The RPG Scrollbars: The Elder Scrolls – One Tamriel

I make no secret of not having liked The Elder Scrolls Online [official site]. Believe me, I wanted to dig it, but nothing this side of Planescape Torment Kart could have felt more not like the game it was meant to be without being part of some fever dream. That said, I do admire the fact that the creators have spent their time since launch trying to fix it. The process hasn’t always been subtle. People hate the tutorial islands? Kill the tutorial islands! People won’t pay a subscription fee? Kill the subscription!

The other week saw by far the biggest change to the game – indeed, one of the biggest to any MMO I can think of since Square took Final Fantasy XIV back off the shelves to rebuild it and make it good. It’s called ‘One Tamriel’, and it finally opens the world up to be the kind of free-roaming RPG The Elder Scrolls is known for being. Can it make it the game I wanted? Unlikely. But hey, this is TEScO. Every little helps!

The basic fact is that regardless of Zenimax’s claims, The Elder Scrolls Online wasn’t really The Elder Scrolls Online. It was Dark Age of Camelot 2, only set in Tamriel. The irony is that I loved DAOC back in the day and would probably have been up for that in and of itself. However, the decisions that made that game interesting had nothing to do with what makes The Elder Scrolls special. DAOC was about taking pride in your Realm – Albion, Midgard or The Crap One – and getting to the point where you could represent them on the field of battle. All of its decisions were geared towards that, from the unique look of each realm, to the peoples and classes available, to the lure of PvP as something to work towards instead of simply to do. You’re an adventurer, but one whose destiny is to be a soldier rather than save the realm from some grandiose threat.

The Elder Scrolls meanwhile is the series about escaping from jail, standing in the middle of a seemingly endless world, and deciding “I’m going to go that way!” The two games couldn’t have fit together much worse. From the very start, two thirds of the world were literally locked off to you based on the character you played, leaving just the promise that once you finished the main storyline quest you’d be able to move on and see one of the two. Well, balls to that! What Elder Scrolls player wants to choose between visiting Skyrim or Daggerfall?

Then, just as that began sinking in, the early promise of at least being able to wander and find adventure on your own terms was smacked over the head by entirely stock quest-givers standing around with entirely stock MMO quests to hand out, and standard strata of increasingly tough enemies down the only route the limited maps really allowed you to go on your linear path to maximum level. There was no way the game would ever have been as freeform as a single-player experience, obviously. But at least it could have played like anyone involved had ever actually sat down with an Elder Scrolls game at some point.

As said, to the team’s credit, it’s been working on it. Also, for all of its failings as an Elder Scrolls game, there is a lot that it does right. It’s arguably got the best combat in the genre for instance, which feels and plays much like an Elder Scrolls game, but with a more complex and interesting levelling system for individual skills, bits of armour, trade abilities and specific weapons. All are based on both putting points into abilities and then levelling up further through actual play, including ‘morphing’ skills into different variants to better match your playstyle. Since launch, it’s added basic stealing as a mechanic, complete with bounties for committing crimes, and the much demanded Dark Brotherhood faction. There’s basic vampire and werewolf systems, with the curses acquirable by being bitten by the appropriate monsters or hunted out in quest form, or being consensually passed on by another player… or now just purchased in the store, if you’re boring. I know several players who love the PvP mode in Cyrodiil, with its fortresses to fight over and besiege. There is good stuff in The Elder Scrolls Online, which shouldn’t be forgotten even if the big picture was disappointing.

One Tamriel is by far the biggest attempt to make The Elder Scrolls Online feel part of the main series, and again, I admire the team for doing it. It’s a dramatic change. First, while you still start by pledging to one of the three factions – or Imperial, if you’ve got that upgrade – you’re no longer restricted to their territory. From the start, both other factions’ starting Wayshrine is on the map and ready to jump over to for the equivalent of pennies. Even more dramatically though, the entire map is now level scaled.

Previously, it was possible for a basic level character to run across the map, avoid all combat, and go check out Skyrim some 30 or so levels early – I know, I did it – however every enemy on the way would be a one-hit kill and there was nothing to do once you got there anyway. Now things are much more like exploring a regular Elder Scrolls map. The idea is that with this and the open borders, there’s now nothing stopping you playing with friends or picking and choosing the quests you want.

