter. That isn’t a thing that has happened ever – nevermind every day. You donate money towards things that interest you on kickstarter.
          Sometimes, if you donate enough money, you will someday get a game in return. But buying a game is not what you’re doing. If there are people who spend money on kickstarter with that expectation they are woefully mistaken and will, yes, probably get burned sooner or later.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I got into the beta too but couldnt stand it for more than about 40 minutes.

      Tried to fill out the questionnaire afterwards but as i hadnt experienced half of what they were asking about (crafting etc) i quit that too.

      To their credit they emailed me a few days later with a different questionnaire saying “We noticed you only played to lv3, can you tell us more about what made you quit?”
      Which was great but they only give me 5 bullet points with which to explain myself, and 2 of them were ‘it was too hard’ & ‘it was too easy’ (i forget the rest)

  4. TheMick says:

    Happy to read this, as another player with no desire to experience raids and pvp in an mmo. I miss the good old days when the journey to max level was an experience in itself, instead of the obstacle it seems to be viewed as today.

    • Perjoss says:

      “I miss the good old days when the journey to max level was an experience in itself”


    • FriendlyFire says:

      I’d heartily recommend Guild Wars 2 then. In my experience and that of others who played the game, the road to the max level is easily the best part of the game. I find the excitement and enjoyment peters out afterwards (mind, I did put some 200 hours into it and I’m not an MMO player, so I got more than my money’s worth), but getting to max level is easily 60-80 hours unto itself, and it’s a very very fun ride the whole way through.

      • nrrd says:

        I agree, equally heartily. GW2 is my first MMO and I largely chose it because it avoided the usual boring trinity of character classes (DPS, Healer, Mage); it had fun pre-endgame content; and, maybe most importantly, there is no monthly fee. Buy once, play forever (or until they shut the servers down). You have to put up with a bit of DOTA2/TF2-style pay-for-character-customization game design but I don’t mind if other people want to pay $50 for a pair of angel wings or a non-combatant pet or something.

    • Epic says:

      I’ve never really realized it until just now reading that. Every single MMO I’ve played lately has been about grinding and getting to max level as fast as I can. I genuinely enjoyed the first MMO I played, and didn’t rush to max level because I enjoyed exploring the new zones and learning how to play my character. Having to browse wiki’s and help forums to figure out quests instead of following an arrow or going to a spot on the map. Having to actually ask questions in chat without people telling you you’re an idiot. Well they might still tell you that, but someone was helpful haha.

      • TheMick says:

        That’s exactly it! My fear for the newest gen mmos is that they’re simply too afraid to get back to those days of exploration, danger, and the cameraderie that came as a result. Not to say that ppl don’t experience those things now, especially if they are big consumers of pvp and raid content, but *sigh* I just don’t know.

        I guess I’m getting nostalgic in my old age, I hear that happens leading up to 30 lol

      • Shinwaka says:

        One of the reason I keep coming back to LOTRO is that it does have some aspects that remind me of the “old school” type MMOs, especially the exploration part. The zones remind me of the original EQ in size (which I love) and the scenery is quite nice. Never been in a raid yet in this game (or a guild for that matter) because leveling in this game reminds me of years or yore.

    • Dominic White says:

      Both Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy 14 are great games where 90% of the interesting content is on the way to max level, culminating in a big dramatic final boss and a definitive ending to the current story arc. Both now have a decent chunk of ‘endgame’ content, but it’s optional and not where the meat of the game is located, by any means.

      FF14 in particular starts dropping you in proper party-based dungeons with multi-stage bosses from your first day of play. It’s fun.

      • Grygus says:

        FF XIV is pretty good, but that subscription model is keeping a lot of people away. I’m playing it now because I got it on sale cheap, am having fun with it, and recommend anyone who likes MMOs to take a look if they see a nice deal, but in these days of Steam sales and Humble Bundles, it’s hard to imagine going back to paying $180 a year to play a single video game (not counting expansions.)

        • JanusForbeare says:

          I was in the FFXIV beta, and the vast majority of players at that time were of the opinion that the subscription fee was a good thing. In their minds, it kept away the plebs and made the community a better place, as if $15 per month was a golden key that was only awarded to friendly, helpful, and considerate people.

          I felt that a subscription model only made sense (from a consumer’s perspective) if the gameplay and content was unique enough to merit the extra cost. In FFXIV’s case, it wasn’t. For those who haven’t played it, it’s very standard MMO fare – hours spent running around pixelated forests spamming “1”, “2”, and on rare occasions, even “3”.

          By all accounts, TESO is headed down the very same path. With the way the genre is going, I’ve become innately distrustful of any MMOs that aren’t free to play – particularly those based off of a commercially successful IP.

    • aepervius says:

      “Happy to read this, as another player with no desire to experience raids and pvp in an mmo. I miss the good old days when the journey to max level was an experience in itself, instead of the obstacle it seems to be viewed as today.”

      You should try DDO then. If the graphic don’t matter too much, the adventure, are quite fun (if a bit too combat heavy for AD&D but the feeling is spot on I would guess). Having fun with a druid 9 / rogue 1 at the moment. More fun that I *ever* got in WOW, Secret world and other consort.

    • waltC says:

      Agreed! I also most like the games in which the story is so intricately woven into character development that you can never get to max–ever–if you don’t play through the storyline! “Just killing stuff” gets so-o-o-o-ooo boring so fast. And, if there’s no storyline from start to conclusion, well, imo there’s just nothing there at all…Might as well just tee up a game of computer golf and relax, or nap, instead…;)

      Article typo: “There’s no escaping comparison from the rest of the Elder Scrolls series. And nor should they be.”…should be…”There’s no escaping comparison from the rest of the Elder Scrolls series. And nor should there be [any escape from comparison].”

    • madmaligor says:

      I am new here and I apologize for the rant in advance, but does anyone actually do any homework anymore when it comes to writing reviews? Or think that commenting about a games content or mechanics is kind of misleading, when they haven’t experienced a 10th of the content or reached a point that gives them a handle on the full range of mechanics?

      Holy crap its like people don’t actually play games anymore. I have read review after review commenting on how the quest system is like your being led by arrows on a map, and not one notes that you can turn that option off and let the story drive you with clues which means you actually need to pay attention to whats said and whats going on around you, leading to exploration with a dose of critical thinking, listening in to side conversations. Oh and wow look what happens then, you bump into hidden side quests, which have trees and intrigue of their own and lead to more exploration. Does anyone read a note on a table or book on a shelf anymore?

      No we can’t have that, people who actually read about a game before they play it, look at the options available to them and say “oh my god” I can even turn HUD map off and use the parchment map provided instead, turning the function into a gosh dam treasure hunter experience. Instead we get “Follow the market to the next quest giver” on the only display I cared to use because I have no intuitive ability whatsoever.

      Then we have the initial tutorial sucks because I didn’t need a tutorial, which leads to an obvious “well maybe Zenimax needs to make a better one because you obviously do need to be led by the nose” moment.

      Then we get the combat review that reads more like a “I really hate the options I was given because I don’t like to start out with just a few”. No work to get to the dual hotbars or comments on resource management, heck the game doesn’t hit its stride until 15 (which takes all of a couple of days of play to get to and that’s if your exploring and not grinding…Oh noooes!) Nothing about group play or tactics, nothing about monster AI good or bad. Nothing about Cyrodiil…at all. Really…no mention of Cyrodiil. *palm to forehead slap moment*

      Which leads me to the conclusion that the reviewer knows…nothing. I really do believe that people want to see what they want to see. They want to have their opinions validated by others who hate something, without talking about what it is exactly that they hate and discuss why it’s horrible. Instead we get…

      “It felt dull…” and I have to ask “did you even try or was there a lack of interest in the first place and you needed an article to get paid and/or attention”

      A gloss over of the voice acting…which IMHO is about as good as it gets in gaming today. A gloss over on the graphics, open world feel, and atmosphere…which I will not say are the best, but are dam good.

      No comment on the lack of lag in open world PvP in a zone as large as the original Oblivion with hundreds of people on screen and some serious tactical combat occuring in and around the control points, quest points, and resources. No mention about the PvE in PvP elements of the game and huge open world dungeon (DAoC style). Nothing about lone wolf, small group, or zerg battle vs defense capabilities. Nothing.

      All I read was “I played to level 7 and wasn’t interested in actually playing the game anyway because I didn’t care to make an effort”.

      I will say I think Zenimax could do alot better in promoting some of the options available, at least to cut back on the vitriol from those who don’t seem to look at the options available. And Yes, they can do a better job in many areas, but it’s a dam good game so far. It’s my opinion anyway and mirrored by a number of friends who are loving Beta. So take it with your regular grain of salt, and dismiss me if you want, but hopefully a few of you out there will actually dig a bit deeper and discover a very interesting and engaging MMO in a market full of WoW clones. I know, I know…hes gotta be a zeni employee or ESO fanboi, because heaven forbid I actually play the game and take a critical look at all of its aspects, then make a decision.

