The Elder Scrolls Online NDA has dropped so I guess that means it’s time to give my opinion. You won’t be surprised to hear that I am disappointed by what I’ve seen so far. No, I haven’t played a ton like some of the diehard fans out there. I participated in a few of the test weekends, leveled up as much as I could stand, ran around and explored as much as I could, but I didn’t try out the PvP.
ESO is incredibly linear. This is such a hard pill for me to swallow. I wanted so badly to run around Tamriel and experience the world as it has been experienced for over a decade, but it’s simply not a sandbox. The leveling is quest-driven with a forced path of progression. Someone who knows more than I can help me clarify, but I felt like the game used phasing a lot in the first couple of zones. Lots of people popping in and out of obvious phased areas. The story is too forcefully delivered, and I found myself wanting to click past forced dialog like I did in SWTOR.
I can’t decide if the combat is awful or just needing improvement. I like how it’s closer to The Elder Scrolls series, but the animations were not up to par. Animations felt janky, and on more than one occasion the combat devolved into me standing still swinging my weapon just waiting for things to die. I tried just about all of the weapon types and none of them felt great. I was underwhelmed by the overemphasized combat — that’s really key. The Elder Scrolls series, although full of combat, could be played for hours without even using a weapon. I never felt that way in ESO. The NPCs and story wanted me to always be out killing something.
PvP looks like GW2′s Door Wars 2.0. I haven’t experienced it myself, but the recent videos out there show some moments that do actually look fun. I think it’s hard to say sitting back and shooting people off walls with a bow and arrow isn’t exciting — I like that stuff — but I have to look at the game as a whole and realize those moments are just that: moments.
Although I could pick apart individual mechanics for days and shred them for spending their budget in all the wrong places, there are important questions to ask. Is ESO a good MMO? No, not really. Is ESO a good PvP game? For some, but not me. Is ESO fun? There are moments where I can honestly say I do enjoy myself. Not all of my enjoyment is tied to linearity, combat, and PvP. And most importantly…
Will I buy ESO? I think the whole “vote with your wallet” mantra is easier said than done. Although I’m not excited enough to be anticipating ESO’s release, my own personal taste in games doesn’t always dictate my buying decisions. I’m influenced by my friends, community, and Graev. If Graev was to buy ESO, I might buy it too. Even though I wouldn’t like quest grinding and some of the ways the combat plays out, jumping into a dungeon and slaying monsters together could still be a fun time. Do that enough and the cost of entry is justified. I’m a practical person, and there are situations in which buying ESO could be both fun and worth the price. If one of those situations presents itself, you’ll all be the first to know.