The main storyline is still triggered by reaching specific levels, keeping some degree of structure to the adventure, and it’s still possible to get your ass handed to you if you go into a fight with just basic gear or skills. It’s not going to be a one-hit kill, but TEScO still knows how to say ‘come back later and maybe pick a couple of friends’. A cave in the Rift for instance that opens with a couple of casters and a Flesh Atronarch was too much for my intentionally low-rent hero in their rags to handle. Picking a fight with a giant was also a lesson in pain, albeit a fair one, with most of his attacks dodgeable… if I’d stayed alive long enough to finish whittling his health-bar away. A nearby Frost Atronarch meanwhile quickly proved why he was flagged as a group boss.

Even so, based on what I’ve seen, I’d still rather things had been a little less cut and dried than scaling everything. Level scale the roads for instance, but flag specific areas as particularly dangerous (beyond group bosses and the like), so that there’s places to look forward to coming back to once you’re more buff and without needing backup. TEScO already has endgame levelling in the form of its Champion Points, which unlock new abilities. It would be interesting if the world was more splashed with obvious stuff with those solo players in mind. Leave the majority of quests open to all, sure, but make it clear what’s a hero grade task. I know this is wanting my cake and eating it, but why the fuck else would you buy cake?

Even the adventure-zone of Craglorn, intended as not just endgame, but group PvE content, has been level-scaled to be open to everyone. I haven’t played its current version, but I like the idea of it being more solo friendly. Still, as a zone, I’d have preferred it still be something to aspire to, and with the focus more on level scaling up from a single character to a group. Perhaps later content will look more towards that kind of thing. There’s still plenty of Nirn left to be added, to say nothing of the more interesting Daedric realms than Coldharbour.

Surely this change makes TEScO feel more like a world rather than a linear path though? Yes and no. Yes, in that you can now play it much more like The Elder Scrolls, but no in that it’s still obvious how it was all originally designed for progression. Each zone is reasonably spacious, but you can still see the path painted across the map in waypoints, and great swathes of the world around them aren’t actually in the game. You can go to Morrowind, the province, for instance, but not the island of Vvardenfell, where Morrowind the game took place. The entire south east of the map around Shadowfen is completely untouched. In terms of complexity, they’re all very flat, very spartan, very simple. Again, it’s not reasonable to assume that Skyrim as a small piece of The Elder Scrolls Online will be even as third as interesting as a province that Bethesda proper pored over for years and years. Unfortunately, it’s not even a twentieth of it.

All that said, there are definite advantages, not least being able to completely skip some of the awful, awful quests early on that are more sleeping aids than heroic opportunities and plunge straight into interesting stuff like hunting down Worm Cult necromancers and going down into dungeons. Played solo, it’s now a very casual friendly MMO. With friends, it’s that rare MMORPG that you can actually play on everyone’s schedule instead of seeing someone inevitably fall behind and no longer being able to take part. Rewriting the whole world is a more dramatic way of handling the problem than looking at something like City of Heroes’ Sidekick/Exemplar system, but definitely one that fits better here than it might have done elsewhere. It’s interesting that World of Warcraft has also experimented with level scaling in its new Legion content. Could a similar overhaul of its earlier zones be on the horizon? Or World of Warcraft: Legion’s fantastic new world quests head the other way, making Tamriel an evolving playground with stuff going on all over the place rather than focusing on what other landmasses can be added? That’d be my pick for keeping it interesting, instead of places like Skyrim being just zones to visit, hoover up, and never go back to again.

One Tamriel doesn’t make The Elder Scrolls Online a game I want to keep playing. I find its take on the world too bland, the quests not interesting enough, and what it does well is done so much better elsewhere that I’d rather wait for the next Skyrim (and all its modding potential) than settle for this overly-diluted Ribena Light of an Elder Scrolls experience. Sorry. I don’t like it. I don’t think I’m ever going to like it. However, if you’ve been attracted to the game in the past, then both it cutting out its greatest weakness in the faction system and the other additions and tweaks that have been made since launch do make it a game I can recommend having a second look at – especially if it goes on sale. I’d be less inclined to mention sales if you didn’t have to buy a couple of pieces of DLC to get the ‘full’ Elder Scrolls experience – both the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild content are more than £10 each if you don’t take out a subscription.