      • JDCollie says:

        You know, I don’t necessarily agree with your opinion regarding the reviewer, but I do appreciate your willingness to provide a dissenting opinion. You’ve brought up some points that have made me reconsider my the attitude with which I am approaching TESO. (I’m not necessarily going say I will love it, but you’ve reminded me that if I want to find a game that breaks the “MMO shell” I’m become so disenchanted with, perhaps I should stop looking at every new game through that same old lens.)

  5. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    So they’ve got a bit of work to do then. Paying an obscene amount for all the worst bits of TES- talk about a rip off. Let’s hope it picks up in the later stages.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Seems unlikely since all the signs show they’ve (the developers) been on this rollercoaster towards the abyss of dismal failure.

  6. Taidan says:

    So, let me get this straight…

    It’s basically a rubbish version of Skyrim, only it’s mysteriously ridiculously more expensive? (At least for the first few months of release, whilst the publishers attempt to leverage the “Early Adopters” to simultaneously fork out for three distinct payment models to recoup some of that development money, before the already-fully-planned-out F2P conversion happens later this year.)

    …and most of the other people you share the world with are no longer scripted NPCs simulating their daily lives, but erratic, barely literate lunatics being desperately awful to each other in a vain attempt to become that one unique, special snowflake in a world full of indentikit “Chosen Ones”?

    Where do I sign up?

    • XhomeB says:

      Implying Skyrim wasn’t rubbish already.

      • fish99 says:

        It’s not.

      • Gibly says:

        Agreed with the Random One. In order to cater to the masses there are no longer meaningful interactions with NPC’s. They all have stupid one liners with information, because my god you should read a little in an RPG!!! Lazy bastards with the attention span of a gold fish. On top of that those masses don’t want to have meaning decisions with consequences. So that means it doesn’t matter which faction you choose they all end up the same generic stupid way.

        Skyrim has a higher level of graphical quality, but the world is so damn empty. It takes 100 mods to make it organic and lively. Better looking fauna, more trees and wildlife and much much more that is required to make it an interesting world to walk around in. Just walking around and nothing else, because the quests and NPC interaction is horrible.

        Still not as horrible as Oblivion with the dime a dozen Daedra gates. As for this MMO…I was actually looking forward to it. That had to do with the many interviews and such posted by the devs about their approach to game design. How they were planning to NOT have a combat system that required you to look at your hotbar with skills. What do we get? In combat you get to choose from 4 buttons to activate your skills and kill opponents so that you don’t need to use to swing your weapons a la Morrowind/Skyrim. On top of that there is no feel that you’re fighting it is slow and weak and very unsatisfying.

        On top of that the devs made a ton of other promises that gave the impression it wouldn’t be a generic MMO, but quite refreshing. Well that aint going to happen. Otherwise that game design/gameplay should’ve already been present…even if it were in a rudimentary unpolished form.The quest markers show every little detail that needs to be done, and opponents have red markers to show where they’re attacking. Are we gamers truly that mentally challenged and in need of so much help? I feel very disrespected to be treated this way as a gamer who can actually think and have a mild reflex that allows me to simply evade attacks. The animations are so damn slow in this game you can grab a cup of tea before making your character move. You need to be a damn turtoise or snail if you actually need help with that. I’m sickened by this development.

        • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

          if I want loads of dialogue I go and read a book.
          I love how it is done in Fallout 3 & NV. I dig for every piece of information in journals, computer terminals, from NPCs etc. because the information is so scarce, but those pieces of information a combined with all the stuff lying around: guns, skulls, blood, equipment, etc. it builds a world with text, items, characters and place. It is way more interactive than fucking dialogue trees the size of Yggdrasil. I like to combine things from different sources and fill in the gaps with my imagination (and the following questions + answers) instead of a fucking wall of text.

          In order to cater to the masses there are no longer meaningful interactions with NPC’s.

          was their ever a game with meaningful interactions with NPCs? Don’t tell me Morrowind, I played through it AFTER Skyrim. Morrowind has just an in-built hyperlink system were 95 % of all responses are the same about 20 topics you can choose from a list.

          I want my action to have consequences, the civil war quest line in Skyrim was one of its worst parts no doubt about that.

          Better looking fauna, more trees and wildlife and much much more that is required to make it an interesting world to walk around in.

          I played Skyrim most of the time in vanilla, there was nothing missing for me. Maybe I am oversaturated from fauna and wildlife by living a few months in a jungle town and growing up in rural areas or you want a perfect world simulator?

          Still not as horrible as Oblivion with the dime a dozen Daedra gates.

          I really hated those too.

          • SillyWizard says:

            RE: Scarcity of Text

            Abso-fuckin’-lutely. I’m a pretty avid reader, but walls of text in video games (even games I enjoy, a la Dragon Age: Origins) turns me off as effectively as reality TV does.

            If you’d like to see lore-introduction done right, check out The Banner Saga. You, (if you’re anything like me), have no clue what’s going on initially, and the tiny bites of information they feed you as you progress just make you ravenous for more.

            Scarcity, people! It makes people want your shit!

          • ohminus says:

            Scarcity may be nice with non-personality things, but if you want credible NPCs, then one-liners simply don’t cut it. Especially not when there’s something big going on. The world in Oblivion was about to be overrun by Daedra, but the only people who seemed really concerned about it were the town lords who occasionally sent you to clean out a gate. But hey, no hurry. Whenever you have the time. The general population of the town just went about its merry business as if nothing ever happened.

            Scarcity is good? Not when it makes you believe the world is populated by a bunch of lobotomized idiots who would face Mehrunes Dagon simply smiling and nodding.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        Skyrim was brilliant, you’re thinking of Morrowind.

        • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

          yeah, I played Morrowind again after Skyrim and I was like “WTF… why can’t I hit anything…” and many other “bad surprises” that were taken from the sugar coated memories. The key elements and structure is still GREAT, but Oblivion and Skyrim built on exactly those foundations. But Morrowind was probably the first game that ever reached that scale, detail and fidelity. (Daggerfall had the scale, but the detail nor the fidelity wasn’t there yet). Morrowind was a giant leap, whereas Oblivion and Skyrim were “just” (big) steps.

          • ohminus says:

            Why can’t you hit anything? Because your character is a noob who doesn’t know how to, that’s why.

            Sorry, folks, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s called character skills above player skills. And it’s as things should be in an RPG. That the animation techniques weren’t up to the task of depicting things that way is a different story and has little to do with justifying turning the game into the fantasy equivalent of an FPS in which you hit if you click at the right time and don’t have to compensate for recoil etc,

          • jrodman says:

            ohminus: You have to understand the criticism though. Morrowind was straddling a weird line between player skill and combat skill. You had to manually control a character who might not be able to hit. That’s kind of awkward.

          • ohminus says:

            It was straddling that line because animation technology was not up to the task to show you missing the opponent.

            You were controlling the movement of your character, yes. But for the issue as to whether you hit someone, what THEY are doing is equally important. But it was evidently impossible back then to have the opponent turn aside just so much that your hit becomes a glancing blow or is sidestepped.

          • Mabswer says:

            Actually it was Dice roll combat, skills or lack of them in either side had nothing to do with it last i tried vanilla.
            skills started to matter after/ if you modded it so later down the line.

            and anyone who loved that combat system can go straight off them self, none would miss ya.

          • ohminus says:

            Thanks for making it so clear you do not understand the role of “dice”, i.e. random chance.

            When you have little skill in something, most of your successes will indeed be an issue of sheer dumb luck. Whereas when you are very skilled, luck will have a relatively small role in whether you succeed or not.

        • ohminus says:

          Morrowind was an RPG. Skyrim is a hack&slash with some RPG elements thrown in. It already made big steps into the direction of an MMO where the key aspect of a role is not to be some kind of in-world personality but being a “tank”, a “damage dealer” etc. meta-gaming aspects dealing more with the player and his “character build” than with the character role.

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      “rubbish version of Skyrim” doesn’t really cut it, Skyrim (+ Morrowind & Oblivion) for me was a LOT about exploring… I can’t explore when “erratic, barely literate lunatics” run around all the time.

      • worrytron says:

        Yep, open world trash dungeons. Had to happen for this to work, and didn’t happen.

    • Grygus says:

      Actually no, and that’s the problem.

      If they had started out by making Skyrim and then made that a multiplayer-enabled experience, we might have something special. Instead, they started out by making an MMO and then tried to bolt Elder Scrolls elements on top of that. It doesn’t work because everything great about Elder Scrolls games derives from the fact that they are not MMOs.

  7. XhomeB says:

    >>>”And yes, it’s fair to level lots of these complaints at Skyrim or Oblivion. While each contained some lovely moments, there was an abundance of witless drivel being murmured by bored actors.”

    Makes you wonder how on Earth they managed to get 10/10s everywhere (other games would be ripped to shreds, but Bethesda gets away with everything, I guess)…

    >>>”But the difference was, you could just hop on your horse and ride off up a mountain to watch a sunset,”

    That’s one of the reasons I don’t consider TES games RPGs anymore, but hiking sims, because there’s absolutely nothing interesting there to do apart from walking around aimlessly and admiring the view.

