Elder Scrolls Online: Still On The Fence

I haven’t posted much on WordPress in over a month. Life got busy, and I stopped actively writing every day. On a much more positive note, I recently picked up the game Elder Scrolls Online. I thought it’d be interesting to talk about my experiences so far. This game has been on my radar for some time, as I believed it to be “The Next Big MMO”. Elder Scrolls Online, also known as ESO is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. MMORPG for short. The game takes place in the same world as the popular game Skyrim. With all the uncertainties and disappointments this game has had so far, I still believe it to be in far better shape than Rift, Tera, or Aion was or currently is.

Things The Company Does Well

I have been extremely impressed with ESO’s stability. The company is attentive when it comes to dealing with bugs and problems. The launch was one of the first MMORPG’s in history that wasn’t a complete catastrophe. It was busy and the que lines were a little long in the beginning. However, the company did extensive beta testing, which included stress testing their servers prior to launch. According to IGN, ESO had 5 million beta testers. That’s a lot of server traffic.

Making the centre of the map a massive open PvP zone was a great idea. I’m also a fan of all players having their stats (Health, Magic, and Stamina) increased while in the middle of the map. Every player can be involved in PvP (Player vs Player), even though their character stats won’t make them do comparable damage to that of a max level player. The newbies can still be used as cannon fodder when rushing an emenies keeps or playing the role of support by firing and repairing siege equipment.

The game allows players to download customized User Interface Add Ons. Which, is not only pretty cool but revolutionary in some ways. Companies who fight against UI mods in their games are wasting their time. Some players like name plates and mini maps, and some players don’t. The UI customization can help improve not only your experience in ESO, but your skill and abilities as a player. Players who want to be competitive will always look for something that gives them an edge. By allowing player run communities to develop and share UI mods with other players they have helped and will continue to help new players. I’ve been part of clans and communities in games where programs or scripts used to improve your abilities in PvP were given selectively to “elite” players in the community. There has always been an underground market for programs which enhance a players game play capabilities.

Assisted Aiming

I was really excited when I first started playing. I was looking for a First Person Shooter MMORPG that rewards player skill, and not just character skill. I didn’t notice it at first, but shots are assisted. Obviously there is a range in which a shot will miss – if it’s no where near the target. I would estimate that I probably hit 95-98% percent of my shots with a bow.

That being said, some ultimate abilities are aimed. Timing spells and chaining them with your group is fairly important. It reminds me of League of Legends in a weird kind of way.

Some of the things ESO Needs to Fix

Like WoW (World of Warcraft) there is an auction house. Unlike WoW, it is not global. The Guild Stores are mini auction houses that are accessible through a person’s bank. To make up for the limited trading one person can do between his or her guild, ESO allows a person to join up to five guilds at a time. The pool of people to trade with is significantly increased by the number of guilds to the point that I have not had a problem selling or buying items.

I like to trade. I don’t like to be part of people’s guilds to do this. If I join a guild it should hold some value and mean something. I’m not against people being part of multiple guilds, but users shouldn’t be forced to join them in order to be part of the economy. Some players will argue that by not having a global market it forces more unique opportunities for localized trade. I see some benefits and drawbacks to having a global auction system.

The game lacks fluidity. The world doesn’t feel open, or real for that matter. Having played video games for almost twenty years now I have come to enjoy using terrain to my advantage, especially against other players. Using real world strategies or combat tactics help to make a game feel authentic. Being able to climb and jump on top of terrain is an enjoyable part of exploration for me. Climbing mountains in ESO is just ridiculous. There’s one way up, and if you don’t find it then you’re going to spend a good twenty minutes finding it. A lot of areas that seem like they should be accessible aren’t. Jumping and general movement seem fake and unrealistic. Gravity seems to kick in at the games discretion.

There’s Still Hope

ESO isn’t everything a person who digs Sanbox MMO’s would want it to be. The game in my mind has the potential to develop and change over the next several months.

I see ESO as a comprise between hardcore MMO fans who enjoy open world PvP, and PvE casual carebears. PvE stands for Player vs Enemy. This refers to players who primarily enjoy fighting computer controlled enemies. The game is slanted towards the PvE crowd, but I am discovering more elements of open world PvP as I continue through my playing experience. The game does in some ways try to  actively encourage small scale PvP. Even though from my experience the PvP is mostly Zerg vs Zerg.

There’s enough to keep someone playing ESO who enjoyed Darkfall, DAOC, Ultima Online, or Shadowbane. A lot of big name clans are digging this game, but many of them feel uncertain about its future. ESO is walking a fine line between trying to appeal to two camps. Lean too much in one direction and you’ll lose a large portion of your player base.

If

If player housing isn’t incorporated into the terrain then the idea is a wash. Any time player housing is separate of the main map, the experience is diluted and lacks substance. The unique experience that comes from designing your own home, as well as PvPing around player houses has made several games I have played extremely enjoyable.  Also interesting, as players in games like Darkfall and Ultima Online have been able to exploit the ownership of their house to kill people. This sort of feature has helped define various games.

If ESO follows in the footsteps of WoW and throws more levels at us every couple of months then the games will slowly lose a large portion of its population.

If questing is the main source of content upgrades for ESO then the games is following in the footsteps of every WoW clone ever made.

I’m reiterating my point, but if ESO appeals too much to the PvE crowd and loses touch with increasing localized PvP they will turn a lot of people off their product. It’s important to try to utilize sandbox elements, even if this game is clearly not a sandbox. I may be wrong, but I assume the majority of people see increasing levels in paid content patches as a money grab. It’s also a time sink. I’ve got caught in a game where I spent months levelling up a character casually only to have the game increase the levels on me. This happened right as I was about to reach max level. I decided to cancel my subscription and quit the game. I won’t hesitate to do it again.

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