Still, short of the next proper Elder Scrolls having built in multiplayer, this is as close as you’re going to get to joining friends for Tamriel-based adventures (Cue sound of “Ha! You forgot Battlespire!” from someone who never tried to get that sodding thing working). If you can enjoy it for what it is rather than what it could and arguably should have been, there really is quite a bit to like as at least a spin-off, if not actually The Elder Scrolls for an online audience. That may or may not do for now. Personally, the disappointment lingers. Still, the TEScO we have today is still a hell of an improvement on how it was back at launch, and love it or hate it, that’s well worth respecting as achievement. So: Hurrah! Now, can we get the next real installment, please?

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  1. Faldrath says:

    Freudian slip in the last sentence there, Richard :)

    I haven’t played TEScO, but since I’m one of the few who actually kinda likes TES lore (sue me), I’ve been meaning to at some point. I shall keep an eye out for sales, thanks for this re-evaluation.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Gawd, you have no idea. Thanks – fixed! :-)

    • tanith says:

      Hey, I actually like the TES lore, too, which is why I was really upset that they decided to release a MMO since that means there is a huge chunk of lore I’ll never experience first hand.

      Despite many people saying that the TES games are better geared towards being multiplayer games I disagree with that very much. For me it was always a single-player experience. Furthermore having a story and being a multiplayer game just doesn’t work.

      It doesnt’t for TESO, it doesn’t work for SW:TOR and it doesn’t work for Shroud of the Avatar. I don’t know why companies do that.
      Such games are much better when the story is made by the players, like in Illarion or in EVE (with a little bit of help by the developers).

      • Rizlar says:

        But it did work for WoW and does for The Secret World.

        I like TES lore as well, but it sounds like TESO doesn’t make the most of it. Richard describes it as ‘bland’. TES lore at it’s best is bizarre, often perverse and hugely varied in scope.

        • Wulfram says:

          Eh, TES lore has always been mostly blandly generic stuff with the odd bit of mystical gibberish in books for people to obsess over.

          (Morrowind was a bit better, perhaps)

          • A Wanderer says:

            “Eh, TES lore has always been mostly blandly generic stuff with the odd bit of mystical gibberish in books for people to obsess over.”

            Pretty much, but that’s the mystical gibberish part that’s very fun to explore and learn about. Everything about CHIM must have been written by someone while absolutely drunk, though.

        • ThePuzzler says:

          It doesn’t work particularly well for WoW – how can I take much pride in defeating a villain if he constantly respawns?

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          I like some bits of it a lot, especially the Daedra, but overall it’s never really hit a nerve for me.

        • Distec says:

          I can’t speak to how well The Secret World handles it, as I only ever played a brief trial. But as somebody who lived and breathed the Warcraft universe from 2 onwards, I’d argue that WoW doesn’t make it work. Or at least it only works as a silly, contrived wrapper around the game that most people will safely ignore while they grind their 50th Zevra Dick for phat loot.

          Hmmm, some slight backpedaling – I think it worked fine in Vanilla when the game wasn’t constantly trying to personally tie you to the destiny of every major “Warcraft Celebrity”. I might be misremembering, but everything felt a lot more palatable and sensible when people like Arthas, Illidan, and many others were basically figures in the background you rarely directly interacted with. I might have killed Ragnaros fifty times, which I guess would make me a hero, but mostly I was just happy to get my T2 chest piece from the bastard. Fast forward to Legion, where hugely important characters are treating me like I’m an indispensable dear friend who is hugely important to their arc, and the whole thing feels fan-serviced out the wazoo. And I won’t even get into the strained twists, aborted character arcs, and assorted ass-pulls a game developer needs to deploy in order to create the kind of varied content most MMOs need.

          Granted, when it comes to harming the lore of the game, it can be difficult to separate the MMO trappings from the general downturn of Blizzard’s writing quality across all three of their universes. With Metzen no longer penning the scripts for their games, I’d really like to see a Warcraft 4. But they’d have to flush 80% of their narrative developments over the course of the MMO to redeem the setting, and I feel like they’re too in love with their own poo to do such a thing.

      • brucethemoose says:

        MMO =/= multiplayer

        I think a lot of people wanted Skyrim with coop, not a TES-themed WoW.

        • LexW1 says:

          “Skyrim with coop” would probably be the best-selling CRPG in history. I suspect the entire reason it hasn’t happened is that Bethesda have a surprisingly small team, and an ancient engine they can barely manage in the first place.

        • fdel says:

          You nailed it many people wanted TES with 1 or 2 pals to go on.
          But instead Bethesda read MMO..all MMO give huge tons of money….Lets capitalize on the TES brand same way someone capitalized on CONAN brand…
          Welll.. unsurprisingly same results.