    >>>”before stumbling on a hidden cave leading to a ruined dungeon packed with marauding skellingtons, where you find a book that tells you about a secret place in a nearby tower…”

    Actually, the chances of stumbling upon a dungeon which looks exactly like those 100 you’ve plundered before, filled with generic enemies and a chest containing a pair of useless, moldy pair of socks would be significantly higher.

    >>>”In ESO’s first few hours, you follow the marker to the next quest giver.”

    Umm… Just like in Oblivion, Failout 3 or Skyrim, then. GPS-like quest markers lead the way everywhere – if you’re not roaming the environment, you’re constantly being led by the nose (which kills the whole exploration, really – I’d prefer Morrowind-esque clues, only improved upon to be a bit less vague sometimes).

    • John Walker says:

      ” but Bethesda gets away with everything, I guess)…”

      Irony is crying.

      The reason Skyrim gets positive reviews is because *despite* the poor voice acting and dull writing, the game remained magnificent.

      • XhomeB says:

        Oblivion got ludicrously positive reviews despite being flat out broken in terms of design. Skyrim was an improvement, but there was hardly anything “magnificent” about it as a role-playing game. “Positive” reviews I would understand, but hysterically positive (10/10, BEST GAME EVAR, GOTY)? That just speaks volumes about “quality” of game journalism for me.

        • Geebs says:

          You are wrong

        • worrytron says:

          So what was your GOTY for 2011?

        • Volcanu says:

          Oblivion was flat out incredible when it was released. Did you play it then, or subsequently?

          I dont think anyone would argue that it didnt have flaws, but it also had some fantastic and memorable quest lines. Did you genuinely not enjoy the Dark Brotherhood questline in Oblivion?

          And whether or not TES games are good role playing games depends on how you interpret role playing. They arent good in terms of writing, plot and characterisation in the way that BG2 or PST are thats true. But they are excellent for setting your own goals and ‘playing a role’ that you choose yourself. You can make your own stories and narratives in an excellent and beautiful sandbox (some word argue that’s closer to ‘real’ role playing). But it does depend on whether you get into it and does rely on it firing your imagination. It did for me and for many others.

          • Gibly says:

            Oblivion was so horrible and repetitive it burned my eyes longing for Morrowind. I tried to play Oblivion several times and never completed a faction quest line nor the main quest line. It is just too horrible. Skyrim is slightly better, but needs 100+ mods to make it interestingly enough to play.

          • Volcanu says:


            That wasn’t my experience. I actually found the faction quests varied enough. I really liked Morrowind but I dont recall the quests being any less repetitive. The setting was more interesting than Oblivion’s and there were more options in terms of crafting and spellcasting but I do think nostalgia tints some people’s recollections of the game. Virtually all of the Oblivion and Skyrim criticisms can be levelled at Morrowind too.

            EDIT: I genuinely struggle to see how someone could love Morrowind but hate Oblivion. They aren’t THAT different. Prefer one over the other sure. But such diametrically opposed reactions to two similar experiences is surprising to me.

          • Keyrock says:

            Oblivion was decidedly mediocre when it first came out, apart from the terrific Brotherhood quests. There was a real sense of wonder the first time I stepped through an Oblivion gate a true “wow” moment… which very quickly faded once I discovered that every one of the hundreds of Oblivion gates popping up around the land leads to a carbon copy of the Oblivion area I entered the first time. (Pro-tip: When playing Oblivion don’t do the main quest at all so the Oblivion gates never start popping up. Similarly, in Skyrim, don’t do the main quest at all so the dragons never appear. You can thank me later).

            The Shivering Isles expansion, on the other hand, is flat out magnificent. It is, in my opinion, the finest thing Bethesda has ever developed.

          • Volcanu says:

            The Shivering Isles was fantastic, on that (hopefully) we can all agree?

            It was a shame none of the Skyrim DLC was as weird and wonderful.

          • Gibly says:

            IT is quite understandable people have different reactions to Morrowind and Oblivion. That is because they’re not even remotely the same as you claim.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I played the holy hell out of Oblivion and enjoyed it mightily back in the day, but time has a habit of making reality set in eventually. All those 10/10 “Game of the Decade Best RPG Evar Made!!!” scores Oblivion got were not rightfully deserved, and everyone knows that now — those were blatant hype scores, and there have been at least half a dozen RPG titles since Oblivion that completely blow it out of the water.

            At the very least, you have to admit that Oblivion was the point at which Bethesda started its downward spiral towards placating the console crowd.

          • aepervius says:

            That’s funny because for me oblivion was teh pinnacle. I never finished morrowind , after 50 or 80 hours I got bored, same for skyrim. But i replayed oblivion multiple time, and not only for the brotherhood quests. I can#t say exactly what or why, but I find much less amusement in skyrim than oblivion.

        • drewski says:

          It always cracks me up that people genuinely believe that Skyrim is insanely popular because of corrupt/incompetent games journalism, rather than that an awful, awful, awful, awful lot of people really, really, really, really like it.

          People are so arrogant to assume that they cannot possibly be wrong about something – that everyone who seems to have a different opinion is an idiot or part of some grand conspiracy.

          • ohminus says:

            Says the one who believes they could not POSSIBLY be wrong themselves.

            Here’s a hint: Probably billions of people love McD. Doesn’t mean it’s quality food. To judge quality by numbers is not understanding quality.

        • fish99 says:

          How exactly was the game design in Oblivion ‘broken’? Are you talking about the mob auto leveling? That’s hardly broken, it’s just a (poor IMO) design choice.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Magnificent game? Maybe if you want to play “explore totally unresponsive world where nothing matters and civil war is represented by soldiers walking with prisoners and nothing more”.

        • drewski says:

          Apparently millions of people do.

          If you like Bethesda games, how “realistic” a civil war is would probably never even occur to you as a problem. It’s just another excuse to look over the next hill.

        • fish99 says:

          You ever stop and think about how hard it would be to make the world respond to your actions in a game that big, that open, with that many NPCs, that many quests, that many scripts, that much voice acting etc. There isn’t a comparable open world game of that size where your actions are reflected in the world any better.

          As for the civil war, it’s a very small part of the game, and you see it in action when you do those quests, including mass battles in some of the big cities.

          • ohminus says:

            Well, do you want to argue that the Oblivion invasion was also but a minor part of Oblivion? Or the reviving of the dragons by Alduin in Skyrim?

            If they cannot do a responsive world, for god’s sake, don’t throw a plot in that cries for a response.
            Demonic gates popping up all over the place, but people twiddle their thumbs and hope it goes away somehow. More, the gates are very nice to you and only pop up bit by bit in order of your tackling the quests. They might be meant for an invasion, but their goal clearly is not to overwhelm defenses. Instead, the Daedra likewise twiddle thumbs, waiting in line until the Champion of Cyrodiil has time to deal with them.

            Likewise Alduin: Apparently, he went a bit on a sightseeing tour, waiting until you have time to toast a dragon in Kynesgrove he just happened to have resurrected. I mean, it makes for a bit of a wasted effort, but we all know Alduin is a nice guy, right?

            If they don’t have the technology to do such plots credibly, why do they do it?

          • JanusForbeare says:

            As for the civil war, it’s a very small part of the game, and you see it in action when you do those quests, including mass battles in some of the big cities.

            It’s worth pointing out that it was originally intended to play a much bigger role in the vanilla game. Leftover scripts and quests and mob spawners make it clear that Beth had big plans for the civil war… plans that were scrapped in the rush to meet the 11/11/11 release date.

            Way to go, Beth. Style always trumps substance, right?

      • toxic avenger says:

        I disagree. How many iterations does it take to get BAGS and COMBAT to be intuitive and interesting respectively? Yes, the story was what made me actually finish this one, but I can’t help but laugh at those of us who think Skyrim was anything like a “living world”, that monsters appearing and occasionally fighting each other does not constitute a dynamic, naturally occurring system of character behavior, and a quest system out of the 1980s…

    • Volcanu says:

      SIGH. We get it .YOU don’t like TES or the new Fallout’s. That’s fine.

      But you don’t have to post your conspiracy theory about how the world’s gaming press, and 7million odd people, are all in thrall to a shadowy global Bethesda -lizardfolk-network EVERY time one of these games is mentioned on here.

      Seriously, it makes you look like a crank.

      • XhomeB says:

        What conspiracy? Look at CoD, it sells like crazy and gets reviewed well despite being nothing but more of the same every year (and often shoddy in terms of quality). What does that tell you? Bethesda are after the exact same audience, they designed Fallout 3 with the lowest common denominator in mind. No wonder your xbox generation liked it.

        • Archonsod says:

          Possibly the problem is your taste in games sucks.

        • Volcanu says:

          What conspiracy?
          The one you referred to here :
          “Makes you wonder how on Earth they managed to get 10/10s everywhere (other games would be ripped to shreds, but Bethesda gets away with everything, I guess)…”

          Implying that Bethesda get good reviews for poor games because they are Bethesda, i.e. all video game journalists are corrupt, including RPS and other independent review sites that happened to see a good game where you didnt. It couldnt possibly be the fact that they just had a different opinion to you.

          COD generally gets favourable reviews from some of the major review sites and publications you are right. But it also gets it’s fair share of criticism from other outlets (including RPS). Its hardly wall to wall critical acclaim. And maybe those reviewers that gave it good scores, just happend to like what was on offer. COD is big, brash, shallow & cinematic as an experience – like a big, dum action film. It might only have that one trick, but it’s one that it does well. Now I dont happen to enjoy it. At all. And in my opinion, it fails to innovate and I find it stale. But clearly a lot of people do like it, so good for them. I’m not going to get upset about it, I’ll just go and play all the great games I do like.

          And do you really think that the average COD player is the same as the average Fallout 3 player? They play completely differently – one being a cinematic, high polish, turkey shoot with a c.8hr campaign the other a rough-around-the edges, open world sandbox game, with RPG elements and a heavy focus on exploration and discovery taking 45+ hours. I really dont see how they are comparable in terms of the key selling points.

          And do you genuinely believe that critical acclaim = automatic commercial success? Your argument about good reviews and high sales for COD seems to suggest that there’s some causal link.

          Because if you do I can point you to a whole host of crticially acclaimed games and films that flopped commercially.

          • derbefrier says:

            Its also asinine to asume all CoD players only play CoD or are incapable of enjoying a more indepth game such as fallout. As is well known CoD attracts millions of players and if you truly believe they are all subhuman brodudes your no different. Than the very people most of you claim to despise such as sexist gamers who lump women all into one category etc.. This double standard is absolutely rediculous. You all basically become what you despise without even realising it.

          • Volcanu says:

            You are of course right. And my point was more about from a design perspective I dont think FO3 and COD are aiming to do the same things and tick the same boxes.

            Of course people can like both and of course it doesnt mean you’re an idiot if you like COD. I thought my bit further up about how it was ok to like COD (although I dont) and acknowledging it does do something’s well would have made that clear.

            But it clearly didnt, so hopefully this clarifies it.

            And I havent stated any views on sexism in games on here, so I’m not sure why you are including me in this amorphous ‘you’. In any event this ‘you’ appears to refer to the readership of RPS which as we are in the process of demonstrating – disagree on lot’s of things and aren’t a monolthic entity. Unless you are being ironic by lumping the majority of RPS readers together in order to criticise ‘them’ for doing the same to COD players.

            I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are.

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim were great games for me. They were highly consistent, there were no surprises in limits just in “wow, I can do that”. The main story usually (especially in Oblivion) sucked balls, but I usually played nearly everything but the main story.

      >> “hiking sims”
      for me it is exploring different locations and buildings I can’t either not explore in real life or a bit to dangerous. I did a bit of urban exploring (before I knew that it was called that), but this can be quite dangerous to my real health…
      I don’t like hiking up mountains etc. that is way to boring for me, the “view” is nice, but it doesn’t drive me, the curiosity does.

      >>Actually, the chances of stumbling upon a dungeon which looks exactly like those 100 you’ve plundered before
      wasn’t my experience at all at least not in Skyrim, in Oblivion yes, in Morrowind sometimes, but in Skyrim not at all. (nor in Fallout 3 & Fallout NV).

      >>if you’re not roaming the environment, you’re constantly being led by the nose (which kills the whole exploration, really
      for fucks sake TURN EM OFF if it kills the exploration for you, for me they doesn’t at all.
      When I explore I explore who cares about a fucking marker or a bazillion of them.
      but I know understand what you mean: you confuse “exploration” with “hide & seek”, exploration is about stuff you don’t know is there, hide & seek is about stuff you know is somewhere, but you don’t know where.
      I have no time for hide & seek, hence I love the markers and you can turn em off.

      • AngelTear says:

        So, what you’re looking for in a TES game is Google Maps Streetview? Possibly with a less clunky interface and movement, I suppose…

        • Geebs says:

          Google maps doesn’t have anywhere near enough mushrooms

        • RedWurm says:

          Depends. When I started playing WoW some of the quests were a bit vague about the locations, and since there was almost no point to exploring for its own sake – and it could take ages grinding through mobs at low level – I usually just looked up locations on t’internet. If exploring isn’t fun or practical then I absolutely want a map.

        • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

          you can’t interact with items or your world at all in street view, also you can’t venture into areas that are “closed to the public”.

          if I assume you don’t want to troll than this statement would probably closer to the truth: I would be more interested in a “everything that is not in google maps streetview” game…

          • ohminus says:

            Great, except that “interaction” all too often ends up being pushing solid wooden carts around as if they were made from paper, sending pots flying as if you kicked them for a field goal attempt just by walking over them and other silliness. Oh, and harvesting lavenders, a mediterranean plant, in chilly Skyrim.

            Add to that a combat system that handles swords and maces identically, all the way to maces making slicing noises and slicing movement finishing moves and spare-time smiths being able to produce better stuff than any pro and the majority of the “interaction” looks like it’s being produced by people who didn’t put much thought into whether what they are doing makes any sense whatsoever.

        • theoriginaled says:

          Sometimes I do just scroll around the world in google maps, or dive down into street view to look around. Its fun to see new things. Is that so odd?

      • XhomeB says:

        TURN THEM OFF? Are you that insane? The game provides no other clues for where points of interest ARE, without them, you HAVE NO IDEA, because nothing in the game tells you and there’s no way to ask for directions!

        • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

          hmm as far as I remember they usually tell you the name of the location (or it is in the quest log) and the person/item you need, e.g., talk to Wulipious ThorHammer in Whiterun or kill bandit in xy cave. I am not sure if the cave always gets marked on the map as a location, but in certain quests/events it definitely does.

        • sinister agent says:

          I’ve literally never looked at Skyrim’s map (discounting the ones I’ve seen on tables here and there). You are right that there are no directions and that (a Bad Thing), but there is a cheap, easy illusion spell called Clairvoyance that’ll point directly there, and you can use it or abuse it as you see fit.

        • drewski says:


          Maybe for some people part of the fun of discovery is that you weren’t lead by the nose. Or at all.

    • fish99 says:

      About 20 minutes into Skyrim you can cut loose and never touch the main quest again. There is not multiple hours being lead by the nose. Also ES games do not lead you to the next quest giver, most of the quests you need to find by talking to unmarked NPCs.

      Having said all that I would much prefer to get directions, or even just clues, and have to find everything myself.

  8. Godwhacker says:

    I’m guessing they’re going to put the Wabberjack in there, just to make sure any humour it may have once had is fully kicked to death

    • X_kot says:

      “Hey, wanna raid the Shivering Isles?”

      “Nah, Sheogorath’s loot table sucks. The Wabbajack drops too often, and it has the worst stats for a legendary weapon. I’d rather go grind missions to get Azura’s Heart.”

  9. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I’ve enjoyed my time with the beta so far, combat’s felt okay to me (although I’d been using a destruction staff, which some have suggested has a better/more impactful “feel” than any other weapon) and the quests have felt more skyrim than MMO, which I’m happy with. One thing I liked is that I’ve stumbled across most quest givers while randomly crossing the countryside rather than going to the market square where all the quest givers hang out, and I didn’t feel (subjective, ladies and gentlemen) as constrained to quest chains as John evidently did.

    So, I could see myself happily trundling through the game’s quests and that being enough, but will I pay a monthly subscription? Still not sure, but hopefully will get to play it a bit more as MMOs tend to effectively go to open beat before launch, so if I do end up ordering it it won’t be sight-unseen.

  10. bstard says:

    I hope there’s a demo/trial/hackzorred version to check it out. MMOs tend to vary from person to person if it’s fun or not. It all sounds a bit lame, but so did LotrO, which was fun to me.

    • jrodman says:

      I tend to like the kind of janky but explory ones, like LotrO and Vanguard.
      So yeah, I agree what people enjoy varies.

  11. frightlever says:

    Is the NDA over then?

    Ah. Joystiq filled me in. The NDA is still in place for players but not for journos. Hey ho.

  12. neofit says:

    I’m not into raiding either. I like some alone time in my MMOs. I’ve played a few hours last beta session. It did feel like a TES game. I enjoyed myself. Sure, all the clichés are there, rising ancient evil and blah-blah, but didn’t we all learn not to pay attention to this crap, in any game? At least, unlike in the that POS TSW, you can skip their text sentence by sentence. Low-level combat as mage and melee felt ok, not worse than in Skyrim. The world is beautifully crafted. And I see no problem with buying a new TES game, with or without a trailing O, for full price. I’m sure I’ll get my 50€ worth of new TES content.

    The only thing that is preventing me from pre-ordering atm is that it all fell apart when the rest of the RL world woke up (I am working/playing/living at odd hours), and the game world suddenly filled with dozens and hundreds of wanna-be heroes, when up to then *I* was the one saving the day the TES universe. So I guess I’ll get into it a month after release day. The WAR world was quite empty by then :).