      • Anti-Skub says:

        Personally I could not be less interested in games where stories are “made by the players” for the same reason I’d rather buy a book than read fan fiction on Tumbler, or go to a gig rather than watch karaoke.

        To me, a game that is developed with the idea that the players will make the stories and expecting that to be satisfactory is like going to an open mic improv night and expecting it to be funny.

        I agree that there hasn’t been an MMO that has succeeded in telling a good story, but that’s not a problem with the genre, it’s a problem with the people making them. Baldur’s Gate proves that you can tell a great story in a multiplayer environment, there is nothing stopping MMO developers other than lack of talent.

        • fdel says:

          IMHO your a bit mislead in the concepts.
          Corridoring players and giving freedom arent related, altought the bad tale telling (frankly bad to too obvious) may bind them all in the shadows.
          For example Baldur gates was fun at the beginning but by Odin or Oghma predictable.. i had to waste many willpowers points to finish it, with a “damn Finally over” at the end.
          But thats the way with all those game (PoE, BG, you name them)with few exeptions (can t remember name).
          I prefer TES single player game, because even repeating them (hardcore death)there a good deal of randomness(as long you put mods) that keep it fresh
          I can t deal anymore with the Baldurs grate corridor tales. I usually give a finger to the main tale and go my way without ever caring for a world that won t end because i not saving it (but still tries to give a damn false sense of urgency), but has tons of things to explore or die trying, minus the low esteem challenged PKers and waiting period for that raid to complete.

          That sayd the genres has been stale since morrowind, and going down the drawn RPG classicly speaking, and would need serious breath of fresh air and tales writters.

    • Explodian says:

      I also think most of the TES lore is fantastic, although it suffers from a problem I’ve encountered many times attempting to write and create settings–it’s much easier to create a good backstory, legend, or fable by just touching on the most important and interesting plot points than it is to build a narrative in the present moment where we follow the protagonist every step of the way, even through the boring bits (and the necessary gamey bits). Hence TES games’ fantastic books, history and environmental storytelling but shaky main plots.

      I’m worried the structure of an MMO would make conveying all that cool stuff even more difficult, so I’ve avoided it until now, but its current state might push me to finally give it a shot.

    • peda says:

      One of my favourite things about TESO is the sheer amount of extra lore they’ve packed into the game. Plenty of books to read, and many characters and missions that relate to known characters and lore from the single player games.

  2. TheAngriestHobo says:

    It’s arguably got the best combat in the genre for instance, which feels and plays much like an Elder Scrolls game

    Um… Isn’t that a contradiction? I mean, MMOs aren’t renowned for great combat systems, but TES games definitely aren’t either.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s only a contradiction if other MMOs are doing it better.

      Which they’re not. It’s not Dark Souls or The Witcher 3 or anything, but it’s a far more arcade style, immersive approach to combat than you get elsewhere, and more like an SP game than something that’s been dramatically dialed down for the sake of online play.

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        Fair enough. I tried to think of an example to refute your argument, but I’m hard-pressed to come up with any MMOs that shook things up to any great degree. Age of Conan tried, what with its key-combo melee attacks, but all it ended up doing was turning magic-users into the only viable PVP classes.

    • hp7015ca says:

      The combat system is better than TES and better than most MMOs. I would compare it closer to Amalur in style.

  3. NarcoSleepy says:

    My biggest issue with this game is that all of the DLC is locked to a particular account, which makes sense on PC, but for console players, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. If I purchase the content, anyone else using my Xbox cannot play it. Wish I had known that before I bought the game. It’s so boring is my other biggest issue with this game :)

  4. Someoldguy says:

    A lovely article that encapsulates my feelings about TES:O beautifully. DAoC 2 indeed. At least we now have Enderal to help ease the passage of time before the next true Elder Scrolls game.

    I’ve played LotRO quite a bit and although it manages the source material better than TES:O it also suffers from the problem of carving up Middle Earth into segments, each of which have orcs. Level appropriate orcs barring you exploring anywhere without the appropriate level. I always thought goblins were weaker than orcs were weaker than uruk-hai were weaker than ogres and cave trolls, but no. Apparently there are level 10 cave trolls that can be one hit killed by moderately capable adventurers and level 65 boss goblins that can lay the smack down on a full party of level 50 players. In the unexpurgated version of LotR, Sam must have killed a hell of a lot of shit on his way from Bag End to Mordor to let him solo Shelob. Sigh.

  5. Pogs says:

    Ive not played in a while but my biggest gripe was the trade system. I mean how many guild vendors do i need to look round to find a particular thing? Was annoying as hell and extremely time consuming.

    I joined several and they where just shells full of people not talking or doing anything together – just a method to sell stuff. You had to hope someone found your guild vendor and that your guild had bagged a prime spot to sell.

    I hated it and it was a terrible design imho.

  6. savagegreywolf says:

    Does it still have non-instanced dungeons that you can ‘beat’ by trailing along in the wake of total strangers who got there thirty seconds before you did?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Public dungeons? Yeah.

      • savagegreywolf says:

        I can’t understand why Zenimax did that.

        Have they just literally never played a MMO since Ragnarok Online and that’s how they think it has to be?

        Or do they have something wrong with their brains and they think that having your kills stolen and bumbling along in the wake of people bossfarming enhances the given story that your player character is the Chosen One who will save the world?

        • Caelinus says:

          There are Dungeons, Public Dungeons, and Delves. The former are instanced, the second are story based and pretty rare, but you do them in public groups, and the latter are just little underground areas with a boss and some loot.

          First, you can not have your kills stolen, as long as you do 3% damage or something like that you get full rewards. Second the delves, which are the places people actually can boss farm,(which has been limited since launch as there is a timer involved now) are not story dungeons, and so it is no different than teaming up to fight a world boss, but a little weaker and underground.

          It honestly sounds like you have not actually played it, or if you did you were not paying attention.

          • napoleonic says:

            Most people who are critical of ESO haven’t played it, certainly not since a few months after launch. It’s a lot of fun.

          • Wulfram says:

            They may not be dungeons, but a lot of the more climactic battles in the faction quests are not instanced and inevitably you sometimes end up stumbling in to only catch the last few slivers of health getting removed, or just have the fight made trivial by weight of numbers.

  7. Regibo666 says:

    I think Skyrim is the 2nd most played game on my Steam account (behind Rift). I love MMO’s and I love TES games.

    I do like ESO. I just think it’s a poor TES game and an average MMO. I do go back regularly but become bored pretty quickly. It remains installed and updated on my HD though.

    I do enjoy the fact that like Tera I can play with a controller. It’s nice to play on a TV sometimes with my feet up.

  8. Matys says:

    As someone who was talked in by a Elder scrolls friend to play, it isn’t bad. I think the fully voice acted quests would be great for any lore buff but as a regular player I usually find myself skipping through the text. Pvp is either dead or disappointing whenever I drop in but maybe thats more to do with the fact I’m not level cap yet. Just makes me want to go back to GW2 WvWvW. Anyways, if you want a casual mmo to run dungeons with a friend for a one time fee you can do a lot worse if you catch it on sale.

  9. Hyena Grin says:

    It’s still shocking and bewildering to me that Bethesda hasn’t succumbed to the near-constant requests for cooperative play in its ES games. On the one hand, I guess I have to respect them for sticking to their guns and their design vision of ES being about the lone fated hero.

    On the other hand, however, it is such a popular request that you’d think their wallets would be tingling. Not to mention that it would give them an opportunity to add a popular feature that pirates couldn’t (if it was designed with it in mind) have access to. Which is bound to increase sales.

    I’ve been hoping for it since they announced Oblivion. Still going to keep my fingers crossed for the next title, but we’ll see.

    • napoleonic says:

      They presumably realise that the handful of people requesting it are a drop in their ocean of players. 99.999% of TES players would not bother with co-op, and the time and resources they’d have to spend just to make co-op play satisfactory for that handful would be seriously detrimental to the core single-player experience.

  10. mactier says:

    “Planescape Torment Kart ”

    That said, there needs to be a Planescape Tournament. Or “Planetescape Tournament”, I guess.

  11. Danarchist says:

    The fact that you are locked into a character ‘class’ is something I was never able to get over. All my elder scrolls characters have been a mix of different things, which is why I have hundreds of hours in Skyrim and maybe 40 in ESO.
    If they had done the character progression something like the original Asheron’s Call it would have been perfect. The combat is fairly good. Regrettably despite it’s own claims prior to release it ends up just another “gather ten wolf teeth” game.