    • AngelTear says:

      Well, In TSW’s defence:
      1) Except for the “everyone’s a unique hero, saving the world all over again” trope, the story was actually interesting. And even that trope wasn’t overused, sometimes you felt like that, some other times you felt as just another agent in a big organization.

      2) The cutscenes you seemed to want to skip so badly were not just interesting, well-directed and well-voiced, and just overall well-done, they were often integral to the puzzles as well. They had clues, they explained the situation etc, they were not just pointless filling that boiled down to “kill 10 of x”, at least most of the time.

      • shadow9d9 says:

        MMOs aren’t about “story” or “cutscenes” though. TSW is 8 tiny zones followed by 5 dungeons over and over. Can be completed in 2 weekends. Not even close to an “MMO.”

        • AngelTear says:

          MMOs can’t be about story because…? Because you don’t want them to be about story? Because no MMO has done it right yet? (And TSW is possibly the one that did story best, in my under-informed-about-MMO opinion)

          I enjoy storytelling in videogames. TSW has a decent storyline. Therefore I enjoyed the storyline in TSW. It’s myopic to say that you can’t stop and enjoy the story because it’s an MMO and “it’s not about the story”. It’s not *only* about the story but I definitely enjoyed that part. It’s like saying that it doesn’t matter if a game has great music, because, unless it’s Audiosurf or similar, it’s not about music.

          And the feeling that it gave you, of being in a world populated by other people, of helping each other out, of solving puzzles with others etc… it’s definitely an MMO; even if it *can* be played as if it was a single player, it’s a very different experience from a truly single player game.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      “It did feel like a TES game.”
      Elder Scrolls Online is like an Elder Scrolls MMO by a bunch of developers who all had a stroke but kept making the game with half their brains missing.
      The combat system is an atrocity. The animations make Morrowind look well animated. The Story is the worst TES story yet – and that’s an achievement. They managed to salvage all the worst parts of MMOs that the good games in the genre were starting to shed and put them together for one last uggghhh-aahhh.

  13. witzkawumme (wkw) says:

    You’re dead, in Cold Harbour within Oblivion, a Soul Shriven. But you’re escaping from a prison, down a long, repeating corridor, guided by Captain FemShep Hale, being told the very basics of looking, hitting and picking up. Then with nary a care for its incrediblityness, you’re brought back to life in the starting zone relevant to your racial grouping.

    so you are the great mega unique power hero like in a single player game, but with a bazillion other great mega unique power hero… ffs, they have a fucking war scenario and people are playing Day Z, Rust, etc. like crazy, where you start as a puny little fragile human… well, why the fuck they didn’t go for that: you start as cannon fodder (recruit) with a bazillion other cannon fodder would make SENSE in a war scenario…. and maybe, when you are really good you can become the great hero? I wonder if their will be one mmorpg where they can use the number of players as a benefit to increase the playing experience…

    • houldendub says:

      I wonder if their will be one mmorpg where they can use the number of players as a benefit to increase the playing experience…

      I believe the new Warhammer 40k MMO will do just that, with the F2P players being part of the Ork Waaagh and the glorious paid-for players get to annihilate them as full blown Space Marines. Literally can’t wait, will finally be able to recreate the scenes you see in the Warhammer 40k art, with the few lone SMs fighting off hundreds of Orks, fuck yeah.

      • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

        that sounds great!!!


      • Keyrock says:

        Why would I ever pay to be a Space Marine (zzzzzzzzzzz) when I can be an Ork for free?


      • worrytron says:

        I hadn’t heard of this! THAT IS A BRILLIANT IDEA

      • drewski says:

        That’s quite possibly the most brilliant MMO idea I’ve ever heard.

        F2P WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH? Kill squishy space marines for free? Sign. Me. Up. It’s like disorganised trolling.

        Maybe Tyranids will be a pay-to-play horde race.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          The site for the 40k MMO doesn’t mention any of that paid/F2P race split. It does however give the impression it’ll be a big open PvP world, with skill based combat in the style of Space Marine, with no vertical progression or “class choice” (Planetside 2 style). They want to have optional instanced PvE in both procedural dungeon and horde mode arena variants against tyranids and also have NPC Tyranids attack whichever PvP faction controls the most territory in the big open map. It sounds insanely awesome….until you check the developers previous games. And find they’re entirely mobile and “social gaming” crap.

          • drewski says:

            Yeah, I was more applauding the idea than actually operating under the belief anyone would be smart enough to implement it.

            It’s obviously far, far too logical to actually happen. Can you imagine the whining from the squishies every time they, as paying customers, lost to the Horde? Waaaah we paid for this waaaah orks are OP waaaaah nerf F2Pers waaaaah.

    • Enkinan says:

      It’s unfortunate that the costs of running an MMO keep out anyone that could actually make a great MMO :/

  14. lautalocos says:

    i received the beta code. i really didnt want to bother downloading. now i won´t even check articles to see if it´s good

    • Enkinan says:

      Same, unlike John I am a bit interested in the 3 realm PvP aspect, but I’m not going to slog through this bullshit to be able to get to that.

  15. Max.I.Candy says:


    I really hope this fails miserably.

  16. Everyone says:

    Am I disappointed?


    Am I surprised?


  17. Rizlar says:


    Funnily enough I started playing The Secret World recently, after it was on sale, and it seems the complete opposite of everything John doesn’t like in ESO. The writing and voice acting are fantastic, the characters are great, the tasks may be standard, menial MMO faire but never so artificial-feeling and ridiculous. And then there are the other tasks which are closer to an ARG. The story and ideas are actually interesting. It would be nice to see more games like it.

    • AngelTear says:

      The Secret World is one of the best “Single Player” action games I’ve played in recent years.
      As far as the multiplayer goes, it depends (obviously) on how you feel about it and who you meet, but the average person is/used to be quite nice; and it’s fun, but just “ok, average fun” no more than many other solid MMOs can offer.

      The “Single Player” part though… it’s quite long, and it’s just all around awesome. Then you get to the endgame, and there’s no more single player content, just a slow slow grind interrupted by time spent assembling parties. It’s fun at the beginning, then you realize how many times you have to complete the same dungeons over and over again to get good enough equipment to get to the next dungeon, and you just have to choose between a) Stopping playing the game or b) Stopping having a life and playing any other game for months.

      • Keyrock says:

        I have a love/hate relationship with The Secret World.

        I love, love, LOVE the setting (secret society, conspiracy theory, crackpot stuff is my jam, plus you can never go wrong with Cthulhu mythos) and I love the great writing and voice acting. While it does have a ton of fedex and kill x monsters quests, it also has some terrific investigation quests where they don’t slap a giant flashing arrow in your face or even a map marker, you simply have to read up on the lore of the area you are in and its history, and figure out where to go and what to do on your own (figuring stuff out on your own, imagine that!).

        I hate the atrocious (I’m not sure that’s a strong enough word) controls and mechanics. It’s as if they has someone with severe brain damage design them.

        It’s really frustrating because the awful controls mar what should have been an amazing game. It’s a testament to how great the writing and setting in the game is that I enjoy it despite the controls actively making me want to throw my keyboard through my monitor.

  18. Lagwolf says:

    Sadly what he said… still looking forward to popping in the beta this evening though. But they are charging way too much from what I have seen so far.

  19. Grundtal says:

    If this fails, their marketing will say TES is no longer something people want. No new TES game will be made and work will start on a fallout mmo.

    • goettel says:

      Or they’ll realize the MM in MMORPG should be replaced by a C: the cooperative online RPG and make it a Fallout CORPG. Just give us the added depth of New Vegas (versus 3) in a new stretch of post-nuke US and allow Borderlands-style single/coop play. I’d buy it today, sight unseen.

      • soulblur says:

        Once Destiny comes out, this might start to be a thing that actually happens.

  20. satan says:

    Well then I suppose I’ll look for my next Elder Scrolls experience… Elsweyr.

    • stahlwerk says:

      With MMO being the only option, I fear there will be no way one could enjoy a new TES game in Solitude in the foreseeable future.

      • JanusForbeare says:

        If these pun threads get any worse, the RPS commentator community will be whittled down to three old dudes reminiscing about the good old days before the ban-hammerfell.

        • Rizlar says:

          Khajiit while you can!

          I wanted to play a dragon, but apparently that’s Paarthurnax expansion.

  21. morgofborg says:

    Despite the great lengths John goes to to employ negative adjectives, everything he actually describes sounds quite good to me.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      I’m pretty sure there was no great lengths required. If you dont mind being ripped off with what looks like a cashgrab, and enjoy shallow and empty gameplay then good for you.

    • goettel says:

      Why not try it yourself by grabbing a beta key link to curse.com ?

  22. 2late2die says:

    Disappointing but wholly expected. I really think it’s a waste of everybody’s time and resources.

  23. SkittleDiddler says:

    So, F2P in six months then?

  24. ScumBunny says:

    John, I think the pot-on-head wackiness is a reference to a Skyrim thing:
    link to youtu.be
    I wouldn’t be surprised if ESO has at least one mention of arrows in relation to knees.