  12. Aspirant_Fool says:

    BRB, launching Kickstarter campaign for Planescape Torment Kart.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    What was most bizarre to me as an Elder Scrolls / Bethesda fan, was that my friends who loved Morrowind quickly adopted TES:O and found it fun, whereas those of us who found Oblivion and Skyrim more intoxicating quickly regretted buying into the game.

    As you say, at launch and for the first year or so afterwards, it just didn’t feel like Elder Scrolls in any meaningful way.

  14. preshrunk_cyberpunk says:

    I just like all the Thief Guild content ;)

  15. Anti-Skub says:

    “It’s arguably got the best combat in the genre for instance”

    I feel like you both haven’t got enough experience with ESO or the genre as a whole to be writing an article about it when you make statements like this.

    ESO’s combat is terrible. It’s trying to do the visceral, weighty action of games like Neverwinter Online, Guild Wars 2 or Black Desert, but with the complexity of something like WoW or SWTOR. It fails at both.

    What they’ve ended up with is the disconnected, slow paced feel of traditional MMO combat that lacks impact or excitement of the more action oriented MMOs out there, but they’ve kept the stripped down action bars with the simplistic, strategyless “press your best attack whenever it’s off cooldown”…so not only is it decidedly un-action packed, it’s also mindless.

    It’s not the worst MMO combat out there, but I can’t think of a single thing about it that makes it note worthy.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Heh, you’re complaining that I don’t know what I’m talking about, while describing Guild Wars 2 combat as ‘weighty’ and ‘visceral’?

      Just going to leave that one there, I think.

      • Anti-Skub says:

        With the caveat that we are lowering the bar significantly to account for the fact that we are talking about MMO’s…yes I am.

        Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have weighty combat when compared to games outside the genre, but compared to other MMOs (and particularly ESO) it might as well be Dark Souls.

        I tried playing ESO with some of the messier looking hud elements turned off like damage numbers and health bars, and found that I had to turn them back on because I was genuinely never sure if I was hitting anything other than the target under my cursor with cone attacks…there’s so little feedback. There’s no animation for impacts that don’t have a status effect, barely any audio queue, just virtually no reaction, the most you get is a barely noticeable little spark or blood spray. It’s just awful.

        And then there’s the extreme unresponsiveness of it. With most attacks feeling like they hit half a second after you press the button…like you’re playing the game on an internet connection for the early 90s.

        Guild Wars 2’s combat isn’t much better, but it IS better. In a genre noted for it’s terrible combat ESO fails to even stand out, nevermind shine…and that’s assuming you are limiting the comparison to your standard Everquest style theme park MMOs. If you include the existence of games like Planetside, Elite, Warframe or Vindictus all of which fall within the MMO spectrum, ESO looks laughably dated.

        • LexW1 says:

          I’ve certainly played all the games noted (except BD), and a lot, and honestly, you are talking complete nonsense, and Richard is fine to have his opinion. There is literally nothing “visceral” or “weighty” about Neverwinter or GW2. They’re absolutely comparable to ESO.

  16. geldonyetich says:

    Personally, I find the class system to be ESOs lead detriment to play. If you wanted to be a straight up Warrior, Thief, or Mage, too bad: Instead you get a mishmash of utterly unidentifiable classes that look and sound like something torn out of an angsty teen’s three-ring binder.

    I’ll grant you that Warrior, Thief, Wizard is an overdone trilogy, but I just can’t identify with any of the weird monstrosity of classes ESO gives me.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      The worst thing about ESO’s class system is that the fact that it lets you use whatever you like but limits how many abilities you can use doesn’t broaden the variety of different playstyles, it narrows them.

      For example a while back, in PvP, Vampires were particularly strong. That kind of imbalance isn’t usually an issue in regular MMO class setups because few people are going to ditch everything they’ve worked for up until that point to reroll a new class, but when everyone has easy access to the majority of the abilities you end up with a huge percentage of people using the “flavour of the month” abilities. Add on top of that the fact that you have so few ability slots and you end up with situations like the vampire thing where every other player you met had setups that were defined by those couple of vampire abilities that everyone was using.

      It’s not usually as noticeable as that example but it’s definitely always an issue. It’s a system that appears to flexible and diverse on the surface, but in practice is actually rather shallow and restrictive.

      Instead of having say 10 classes with 30 abilities each like you would have in something like WoW. You have 4 classes with 15 abilities each and 30 that they all share. On the surface it seems like it should allow you to have greater freedom, in reality all it does is reduce the variety of different builds because everyone is pulling from that same core pool.