  25. db1331 says:

    I’ve noticed from posts like this and his “You should play Amular” one that John plays as a female whenever given the option. Just coupling that with his penchant for finding wrong doings against women in games, usually ones that require feats of extreme stretching (Codnapped) is…interesting. There could seriously be some deeper stuff at work here.

    • AngelTear says:

      Yep. A man being a feminist is impossible. A man preferring to play as female characters when given the chance is equally impossible. These two impossibilities coming together lead to a simple solution: John is a repressed MTF transgender. There is no other explanation. (Ragnar Tornquist is too by the way, I remember him having the same “bad habit”)

      I charge 10$ per word for my diagnoses. Super Legit Psychology.

      • db1331 says:

        I just hope he is able to find happiness someday.

      • Geebs says:

        What’s your interpretation of his playing a female character and then threatening a cat with his big arrow?

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        I really wish I could hug you right now, unknown internet stranger. 100% sincere.

    • joa says:

      Haha I was about the make the exact same observation myself! Unless John plays as a female in some attempt to increase the appearance of female representation in games, so games seem more female friendly?

      Maybe all female characters in MMOs are actually misguided male feminists in disguise?

      • db1331 says:

        I think he does it in order to better understand what it’s like to be a gurl gamr

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      And clearly playing a male character means you’re gay, since you’re staring at a male butt all the time.

      …See how dumb that sounds?

  26. bit_crusherrr says:

    Is anyone really surprised TESO is wank?

  27. goettel says:

    Based on just an hour or so of earlier beta play, I’d say it’s not a horrible game. But I don’t see how it will fend off e.g. RIFT and Neverwinter, both of which are F2P and actually pretty good in their respective ways, except by parading its graphics – which beat just about any MMO not currently in alpha or beta without being ground-breaking or inspiring. I’m still playing a bit of RIFT, and without finding that particularly good I’d pick it over ESO anyday.

    The interface makes it clear that Bethesda is aiming for the consoles primarily, which might land them a huge hit, since it’s slim pickings on consoles, MMO-wise (are there any?) Its Skyrim pedigree might save ESO, at least for the unwashed console masses, but I’m not alone in expecting a huge failure on PC. And that was before Sony opened a can of (apparent) honesty and openness on EQN Landmark, which even in its current gimped state has gained an evident loyal following.

  28. Vegard Pompey says:

    I think I will have a lot more fun watching people pick this apart than I will have playing the actual game.

  29. harmen says:

    > However, if you’ve put half a hundred quid down, you’re going to feel pretty determined to keep ploughing through in the hope for more.

    Time to read up on the sunk cost fallacy?

  30. Enkinan says:

    After they announced the cost of this thing I trashed the beta codes they sent me.

  31. Malfeas says:

    I see no appeal in this game whatsoever. I’d rather replay Skyrim or Mass Effect, depending on what kind of computer rpg experience I want.

  32. Keyrock says:

    This is destined for massive failure. Even were this a more imaginative game with better writing, the subscription model is dead, even it’s greatest success story, WoW, is dying (albeit it will take a very long time for WoW to fully die since it’s such a behemoth). BioWare tried this with TOR, and while it sold like wildfire the first month or two, its customer base dried up quicker than acetone, such that BioWare couldn’t change it to the F2P model fast enough to save it from being a miserable failure. While TES is a very popular series, it pales in comparison to Star Wars in terms of popularity and recognition, hence I can’t see this having the same (very) short term success that TOR had, though I definitely see it sharing TOR’s long term fate.

    • Ancalagon says:

      Imho TOR did not die becasue of the subs it died becasue it was bad.
      Me and my friends jumped ship becasue the game sucked.
      I think there is a place for subs but wow was fresh for so many new ppl that never played a mmo before and delivered a lot.

      Many of the things ppl talk about here I did in wow that was my first mmo I really played.
      Same thing with warhammeronline that is my favorite when looking at the world and everything but the game mechanics was not up to par.

      If they delivered a good game I rather pay a sub instead of some lame f2p that is not free but more like a long demo like DDO or neverwinter or the rest. Think they need to think more like LoL if they should go f2p

  33. Corb says:

    Inventory decision….because of consoles.

  34. Laurentius says:

    So if understand this correctly thay actually they took away what was a highlight of Skyrim and turned it into treadmill MMO ? I mean really like about Skyrim that you are free to go from the start (after tutorial ), you want to see what’s behind that mountai and you go there. So this ESO is typical bullshit gated content hidenn behind levels and gear checks ? Geez ppl be orginal for once and give it to skill, if player is good enough let him go straight to the end game. I hate this grindfest and gated content, at least Skyrim was free of this shit.

  35. Synesthesia says:

    “They’re cardboard, speaking in cardboard.”

    So, a bethesda game?

    I really dont know why skyrim is so loved. The writing is abysmal, the whole world feels like a frozen tomb. NPC’s have dead faces, dead animations, dead quests. And the game itself is quite a mess too. I managed to break it in the first 10/15 hours, maxing backstabbing and something else. Instagibbed most enemies by crouching, waiting for them to forget I was there, and stabbing them in the back. Yeah, brilliant.

    • Laurentius says:

      But you’ve got to admit it let explore the world freely the moment you are out of tutrorial, no level checking, no gear checking, no “you can’t go there till you do this quest chain etc.”, that’s pretty uncommon thing in video games.

      • Synesthesia says:

        STALKER blows it out of the water, WHILE still balancing it with linear story gameplay. And quite a bit less budget, i think .

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Slightly off-point here, but It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had STALKER 2 come out as Sergiy Grygorovych intended. I am a massive fan of the series, but I am aware how very much the games ended up being so different because of where and when they were born. Being made within a different culture is part of what made stalker so unique.

          But given the stated aim of making the jump to consoles of Stalker 2, I have to wonder how much the core of a new game would have been … ‘influenced’ by western gaming requirements. Would a console version of SHoC ever have passed the XBox certification process? Unlikely. Being created on an open platform within a much less rigidly defined commercial landscape allowed it to breathe.

          As it is, SHoC, CoP and even CS stand as a good testimony, in my opinion, to what can be done (launch bugs notwithstanding, as good old QA is something GSC could have done with adopting more fiercely at the time)when a game isn’t as weighed down by traditional commercial expectation.

    • Keyrock says:

      Elder Scrolls games are fun because they let you dick around. Fus Ro Dahing people off cliffs is great fun. Sneaking around in people’s houses and rearranging their furniture then running out giggling, imagining the person reacting to finding their stuff rearranged is fun (or maybe I’m just touched in the head). Collecting tons and tons of potatoes and storing them in your house until it is overflowing with potatoes is fun (I’m starting to think more and more that it’s probably me just being touched in the head). If you’re playing an Elder Scrolls game for the main quest, you’re doing it wrong.

      • Shooop says:

        Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.

        THAT is why Skyrim made such a huge splash even though it’s not actually a great game. Because it let you ignore the game and do whatever the hell you wanted.

        • AngelTear says:

          But… I don’t want to do whatever the hell I want. I mean, it’s ok to have freedom to a degree, but I just don’t enjoy a game when there’s little to no structure.

          Relevant: An article by Cara that touches on this: link to eurogamer.net

          You see, what I think is nice about The Stanley Parable, is that it admits that it’s not really choice that we’re after, really. It’s not freedom we want. We want a conversation. That’s all we want. We want a game designer to provide a conversation that we enjoy or that provokes us.

          When people ask me what I get out of games – what, in Jon Snow’s words, is the very point of games – I should stop saying ‘oh other worlds’, ‘oh immersiveness, fantasy’. Perhaps I should ask them, ‘What do you get out of a conversation with someone smart?’ I am sure, for example after Papers, Please, I was better equipped to empathise with immigration agents than I otherwise would have been. Usually, we are just opening a channel to a game designer. And the more original and well expressed the game designer’s ideas, the easier it is to think this is a world you have never explored before.

          Sure, you have freedom, but it doesn’t feel like there’s any ideas (not just in a literal sense, Dark Soul has very little narrative-through-words, but still lots of ideas), it feels hollow to me.
          Not meaning to start an heated argument, just trying to explain why some people don’t enjoy “dicking around”.

          • Max.I.Candy says:

            It doesnt feel like there is anything in Skyrim, that has been put there with any intelligence. Its just blank and dull to me. Dark Souls is a great example of a sign of intelligence.

          • JanusForbeare says:

            It’s the classic dilemma of linear versus non-linear play. I remember one of the bigwigs at SquareEnix discussing it in relation to the next chapter in the FF franchise – how his company had to consider that the Western gaming market tends to favor the sandbox approach, which doesn’t mesh well with the strong, structured narratives that are the main appeal of FF games.

            Both sides have their merits, of course. I’ve leveled a lot of criticism at Bethesda in my time (mostly directed at Skyrim) but I’ll be the first to admit that their expansive worlds that favor exploration and role-playing have been my most important gaming influences since Ultima 7. That said, structured, linear plots offer emotional investment that can rarely be rivaled by open-world RPGs. I was far more affected by (SPOILER ALERT) Mordin Solus’ heroic sacrifice than by Amata kicking me out of the vault for the second time.