      • Tylerdinho says:

        This is what I liked about Guild Wars 1 back in the day. 6 professions (10 with expansions) each with a pool of hundreds to choose from. Have one secondary profession to further mix and match your build. Only allowed to choose 8. There were core skills and faction skills available to all professions but you had to unlock or earn through challenges/quests. Skills and making builds in that game never got old which is why it is still my favorite MMO I’ve ever played (>1000 hours)

    • malkav11 says:

      If you want to be a straight up warrior, mage or thief, play a straight up warrior, mage or thief. The “classes” are just three skill lines out of a few dozen that are open to every character and there’s absolutely nothing making you invest in the class-specific lines. Or dabble a bit in them to snag a few things that look cool, then spend the rest of your skill points learning weapon lines/armor/crafting/guilds/vampirism/whatever.

      ESO’s classes aren’t a restriction on your potential any more than the “classes” you can pick to start in the earlier Elder Scrolls games were. I mean, I suppose optimally they would have let you freeform acquire any of the skill lines and not made you pick up front, but it’s just really not a big deal.

  17. LexW1 says:

    It’s kind of astonishing how few people seemed to spot that TEScO was really DAoC2, and unfortunately that resulted in it not getting people playing it who wanted to play DAoC2, and thus it inevitably had to rather veer away from that (and indeed, didn’t have the “Realm Pride” thing going on, without which DAoC just isn’t DAoC).

    This certainly does make me a little more interested in playing TEScO though.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Maybe not that astonishing. Prior to reading this article, I’d never heard of it. I’d bet high odds that most of my friends hadn’t either.

  18. invitro says:

    I liked playing it a fair bit a year ago. The graphics are just beautiful. But it’s amazingly anti-creative. There’s no need to read any of the text for even a single quest, unless you want to fall asleep from boredom. One zone is almost exactly like every other zone. One monster is almost exactly like every other monster. And so on.

  19. aircool says:

    I like it.

  20. poliovaccine says:

    Apologies if someone said this already, I did skim for it, but the idea of “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” isn’t that you should buy a cake and just sit and look at it cus to actually eat it is expecting too much. Rather, it means you can’t both possess it, and also have eaten it. You can’t have it both ways, once it’s eaten, you don’t have it anymore to look forward to eating. I think that is pretty commonly misunderstood to be a total nonsense phrase but there actually is a lick of sense to it.

  21. Michael Anson says:

    Just wanted to mention that, prior to Legion’s release, the devs at Blizzard had already confirmed that level scaling is being discussed for the rest of the game if it works out well for Legion. They are playing close attention to how the level scaling system works for them (and knowing Blizz, for other games, as well), and the system they have for Legion pretty much fits your description, with some parts harder than others to encourage group play, and some areas still level-locked to look forward to. It also appears to be responsive more to level than “ilevel,” so having found some particularly amazing gear will still let you feel that much more epic for a brief period.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      That’s still not what I want to see from an MMO. That flattening out of level with tougher areas just makes it seem like you’re never progressing.

      What I really want is for someone to make an MMO where the world isn’t segregated into low and high level areas, but instead is populated with enemies of different power and their power is determined not by where they are but by what they are. So for example when you start the game you can take on a wolf, but you’ve no hope against a bear. As you progress you become able to take on bears but ogres will still wreck you, etc.

      I don’t want signposting telling me “THIS IS A GROUP AREA”, I don’t want “conning” that tells you you will win before you attack. I want to be struggling through a area fighting goblins and find a cave, poke my head in, see a troll living in there and know that I can’t take him on right now. And when I come back when I’m strong enough to take on the troll I want to be stomping on the goblins. And I want the threat of goblins from that point onward to be MORE goblins, not just the same number of goblins as I used to be able to fight but now they have twice as much HP.

      For me, ESO has a huge problem in that it has absolutely no difficulty variation in the open world. A crab is as tough is a bandit, which is as tough as a daedra, which is as tough as a hag. Nothing ever feels like a threat except going into an area you aren’t high enough level for. It’s lame.

      • LexW1 says:

        “I don’t want “conning” that tells you you will win before you attack.”

        So you’ve hated MMOs since MUD days, then?

        • Anti-Skub says:

          What’s it like going through life unable to form an opinion that isn’t entirely positive or negative? Must be tiring hating everything that you don’t think is absolutely perfect.

  22. Maliki Kusa says:

    “Albion, Midgard or The Crap One”
    U wot m8?

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