            The question becomes whether or not it’s possible to blend these two experiences into a single game. They’re obviously at odds; the larger and more open your world, the more time and money needs to be spent hammering out its features and inhabitants. Most of the attempts I can conjure up leaned too far in one direction or the other to be effective: the Witcher 2, for example, favored linearity, reducing explorable areas to a handful of dusty streets or an acre of forest, the Fable games went in the other direction with their faceless wives and carbon-copy children and 42,000 STDs.

            As much as I’m looking forwards to playing it, it’s not without some trepidation that I wonder how Bioware will handle (or, more likely, fumble) the balance between linearity and sandbox play with DA3. Their talk of “aggressively checking out” Skyrim and allowing it and other open-world games to influence their design decisions is a little disturbing.

          • drewski says:

            I think the problem is that a lot of people with your perspective (which is, of course, totally valid) seem to think that people who *do* enjoy just dicking around shouldn’t be able to. That games which allow the player to dick around, to explore, to push boundaries, to – yes – break a combat system, are bad.

            If you don’t want a sandbox dickaround-with-dragons RPG *that’s fine*. But that doesn’t mean games which do that style are bad.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            I’d hope that some game developers at least want to move towards both. And a world you can (mostly) roam around in and where you can not it’s because of highly dangerous environs or understandable barriers (like a mine blocked off by a cave in or a town locked off by a siege). And where you can interact with folks whether or not you are on a certain quest. If you are not you’d have far less heroic things to discuss, perhaps and it might not give you a lot of interesting follow up quests.

            That and being able to talk instead of fight. Not knowing whether a random group of scraggy looking people are refugees or bandits. That sort of stuff.

          • Shooop says:

            I found Skyrim had a lot of ideas, the problem was… most everything else.

            The rest of the game was too much an afterthought with poor combat and so few voice actors you could count them all on your hands is the problem. If there’s something you’re going to be making the player do a lot of, then you’d better make sure it’s not a chore for them to do it.

            But every time you explored a cave you happened to find something like a story of three brothers who murdered their father, then were hunted down, and their remains sealed away with pieces of a magical artifact. Those were ideas. And the game letting you stumble onto them yourself was incredibly satisfying.

          • RanDomino says:

            “That said, structured, linear plots offer emotional investment that can rarely be rivaled by open-world RPGs.”
            But when it happens, it’s great. The other day in Dwarf Fortress, I got attacked by a large horde of some kind of horrible modded-in monsters, and recalled everyone inside the burrow so I could pull the drawbridge. Then I noticed a child who wasn’t going to make it fast enough… but there was a nearby soldier who, in full steel plate, was moving so slowly that he wasn’t going to make it either. So I had him turn around and go into combat mode. I pictured it as this warrior doing the math and grimly turning around, dropping his faceguard, and pulling out his weapons, sacrificing himself to give the child a chance to get inside. They’re rare, but when they happen they’re worth it. (The solid-marble tomb with masterwork obsidian statues in each corner was commissioned before he even dropped)

      • ohminus says:

        But what does that have to do with an RPG?

        Do you sneak into people’s house to rearrange their furniture in the real world? Scrap that. Can you conceive of circumstances under which you would want to fill your house with potatos, just for the heck of it?

        Even a sandbox game is still describing a fictious world. A world, however, is never “anything goes” and always “You have some freedom, but there are limits”. Limits imposed by the laws of physics, by the limits of physiology and anatomy, and limits imposed by society. Add to that limits to what is technologically feasible at the level of the environment. You can’t just go to the nearest airport to hop onto an FTL spaceship because there aren’t any. So why should there be Google Maps and Google Earth in Skyrim? Why SatNav? And if it is a fundamental characteristic of the metaphysics of the world that being born under certain star signs has certain effects, how come they are all of a sudden gone? When Bethesda changes the very laws of nature in their world, it becomes a bit hard to claim that one is playing in the very same world as in earlier games.

    • drewski says:

      I don’t see why you seem to think every single game ever created should be designed specifically for just you.

      You may not like a game where a combat system can – if you choose to – be broken in 15 hours. Some people like to have that freedom. Or the freedom not to break a combat system. Maybe the freedom to complete an 80 hour game using only the most underpowered spell or ability. Who knows? It’s entirely up to the player.

      You might not like that kind of game. You may require a game to have amazing writing, fantastic animation, intriguing quests. That’s fine. Guess what? A lot of people don’t care. They want freedom.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Trust me on this: I love freedom in a game. My most played games by far are ARMA and STALKER. (I wont talk about my DOTA addiction here). I should’ve added that getting to break the combat system was done while i was trying to roleplay as an assasin/archer of sorts. I didn’t even try to look at the stat modifiers so much, i just suddenly realised that there was absolutely no thoughts given to balancing combat mechanics. I broke it, and i broke it by chance. God knows what kinds of godly builds you can make, actually trying to exploit the game.

        Arma is the perfect rpg, when played in multiplayer. And stalker, well, there is a true ALIVE sandbox world. No, you can’t put pots on bandits heads, but sometimes that is necessary to keep the world alive. In every single bethesda game i’ve played, everything feels cheap, unbelievable. There’s this grease in front of the lens that makes it all look like a carnival ride. Freedom is awesome, but i don’t believe it excuses giving some polish to the world. I would argue that polishing the world is even more important in a sandbox game than a linear shooter or whatever. Linear games tend to have less contemplative moments, like the ones you get in stalker, skyrim and arma. If i’m watching a sunset, and i hear through a wall the arrow to the knee line, the 4th wall kinda falls apart like wet cardboard.

  36. morbiusnl says:

    john walker hating something, news at 11.

    • Ivory Samoan says:

      John, you must be a farrrkin hoot at a party.

      “This dip sucks”
      “This pate’ is soooo boring”
      “This girl realllly can’t give head”

      I played the beta, and it was far from bad, you negative, negative c*nt.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        I was about to say something negative about how incredibly negative you’re being about his negativity — But then I caught myself.


  37. nimbulan says:

    Well I saw this coming. Like you said, Elder Scrolls was never really the pinnacle of storytelling and turning it into an MMO is pretty much guaranteed to water that down even further, as well as watering down the gameplay. I feel sorry for all the people who got drawn in by Bethesda’s expertly-crafted marketing tactic of splitting of just enough content to get people to spend the extra $20 on the Imperial Edition without drawing too many complaints.

    • fish99 says:

      I don’t have much sympathy for people drawn in by the hype, since it’s been widely reported for a couple of years that this game isn’t by Bethesda Game Studios.

      Honestly the problem isn’t that they’ve taken Elder Scrolls and watered it down, it’s that they never intended to make an Elder Scrolls game in the first place. From day one they were making just another MMO, with an Elder Scrolls skin. If there’s a surprise here it’s that it isn’t even a decent MMO, but I personally put that down to putting a fresh team together to make this game, which means none of them were invested in the project.

      • ohminus says:

        But the last few instances of TES were already well in the direction of MMOs. Paring down the complexities to some easily digestible, mass-compatible categories, all with flashy perks and “let’s get started” throwing out of too much thinking in the character creation process. It’s been clear to me for a while that the move was in the direction of a metagaming dominated MMO.

  38. Jason Moyer says:

    I participated in the last few betas and found it disappointing as well. Look, it’s an MMO, I expected it to be boring. The boring quests, the boring hotkey spamming, whatever. My biggest disappointment, however, is that they’ve managed to take Tamrielic provinces that we’ve never seen before and make them boring as well. I can’t remember which province the Bosmer/Altmer/Dunmer start in, but my god is it about as generic as you can possibly get. I specifically chose a member of that alliance because I wanted to see something new and bizarre that hadn’t been in an Elder Scrolls game before; instead I was given fantasy-RPG environment #8295.

    • DreamElixir says:

      I have to take exception with your slating of the game’s environs, sir.

      Having played two beta weekends I would say that while the Aldmeri lands could be more interesting, they are picturesquely elven and serene and like every area I encountered, roomy and well laid out. The Pact and Covenant landscapes blew me away, with their iceberg-ridden shores and fungal mountains, and sandy Caribbean coves respectively. These were just the areas up to level seven or eight and were all eminently explorable.

      Its setting is a big plus for me.

    • Ellcrystree says:

      For someone who has played in a few betas, I would assume you would know that the dunmer are in Ebonheart and NOT in Aldmeri with the Altmer and Bosmer. It seems to me that people have gone into this, grinding the quests and then saying it is boring, however I have been in about 10 beta tests since August and although at first I saw some grinding through quests, they have attempted as best as they could to disguise them and make them varied, rather than the typical: “collect 10 flowers”, “kill 5 guar” etc. Quests are always going to feel a little boring, but there are so many more options to the game (which are improved in each beta).
      If someone has only played a few hours of the game they are certainly not in a position to write an opinion that could negatively influence people’s choice to play this game.

      When you start an MMO, you are guided by the quests as it is your gateway to the game, but once you decide to become more independent it feels much more like a TESO game in many respects. I can spend hours just exploring, in which you find small hidden quests that tend to be more interesting, as well as gaining experience points for the exploration itself. The crafting system seems more complex than even that in the TESO games and there are so many levels to the skill trees that it could take a long time to find a perfect build (by using skill trees from your class, race, guild, armor, weapon, PvP etc.). In addition you also have dark anchors, raids, PvP etc. to occupy your time.
      If people are really willing to go into this game with an open mind, without ‘expecting’ certain aspects and comparing to other games, I really see it as a great success with a unique group of players as it has brought in both TESO players with little MMO experience as well as MMO players who will experience the TESO world for the first time. Give it more than a few hours chance.

  39. Moraven says:

    End game when you have all the options will be where you know if this will have any longevity to the gameplay.

    Any new MMO, the first few weeks is like playing a WoW expansion. It is new content and you are tired of doing the same current content in your current MMO.

    • vecordae says:

      The notion of the “endgame” being where the REAL fun starts in an MMO is one of the worst design decisions in the genre. Stuff to do after your character is at max level? Great! Making it be an entirely different game that you need to invest dozens of hours in doing something largely unrelated in order to experience? Bullcrap.

      If raids and huge dungeons and guild pvp and all of that is so amazing, let players get in from day one and just do that instead.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        I so very much agree with you. I liked (and still do like) playing WoW to just travel through the world and do quests. It’s not as exciting as it used to be for me and it’s mostly comfort food-level of entertainment, but when I get to end-level it so easily gets old and stale. I do like grouping and such but I can’t imagine raids could make me stay in WoW for long if that were the only thing to look forward to. Or pvp arenas or what have you.

      • AngoraFish says:

        100% agree

  40. vecordae says:

    Didn’t particularly enjoy my time in TESO. It’s…just sort of generic. Boring’s a good word for how I interpreted it. None of the elements involved are particularly compelling for me personally and don’t seem to do anything new or interesting mechanically.

    The single-player iterations of the Elder Scrolls games were successful and, to me, engaging, because they offered the player a large number of different sorts of game experiences that the player could choose to engage in in a seamless and almost invisible way. The guys at Extra Credits call it “differences in kind”, and it’s an appropriate description. Exploration feels different than melee combat, which feels different from employing stealth mechanics, which feels different from hunting for crafting materials, which feels different from fighting a dragon, and so on, so forth. Even if a player found one or several of those game play styles un-engaging, chances are there were enough things for them to do in the game that they did find engaging to keep them playing.

    TESO fails at this. There are far fewer kinds of play, and they arent’ as likely to be thought of as “engaging” by a consumer base that has already been doing this sort of thing for years and years and years.

  41. aliksy says:

    All I want is a big game like Skyrim (with better combat and magic if I’m wishing), but with coop Let me invite my friends so we can explore together.

    If we’re being really daring, add Left4Dead or Dark Souls style PvP. Let me sign into someone’s game as the nameless bandit chief. Let me order my mooks around to try to get the jump on the adventurers that came into my cave. That’d be interesting instead of yet another MMO.

  42. huldu says:

    To have a successful mmo you can’t just rely on your “end-game” content. It needs a solid PvE experience for players as they level up. What casual player will even bother grinding through levels in a mmo if they don’t enjoy it. At the end of the day your main chunk of income will always be the “casuals”, or in a f2p type of game the hardcore spenders. However once you go f2p you’ve shown that you have no faith in your mmo at all.

  43. Noviere says:

    “find out whether I’ll be enticed into the thief’s guild, given exciting rooftop crimes to commit”

    During the last big beta weekend I was able to get to the part of the game where you can start doing missions for the Guilds. I scoured the city looking for the Thieves’ Guild and after 20 minutes of searching(I figured they must have hid it cause thieves are sneaky), I asked in map chat. The response was “Only the Mage and Fighter Guilds will be in at launch. The Thieves Guild is being added afterwards.” I checked the ESO wiki, and it’s confirmed as post-launch content.

  44. vexis58 says:

    The “rapidly respawning monsters” bit made me want to quit within the first 5 minutes. The first time you’re running across a bridge covered with skeletons, and another skeleton respawns behind you and starts beating you up while you are attacking the next one makes this fail for me.

    I want to be able to kill a monster and progress through an area with the idea that the stuff I’ve already cleared is, well, cleared. The monsters respawn so quickly that it’s very likely you’ll end up surrounded by monsters and not even realize it because you’re in first-person view and can’t see what’s behind you. In a normal Elder Scrolls game, this wouldn’t be a problem, because the monsters don’t respawn until you’ve cleared the area and wandered around the map for a week.

    When I first started playing in the beta, I assumed it was still a very early version, and it would get better once they had more time to polish it. When I heard it would be released in April of this year, I lost all hope of that. There have been few improvements since the first beta I was in months ago, and this game is still nowhere near ready for release.

  45. sinister agent says:

    This doesn’t answer the important question of whether or not you saw a mudcrab a few days ago. I can’t very well keep calling it WoW With Mudcrabs without them.

    • Gargenville says:

      Rapidly respawning cliff racers *shudders*

    • simon155 says:

      lol there are crabs.

      As someone who has played several betas, to 23 with several classes, I can say from personal experience the game is totally awesome. I like PVE though – haven’t tried out the PVP which many of the other testers described as epic.

      In terms of game preferences, I love MMOs – best one to date remains WoW. This totally wipes the floor with WoW imo. There’s no chance I’m ever going back to Blizzard even if it went F2P and that’s saying something. Sub already cancelled.

      I’m also a Skyrim fan and this games is WAY more beautiful. Check out places like the east of Haven beach at lev 16+ I so want a house there. Some places are gorgeous.

      I did laugh in a few places – there are undeed spots of skyrim that bring back memories – there were a few places I felt like I was back walking through a Skyrim tomb, warding off draugr.

      I’d hedge my bets the reviewer was simply clueless. He probably used light armor, a 1 handed sword and a sorcerer, put all his character points into health and tried to kill everything by thwacking it around to the head until it was bored to death.

  46. kirkkh1 says:

    You sir, dear gaming journalist, are a badass. And this is about the most badass thing I’ve ever read. Tis why I read RPS and not all that other drivel.

  47. Latromi says:

    I have read these reviews many times but never commented. I feel it’s a duty to my fellow humans to warn any tES fans to steer clear of this pile of steamy crap.

    I was allowed into the Beta and….well. It seemed like a boring WoW. I know I know, it’s an MMO, so I gave it a shot. I made it to the surface, back to life or whatever. And the 2nd or 3rd quest I was doing, I walked past a table with a claymore and an “Iron Helm” (the one with horns, like the Dovakin had in all the Skyrim commercials). “SWEET” I said to myself. But guess what?…..It was only decoration.

    Mr. Walker says it all (Much more eloquently than I could hope to). And I thank you Sir.

    Again, if your an Elder Scrolls fan. Do yourself a favor. Don’t even you tube this crap.

  48. Sporin says:

    Is someone upset they didn’t get paid to issue a good preview or was it paid by others to diss it?

    The mind boggles!

    Starting to wonder if any MMO will ever live up to the standard of the mmo-troll with it’s heavy chip on shoulder being carried.

    Only good part? Less crybabies in ignore in game.

    • Machinations says:

      oh my , did someone’s undies get in a knot?

      listen, no-one cares about your precious Elder Scrolls fixation ; the fact is, I have played a lot of MMO, and like many people, am burned out on them – mostly because each is a carbon copy of the last, with the exception of EvE

      I played EQ on full loot faction pvp servers, where fast travel was a dream, you dropped items on death and had to find your corpse

      now, to satisfy kids and casuals, the entire MMO space is filled with gimmicky, simple gameplay and constant rewards so everyone feels ‘special’

      and the magic, the risk, the feeling – its gone . until something comes out that is new, they are all destined to failure

      why? because CORE GAMERS made WOW popular, as they did EQ. The casuals are just along for the ride.
      At some point, the companies stopped focusing on core gamers, and started thinking about casuals – and hence the simplification and outright idiocy of much of the ‘theme park’ MMO design philosophy.

      RIP MMO’s

    • simon155 says:

      Agreed. There are a few “bum reviews” around like this and many good ones.

      There is no content to this garbage though.. “waah waah I couldn’t afford a mount at level 7”.
      “waah waah I get bored by questing”.
      “waah wahh All feels bland”

      And that’s the lot.. no more contents. Most pathetic review ever lol

      • Chris D says:

        This article is not a review. This article does not claim to be a review.

        It’s a short impressions piece based on the few hours they were allowed to have with the game at the time.

  49. AngoraFish says:

    Thanks RPS for saving me money.

  50. racccoon says:

    It a doomed unless it goes F2P then it might break over even.

    • simon155 says:

      Won’t happen. I heard a rumor the presales alone already hit high enough numbers to keep it subscription.

      If the snowball effect of WoW was anything to go buy, this will take 5+ years to go F2P.. and that’s only if they make serious mistakes and kill the numbers.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Bioware’s MMO also had tons of pre-orders. Most of them were gone after a month…